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The brave men of Camp E715

27 January 2012

27 January 2012

Last year I travelled with the Holocaust Educational Trust to Auschwitz and the
experience had a profound effect. I had been warned it would, but having been a voracious reader of Holocaust memoirs and literature, I thought I was prepared for what I would see. Others have
written more eloquently on this subject. Mark Ferguson, who was on the same trip as me wrote an excellent piece
on Labour List to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. As he says, there is no ‘normal’ way to respond to what you see at Auschwitz.

As we passed the infamous IG Farben chemical works and the site of the British POW camp E715, I was struck by how little we know about this place, even after the success of the bestseller The Man
Who Broke Into Auschwitz, Denis Avey’s memoir of his time in the camp.

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More than a thousand British soldiers found themselves at the ‘anus mundi’ and the unwitting witnesses to the Holocaust. Only a tiny handful ever told their story. One of those men, it
turns out was Yitzhak Persky, the father of the Israeli president Shimon Peres, who served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers before being captured in Greece. Astonishingly, his comrades rallied
round to protect his identity and he survived the war to return to Palestine.

The Jewish Chronicle is now running a campaign for all files relating to E715 held by the National Archives and
the Ministry of Defence to be released, including Perksy’s service record. Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy, Labour Friends of Israel chair John Woodcock and former Grenadier Guards
officer Adam Holloway MP have already joined the campaign and Harlow MP Robert Halfon has written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to ask for his support.

Academics who have researched Camp E715 have come to the conclusion that the British POWs were profoundly affected by what they saw and did what they could to help the Jewish prisoners they saw and
worked with. There is also evidence that they attempted to alert the War Office to what was happening.

This episode in British history has not been fully explored. I believe a team of researchers should be employed to dig into the archives and interview all the surviving POWs from E715, now in their
nineties, before they die. The UK government should also use this opportunity to pay special tribute to these men, who saw some of the worst atrocities of the war at close quarters and remained a
credit to the nation.


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  • Old Slaughter

    “According to you it isn’t murder to carpet bomb a bult up area?”

    Show me evidence of ‘carpet bombing’. If you can you win, if you cannot, you are a hack, a liar, a joke and probably an anti-semite.

    “It’s not murder to cluster bomb children, in UN Schools for instance?”

    Show me evidence of ‘cluster bombing schools’. If you can you win, if you cannot, you are a hack, a liar, a joke and probably an anti-semite.

    “According to you, IDF murderers, snipers and thugs are in some way morally superior to any other army?”

    Certainly superior to the SS yes. You are comparing people trying to minimise civilian casualties whilst fighting people who cover the targets with their own civilians (to win PR battles with double digit IQ folks like yourself) with people whose mission was to eradicate an ethnic group. See the difference? If not, you are irredeemably stupid or irredeemably racist.

    So, to recap, murder is the deliberate illegal killing of someone. I asked if you could find a better ratio of civilian to combatent, demonstrating that it is not deliberate. You have chosen not to try. I now ask for evidence of carpet bombing and cluster bombs on schools.

    Can you provide this? My balls are on the table, easy for you to chop them off and win the day… Or is it that you are merely lying. Come on. Show us all. One of us is full of BS. Prove which it is.

  • Patricia Shaw

    According to you it isn’t murder to carpet bomb a bult up area?
    It’s not murder to cluster bomb children, in UN Schools for instance?
    According to you, IDF murderers, snipers and thugs are in some way morally superior to any other army?

    You re a sideshow,

  • Old Slaughter

    Looks like a hack… Smells like a hack….

    Why not try and answer the question? No digging from me, or at least none you are capable of calling me on.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Oh Dear, I thought Slaughter Chops was going to close down our little tete a tete.

    Keep digging.

  • Old Slaughter

    @Patricia Shaw

    “Accidental Deaths, is that what you call it when cluster bombs and white phosphorous is rained down in one of the most crowded urban environments on earth?

    As for Equivalence, Murder is Murder. Simple.

    Go equivocate on that.”

    Please tell me any conflict, even remotely comparable, that has a better ratio of civilian to combatant deaths.

    There are none.

    Killing is not the same as murder. Sam Harris’ perfect weapon idea clearly demonstrates the moral difference between the two actions described. Read up on it lest you sound completely stupid.

    Immature and disgusting.

  • Patricia Shaw

    WrathBart,

    If you were any more detached from reality, you’d be frothing for Palin as Secretary of State in a Gingrich Administration! (what’s that, you are?!)

    Hamas “Missiles” – (what, like those Exocets Israel sold to Galtieri?) – Oh, you mean ‘firecrackers’, are lobbed by Palestinians onto land that BELONGED TO THEIR GRANDFATHERS before being Settled by Ultra Orthodox Extremists supported by their Ultra Orthodox Government.

    And who started that process? D’oh, Since when did Israel uphold what Balfour wrote, and not completely ignore it? Look up ‘B’s Declaration’, ‘Illegal Occupation’ and ‘Illegal Settlements’ on your Tablet.

    But Wrathers – All your ragged arguments are as nothing compared to your defiance of the GENESIS of the world Holocaust.

    If you can’t get your etymology right – and you know you need an at least one ology – what hope have you got of being taken seriously?

    I think we’ll end our dialogue when I say so, you’re FAR too much fun!

    Besides, bigots and racists, too many of whom distort reality on this most welcoming website, need to be dragged into the open and exposed for what they are.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Old Slaugther – You re PRICELESS !!!!

    Accidental Deaths, is that what you call it when cluster bombs and white phosphorous is rained down in one of the most crowded urban environments on earth?

    As for Equivalence, Murder is Murder. Simple.

    Go equivocate on that.

  • Old Slaughter

    @Patricia Shaw

    You draw an equivalence between accidental deaths by a force hell-bent on minimising civilian casualties with the deliberate extermination of a race.

    You are disgusting.

  • Stephen Rothbart

    “At least Melanie Phillips is an intelligent racist” No you are the racist, and you are not even intelligent, and here is why:

    1) You ask how many Palestinians and Lebanese civilians has Israel killed in the last 10 years, and how many Israelis have been killed by Palestinians and Lebanese? I think a more sensible question would have been to ask who started the attack. Casualties are not the point. If you place your rocket launchers and missiles in schools and in the centre of built up areas then of course any retaliation will produce heavy casualties. That’s why they do it, to fool useful idiots like you.

    2)Losing Family in one war should make you more keen to seek peace and stop trying to justify perpetual warfare. My family were not killed in a war. They were taken to camps and slain. You obviously cannot make the distinction which is why I questioned your intelligence.

    3) “Aside from the injustice of Illegal Occupation, what exactly have the Nazis occupying Poland got to do with Palestinians whose land is occupied by Israel?” Nothing at all. So why did you try to make it your point in your first post? Glad we can agree on something.
    4)”You DO NOT OWN THE WORD HOLOCAUST. It is a Greek word misappropriated by Israel.” God, you really do not have a clue. The word Holocaust, usually with a capital H was given to the incredible crime committed by the Nazis and their allies towards the Jews and Gypsies and other “untermenschen” in an attempt to eradicate them off the face of the earth. This name was used before Israel was even in existence, in 1948 in case you don’t remember. It was not “misappropriated” by Israel and it was a name used by people from all over the world.

    I am ending this dialogue with you because I am sure no one else is interested in our battle. I am sorry you think I am in favour of perpetual war just because I think the Palestinian Arabs are poorly led by vile people who expolit them for their own political gain.

    There is enough evidence if you had an open mind to see their tactics because some of the more honest fighters actually admit that this is their intention.

    Sadly too many people jumpt to their defence, which I am sure makes them very happy, but in falling in with their tactics of putting their own people in harms way to convince the willing and the easily fooled that this is all the fault of the Jews, it ensures the slaughter continues.

    Sadly I think you belong to the former rather than the latter.

  • Patricia Shaw

    I can’t believe I’m gracing such a vapid little man with an answer. At least Melanie Phillips is an intelligent racist.

    That’s what too many espressos will do to you.

    1)Stop the body count. Two can play at your infantile little game. How many Palestinians and Lebanese civilians has Israel killed in the last 10 years, and how many Israelis have been killed by Palestinians and Lebanese?

    2)Losing Family in one war should make you more keen to seek peace and stop trying to justify perpetual warfare.

    3) Aside from the injustice of Illegal Occupation, what exactly have the Nazis occupying Poland got to do with Palestinians whose land is occupied by Israel? Selective historical analysis is even more deceitful than City Research.

    4)You DO NOT OWN THE WORD HOLOCAUST. It is a Greek word misappropriated by Israel. It means ‘Burned Alive’ which is what illegal phosphorous weaponry does to unarmed civilians.

    Now go away.

  • Stephen Rothbart

    Patricia Shaw what are you talking about?” Those dirty little Arabs Revolutionaries who pollute our TVs are all single mindedly hell bent on killing Jews” are your words not mine, I was referring to what they do to each other. Is anti-Semitism and holocaust denial high in the Arab world? Yes.

    “On Holocaust Day we must not remember ‘other’ genocides, be they perpetrated by Nazi Murderers, Turkish Barbarians or Jewish Racists” Kindly explain what Holocaust was carried out by Jewish racits. Do you know what a Holocaust actually is?

    “On no account must we ever remember the 1500 Palestinians. including some 400 children, burned alive by illegal Israeli weaponry in one conflict alone.” Sorry,
    even if your inference to Operation Cast Lead was true, and even Hamas admit most of the casualties were armed fighter, that is still not a Holocaust.

    My family lost many relatives in Poland, so I think I have a better understanding of the word than you.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Stephen Rothbart,
    you really are disgusting.

    According to the Book of Rothbart;

    Those dirty little Arabs Revolutionaries who pollute our TVs are all single mindedly hell bent on killing Jews.

    Holocaust Day is excluslvely reserved, like those segregated buses that run through the occuupied West Bank.

    On Holocaust Day we must not remember ‘other’ genocides, be they perpetrated by Nazi Murderers, Turkish Barbarians or Jewish Racists.

    On no account must we ever remember the 1500 Palestinians. including some 400 children, burned alive by illegal Israeli weaponry in one conflict alone.

    People like you are an embarassment to every civilised person on Earth.

    As even more so to the memory of those Jews who died in Occupied Europe.

  • Stephen Rothbart

    Oh Patricia, what a smarty pants you are! How droll on a day commemorating the industrial scale pre-meditated slaughter of 6 million men, women and children for the simple fact of their being Jewish, people without weapons, just trying to go about their business, that you have the appalling bad taste and lack of any class, to try to compare that with Israeli Jews trying to defend themselves against the kinds of people we watch every night now it seems in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, Yemen etc.

    Let me put your ignoraqnce to scale shall we?

    In the 60 years since the formation of Israel, about 35,000 Arabs have been killed during the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1978 and the operations into Gaza and Lebanon.

    During the same period, 11 million muslims have died at the hands of fellow Muslims.

    The Nazis and their fellow travellers all over occupied Europe killed 6 million Jews.

    And on Holocaust day, who do you whine about? Shame on you.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Extraordinary that the descendants of such horrors should so often be the first to justify barbarity to Palestinians today.

  • Martin Bright

    Arthur you are right. That was badly expressed. I meant that it was astonishing he survived and that this was due to the incredible bravery of his comrades. The whole piece is intended as a tribute to those men. This was not their only act of courage.

  • Arthur

    Why is it astonishing that Persky’s comrades would rally round to protect him? Perhaps you need to spend more time with British soldiers.

  • Fenman

    For this particular day a very apt and timely piece-Thank you,Mr Bright

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