Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alternate histories

At the FT, Tim Newark reviews Tapping Hitler's Generals: Transcripts of Secret Conversations, 1942-1945:
Between 1942 and 1945, British military intelligence listened in on conversations between senior German prisoners of war. This secret surveillance was recorded on gramophone discs and some of the material has been transcribed to form this book. Tapping Hitler’s Generals is the most intimate record of what German staff officers thought of their role in the second world war.

The recordings took place in Combined Services interrogations centres around London. Sometimes, to get the prisoners to open up, British intelligence would mix Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe prisoners so they would have to explain more fully their part in the war. Or a German agent provocateur might be set among them to start a debate about a particular commander or conflict. The results make for a fascinating – and chilling – insight into the German view of the war.

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