German Intelligence

Return to list

German intelligence, 'Irish' files, "The English Patient" files

German Intelligence

(KV 2/1446-1503 and also related subject (KV3) and policy (KV4) files)

Horst Kopkow

(KV 2/1500-1501)

Kopkow was a German Gestapo officer who investigated the Soviet Rote Kapelle and Rote Drei spy rings, and also the failed 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler. The contents of these weeded files follow from the Allies' post-war interrogation of Kopkow. A further German intelligence agent involved in investigating the Rote Kapelle organisation was Rolf Richter, and his file (KV 2/1503) is also included in this release.

KV 2/1500 (1945) commences with the note of Kopkow's arrest in May. He fell into American hands, and the US interrogation report, and Kopkow's own statement, are on the file. This report contains diagrams of the seating plan of the meeting in the hut where the attempt on Hitler's life was made. The file shows how Kopkow co-operated willingly with his captors, and includes the first Security Service assessments of the reports.

There are further interrogation reports on KV 2/1501 (1945-1946), giving details of the Germans' intelligence organisation. The Security Service passed questions for Kopkow through the Americans (mostly about the Rote Kapelle and Rote Drei) before Major Gwyer travelled to Germany to interrogate Kopkow himself. Gwyer's own reports and assessments are on the file.

Juan Gomez de Lecube

(KV 2/1456)

Lecube was a former professional footballer and a Spanish Abwehr agent in Spain and Latin America, who was arrested on a journey between Spain and Panama at Trinidad in 1942. He was deported to Britain and interrogated at Camp 020, where he was described as the most difficult prisoner handled by the Camp in the whole course of the war. The difficulties arose from his refusal to admit his involvement with German intelligence, despite the weight of evidence, and from his consistent practice of appealing and petitioning for release (to the Spanish ambassador, to the Home Secretary and on one occasion to the King). He also, briefly, went on hunger strike.

The file contains copies of Lecube's statements and interrogation reports, and the original of his petition to the Spanish ambassador is included. The case was considered in person by the Home Secretary in September 1943, and the decision to intern Lecube was confirmed. He was deported to Spain in 1945. The file includes photographs of Lecube.

Jean Charles Alexander

(KV 2/1457-1458)

Alexander was the Germans' most successful double agent of the Second World War. An Austrian, purportedly working for Czech intelligence in Portugal, he was in fact working for the Germans. He betrayed several allied networks in occupied Europe, including in Paris and Marseilles, to his masters using information he obtained from his Czech contacts. His account of this story emerges from post-war interrogations, which appear on this file.

KV 2/1457 covers 1942-1946, and starts with the suspicion that Alexander had passed an SOE wireless to the Germans in Paris (it turned out eventually to have been a British set given to the Czech intelligence service). A plan, never executed, was considered to lure Alexander to the UK where he could be interrogated. The file continues with investigations into Alexander up to and beyond his arrest in Lisbon by Interpol in August 1946, and there are case summaries on the file, which closes with Alexander's statement to the Americans upon his return to Germany.

KV 2/1458 (1946-1949) has details of the American interrogation of Alexander and copies of the statements in which he admits most of the wartime activities he was accused of. The last substantive action on the file is the note of his release in 1947. This file contains a photograph of Alexander.

Jean Marie Lallart

(KV 2/1462)

Lallart was a Frenchman recruited by the Abwehr to act as a sabotage agent in French West Africa. Landed by small boat from a submarine in French West Africa, Lallart and the two submariners (who were meant to return the boat to the submarine) immediately abandoned their mission, and undertook instead a 'Boys' Own Paper' style march across the desert to Port Etienne (in present day Mauritania) in order to surrender to the French authorities.

This file chiefly concerns Lallart's subsequent interrogation by the British, who were interested in Abwehr training and tactics. It contains reports of his arrest, a French interrogation report with British assessment. The French subsequently handed Lallart over to the British for one month's questioning, and he was interrogated at Camp 020 before being returned to French North Africa in May 1943.

Lallart, a former sculptor, produced line-drawing caricatures of his contacts, which are on file, as well as sketch maps of central Munster, Berlin, Paris and Olfen and a cut-away diagram of the submarine which dropped him in West Africa, U.66. The file includes descriptions of his two and a half day trek across the desert. Lallart's mission is not known - his claim was that he was to receive his sealed orders from an Arab reception party, so he never knew himself.

'Irish' files Stephen Held

(KV 2/1449-1450)

Held was an IRA sympathiser of German descent, who had visited Germany in 1940 as an emissary of the IRA, and so was involved in Plan Kathleen, the abortive German plan to occupy Ireland. His arrest in Dublin led to the subsequent detention of Hermann Goertz, whose parachute and transmitter were found in his house along with papers relating to Plan Kathleen, and whose MI5 file was released in November 2003.

Herbert Tributh

(KV 2/1451)

Tributh was a German born in South West Africa infiltrated with explosives disguised as tins of French peas into Southern Ireland in 1940. Arrested on arrival and interned in Dublin and then Athlone, along with his fellow saboteur Otto Dietergartner, whose file was released in November 2003, Tributh was repatriated to Germany after the war.

Ireland policy files

(KV 4/232-233)

This release also includes two reconstituted policy files relating to control of the IRA during the Second World War. Though the lead responsibility for investigating the IRA in the UK lay with the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, the Security Service retained a role where military and associated interests were threatened, and these files document the actions taken in that capacity to counter any threat of IRA-German co-operation in Ireland.

KV 4/232 (1939-1941) details pre-war preparations, including liaison with the Home Office and chief constables, information on the organisational structure of the Security Service, and concerns about the employment of IRA sympathisers in key industrial sectors and the need to improve factory-site security.

Once the war broke out, there were meetings with chief constables and Home Office officials, for which the Service produced relevant case summaries, which are included on KV 2/233 (1942). This also shows some of the frustrations felt by the Security Service about the parameters they had to work in. For example, Guy Liddell minuted in March 1942: "As long as the police and in particular the Metropolitan Police, are responsible for IRA activities in this country it seems to me that it is impossible for MI5 to attempt to obtain information about the organisation"

"The English Patient" files Mohsen Fadl

(KV 2/1463)

Fadl was an Egyptian member of the 'Pyramid Organisation' of German spies in Cairo, who had been recruited in October 1941 in Paris (at a café on the Bois de Boulogne) by the Hungarian aristocrat and model for The English Patient Count László Almásy. The file contains a description of Almásy made by Fadl after his arrest in 1943. Fadl was arrested after being identified by Sobhi Hanna, an Egyptian lawyer arrested for espionage in 1942. The SIME interrogation report on Fadl, in which he provides information on his contacts including Almásy, and gives details of his activities, is on file.

Johannes Eppler

(KV 2/1467-1468)

Eppler was a German of Egyptian descent who was recruited by the Abwehr to be infiltrated to Egypt from where he was to send radio messages direct to Rommel's headquarters giving information about British troop and naval movements. The infiltration was carried out by Count Almásy by a hazardous drive across the desert from Tobruk; after completing the task, Almásy simply turned his lorries around and made the return journey. The entirely unconnected capture of the wireless operator in Rommel's HQ who was meant to receive his transmissions by a New Zealand desert patrol meant that Eppler's messages were never received, as no replacement was ever made to complete the link. Eppler was arrested in July 1942. These files contain the greatest detail in this release of Almásy.

KV 2/1467 begins with Eppler's arrest, and includes detailed interrogation reports and several accounts of his desert journey with Almásy (e.g. at folio 6a). Interestingly, Eppler's transmitting code name is here given by some sources as Moritz, while that of another companion German agent was to have transmitted as Max. There does not seem to be any connection however with the Max and Moritz reports sent to the Dienstelle Klatt.

Further similar details are included on KV 2/1468, which covers 1943-1946 and closes the case. The file includes a photograph of the Austrian Victor Hauer, who lead the British authorities in Egypt to Eppler.

German espionage in north Africa

(KV 3/74)

This file of reports based on ISOS intercepts was compiled by the Radio Intelligence Section, and includes material not released by GCHQ. Count Almásy's desert journeys can be traced in part through these reports. The file, covering 1941-1952, includes various reports derived from radio intelligence on subjects such as developments in French and Spanish Africa, plans of enemy communication networks and suspected German stay-behind groups in North Africa after the fall of Tunis. Almásy is identified as one of a number of German agents involved in desert transport activities.