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Thread: "Revealed: victims of UK's cold war torture camp"

  1. #1
    ahctlucabbuS's Avatar <
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    Photographs of victims of a secret torture programme operated by British authorities during the early days of the cold war are published for the first time today after being concealed for almost 60 years.

    The pictures show men who had suffered months of starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and extreme cold at one of a number of interrogation centres run by the War Office in postwar Germany.

    A few were starved or beaten to death, while British soldiers are alleged to have tortured some victims with thumb screws and shin screws recovered from a gestapo prison. The men in the photographs are not Nazis, however, but suspected communists, arrested in 1946 because they were thought to support the Soviet Union, an ally 18 months earlier.

    Apparently believing that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable, the War Office was seeking information about Russian military and intelligence methods. Dozens of women were also detained and tortured, as were a number of genuine Soviet agents, scores of suspected Nazis, and former members of the SS.

    Yesterday there were calls for the Ministry of Defence to acknowledge what had happened and apologise. Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrats' defence spokesman, said: "It's too late for anyone to be held personally responsible, or held politically to account, but it's not too late for the MoD to acknowledge what has happened."

    Sherman Carroll, of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said British authorities should also apologise and pay compensation to survivors. "The suggestion that Britain did not use torture during world war two and in the immediate aftermath, because it was regarded as 'ineffective', is a mythology that has been successfully propagated for decades," he said. "The fact that it took place should be acknowledged."

    The MoD dismissed the calls, saying questions about the interrogation centres were a matter for the Foreign Office.

    Declassified Whitehall papers show that members of the Labour government of the day went to great lengths to hide the ill-treatment, in part, as one minister wrote, to conceal "the fact that we are alleged to have treated internees in a manner reminiscent of the German concentration camps".

    Almost six decades later the photographs were still being kept secret. Four months ago they were removed from a police report on the mistreatment of inmates at one of the interrogation centres, near Hanover, shortly before the document was released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Although the file was in the possession of the Foreign Office, the pictures were removed at the request of the Ministry of Defence. They have finally been released after an appeal by the Guardian. The photographs were taken in February 1947 by a Royal Navy officer who was determined to bring the torture programme to an end. Pictures of other victims, taken by the same officer, appear to have vanished from the Foreign Office files.

    Meanwhile documents about a secret interrogation centre which the War Office operated in central London between 1945 and 1948, where large numbers of men are now known to have been badly mistreated, are still being withheld by the Ministry of Defence. Officials say the papers cannot yet be released because they have been contaminated with asbestos.

    It is not clear whether the men in the photographs fully recovered from their mistreatment. It is also unclear, from examination of the War Office and Foreign Office documents now available, when the torture of prisoners in Germany came to an end.
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    Quite disturbing. One can only wonder if this is but the tip of the iceberg.

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    DanB's Avatar Smoke weed everyday
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    Wow, they are really skinny and thats about it.

    At least we didn't gas them or turn them into soap ay?

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    thewizeard's Avatar re-member BT Rep: +1
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    Officials say the papers cannot yet be released because they have been contaminated with asbestos.

    that's a good one...I dont suppose "they" could think of asking someone to don an asbest protection mask or something and then make a copy of the papers....

    http://www.health-science-report.com...os/asbest.html


    ..it's not like they are radio-active for the next 1000 years
    Last edited by thewizeard; 04-03-2006 at 02:46 PM.

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Busyman™'s Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanB
    Wow, they are really skinny and thats about it.

    At least we didn't gas them or turn them into soap ay?
    BamB, it said torture not death camp.

    "We only tortured them, ffs."

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    ahctlucabbuS's Avatar <
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanB
    Wow, they are really skinny and thats about it.

    At least we didn't gas them or turn them into soap ay?
    Two words for you: Double standards.

    If you can't face just problems regarding your own country, you're part of the problem as far as I'm concerned. No more than a mindless zombie of your government.

    If you're serious, that is.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    manker's Avatar effendi
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahctlucabbuS
    Quote Originally Posted by DanB
    Wow, they are really skinny and thats about it.

    At least we didn't gas them or turn them into soap ay?
    Two words for you: Double standards.

    If you can't face just problems regarding your own country, you're part of the problem as far as I'm concerned. No more than a mindless zombie of your government.

    If you're serious, that is.
    Who said Dan can't face the problems.

    All that we've seen so far is a few pics and The Guardian (always up for a good bleeding heart story) saying that UK soldiers are to blame for the emaciated state of the gentlemen in the pictures.

    When the full documentation is released, if it's released, and it is found that British soldiers used torture in an attempt to extract information from enemy soldiers then, obviously, any British folk who have condemned torture being used by other countries in the past will condemn this too.

    Stands to reason.

    I have no problems with admitting that some actions of this country are reprehensible and know that there are instances in the past in which we've commited terrible attrocities, the firebombing of Dresden for example.

    Why on earth would you think that British people would have a problem admitting that their country have done terrible things in the past. Surely there isn't a reasonable person alive who would think that the various governments of their country have acted in a proper manner 100% of the time in the last century.
    I plan on beating him to death with his kids. I'll use them as a bludgeon on his face. -

    --Good for them if they survive.

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    It seems we should at some point decide exactly what we expect these recollections to evoke.

    There is, of course, the gut reaction, unavoidable in a sentient being.

    We can only progress, however, from a logical and reasonable dissection of motivations in historical context, and, in the case of WWII and Dresden, a felt need to do what was done.

    This same context extends to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The idea that we need to continually clout each other over the head with such fact stunts debate, but then debate is why we are here, isn't it?
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    DanB's Avatar Smoke weed everyday
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    At the moment the only proof is that they were skinny from lack of food. As manker said there is no further evidence of anything else done to them - as and when the evidence comes to light we can start the hand wringing and the denouncing of the 60 year old government.

    Notice how just before every mention of torture it says allegedly? That's cos there is no proof.

    And as far as I'm aware
    starvation, sleep deprivation and extreme cold
    are all recognised and approved interrogation tactics.

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    ahctlucabbuS's Avatar <
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manker
    When the full documentation is released, if it's released, and it is found that British soldiers used torture in an attempt to extract information from enemy soldiers then, obviously, any British folk who have condemned torture being used by other countries in the past will condemn this too.

    Stands to reason.

    I have no problems with admitting that some actions of this country are reprehensible and know that there are instances in the past in which we've commited terrible attrocities, the firebombing of Dresden for example.

    Why on earth would you think that British people would have a problem admitting that their country have done terrible things in the past. Surely there isn't a reasonable person alive who would think that the various governments of their country have acted in a proper manner 100% of the time in the last century.
    Quote Originally Posted by Guardian
    Declassified Whitehall papers show that members of the Labour government of the day went to great lengths to hide the ill-treatment, in part, as one minister wrote, to conceal "the fact that we are alleged to have treated internees in a manner reminiscent of the German concentration camps".

    Almost six decades later the photographs were still being kept secret. Four months ago they were removed from a police report on the mistreatment of inmates at one of the interrogation centres, near Hanover, shortly before the document was released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act
    Manker, DanB:
    It seems to me that documentation on this specific camp exist, which did indeed include pictures of the victims.

    Documentation on a separate centre/camp in central London are yet to be released however, apparently under pretences of beeing contaminated with asbestos.....

    On your second point (highlighted), don't get me wrong. I'm not generalizing, at all. I responded to DanB's post, which frankly struck me as a prime example of self serving double standards.

    j2k4:
    It's all too easy to justify past events simply from a point of view of "it had to be done under the circumstances". No, it didn't. Britain's own propaganda machinery took a stance against such techniques on the basis of it beeing inefficient, which it indeed is. Any hope of obtaining valid information under such circumstances are foolish at best.

    Obviously I don't know the specifics, but if you look past the whole validity aspect of information, which parties involved in such acts consistently do, I highly doubt that some 18 months after the war ended Britain needed information on "Russian military and intelligence methods" so bad as to justify torture.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a different matter. As I understand it the war were primarily fought in the pacific ocean against military forces. The decission to take civilian casualties as a way of spooking Japan into surrendering are perhaps too justified in western history, if you ask me. Then again, in hindsight, it may have been a necessary evil for later nuclear control. However I'm sure that at the time, the decission were not at all evident as the only plan of action available. We're getting off topic however...

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    manker's Avatar effendi
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahctlucabbuS
    Quote Originally Posted by Guardian
    Declassified Whitehall papers show that members of the Labour government of the day went to great lengths to hide the ill-treatment, in part, as one minister wrote, to conceal "the fact that we are alleged to have treated internees in a manner reminiscent of the German concentration camps".

    Almost six decades later the photographs were still being kept secret. Four months ago they were removed from a police report on the mistreatment of inmates at one of the interrogation centres, near Hanover, shortly before the document was released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act
    Manker, DanB:
    It seems to me that documentation on this specific camp exist, which did indeed include pictures of the victims.

    Documentation on a separate centre/camp in central London are yet to be released however, apparently under pretences of beeing contaminated with asbestos.....

    On your second point (highlighted), don't get me wrong. I'm not generalizing, at all. I responded to DanB's post, which frankly struck me as a prime example of self serving double standards.
    Sorry, barky, you're right. I must have gone onto autopilot at the end of the article there and assumed that the unreleased papers related to this detention centre, rather than a different one.

    I will say that it doesn't appear to me as if Dan has double standards, altho' I might not agree with him in that sleep deprivation and starvation are legitimate interrogation tactics, he hasn't condemned a different country for doing a similar thing. I might think him wrong - but having double standards is not something I would accuse him of based on what's been written.

    It appears that the guilty parties were court martialled at the time for their part in mistreating prisoners, with a doctor sacked and discharged from the army. However, the court martials were done in secrecy - as you'd expect - because they didn't want the Russians knowing that they were holding potential Russian spies.

    Sixty years on, it's not as if we can re-try the offenders should any claims of leniency be upheld but, of course, past mistakes shouldn't be buried and people should learn from them.

    Which is all anyone can realistically ask as a result of these papers coming to light.
    I plan on beating him to death with his kids. I'll use them as a bludgeon on his face. -

    --Good for them if they survive.

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