Martin Allen: Suspect in creation of forgeries claiming Churchill wanted Himmler murderedHistorians in the News
The claims, which besmirched the reputation of Britain and its wartime prime minister, were made in a book called Himmler's Secret War by Martin Allen. It was his third book about Britain's relationship with the Nazis. Each challenged the standard version of events. In the case of the latest, it appeared to refute the accepted account of Himmler's death: that the enforcer of the Holocaust committed suicide hours after his capture by British troops on May 23 1945, 15 days after the end of the war in Europe.This claim should not have come as a surprise to me because a fortnight earlier I had heard Allen discussing the ramifications of his claims on Radio 4's Today programme. I paid little attention because, frankly, people are always making outlandish claims about the Nazis. What I hadn't realised, distracted by making breakfast for my children, was that these claims ought properly to have been called "discoveries". The e-mail I was now reading emphasised that Allen, in revealing the brutal behaviour of the British Establishment 60 years before, cited documents he had found in the National Archives....
Textual analysis confirmed that something was wrong with the papers, and this was explained to police by the PRO's own experts: they pointed out that the counterfeit documents contain errors, breaches of protocol and etiquette their supposed authors would not have committed. To take one example, in a letter to the Foreign Office dated October 1943, Victor Mallet (grandfather of the FT's Asia editor), refers to himself as His Majesty's Ambassador in Sweden. But, at the time, Mallet was not an ambassador; he was "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary". Such a gaffe is highly improbable.
One PRO expert pointed out to the police that another common thread of the forgeries was that "they were found amongst files that bear little or no relation to their own contents".
She added that the inconsistencies on the papers "would lead any serious historian to question their veracity".
With the exception of a single forged document found in the US National Archives in Washington in 1985, and apparently aimed at proving the existence of UFOs, nothing like this had happened before.
Armed with these results, the next day I interviewed Allen by phone. He said he was astonished and "absolutely devastated" by the findings. The Daily Telegraph led with the story the next day, with a separate account of Allen's denial of any involvement in the forgeries....
Things went quiet. I was interviewed by Det Insp Andy Perrott, a local CID man but with experience in the Fraud Squad. He seemed slightly surprised to be investigating such a case, but also fascinated with the details.
Months wore on, as often happens with police investigations of complex frauds. Then, on one bizarre day in 2007, I learned that although suspects had been interviewed, one even arrested, there were to be no charges. The investigation was at an end.
Surprised, I rang the Crown Prosecution Service, and was read a short statement saying that it had been decided that it was "not in the public interest" to prosecute the only suspect questioned by police. It did not name the suspect or give a reason. This was a surprising development because it seemed to suggest that there was no public interest in protecting the integrity of the National Archives. Once I had made a few phone calls and got more background material from the PRO under the Freedom of Information Act, I had a clearer picture of what had happened. After the furore surrounding his latest book, Allen's health problems prevented the police questioning him for nine months. When they did, he told them that he was wholly innocent. Allen said he was an assiduous researcher and had read every file that he could find that might touch on his subjects.
Inevitably, therefore, he was the one who had come across these forgeries, although he had not suspected that any document he used was counterfeit. He thought it might all be a conspiracy. In fact, in the addendum to the American edition of the book (which acknowledged the fact that the "Himmler murder" papers were forged, but nonetheless repeated the allegations they contained), Allen posited his own theory. At some time after he saw the documents, he suggested, they had been removed and replaced with exact replicas, clumsily forged to cast doubt on his discoveries. In the absence of any other public statement by him, this is the only explanation that Allen is known to have put forward.
Perhaps this was the true scenario: Allen, a self-styled "eminent historian", stumbled on the documents during painstaking research that took him to files left untouched by other historians; then, after his books were published and unknown forces read about his discoveries, the only way they (presumably modern British intelligence agents) could discredit him was to substitute forgeries in the files for the genuine "smoking gun" documents.
But the police investigation, relying on Forensic Science Service tests, finally revealed that this had not just happened a few times. In all, there were 29 forged documents, each typed on one of only four typewriters. They were placed in 12 separate files, and cited at least once in one or more of Allen's three books. In fact, according to the experts at the Archives, documents now shown to be forgeries supported controversial arguments central to each of Allen's books ....
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VICTOR DUPONT - 6/7/2008
New York Public Library catalogs "Tajemnica lotu Hessa odkryta", the Polish translation of "The Hitlet Hess Deception" by Martin Allen.
The National Archives at Kew, U.K., website displays the forgeries together with the forensic and police evidence.
Question: How many university libraries contain Martin Allen's "Himmler's Secret War"? How many have the author's American forgery disclaimer.
Is "The 29 Forgeries" akin to "The Thirty-Nine Steps", a work of fiction?
Jeremy A. Stern - 5/8/2008
A fascinating and rather depressing tale. Allen, however, is not the first to have pulled this trick on the British public records. John Payne Collier, the noted 19th century forger of Shakespeareana, inserted one of his bogus creations into a document bundle at the State Paper Office (later the PRO).
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