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A document from the recently opened records of Britain's Special Operations Executive gives some indication of just how well-informed the British were about German intentions -- from Ultra or whatever other sources. On May 1, 1941, when most of the world still viewed the Germans and Soviets as contented allies, an SOE analyst produced a report that began: "There can be little doubt that Germany could defeat Russia in the field very easily. The immense distances which prevented Napoleon from following up his victory are no longer a hindrance, as all parts of the U.S.S.R. could be quickly reached by planes and A.F.V.'s. Drives would probably take place from Finland, Poland and Roumania.... The Soviet cannot be saved." (The SOE's talents at predicting final outcomes were obviously of a lesser order.) The report goes on to mention intelligence indicating that the Germans had already set up "committees of national liberation" for the Baltic countries. The report is in the Public Record Office, file HS4/243, document #3. After the new revelations about Ultra, I am left wondering just how comprehensive Britain's foreknowledge of German intentions was in other arenas. If the British knew the Germans were going to attack Russia, and if they knew that mass murders of Jews were taking place while that attack proceeded, then did they also know that the Germans intended to carry out those murders before the invasion took place? The answer, if it is ever to be found, may lie in recently declassified material like the SOE files in England and the NSA files in the U.S. But it may also be found in some of the large amount of British material still under seal. In my view, that's a tantalizing enough possibility to justify pestering the British authorities to open the records of Bletchley Park and perhaps other collections. Tom Wood E. Thomas Wood 3801 Woodmont Lane Nashville, Tennessee 37215 USA ph 615-298-4716 email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Nashville freelance correspondent for New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Author, Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust (John Wiley & Sons, hardback 1994, paperback 1996); Karski: Opowiesc o emisariuszu (Krakow: Baran i Suszczynski, 1996). Karski WWW page: http://remember.org/karski/karski.html.
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