Following the end of the second world war, whilst in the sector of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union the authorities were arresting Nazis and helping the German people to build up their own organisations for the running of society, the sector controlled by British imperialism was indulging in some social engineering of its own.
Although a number of top members of the Nazi party were arrested by British occupation forces, thousands of lower-level fascists were left in positions of power, and any move to create organisations that suggested popular control or socialist orientation were heavily discouraged and even forbidden.
This much has been known for a very long time, and has even acknowledged, at times, by our ‘democratic’ British state. Britain has also acknowledged, even though very few people are aware of it, its responsibility for systematic torture and ever murder of some German prisoners held in ‘special’ military camps in 1946.
The Germans who merited such inhuman treatment were not the Nazis who had just been bitterly fought for six years. No, they were German communists or suspected communists!
During WWII, the leadership of the German Communist Party (KPD), which was obviously completely illegal in Nazi Germany, had directed what resistance they could from outside of the country, and many of those leaders had slipped back into Germany on the same day that Hitler committed suicide. Many other communists, including party leader Ernst Thälmann, who was executed just before the end of the war, had been imprisoned since before the war started.
What is absolutely clear, and beyond any dispute, is that the German communists, like every other communist party, had taken the most resolute anti-fascist stance and given huge support to the Allied forces. Despite this, US and British imperialism were already laying out their plans to wage war on and destroy their Soviet ally, which had played the main and decisive role in the victory over fascism, before World War II was even over.
As a result, communists in countries from the USA to Germany, from Greece to Malaya, and from Korea to Vietnam, were hastily recast as the enemy, to be crushed with brutality and violence – often by or in cahoots with the fascist enemy of yesterday.
Recently declassified Whitehall papers show that a number of these communist and suspected communist victims of the British government’s torturers and murderers were starved or beaten to death. Many spent months suffering intense cold, sleep deprivation, beatings and starvation, and there are even allegations that the British army torturers used the thumb and shin screws they had found in the captured Nazi extermination camps.
These victims were both male and female, and their treatment on the orders of the War Office was apparently justified on the grounds of seeking any possible information about Soviet military and intelligence organisation and methods to assist in the imperialists’ preparations for war against the USSR.
There are a few pictures of the stripped and emaciated victims still present among the documents, but many more have ‘disappeared’ from the Foreign Office (FO) files. Those that were not destroyed bear a sickening resemblance to the photos of victims of Nazi atrocities in camps such as Dachau or Buchenwald.
The abuse, torture and murder of these anti-fascist fighters took place in several ‘interrogation centres’ in Germany, and also at a secret location somewhere in London, but, according to ‘officials’ from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the papers containing information about the London site cannot be released because they have been contaminated with asbestos!
It is the genius of the bourgeois media that it can release information that is extremely harmful to the ruling class and then quickly bury that information and our collective memory of it. Most of the information in this article was previously published in a Guardian article in 2006, following years of persistent rumours, and yet most readers will have been surprised by the contents of the latest article. (‘Revealed: Victims of UK’s Cold War torture camp’ by Ian Cobain, 3 April 2006)
Workers in Britain have also been indoctrinated to believe that the British intelligence establishment does not consider torture to be a reliable way of gathering information. This is total rubbish! Torture and murder have always been acceptable options to British imperialism, whether in the colonies or neo-colonies, or in Britain itself. Our rulers just need most of us to believe to the contrary so that they can carry on with their dirty work unimpeded by public scrutiny.
And finally, let it never be forgotten that the party that was serving as the British government in 1946, which was assiduously preparing to wage war on Britain’s former wartime allies in the Soviet Union and actively instigating and then covering up the torture and murder of communists and anti-fascists was the Labour Party. And let us note in passing that this was not just any old Labour government, but the much-mythologised regime of ‘socialist’ ‘bringers of the NHS’ made up of Clement Attlee, Nye Bevan etc, so beloved of the Trotskyite-revisionist ‘left’ in Britain today.
We must understand and act on the lessons that are furnished by history. There never has been and never will be a socialist or pro-worker Labour government; they have all been racist, anti-communist and pro-imperialist to the core. We must break the grip of these social-democratic servants of the rich from our movement once and for all!