A matter of intelligence

MI5 and the surveillance of anti–Nazi refugees, 1933–50

By Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove

A matter of intelligence


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9079-0
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: March 2014
  • BIC Category: Politics, Political science & theory, Espionage & secret services, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Intelligence & Espionage, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory


This is an unusual book, telling a story which has hitherto remained hidden from history: the surveillance by the British security service MI5 of anti-Nazi refugees who came to Britain fleeing political persecution in Germany and Austria. Based on the personal and organisational files that MI5 kept on political refugees during the 1930s and 1940s - which have only recently been released into the public domain - this study also fills a considerable gap in historical research. Telling a story of absorbing interest, which at times reads more like spy fiction, it is both a study of MI5 and of the political refugees themselves. The book will interest academics in the fields of history, politics, intelligence studies, Jewish studies, German studies and migration studies; but it is also accessible to the general reader interested in Britain before, during and after the Second World War.


"Given the wealth of literature that has appeared in recent decades on the victims of Nazism, it is now rare indeed for a book on the refugees from Hitler in Britain to open up to its readers an almost completely unexplored area of that history. Yet this is the case with Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove's study, A Matter of Intelligence: MI5 and the Surveillance of Anti-Nazi Refugees, 1933-1950"

(Anthony Grenville, Association of Jewish Refugees Journal, July 2014)

"An immaculately researched study"

(Nicholas Jacobs, Camden New Journal, 10/07/2014)


Charmian Brinson is Professor of German Studies at Imperial College, London

Richard Dove is Emeritus Professor of German, University of Greenwich


Part I: I Spy 1933-39
1. Defending the realm: MI5 in the making
2. Liddell in wonderland: MI5 and the Prussian secret police
3. The undesirables: political refugees from Germany and Austria after January 1933
4. The mysterious case of Dora Fabian
5. Nazi spies and the 'Auslandsorganisation'
6. No more peace: Otto Lehmann-Russbueldt and German rearmament
7. Flying and spying: Claud W. Sykes, Karl Otten and the 'Primrose League'
8. The 'Red Menace'
9. 'Peace for our time'
Part II: Secrets, lies and misinterpretations
10. 'A state of confusion which amounted almost to chaos': MI5 1939-41
11. The internment of 'enemy aliens'
12. 'The largest communist sideshow in London': the Free German League of Culture
13. The Austrian Centre - and 'the great Eva'
14. 'About the most dangerous of all these organisations': the Czech Refugee Trust Fund
15. Whispers and lies: the informers
16. Friends in need: British supporters of the refugees
Part III: Preparing for the Cold War
17. Red alert: keeping watch on the communists
18. Tube alloys: the British atomic bomb project
19. The spy who was caught: the case of Klaus Fuchs
20. The spy who got away: the case of Engelbert Broda
21. Parting company
A note on sources
Select Bibliography

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