Pre-war Kenya Nazi plot suspicions revealed

 

Germans who claimed to be catching butterflies in pre-war Kenya
caught the attention of British officials who feared the Nazis were
plotting to invade East Africa, previously secret files reveal.

UK colonial administrators paid close attention to the activities of Germans, Italians and the Japanese in the region in the years before the Second World War, recording shipping movements and even safari trips in intelligence reports.

Two German men found camping in Kenya's Rabai Forest in August 1938 - one a suspected Nazi agent and the other a Palestinian of German descent - told British officials they were engaged in butterfly-catching.

They claimed they had been recommended to go there by a well-known naturalist, but it turned out that he did not know them.

Another report from October 1938 records that members of the Wataita tribe had for several months observed Europeans of an unknown nationality regularly climbing to the top of a hill "to admire the trees".

The file notes: "No evidence of hidden arms, stores or a likely 'hide out' was found, although it was stated that the Kisigau Hill would make an ideal strategic retreat."

The records, released at The National Archives in Kew, west London, demonstrate British fears about Nazi plans in the lead-up to the outbreak of war in September 1939.

A monthly intelligence report from the Kenyan port of Mombasa in August 1938 observes that a German called Herr Stieglitz, a representative of German tyre manufacturer Continental, had recently been on two safaris, on one of which he killed a buffalo.

It continues: "Contact remarked that he would not like to be within range of a rifle in the hands of this person, whom he described as being a 'crack shot'. He also stated that the Germans who visit Kisigau usually shoot something."

The same document records that a drunken Italian ship's officer told a source he had heard Germans say they could organise a "semi-trained force of about 5,000 men" in East Africa if hostilities broke out.

Another report from November 1938 says that up to 2,000 Germans have been seen building roads, assembling lorries and trading in neighbouring Italian Somaliland, present-day Somalia.

They carried no weapons and most wore "khaki safari coats and shorts", but they apparently included two Luftwaffe officers who were observed in full uniform with Nazi swastika armbands at a parade to celebrate the birthday of Italian king Victor Emmanuel.

British officials were highly sensitive to the danger of inflaming tensions with Germans in Africa, the files show.

A man called GW Ockenden caused a scene on board a German ship docked at Mombasa in December 1938 by wrenching a photograph of Hitler from the wall of the first class lounge.

UK port police and magistrates took the matter extremely seriously, and Mr Ockenden received the maximum possible fine of 200 shillings.

PA

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain