23 September 2004 list

Catalogue ref. Date Description
BT 341/261 1991-1995 General instructions and procedures: death of publisher Robert Maxwell on MV Lady Ghislaine, 5 November 1991

- Papers about the registration under the 1970 Merchant Shipping Act of Robert Maxwell's death at sea. Includes correspondence with the British Consul in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, statements by the crew of MV Lady Ghislane (the yacht from which Maxwell fell), submissions to Ministers about whether or not to hold an inquiry and various press cuttings. The Secretary of State had the discretion under the 1970 Merchant Shipping Act, as amended, to decide whether or not to arrange an inquiry into the circumstances of the death. The file records the consideration of whether an inquiry was necessary, who might conduct it and where it might be held given Maxwell's high profile and the ongoing Spanish investigations. The Secretary of State decided not to hold an inquiry in view of the expert investigations being carried out elsewhere.

CO 733/394/1 1939 Illegal immigration of Jews into Palestine

- Conditions of illegal immigration and the treatment of the immigrants by the British authorities.

CO 733/394/2 1939 Illegal immigration of Jews into Palestine
CO 733/394/3 1939 Illegal immigration of Jews into Palestine

- Reports on a shooting of a people from a Lewis gun that was on the police launch injured and died. Colonel the Rt Hon J C Wedgwood, Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, is convinced that the shots were fired from the Lewis gun. 'The correspondence which he encloses does not prove this... and as it comes from the New Zionist Organisation, I do not think we need to pay too much attention to it...'

CO 733/415/14 1939 Measures for restoration of peace
CO 733/437/12 1943 Immigration of Roumanian Jews

- Reported concerns by the Roumanian Government about possible Allied retribution over the Roumanian policy of transporting Jews out of the country.

CO 733/443/18
CO 733/443/19

1943 Reactions in USA: US approach to lbn Saud; discussions with Colonel Hoskins

- Academic and Arabist Harry St John Philby (father of the Soviet spy Kim Philby) proposes handing over Palestine territory to the Jews in return for £20 million compensation. Conspiracy and secret negotiations are evident between Philby and Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud (later king of Saudi Arabia), Chaim Weizmann (President of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and later to become Israel's first president), Colonel Hoskins (US President Franklin Roosevelt's special envoy to the Middle East) and even Roosevelt himself. However, after Philby leaks the story to other Arabs, Ibn Saud withdraws from negotiations and denies all previous involvement.

CO 733/443/24 1943 Jewish Agency for Palestine

- Crisis in the Zionist movement. Ben Gurion resigns as the Agency's chairman and there is a change in attitude towards the partition of Palestine.

CO 733/457/5 1944-1945 Bomb outrages: Jewish informer (member of IZL, Irgun Zvai Leumi)

- Eri Jabotinsky was working for the United States in Turkey as an observer of an American initiative to save the Jewish people of Europe but he was also involved with radical Jewish groups in Palestine, then under British mandate. Jabotinsky is subsequently accused of being involved with the assassination in Cairo on 6 November 1944 of Lord Moyne, the British Minister of State. He has his re-entry visa to America withdrawn and is then expelled from Turkey at the request of the British Ambassador in Ankara .

CO 733/457/13 1945 Terrorist outrages: extension to United Kingdom

- Discussions between the Colonial Office, MI5, Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME) and the Defence Security Officer (Palestine) - following the interrogation of Rafael Sadowsky, a prominent member of the Stern gang captured in Egypt - about Jewish terrorists seeking to extend their terrorist campaign to Britain. The file also discusses the numerous measures instituted by the security services, originally in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, to vet known Jewish terrorists in the armed forces (and the merchant navy) and to keep them out of the country.

CO 733/457/14 1945 Palestine terrorist organisations: capture of Yacov Meridor, IZL (Irgun Zvai Leumi) leader

- Details discussions between Guy Liddell (MI5) and Christopher Eastwood (CO) in the wake of the capture and interrogation of Yacov Meridor, leading to fears that VE-Day in Europe will signal a D-Day for Jewish terrorists in Palestine. Details preparations to avoid 'premature disclosure' of VE-Day in the Middle East without giving at least 48 hours' notice to Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME).

CO 733/462/6 1944-1945 Palestine policy: Jewish Agency

- Jewish groups debate the implications of joining the Allies in their fight against the Nazis in light of Mussolini's policies against Italian Jews in 1940. Other papers reveal problems arising from the proposed and actual settlement of Jewish refugees in Palestine.

CO 733/463/21 1945 Palestine policy: reactions of Jewish Agency Executive Council to Foreign Secretary's statement on Palestine

- The Jewish Agency Executive Council considers the policy of restriction of Jewish immigration to Palestine and alternative resettlement in Europe as representative of unparalleled racial discrimination in the democratic world. The British government's attitude has affected the USA's role in solving the Palestine problem and the Council encourages the Jewish people to reject any political settlement which restricts their right to settle in their homeland as equal citizens.

CO 733/466/13 1945 Illegal immigration into Palestine

- Jews are illegally immigrating to Palestine through Greece and the Balkan states. The Soviet authorities are claiming that the Jewish Agency in Iraq is collecting Jewish children off the streets without their parents' knowledge and smuggling them into Palestine.

CO 733/490/3 1948 Detention of illegal immigrants in Cyprus

- Contradictory reports about why Jewish escapees from British camps on Cyprus have been shot. Perceptions that the Jewish authorities are using incidents and encouraging disgruntlement to draw attention to their cause. Yeshiva students are released from the camps.

CO 733/490/6 1948 Illegal immigration: situation reports on Cyprus camps.
FO 371/53369 1946 Expenditure of Secret Funds: Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Egypt; dispersal of foreigners formerly employed by Force 133

- Details the expenditure of secret funds to wind up Force 133 members and activities in Egypt and elsewhere after the Second World War. Some personal cases are mentioned, including that of Mr and Mrs Bierer (featured in a previous release of SOE personnel files).

FO 371/75838 1949 Report from secret French sources of preparation of anti-British campaign starting in China after formation of new communist government in Peking.
FO 371/94777 1951 Expulsion of British diplomats Gilbert and Hazell

as personae non gratae for alleged spying activities in connection with the trial of Group Captain Turner, a former Air Attaché convicted of trying to abduct a Polish woman with the help of two Merchant Navy Officers Nelmes and Upperton: circumstances of Turner's release and rearrest and account of treatment of Nelmes and Upperton; negotiations with Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

FO 371/100320 1952 Exchange of research material on communism with US Embassy in London; American request for information about the organisation, functions and purposes of the Moscow Secretariat.
FO 371/116544 1955 Deportation of Josef Malicki, Secretary General of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Britain

- Foreign Office unease at the way the Home Office was handling publicity in the case of the deportation of Josef Malicki from the UK for minor espionage activity.

FO 624/116 1947 Communism in Iraq

- Our embassy in Baghdad comments on international and national groups in Iraq believed to be under or open to Communist influence. Assessments of various parties, including "Dr Sami Shawgat's bombastically nationalist Ba'ath al Qawmi", and the Rezgari - a 1946 pamphlet issued by Al Qaida, then the name used by a left wing Iraqi organisation.

FO 1060/411 1950-1955 Reserved powers of High Commission: arming of German police

- Foreign Office deliberations on the role of the West Berlin police as an armed auxiliary force and their role in the event of insurrection or war following the Korean War. Legal wrangling that in the event of their capture the police could be shot by the Soviets as franc tireurs (translated from the French as literally "free shooter", this was the term used to describe civilians who took up arms against an enemy power contrary to the usual rules of war). However, it is also noted that the Soviet authorities are 'so unpredictable' that this might happen whether the police are armed or not. They conclude that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

FO 1060/489 1950-1955 War criminals: Erich Raeder, former admiral

- Preparations for the release of Prisoner no. 4, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, from Spandau prison in 1955 because of fears for his deteriorating health. File includes (at folio 87b) a medical report on Rudolf Hess.

MT 47/693 1975-1978 Consideration of cash limits on grants to the British Railways Board: consultation with HM Treasury and other divisions

- Tackles the difficulties experienced by the Labour government attempting to cap British Railways support payments using cash limits based on 1975-6 expenditure. These centred around a sensible method for circulating the cash limits.

TS 27/1584 1963 -1991 Churchill Papers: Chartwell Trust; question of ownership of papers

- Attempts by the Churchill family to sell Sir Winston Churchill's deposited papers which have been housed at Churchill College, Cambridge. Discussion within government about what to do about buying the archive.

WO 208/5491 1943 MI 14b/11: German Army orders of battle, Western Front

- Reports on suspected and actual movements and disbanding/formation of units and numbers of troops in certain areas.

WO 208/5493 1944 War records: Waffen SS reports

- Military Intelligence file on the Waffen SS, showing government interest in identifying location and strength of the divisions of this perceived elite military force. Includes an assessment of 25 leading Waffen SS officers, and concludes that, although the Waffen SS was technically a branch of the Nazi party and the SS, its officers are not typical Nazis or SS officers. Most have a military background predating Nazism which "puts them in the full current of German nationalism and militarist development…the officers who lead the Waffen SS today are a permanent feature of German history. Repressed or expelled in one quarter, they reappear in another…they will not easily disappear after this war". These comments show a great deal about attitudes towards German culture, history and society, presented as fact to top level British commanders. The file also gives details of the success and strengths of the so-called foreign legions of the Waffen SS, recruited among occupied countries, including Finland, Romania, the Low Countries and Norway. Despite propaganda efforts, numbers recruited were no more than in the low thousands for each country.

WO 208/5520 1942 Interrogation reports on German prisoners of war: S/50/1/0842-0847, consolidated reports on Johann Eppler and Heinrich Sandstede (known as Kondor Max and Moritz).

Interrogation reports of German PoW Intelligence agents Johann Eppler and Heinrich Sandstede. These include references to their dealings with Hungarian Count László Almásy, the model for the Count in the book and film The English Patient. The file contains details, including maps, not covered by the relevant Security Service files which were released in May 2004 (KV 2/1463, 1467-1468 and KV 3/74).

WO 208/5550 1944 Interrogation reports on German prisoners of war: analysis of the views of German senior officer POWs; GRGG.

Intelligence report drawn up following interrogation of senior German PoWs, highlighting widely differing opinions of the officers about Germany's prospects in 1944 and the best way to secure the survival and prosperity of Germany post-war.

WORK 69/9 1916-1923 Historic buildings: photographs of various buildings and wharfs around Great Britain

- Construction of various public buildings, mainly military (air stations etc).

WORK 69/11 1929-1935 Conferences and commissions: including World Poultry Congress; Crystal Palace and livestock halls in Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the United States and exhibit stands at St James's Palace, Burlington House (London) and Geneva; photographs.

Photograph album of events in state buildings, including the Guard Room and St James's Palace converted into a telephone room for the Five Power Naval Conference of 1930 (note the swords on the walls); the International Thrift Conference incongruously sited at Burlington House; and the World Poultry Conference 1930 at the Crystal Palace (many photos, including some of caged poultry).

WORK 69/12 1910-1914 Architectural pieces: fireplaces, ceiling designs and various other pieces taken from houses in Great George Street and Old Scotland Yard, London; photographs.

Photographs of historic interiors, some apparently of government offices, taken before demolition/redecoration - marked up with destinations for salvaged features (mainly Victoria & Albert Museum, royal palaces).

WORK 69/13 1939-1944 Temporary Office Buildings (TOB) wartime experiment: methods and schedule of construction, cost and use for government departments evacuated from London on the outbreak of the Second World War; with photographs.

A memoir detailing the progress of a project involving the relocation of large numbers of civil servants out of London to ensure government carried on despite the war. Includes information on how exigencies of the war changed expectations: waitress service in staff canteens was replaced by self-service; and steel, originally used in building frames, was replaced by brick pillars as the steel ran out - whereupon there was a shortage of bricks, and the buildings ended up largely constructed of concrete. "The loss of the Burma teak forests" is lamented from the point of view of kitchen furniture: sinks had to be made of native sycamore, which warped and shrank. Large buildings had to be camouflaged from possible air attack, partly by extensive camouflage netting, but also by siting them in inconspicuous locations far from landmarks like canals and railway junctions. The report also reminisces about personal problems - the sudden movement of so many staff out of London placed a great strain on accommodation, and staff were billeted on surprised local families. Cosily concludes that initial billeting problems were soon ironed out, but not without some frostiness in the early days.

WORK 69/14 1941 Air raid damaged buildings; photographs

- Named and labelled pictures of bomb damage to prominent public sites, mainly in London, but also in Liverpool. Focuses on post offices, telephone exchanges, government buildings etc.

WORK 69/15 Undated Steel equipment: furniture for various government departments; photographs
WORK 69/16 1948-1952 House of Commons Chamber, Palace of Westminster: rebuilding and foundation stone laying by Douglas Clifton Brown, Speaker of the House of Commons; photographs

- Photo album relating to the rebuilding of the House of Commons after it was bombed in WW2. Pictures include the roofscape, showing the total devastation of the Chamber, and a set of models showing how the reconstruction would work (with model Speaker etc); also photographs of the ceremony laying the commemorative foundation stone for rebuilding (including pictures of Churchill, Attlee and other leading politicians).

WORK 69/17
WORK 69/18

1947-1951 Restoration of the Rubens Ceiling, Whitehall Palace: Photographs

- Detailed photographs of restoration work to the Rubens ceiling, showing the progress of work to individual sections in close-up.