Exemplary Justice Hardcover – 24 Jun 1976
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Top Customer Reviews
Written in a non-sensationalist fashion this book is highly detailed about how the RAF investigated and arrested the members of the Gestapo over a space of three years. It also covers effors beyond the immediate post-war period as the last arrest for the murders took place in 1966.
If you think the film "The Great Escape" had an unsatisfactory ending and that the Germans got away with their killings, which were carried out on the direct orders of Hitler, then read this book. The RAF set the standard for future war crimes investigations, showing that time and distance were no protection for the guilty.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although the bodies of the murdered POWs had been cremated in order to hide the manner of death (point-blank shooting in the back and certainly not "shot while trying to re-escape"), this did not erase the incriminating evidence. Some of the crematorium attendants had actually sketched the sites of the bullet holes in the bodies. Other lines of evidence were seemingly innocuous, including a photo of a Gestapo man (Johannes Post) on skis with his mistress, and pornographic drawings of Gestapo men in a Czech inn.
One unique feature of this book is the presentation of lists at the end of the book. One list gives significant events in the pursuit of justice relevant to the 50 murdered airmen. Another lists the chief Germans responsible for the murders, giving their fate (at large, in custody, killed in the latest stages of the war, suicide, acquittal, imprisonment, or execution).
Easier said than done(esp given the ruin and disorganization of Germany in particular and Europe as a whole after the war) but a hnd picked team from the RAF's Police Branch(which in 1950 was renamed the Special Investigation Branch by King George VI) led by Squadron Leader( a rank equivalent to Major in the US Air Force and Army) McKenna painstakingly hunted down the perpetrators and succeeded in sending several of the leading men to either the gallows(where they were hanged on February 18, 1948) or to prison for very LONG periods.
it would be comforting to think that such barbarities are simply historical but given reports from places as differetn as Syria, Iraq and more recently Ukraine, it looks as if war crimes investigators will be needed for the foreseeable future!