German renegade fighting force recruitment

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German renegade fighting force recruitment

German activities with Irish PoWs (KV 3/345)

This fascinating file covers the Security Service's activities relating to German attempts to recruit first a fighting Irish Brigade, and later individual Irish agents or saboteurs, from amongst the prisoners of war from Ireland or with Irish connections. The plan changed after the German invasion of Russia, when the German need for an Irish unit to fight in the invasion of the British Isles receded quickly. The file (which has been lightly weeded) covers 1940-1945, but includes a note from 1962 declaring that the file "reveals clearly…that the Germans, despite a determined effort, had no success whatever in their attempt to wean Southern Irish prisoners of war from their loyalty, as members of the British Forces, to the Crown."

Responsibility for this threat passed between the Secret Intelligence Service and the Security Service during the war, and the file reveals close co-operation between the two services. Officers at the highest level in both services were involved in monitoring the situation. The Secret Service Director General David Petrie asked to be kept informed of developments and added manuscript minutes to the file on several occasions. Several summary sheets were prepared for him, for example at serial 57a. 

The file includes lists of Irish prisoners held at the special Irish camp, Stalag XXA/301, in 1942, and includes intelligence on the German plans gleaned from intercepted mail sent home by the prisoners. Among the most interesting document in the file is the account of a priest, Father Thomas O'Shaughnessy. He had been transferred from the Irish African Mission house in Rome to the Irish camp. He describes his experiences of dealing with German attempts to use the Church to influence the prisoners (serial 95a, April 1943).

The file also includes reports of interviews with a number of repatriated Irish prisoners.

British Free Corps (KV 2/2828)

The Security Service began investigating the British Free Corps (BFC) as soon as the first reports were received of German efforts to organise British PoWs into a fighting force against the Russians, as this reconstituted and heavily weeded file (1943-1948) shows. The file includes a number of detailed interrogation reports and sworn statements of individuals with knowledge of the BFC. Many of these reports list individuals believed to have been involved in it and assessments of their views.