The story of how the German émigrés who fled Nazi tyranny returned at the end of the war in British army uniform to rebuild the country of their birth and restore democracy to Europe. Most served with the Intelligence Corps and Military Government to start the process of rebuilding Germany and Austria, before later making Britain their permanent home. When the guns fell silent and they crossed into Germany after May 1945, they were setting foot on German soil for the first time in at least six years. Ex-Berliner Geoffrey Perry commented: ‘Being back on German soil was like having goose-bumps but much more. It was a strange feeling, but was soon mingled with the reality of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime in the concentration camps.’
Some were involved with the hunt for Nazi war-criminals and gathering evidence for the war crimes trials, including the Nuremberg Trial. Others interrogated German prisoners-of-war, or gathered evidence from the concentration camps and interviewed the survivors. Two émigré-soldiers provided close protection for Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee at Potsdam. Hans Alexander was amongst the group of refugee-soldiers tasked with hunting down Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz. Alexander’s small team succeeded in March 1946. Other teams of refugee-soldiers successfully arrested Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl and Heinrich Himmler.
A key task for the Allies was to take over radio stations and newspaper premises to transmit news to the German public. Those German entertainers who wished to perform publicly had to be vetted by the Allies. The Information Services Intelligence Control Section in Hamburg, whose brief was to denazify actors, musicians, artists and writers, had a number of ex-refugees working in it. High on the immediate agenda for British occupying forces was the capture of Radio Hamburg, the radio station from where the British traitor William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) had broadcast just days earlier. A group of T Force stormed the station and successfully took it. Berlin-born Geoffrey Perry (Horst Pinschewer) gave the very first Allied broadcast to a liberated Germany from Radio Hamburg.
Based on first-hand accounts from veterans, the book provides an insight into how Germany and Austria were rebuilt at the end of the Nazi tyranny and democracy returned within a short space of time.
Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. Her highly acclaimed book The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII was in the top 8 Daily Mail’s Books of the Year in War, and has been optioned for film. It has been the subject of numerous documentaries and continues to receive media attention.&n...
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