Torturing Arabs and Nazis
Nuremberg, Guantanamo and the Construction of Guilt
A commentary by Michael Robeson 1 November 2012
Following the Nuremberg trials, some critics claimed that much of the Germans self-incriminating testimony presented to the Court was obtained through questionable methods including horrific torture. Then Senator Joe McCarthy was one of those critics. Mainstream commentators labeled them Nazi apologistes and anti-Semites. But a recent article in a British newspaper entitled: How Britain Tortured Nazi POWs by historian Ian Cobain shows that McCarthy and his ilk were on the mark. Torture had been widely used by the Allies to make the German prisoners willing executioners of themselves. Considering the current controversy over U.S. intelligence Agencys torture of suspected terrorists, Cobains research reveals a disconcerting historical connection to their current practices. His entire article can be found here:
But for more interesting reading, here are some excerpts from Cobains article accompanied by my comments that readers might otherwise miss:
It was in 2005 during my work as an investigative reporter that I came across a veiled mention of a World War II detention centre known as the London Cage. It took a number of Freedom Of Information requests to the Foreign Office before government files were reluctantly handed over. From these, a sinister world unfolded of a torture centre that the British military operated throughout the Forties, in complete secrecy .Thousands of Germans passed through the unit that became known as the London Cage, where they were beaten, deprived of sleep and forced to assume stress positions for days at a time.
So, how can we be sure about the methods used at the London Cage? Because the man who ran it admitted as much and was hushed up for half-a-century by an establishment fearful of the shame his story would bring on a Britain that had been fighting for honesty, decency and the rule of law.
That man was Colonel Alexander Scotland, an accepted master in techniques of interrogation. After the war, he wrote a candid account of his activities in his memoirs, in which he recalled how he would muse, on arriving at the Cage each morning: Abandon all hope ye who enter here. As was customary, before publication Scotland submitted his manuscript to the War Office for clearance in 1954. Pandemonium erupted. All four copies were seized. All those who knew of its contents were silenced with threats of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
What caused the greatest consternation was his admission that the horrors had continued after the war, when interrogators switched from extracting military intelligence to securing convictions for war crimes. What Cobain does not spell out is this: The interrogators, that is the torturers, began working for the post war prosecutors in Nuremberg whose job was to secure German guilt in its conspiracy for world domination and its genocidal policy, specifically against European Jews. Historians conducting further research into Cobains revelations could potentially discover facts that would significantly alter the narrative of the Good War not to mention significantly undermine the Holocaust narrative. During his Nuremberg court appearance, the Commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, testified that about 4 million Jews were killed in his camp, most of them by gassing. Hoess was hung at Nuremberg after signing his testimony made in English, a language he did not speak. It was his testimony that provided the foundation for the narrative of 6 million Jews being killed during the war. By the early 1980s, historians understood that Hoesss testimony was wildly incorrect and that less than one million people died in Auschwitz. The memorial plaque at the entrance to the camp was then quietly changed to reflect the new reality. But mainstream Western acceptance of the Holocaust numbers game has not changed. Who today would accept testimony from Guantanamo prisoners extracted by torture as valid in a court of law, much less in public opinion, other than Neanderthals like Bush, Cheney, Obama and their willing functionaries? Well, considering that testimony was similarly wrung out of Nazis at Nuremberg and at other post war trials and was used to convict them for all time of ghastly slaughters of Jews, are all of us who unquestioningly accept this narrative willing to change our perspective so as not to be numbered among those Neanderthals?
.Alexander Scotland, of course, denied allegations of torture, going into the witness box at one trial after another to say his accusers were lying. It was all the more surprising, then, that a few years later he was willing to come clean about the techniques he employed at the London Cage.
In his memoirs, he disclosed that a number of men were forced to incriminate themselves. A general was sentenced to death in 1946 after signing a confession at the Cage while, in Scotlands words, acutely depressed after the various examinations.
Appalled by the embarrassment his manuscript would cause if it ever came out, the War Office and the Foreign Office both declared that it would never see the light of day.
Two years later, however, they were forced to strike a deal with him after he threatened to publish his book abroad. He was told he would never be allowed to recover his original manuscript, but agreement was given to a rewritten version in which every line of incriminating material had been expunged.
A heavily censored version of The London Cage duly appeared in the bookshops in 1957.
But officials at the War Office, and their successors at the Ministry of Defence, remained troubled.
Years later, in September 1979, Scotlands publishers wrote to the Ministry of Defence out of the blue asking for a copy of the original manuscript by the now dead colonel for their archives.
The request triggered fresh panic as civil servants sought reasons to deny the request. But in the end they quietly deposited a copy in what is now the National Archives at Kew, where it went unnoticed until I found it a quarter of a century later.
Is there more to tell about the London Cage? Almost certainly. Even now, some of the MoDs files on it remain beyond reach. Which means that far worse evidence about torture being used to force false testimony at Nuremberg and other trials is still being concealed. Also, it means that a group of people in positions of power are preventing a true and accurate understanding of WWII and the Holocaust from being made known. Why, we may wonder, would they want to prevent that?
.With complaints soaring, a British court of inquiry was convened to investigate what had been going at Bad Nenndorf. It concluded that former inmates allegations of physical assault were substantially correct. Stephens and four other officers were arrested while Bad Nenndorf was abruptly closed.
But there was a quandary for the Labour government. The political fallout could be deeply damaging. There were other similar interrogation centres in Germany. From the very top, there were urgent moves to hush things up.
Stephens court martial for ill-treatment of prisoners was heard behind closed doors. He did not deny any of the horrors. His defence was that he had no idea the prisoners for whom he was responsible were being beaten, whipped, frozen, deprived of sleep and starved to death.
This was the very defence that had been offered unsuccessfully by Nazi concentration camp commandants at war-crimes trials. But he was acquitted
Below, is one example of how the Germans were forced to falsely testify against themselves and to help the Allies create the deception of the Good War being fought against the evil Nazis.
What caused the greatest consternation was his (Scotlands) admission that the horrors had continued after the war, when interrogators switched from extracting military intelligence to securing convictions for war crimes.
In his memoirs, he disclosed that a number of men were forced to incriminate themselves. A general was sentenced to death in 1946 after signing a confession at the Cage .The London Cage was part of a network of nine cages around Britain run by the Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (PWIS), which came under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
Of 3,573 prisoners who passed through Kensington Palace Gardens, more than 1,000 were persuaded to sign a confession or give a witness statement for use in war crimes prosecutions .Fritz Kn÷chlein, a former lieutenant colonel in the Waffen SS, was one such case. He was suspected of ordering the machine-gunning of 124 British soldiers who surrendered at Le Paradis in northern France during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. His defence was that he was not even there. At his trial, he claimed he had been tortured in the London Cage after the war .Nor was he the only one. He said men were repeatedly beaten about the face and had hair ripped from their heads. A fellow inmate begged to be killed because he couldnt take any more brutality. All Kn÷chleins accusations were ignored, however. He was found guilty and hanged.
Let us be clear about this: over 1,000 Germans, like Knoechlin, were tortured to either make self incriminating testimony at Nuremberg and other post war trials, or to give false testimony that could be used against other Germans at those trials. This means that more than one thousand testimonies were used to fabricate the narrative of Americas Good War or used, in ways yet unknown, to create the Holocaust narrative of six million Jews and gas chambers, were obtained almost solely by torture. In the current war against the Arab world and the demonization of Moslems, U.S. police and intelligence agencies have used torture in order to obtain testimony that has been used in courts and that is later, after the defendants are convicted, found to have been false. Most of these convictions have been overturned. Yet, it would be heresy to suggest, in light of our present knowledge, that the post WWII trials should be fundamentally reconsidered with many of the convictions obtained through torture overturned. For doing so would require a radical revision in how the two main moral beneficiaries of that war the U.S. and Israel, think of themselves as justified in doing whatever it takes to spread freedom and democracy around the world and to prevent another Holocaust.
Finally, even the courageous author of the article, Ian Cobain, must bow to the social pressure that requires almost all of us to tiptoe around in the historical deception. In the passages below, Cobain functions much as the liberal journalist Joe Klein recently has in his defending President Obama for killing Arab children with his drone program. The relevant statements are underlined:
Of course, it is crucial to put these events into context. When the gloves first came off at Britains interrogation centres the summer of 1940 German forces were racing across France and the Low Countries, and Britain was fighting for its very survival. The stakes could not have been higher.
The first of the German spies who arrived in Britain in September 1940 were taken there. Vital information about a coming German invasion was extracted at great speed. This indicates the use of extreme methods, but these were desperate days demanding desperate measures.
In the following years, large parts of Britains cities were left in ruins, hundreds of thousands of service personnel and civilians died, and barely a day passed without evidence emerging of a new Nazi atrocity. Little wonder, perhaps, that it was felt acceptable for German prisoners to suffer in British interrogation centres.
And it should also be said that whatever went on within their walls, it paled into insignificance compared with the horrors the Nazis visited on millions of prisoners.
Seems reasonable, right? Well, what would the reaction be to a German historian who would write the following:
Of course, it is crucial to put alleged Nazi atrocities into context. When the gloves first came off at Germanys interrogation centres the spring of 1944 Russian forces were racing across Eastern Europe, and Germany was fighting for its very survival. The stakes could not have been higher .these were desperate days demanding desperate measures.
In those years, large parts of Germanys cities were in ruins, hundreds of thousands of service personnel and civilians died, and barely a day passed without evidence emerging of a new Allied bombing atrocities and their leaders demand for unconditional surrender. Little wonder, perhaps, that it was felt acceptable for Allied prisoners to suffer in German interrogation centres.
And it should also be said that whatever went on within their walls, it paled into insignificance compared with the horrors the Russians visited on millions of German women and civilians during their rapacious invasion of Germany and their over forty year occupation.
If one shudders to think of themselves living in a moral universe in which such sentiments would be found acceptable, start shuddering. For as Cobains extracts show, we have been living in such a universe for quite some time and we are quite comfortable with it. And the masters of that morality the moral beneficiaries of the Good War are fast at work making sure that there is no alternative to it.