The Political Warfare Executive : a re-evaluation based upon the intelligence work of the German Section
Conventional interpretations regarding the role of the Political Warfare Executive during the Second World War have concentrated almost exclusively on the propaganda output of the organisation. The role of the intelligence sections working for and within the organisation have been largely disregarded or overlooked in the existing history of Executive. This thesis offers a re-evaluation of the PWE which includes this `missing dimension', specifically here the intelligence work of the German Section of the Executive. This approach widens the scope of enquiry to include an exploration of the links between intelligence and propaganda, subversion and sabotage and considers the importance of this relationship for the way in which the PWE emerged. The examination of the Weekly Reports of the German Section identifies a different `type' of intelligence which can be described as `social political' intelligence, which provided the British government with a unique view of the social and political conditions in Germany throughout the duration of the war. The thesis concentrates on the period after the announcement of Unconditional Surrender in January 1943 to the early months on 1946, when the personnel and expertise of the German Section were transferred to the Foreign Office. The analysis of the intelligence reports of the German Section is focussed on three particular issues of interest to government at the time and to historians today. These are German resistance and public opinion, British occupational rule, and the emergence of the perception of the Russian `threat' in Whitehall which signalled the beginning of the Cold War. Taken together these illustrate the way in which the PWE incrementally expanded it's activities over this period of time, and provide the basis for the re- evaluation of the Executive.