British torture photographs released after 60 years

Photographs of victims of a secret torture programme operated by British authorities during the early days of the cold war have finally been published after being kept secret for almost 60 years.

The pictures show men who had suffered months of starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and extreme cold at one of a number of interrogation centres run by the War Office in postwar Germany. A few were starved or beaten to death and British soldiers are alleged to have tortured some victims with thumb screws and shin screws recovered from a gestapo prison. Many of those tortured were suspected communists.

Declassified Whitehall papers have revealed that members of the Labour government of the day went to great lengths to hide the ill-treatment. One minister is reported as saying the attempt to keep the matter secret was in order to try and conceal "the fact that we are alleged to have treated internees in a manner reminiscent of the German concentration camps".

Nearly sixty years later the photographs of the torture victims were still being kept secret. Four months ago they were removed from a police report on the mistreatment of inmates at one of the interrogation centres, near Hanover, shortly before the document was released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

Although the file was in the possession of the Foreign Office, the pictures were removed at the request of the Ministry of Defence. They have finally been released after an appeal by the Guardian.

Revealed: victims of UK's cold war torture camp (The Guardian, 3 April 2006)
See also: The postwar photographs that British authorities tried to keep hidden (The Guardian, 3 April 2006)