Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Simon Read's "Human Game"

Simon Read was an award-winning journalist before he became a nonfiction author.  His books include In the Dark and War of Words.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Human Game deals in part with atrocities committed against German civilians by the French. If keeping in mind the context of the times, one can understand the hatred harbored by the French, though it does nothing to excuse the actions described in the Human Game excerpt below. Resorting to the same brutal behavior as your enemy, makes you no better than the heinous regime you’ve been fighting against. The British, in their hunt for the Gestapo gunman who murdered fifty participants of “The Great Escape,” had to deal on a routine basis with the French. It was not an easy alliance, as French war crime investigators were not always willing to help and wanted to keep certain war criminals to themselves. It also emerged that some Nazis were released from French custody in exchange for not revealing the names of French officials who assisted Germany during the wartime occupation of France.
While the investigation made slow but steady progress in the British and American zones, efforts were under way to uncover leads in the French sector. Records at the French War Crimes and Political Prisoners Bureau in Paris were poorly organized—a result of the French frequently moving prisoners from one camp to another. The French were busy dismantling their smaller camps and transferring prisoners to larger facilities. Not until this process was complete and the smaller camps had been abolished was there any hope of the files being properly organized. In their sector, the French had assumed the role of conqueror and did little to hide their disdain for the vanquished population. As far as they were concerned, being a German—regardless of whether or not one was a Nazi—was crime enough. They had a grudge to settle. In the latter stages of the war, French forces—following behind the Americans—marched into Stuttgart and raped an estimated three thousand women and eight men. Likewise, in the small town of Freudenstadt, they raped women as old as eighty, burned homes and shot civilians. It was this sort of behavior one associated more with the Red Army, which, in the vast areas of Germany it overran, unleashed a frenzy of “looting, destruction and rape.” Noted on Danish journalist, “It was not that a sex-starved Russian soldier forced himself upon a girl who took his fancy. It was a destructive, hateful and wholesale act of vengeance. Age or looks were irrelevant. The grandmother was no safer than the granddaughter, the ugly and filthy no more than the fresh and attractive.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Simon Read's website.

My Book, The Movie: Human Game.

--Marshal Zeringue