The Black Book

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SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg compiled the Black Book.

The Black Book is the post–World War II name of the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B. ("Special Search List G.B.", G.B. standing for Great Britain), the list of prominent British residents to be arrested upon the successful invasion of Britain by Nazi Germany in 1940. The Black Book was a product of the SS Einsatzgruppen, compiled by SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, and contained the names of 2,820 people—British subjects and European exiles—living in Britain, who were to be immediately arrested upon the success of Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion), the invasion, occupation, and annexation of Great Britain to the Third Reich.

The Special Search List G.B. was an appendix to the Informationsheft G.B., the Gestapo handbook for the invasion of Britain, which contained 144 pages of information about politically important aspects of British society, including institutions such as embassies, universities, newspaper offices, and Freemason lodges, which would facilitate the Nazi occupation and administration of Great Britain. It is alleged that British intelligence mole Dick Ellis provided much of the information, despite much of it being readily available in the public domain, such as newspapers.[1]


The original handbook, Informationsheft GB covered British geography, economics, the political system, form of government, the legal system, civil administration, the military, the education system, important museums, the press and radio, religion, political parties, immigrants, Freemasons, Jews, the police apparatus, and the secret service. The Black Book later was an appendix, of 104 pages, of alphabetically ordered names.[2][3] 'Fahndungsliste' translates into 'wanted list', 'Sonderfahndungsliste' into 'especially wanted list' or 'most wanted list'.

Beside each name was the number of the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office) to which the person was to be handed over. Churchill was to be placed into the custody of Amt VI (Foreign Military Intelligence), but the vast majority of the people listed in the Black Book would be placed into the custody of Amt IV (Gestapo). The book had several notable mistakes, such as people who had already died (Lytton Strachey) or moved away (Paul Robeson), and omissions (such as George Bernard Shaw, one of the few English language writers whose works were published and performed in Nazi Germany).[4]

A print run produced 20,000 books but the warehouse in which they were stored was destroyed in a bombing raid[5] and only two originals are known to survive (one in the Imperial War Museum in London). On learning of the book, Rebecca West is said to have sent a telegram to Noël Coward saying "My dear—the people we should have been seen dead with."[6]

The list was similar to earlier lists prepared by SS, such as the Special Prosecution Book-Poland (German: Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen). It was a list of enemies of the Reich list prepared before the war by members of the German fifth column in cooperation with German Intelligence. The 61,000 Polish people on this list were targets of Einsatzgruppen during Operation Tannenberg and Intelligenzaktion, actions of elimination of Polish intelligentsia and the upper classes in occupied Poland between 1939 and 1941.

Notable people listed



  1. York Membery. Nazis put Britain's Scouts on hit list, Sunday Times 30 May 1999
  2. Walter Schellenberg, The Schellenberg Memoirs, London 1956 (Deutsch: Aufzeichungen, München 1979)
  3. Invasion 1940. The Nazi Invasion Plan for Britain by SS General Walter Schellenberg, London 2000
  4. Schellenberg, Invasion, 1940, page 150
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dalrymple, James. Fatherland UK, The Independent, 3 March 2000
  6. Noël Coward, Future Indefinite. London; Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014 ISBN 1408191482 (p. 92).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Hudson, Christopher.Revealed: Hitler's little black guide..., Daily Mail 23 February 2000
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. Schellenberg, p. 160
  10. Schellenberg, p. 162
  11. Schellenberg, p. 165
  12. Schellenberg, p. 168
  13. Schellenberg, p. 170
  14. "If Britain had been conquered. 2,300 names on Nazi Black List". Evening Telegraph. British Newspaper Archive. 14 September 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 26 June 2014. Unknown parameter |subscription= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Schellenberg, p. 173
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 16.9 Schellenberg, p. 174
  18. Schellenberg, p. 177
  19. Schellenberg, p. 181
  20. Schellenberg, p. 186
  21. Schellenberg, p. 186
  22. 22.0 22.1 Schellenberg, p. 187
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Ogilvy, Graham. Duchess of Atholl was on Nazi list for assassination Daily Mail 13 March 2000
  24. Schellenberg, p. 191
  25. Schellenberg, p. 192
  26. 26.0 26.1 Schellenberg, p. 195
  27. Schellenberg, p. 201
  28. Schellenberg, p. 213
  29. 29.0 29.1 Schellenberg, p. 217
  30. Schellenberg, p. 221
  31. Schellenberg, p. 225
  32. Schellenberg, p. 228
  33. Schellenberg, p. 230
  34. D. Mitchell, The fighting Pankhursts, Jonathan Cape Ltd, London 1967, p. 263
  35. Brian Harrison, ‘Pevsner, Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon (1902–1983)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  36. Schellenberg, p. 234
  37. Schellenberg, p. 235
  38. Schellenberg, p. 237
  39. Schellenberg, p. 239
  40. Schellenberg, p. 244
  41. Schellenberg, p. 249
  42. Fearn, Nicholas. A travel guide for Nazis The Daily Telegraph 18 March 2000
  43. Schellenberg, p. 253
  44. Lawrence D. Stokes: Secret Intelligence and Anti-Nazi Resistance. The Mysterious Exile of Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus, in: The International History Review, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 2006), p. 60.
  45. Schellenberg, p. 259
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 Schellenberg, p. 260
  47. Schellenberg, p. 261
  48. 48.0 48.1 Schellenberg, p. 262
  49. Schellenberg, p. 264
  50. Schellenberg, p. 265

See also