Introduction

Introduction

The eleventh Security Service release contains 198 files, bringing the total number of MI5 records in the public domain to 1,844. Here is a brief overview and description of the most interesting and newsworthy files.

As with previous releases the bulk of records are personal files relating to individuals (KV 2), with a small number of subject files (KV 3), policy files (KV 4), organisation files (KV 5) and list files (KV 6).

The majority of files are from 1939-45 but there are a considerable number from the inter- and post- war periods, dealing with a range of groups and subjects, including: right-wing extremists; Russian and British Communists and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and related groups; Communist intelligence agents; the organisation and operations of the Security Service, including files relating to the Double Cross system; the system for intercepting postal and telephone communications; various Jewish groups and organisations; and Anglo-Soviet co-operation in Persia during the Second World War.

Of the personal files in this release, the most notable include those relating to German spies landed in Ireland during the Second World War and those on various British right-wing sympathisers, such as Lady Diana Mosley (KV 2/1363-1364), Arthur Chesterton, the founder of the National Front (KV 2/1345-1350) and Arnold Leese (KV 2/1365-1367). There are also files on the British Communists Cecil Day Lewis (KV 2/1385) and Eva Reckitt (KV 2/1369-1375) and the French anti-fascist André Malraux (KV 2/1386).

The personal files are listed under the following categories:

There are also a number of 'untitled' personal files (KV 2/1433-1435), that is files relating to individuals that do not fit squarely into the above categories.

The few subject files (KV 3/57-68) contain papers on contacts between British, Portuguese and Swiss Fascists after the end of the Second World War (KV 3/64-66), the activities of British Fascist organisations (KV 3/57-59), and further files relating to the activities of Arnold Leese and his co-conspirators (KV 3/60-63). There are also subject files relating to Zionist activities (KV 3/67) and the political repercussions from wartime action against German agents in Argentina (KV 3/68).

This release includes policy files dealing with a wide range of administrative matters, including the organisation of the Secret Intelligence Service and arrangements for inter-Service liaison (KV 4/205), Security Service arrangements for representation in the Americas (KV 4/206-207 and 209), security measures against German penetration of British and allied intelligence agencies (KV 4/208), the operation of the communications interception system during the Second World War (KV 4/221-222), the operation of the Double Agents system (KV 4/211-215)and the establishment and operation of the Combined Intelligence Centre, Iraq (CICI), including liaison with Soviet intelligence agents in Persia (KV 2/223-225).

There are organisation files, relating to Security Service investigations into four organisations: the United Zionist Revisionist Youth Organisation (KV 5/4); the Brotherhood of Russian Truth (KV 5/5) ; the Dienstelle Ribbentrop (KV5/6); and the Anglo-German Academic Bureau (KV 5/7-9).

Finally, there are two further list files (KV 6/39-40), following the earlier release of such files in May 2003, dealing with leaks of information into the planned 1942 TABLE TOP mission into Denmark.

Visual material and other artefacts are listed in the appendix. (Please note that this is not comprehensive.)

A few files have been weeded. Others have been reconstituted from microfilm of the original document, and therefore are in photocopy form. In both cases this is indicated here.

Most personal files include a minute sheet attached to the inside cover, providing a useful index to the file.

Highlights of the release include:
  • Double Cross agent GELATINE (KV 2/1275-1280), a female Austrian double agent married to a Jew. GELATINE arrived in the UK in 1938, and was introduced to the German secret service by TRICYCLE in 1941. For the rest of the war she sent messages written in secret ink to her contact in Portugal. The files include:

    a. copies of letters written by GELATINE under her alias Friedl Gaertner
    b. correspondence discussing the content of the secret messages she was to pass
    c. a case summary by J C Masterman, written in September 1941, suggesting that the case might have to be abandoned because the Gemans did not seem to be responding to GELATINE's messages

  • Double Cross agent KISS (KV 2/1281-1285), a Persian recruited by the Abwehr in 1941. KISS was sent to Turkey, where he made contact with a British agent who persuaded him to allow his codes and transmitter to be passed to the allies. KISS's transmitter was played back to the Germans from Persia to the end of the war. The files reveal that after the war KISS asked to be allowed to return to Germany to find work, but that the British sought to block this move
  • Frank Ryan (KV 2/1291-1292), an Irish republican Communist recruited by German intelligence. Ryan, a committed socialist and supporter of the IRA, joined the International Brigade and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. Captured by Franco's forces, he was released after German intervention, travelled to Berlin, and was involved in plans to supply arms to the IRA. He went on one abandoned mission by submarine in August 1940, returned to Germany and worked for German intelligence until his death in 1944
  • Hermann Simon (KV 2/1293), Werner Unland (KV 2/1295), Otto Dietergaertner (KV 2/1296), Günter Schütz (KV 2/1297-1302), Wilhelm Preetz (KV 2/1303-1306) and Hermann Goertz (KV 2/1319-1323), German agents landed in Ireland during the Second World War and imprisoned by the Irish authorities. In the Dietergaertner file there is an interesting report on the reaction of all the German prisoners when they were told that they were being moved from Mountjoy to Athlone in May 1942 (which also notes that the Germans received monies passed to them by IRA prisoners). There is also a photograph of the sabotage equipment brought into Ireland, which includes a container for high explosives disguised as processed French peas
  • Arthur Chesterton, cousin of the writer G K Chesterton and founder of the National Front (KV 2/1345-1350). KV 2/1345 reveals that on leaving the army he applied for a post as home news editor for the BBC, and the Security Service recommended against his appointment, despite a satisfactory war service. The BBC did not hire him. KV 2/1348 also includes a source report of the meeting of the initial session of the National Front, organised by Chesterton, and reports of subsequent meetings
  • Lady Diana Mosley (KV 2/1363-1364). The first file includes reports of her frequent movements to and from Germany by air, a report of her secret marriage to Mosley in the presence of Hitler and Ribbentrop in 1936, and various pieces of intercepted mail and phone conversations. Her baggage was inspected at Heston Airport in August 1938 on her return from a visit to Germany, and the suspicious contents (including a new autographed photo of Hitler) were reported to the Service. Diana Mosley was not interned on the outbreak of war, and remained at liberty for some time. There is a Home Office letter of May 1940 explaining the Home Secretary's decision not to intern her at that time, and then correspondence from her former father-in-law, Lord Moyne, which seems to have resulted in her detention the following month. A copy of the form requesting her detention is on the file. She was interned in Holloway prison, and there are reports of her visitors there, and also a transcript of her appeal hearing against her detention. Both files contain reported comments and correspondence from members of Diana Mosley's family
  • British Fascist Arnold Leese, convicted of assisting escaping enemy prisoners of war (KV 2/1365-1367 and KV 3/60-63). KV 3/60 includes a list of escaped prisoners of war still at large in Britain in autumn 1946
  • Eva Collett Reckitt, member of the Reckitt cleaning product family, financial supporter of the British Communist Party and founder of Colletts bookshop (KV 2/1369-1375) The files reveal that warrants were maintained against Reckitt's addresses in Lincoln's Inn and Hampstead, a cottage on the South Downs near Arundel, but not, it appears, against Colletts bookshop. A copy of a super tax notice for £95.15s.0d that seemed to alert MI5 to Reckitt's wealth for the first time is on the file, as are reports on observations made on her movements. KV 2/1370, which includes the first suggestion of a link between her and John Wilkinson, a scientist employed on secret work for the Chemical Warfare Department, also includes a hand-drawn map showing the location of Reckitt's cottage, designed to show how isolated it was and unsuited for keeping up observations on the inhabitants
  • Future Poet Laureate Cecil Day Lewis, supporter of the Communist Party (KV 2/1385). A letter to the Secret Intelligence Service on Lewis, Stephen Spender and W H Auden, all of them Communist Party supporters, states that "Harry Pollitt incidentally thinks less than nothing of their value to the party." The file also includes two exit permit applications to allow Lewis to travel to Ireland in 1940 and 1941, the second in Lewis's own hand
  • Rose Cohen, British Communist journalist, and her Russian husband, David Petrovskiy, victims of Stalin's purges in 1937 (KV 2/1395-1397, 1433)
  • Soviet intelligence officers Nicolas Klishko (KV 2/1410-1416), and Igor Gouzenko (KV 2/1419-1425), the first Soviet intelligence agent to defect to the West after the end of the Second World War. Gouzenko provided information leading to the arrest of atom spy Alan Nunn May, who died earlier this year. Despite being one of the leading Bolsheviks in Britain at the time of the October Revolution, Klishko was permitted to keep working for Vickers on munitions work until August 1918. There is lengthy correspondence in KV 2/1410 with Vickers, which was torn between wanting to remove him from their employment, and the possibility that he might help the firm win lucrative contracts in post-war Russia. MI5 nevertheless asked Vickers to keep employing Klishko so that a close watch could be kept on him. It is interesting to note that, because MI5 was responsible for the permits for staff doing munitions work, Klishko was frequently required to visit MI5 offices on official business to do with his permit. Papers as recent as 1972 (on KV 2/1415) deal with the visit of Klishko's wife, Phyllis Frood, to Britain to claim an inheritance and also give a summary of the case
  • Wartime working relationships between MI5 and MI6 (KV 4/205)
  • Arrangements to protect Double Cross agents in post-war Yugoslavia (KV 4/210)
  • Operation of the Double Cross system, including plans, codenamed "Mr Mills' Circus", to send some of the German agents to Wales in the event of a German invasion (KV 4/211), and files discussing and reporting the content of messages sent by Double Agents (KV 4/213-214)
  • Policy on use of Home Office warrants for interception of post and telephone communications, 1939-1944 (KV 4/222)
  • Anglo-Soviet co-operation in intelligence matters in Second World War Persia, including information shared about each others' agents (KV 4/223-225)
  • List files on leaks relating to SOE operation TABLE TOP in Denmark, 1942, giving details of the Danish community in war-time London (KV 6/39-40)
  • Files relating to the Rote Drei Soviet spy ring and other Soviet Swiss agents during the 1930s and 40s - Willy Piert and Hans von Pescatore (KV 2/1329), Margareta Bolli (KV 2/1404), Christian Schneider (KV 2/1406) and Renate Bernhard-Steiner, (KV 2/1409). After the war, Piert, who was married to an Englishwoman, Vera Dale, was issued with an exit visa from Germany in error and visited the UK in 1947, staying with his wife in Wimbledon and visiting his sister in Shirley. KV 2/1329 contains some papers on this visit and the consternation it caused the officials.