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Müller writes from Dorset, England, on January 29,
Tel.: 01202 - 476815
January 29 2000
Great Fakes of History
Your case at the Royal Courts of Justice has jogged my memory over an incident not long after the end of World War II. The anecdotal snippet that I'm recounting here probably counts, in forensic terms, as evidentially untenable or of little or no moment; but in the light of its relevance to your case conscience and the pursuit of truth demand that it doesn't go unreported to you.
A memorably animated Advertising Clerk, Frank Miller (living then at Nightingale Road, Southsea), bounded into the editorial section of the Cosham High Street office of the Portsmouth Evening News -- owned at that time, incidentally -- by Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers Ltd. -- and blurted out to me that he'd just been chatting to a customer, a recently 'demobbed' British Army NCO, who'd astonished him by what he alleged he'd witnessed at a German concentration camp newly captured by Allied troops. An order was given, said the NCO, that the corpses of inmates who'd died there, apparently from starvation or malnutrition (Allied bomb-cratering of the camp's approach-roads having denied access to German food-supply vehicles) and from typhus, be collected from around the camp and piled up outside the camp's large (bread?) ovens.
Documentary (Crown Film Unit?) cameramen arrived -- and the resultant footage, said the ex-soldier, purported to depict the bodies as those of gas-chamber victims.
Cameramen from the Crown Film Unit were also cited as being similarly involved in deception by an R.A.F. bomber-crewman who'd participated in the horrendous firestorm raid on Dresden. In a -- signed -- letter to The Observer some years ago he recalled his presence at the participating crews' pre-raid briefing for that attack conducted by a senior R.A.F. officer at an R.A.F. station in England.
There were, recalled that letter-writer, gasps of astonishment at the briefing when it quickly became unequivocally clear that the target of the Dresden attack was, specifically, a non-militarised area of the city widely known to be a gathering-point for tens of thousands of women and children from East Germany fleeing from the advancing Russian army. An outraged, loudly-voiced protest at the briefing by a civilian scientist on secondment to the R.A.F. was eventually silenced only when the briefing-officer (having epitomized the impending raid as: "It's the full works, chaps!") darkly threatened the protester with unspecified consequences if he persisted. Another airman who'd taken part in the Dresden raid also wrote, years later, to The Observer confessing that so sickened was he by the "full works!" incineration of countless thousands of civilians going on below him that he turned his 'plane around at Dresden and jettisoned his bomb-load harmlessly over open countryside.
That first-mentioned letter-writer went on to recount, in his Observer correspondence, that significantly it was after widespread publicity over the monumentally appalling non-combatant death-toll resulting from the Dresden raid that the participating aircrews were re-assembled in the same briefing-room, with film-cameras now running, for what was to be (they were told) a precise re-enactment for the historical record of the pre-Dresden-raid briefing. Present was the same R.A.F. briefing-officer facing the same large-scale map of Dresden.
But as the cameras whirred to capture 'definitively' the designated Dresden target-area the watching airmen became mystified and bemused at seeing the briefing-officer's map-pointer very decisively indicating, for the zooming-in film-camera lenses, a target-zone well away from the disastrously ill-fated civilian-packed one....
Peter R.S. Muller
The letter is reproduced with minor editing, and without any comment on its source-value.