23 July 1998

The sixth set of Special Operations Executive (SOE) records, covering wartime operations in Western Europe, will be released at the Public Record Office (PRO) at Kew on 23 July 1998. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, said: 'The exploits of the brave men and women who served in SOE are well-known. These newly-released records provide a real-life history of the SOE, showing, once again, how much we and Europe owe to them. We continue to be committed to greater transparency. This is the largest release of SOE records to date, and significant time and effort have been devoted to reviewing the 1013 files involved.'

NOTES FOR EDITORS 1. SOE was the secret wartime organisation set up to promote sabotage in enemy-occupied countries, with active and often highly personal encouragement from Winston Churchill. In 1992 a programme was begun to process and review the remaining SOE records, with the object of releasing as much as possible via the PRO.

2. The files being released on 23 July provide details of the work of SOE and its agents in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Iberia (Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco), Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. A wide variety of issues are covered - operations, intelligence, organisation, politics, personnel and administration. As well as covering the more familiar operations in the Occupied Countries, for the first time light is shone on SOE activities in Austria and Germany, including plans to assassinate Hitler and other Nazi leaders, and to exploit their cult of personality to help to destabilise the regime. Other records reveal activity in Belgium, where SOE relations with the Belgian intelligence services and government-in-exile completely collapsed in 1942, and in the Netherlands, where German penetration of SOE networks was particularly disasterous.