German POWs were abused by British

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The Independent Online

German prisoners were brutally abused on the orders of British intelligence officers after the end of the Second World War, a secret police report has alleged.

The abuse, carried out in 1946 and 1947 at a secret British interrogation centre in occupied Germany, was so severe that prisoners died from malnutrition, frostbite and repeated ill-treatment.

The alleged role of senior intelligence officers is disclosed in a previously unpublished dossier compiled by Metropolitan police detectives who were brought in to investigate the abuse by horrified British commanders.

They intervened after emaciated and scarred prisoners were transferred to military hospitals from the interrogation centre at Bad Nenndorf near Hanover.

Two inmates, Walter Bergman and Franz Ustericher, died almost immediately in British military hospitals as a result of the abuse. Another, a dentist called Adolf Galla, lost half his body weight in four months. Weighing five and a half stone after his release, he suffered second- and third-degree frostbite and severe malnutrition.

The report, found at the National Archives in London by a BBC documentary maker, Julian Hendy, discloses that detectives investigated 15 cases of abuse at the centre.

Two cases were used to prosecute two senior officers at Bad Nenndorf - the commandant, Colonel Robin Stephens, and an interrogator, Captain Langham - for allegedly ordering the abuse. Both officers were acquitted, although the case papers for Col Stephens are still sealed as secret.

The interrogation centre was set up by MI5 in the aftermath of Germany's surrender in 1945 to extract information about post-war Nazi activity and Soviet-run zones of Germany.

These disclosures follow a series of similar allegations levelled at British troops in Iraq, including the death in custody of the Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa. The Bad Nenndorf case has also remained a source of embarrassment for the Government.

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