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Book Talk: British POWs and the Holocaust

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Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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British POWs were held all over Germany and the occupied lands, spending their war in and around towns and villages with names now long forgotten except in local lore. But in many of these out-of-the-way places, another event was playing itself out. Supposedly shrouded in secrecy, the Jews of Europe were being stigmatised, marginalised, starved, worked to death, shot or eventually gassed. It is widely assumed that British POWs saw little of this, with only a handful witnessing anything at all. In fact, captured Britons saw and understood a great deal more than anyone has so far realised. This talk explores their story. Using eyewitness testimony, Dr. Russell Wallis reveals their essentially human response and shows that conventional notions of courage and gallantry, fear and timidity cannot explain the actions and reactions of POWs.

Russell Wallis is an independent historian. His latest book British POWs and the Holocaust, published by I.B. Tauris, was published in 2017. His first book, entitled Britain, Germany and the Road to the Holocaust was published in 2014. He has written several articles, including a study of British reactions to the persecution of Jews in Poland after the Great War and also the story of British opinion about ordinary Germans during the Holocaust. Russell has worked for Hashava, the Holocaust Restitution Company of Israel and carried out research for the Holocaust Educational Trust. He is currently working on a number of interconnected projects concerning the British approach to war crimes. He is also preparing a history of ordinary Britons living in anticipation of the Second World War.

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Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square

London

WC1B 5DP

United Kingdom

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