Obituary: Brigadier Michael Harbottle

Julian Lewis
Tuesday 27 May 1997 23:02
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The suggestion by Linda Melvern [obituary, 14 May] that Brigadier Michael Harbottle's Generals for Peace and Disarmament were unjustly maligned does not stand up to scrutiny, writes Julian Lewis.

In September 1984, the former Foreign Office ministers Lord Chalfont and Sir Peter Blaker, together with myself, published the results of our detailed research into the group.

Without the protection of parliamentary privilege, we described Generals for Peace as "intimately linked with the World Peace Council and other organs of the Soviet propaganda machine". For example, the key figure behind its formation and co-ordination was Dr Gerhard Kade - a very senior cog in the Soviet "peace" machine - and half of its founder members belonged to the notorious World Peace Council.

None of us received so much as a solicitor's letter from Brigadier Harbottle, despite our statement that there was "a series of direct links running from the Generals for Peace at the bottom to the Politburo at the top" (Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1984).

It was almost a decade later that the Independent itself published an account (26 April 1994) confirming our claims from the far side of the Cold War divide. You reported that, according to Gunther Bohnsack - who spent 26 years in the Active Measures Department of East German intelligence - "Generals for Peace was conceived, organised and financed by the Stasi . . . This created a real power that was in line with Moscow's ideas . . . and we always controlled this through our intelligence services in Moscow and East Berlin."

To those of us who recalled the Generals' launch of a three-hour film about themselves in 1986, in the presence of that "champion of peace" Erich Honecker, the role of the Stasi in orchestrating their group came as no surprise at all.

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