Spying on Hitler's Army: The Secret Recordings (2013) - full transcript

This powerful docu-drama tells the story of one of World War Two's last secrets - an audacious British intelligence operation to listen in on the private conversations of 10,000 German POWs without their ever knowing they were being overheard. Now dramatized - word for word from the original transcripts - the film tells how this vast operation captured not only vital military intelligence but kept secret shocking accounts of war crimes - letting the guilty walk free.

In the aftermath of World War Two,
ordinary German soldiers

claimed they knew nothing
about the Holocaust.

They blamed all its atrocities
on the SS.

We were actually there
when a pretty girl was shot.

That's too bad.

But she knew she was
going to be shot.

Now new evidence,
only recently discovered,

exposes the full extent of that lie.

What did they do to the children?

They seized
three-year-olds by the hair,

held them up and shot them with
a pistol and threw them in.

I saw it for myself.

The evidence comes from one
of the most audacious operations

ever conducted
by British intelligence.

German prisoners of war
were secretly bugged

and the conversations they thought
private, transcribed word for word.

In the transcripts, we found totally
new knowledge about war crimes.

About huge war crimes.

I had an hour to spare
and we went to some barracks

and there we slaughtered 1,500 Jews.

These were German soldiers
as they'd never been heard before,

uncensored and unguarded.

But the recordings were destroyed

and the transcripts
locked away for decades.

This operation was what
was called Top Secret.

I did not tell even my closest
family what I had been doing

for about 50 years after the war.

Now declassified, some of the most
chilling of these conversations

can be reconstructed
for the first time.

I bet she let you sleep
with her too?

Yes. You couldn't tell
that she was a Jewess.

She was quite a nice type, too.

It was just a shame that she had
to die with everybody else.

75,000 Jews were shot there.

These are their stolen confessions.

We are in the preliminary stage

of one of the greatest battles
in history.

I have nothing to offer but blood,
toil, tears and sweat.

In the chaos and carnage
of total war,

high-grade intelligence
was as vital as fighting power.

MI19, a department
of the War Office,

set out to exploit
German prisoners of war

in the most ambitious surveillance
operation ever attempted.

Three stately homes were converted
into unlikely prison camps

and wired for sound.

Nowhere was out of range of MI19's
specially-designed microphones.

There were bugging devices in the
lamp fittings, behind mirrors,

in the fire places.

It was a huge operation
and something this technical

and sophisticated had never
been undertaken before.

The British were very clever
at thinking into the mindset

of how they could get intelligence
from the enemy

and it was a very British thing
to do actually.

We're very used nowadays to the
idea of conversations being bugged.

People weren't during
the Second World War.

This was the beginning
of modern surveillance.

This was entirely new.

Hidden away out of view
were the listening rooms,

filled with state-of-the-art
disc recording equipment.

I was told to report
to the Commanding Officer

that what I was going to do
was probably more important

for the war effort than if I drove
a tank or fired a machine gun.

So, what can you tell me
about Knickebein?

Captured German soldiers were
brought to the UK and interrogated.

Those considered
an intelligence asset

were sent to the wired locations...

..where listeners were ready and
waiting for them to start talking.

..I had to drop bombs
on a station at Posen.

Now eight out of the 16 bombs
fell on the town and on the houses.

I didn't like that but I said to
myself, "Hell, orders are orders."

We knew that the microphones
must have been of very high quality

because we could hear
the prisoners very clearly

and even if they whispered
to their cellmate,

it was very often possible
to pick up what they said.

On the third day I didn't care, and
on the fourth day I was enjoying it.

It was our before breakfast

to chase single soldiers over
the fields with machine gun fire

and to leave them lying there
with a few bullets in the back.

They weren't being interrogated,

they weren't minding
what they were saying.

They weren't being careful
to not give anything away.

They were speaking to their equals
in what they thought was privacy.

We attacked civilians
in the streets,

all machine guns firing like mad.

You should have seen
the horses stampede!

The recordings were translated
into English

and transcripts circulated
right up to Churchill himself.

The system is called X-Gerat.

I'll tell you how it works.

A beam is sent on a short wave...

Day in, day out, they're picking up
snippets of information

from the prisoners,
and in fact there was very little,

when one works with the transcripts,
there was very little that we didn't

actually know about
the German military capability.

Only now is the full story

of this unprecedented
bugging operation becoming clear.

And it was only by
chance that the secret transcripts

were discovered at all.

German historian Sonke Neitzel
was on a routine research trip

to the National Archives
in London.

He'd ordered up some files
on U-boat crews.

What arrived on his desk was
the discovery of a lifetime.

I just ordered three files,
and had these three huge,

massive files on my desk,
and so I start reading that.

September '43,
German Navy personnel.

And it was, I mean,
it was so authentic.

You could really just see
the people speaking to each other.

Sonke had been given
800 pages of transcripts.

The archives contained
a further 49,000.

And then at that moment, I realised,

I might be standing
on the tip of an iceberg.

The recordings themselves
appear to have been destroyed,

only the transcripts remain.

The transcribers had even faithfully
noted how the original words
were spoken.

You were really able to see these
people talking, you were able

to get a feeling of the killing,
the fighting, the dying, the war.

When I saw the documents,
one of the things that struck me

was how real they were.
I mean, the discussions,

the way they conducted themselves,
this is how soldiers talk.

For the first,
desperate years of war,

British Intelligence
had few prisoners to spy on.

But in 1942,
Britain's fortunes changed.

Victory over the Germans in North
Africa brought thousands of POWs.

Among them,
the first senior officers,

including the highly prized
General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma.

Von Thoma was taken back to London

to be confined in the bugged
stately home

reserved for officers -
Trent Park.

His capture was a coup.

Von Thoma knew the intimate secrets
of Hitler's military machine,

but though a proud patriot,
he was not a Nazi party member.

He was met by the Welfare officer,
Lord Aberfeldy.

When I was captured, the Italian
generals who were taken

at the same time arrived
with a load of luggage.

They looked like tourists!

I immediately said,
"Please, don't put them with me!"

Von Thoma is very intelligent
and exceedingly well read.

He has a striking personality
and is violently anti-Nazi.

Von Thoma joined
General Ludwig Cruwell

who'd also been captured
in North Africa

when his aircraft accidentally
landed at a British airfield.

Cruwell is a follower
and admirer of Hitler.

An ignorant, stupid,

sentimental, vain and self-satisfied
type of Prussian senior officer.

Holding such strong,
opposing political views,

von Thoma and Cruwell
inevitably clashed.

And when they did so,
the recorders were ready.

The stupid thing about our propaganda
is that it's entirely negative.

Your attitude is negative.

No, but the propaganda...

Oh, no, everything else is bad.

Wherever you go, things are bad,
according to you.

There are a lot of things
which are bad.

Of course there are! And with
the English, everything's all right!

For British Intelligence,

this infighting between their lab
rats was a revelation.

I think you have to understand that
German was not synonymous with Nazi.

Not every German officer was
necessarily Nazi in outlook.

And the British needed to understand
why some Germans were Nazis

and others weren't.

Lulled into a false sense
of security,

the prisoners talked freely
amongst themselves.

The trap, so carefully set
by MI19 was working as planned.

(CHURCHILL) 'Now this is not the end.

'This is not even
the beginning of the end.

'But it is perhaps the
end of the beginning.'

The captured generals
brought to Trent Park

were shown full respect
for their rank.

They never imagined the courtesy
and luxurious surroundings

were part of an ingenious plan
to lure them off guard.

'The German generals
were really astonished

'how nice it was in Trent Park.'

They were supplied with newspapers,

they could listen to the radio.

Sometimes they struggled
with the British food,

but normally they were quite

The British obviously did this
not because they were caring

for these generals,

because they knew, "If we treat them
well, they will speak."

I am firmly convinced that
is the only way

that Western Civilisation
can be saved.

'Tapping the conversations
of the German generals

'would provide for British
intelligence far more

'than they were ever anticipating.'

Now we get an insight
into the mindset

of the higher echelons
of the Nazi regime.

To break the monotony of confinement
and disarm them further,

the guests, as MI19
liked to call their captives,

were indulged with day
trips to London...

..and on occasion to luncheon at the
exclusive Simpson's on the Strand.

The generals were
trapped in a world of deception.

Nothing was what it seemed,

and that included Lord Aberfeldy,
their welfare officer.

Of course, he wasn't a real lord,

he was a MI19 officer.

'But he gained their trust,
because they kind of began to believe

'that he was on their side,
in an odd sort of way.

'But, of course, little did they
know, these German generals,

'that even the trees were bugged!'

Once Lord Aberfeldy had
earned their trust, he exploited it.

His casual questions
were deliberately leading

and timed to be within
range of a microphone.

I've read that the
generals are taking over now,

and that the Nazi Party is being
pushed aside, to some extent?

If things get really bad,
the party will go, I can assure you,

because so much hatred
has been stored up.

Of course, they will try everything
possible in order to stay in power.

But a few thousand Gestapo men can't
keep down a people of

80 million
if the people are no longer willing.

But the SS at home...

Couldn't the SS suppress
a revolutionary movement?

No. If it really broke out,
it would be impossible.

His real name was Ian Munro.

The British went even so far to put
him in a distant relationship

to the Royal Family.

So they felt quite impressed.


The generals were supplied with a
radio, books, newspapers...

MI19 hoped that keeping them
in touch with the outside world

would provoke useful conversations.

The triumphant conclusion

of the Battle of Stalingrad,

with the capture of eight more
German generals and 45,000

other prisoners
in the past two days,

has overshadowed the rest of the
news from Russia...

And it was radio news of
the German defeat at Stalingrad

that would give Trent Park
its biggest breakthrough.

'The defeat at Stalingrad affected
the German generals profoundly.'

This is the first all-out defeat.

It was
unambiguous, it was a disaster.

The humiliating surrender
of General Paulus

brought even von Thoma and Cruwell
together in shared dismay.

I would have rather
blown my brains out.

I am bitterly disappointed,
bitterly disappointed in Paulus!

Yes, it's terrible.

And that
so many generals surrendered...

It's frightful!

26 of them.

The possibility of military defeat
was a bitter prospect

for such proud warriors.

Later, von Thoma discussed
with Cruwell a new secret weapon

that might yet
save their beloved fatherland.

'This rocket business.'

I saw it once.

There's a special testing site.

They've got these huge things.

They said they'd go up 15 kilometres
into the stratosphere.

And how do you aim?

You can only aim at an area,
at some central point.

You're bound to hit somewhere.
It's horrible.

But the major there was
full of hope. He said,

"Wait until next year
and the fun will start."

It was all very secret.

Von Thoma was
talking about the deadly V2

being tested at Peenemunde
on the north German coast.

It was the first rocket to be fired
through the stratosphere,

and there was no defence against it.

Now von Thoma had given conclusive
evidence that it was not a fiction.

This is crucial information
for British intelligence.

No longer is it in the realm of
whispers, or hearsay, or what it is.

These are two high-ranking
individuals that have knowledge

of a top secret programme
that the Germans hope

will turn the war in their favour.

Von Thoma's evidence persuaded
Bomber Command to carry out

a high risk raid on Peenemunde.

The V2 site was destroyed
and the rocket's use delayed

by several months,
buying the Allies valuable time.

'The V2 certainly could have had
a dramatic impact

'on the Allied landings at Normandy.'

Certainly they would not have
gone off as planned,

and they might have failed overall.

But it wasn't just
operational secrets

that MI19 was hoping to gather.

The generals were dividing
into factions -

those who supported the Nazis
and those who did not.

'Every day that this war continues
constitutes a war crime.

'They should put
Adolf Hitler in a padded cell.'

'And it was very important that these
people revealed their secrets,'

because if they were with the Nazis
then Hitler had a future.

If they were against the Nazis,
there was the possibility

that there might be a coup,

that Germany might go in a different

So it was very important
the British understood

'the thought processes
of this officer class.'

General Cruwell headed those
who supported the Fuhrer,

while General von Thoma led
the anti-Nazi faction.

I always say no matter how many
faults the system has,

nor how wrong it is,

I have served under this system,
I have fought under this system,

my soldiers have fallen
under this system...

so I can't, the moment things
go wrong, say, "To hell with it."

I won't do that.

Cruwell was fighting for his Fuhrer,

he was fighting for Hitler.

He tried to take all these
ideas of the Third Reich seriously.

Obviously he also saw
negative things,

but he tried to avoid that, to put
this under the carpet somehow.

I regret every bomb,
every scrap of material

and every human life that is still
being wasted in this senseless war.

The only gain that it will bring us

is an end to ten years of gangster

'Von Thoma represents
the traditional German officer.'

He's well read, he's old world,
if you would,

he's very comfortable and academic
in intellectual circles.

'Such an individual with such
a background would look at

'a relatively low-born, coarse
individual like Adolf Hitler,'

he would've looked at him with
suspicion if not outright disgust.

Hostilities reached a climax

when a young officer,
Lieutenant Klaus Hubbuch,

told Cruwell that von Thoma
had made derogatory remarks

about the Fuhrer.

Acting on this report,
Cruwell confronted von Thoma,

and the recorders
were running.

I would like to discuss
something with you.


Hubbuch came to see me
and asked me to tell you

not to try
to influence him with propaganda.

What's all this about?

He said you gave him
your views on the situation.

Because he talked such a damned
lot of nonsense.

Fancy saying all English newspapers
are Jewish.

I have a thoroughly good
impression of him.

But the boy is bound to feel upset
when you say to him

Hitler isn't normal.

It's common knowledge
he's not normal.

I don't agree.

I also know that you're saying
that to everyone,

and I know that a great many people
take exception to it.

Don't make any mistake about that.

A great many people here are not
at all amused when you say that.

All right, tell me who they are.

I shall be delighted to tell you.

Well, tell me then!

I must ask them first.

All right, bring them to me!

I will!

We'll see what happens.

I will!

They should come with you!

I'll see to that.

With you!

I will!

As the generals in Trent Park argued
over Hitler's sanity,

the listeners were hearing accounts
of how far that madness had spread.

'We saw one of these
executions once.'

Believe me, if you'd seen it,
it would've made you shudder.

Did they shoot them
with machine guns?

With sub-machine-guns.

Horst Minnieur was one of
a new intake of POWs

who had seen
action on the Eastern Front.

They were the shock troops of
the Nazis' ideological fight

against Jews and Communists.

And, in a special decree
signed by Hitler himself,

they'd been given free rein
to act without restraint.

'The war in the East is
a completely different war.

'Torture is not prohibited.

'In fact, the civilian population
is quite literally eliminated'

in many cases, and
always treated ruthlessly.

We were actually there
when a pretty girl was shot.

That's too bad.

But she knew she was going
to be shot.

We were going past on motorcycles
and we saw a procession.

Suddenly she called to us.
She said they were going to be shot.

At first we thought she
was making some sort of joke.

Did she walk there in her clothes?

Yes, she was smartly dressed. She
certainly was an incredible girl.

Surely the one who shot her
shot wide.

Nobody could do anything
about it.

The guys were standing there
with their machine guns.

They clipped on a magazine,
fired to the right and to the left.

It didn't matter whether
they were still alive or not.

When they were hit,
they fell over backwards into a pit.

Then the next lot came up.

What about the people who
were in there who were not yet dead?

That was bad luck for them,
they died down there.

I can tell you, you heard a terrific
screaming and shrieking.

Were you watching
when the pretty Jewess was there?

No, we weren't there then.

All we know is that she was shot.

Had you met her before?

Yes, she cleaned our barracks.

The week we were staying there,
we went to the barracks to sleep

so that we didn't have
to stay outside.

I bet she let you sleep
with her, too.

Yes, but you had to be careful
not to be found out.

It's nothing new.
It was really a scandal,

the way we slept with Jewish women.

What did she say?

Well, we chatted together

and she said
she was at Gottingen University.

And a girl like that let anyone
sleep with her!

Yes. You couldn't tell
that she was a Jewess.

She was quite a nice type, too.

It was just her bad luck that
she had to die with the others.

75,000 Jews were shot there.

For many of the listeners,

these shocking confessions
carried an added chill.

The stories of killing Jews
touched them personally.

'We all tried not to get emotionally
involved in it.'

We tried to remain detached from
what we heard.

Fritz was a German Jewish refugee

with relatives left behind
in Berlin.

For the bugging operation
to work properly,

MI19 would need hundreds
of such native German speakers,

men who were also
committed to the cause.

The answer was actually staring
them in the face,

and it was in the British Army's
pioneer corps,

where a number of German Jewish
refugees were serving

in British Army uniform.

They had fled Nazi persecution,

and now they were giving something
back to Britain

for saving their lives.

We felt that what we were doing was
in a way retribution

for what the Nazis had done
to us and to other Jews.

We felt that we were getting back
at them,

and that was very satisfying.

When I told English people at first
that I had joined the British Army

during the war, their reaction
would often be,

"How awful for you to have
to fight your own people."

They cannot understand that they
were not our own people anymore.

They were our enemies,

and we wanted to fight them.
We had to fight them.

Fritz and his fellow listeners
were amassing damning evidence

of German war crimes.

Yet there were
still far darker secrets to come.

By the end of 1943,
the war had turned against Germany.

North Africa had been lost,
the Italians had surrendered

and in Russia the Germans had
been decisively

defeated at the world's largest ever
tank battle at Kursk.

# "Stille Nacht"

For the captured
generals at Trent Park,

the grim reality of Germany's future
was finally sinking in.


Only a few complete idiots still
believe we can.

For months the listeners had been
hearing a creeping

mood of anxiety,
recrimination and guilt.

He told me
the kind of things that happened.

I know myself that there were
savage, brutalised louts there,

who trampled on the bellies of
pregnant women, and that sort of

Yes, but these are very isolated
cases for which even

the SS can't be blamed.

I cannot believe that Germans
would do such a thing!

I don't think
I should have believed it myself,
if I hadn't actually seen it.

I am the last to defend such
atrocities but you must admit

that we were bound to take
the most incredibly severe measures

to combat the illegal guerrilla
warfare in those vast territories.

But the women had nothing
whatever to do with it!

'Cruwell probably finds it difficult
to believe these atrocities'

because now he's faced with
the spectre not only of a lost war,

but a criminal war as well.

If you listen to the gentlemen here,

we've done nothing else
but kill everyone off.

But if you ask,
they were never present themselves.

They heard about it from von Thoma!

Even Cruwell's convictions
would have been shaken

if he had heard the unwitting
confessions of other prisoners.

These recordings are powerful
evidence of atrocities committed

not just by Hitler's elite SS
but also by regular German forces.

After a routine transport flight,

Luftwaffe Pilot Fried
was taking a break...

I was at Radom once

and had my midday meal
with the Waffen SS battalion there.

An SS captain or whatever he was

"Would you like to come along
for half-an-hour?

Get a machine gun and let's go."
So I went along.

I had an hour to spare
and we went to some barracks

and there we slaughtered 1,500 Jews.

There were some 20 men
with machine guns.

It was over in a couple of seconds,
and nobody thought anything of it.

You fired, too?

Yes, I did. There were women
and children there, too.

They were inside as well?

Whole families. Some were screaming
terribly. Others were just apathetic.

One of the myths to come out
of the war was that the mass murder

genocide was committed by
the Waffen SS.

We know now that that was just
that, a myth, that the army

was complicitous in carrying out
the crimes of the Third Reich.

This case shows us that

What - you fired?

Yes, I did. There were women
and children there, too.

The brutality is shocking, but
the transcripts raise a question,

how could an ordinary person become
a genocidal murderer?

'Some were screaming terribly,
others were just apathetic.'

What I find particularly
powerful about this extract

is precisely that it's
so matter of fact.

This man doesn't have to spit hate,

this man doesn't have to tell you
lurid stories about why

the Jews are so awful
and why it's OK to kill them.

He just assumes that nobody will
have a problem with doing this.

People can kill,
they can do appalling things

when they can believe that what
they were doing is good, is even

noble. And Himmler encompassed that
idea in a very powerful metaphor.

He described killing Jewish people
like killing the rats in the sewers.

It's a horrible job,
nobody wants to do it,

but only the noblest people are
prepared to descend into the sewers

to carry out the dirty task in order
to preserve civilisation up above.

'The British, Canadian
and American troops

'who landed on the coast of France,
north of the lovely town of Caen

'in broad daylight this morning
are already several miles inland.'

As the Allies advanced through

more prisoners arrived
from liberated France.

'They are pushing steadily on,
backed by the tremendous firepower

of heavy British and United States


Among them was the anti-Nazi
General Paul von Felbert.

He'd surrendered with little
resistance and, in his absence,

been sentenced to death
for cowardice by Hitler himself.

Now von Felbert was to
provoke disturbing intelligence

when he met fellow inmate
General Heinrich Kittel.

Were you also in places where Jews
had been liquidated?


And this was carried out


Women and children, everyone?


It was horrible.

For instance, in Latvia,
near Dvinsk,

there were mass executions of Jews
by the SS.

I got up and went outside and said,

"What the hell's all this shooting

The orderly said to me,

"You ought to go over there, sir,
you'll see something."

300 men had been driven in
from the town,

they'd dug a communal grave
then marched home again.

The next day along they came again,
men, women and children.

The executioners first laid all
the clothes out in a big pile

and then 20 women were made to
take up their positions

naked on the edge of the trench.

Someone gave the command

and the 20 women dropped like
ninepins down into the trench.

I went away and I thought,

"I'm going to do something about

So I went over to the security
service man and I said,

"Once and for all, I forbid these
outside executions

"where people can look on."

"If you want to kill people
in the woods

"or somewhere where no-one can
see, that's your business,

"but I absolutely forbid another
day's shooting here!"

We draw our drinking water from deep

we get nothing but corpse water.

What did they do to the children?

They seized three-year-olds
by the hair,

held them up and shot them
with a pistol,

threw them in.
I saw it for myself.

That's why everyone hates us!
Not because of this one incident,

because of all these murders!

If one were to destroy all the Jews
in the world simultaneously,

there wouldn't be anyone left
to do the accusing.

It's obvious. It's such a scandal!

We don't need a Jew to accuse us,
we ourselves must bring the charge!

We must accuse those who have done

Then we have to admit
that our government is all wrong.

It is!

It's obvious that it's wrong,
there's no doubt about it.

Such a thing is unbelievable!

We are the tools!

Kittel's account of the massacre

was carefully filed for future
war crime trials.

He saw the mass killings,
he saw the mass shootings,

and he might have been
in the position to say,

"No, we have to stop this."

Tensions between the generals
at Trent Park

were reaching breaking point.

How far this mirrored the position
back in Germany

was revealed in an extraordinary
turn of events.

MI19 urgently needed the generals'

to this attempt on Hitler's life.

It made sure that no-one missed
the German radio broadcast.

Who is this Stauffenberg?

What happened?

He threw the bomb.
A Count Stauffenberg, a Colonel.

He was on my staff.

He's been shot.

Good God! It can't be true!
An excellent man like that.

He was my operations officer...
Has Himmler taken over the Army?


Now there'll be massacre in Germany.
We can only guess the scale.

It's already started.

And no-one will die of natural

I heard Hitler's broadcast.

He said that the bomb exploded
two metres away from him.

Even so, he wasn't wounded.

Well, excuse me, gentlemen.

This is the end.

Good God! Why did the bomb
have to be so small?!

He didn't want to kill any of the

Yes, but that just can't be helped.

It must have been a hand grenade -
it can't have been anything larger.

Good God! Good old Stauffenberg!

My God! It's a tragedy that he

Yes, it really is.

Though the assassination
had failed,

it signalled the start of the

As the Allies advanced,

fresh prisoners brought news
of a regime in its death throes.

Four weeks after the
assassination attempt on Hitler,

the puffed-up General
Dietrich von Choltitz,

captured ex-commander of Paris,
arrived at Trent Park.

His capture brought direct news
of Hitler's state of mind.

As ever, the listeners were waiting.

Oh, yes, he hates us!

Yes! I saw Hitler four weeks ago.

What kind of
impression did he make?

Oh, God, well... It was shortly
after the assassination attempt,

and he was still rather
the worse for wear.

Was he still injured?

Well, he's more worn
out than anything else.

He had put on almost eight kilos.

Mentally, he's ill, very ill.

I went into the room,
and there he stood!

A fat, broken-down old man,
with festering sores on his hands.

They'd been scratched a bit as a
result of the attempt on his life.

I almost felt sorry for him.

He said, "A people
which does not surrender

"can never be defeated!"


We all went out for lunch -

250 generals were rushed
by air from the front.

And he talked and talked!

After about seven minutes,
40% of the generals were all snoring!

But as usual, once he's
worked up, he noticed nothing.

While von Choltitz amused the
generals with Hitler gossip,

MI19 was about to hear the
Nazis' darkest secret of all.

You've no idea
of the amount of people

killed at Buchenwald
while I was there.

It could easily be about...30,000.

Accused of being a Communist,
Private Pfaffenberger

had been a political prisoner
for over seven years

at the Buchenwald death camp.

He'd only been released when Germany
became desperate for soldiers.

'The senior inmate in
each hut told us...'

"All those who have tattoo
marks are to report to me."

He needed about 100 of them.

Those who had
attractive tattoo marks...

were injected and killed.

'They were handed over
to the pathologists,'

who removed as large a piece of skin

as they needed with
a tattoo mark on it,

and the rest of the body was
taken to the crematorium and burnt.

The pieces of skin were
impregnated and tanned.

The wife of the
commandant got them...

..and she had a
lampshade made out of them.

Any mention of
atrocities were recorded.

The records were specially
marked in red, because they were

possibly used later on
for war crime trials.

Pfaffenberger's account is one of
the earliest detailed descriptions

the Allies had of the death camps.

It says here, at the top of
Pfaffenberger's transcript, it says,

his statements "appear fantastic"

but "they're given
for what they're worth".

In other words, the people listening
to this were hearing it -

they couldn't actually believe

these could be true,
could be taken seriously.

And of course, this is
a legacy of the Nazis.

This is the great
tragedy in our history,

that we needed such a terrible, lost
war as this to come to our senses.

For Cruwell and his followers,

their world and its
values were in ruins.

Cruwell has been heading
for mental disaster.

He quite openly admits that
he's getting into a nervous state.

At any time, he's to be
found alone in his room,

staring into space

or fumbling with patients' cards.

We are interrupting our programme
to bring you a news flash.

The German radio has just announced
that Hitler is dead.

I repeat that, the German radio has
just announced that Hitler is dead.

As the end of the war approaches,
and it's clearly a lost war,

it's a day of reckoning,
if you will,

and they're going to have to account

how it got to be the way that it was

and what their individual roles

I am certain to be
named as a war criminal.

18,000 Jews were killed at Rostov.

Of course, I had nothing to do with
the whole business!

I was the only known general there.

By the way,
I'm going to hold my tongue

about what little I do know

until such time as they pick me out.

The worst job I ever carried out -

which, however, I carried out
with great efficiency -

was the liquidation of Jews.

I carried out this order
down to the very last detail.

The whole thing was done
on Hitler's orders.

With the war over,

MI19 confronted their guests

with the shame of the regime
they had served.

(FILM) General Eisenhower
comes to see with his own eyes

the atrocities in Nazi prison camps
captured by the Allied armies.

He orders German civilians
to be compelled

to come and look at
the ghastly evidence,

among them a Nazi officer
who was a commander of the camp.

Reluctant, the Nazi officer,

a camp commander,
knows well enough what he'll see.

That's the only thing
about the "thousand-year Reich"

which will last for
a thousand years.


We are disgraced for all time.

As they stripped the stately homes
of listening equipment,

MI19 faced a choice.

They had 50,000 pages
of damning transcripts.

But releasing them
would mean revealing their methods.

Now Churchill wanted them released
for war crimes trials.

And what's now emerging

is that there was an intense debate

within British Intelligence

over whether the files should
or should not be released.

So there is an exchange of letters,

"What should we do
with this material?

"Should we use this in the Nuremberg
Trials, for example?"

And the answer was very clear - no.

We were very successful, we want to
be successful in the future as well,

so keep it secret, close your mouth,
and we lock it away.

In the end, the British
chose to protect their new methods

for the coming Cold War -
even at the expense of justice.

On the basis of what they said,
not one of Trent Park's prisoners

was ever convicted
of a single war crime.

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd