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German Intelligence Agents and Suspected Agents


Princess Stephanie Marie Von Hohenlohe-Waldburg-Schillingfurst (KV 2/1696-1697)

Princess Hohenlohe was a personal friend of Hitler, Goering and Ribbentrop. She was resident in the UK from the early 1930s until December 1939. These two heavily weeded and reconstituted files record her activities as a propagandist for the Nazi regime in some detail, and it is evident she formed a useful propaganda link between British society and the German leadership. The first file covers 1928-1939, and records how her correspondence was intercepted while she was resident at the Dorchester Hotel and elsewhere, but the intercepted correspondence does not survive on the weeded file. The second file (1939-1941) is chiefly concerned with her application to leave the UK for America in December 1939, and subsequent steps taken to ensure that she did not return. She was arrested by the FBI in December 1941, after which point the file somewhat peters out.

Friedlinde Wagner (KV 2/1914)

The grand-daughter of composer Richard Wagner, Friedlinde was often known by her nickname 'Mausie'. Her family were well known to Hitler and other leading Nazis, and two of her brothers were Hitler's personal assistants during the War. Friedlinde, however, is supposed to have fallen out with Hitler after criticising his policies in front of him, and he asked her mother to ensure that she left Germany. She first came to Security Service attention in 1939 in correspondence to people whose mail was being monitored, as she wrote from Switzerland trying to arrange her own entry into the UK. Opinion about Wagner was divided – many who knew her and her family denounced her as a Nazi to the British authorities, while others who knew of her spat with Hitler promoted her as an anti-Nazi propagandist of great potential use. These included MP Beverley Baxter, who supported her attempts to reach Britain. The competing views about her are recorded in detail on the file. In April 1940 the Service was undecided: "on the evidence at present available it is difficult to judge where her loyalties really lie."

Wagner was allowed to enter Britain after the start of the war – the file states that she is the only German not a refugee who had been granted this privilege, and she began writing anti-Nazi columns for the Daily Sketch. These just prompted more denunciations from members of the public who knew of her past association with Hitler. In late 1940 she applied for an exit permit to take up employment in Buenos Aries, which the Service opposed but which was eventually granted after Baxter had taken up her case in Parliament. She left for Brazil in February 1941, took up American citizenship after the war, and the file closes with her returning to Europe and attempting to find property she might have lost during the war.

Osmar Alberto Hellmuth (KV 2/1722-1724)

In October 1943 Hellmuth, an Argentinean of German origin, was appointed as an official to the Argentine Consulate in Barcelona as a cover story. Acting with the approval of President Ramirez and senior German SD officials, Hellmuth was to travel to Germany and contact Walter Schellenburg, head of section VI of the SD, who would introduce him to Himmler and possibly Hitler. Despite Argentina's neutral status Hellmuth had been briefed to negotiate the purchase of arms and precision instruments from Germany, and to reassure senior Nazis that Argentina remained sympathetic to their cause in spite of Allied pressure to break off diplomatic relations. The details of the equipment required were to be sent by diplomatic bag to Madrid by the Minister for War and future president, Juan Domingo Peron. However, in violation of his diplomatic status, Hellmuth was arrested at Trinidad and transferred to Britain where he was interrogated at camp 020, revealing the details of his mission and the identities of senior Nazis such as Siegfried (aka Sigmund) Becker, the head of the SD in Argentina. Ultimately, the information revealed during the interrogation of Hellmuth was used by the Allies to help precipitate the collapse of the Ramirez government and to force Argentina to break off diplomatic relations with the Axis countries.

KV 2/1722 contains interrogation reports from camp 020, and memoranda discussing whether information should be shared with the FBI. Details include the methods and verbal reasoning used by the interrogators, including whether or not to apply the 'champagne and cigars' treatment. Memos and telegrams discussing Hellmuth's diplomatic status and whether or not his detention was violating diplomatic immunity are also present.

KV 2/1723 includes debates over Hellmuth's nationality, trying to ascertain whether he was in fact German and not therefore eligible for diplomatic immunity. This file lists other individuals connected with Argentina detained at Camp 020, Hellmuth's descriptions of his German and pro-German acquaintances and a chronology of events in the Hellmuth affair. Peron is mentioned as being involved in the arms deal. A telegram from the SIS in Madrid describes the Germans being 'very upset' at Hellmuth's detention and mentions that his brother was arrested in Brazil for espionage.

KV 2/1724 includes photographs of Hellmuth and a copy of his diplomatic passport, as well as photostat copies of some of the documents and notes in Hellmuth's possession when he was arrested. A note from the SIS suggesting that the real purpose of his mission may have been to arrange for the Gestapo to train the Argentine federal police is included, though that suggestion is not corroborated by other material in the file. Further interrogation reports, exchanges between British officials discussing whether Argentina should be informed of Hellmuth's transfer to Britain, and a letter from Hellmuth's father addressed to Camp 020 (which prompted a leak enquiry) make up the rest of this file.

Prosper de Zitter (KV 2/1732-1733)

De Zitter was a Second World War Belgian traitor who operated a fake escape operation for Allied servicemen in Brussels, that was in reality under German control.

KV 2/1732 (1942-1944) reveals how de Zitter, under many pseudonyms and false identities, was several times denounced as a likely traitor by Belgian and Allied sources. Many of these reported the sinister appearance of a man with missing fingers purporting to be working to help Allied escapers shortly before German forces rounded up Allied airmen and agents, and local resisters. In correspondence on this file with Hardy Amies it is suggested that de Zitter should be added to the list of enemy personalities to be targeted during "rat week".

The second file, KV 2/1733, covering 1945-1948, covers attempts to capture de Zitter at the end of the war and includes a photograph of him, There is a detailed case summary from March 1945 at serial 110e, and details of some British agents captured through de Zitter's operations during the war.

Policy on disposal of First World War German agents (KV 4/248)

This file, spanning 1920-1935, relates to policy on the post-First World War fates of captured German agents in British hands. The files cover various cases in some depth, and they include copies of the Director of Military Intelligence's recommendations for length of sentence or remission. Many of these cases also contain Vernon Kell's green ink initialled comments on the DMI's recommendations, and the file conveys the general disquiet felt by MI5 when convicted spies were released from prison by the Home Office without MI5 having advance notice. The file includes a full list of German spies tried by courts martial in Britain during the war, and gives statistics on the elapsed time between capture and sentencing or execution.

Right-wing extremists

This release includes a small number of files relating to right wing extremists, including Herman Rauschning (KV 2/1746), a one time leading Nazi who left Germany at the start of the war for Britain and later America, where he became an influential anti-Nazi writer; and Marco Berni (KV 2/1749), restaurateur (and brother of Aldo Berni, founder of the Berni Inn chain), who was a member of the Fascio di Cardiff, and was interned during the Second World War until 1943.