You know, you don’t have to go trawling around the controversial Wikileaks website to discover the truth behind closely-guarded government secrets.
In recent years the powers that be in the United Kingdom and the United States have declassified thousands of fascinating documents, which were kept secret from the public for decades.
In the UK, the National Archives website and the museum in London hold a treasure trove of information on wartime Britain and alien sightings, while various CIA releases document Cold War struggles, the Area 51 base and the Watergate scandal that donated its name to every half-cocked controversy ever since!
Here are some of our favourite subject matters we’re able to explore online.
Alien sightings – The Truth is Actually Out There
The National Archives have detailed reports of UFO sightings across the UK. The final papers were released in 2013 and covered sightings from 2007 to 2009, before the MoD’s UFO desk shut down.
Did you know the second highest number of sightings (748) recorded by the desk occurred in 2009? Of course, conspiracy theorists claimed this disclosure was just a cover-up story, to hide the real alien landings in the UK.
These documents, like the one chronicling Mork and Mindy’s alleged landing in East Dulwich in 2003, can each be viewed for a small fee (£3.30) on the National Archives website.
Where there’s a Will there’s a way
Another fascinating section of the brilliant Gov.UK website allows those with a morbid curiosity to read the wills of some of the most notable Brits ever.
These include Sir Winston Churchill, Alan Turing, Princess Diana, AA Milne and Beatrix Potter and 41 million others who’ve died in England and Wales since 1858. For example, Winnie The Pooh creator Milne, left his widow and literary agent a total of £64,173 13 shillings and 6 pence when he passed away on January 31 1956.
The CIA sends in the Dr.
Last year, the CIA finally declassified its role in covertly publishing and distributing Boris Pasternak’s (above) banned novel Dr. Zhivago in Russia during the Cold War period.
“We have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country [and] in his own language for his people to read,” a senior CIA agent wrote in 1958.
You can read over 100 documents relating to this Cold War-era success at the CIA’s website.
The extent of Nazi plundering and allied restitution efforts
This fascinating section of the National Archives details the scale of the German Army’s looting of artwork, cultural artefacts and historic monuments across Europe prior to and during World War 2.
It also documents British-led Allied efforts “to do their utmost to defeat the methods of dispossession practised by the Axis Powers and their associates against countries and peoples whom they have so wantonly assaulted and despoiled”. The declaration focused on protecting historic monuments in war areas and investigating items already seized by the Germans.
President Nixon’s Watergate testimony
Every scandal has the word “gate” annoyingly attached to it these days, but the original Watergate Scandal, from which the trend gets its name, shook the United States to its core in the 1970s.
The break-in at the Democratic National Convention and subsequent cover-up forced President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974 under threat of impeachment. Back in 2011, the Nixon Presidential Library opened files from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force including Nixon’s secret Grand Jury testimony, during which he answered questions about an infamous 18 ½ minute gap in a recording of a conversation in the Oval Office, believed to have been erased as part of the attempted cover-up.
Threat of invasion
The Cabinet Papers section of the National Archives holds some enthralling insights into the efforts of Churchill’s Cabinet to assess the threat of the “imminent” German invasion and strategies for the defence of the home front during and following the fall of France in 1940.
The documents include discussions of plans to evacuate children to the United States, the possibility of using gas on British beaches to thwart the invasion and the need for the United States to join the war effort as soon as possible.
Debunking Area 51
While the UFO phenomena in the UK is detailed above, there’s no site conspiracy theorists take more interest in than the famous Area 51 military base in Nevada, USA. In 2013, the CIA officially acknowledged the base for the first time, releasing a 355-page document detailing its existence as a secret Cold War military base for testing spy planes. So, all those UFO sightings by commercial pilots were actually Lockheed Martin U-2 planes, which were eventually flown over Russia, Vietnam and Cuba at various points during the crisis.