More information on the subjects raised in Black Book

 Black Book raised multiple questions and issues in my mind about conduct and behavior during world war two. These subjects are so enormous, I can’t possibly start to understand them all with the minor research I have carried out so far, but nonetheless it’s a start and I am sure will be filled out over the coming films as I learn more angles of these enormous subjects. Some key points from this learning:

  • At liberation, in various European countries, those who were seen as ‘collaborators’ with the Germans for a multitude of reasons, were paraded publicly, had their heads shaved, and often stripped naked and covered in various insalubrious materials. This was a prelude to the Nazi hunting that continues to this day, to pursue those actively involved in the Nazi campaign who attempted to flee into obscurity. For more see below including links to a video celebrating VE day, the Clement Atlee announcement of the end of the war and a fascinating article written for the Guardian on the ‘dark side of the liberation parties.’
  • Rationing began in 1940 and started with basics such as butter and sugar, and wasting food became a criminal offence in 1940. It is generally accepted that food rationing improved the nation’s health, and was a direct result of one of Hitler’s tactics against Britain to use submarines to torpedo ships bringing supplies to Britain. See more below including links to rationing guidelines.
  • Torture seems to have been widely used during World War II by both the Axis powers, but also the Allies. The water boarding technique was certainly used and there is evidence that the very success of the D-Day landings themselves can largely be put down to the enhanced interrogation techniques that were visited upon several of the 19 Nazi agents. See more below for links to discussion on torture and how the use of these things bought about our feelings about torture today.
  • There is evidence of German soldiers being executed post liberation as happened to Muntze in Black Book. The Canadian military authorities required the Germans forces to essentially stay in formation post liberation to disband, and as a consequence, remained quiet on issues such as enforcing their own punishments. See more below on two soldiers who were executed 5 days after liberation.

Favourite facts

  • Because the Norway leader Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) actively collaborated with Germany after its occupation, his name has entered the Norwegian language as word for “traitor.”
  • The Black Book was actually the list of people to be arrested by the Gestapo following a planned Nazi invasion of Britain in the Second World War

What’s below:

  • Nazi collaborators and traitors
  • Food and rationing during world war two
  • The use of torture in world war two
  • Execution of German soldiers post liberation
  • World war II in the Nethelrands
  • Tommies and Krauts
  • Signal Magazine


Nazi collaborators and traitors

Its true that throughout occupied Europe, many people actively collaborated with the Germans. As their countries were liberated, some locals took revenge against the collaborators by beating or shooting them or by shaving the female traitors’ heads.

VE Day VJ Day End of WWII Celebrations 1945 Newsreel and Stock Footage

British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announces Japan’s surrender

An interesting article by Antony Beevor describing a dark side to the liberation parties: the brutal head-shaving and beating of women accused of collaboration

Nobles and admirals on war ‘Suspect List’

A full list of suspected wartime traitors, including the Duke of Bedford, Sir Oswald Mosley and many other members of the British upper classes who would have been arrested in the event of a German invasion has been released for the first time at the National Archives.

Pursuit of Nazi collaborators

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The pursuit of Nazi collaborators refers to the post-World War II pursuit and apprehension of individuals who were not citizens of the Third Reich at the outbreak of World War II and collaborated with the Nazi regime during the war. Hence, this article does not cover former members of the NSDAP and their fate after the war.

There were a number of motives for the apprehension of suspected collaborators, the main motives were revenge for those murdered, especially those murdered on ethnic grounds in the Holocaust (principally amongst Jews and Russians). And a desire after the bitter war, to see those responsible face justice, and be categorized as criminals by a court of law. Ensuring that criminal acts done were brought to light and placed on the official record, with evidence, so that they could never be disproven (some of the acts being so unthinkable that denial was plausible). A widespread sense that genocide of whole communities and cultures on such a scale was intolerable and must not be left unprosecuted even despite the inadequacy of existing laws. Other motives included were the fear that a “Nazi underground” of some kind existed, such as the ODESSA which could allow the enemy to somehow regroup for their proclaimed Fourth Reich.

Means of pursuit

The pursuit took many forms, both individual and organised. Several organizations and individuals (famous Nazi hunters) pursue ex-Nazis or Nazi collaborators who allegedly engaged in war crimes or crimes against humanity. The pursuits took varied forms such as individuals who reported they saw someone who they recognised, who had now assumed a false identity intent on slipping back into civilian life undetected. Specific individuals were named and sought by groups or governments for their crimes during the war.

Others were subject to after-war spontaneous retaliation committed by populations within occupied countries, which in some areas led to “witch hunts” for those suspected of having been collaborators, where vigilantism and “summary justice”, were common. After a first period of spontaneous pursuit, provisional governments took the matter into their own hands and brought suspected criminals to court. The Nuremberg Trial in Germany judged only the highest German Nazi authorities and each country prosecuted and sentenced their own collaborationists. Pierre Laval in France was judged and sentenced to death, while Philippe Pétain was also sentenced to death, but Charles de Gaulle later commuted his sentence into a life condemnation). Government action to the form of investigation and interrogation for people suspected to be such. For example: U.S. DOJ Office of Special Investigations.

Infiltration of Nazi support and escape organisations (the most famous one being the ODESSA network and its various “ratlines“) and those believed to be aiding and abetting them. However, many suspected war criminals were also given amnesty, some of whom succeeding in reaching high positions in post-war administrations (e.g. Maurice Papon, who became Police Prefect of Paris in charge during the Algerian War (1954–62) and was blamed for the 1961 Paris massacre). Others were never even tried such as Robert de Foy who resumed being head of the Belgian State Security Service 1945-1958.

To read more pursuit in different countries go to the webpage or to learn about Nazi hunters go to

Hartres, France, August 18th, 1944: Just after the liberation of the town, this French woman who had had a baby with a German soldier has her head shaved as punishment.

Food and rationing during the war

  • The richer people in society were not able to indulge themselves to the same extent and rich and poor had a similar diet during the war
  • The minister for food, Lord Woolton,, made sure that every British child got daily milk, cod-liver oil and orange juice, to boost vitamin intake. Free school meals were also given to children of poorer familie
  • Some of the more unhealthy foods, such as white bread and sugar, were removed or much reduced in the diet, making everyone healthier
  • It is generally accepted that food rationing improved the nation’s health, resulting in a better diet with more essential vitamins. The Ministry of Food reported that people had lost weight but were generally healthier for it
  • From the beginning of the war, one of Hitler’s tactics against Britain was to use submarines to torpedo ships bringing supplies to Britain. This meant that imported goods were in short supply
  • By 1940 wasting food was a criminal offence.

Alternative ice creams for children during rationing- carrots on sticks!


Torture in world war two

Modern sensibilities have been shaped by a profound reaction to the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Axis Powers in the Second World War, which have led to a sweeping international rejection of most if not all aspects of the practice. It seems very clear though that the Axis powers were not the only ones to have engaged in torture techniques during the war.

The very success of the D-Day landings themselves can largely be put down to the enhanced interrogation techniques that were visited upon several of the 19 Nazi agents.

The interrogation method of water boarding as demonstrated in the film ‘Black Book’ was widely was used by the Japanese in World War II

Of course, all of this says nothing about the fact of Dr. Josef Mengele’s ruthless experiments (see previous post) and the use of gas chambers.

Executions of German soldiers post liberation

It seems there is no such thing as Article 153, as postulated in the film, but there is some evidence that such things took  place. On May 13,1945 2 German Soldiers named Bruno Dorfer & Rainer Beck were executed by the German Army after a court martial held by the German Armed Forces. They were transported to their execution in a Canadian truck driven by the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and the rifles used were German weapons reissued to the executioners by a Seaforth officer. Note the date of the execution, 5 days after the war supposedly ended.

This tragic incident demonstrated a disturbing degree of cooperation between Canadian military units and the defeated German military. The Canadian military authorities permitted a continuation of the German military structure after the demise of the Third Reich. German assistance was indispensable in the disarmament, concentration, and evacuation of the German armed forces within Holland. Unfortunately, disinterested Canadian military authorities also left the German military in control of order and discipline.


World War II in Holland (The Netherlands)

This Western European nation was invaded by the Germans in May 1940. It surrendered after four days of resistance.

In the fall of 1944, the Allies attempted to get across the three major water obstacles in the Netherlands (the Maas, Waal, and Lower Rhine), to outflank the West Wall, and to put the British in position for a subsequent drive into Germany along the relatively open north German plain.

It was a join airborne-ground operation, Operation Market-Garden. The airborne attack — which included the famed 101st Airborne “Band of Brothers” — was called Operation Market; the corollary ground attack, Operation Garden. Unexpectedly strong resistance limited the gains to a 50-mile salient into Holland — far short of the objective of securing a workable bridgehead across the Rhine.

After five years of occupation, the Allies captured Arnhem, Holland, in April 1945. The remaining German forces in the Netherlands surrendered on May 4, 1945.

A great, great many Dutch civilians died during the occupation — over 200,000 men and women.


Tommies and Krauts

Tommy Atkins (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Tommies” from the Royal Irish Rifles in the trenches during the First World War.

Tommy Atkins (often just Tommy) is a term for a common soldier in the British Army that was already well established in the 19th century, but is particularly associated with World War I. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to “Tommy” across no man’s land if they wished to speak to a British soldier. French and Commonwealth troops would also call British soldiers “Tommies”. In more recent times, the term Tommy Atkins has been used less frequently, although the name “Tom” is occasionally still heard, especially with regard to paratroopers.


Tommy Atkins or Thomas Atkins has been used as a generic name for a common British soldier for many years. The origin of the term is a subject of debate, but it is known to have been used as early as 1743. A letter sent from Jamaica about a mutiny amongst the troops says “except for those from N. America ye Marines and Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly”. The surname Atkins means “little son of red earth”, a reference to the soldiers in their red tunics. Tommy, a diminutive of Thomas meaning twin, has been a very popular English male name since Saint Thomas Becket was martyred in the 12th century.

Following the British defeat by the Boers at the Battle of Magersfontein in December 1899, Private Smith of the Black Watch wrote the following poem:

Such was the day for our regiment,

Dread the revenge we will take.
Dearly we paid for the blunder
A drawing-room General’s mistake.
Why weren’t we told of the trenches?
Why weren’t we told of the wire?
Why were we marched up in column,
May Tommy Atkins enquire…

Robert Graves, in his autobiography Goodbye to All That (1929), states that: “The original ‘Thomas Atkins’ was a Royal Welch Fusilier in the American Revolutionary War“. Graves, an officer in the Royal Welch in 1915, mentions this among other regimental history but does not cite his reference.

According to Lieutenant General Sir William MacArthur in an article in the Army Medical Services Magazine (circa 1950), “Tommy Atkins” was chosen as a generic name by the War Office in 1815.

Richard Holmes, in the prologue to Tommy (2005), states that in:

“1815 a War Office publication showing how the Soldier’s Pocket Book should be filled out gave as its example one Private Thomas Atkins, No. 6 Troop, 6th Dragoons. Atkins became a sergeant in the 1837 version, and was now able to sign his name rather than merely make his mark. .”

The Oxford English Dictionary states its origin as “arising out of the casual use of this name in the specimen forms given in the official regulations from 1815 onward”; the citation references Collection of Orders, Regulations, etc., pp. 75–87, published by the War Office,31 August 1815. The name is used for an exemplary cavalry and infantry soldier; other names used included William Jones and John Thomas.

A common belief is that the name was chosen by the Duke of Wellington after having been inspired by the bravery of a soldier at the Battle of Boxtel in 1794 during the Flanders Campaign. After a fierce engagement, the Duke, in command of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, spotted the best man-at-arms in the regiment, Private Thomas Atkins, terribly wounded. The private said “It’s all right, sir. It’s all in a day’s work” and died shortly after.

A further suggestion was given in 1900 by an army chaplain named Reverend E. J. Hardy. He wrote of an incident during the Sepoy Rebellion in 1857. When most of the Europeans in Lucknow were fleeing to the British Residency for protection, a private of the 32nd Regiment of Foot remained on duty at an outpost. Despite the pleas of his comrades, he insisted that he must remain at his post. He was killed at his post, and the Reverend Hardy wrote that “His name happened to be Tommy Atkins and so, throughout the Mutiny Campaign, when a daring deed was done, the doer was said to be ‘a regular Tommy Atkins'”.

Rudyard Kipling published the poem Tommy (part of the Barrack-Room Ballads, which were dedicated “To T.A.”) in 1892, and in 1893 the music hall song Private Tommy Atkins was published with words by Henry Hamilton and music by S. Potter. In 1898 William McGonagall wrote Lines in Praise of Tommy Atkins, which was an attack on what McGonagall saw as the disparaging portrayal of Tommy in Kipling’s poem.[citation needed]

It is also said[by whom?] that the name “Tommy Atkins” was the example name on conscription sheets during the First World War, and that teenagers who were underage often signed up as “Tommy Atkins”.

The paybook issued to all British soldiers in the First World War used the name “Tommy Atkins” to illustrate how it should be filled in.[citation needed]

Today’s soldier is nicknamed (within the Army) “Tom”, and the British Army Magazine Soldier features a cartoon strip character called Tom.[citation needed]

Kraut (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

 Kraut is a German word recorded in English from 1918 onwards as a derogatory term for a German, particularly a German soldier during World War I and World War II.Its earlier meaning in English was as a synonym for sauerkraut, a traditional German and central European food.

Although recorded as a colloquial term for Germans by the mid-nineteenth century, it was during World War I that Kraut came to be used in English as a derogatory term for a German. In World War II it was used mainly by American soldiers and less so by British soldiers, who preferred the terms Jerry or Fritz. The stereotype of the sauerkraut-eating German dates back long before this time, and can be seen, for example, in Jules Verne‘s depiction of the evil German industrialist Schultz, an avid sauerkraut eater, in The Begum’s Fortune.


The magazine ‘Signal’

Signal was a unique product of Germany’s high-powered propaganda machinery: a nearly folio-sized magazine created in an effort to rally other European nations under the Teutonic banner, and to promote and justify German hegemony over Europe. It reached a maximum circulation of 2,500,000 copies per issue and was published fortnightly in a total of 25 different languages.

Based on the layout of LIFE, Signal utilized an exceptionally modern blend of articles and pictures. It was lavishly illustrated, including full-page color plates. Outfitted with an elite of staff authors and war correspondents, and partly independent from the rigid censorship of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry, Signal quickly established itself as the number one propaganda publication in wartime Europe.

In its March 22, 1943 feature on Allied and Axis propaganda LIFE conceded: “The Chief U.S. foreign propaganda magazine Victory is but a pallid imitation of the German Signal. Victory has less than half the circulation of Signal, contains no terrific propaganda sock like its Nazi counterpart.”

In a War of Words, Signal was a most effective weapon which the German propaganda experts succeeded in putting to maximum use. The magazine had a significant impact on the European volunteer movement against Bolshevism. By downplaying social and political differences among the various European nations, and by attempting to line them up behind Germany in its “struggle for freedom”, Signal promoted a “New Order” of Europe, designed as a Pax Germanica. 

I think that’s enough for now! What this space for discussion on ‘The English Patient’, the next film on my list.


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