Holocaust-Era Assets

RG 84: Great Britain

State Department and Foreign Affairs Records

Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State (RG 84)

Great Britain

Great Britain, led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939.  In May 1940, Chamberlain was replaced by Winston Churchill.  During the next five years Great Britain extended considerable resources to defeat the Axis.  In 1939 the British held half the foreign investments in the world.  By the time the war concluded the British were in debt. (Note 69)

The British government agreed before the war that the conduct of all operations of economic warfare should be in the hands of a single, independent Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Warfare (MEW), which was accordingly established on September 3, 1939.  This was unlike the American economic warfare activities which were placed in the hands of numerous Federal agencies.

The first step in the operations of the MEW was to establish the blockade of Germany.  Besides the blockade the British took measures to restrict the flow of good into Germany by means of control at the source.  Exports from the Commonwealth and Empire were subject to licensing control from early in the war and in January 1940 the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation was established to make pre-emptive purchases of strategic goods to prevent them from falling into enemy hands and this practice was greatly extended from the summer of 1940.  The United States government would take similar measure once it entered the war.

The United Kingdom Commercial Corporation handled the purchase and sale of goods from neutral countries, particularly Turkey, Spain, and Portugal.  In the case of some neutral countries the British negotiated a War Trade Agreement by which the neutral would undertake to limit the sale of specified goods to Germany in exchange for an undertaking by the United Kingdom to facilitate its imports.  In other cases to prevent re-export to Germany by neutral countries their imports were subjected to a compulsory rationing scheme introduced at the same time as the other stricter controls.  These blockade measures led to pressures arising from allegations of deprivation of the inhabitants of enemy-occupied territories as a result of which the Ministry eventually became concerned in relief shipments by the Red Cross.

Enemy exports were placed under an embargo in November 1939.  Cargoes from neutral or allied countries could be provided by British Missions abroad with passes or certificates of origin.

The Intelligence Division was at first responsible for the collation and interpretation of all kinds of economically important information.  A section of the Division was responsible for collecting evidence about firms and individuals suspected to have dealings with the enemy with a view to their being placed on the Statutory List of Black List.  British firms were prohibited by the Trading with the Enemy Act operated by the Board of Trade and the Treasury from dealing with such firms and the lists were also used as evidence by the Contraband and Enemy Exports Committee.  The placing of names on the lists was under the control of the Black List Committee which included representatives of the Admiralty, the Ministry of Shipping and, later on, of the United States.  These aspects of æblockade intelligence" later became the responsibility of Records and Statistics Department in the General Branch of the Ministry while the Enemy branch concentrated on "economic warfare intelligence," including the financial side of economic warfare.

The development of contacts between the Enemy branch and the Armed Services, first in the Joint Intelligence Committee and then with the Services individually, was but one example of the close relations of the MEW with other departments.  The Foreign Office, which was one of its parents, was always closely concerned with economic warfare questions and particularly with their political aspects.  It was the recipient of frequent complaints from neutral countries about the application of economic controls and advised on the limits to which such controls could prudently be extended.  Its missions abroad carried out economic warfare functions.

Pre-emptive purchases when also required for supply were carried out by the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Food or the Ministry of Supply as appropriate.  The Economic Warfare Division of the Admiralty operated the Contraband Control Service, while the Treasury and the Board of Trade were jointly responsible for the Trading with the Enemy Branch.  These two departments concerned themselves with the financial and commercial repercussions of economic warfare activities.

MEW played a leading part in the Economic and Industrial Planning Staff, an interdepartmental body set up early in 1944 to study the economic plans for liberated or occupied territories in Europe.  In October 1945 work in respect to Germany and Austria was passed to the newly- established Control Office for those countries.

The Ministry was represented in a number of foreign countries by Co-ordinating Centers whose function it was to accumulate information about suspect firms and individuals in those countries but its representation in the United States by the War Trade Department in the embassy was by far the most important part of its overseas organization both before and after the United States entered the war.

The Ministry was active in Safehaven-related activities and produced many reports on enemy assets, as well as participated in Safehaven negotiations with neutrals countries. (Note 70) Indeed, the United States and British governments worked very closely regarding economic warfare and Safehaven matters.  And the London Embassy was a key location for Safehaven-related activity.

As the Safehaven program developed, especially as its instrumentation came to depend upon the negotiation of treaties between the Government of the United States and individual neutrals, or between the British and American Governments and the neutrals, the American Embassy in London became the chief center of the program's activities in Europe.

The Economic Warfare Division of the Embassy was organized in March 1942, "to establish a more intimate liaison between the manifold economic warfare activities centered in the Ministry of Economic Warfare (BEW) and comparable activities in the United States Government." (Note 71) The division developed as an operating agency, taking active part in programs, after the termination of the war, became of special significance in the Safehaven program.  For example, the division assisted in the formulation of the Blockade program, its personnel being represented on the Blockade Committee on equal terms with the British.  This committee dealt with the concrete job of handling permits and of defining contraband.  The work of its membership based on data furnished by other agencies of government resulted in the Proclaimed Lists--important themselves for Safehaven program purposes.

The division worked with MEW in planning new war trade agreements.  As early as 1942 the British and Americans started conversations with Sweden and Switzerland relative to re- negotiating purchase-supply contracts on the basis of Allied war needs and war aims.

The division also had a Pre-Emptive Committee, (Note 72) its chief concern being to watch matters pertaining to the preclusive purchase program undertaken by the United States Commercial Company, and the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and the Near East. (Note 73)

The Division's Enemy Objectives Unit, staffed with Office of Economic Warfare and Office of Strategic Services personnel (Note 74), was responsible for procuring, analyzing, and distributing economic intelligence procurable in Great Britain and in Europe and desired by processing and operating agencies in Washington, DC.

When the Safehaven program began to operate in a practical way--intelligence gathering in neutral Europe and trade negotiations with neutrals for Safehaven objectives, the American Embassy in London became the clearing house between the United States and its operators in Europe.  Cables for agents in the neutral countries and from them, clearing through the Embassy.  The staff there acted in both directive and advisory capacities.  With the end of the war, the Embassy became the focal point for negotiations between civilian operating agencies of the United States and the American Military Government of Germany and Italy. (Note 75)

Records of the U.S. Embassy, London, England

     General Records 1936-1945, 1948-1954; 1955 (Entry 2599A)

          Boxes 1-491   
          Box 324A  (labeled as Entry 2599B)
          Box #        File #      File Title or Subject
          219    711.2 Economic Warfare General
                 711.2 Diamond Committee
                 711.2 Jewelry Control
                 711.3 Economic Warfare
                 711.3 Private Property of United States Citizens
                 711.3 Trading With Enemy
          220    711.6 General
                 711.6 Jewish Atrocities
          220-221      800         Political Reports
          233    850   Economic Matters (9 folders) location: 350/58/22/03
          235    850.6 Insurance
          238    851.51   Portuguese Exchange
                 851.6 Bank for International Settlements
                 851.7 Bearer Securities
          Box #  File #   File Title or Subject
          257    711   UNRRA
          258    711   Sweden
                 711.1 Neutrality, Neutrals
                 711.2 Neutral Commerce (2 folders)
                 711.3 General
          262-265      800         Political Reports
          268    840.3 Fine Arts
          269    848   Relief, Refugees
          270    850   Economic Matters
          271    850.31   American-Owned Property, Census of in Foreign Countries
          272    850.6 Insurance
                 851   Financial Conditions
          274    851.6 Banking
          Box #  File #   File Title or Subject
          278    121.8 Mission concerning Flight of Axis Capital
          281    690   Industrial Diamonds and Diamond Committee
                 700   General 
          284    711   Political Intelligence Summary (Foreign Office)
                 711.1 Neutrality
                 711.1 Ireland (Erie)
                 711.2 General File
          285    711.3 Trading With Enemy
          286    711.6 War Crimes (2 folders)
          286-290      800         Political Reports
          294    840.3 Preservation of Works of Art
          295-296      848         Relief, Refugees
          296-297      850         Economic Matters
          297    850   Germany-Economic Policy Towards
                 850.31   Census of American-Owned Property 
          299    851.5 Bretton Woods Monetary Agreement
                 851.5 Gold Purchases
          304    891   Censorship
          Box #  File #   File Title or Subject
          312-313      690         Industrial Diamonds
          313    710   Arab-Jewish Relations
          319    711.3 Custodian of Enemy Property  location: 350/58/24/01
          319-321      711.3       Safehaven
          325-330      800         Political Reports
          337    824   Argentina
                 840.3 Fine Arts
          339    848   Relief Measures
                 848   Refugees
          340    848   UNRRA
          340-343      850         Economic Matters
          343    850   Currie Mission
          345-347      851         Financial Conditions
          348    851.5 Exchange (Financial)
                 851.6 Bank for International Settlements
                 851.6 Portugal
                 854   Patents-Copyrights
          349    860.2 Cartels
          353    871   Mail Censorship
                 873   Censorship
          Box #  File #   File Title or Subject
          381    840.3 Looted Art, et al
                 848   Displaced Persons (2 folders)
          382    848   UNRRA
          387    850   Reparations (5 folders) location: 350/58/25/04

     Classified General Records (Confidential File) 1937-1954 (Entry 2600A)

          Boxes 1-351
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          6    820.2     Nazi Activities in Latin America
               820.2     Nazi Activities in Uruguay
               820.2     Czech Refugees
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          7    631  Britain-Turkey
               701  Spanish Diplomats and Axis Powers
               711  French North Africa (3 folders)
          8    711  Political Warfare Directives
               800  Germany
               800  France (Vichy)
          10   871  Censorship [including intercepts] (3 folders)
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          12   121.8     OSS (General)
               711  Political Intelligence (OSS)
               711  Stockholm, Sweden Cables
               711  Joint Intelligence Committee
               820.2     American Intelligence Committee location: 350/58/28/05
          14   820.2     Anglo-American Emergency Committee
          16   871  Postal Intercepts
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          17   703  American Interests
               710  Arab-Jewish Relations
               710  Portugal
          19   711  Political Warfare Directives
               711  Stockholm, Sweden Cables
               711.1     Eire [Ireland]
               711.2     Switzerland
               711.2     Swedish War Trade Agreement
          20-21     800  Political Reports
          21   811.1     Safe Conduct: German Embassy to Holy See  loc: 350/58/28/06
          22   824  Strategic Materials (Switzerland)
               840.1     Jewry
               840.3     Preservation of Works of Art
          23   848  Refugees
               850  Economic Activities of International Cartels
               850  Executive Committee on Economic Foreign Policy
               850  Economic Mission (Mitchell-Jackson)
               850  Economic Mission
               850  Germany-Economic Policy Towards
          24   850  Support Purchase Program for Turkey
               850.1     Economic Surveys
               879.6     Lufthansa
               879.6     Portuguese
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          26   710  Allied Control Commission for Germany location: 350/58/28/07
          27   710  Britain-Spain
               710  Britain-Germany, Hungary, Italy
          28   711.1     Switzerland
               711.3     Safehaven (3 folders)
          30   711.6     War Crimes
               800  German Documents
               800  Germany
               800  Hungary  
          30-31     800  Political Reports
          31   840.3     Preservation of Works of Art
               850  European Neutrals Committee
          32   850  Reparations and Restitution
               850  Support Purchase Program-Turkey
               850  Article VII-Cartels and Monopolies
          33   871  Postal Intercepts
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          34   124.6     War History Reports location: 350/58/29/01
          38   500  UNO Refugees
          44   711  Political Warfare
               711  British Political Intelligence Summary (3 folders)
               711  Political Directives
               711.3     Safehaven (2 folders)
          44-47     711.3     Safehaven location: 350/58/29/03
          47-49     711.6     War Criminals
          50-58     800  Political Reports
          63   840.1     Jews
               848  Displaced Persons
          64   848  Refugees (2 folders)
               848  Relief
               848  UNRRA
          64-67     850  Economic Matters
          67   850  Reparations
               850  copy of "Final Report on the Paris Conference on Reparation,
                         November 9, 1945-December 21, 1945, submitted to the
                         Secretary of State by James W. Angell, U.S.
                         Representative, Allied Commission on Reparation-
                         Germany, February 18, 1946
          68   850  Reparations (4 folders)
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          97   711  Political Intelligence (2 folders)
               711.3     Trading With Enemy-Safehaven
               711.3     Safehaven [all on Henkel and CIE, GmbH] location: 350/58/30/03
          98-99     711.6     War Crimes 
          116  840.3     Looted Art
          118-120 848    Relief, Refugees
          124-125 850    Reparations
          125-128 850    Reparations-Safehaven
          133  851.6     Exchange, banks
               854  Patents (3 folders)
          Box# File #    File Title or Subject
          156-157 711    Political Intelligence
          170  840.3     Looted Art
               848  Relief, Refugees
          174-175 850    Reparations
          176  854  Patents (2 folders)
     Security-Classified General Records 1945 (Entry 2600C)

          Boxes 323-324

     Secret General Records 1937-1955 (Entry 2601)

          Box 1A

     Top Secret General Records 1948-1955 (Entry 2602)

          Box 1

     Top Secret Subject File 1946-1947 (Entry 2602A)

          Boxes 1-2

     Records Maintained by Ambassador John G. Winant 1938-1946 (Entry 2603)

          John Gilbert Winant served as the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain in 1941, and   served in that capacity until 1946.
          Boxes 1-8
          Box# File Title
          1    Economic Matters
          2    Germany
          3    Jews
          5    Palestine
          5    Portugal
          6    Refugees
          8    World Jewish Congress