LETTERS : Anecdotes are a part of truth

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The Independent Online
I READ Gitta Sereny's letter (22 January) just after seeing the Channel 4 programme Liberation in which many Russian, American and British soldiers gave their evidence of what they found when they liberated German concentration and extermination camps.

Presumably this is the anecdotal evidence which she believes "needs now to be treated with great caution".

With emotion and without exception their stories were all the same - piles of unburied dead, wraith-like, skeletal figures who were just living, callous guards, a local population who "knew nothing", "medical" experiments, and the methodical application of 20th-century technology to barbaric crimes.

The fact that these witnesses were sometimes too overcome to record the detail with the same methodical accuracy that the SS applied to their tasks at the time in no way diminishes their testimony.

Many of the witnesses recalled the names of the guards that they captured and took care to preserve the documentation that they found for later use at war crimes trials.

The combination of eye-witness accounts and documentary evidence is the true record of what happened.

We must never denigrate the sights that were etched into the memories of those young men in the winter and spring of 1945.

Gerry O'Brien London SW16

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