BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 8 February, 2002, 06:16 GMT
Britain forged Hitler passport
Fake Hitler passport
The passport was among wartime subversion plans
A forged passport for Adolf Hitler made by British intelligence officers is among secret UK government documents made public for the first time.

The fake passport, stamped Vienna 1941, is among files released on Friday from the wartime sabotage and subversion organisation, the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

The files include details of operations planned by the unit, which was formed by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze" with resistance.

There are also many examples of forged documents for use by agents abroad.

The Hitler forgery included a visa authorising the dictator to settle in Palestine - then British-controlled territory.

Hitler passport
The red J denoted Jewish
The bizarre find is among more than 1,000 documents being put on show at the Public Record Office in Kew, in London.

The previously top-secret papers also reveal that the SOE discussed organising "execution month", a campaign against senior Gestapo and SS officials, in October 1943.

But the plan was eventually shelved for fear of German reprisals against civilian populations.

The now declassified documents also show that British agents developed a one-man midget submarine to target enemy shipping.

There were also plans for the SOE to fly chocolate to children in German-occupied Norway. The plan is understood to have later been abandoned amid fears of breaking the blockade.

Identifying features

No clue is given as to why the fake Hitler passport was created - it could have been a joke, or part of a plan to spread disinformation.

It was stamped on the outside with a large 'J' by its forgers to denote that he was Jewish, and said that his profession was a painter.

Forgeries of personal papers
High quality forgeries of personal papers are among the finds
The forged document is complete with personal details including place and date of birth.

Under identification marks the forgers have written in German "small moustache".

The SOE specialised in creating fake personal papers and travel permits.

One of its main tasks was to plant spies and saboteurs in territories under enemy control.

Examples of other forgeries released at the Public Record Office include Bulgarian firearms licences, Greek travel permits and Croatian fishing licences.

One shows a work pass for the IG Farben synthetic chemicals plant at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were executed.

Fool-proof submarine

The one-man midget submarine was meant to target enemy shipping anchored in ports or inshore waters.

SOE facts
Created 1940 to organise resistance in German-occupied France
Controlled from London
Charlotte Gray, Sebastian Faulks' novel which is now a film, has an SOE agent as its central character
SOE disbanded 1946
Former agents absorbed into MI6 and other secret service organisations

The 20ft vessel, called the Welman and built in 1942, was designed to be operated by "anybody with normal intelligence after the briefest possible period of training".

It was to be used to attack ships by placing explosive devices onto their hulls, as well as for transporting stores and reconnaissance missions.

But trials concluded that the Welman would best be used only against merchant shipping harboured along the Norwegian coastline.

The Welman did see service in the Baltic.

The BBC's Lisa Hampele
"Other plans kep secret for 60 years were deadly serious"
See also:

01 Jan 01 | UK Confidential
Unlocking the secrets of government
04 Feb 02 | Europe
Hitler's final witness
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories