The Black Book

The Nazis 'most wanted' -a frightening glimpse of the Nazi plans for Great Britain in 1940

The Black Book

The Nazis 'most wanted' -a frightening glimpse of the Nazi plans for Great Britain in 1940




The ‘Black book’ was a popularised name of the Nazi ‘special wanted arrest list’ drawn up for the immediate period after a successful Nazi invasion in 1940.

An invasion that was, thankfully, never to be, largely as a result of the ‘Battle of Britain’ culminating in September that year with air supremacy retained by the British RAF, and the fact that Britain still had the most powerful navy in the world - making a sea & airborne Nazi invasion impossible.

The original name in German is ‘Sonderfahndungsliste GB’ which means ‘(es)special(ly)/most wanted list –GB’ (GB- Gross Britannien –Great Britain).

Similar lists were drawn up and, indeed, used for the USSR, France, Poland etc, thankfully the only place in the British Isles that experienced these roundups was the Channel islands, although the rest of the UK after a successful invasion may well have had a similar pattern.


The list itself

A list of 144 pages containing 2820 names of Politicians, writers, emigrees, known intelligence agents, scientists and artists was drawn up by SS General Walter Schellenbergs office.

Schellenberg was to become the ‘Police’ chief responsible for GB after an invasion, the main Gestapo offices were to be based in Birmingham.

The list shows the department of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt- Reich security service) which would investigate each individual, this often gives insight into what ‘crimes’ the individual was suspected of having been involved in.

It's interesting to note that some of those listed are wanted by multiple departments, although which order would be used to decide which department had priority is unknown.

There seems to be little written evidence that those 'wanted' would have any collective 'fate' as such, although some would obviously have more to fear than others based on what we knew after 1942 of the Holocaust and concentration camps (i.e. Jews, Communists and ex Nazi defectors), however no arrest or incarceration would have been pleasant.

In 1940 there were 450,000 persons of direct Jewish descent in the UK, all of whom would have been 'enemys' to the Nazis, and any indirect family connection after that, then the Freemasons and so on.

This argument is open to debate quoting on one side the example that British Jewish citizens of the Channel Islands who were largely left alone when occupied, only being deported to internment camps in France/Germany as late as 1943 and returning alive after the war, however it is a fact that the Nazis intended, at least initially to treat the 'aryan' British nation with kid gloves in the hope the British Empire would join their crusade against the Bolsheviks in the east.


The persons mentioned

The list also gives a glimpse of the ‘type’ of persons who were to be arrested (if not specifically on the list)- Politicians, press barons, large international company directors, trade unionists, communists/political opponents & Jews, Gypsies, senior clergymen, scientists and everyone who had already escaped the Nazis from occupied Europe, in essence anyone either useful to the Nazi regime or a perceived opponent.

Although there are notable mistakes on the list (some who had died or moved abroad many years previously) it does seem that most information had been gathered from newspaper reports, telephone directories and published works of the immediate pre war period, although the inclusion of British & allied intelligence agents has been recently noted as ‘frighteningly accurate’.

In letters to the advancing German units in the summer of 1940 in Belgium/France/Netherlands requests were made for:

Telephone directories

‘Who's who’ type lists

Commercial/industrial & business directories

Almanacs on the nobility

Freemasons lists

Geographic maps


All of these would be used to make further lists and update existing arrest lists, a macabre spiral of horror, torture & death.

Upon his capture in 1945 Schellenberg alleged a leading British intelligence agent had given the Nazis much of this information.

Who NOT on the list would have also be wanted

Some of the organisations which the Nazis especially wanted and had 'blanket arrest' instructions for seem odd -Freemasons and the Boy scout movement for example, Freemasonry was very much treated as 'suspicious' and any other 'secret society' would either have been controlled or banned. The Boy scouts were seen as a front for the intelligence services!

The Salvation army was also seen as 'internationalist' in its outlook and therefore would be closed and its members subject to arrest.

In addition to the 'named' list there was also a general list of organisations under suspicion -membership or connection with any of these would also have led to arrest and/or detention these included Jewish groups, Marxist/Communist partys, trade unions etc.


The structure of the list

The list was arranged in alphabetic order A through to Z, although the section for S has 4 separate listings for reasons unknown- these run from A1 onwards meaning there was no ‘number 1 most wanted’ on the list, all were equally to be arrested on sight.

Each person on the list has a letter prefix and then a number, the Polish version of the wanted list (Sonderfahndungsliste Polen) did not have this and merely listed everyione wanted without a number.

There were a number of photographs attached to the listings also, but not for the majority, although these were reportedly of very poor quality and have never been reproduced since the originals were made.

The list has fields for the following, although not all are complete for many.


Surname and initials/first names

Date or year of Birth (some stated approximate age instead)

Place of birth

Last known location in the Nazi Reich/Europe proper

Known location in England

Sometimes with a full address, some more loosely just stating ‘England’, although it should be noted that the compilers of the list were very careful not to add in unverified information for the most part IN THIS SECTION.

Their position/trade

Some German translations are not 'exact' since there is no English equivalent -'Private dozent/dozent' has been equated to 'lecturer' in most cases although it means a university professor without a chair in many instances and is commonly used in German Universities even today.


Which department was to investigate  

i.e. IVA4 –Gestapo, in some it also names the investigating office (i.e. Stapo Kiel), since Stapo was an abbreviation for Geheimestaatspolizei (i.e secret state police rather than criminal or ordinary police), these offices and those in charge of each have also been listed.


Which other departments were also interested/involved

It might be that these were the original investigating body but this is not specified.

To each listing a section detailing what each investigating department was concerned with and the head of that investigation has been added -this can give some insight into why each person was wanted enough to have their name put into a specific book at the time.

i.e. the majority of persons were wanted by section IV (the 'Gestapo'), and some have a particular area office also attached.

There are office addresses where available for the departments involved, although it would have been very likely that offices within the UK would have been used for the majortiy of investigations/holding centres.


Operation of the book

The book would have been issued to the ‘Einsatzgruppen’ (special action squads) of SS men who followed the regular Nazi forces into battle and gathered up those on the list.

Around 20,000 books were thought to have been published although the vast majority were destroyed in bombing after being shelved, there is an original copy at the Imperial war museum in London.

It is interesting to note that 'counter espionage' section IV of the RSHA and by far the most prominent on the list is titled 'Scandinavia' as GB came under this section rather than 'West'


The RSHA departments

Please note after 1941 RSHA structure changes significantly, so there may be some departments (and their heads/ranks etc) which have incorrect information.

The Nazis seemed quite keen on replacing/relocating heads of department on a regular basis.

Department = Amtsgruppe or Amt for short.


Amt I, Personnel and Organization,

Originally headed by SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Werner Best, in 1940, he was succeeded by SS-Brigadeführer Bruno Streckenbach.

In April 1944, Erich Ehrlinger took over as department chief.

Amt II, Administration, Law, and Finance,

Headed by SS-Standartenführer Dr. Hans Nockemann.

Amt III, Inland-SD (Security service)

Headed by SS-Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf, was the SS information gathering service for inside Germany.

It also dealt with ethnic Germans outside of Germany's prewar borders, and matters of culture.

Amt IV, Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo),

Headed by SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller. SS-Hauptsturmführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the main architects of the Holocaust, was head of the Amt IV sub-department called Referat IV B4.

Amt V, Kriminalpolizei (Kripo),

Led by SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe, and later by SS-Oberführer Friedrich Panzinger.

This was the Criminal Police, which dealt with non-political serious crimes, such as rape, murder, and arson.

Amt V was also known as the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (Reich Criminal Police Department or RKPA).

Amt VI, Ausland-SD, (security service)

Led by SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Jost, and later by SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg. This was the foreign intelligence service of the SS.

Amt VII, Written Records,

Overseen by SS-Brigadeführer Professor Dr. Franz Six and later by SS-Obersturmbannführer Paul Dittel.

It was responsible for "ideological" tasks. These included the creation of anti-semitic, anti-masonic propaganda, the sounding of public opinion and monitoring of Nazi indoctrination of the public.

Amt IV & V together controlled the SIPO (security police) it was this organization that rounded up Jews for the death camps for the most part.

The book does have some references to Amt VII in the arrest list however these may have been added at a later date, but whilst this seems like an anomaly at first, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence AMT VII collected ideological books and documents of 'opposition' groups.



Original text

It is important to note the source is written in the original German text and has been translated and transcribed by Forces War Records in the UK, this is the first time it has been totally translated and transcribed in full.

Some translations, as with any language, do not convert very well, so apologies are made for inaccuracies.

Place names are usually left in their original German, please note that some German names are included for occupied territories (notably in Poland) where noticed these have been amended to add the correct current place name.

There are 4 separate pages for surnames starting with  the letters 'S' in the original text, due to nuances within the German language, these have been re-idetified as S1-xxx, S2-xxx etc to separate the individual sections.

Spelling & grammar

The original document has many errors throughout it with spelling errors, factual mistakes etc, these have been faithfully reproduced and explanatory notes made where necessary and display very well where duplicated entries for the same person appear where the Nazi clerks have made some fairly basic errors in the original source.

RSHA department numbers, staff & office locations

The document shows department numbers which do not tally exactly with records of the RSHA and it is known that the security services were rearranged many times during the war, particularly when the Abwehr (Military Intelligence) was incorporated later in 1944, so the cross references of the department to investigate individuals cases should not be regarded as accurate in all cases, although the department (amtsgruppe) number is faithfully recorded.

Where an investigating head of department is shown - occasionally where no name was found connected to sub departments, the head of the group of departments has been substituted.

The Nazis had plans to evacuate the entire Isle of Wight and use this exclusively as a secure administration centre (concerned about possible British Resistance possibly?), in the short term those wanted by various departments would have been taken to the various centres in the UK (major cities including Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and either Glasgow or Edinburgh were all noted) and for the more important perhaps even Berlin for interrogation - office locations have also been added, though most were within a few streets of each other in Berlin, some even have telephone numbers listed!

In overall charge of all the RSHAs departments in occupied Britain would have been SS Brigadefuhrer (roughly equivalent to a Major-General) Alfred Franz Six.

Where a Gestapo local office is also listed this may well be the original investigating office for the case against each individual.

Some ranks for those on the list have been translated and are also shown in the original German, some of these may not exactly translate or have an equivalent rank in English.


Case reference numbers

Sometimes there are reference numbers included in a listing -these are probably some sort of case number for the investigating department, although this cannot be verified & they are recorded in the information for 'completeness'.




The list is in German and has been translated as the transcription took place, once again -German place names might not correspond with post war borders and countries however, so careful research should be made where this seems to be the case.

Additional information not in the original publication has been added where this is possible, these are noted where possible as 'editorial notes' with sources where possible.

There are many points of interest that can be gleaned from the notes along with the original text -for example many 'opposition' politicians from the Pre Nazi period were arrested and placed in concentration camps in the early 1930's (KZ/KL = concentration camp) however it is surprising that many were then seemingly released in the mid 1930's and then appear on this arrest list - this is explained very well in Nikolaus Wachsmanns definitve book 'KL: a history of the Nazi concentration camps' published in 2015 - many of those arrested were political opponents released under a short lived amnesty and later re-arrested, many of which subsequently died in the camps.

Certainly for those on the list who were re-arrested or who were arrested in 1940 or later there would have been no such amnestry or reprieve however.

Contributions & suggestions of possible amendments are always welcomed.

Errors and omissions excepted. Clever digit media 2014.


The national archives KV103/3 and KV103/4 intelligence section files

These include such gems as a full RSHA telephone directory for June 1943 and associated Nazi departmental information from 1940-45.

'Invasion 1940' by SS General Walter Schellenberg reprinted in English (except arrest list, which was reproduced in German only) in 2000 by Ermins press.

A great deal of cross matching against individual SS officers and departments was made using general internet searches and the very useful Axis History forum pages, along with the OSS X2 department (US secret service) information from May 1945 and 'The Gestapo/SS manual' (reprinted by Paladin press 1996).

Highly recommended is the book 'Topography of Terror' by Arehovel, 1989 for specific research into various SS staff and especially Department IV of the RSHA (Gestapo).

This was used to list the department details and personnel as the data derives from information correct to March 1941.

For background information the book 'If Britain had fallen' by Norman Longmate is also recommended and gives a good overall feel for the 'what if?' of an invasion and its consequences & possible outcomes.

For the more detailed biographical detail on those 'wanted' the excellent book ' Displaced German Scholars: A Guide to Academics in Peril in Nazi Germany During the 1930s' by Nathan Kravertz was used, being contemporaneous notes of artists, writers, scientists and university professors who were already known to be disapproved of or under threat of imminent arrest by the Nazi regime, this book has been widely republished & adds useful detail to a great deal of the academics shown in this list, who, otherwise there would have little to properly identify them.

Some wikipedia sources were (translated from):


Which are released under the terms of










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