Skip to comments.Second World War MI5 documents revealed
Posted on 06/15/2007 6:34:59 AM PDT by Calpernia
Second World War MI5 documents revealed
MI5 has been criticised for releasing documents that reveal the identities of agents serving in the Second World War. A large number of documents dating from the Second World War have been released by MI5 after more than 60 years.
Released to the National Archives, the files contain details about the real identities of a number of spies and double agents working during the war.
The documents relate to a camp in Ham, Surrey, that was used to hold and interrogate Nazi spies, many of whom later became double agents working for British intelligence.
MI5 has been criticised for revealing information that has led to some of the wartime agents being identified, as the identities of operatives are usually kept secret long after their retirement.
Released earlier this year, the files on the Surrey interrogation centre, known as Camp 020, can be checked against names and dates on other files to confirm the identities of agents. Expert David List claims to have already identified a total of five of the spies held at the camp.
Around 500 enemy spies from 44 nations are thought to have passed through Camp 020 during the Second World War.
Run by Lt Col Robert 'Tin Eye' Stephens, Camp 020 was designed for the interrogation of captured civilian agents and its work persuading Nazi spies to become double agents was vital to the success of the D-Day landings and deceiving the German army about where Britain planned to attack from.
Russia declassifies military archives dating back to 1941-1945
Ping of interest
Policy on management of Camp 020 (KV 2/2593; KV 4/369)
KV 2/2593 consists of a chronological list of people passing through Camp 020 and Camp 020R, compiled in 1943 and then kept up-to-date to the end of the war. It gives the name of the detainee, arrival date, date transferred out and where to, release date or, where appropriate, a note that the subject was executed, an indication of whether held at Camp 020 or 020R, and whether the subject committed suicide. The list is also annotated with subsequent information as to when the subject was decarded, the Security Service PF (Personal File) file reference and notes concerning the destruction of those files when appropriate.
Several of the inmates of Camp 020 attempted appeals against their detention, and the policy file on handling these is now released at KV 4/369 (1941-1945). The files cover the involvement of the Official Solicitor in hearing these appeals, and much of the correspondence concerns the question of where to send people withdrawn from Camp 020 but not at liberty (the London Reception Centre and Dartmoor Prison being the main possibilities). The file includes copies of some petitions, and much of the correspondence relates to a particular case, that of Juan Lecube (whose Security Service PF (personal file) has already been released).
Camp 020 Agents are starting to be listed:
Double Cross Agents
THE BAD NENNDORF CONTROVERSY
The interrogation of captured suspects has always been an essential - and controversial - element in counter-espionage and counter-terrorist work. Different generations have faced this challenge in different ways, but all have faced a consistent issue: how to persuade a detainee to disclose reliable information in a useful period of time.
During the Second World War and its aftermath, when Britain was seeking to stabilize and denazify Germany, the Security Service played a key role in managing detainee interrogations. This effort, however, was accompanied by controversy which culminated in a scandal involving a British interrogation centre at Bad Nenndorf, Germany.
Camp 020 and ‘Tin Eye’ Stephens
During the war, the Security Service established an interrogation centre in Britain, Camp 020, in which captured German agents were interrogated and ‘broken’. Based in Latchmere House in south London, Camp 020 played a key role in the Security Service’s now legendary ‘Double Cross System’.
It achieved successes that were unprecedented in the history of warfare. The Security Service detected every wartime German spy who arrived in Britain and turned many of them into double agents.
Camp 020’s function, however, was not simply confined to the ‘Double Cross System’. The camp also provided useful information for Allied codebreakers at Bletchley Park. And in the closing stages of the war, it was responsible for ‘breaking’ several captured Nazi leaders - some of whom were then successfully tried by the Allies at Nuremberg.
The camp was run by Lt. Col. Robert ‘Tin Eye’ Stephens. By all accounts, Stephens was a formidable character who had an extraordinary ability to break even the hardest of spies. ‘Tin Eye’ - so called because of his thick monocle - used every kind of available ‘mental pressure’ to ‘break’ prisoners.
Much like Stephens himself, Camp 020 made for an ominous first impression. The camp was not designed for prisoners of war (POWs), but rather for captured civilian agents (spies). The Geneva Convention relates only to POWs and so did not apply to Camp 020, nor was it listed by the Red Cross. However, contemporary Security Service records - written without the intention of ever being declassified - reveal that Stephens persistently took a hard-line approach against the use of physical violence in interrogations.
‘Violence is taboo’, wrote Stephens in his in-house history of Camp 020 now available as a National Archives publication, “for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information” . Stephens put the unprecedented successes of Camp 020 down to the rule of non-violence. “Never strike a man” wrote Stephens in instructions for interrogators. “In the first place it is an act of cowardice. In the second place, it is not intelligent. A prisoner will lie to avoid further punishment and everything he says thereafter will be based on a false premise”.
Stephens’ orders are supported by other contemporary records, such as the diary of Guy Liddell, a future Deputy Director-General of the Security Service. These records show that Stephens sometimes went to extraordinary lengths to outlaw physical violence at Camp 020. On one occasion in September 1940, Stephens expelled a War Office interrogator from the camp for hitting a prisoner, the double agent TATE. As Liddell noted in his diary “It is quite clear to me that we cannot have this sort of thing going on in our establishment. Apart from the moral aspect of the whole thing, I am quite convinced that these Gestapo methods do not pay in the long run”. Stephens saw that the officer in question never returned to Camp 020.
At the end of the war, Stephens was posted to occupied Germany, where he was placed in charge of a new interrogation centre based at Bad Nenndorf, a spa town near Hanover in Lower Saxony. Stephens was the obvious choice to run the German camp: he had more experience of interrogating prisoners, and had more success in doing so, than anyone else in the British intelligence community.
Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies, ed. Oliver Hoare. Public Record Office (2000). ISBN 1903365082
SEPTEMBER 2005 RELEASE OF SECURITY SERVICE FILES
German intelligence agents and suspected agents
Nicolay Hansen: file ref KV 2/1936
Nicolay Hansen was a Norwegian who was found to be working for the Germans. They dropped him into Scotland in September 1943 by parachute, carrying two radio transmitters. On landing, he made contact with two lorry drivers carrying loads of Aberdeen herring through the night at Frasenburgh and surrendered to the authorities.
Hansen handed over his wireless sets with a story that he had been ordered to hand in one radio transmitter but keep the other hidden.
After he was released from custody, he was to find a job in the Scottish coalmines. He was then supposed to retrieve the second set and begin relaying messages to Germany.
However, secret writing material was found hidden in one of Hansen’s tooth cavities by interrogators at Camp 020. It was realised that this whole story might be a ruse and he may have been intended to communicate by letter rather than wireless. The Service considered using Hansen as a double agent but quickly discarded the idea. There was then a lengthy debate about whether he could be prosecuted without jeopardising the safety of Camp 020.
The file includes very detailed reports on the case and chronologies of the tale according to Hansen. It includes such items of interest as the reports of the lorry drivers who first found him, and assessments of Hansen’s capabilities and characters. Hansen was imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
The 1940s Guantanamo?
Are not terrorists also by definition captured civilian agents rather than POWs?
>>>captured civilian agents
That’s what I thought enemy combatant meant.
Big ping for the GGG list.
We could use guys like that today. 'Course, today he'd probably be brought up on prisinor abuse charges....
persuading Nazi spies to become double agents was vital to the success of the D-Day landings and deceiving the German army about where Britain planned to attack from.That was easy -- Britain would attack from Greece and Italy, until Stalin humiliated Churchill at one of the wartime "Big Three" conferences and demanded that the US plan for the cross-channel invasion be allowed to go forward. Churchill still got his way after D-Day by making sure that the do-nothing Montgomery had priority of supply.
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Yes, it is interesting.
Thank you for the ping, Calpernia.
Thanks for the ping.
Sometimes, it is tempting, to just read declassified papers, what fun, to now learn the rest of the story.
given the option of either hanging or turning coat, and those who didn’t hang not only relayed harmless real info along with complete fabrications
Yes, this was my understanding as well. When German V-2 rockets were raining down on England, these ‘turned’ spies radioed back to their handlers the location of the impact. When the rockets missed by miles, their message was that the rockets were right on target.
(snip) surveillance against the National Lawyers Guild, an organization founded in 1937 and long associated with the labor movement and liberal causes.
As Colin Moynihan reports in The Times, the F.B.I. turned over copies of some 400,000 pages from its files on the group under a 1977 lawsuit. In 1997, the copies were donated by the guilds lawyers to the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University with the understanding that they could be made available to the public this year.
Very interesting, I missed your ping in June.
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