Records of the Foreign Office: CICERO files


Records of the Foreign Office: CICERO files

CICERO, Turkish valet of Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, HM Ambassador in Ankara, who leaked information to the Germans in 1943-44: unregistered collection of papers; investigations, forged Cabinet paper for use as bait.

The case of CICERO, a Turkish valet in the employ of the British ambassador in Ankara during the years 1943-44, has been characterised as one of the most successful espionage episodes of the Second World War, and was in all probability the greatest German coup. It provided the Germans with streams of information from the desk of the ambassador about British and Allied intentions in the Near and Middle East and for the conduct of the war generally, and might easily have compromised Operation OVERLORD (the preparations for D-Day).

CICERO was the code name allocated to valet Elyess Bazna, a former convict. He sold copies of documents he obtained through the ambassador's carelessness to a German military attaché in Ankara. The tale has become a popular (and frequently mis-told) war story and the subject of many books and films, including the 1952 Joseph L Mankiewicz/James Mason movie, Five Fingers.

This file adds to the information about CICERO in the MI5 files (KV 6/8), which were released at The National Archives in May 2003. Another related file is the personal file relating to the German translator who handled the CICERO material in Berlin, Maria Molkenteller (KV 2/1171).