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The London Cage by A. P Scotland
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The London Cage

by A. P Scotland

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British (1) German (1) Intel (1) war crimes (1) WWI (1) WWII (1)

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This book was given to me by my mother when a great uncle passed away. I was, to this point totally unaware of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Scotland OBE. This book, now long out of print is well worth the reading. Scotland’s early career reads as an exciting and amazing set of adventures when he was acting as an undercover agent in the German army in what is now Namibia just after the turn of the twentieth century. Scotland gained unprecedented knowledge of German military operations and psychology. He was to put this to terrible use. He was awarded his OBE for his innovations in interrogation techniques used on German soldiers during the Great War.

Between July 1940 and September 1948, he commanded one of the country's most secret military establishments: the London office of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, known colloquially as the London Cage.

This book becomes more interesting when one understands the history of its gestation. Scotland’s first draft was quite open about the means of obtaining information from German officers and soldiers. Scotland displayed a philosophical attitude toward the interrogation and torture of his prisoners reflecting that there was nothing which could be hid from him. In June 1950 the draft was sent to the War Office to be censored and the official’s reaction was far from favourable. They asked Scotland to forget about his book, and then advised he would be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. The Foreign Office stated that the publication would help "persons agitating on behalf of war criminals". MI5 was concerned that the book repeatedly showed that the Geneva Convention had been breached. In this draft Scotland plainly stated that prisoners had been forced to kneel while being beaten about the head, to stand to attention for up to 26 hours, threatened with execution or with "an unnecessary operation". Special Branch raided his Buckinghamshire retirement home to further influence his decision.

After seven years the book was published with all offending information removed. This is the book that I now have in my possession.

It remains a fascinating book. Scotland worked as an agent in Germany for periods going by the name of “Captain Schottland” meeting Hitler on one occasion. Scotland was a complex man and his book, while evidently heavily censored gives an interesting insight into a man for whom morality could be shifted for perceived national need.

Without doubt Scotland did things which would have had him tried as a war criminal had the war gone the other way. It is interesting to think that his activities were condoned by not only by Military Intelligence but by elements of both Churchill and possibly Attlee’s governments. ( )
1 vote nicmoore81 | May 25, 2008 |
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