British Intelligence and the Nazi Recruit

Stephen Tyas uncovers a skeleton in the closeted world of espionage.

Horst KopkowIn the United States in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, and as a result several million pages of Second World War intelligence material began to be declassified. A team of US historians and intelligence officials began the job of sorting the material to be placed in the public domain. Six years later the completion of the task reveals a great deal of information on the recruitment and use of Nazi war criminals by Allied intelligence agencies.

Some of the recently declassified US material came originally from British intelligence sources. One interesting case in particular relates to the British recruitment of SS-Major Horst Kopkow. Two declassified MI5 files on  Kopkow released to the National Archives at Kew in May are in response to the US declassification two years earlier.

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