Wednesday 17 January 2018

Robert Fisk: Humans are capable of the best, and the worst

Survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp (above) after Allied troops liberated the camp in April, 1945
Survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp (above) after Allied troops liberated the camp in April, 1945

Robert Fisk

MORE horror arrives in the mail. Clive Burrage wrote to me about his brother-in-law, Harry Leeks, pilot of an RAF Mitchell bomber in the last two years of the Second World War, based in Cologne in the first months of the occupation of Germany.

"He went to get some furniture for his room at the base," Clive told me when I called him in Cheshire. "And he found these photographs in one of the drawers." The pictures slid out of Clive's 'Do Not Bend' packet. Hitler, walking in what seemed to be a Warsaw street, presumably in 1939. Goering and Hitler arriving at an airbase. And then a bleak, cold street -- soldiers and civilians in overcoats, part of a shop name in what appeared to be Polish -- with five bodies hanging by rope from a first-floor balcony.

Their hands are tied behind their backs, their heads askew. And just to the left is a German soldier taking a photograph of the corpses. I have never seen this picture; it appears to be a "souvenir" taken by a soldier who presumably sent it home to his family -- who owned the furniture in which Harry Leeks found it four or five years later.

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