Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Forged Documents Found in Britain's National Archives

Gregory Katz has a short piece up on the Smithsonian website about the discovery of forged WWII documents in the collections of Britain's National Archives. This story seems to have made very little splash in the American press, so I'm glad to know of it, even if rather belatedly.

The documents, which suggest (strongly) that the British government had a role in the assassination of Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler and had engaged in secret peace negotiations with Hitler, were used by author Martin Allen, who wrote at least three books which relied on the documents (Himmler's Secret War, The Hitler-Hess Deception, and Hidden Agenda: How the Duke of Windsor Betrayed the Allies). After journalists and historians questioned the authenticity of the pieces, Archives experts identified 29 forged documents, and Scotland Yard began a criminal investigation into the matter.

All was proceeding apace until May, when prosecutors announced that they had a suspect but were declining to file charges because the suspect was ill. Solicitor-general Vera Baird told an MP that the suspect was, in fact, Martin Allen, but that while the government had "sufficient evidence" for a conviction, "there were a number of public interest factors against a prosecution, which outweighed those in favor." Allen has not been charged, and maintains his innocence.

Scholars and a spokesman for the National Archives have argued that a trial, or at least a public report on the crime, is necessary.

Read the whole story, it's quite good.

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