Targets of Nazi ‘Black Book’ revealed
Details of more than 2,800 British residents who were to be captured in the event of a German invasion have been made available to explore on Forces War Records
A ‘ hitlist’ naming British residents that were to be captured in the event of a German invasion has been made available online.
Researchers from Forces War Records ( forces-war-records. co.uk) have uploaded a transcription of the Nazis’ infamous Sonderfahndungsliste G.B. ( Special Search List G.B.) to the website’s collections, where it can be searched free of charge.
Dubbed the ‘Black Book’ upon its discovery by the Allies in 1945, the document reveals the names of more than 2,800 men and women who were to be arrested following Operation Sea Lion – Adolf Hitler’s failed plan to annex Britain to the Third Reich.
Names on the list range from obvious political targets such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was to be placed in the custody of Amt VI (the Nazi foreign intelligence department), to entertainers such as Noël Coward.
However, the book also contains details of lesser-known figures classed as potential “enemies of the state, traitors and undesirables” and were to be punished for earlier actions against Nazi Germany.
This includes Conrad Fulke Thomond O’Brien-ffrench, a former soldier and MI6 agent who established a spy network that stretched deep into the heart of Germany during the 1930s. It was during this time that he befriended Ian Fleming, who is believed to have used O’Brienffrench as the inspiration for fictional secret agent James Bond.
However, Tim Hayhoe, Managing Director of Forces War Records, said the ‘spook’ had been active from as early as the First World War, when he relayed important information back to London after being taken prisoner at the Battle of Mons.
“Although captured, [ O’Brien-ffrench] nevertheless managed to send letters in invisible ink to Cathleen Mann, the ‘Moneypenny’ to Major Stewart Menzies of British Counterintelligence,” he said.
“They contained details of troop movements and of a prototype heavy bomber, among other vital facts.”
As well as explanations of military jargon, the online version of the book – which has been translated from German by Mr Hayhoe and his colleagues – provides biographical details for many of the people named. The transcriptions were created using one of only two surviving copies of the original document, currently held by Imperial War Museums.