Posts Tagged ‘files’

Nazi holocaust documents found: 6,300 files discovered behind wall of Budapest apartment

November 22nd, 2015

Carefully removing each brick, the couple eased out some 61 kilogrammes (135 pounds) of dusty papers, many with bits of plaster caked on, but all more or less intact.

With the ink still readable – thanks to a lack of air in the cavity and nicotine from the heavy-smoking former owner – the yellowed papers were given to the Budapest City Archives.

Istvan Kenyeres, head of the archives, was amazed.

“Most wartime papers are more faded or rotten than medieval documents, on bad quality paper due to the rationing,” he said.

“The content and scale of the finding is unprecedented,” he said. “It helps to fill a huge gap in the history of the Holocaust in Budapest.”

Since September, restorers at the archives have been literally ironing the papers to study them, pausing occasionally when they spot someone famous among the scrawled names.

The May 1944 Budapest census was to identify houses to serve as holding locations for Jews before moving them to a planned walled ghetto in the city’s seventh district.

Two months earlier Nazi Germany had occupied Hungary and deportations in the countryside to the gas chambers of Auschwitz began almost immediately.

The forms found in the Budapest apartment contain names of each building’s inhabitants, and whether they are Jewish or not, with total numbers of Christians and Jews marked in the corners.

“Jewish people filled in the forms honestly, they refused to believe where this might end up,” said Kenyeres.

Shortly after the census, around 200,000 Jews were moved into some 2,000 selected buildings, “Yellow Star Houses” with the Star-of-David Jewish symbol painted on the doors.

“Thanks to the Berdefys, we know that if a lot of Jews lived in a building then it likely became a Yellow Star House,” Kenyeres said.

In late 1944, they were crammed into the ghetto, where some died of starvation or were shot next to the river – a poignant memorial of abandoned iron shoes today marks the spot.

The arrival of the Russian army in January 1945 saved the rest though, and unlike the Jews from outside the city, most of Budapest’s Jewish population survived.

An estimated total of 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, most in Auschwitz.

Kenyeres said that an estimated 23,000 more documents may still be out there which would give further valuable insight into what happened in 1944 and would also be digitalised and made available to the public if they turned up.

“People should look behind their walls, you never know in Budapest what could be there.”

Inside the far-Right stronghold where Hungarian Jews fear for the future

World War Two

The Churchill files: How the Telegraph covered Sir Winston’s death

January 23rd, 2015

On January 15, 1965, Winston Churchill suffered a severe stroke. The long-retired former Prime Minister was now 90 years old, and so his death nine days later was not a surprise. But Britain’s mass media, including the Telegraph, followed him ever step of the way. Read on to see how.

World War Two

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Seven things we learn from the latest MI5 declassified files

October 24th, 2014

2. The US feared Robert Oppenheimer would ciprofloxacin 500 mg defect to the Soviet Union on a trip to Britain

Robert Oppenheimer (AP)

Oppenheimer, the US physicist and a “father of the atomic bomb” was closely monitored by MI5 on a trip the UK in 1953 over fears he would defect to the Soviet Union.

A cable sent the MI5 by the US Embassy said: “Information has been received that Oppenheimer may defect from France in September 1954. According to the source, Oppenheimer will first come to England and then go to France, where he will vanish into Soviet hands.”

3. MI5 put Julius Nyerere under surveillance despite having “no credible evidence” linking him to subversion

Julius Nyerere (AP)

The security service began monitoring Nyerere, leader of the independence movement in Tanganyika and later first president of Tanzania, during independence negotiations in London as a result of a request by the Colonial Office.

“The alarmist case for a Home Office Warrant on Nyerere made by successive Colonial Secretaries and accepted by successive Home Secretaries now appears flimsy,” Prof Christopher Andrew, MI5’s official historian, noted in an analysis of the files.

“There was no credible evidence linking Nyerere to subversion. On the contrary, the evidence in his file shows him to have been a devout Catholic as well as a popular leader, profoundly opposed to violence, striving to create a non-racial society.”

4. Eric Hobsbawm was monitored by MI5 for more than 20 years

Eric Hobsbawm (Rex)

The security services opened the Marxist historian’s letters and bugged his telephone calls and meetings, learning that he was in contact with leading members of the now defunct British Communist Party.

Among his associates were James MacGibbon, a wartime British intelligence officer who passed secrets to the Russians, and Alan Nunn May, the British atomic scientist who had been convicted as a Soviet spy

A member of the now defunct British Communist Party since 1936, Hobsbawm had unsuccessfully fought to see the files before his death in 2012.

One report noted that Hobsbawm “dresses in a slovenly way”, while another reported that he was “in difficulties” with his wife, “who does not consider him to be a fervent enough Communist.”

5. MI5 came close to capturing the commander of the Greek-backed Eoka guerrilla movement

Georgios Grivas (Getty Images)

Files on Georgios Grivas, the Cyprus-born general of the Greek Army who led the Eoka guerrillas fighting for union with Greece, show that he was almost captured by MI5’s leading officer in Cyprus, Brigadier Bill Magan.

Magan, who died in 2010 aged 101, did not go ahead with the move for fear it could jeopardise the negotiations which led to the creation of the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1959.

Grivas’s files contain a lengthy profile of him by Magan, who noted that his report could be considered “a trifle colourful for an official paper”.

6. The “genius” MI5 agent who smoked out British Nazi sympathisers was a bank clerk

Eric Roberts (AP)

The identity of the MI5 spy who posed as a German agent to infiltrate the ranks of British Nazi sympathisers is revealed as Eric Roberts, a bank clerk and father-of-three who lived with his family in Surrey.

Files released in February had disclosed the existence of the so-called “fifth column” case. At the time King was thought to be John Bingham, the MI5 officer who partly inspired John le Carré’s character George Smiley.

The latest disclosure shows that King’s true identity was Roberts, who worked at the Euston Road branch of the Westminster Bank in central London.

The file shows that Roberts’s employers were confused after receiving a letter requesting his urgent service for a special task of national importance.

In a letter dated June 11 1940, RW Jones, the bank’s assistant controller, said: “What we would like to know here is what are the particular and especial qualifications of Mr Roberts – which we have not been able to perceive – for some particular work of national military importance which would take him away from his normal military call-up in October?”

7. A future Israeli deputy prime minister worked for British intelligence during the Second World War

Abba Eban (Srdja Djukanovic/The Telegraph)

Abba Eban, who was born in Britain, appeared to have a career as a brilliant academic ahead of him before the start of the war.

However the files show that he went on from a research post at Cambridge University to work for British intelligence, including in the Intelligence Corps and SOE, the Special Operations Executive.

He went on to become deputy prime minister of Israel and the country’s ambassador to the USA.

His files include copies of letters sent to Eban and his wife Suzy while they lived in Highgate, north London, sent by his father-in-law in Cairo, and a report on his appointment as Israel’s ambassador to the US.

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