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Title: British intelligence and the ‘Fifth’ occupying power: The secret struggle to prevent Jewish illegal immigration to Palestine
Authors: Wagner, S
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Intelligence and National Security, 29(5): pp. 698 - 726, (2014)
Abstract: At the end of the Second World War, British intelligence struggled to enforce strict limits imposed on Jewish immigration to Palestine. Holocaust survivors and Jews wishing to escape communism in Eastern Europe flooded the western Zones of occupation in Germany and Austria, while the Zionist movement worked to bring them to Palestine. Illegal immigration to Palestine was the key policy dispute between Britain and the Zionist movement, and a focus for British intelligence. Britain sought both overt and covert means to prevent the boarding of ships at European ports which were destined for Palestine, and even to prevent the entry of Jewish refugees into the American zones. This article highlights Britain's secret intelligence-gathering efforts as well as its covert action aimed to prevent this movement. It highlights a peculiar episode in the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States, during which cooperation and partnership was lacking. British intelligence promoted a rumour that Soviet agents were using Jewish escape lines to penetrate Western Europe and the Middle East in order to persuade American authorities to prevent the movement of Jewish refugees. Instead, this article argues, American intelligence secretly cooperated with the Zionist organizers of the escape routes so to expose Soviet agents. Britain's attempt at deception backfired, and provided effective cover for the movement of hundreds of thousands of Jews during a critical period. Meanwhile its intelligence had dramatically improved, but policymakers failed to reassess Britain's ability to sustain immigration restrictions and the indefinite detention of tens of thousands of illegal migrants.
ISSN: 0268-4527
Appears in Collections:Dept of Politics, History and Law Research Papers

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