London, Feb 17 (ANI): Nazi forgers successfully swarmed fake British bank notes in Europe, thus 'destroying' confidence in the UK currency, according to secret MI5 files.
Papers released by the National Archives showed that by the end of the Second World War the forgeries were so prevalent that British bank notes would not be accepted in the Continent.
The Germans first started forging the notes in 1940 in preparation for Hitler's planned invasion of Britain, according to a report drawn up in 1945 by Sir Edward Reid of MI5's section B1B.
According to a captured German agent, the plan was to scatter the notes over the country from the air "in order to create loss of confidence and general confusion", the Daily Star reported.
Though Hitler was compelled to abandon his invasion plan after the failure of the Luftwaffe to gain aerial supremacy in the Battle of Britain, the German forgers carried on perfecting their techniques to devastating effect.
"What they subsequently produced was a type of forgery so skilful that it is impossible for anyone other than a specially trained expert to detect the difference between them and genuine notes," Sir Edward reported.
At first, the fake notes were circulated in neutral Portugal and Spain with the double objective of raising money for the Nazi cause and creating a lack of confidence in the British currency.
Later they began turning up as Egypt as well.
By 1944, the British authorities were so troubled with the impact they were having, that they informed the Spanish government who seized 20,000 pounds in British notes from German agents - all of which turned out to be forged.
However, the plan backfired on the Germans when it turned out that agents being sent to spy on Britain were being issued with the fake notes, immediately alerting the UK authorities to their presence.
"There is thus the diverting picture of one department of the German Secret Service selling forged notes in Lisbon, and another department of the German Secret Service buying them in the belief that they were genuine in order to give them to agents being sent to this country," Sir Edward noted.
At first few of the fake notes reached Britain, but all that changed after D-Day and the invasion of France in 1944 when they started appearing in large numbers - primarily due to the black market activities of Allied troops.
Although a number of successful prosecutions did have a deterrent effect, Sir Edward admitted that by the end of the war the German forgers had achieved their goal - even if it came too late for Hitler and the Third Reich. (ANI)
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