Uncovering the British Royal Family’s correspondence with Nazi Germany: The Marburg Files

Uncovering the British Royal Family’s correspondence with Nazi Germany: The Marburg Files

Image for postThe Duke of Windsor during a visit to Germany in the 1930s. Source: Wikipedia

Across the countryside, In a US military jeep, a German officer was driven. He asked to stop the vehicle near a slope. US soldiers from the jeep went with the German officer.

The German officer pointed at a spot on the side of the road. US soldiers started digging the place and discovered a case. The case contained letters that are about to shake the foundation of the British Monarchy.

Edward VIII the King of England:

Image for postKing Edward VIII opening the House of Lords . Source: Wikipedia

Edward VIII became the King of the United Kingdom after the death of his father King George V.

Scandals shadowed Edward?s tenure as the King of England. Edward?s relationship with Wallis Simpson, a US divorcee, was the main topic of concern. King Edward was indirectly supporting the Nazi party in Germany during his reign.

There was intelligence that Wallis looked at confidential documents placed in Edward?s table and passed information from those documents to future German Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop, then the German ambassador to the UK.

British Intelligence was apparently aware of Wallis?s leaking. The British government tried to keep some sensitive information from King Edward during this period.

Edward eventually abdicated the throne in the favor of his brother who became King George VI. After abdication, Edward became the Duke of Windsor. George VI was the father of present queen, Elizabeth Queen II and the grandfather of Prince Charles.

The British government felt relieved when Edward left the throne, but the worst was yet to come. In 1939, a German aircraft containing the Nazi plans for the invasion of France crashed in Belgium.

An intelligence report after the war accused the Duke of Windsor, then serving in the British Army, of leaking this information to Nazi Germany. The leak could have convinced Hitler to change his war plans.

Life after Abdication:

Image for postA women supporting Edward?s abdication.Source: Wikipedia

After his abdication, Edward and Wallis settled in France and continued their contact with the Nazi high command.

Edward and Wallis made an informal state visit to Germany, and the Nazi government sponsored the entire trip. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor received state honors during the tour.

They were taken around SS training camps and also visited early models of the holocaust camps. The couple even met Hitler. After the meeting, Hitler told his private secretary that Wallis would have made a better Queen than Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Escape from France:

As France fell to the German Blitzkrieg, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor escaped to Spain and Portugal

They stayed in the Villa of a Nazi sympathizer. The Duke and the Nazi high command had a frequent exchange of letters and telegrams, which were part of the Marburg Papers. Some extracts from those files include:

  1. The Nazi high command believed the Duke of Windsor could persuade Britain to surrender.
  2. Hitler planned to restore Edward VIII to the throne, if the United Kingdom surrendered.
  3. The Nazi leadership tried to convince Edward to declare himself King of Britain in exile. As the King-in-exile, the Nazis believed Edward could convince his supporters in Britain to overthrow Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and surrender.
  4. Edward asked the Nazi high command to take good care of his house in Paris by placing guards around it.
  5. Edward asked the Nazi government to continue its bombardment of Britain to break the resolve of the British people.
  6. Edward insisted that if he had continued as the King, Britain would have never gone on war with Germany.
  7. The Nazis assured Edward they would appoint him King and make Mrs. Wallis queen. All Hitler asked the Duke of Windsor in exchange for the throne was to give the Nazis free run in Europe.

Operation Willi:

The Nazi high command was so convinced that Edward will side with them that they planned to kidnap him.

Edward had moved to Portugal and was waiting to board a ship to the Bahamas, where he will take charge as Governor. The German plan was to kidnap Edward and use him as a pawn to draw Britain to the negotiation table and eventual surrender.

The Duke of Windsor was a British Army officer, so Churchill threatened to court-martial Edward if he didn?t go to the Bahamas. The UK government already had intelligence that Edward might be in touch with Nazi high command.

Edward left for the Bahamas, and his contacts with Nazi high command snapped. The kidnap attempt was named Operation Willi.

The Marburg Files:

Hitler?s translator Dr. Paul Schmitt translated English language letters addressed to Hitler into German.

The letters Schmitt translated included correspondence from the Duke of Windsor. With the fall of Third Reich, imminent Paul Schmitt asked his assistant, Von Loesch, to destroy all of his Nazi correspondence.

Instead, Von Loesch took some crucial documents; especially exchanges between the Duke of Windsor and the Fuhrer, and hid them in the woods. Von Loesch hoped to use the letters as a bargaining chip to escape trial as a war criminal.


In 1946 the Marburg Papers were ordered to be kept out of public eyes by the Government of Britain.

In 1996 all of the papers were released to the press, causing significant embarrassment for the Royal Family. After the release of the papers, the Royal Family tried to distance itself from the Duke of Windsor.

Edward died in exile in Paris in 1972. After the war, the Duke of Windsor made many unsuccessful attempts to reenter British high society. However, Edward?s reputation as a Nazi sympathizer made him unwelcome in Britain, even without the publication of the Marburg Papers.


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