Saturday, September 22, 2007

MI5 Spied on International Brigade Vets- (Relax)- Philby was the Case Officer...

It appears from the MI 5 files for the post-war era in Britain, that as several members of the International Brigade Association (IBA) had long suspected, IB vets were systematically spied on by Britain's internal political police service M15. MI 5's website reveals that this occurred in the Cold War years following the end of World War II , see
Philby-Below (Bandaged) in Spain, his transport had come under attack from Republican Forces Below (ii) as a Senior MI 5 Officer-
Philby-below (iii)- as he appeared in a Commemorative Stamp in the USSR .
"File ref KV 5/46-58
The thirteen reconstructed files of Security Service information about the British International Brigade Association (IBA) now released give a wealth of detail about the organisation and its activities from 1941 to 1954.
The files show that nearly all Security Service records on the IBA prior to June 1941 were destroyed at an early date, and there is therefore no contemporary information abo
ut the IBA from the Spanish Civil War period. Instead, the files focus on the propaganda and campaigning work of the IBA on behalf of Brigade veterans and against the Franco regime. Through intercepted correspondence of leading figures such as Nan Green (to April 1947 when the warrant was suspended) and phone calls, and through reports of meetings around the country, a detailed history of the development of the IBA can be reconstructed. The records of liaison with the Secret Intelligence Service show that in the post-war years most of the correspondence passed through Kim Philby's hands. There is a brief Security Service summary of the IBA's history at serial 570a in KV 5/58.
This scrutiny of IBA activity, may well have involved liaising with Spanish intelligence, as well as phone tapping, and perhaps most disturbingly 'reports' of meetings throughout the country. Whether or not the meetings reported on were internal IBA meetings or not is not made clear, although some diligent historian of IB affairs, and I know a few, will no doubt be able to reveal this now that the files are open to examination. Disturbing stuff, men and women whose 'crime' was that they took up arms against fascism in the years 1936-1939, were scrutinised secretly by the British state well after the Second World War, even more disturbing is the possibility that information concerning ongoing anti-fascist resistance in Franco's Spain may have been gleaned from this operation.It also appears that all the reports on this operation ended up on the desk of one Kim Philby , who no doubt, it can be reasonably assumed given his loyalties, would know exactly what should be done with the most sensitive and potentially damaging information .In fact it is ironically the case that Philby himself, could, had the truth been known at the time, have qualified as a veteran of the anti-fascist struggle in Spain, having been posted there in his earliest days as an operative deep inside Franco occupied Spain, to provide intelligence to the Comintern on the feasibility of an assasination of the Fascist leader.


Unknown said...

you're all hooked up! while i'm not quite a communist, i DO like your chops

plus i loved your profile AND i didn't think anyone else saw the movie 1900

Politaholic said...

Unrepentant, on a compleely different tack, I seem to recall - unless my memory is playing tricks - a post of yours on the McCann story, which now seems to have disappeared from your blog. Why is this? Have you had a visit from the lawyers? Apropos of which: have you seen this:

Harry Barnes said...

Gabriel; I have replied to your own comment, next to it in my own coment box.

Labour Rigged Glenrothes said...

Hi Gabriel i have added you to my Blog Link's

as a Nationalist Blog i Link everything under countries so i have put you under Irish Links if you want moved or put under another
heading please leave a comment

Saor Alba and Keep The Red Flag Flying

Gabriel said...

Thanks for all those who have linked I shall reciprocate when ibloggers curent linking problem is resolved, which it might well be by now...

Mike said...

Hi Gabriel,

Thanks for the link request, have duly added you.

Comradely, Mike

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, keep it up, in solidarity

Gus A
Saor Alba

Louisefeminista said...

So Gabriel, are you going to be linking to any pro-choice socialist feminist sites? There are unrepentent communist women out there too in the leftie blog world.

I blog for two leftie feminist friendly ones.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff, comrade!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gabriel

Sorry for not responding - unfortunatly, Akismet blocked your comments. It sometimes does that. I have sent it to bed with no dinner now so you shouldn't have any problems.

Link duly added!

In Solidarity


Gabriel said...

Am I the only one who is encountering difficulties putting new links on to this template? Who do I contact at Blogger about this? All advice gratefully received.

Gabriel said...

Am I the only one who is encountering difficulties putting new links on to this template? Who do I contact at Blogger about this? All advice gratefully received.

one country boy said...

Thanks for being an unrepentant communist. Just happened on your site, glad to find it.

Owen Polley said...

Interesting site Gabriel. As I've said in the comments part of my site I don't have communist leanings, but I'll certainly link you to Three Thousand Versts.

Chris Gaskin said...

Great site, sorry it took me so long to put up a link, im only back to blogging this week

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Where's the surprise in all this?

1. To my knowledge, Philby gets mentioned as early as the 1982 edition of Antony Beever's The Spanish Civil War (page 255). He was already working (though he may not have been entirely aware for exactly whom) for OGPU. His controller was, probably, Theodore Maly. At that stage, Philby's role was to build a right-wing identity. Philby's involvement with MI6 (not MI5) comes after 1940.

2. I can testify that the Special Branch/MI5 security files during the 1950s and 1960s were comprehensive and efficient. In the early 60s, whenever I was photographed on a Saturday CND demo, my father could guess that by the following Monday or Tuesday: as a minor civil servant working for the Defence Ministry, he would be security checked.

It has also been established that, from the 1930s on, half the King Street staff may have been MI5/Special Branch plants or feeds.

Gabriel said...

Thanks Chris, glad your back.

Malcolm. thanks for your comments. you must make allowances for the fact that many of my posts may contain information you already know..Bear with us I am writing for folk for whom this is new info. Its difficult, I think you'll agree, to know what is fresh to some and what is not, since everyone is different.

Unknown said...

I thought Philby worked for MI6 rather than 5, so would mainly have been concerned with overseas subjects. He did have knowledge of Spain, but that was gained on the Nationalist side, so he would not have had direct knowlege of who ws who among the International Brigaders - except maybe those who were fellow spooks, and I doubt it then.
Philby was in charge of MI6 anti-comunist section and I read he was responsible for Ukrainians parachuted into the USSR so they may not have lasted long. But a more strange story concerns historian Edward Thompson's brother Frank who was engaged in wartime work with partisans in Bulgaria and Macedonia. He was lifted by right-wing Bulgarian secret police right at the end of the war, and perished. But the Bulgarian officer in charge was already linked with MI6. And with Philby's department. Some bit of skulduggery at work there.

Unknown said...

Forgot to add the good news, have found my AOL connection working again, and with it, found my way to my blog and the links working again -including Unrepentant Communist -which I used to get through here. Oh the mysterious ways of the Internet - fingers crossed.

Unknown said...

Concerning ex-International Brigaders, I've heard how they faced discrimination after in the forces, for instance. One who did not evidently was Alfred Sherman - he was put in Field Security Police, which was intelligence people were someimes for interrogating prisoners. Sherman's later career included a stint with the Observer -same paper which found Philby a job when MI6 asked them too. David Astor had intelligence connections. Sherman had been a political commisar in the Brigades, so maybe he just transferred employers.

Txel·li said...

Hi to everybody,
the only I Know about this issue is that when the Republicans fell, most of the "papers" went to England in other to avoid Franco to got them and found whereabouts of the "rojos". What happened with these papers and what use they made of them, I don't know. It's good to think that they did something for our cause, even although they left us to our fate.

By the way, I've already link your bloc to mine.

Gabriel said...

I think that if the Mi5 website specifically says that many of the reports of the spying on the IBA ended up with Philby, then we can assume that is indeed the case. As earlier posters have pointed out Cde. Philby was an Mi6 man (external affairs so to speak). Does this not suggest that some of the data gleaned from the IBA 'plants' concerned matters external to the UK. In fact I would contend that would be the only credible reason for surveilling the IBA in any case, since it was in reality an old comrades association, but which the likes of Bob Doyle reveals in his autobiography continued to take a keen and active interest in extending solidarity to the Spanish comrades in their resistance against fascism after Franco's victory. This may be why Philby's interest was critical, since it is certainly likely that information about persons and resistance in Spain would, via the Franco sympathisers in the Security services have found its way to the Francoite secret police. It does seem at the very least fortuitous,and probably in reality most deliberate, that information which may have been very damaging to cdes in Spain, was being handled by someone whose political sympathies would undoubtedly be with the beleagured Spanish resistance to Fascism.That was the why this bit of information so casually mentioned on the Mi5 website so intrigued me in the first place, I was not confused as to Philby's areas of responsibility, on the contrary it is because of his very senior Mi6 role, that his interest in the data gleaned from intelligence gathered from within the IBA is so interesting.

Tom Griffin said...

Were most of the International Brigade people 'orthodox' communists? I suspect that Philby would have been quite happy to throw any Trotskyites to the lions.

This stuff might have passed across his desk because he was the head of the Iberian division of MI6 during the war. He would have been the go-to guy on Spain.

"The records of liaison with the Secret Intelligence Service show that in the post-war years most of the correspondence passed through Kim Philby's hands."

Without wanting to state the obvious, The Secret Intelligence Service is of course MI6.

Gabriel said...

Tom , there were very very few Trotskyites in the British and Irish battalions of the IB. The majority of IB volunteers were CP members or YCL, a fairly good percentage of Labour Party and a good few who were in no party. Trots did go to Spain under the auspices of the POUM and recruited in Britain by the Independent Labour Party (ILP) but my resaerch suggests that the number who went must have been less than 10 and probably fewer than 7.They would not have had anuthing at all to do with the IBA in the period after the Spanish Civil War. Most IB veterans I knew loathed the Trots due to their most disruptive antics which undermined the military discipline and unity of the Republics army.

Unknown said...

Most IB veterans would have known little or nothing about Trotskyists other than what they were told by their political commissars.
But the GPU machie in Spain had a much wider brief than watching or disposing of genuine Trotskyists - though "Trotskyist" was a handy label to put on people -just as it was (along with "Titoite" and "Zionist") during the 1950s trials in Eastern Europe. And those who had spent time in Spain appear to have been regarded as suspect (even when like Andre Simone they had spent their time loyally pursuing Trots).
If some people were considered expendable it is doubtful whether this would depend on ascertaining if they were really Trots - more likely that "justification" would be thought up afterwards.
One interesting but sad case concerned Andre Marty. At one time his reputation was considered sacrosanct. There was a row over whether a piece by Hemingway should appear in an anthology published in the States for the IB veterans, because he had allegedly slandered Marty. But then the French CP which had protested decided - or was instructed - to stage its own "trial" of Marty, transformed from hero to villain in one fell swoop.

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