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4 novembre 2012

Histoire : Nuremberg, Guantanamo and the construction of guilt

par Michael ROBESON

Des prisonniers de guerre allemands avancent au milieu d’une autoroute, tandis que des véhicules alliés se dirigent vers la ligne de front, au printemps 1945

Following the Nuremberg trials, some critics claimed that much of the German’s 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 apologists 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.

Joseph McCarthy

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 Agency’s torture of suspected “terrorists”, Cobain’s research reveals a disconcerting historical connection to their current practices. For more interesting reading, here are some excerpts from Cobain’s 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.

Liens liés a l'article.How Britain tortured Nazi PoWs


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    éditeur : Frank Brunner | ouverture : 11 novembre 2000 | reproduction autorisée en citant la source