World War II

The British Services

MI5 Document Release of 16 September 1999


On 16 September 1999, the Public Record Office opened for public access a number of MI5 files dating from the World War II period. The newspaper stories below are all drawn from or refer to these documents.

Evans, Michael. "Double Dealing Aided the Allies." Times (London), 17 Sep. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

The minutes of the XX Committee, "which masterminded the wartime double cross agents," were released by the Public Record Office on 16 September 1999. The minutes "reveal more details of the way the Germans were fooled," showing that the "greatest double cross agent of them all,... Juan Pujol Garcia, codenamed Garbo, played the crucial part in deceiving the Germans over Allied plans for the invasion of Normandy."

Evans, Michael. "Plot Mishaps Gave SS Spy Heart Attack." Times (London), 17 Sept. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

Previously secret MI5 files released by the Public Record Office on 16 September 1999 provide details about the Venlo incident and one of its architects, Walter Schellenberg, who would later take over "responsibility for all counterespionage operations outside Germany" during World War II. Schellenberg "had a heart attack after all the excitement" of the incident.

Evans, Michael. "Renegade Amery Was Paid Well by Nazis." Times (London), 17 Sept. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"John Amery ...was high on MI5's list of 'renegades' who assisted the enemy in the Second World War. The brother of the late Sir Julian Amery, the Tory MP who had a courageous war as a member of the Special Operations Executive, he worked for the German Foreign Ministry as a civilian, broadcasting and writing anti-Russian propaganda. He was hanged for his treachery in 1945."

Evans, Michael. "Wodehouse Was in German Pay." Times (London), 17 Sept. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

"P.G. Wodehouse was paid the present-day equivalent of £3,500 a month by the Germans during a crucial period of the Second World War and could have faced treason charges if he had dared to return to England." See also, The Independent (UK), "Wodehouse Secretly in Pay of the Nazis, Say MI5 Files," 17 Sep. 1999; Telegraph (London), "Wodehouse Faced Traitor's Trial Over Nazi Links," 17 Sep. 1999; and Alan Travis, "Payments that Forced Wodehouse into Exile: German Documents Found by MI5 Undermine Writer's 'Silly Ass' Defence," The Guardian (UK), 17 Sep. 1999.

Rumbelow, Helen. "SS Chief Tried To Sell Jews." Times (London), 17 Sept. 1999. [http://www.the-times.co.uk]

As detailed in Walter Schellenberg's personal MI5 file released to the Public Record Office on 16 September 1999, SS chief Heinrich Himmler "tried to use the 'sale' of 3,500 Jews to buy his freedom and that of other SS staff ... as the Allies closed in on Germany. He promised to deliver the concentration camp prisoners in two trains across the border in return for political asylum for 200 of his senior staff and SwFr5 million.... However, after the first train, with 1,700 people on board, made its delivery, Hitler found out and ordered that no more Jews must be allowed to escape." See also, Michael Smith and John Crossland, "Himmler 'Bartered Jews' for Safety," Telegraph (London), 17 Sep. 1999.

Telegraph (London). "Spy Tried to Escape with Canoe on a Motorbike." 17 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

According to MI5 files, a German agent, a Swede codenamed Summer, "who could not be turned against his Abwehr controllers by MI5 made a farcical attempt to escape on a motorcycle with his suitcase and a 12-foot canoe strapped to the sides.... [T]he canoe and the suitcase unbalanced the bike and he kept falling off. He eventually gave himself up when the bike broke down." See also, Michael Evans, "Fleeing Agent Stole a Bike and a Canoe," Times (London), 17 Sep. 1999.

Telegraph (London). "Watch Out for Foreigner with a Limp." 17 Sep. 1999. [http://www. telegraph.co.uk]

"The Home Guard were given lessons [by MI5] in how to recognise spies, including suggestions that anyone eating German chocolate or speaking in a strange accent [or with a limp] might be suspicious." See also, Michael Evans, "Handy Hints on How to Spot the Enemy," Times (London), 17 Sep. 1999.

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