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08 March

Security Service records released today include personal files on US film director Carl Nathan Foreman, Irish playwright Brendan Behan and Nazi propagandist Gottfried Rosel, as well as investigations into the dangers posed by bicycling groups of Hilter Youth and the Communist links of Theatre Workshop.

The 196 files cover subjects from the pre-war period, the Second World War and post-war. This is the 24th Security Service records release, bringing the total number of its records in the public domain to more than 4,300.

Many of the files are available on DocumentsOnline. Downloads are free for a period of one month.

Hitler Youth (KV 5/85) 1937, (KV 5/89) 1938 - 1944 (KV 5/87) 1937 - 1938

Hitler Youth - Catalogue reference KV 5/85

Before the war the Hitler Youth was keen to foster closer relations with the Boy Scouts. The German Ambassador invited prominent members of the Boy Scouts Organisation, including founder Baden Powell, to dinner with German Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop.

File KV 5/87 deals with the activities of the Hitler Youth in the UK in the years leading up to the Second World War, in particular bicycling tours. The danger of reconnaissance activity was recognised, though initially on the basis of an exaggerated newspaper report about 'spyclists'.

The file contains copies of the Hitler Youth's monthly magazine 'Wille und Macht' and much intercepted correspondence.

View KV 5/85 and KV 5/89 in DocumentsOnline

View KV 5/87 in DocumentsOnline

Brendan Francis Behan (KV 2/3181) 1941 - 1958

Playwright Brendan Behan - Catalogue reference KV 2-3181

The Irish playwright first came to the Security Service's attention when he attempted to enter the UK in 1939 with a forged travel permit.

He was returned to Ireland in 1941 after a period of detention under the Explosive Substances Act.

In 1942 he was sentenced in Dublin to 14 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of two detectives.

View KV 2/3181 in DocumentsOnline

Carl Nathan Foreman (KV 2/3262) 1952 - 1957

Carl Nathan Foreman - Catalogue reference KV 2-3262

US film director and writer Carl Nathan Foreman moved to Britain in 1952 because of his left-wing views.

He maintained contact with others holding similar views but appeared to take no active part in politics.

View KV 2/3262 in DocumentsOnline



Rudolph Gottfried Rosel (KV 2/3188) 1933 – 1936

A German journalist in London in the 1930s, Rosel was chief of the Anglo-German Information Service and a leading Nazi propagandist in Britain. He was also suspected of being a Gestapo informant and was expelled in the summer of 1939.

Rosel reportedly later admitted that his purpose in Britain was to organise a reliable 'Fifth Column' or group of people who would secretly undermine Britain from within.

View KV 2/3188 in DocumentsOnline

Theatre Workshop (KV 2/3178) 1951 - 1955

Leading lights of the Theatre Workshop included Joan Littlewood, Ewan McColl and Karl Woods. The company came to notice in the early 1950s because of the Communist associations of many of its members, and in 1953 it was described as Communist-controlled. The file includes many reviews and other press cuttings.

Other highlights

  • Sidney Stanley, principal witness at the Lynskey Tribunal, who was due to be deported to Poland but disappeared to Israel instead (KV 2/3176) 
  • Joseph Gerard Andrews, the 'undesirable peddler of information' with links to the IRA, who was contacted by German agents (KV 2/3119-31120) 
  • The unusual case of Weber Strebel, a Swiss journalist recruited by the Germans in 1939 but who apparently had little intention of sending through any information (KV 2/3121)
  • The glamorous and 'unscrupulous' Czech, Sophia Alexandra Clapham-Kukralova, suspected of being a German agent (KV 2/3122)
  • William Burges, an army major and employee of Woolwich Arsenal, arrested and charged under the Officials Secret Act (KV 2/3164)

In the bookshop

British Intelligence: Secrets, Spies and Sources - a popular exploration of spies and their networks told through previously top-secret documents at The National Archives.