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  • The year is 1945, and the war to save Europe is over.

  • The victorious allies have crushed the Nazi war machine, and as the secrets of the Reich

  • are leaked to the world, stories of the horrible atrocities they committed on jews, homosexuals,

  • people with intellectual disabilities, and prisoners of war lay bare the true horror

  • that was the Third Reich.

  • Yet in the shadow of Nazi atrocities, the British intelligence services would set up

  • a camp whose human rights violations would mirror many of those committed by the Nazis,

  • a horrendous interrogation camp that turned men into living skeletons.

  • In an interview in the early 2000s, surviving German citizens spoke of August 1st, 1945-

  • the day that the British arrived at the small resort town of Bad Nenndorf.

  • The town had until then been occupied by what the Germans calledeasy going American

  • infantrymen”, but with the arrival of the British the Americans left.

  • The British troops gave orders to every civilian to be ready to evacuate the town in ninety

  • minutes, leaving people with little time to gather what precious few possessions they

  • still had after the long war.

  • Many initially thought that the move was temporary and that they would soon be allowed to return

  • home, but as the British troops began to put up barbed wire and tear out the fancy baths

  • from the town's bath house, the realization that their former home was being turned into

  • something else soon hit them.

  • There would be no returning home, at least not for years to come.

  • The British strung up barbed wire throughout the town center, and tore out the doors to

  • each of the bath house's cubicles, replacing them with large steel doors so as to turn

  • them into cells.

  • Even before the town had been evacuated fully, the first truckloads of prisoners had already

  • begun arriving.

  • Initially most of the prisoners were former Nazi party members or members of the much-hated

  • SS, all rounded up so as to thwart any possibility of a Nazi insurgency in the rebuilding of

  • post-war Germany.

  • Many however were leading industrialists of the Nazi regime, tobacco importers, oil company

  • bosses, and forestry owners who had benefited greatly from Hitler's rule.

  • However as the months passed, the prison population quickly grew to include a large number of

  • suspected Soviet agents.

  • As Germany was partitioned between east and west and the first chills of the Cold War

  • descended on Europe, many officers of the NKVD, the Soviet secret police, were captured

  • on spy missions and imprisoned in the camp.

  • However, the anti-Soviet paranoia had also swept up a large number of German leftists

  • and communist sympathizers.

  • Others were simply German citizens who lived in the Russian zone and had been captured

  • crossing the line.

  • Some of these had come across offering to spy on the Russians, and were imprisoned on

  • suspicion of being double agents, others were normal people caught up in the great powers

  • struggle.

  • One man who starved to death, Franz Österreicher, had been arrested with forged papers while

  • attempting to enter the British zone- his motivation?

  • To find and be reunited with his gay lover.

  • Another man, Walter Bergmann, had offered to spy for the British, but because he spoke

  • fluent Russian he fell under suspicion and was imprisoned and tortured in an attempt

  • to establish that he was a genuine defector.

  • Bergmann would die of starvation and lack of medical care.

  • Yet other prisoners were locked up for no good reason at all.

  • One prisoner who was a former diplomat remained locked up simply because during his incarceration

  • he had learned too much about British interrogation methods.

  • Fearing he would leave the camp and report on British methods to either the press or

  • the Soviet intelligence services, the British decided instead to keep him locked up.

  • Another person who was kept prisoner for eight months had arrived there due to nothing more

  • than a simple clerical error.

  • A British inspector from Scotland Yard, Tom Hayward, would later be assigned to determine

  • what exactly went down in this prison camp while being run by British intelligence, and

  • his notes would go on to say that of the prisoners, “There are a number against whom no offence

  • has been alleged, and the only authority for their detention would appear to be that they

  • are citizens of a country still nominally at war with us.”

  • Hayward's investigation would spill the secrets of Britain's most infamous prison camp, and

  • of its staggering human rights abuses.

  • Observers noted that in his report to the government, anger and revulsion leapt from

  • every page as he detailed the place where prisoners had been systematically beaten and

  • exposed to extreme cold, starved to death, and tortured with instruments that the British

  • intelligence officers had recovered from a Gestapo prison in Hamburg.

  • During the British occupation it was said that if you snuck up to the barbed wire fence

  • at night you could hear the screams of the prisoners inside.

  • Others however say that the camp was the most sinister place on earth precisely because

  • of its dead silence, with one witness saying, “you never, ever saw anyone, and you never

  • heard a sound.”

  • Bad Nenndorf quickly became known as das verbotene dorf- the forbidden village.

  • The commanding officer of the Bad Nenndorf prison camp was Colonel RobinTin Eye

  • Stephens, who had previously commanded Camp 020 in Surrey where German spies had been

  • interrogated during the war.

  • Widely regarded as an authoritarian and a xenophobe with a legendary temper, Stephens

  • boasted that interrogators who couldbreak” a man were born, not made.

  • The camp would go on to employ twenty interrogators, twelve of whom were British.

  • The other eight were mostly German Jewish refugees whom were purposefully recruited

  • because of their expected ruthlessness towards the German and Soviet prisoners both, given

  • how much the Jews had suffered at the hands of both powers.

  • The guards who secured the facility were also largely made up of British army soldiers who

  • had received suspended sentences for assault or desertion, and as Scotland Yard inspector

  • Hayward would comment, they were the sort of individualslikely to resort to violence

  • on helpless men.”

  • It is clear that the camp at Bad Nenndorf was carefully engineered to be as cruel as

  • possible, down to the men who were employed to guard or interrogate the inmates within

  • it.

  • Those imprisoned there were frequently starved on purpose, woken during the night, and then

  • forced to walk up and down their cells from early morning until late at night, with breaks

  • only for meals.

  • Driven to the very edge of complete physical exhaustion, the process was thought to break

  • the will of the prisoners so they could be more easily interrogated.

  • When moving between different areas of the camp, the prisoners were expected to run,

  • and if they failed to move quickly enough the soldiers would kick at them to encourage

  • them to move faster.

  • Some guards had also been instructed to physically assault certain prisoners so as to reduce

  • them to a state of complete physical collapse and thus make them more amenable to interrogation.

  • Frequent beatings coupled with exhaustion and starvation were all carefully used tools

  • to ensure prisoners cooperated with their interrogators.

  • Whippings also made up part of the guard's cruel repertoire of tortures, a fact that

  • inspector Hayward initially considered unbelievable until Scotland Yard interrogated former guards

  • who corroborated the allegations.

  • Along with the physical torments, prisoners were also psychologically tormented with threats

  • to arrest, torture, and murder the wives and children of prisoners being encouraged, so

  • long as they were never actually carried out.

  • To a prisoner who was being tortured and beaten daily however, such threats were likely completely

  • believable.

  • Prisoners who were deemed uncooperative during their interrogations were taken to a special

  • punishment cell where they were stripped naked and repeatedly doused with freezing cold water.

  • The punishment would continue for weeks, even as temperatures outside dipped well below

  • freezing.

  • Prisoners were also handcuffed back to back and forced to stand in front of open windows

  • in the middle of winter.

  • Frostbite became extremely common, and many prisoners lost several toes and fingers- as

  • well as more delicate appendages- due to the torture.

  • One victim of the cold water treatment was an anti-Nazi who had already spent two years

  • in a Gestapo prison camp.

  • After the British prison was broken up and its survivors sent for medical treatment,

  • he would be checked into a hospital were he weighed barely more than a skeleton.

  • This former anti-Nazi would go on to say that during his imprisonment by the Gestapo he

  • had never undergone treatment like he received at the hands of the British.

  • One NKVD officer captured and interrogated by the British at the Bad Nenndorf camp claimed

  • that he had had been strung up by his wrists during his interrogations and weights were

  • added to his legs.

  • His toenails were ripped out and British officers would beat him with rubber truncheons.

  • While inspector Hayward's investigation would not find evidence to support this, the dozens

  • of skeleton-like inmates that were taken for medical treatment after the camp's closure

  • in 1947 attest to the very real possibility that this story was as true as many of the

  • other verified accounts of torture.

  • The investigation into Bad Nenndorf would eventually lead to the court martial commanding

  • officer, ColonelTin EyeStephens, as well as Captain John Smith, the camp's medical

  • officer, and interrogator Lieutenant Richard Langham.

  • Many of the guards and interrogators who had carried out beatings and other punishments

  • were given pardons in exchange for evidence or testimony against their former officers.

  • The trials were held completely in secret and to this day the British government refuses

  • to allow for the publication of photos of the inmates as they were being rescued from

  • the camp.

  • Information can be difficult to ascertain on this secret British torture camp, and given

  • the extremes of the abuses that took place there it's not surprising at all that the

  • British government would continue to keep a very tight lid on one of the most shameful

  • chapters of its post-World War II history.

  • After Bad Nenndorf was closed, another British interrogation center was opened at the military

  • base at Gutersloh.

  • The inmates were suspected Soviet spies, and when it was demanded that drastic methods

  • such as those used as Bad Nenndorf should not be used, its commanding officer complained

  • that if each prisoner was to have his or her arrest justified, and that torture was not

  • used, then there was little point in having an interrogation center at all, a statement

  • that perhaps best exemplifies the British attitude on torture in the years after World

  • War II.

  • In the end, 372 men and 44 women would pass through the Bad Nenndorf interrogation center,

  • with many dying from starvation, exposure, or torture.

  • The atrocities had been preceded by an interrogation center in London known as the London Cage,

  • where German POWs had been beaten, deprived of sleep, and even threatened with execution.

  • As terrible as the abuses of London Cage were discovered to be however, Bad Nenndorf would

  • stand in a league of its own, and as a shocking contradiction to the idea of a democracy-loving

  • Britain fighting to conquer the worst of evils Europe has ever endured.

  • Do you think torture is ever justified?

  • And when does interrogation turn into torture?

  • Let us know in the comments, and as always if you learned something from this video don't

  • forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe.

The year is 1945, and the war to save Europe is over.

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The British Intelligence Camp That Turned Men Into Living Skeletons

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/27
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