The London Cage

Title:                      The London Cage

Author:                 Helen Fry

Fry, Helen P. (2017). The London Cage: The Secret History of Britain’s World War II Interrogation Centre. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

LCCN:    2017019360

UB251.G7 F79 2017

Contents

  • Introduction: impounding the evidence — Genesis of the cage — A very ‘German’ Englishman — Cage characters: the interrogators — Cage characters: the ‘guests’ — Downstairs: interrogation methods — Prison quarters — Caged lies: the truth drugs — The German ‘great escape’ — German-Jewish émigrés — A matter of justice — Knöchlein: the Butcher of Paradis — The Sagan case — Norway and war crimes — Befriending the field marshal — Death in the cage — Torture: myth or reality — Epilogue: the legacy — Appendix: Staff at the London cage.

LC Subjects

Date Posted:      December 5, 2017

Review by Thomas E. Ricks[1]

One of the few areas of World War II history where more information is still emerging is intelligence operations. In The London Cage: The Secret History of Britain’s World War II Interrogation Centre, Helen Fry, a prolific historian of the war, looks at the London detention and interrogation center, located in an exclusive neighborhood at the western end of Hyde Park.

This unusual London prison camp went through three distinct phases. Early in the war it was used by British military intelligence to examine odd lots of prisoners—U-boat crews, unlucky German paratroopers and spies. Then, starting in 1944, it began to receive a flood of German prisoners, many of them senior commanders. After the war, it housed German officers suspected of war crimes. Some of the most startling interviews took place then, as émigré Jews listened to Waffen SS officers boast of the number of Jews they had killed. One British officer who had been captured during the war found himself interrogating the Gestapo officer who once had brutally interrogated him. This is a good story told poorly, as Fry tends to jump around in time and often repeat herself.

[1] Thomas E. Ricks, the Book Review’s military history columnist, is a former war correspondent and the author of six books, most recently Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. A version of this review appeared in print in The New York Times on November 12, 2017, on Page BR36 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Military History. Accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/books/review/new-military-history-victor-davis-hanson-michael-korda.html

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