The London Cage by Helen Fry
Walk around Kensington Palace Gardens today and you will be forgiven to think what beautiful part of London it is with its salubrious Georgian buildings and its wealth. But turn the clocks back to the Summer of 1940 and all was a little different for behind one of these buildings lay a top secret World War II facility for interrogating captured German officers.
The London Cage, Kensington, London.
Indeed, such was the secrecy no-one knew it existed apart from the British Secret Service. Operating from 1940 to September 1948 prisoners brought here were subjected to “Special intelligence treatment” to break them down and gather vital intelligence, sleep deprivation, beatings and water treatment were dished out to those who refused to co-operate. And it also transpires that truth drugs were also used to extract confessions.
Some of those German war criminals that passed through The London Cage were responsible for murdering Canadian POWs and also 50 British Airman who escaped from Stalag Luft II (The Great Escape). Some of the German’s that went onto trial tried to complain about the treatment they received at the hands of the British Secret Service but these seemed to be ignored in an attempt to convict those German Officers of war crimes and also their part in running concentration camps. The entire operation at The London Cage was overseen by Commander Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Scotland and it is through his ‘watered down’ memoirs that the Historian Helen Fry drew on to write this powerful and incredible book London’s interrogation centre.
Now Seventy years on, many who have read about The London Cage were shocked that these events took place, but to understand what happened here is one for historians to debate for many years come. One thing that we all must understand is that those brought to the cage were the most ardent and brutal Nazis who refused to co-operate even after the war ended. Some totally unrepentant of their involvement or deeds. Even after the war a team of British investigators were looking for any who were involved in atrocities and any that were located were then brought to The London Cage for interrogation.
Scotland ran The London Cage with a rod of iron and was determined to break those who were involved in atrocities. It is important to note that it was not just German’s who were brought here but as the war drew to a close and even after anyone who was involved in war crimes ended up at The London Cage.
This is an outstanding and well researched book by Helen Fry that opens the door to a secret and some may say controversial intelligence facility. Anyone who is interested in WWII and the British Secret Service will gain a lot from reading The London Cage. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My thanks to Rebecca Fincham and also Yale University Press for the review copy of The London Cage.
The London Cage by Helen Fry is published by Yale University Press and was published on 1st September 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Helen Fry will be talking about her book The London Cage today Sunday 11th March at 2pm and tickets are still available by visiting the website: JEWISH BOOK WEEK – HELEN FRY