German intelligence agents and suspected agents

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German intelligence agents and suspected agents

Gustav Lachmann (KV 2/2733-2735)

Lachmann, who was a German air lieutenant in the First World War, became an outstanding aeronautical engineer during the inter-war years. He worked in Germany and then Japan, before marrying his British wife in Tokyo and settling in Britain, where he was engaged on aircraft design by Sir Frederick Handley Page. This reconstituted and heavily weeded file records the deep suspicion with which Lachmann was viewed, as a potential spy for both Germany and Japan.

KV 2/2733 (1928-1936) shows how Lachmann's mail was intercepted to look for signs of espionage activity – none were found, but efforts were still made to control his activities with Handley Page Ltd. By 1936 (KV 2/2734, 1936-1942) it was noted (serial 197) that "It appears undesirable that a German should be employed in the works of a firm carrying out contracts for the Air Ministry, but…enquiries for over two years have produced nothing to lead to suspecting that he is using his position…to give information either to Germany or to any other power." Sir Frederick is named as employing "verbal cunning" to defend his continued employment of Lachmann, but the pressure on the firm grew until in November 1938 the Secretary of State instructed Handley Page to dismiss Lachmann (serial 358x).

Lachmann was interned at the outbreak of the Second World War, though while he was on the Isle of Man arrangements were made for him to continue working on aircraft design (e.g. serial 595a in KV 2/2735, 1942-1955).

By 1944 consideration was given to Lachmann's post-war employment, with the fear that he might go back to Germany or to the United States. Eventually he resumed his work with Handley Page.

Pieter Schipper (KV 2/2736)

Schipper, the owner of a small fleet of Dutch fishing boats, collaborated with the Germans and used his fleet to radio intelligence about allied shipping movements from September 1940. KV 2/2736 (1942-1953) tells the story of his flight to Britain in March 1942, where he admitted his former role. Schipper's loyalty to the Allied cause was obviously suspected and he was detained for the rest of the war, before being deported to Holland where he was convicted and imprisoned for assisting the enemy.

The file contains Schipper's report of an Abwehr officer's story of a 1941 attempt to introduce a German spy to Britain by speedboat, which failed because the boat overturned in the Channel. The file has been heavily weeded, but includes his Camp 020 liquidation report.