Secret War

Secret War examines the clandestine world of espionage, covert operations and the work of Britain’s Special Forces, from the development of MI5 and MI6 before the First World War to Cold War intelligence-gathering and the threat of cyber-terrorism today.

The work of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) –a secret agency formed by the British government to conduct undercover operations during the Second World War – is revealed through the experiences of SOE operatives whose stories shed light on the hidden world of spies.

Secret War also explores how Britain’s Intelligence and Security Services operate today. New objects on display include a Union flag salvaged from the rubble of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center shortly after 11 September 2001 when they were hit by two planes hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists, and a copy of a Metro newspaper carried by a passenger whilst travelling on one of the London Underground trains attacked by suicide bombers on 7 July 2005.


Collections in Context

The Cold War
The democratic United States and the Communist Soviet Union were ideologically opposed 'superpowers', and each had their own alliances...

Atomic Age
Although many view the atomic age positively, others such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament view atomic technology as a threat to the world’s future...


IWM London Transforms

Find out more about our major redevelopment plans at Transforming IWM London .

Read more about our transformation

Learning Resources

Cold War and the Iron Curtain
By 1948, every Eastern European state had communist regimes imposed upon them by the Soviets...

Cold War Espionage
Although East and West did not come into open conflict during the Cold War, behind the scenes there was an ongoing covert battle ...

See more Secret War Learning Resources