MI6 archives reveal plans for WWII and Cold War black operations
May 30, 2013 9 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Recently declassified British archives reveal a host of audacious plans for covert operations aimed at Nazi-occupied Europe during wartime and, after 1948, inside the Soviet Union. The plans, proposed by British intelligence officials, ranged from relatively innocuous psychological operations to assassinations of key political figures. The wartime plans were proposed in 1944 by Charles Peake, a British intelligence officer detailed to the headquarters of General Dwight Eisenhower. The iconic American military commander was in charge of plans for Operation OVERLORD, the allied troop landings on the beaches of Normandy in northern France. According to documents released last week by the United Kingdom National Archives, Peake’s proposal was entitled “Assassination Priorities for OVERLORD”. It contained an extensive list of senior German and French Axis officials that should be targeted for assassination in preparation for the D-Day landings. The hit list included “certain Germans in key positions in France”, notably Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Erwin Rommel. It also incorporated several senior members of France’s Nazi-controlled Vichy administration under Marshal Philippe Pétain. The proposal, however, was quickly shot down by no other than General Stewart Menzies, Director of the Secret Intelligence Service (known as MI6), who feared that intrusive covert actions by allied operatives would cause brutal reprisals against allied prisoners of war. Ironically, Menzies, known in government simply as “C”, drafted an ever more ambitious plan for black operations after the end of World War II, this time targeted at the Soviet Union. In 1948, “C” presented the British Foreign Office with “a comprehensive political warfare plan” to include the use “of both special operations and deception” designed to counter what London perceived at the time as “the growing Soviet threat”. The plan proposed a varied range of black operations including relatively “minor acts of sabotage and intimidation” aimed at causing “general nuisance” inside the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. Examples of such actions were circulating anti-communist propaganda posters, “throwing ridicule” at Soviet communist officials or government institutions, distributing forged Soviet currency, ration cards or travel passes, and —bizarrely— deploying “odour bombs” at meetings of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But the list of proposed clandestine actions also included sabotage of Soviet transportation hubs and locomotive networks, “incendiarism”, and even sending “explosive parcels” to Soviet government apparatchiks, causing their “liquidation”. Menzies also suggested “framing [Soviet] diplomats and other officials by planted evidence”, and even “kidnapping [...] high-ranking communist personalities [...] in such a manner as to give the appearance of defection”. The memo concludes with a stern reminder that such “special operations of a violent or subversive nature” must in peacetime remain “unacknowledgeable” and must in no way implicate His Majesty’s Government. But the list was rejected almost immediately upon being presented by MI6 to the Foreign Office, on February 13, 1948. It seems that Foreign Office officials were doubtful that operational denial could be assured in case Soviet authorities uncovered the actions. But The Daily Telegraph, which accessed the declassified documents, reports that the Foreign Office did approve a proposal for the establishment of a curiously named Information Research Department, tasked with the “clandestine dissemination of oral and written propaganda” in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.