The Black Book

"As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list;
I've got a little list."

— W.S. Gilbert, The Mikado

Basic Information

The Black Book is the name given after World War II to the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B. (literally, the "Special Search List G.B."); a list of nearly three thousand prominent people the Nazis intended to arrest after the planned invasion of Britain. The list was compiled by the SS Einsatzgruppen and included both British subjects and expatriates living in Britain.

Some of the names listed were eminent politicians such as Winston Churchill, Secretary of War Anthony Eden and the President of the Czech government in exile, Edvard Beneš. Many were outspoken anti-fascists, such as cartoonist David Low and actor and writer Noël Coward. Others seem to have been chosen for ideological reasons, such as the African-American singer and communist sympathizer Paul Robeson, and the Jewish psychological pioneer Sigmund Freud. Some of the names were outright peculiar, such as Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, which the Nazis regarded as a spy organization. Some of the people on the list, like Freud, had already died at the time the list was compiled, or had moved to another country.

The planned invasion of Britain, Operation Sealion, never came to fruition and so the Special Search List was never put into effect.


Game and Story Use

  • In an Alternate History campaign in which Operation Sealion succeeds, the PCs could be trying to rescue people on the list and smuggle them safely out of the country.
  • Or in a regular WWII campaign: British Intelligence has captured a German assassin with a copy of the list; how many others have entered the country? It's up to the PCs to stop them!
    • Intelligence have captured such a list and someone who would be expected to be on it - say a signficant military officer or politician - isn't. Why have the Nazis decided that this person wouldn't be a problem for them?
    • Counter to that, there are one or more names on the list of people who either don't exist or appear to be of no significance whatsoever … what the hell is going on? Perhaps someone is on the list despite being widely known to have died before the issue date…
  • If this idea is recycled into another setting, the ability to get fictional people added to the list may be an important marker of sucesses for an intelligence agency (since it would indicated the ability to create a "ghost" that would be noticed and accepted as real at a high level, and, moreover, the ability to feed the enemy fictious material and have it be taken seriously.
  • If soldiers had been issued the list, that would mean Hitler wanted these people taken alive. Why? What did they know… or what was the Occultboro planning?
  • Maybe the Boy Scouts really were a spy organization. Let the PCs play as Scouts sneaking around in Munich, finding Nazi secrets and committing sabotage through the Hitler Youth.
    • On at least one occasion, British scouts attending a jamboree in Germany during the late 30's were accorded the same priviledges as Hitler Youth members, including free public transport - opinions vary as to whether this was due to diplomacy or mistaken identity. For Enid Blyton fans, this has potential up until late '39. Come to think of it, peddling like fury to get your bicycle tour out of Germany at the outbreak of war could also be quite amusing.
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