Untitled Personal Files

Untitled Personal Files

Compton MacKenzie

(KV 2/1271-1272)

Sir Edward Montague Compton MacKenzie (1883-1972) served in the First World War in British intelligence, on the Gallipoli front and in Greece, by which time he was already a well-established literary figure. He was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act in 1932 in connection with revelations about his War service in his book Greek Memories, pleaded guilty and was fined £100. The publishers withdrew the book on the day of publication. MacKenzie settled in Barra in the Outer Hebrides in 1934 and became a committed Scottish nationalist.

The released files cover the period 1931-51 and are concerned with MacKenzie's ongoing dispute with the Security Service following the 1932 legal action.

KV 2/1271 deals with the publication of Greek Memories in 1932. It contains correspondence between MacKenzie and Holt-Wilson, Vernon Kell's deputy, following the publication of the previous volume of his memoirs, where Holt-Wilson offered to look over the text before publication. MacKenzie did not take up this offer, and it is clear from the file that the contents of the book (which named in print for the first time several serving and former intelligence officers, including the heads of both the home and overseas services, Cumming and Kell) took the Security Service by surprise. The file includes a schedule of objectionable passages and notes relating to the prosecution of MacKenzie. It includes a note of a meeting between MacKenzie and Sir Oswald Mosley at the January Club in July 1934, where they were said to be in close agreement (both had spoken at the meeting, MacKenzie on the theme of Scottish nationalism). The file also includes the first suggestion from MacKenzie's publishers that a censored version of Greek Memories could be published. There are numerous press cuttings relating to the trial, and to MacKenzie's serialised telling of the abdication crisis, The Windsor Knot.

KV 2/1272 covers the period 1938-51, and continues the efforts of MacKenzie's publisher to get a revised edition of Greek Memories approved by the Security Service. There is a note of overheard comments made by MacKenzie at a cocktail party in 1939 where he voiced support for IRA outrages. MacKenzie supported SOE agent Wilson who had been imprisoned after repeatedly telling his story to casual acquaintances, and there is Security Service comment on this case. At the time MacKenzie was in charge of Home Guard defence of Barra, and there are papers on his efforts to secure travel permits for his friend W F R MacArtney to visit the island, which are echoed in his later novel Whisky Galore. MacKenzie makes allegations that he was the subject of Security Service persecution, and there are allegations on the file that he had briefed Aneurin Bevan on Greek affairs for various parliamentary questions put down by Bevan.

 

Arthur Koestler

(KV 2/1273)

Novelist Arthur Koestler (1905-83) was born in Budapest of Jewish parentage and became attracted to the Zionist movement while at university in Vienna. He went to Palestine in 1926 and eventually worked as a journalist, in which role he was sent to cover events in Germany in 1930. He joined the German Communist Party in 1932 (leaving the Party in 1938).

Koestler published an anti-Nazi and anti-Communist weekly journal from Paris, and was captured during the Spanish Civil War while working as a correspondent. His release was brokered by the British Foreign Office, and he returned to France, where he was arrested by the Vichy authorities in 1940. Later he same year, he escaped via Portugal and came to live in England. After a period of internment in Pentonville Prison, he served in the Pioneer Corps (1941-42) and worked for the Ministry of Information and the BBC. Koestler became a British subject in 1945, and 'renounced' his Jewish heritage in 1949-50.

This file concerns the period 1937-51, and is principally concerned with Koestler's detention in and release from Spain and subsequent events. It includes the text of his original interrogation on arrival in the United Kingdom in November 1940 by Security Control officers. His later activities at the time of the British withdrawal from Palestine led to his naturalisation being delayed for six months until the end of the mandate, and consideration being given to prosecuting him under the Palestine Official Secrets Ordinance, and these events are detailed on the file.

 

Rudolf Schleier

(KV 2/1274)

Rudolf Schleier was the German head of the French Nazi party prior to the occupation of France. He was heavily involved in the deportation of Jews, both French and émigré, from France to serve as forced labour in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, or to the death camps. He was extradited after the war from Germany to France and tried as a war criminal.

This file covers the period 1935-53, and deals firstly with Schleier's activities in the late 1930s, when as controller of the Nazi Party's Auslandsorganisation he appointed leaders of Nazi groups in the United Kingdom. Subsequently, the file deals with post-war events when, having been arrested, he was released from internment in Dachau by administrative error in December 1947. He was re-arrested in November 1948, and the file deals with this and with an application made by Schleier to enter the UK on business.