Rothermere urged Hitler to invade Romania

The former owner of the
Daily Mail wrote to Adolf Hitler congratulating Germany on its annexation of Czechoslovakia, and urging the Führer to march into Romania, British secret service files, released by the National Archives for the first time today, reveal.

The former owner of the Daily Mail wrote to Adolf Hitler congratulating Germany on its annexation of Czechoslovakia, and urging the Führer to march into Romania, British secret service files, released by the National Archives for the first time today, reveal.

Lord Rothermere even hired a glamorous German spy to introduce him to leading Nazi figures in the run-up to the Second World War. MI5 papers, reveal how Rothermere, owner of Associated Newspapers, paid Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingfurst to further his contacts with Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and Ribbentrop. The Austrian-born princess, described as London's leading Nazi hostess, was closely watched by the secret services after she arrived in Britain in the 1920s and began "worming her way into society circles".

The MI5 file describes her as an intriguer who "must be regarded as an extremely dangerous person" because of close connections with Nazi leaders.

But as war with Germany became inevitable Rothermere stopped paying her retainer. She in turn sued him for breach of contract, and threatened to publish his letters to Hitler and other Nazi leaders.

As the case got closer to court Rothermere tried to stop the action and sent his lawyer to the Home Office.

A confidential Home Office report of 26 September 1939 shows that a Mr Butler from the law firm Charles Russell said Rothermere had been a "warm supporter of the Prime Minister's policy of appeasement with Germany ... and the restoration of the Hapsburg monarchy in Austria ... He had at various times employed as confidential go-betweens various personages who had the entrée to high political circles in Germany, Austria and Hungary". Mr Butler added: "Some years ago Lord Rothermere, in order to further his international political aims, engaged the Princess Hohenlohe's services [for] £5,000 per annum and continued to pay this sum for a number of years ... the work was done by the Princess to Lord Rothermere's satisfaction."

Rothermere considered her court action to be "blackmail" and refused to pay any settlement. Princess Stephanie lost her court case and left Britain for America where she was arrested as an "enemy alien".

Children's author was double agent

The author of Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome, was a "capable, dangerous Soviet agent" counted by Lenin among his most important spies, MI5 claimed in documents released by the National Archives at Kew. KGB records also show that Lenin rated Ransome highly. A reporter in Moscow at the height of the Russian Revolution, Ransome came under intense scrutiny from MI5 and Special Branch, which included opening his mail and tracking him across Europe, from 1917 to 1920. But the writer was in fact working for MI6 all the time, other documents show. MI5 only cleared him of suspicion in 1937.

Russian spies told to join AA on arrival

Moscow's spymasters told pre-war Soviet agents about to visit Britain that they must have high-quality luggage when entering a hotel or risk being turned away, and they should join the Automobile Association because it offered motorists involved in minor offences the opportunity to avoid police attention. The captured 1937 guide warns spies not to go to south London "because foreigners there stand out".Most of the document, written in English by Soviet military intelligence, assesses areas in London for living and making contacts.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
books
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss