SCOTTISH nationalists attempted to set up a German-Scottish alliance against England during the Second World War, according to MI6 files released today to the Public Record Office at Kew.
They offered to proclaim an independent pro-German invasion of Scotland in the event of a Nazi invasion of England. In return, they asked that Germany stop bombing Scotland and give captured Scottish conscripts special treatment.
The proposals were made via the German legation in Dublin and came in the middle of a campaign by Winston Churchill to force the Irish government to stop the Germans using the legation as a centre for espionage and subversion.
Unless the Irish abandoned their neutrality and expelled the Germans, they would “never be forgiven” by the British, Churchill said. The Scottish nationalist proposals, made initially in 1940 and again in August 1943, were sent on to Berlin in radio messages deciphered by British codebreakers working at an office in Berkeley Street, London.
The German minister in Dublin, Eduard Hempel, who was already in close contact with the IRA, told Berlin the proposals came from a body calling itself the Scottish Independence Movement. It called for a “German-Scottish Alliance” as a weapon in the fight of “National-Christian Socialism” against “the gross materialism of the capitalistic-communistic union of English, Americans, Bolsheviks”.
The detailed proposals of the Scottish nationalists, who had already forged an alliance with the IRA, were:
- Broadcasts to Scotland on the German wireless.
- The sending to Germany of an Irish Republican versed in the Scottish Independence Movement.
- The separation by Germans of conscript Scottish PoWs.
- Scotland to be spared German bombing.
- During the impending attack on England, certain Republicans and some war material to be sent to Scotland from Ireland to take advantage of the general panic in England to proclaim a Scottish republic.
- Germany to call an “international Congress of Liberation” at which Scotland should be represented.
- The formation of a Celtic Union with headquarters in Dublin.
Scots tried to set up Nazi alliance
The Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, which passed on the deciphered messages to the Government, noted that the domestic Security Service, MI5, was already investigating the Scottish nationalists. “It is their view that though individual members are mischievous and potentially dangerous, the organisation, albeit full of sound and fury, is of little consequence.”
Hempel, concerned that an alliance with the Scottish nationalists might give the British an excuse to have him expelled, told Berlin that he “obviously could not have anything to do with the business in any shape or form”. But the German foreign ministry insisted that he explore the possibility of “utilising the movement as a source of information about what is going on in England”.
Hempel made contact “through a personally guaranteed intermediary” who gave him details of “an oil pipeline along the Caledonian Canal” as well as the names of “two reliable members of the Scottish Nationalist Party on the continent”. The files do not make clear if the contacts were ever followed up.