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September 17, 2012

Atrocities of Nazis revealed in secretly recorded conversations of German war prisoners

London: Some of the most horrifying atrocities of the Nazis have been revealed in secretly recorded conversations of captured German soldiers, which have been published in Britain for the first time. The prisoners, mostly ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen, as opposed to SS hardliners, are overheard bragging about shooting women and children for sport and raping and slaughtering innocent civilians. According to the Daily Mail, but unknown to them, British and U.S. intelligence were secretly listening to their private chats. Transcripts made from the astonishingly candid recordings have been found on the shelves of the National Archives in Kew , all forgotten, until they were picked up by historian Sönke Neitzel in 2001, the report said. His subsequent book ‘Soldiers; diaries of fighting, killing and dying’, caused a sensation when it was published in Germany last year. And next week it will be published in English for the first time. According to the report, the overheard conversations not only provided high-grade military intelligence, they also aided their British captors in trying to fathom what made ‘honourable’ warriors into killers no better than the S.S. or Gestapo. Their conversations betray how deep the Nazi state corrupted the military code, and in doing so, the men who considered themselves honourable, men like Oberleutnant Hans Hartigs from the fighter squadron. According to the report, Hartigs was speaking of the targets he liked to go for, unarmed civilians - when the microphones were switched on one day in January 1945. “I used to shoot at everything,” he said laconically, “certainly not just military targets. We liked to go for women pushing prams, often with children at their sides. It was a kind of sport really.....” In WW2, in a pre-Internet age, pre mobile-phone age - a time when a German soldier could be executed for taking a camera into combat - they were, by and large, confident that their excesses would never be detected.....rape being one of them. In the recording, one junior officer boasted of what he and his men did to a woman they thought was a Russian spy: “We beat her on the tits with a stick, clobbered her on the arse with a pistol, then all eight of us had her, then we threw her out and as she lay there, we threw grenades at her”.

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