Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen

BOOK: Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen
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HUMAN GAME
HUMAN
GAME

The True Story of the “Great Escape” Murders
and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen

SIMON READ

BERKLEY CALIBER, NEW YORK

BERKLEY BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2012 by Simon Read

Jacket design by Daniel Rembert

Photos of the murdered POWs on
pages viii
and
ix
are
courtesy of the Imperial War Museum: HU1591 and HU1592

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY CALIBER and its logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First edition: October 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Read, Simon, date.

Human game : the true story of the ‘great escape’ murders and the hunt for the Gestapo gunmen / Simon Read.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN: 978-1-101-61158-6

1.  World War, 1939–1945—Prisoners and prisons, German.   2.  Great Britain. Royal Air Force—Officers—Crimes against.   3.  Stalag Luft III.   4.  Criminal investigation—Germany. 5.  War criminals—Germany—History—20th century.   6.  War crime trials—Germany. 7.  Great Britain. Royal Air Force Police. Special Investigations Branch. 8.  McKenna, Francis P., 1906–1994.   I.  Title.

D804.G4R356 2012

940.54’7243812—dc23                      2012005330

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

To my son, Spencer,
with love.

Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:

“To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his gods?”

THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY,
LAYS OF ANCIENT ROME

“Who is in the right? The murderers who expect humane treatment after their cowardly attacks or the victims of those foul and cowardly attacks who in their rage seek their revenge?…We owe it to our people, which is defending itself with so much honesty and courage, that it not be allowed to become human game to be hunted down by the enemy.”

NAZI PROPAGANDA
MINISTER JOSEF GOEBBELS URGING GERMANS
ON MAY 27, 1944, TO ATTACK DOWNED ALLIED AIRMEN

CONTENTS

LIST OF CHARACTERS

PREAMBLE:
THE GREAT ESCAPE

PROLOGUE:
SUNDAY, MARCH 26

1.
“Those Are My Orders”

2.
Cold Case

3.
Vengeance

4.
Zlín

5.
The London Cage

6.
Prime Suspects

7.
Munich

8.
A Death in the Mountains

9.
Saarbrücken

10.
Danzig

11.
Finding Scharpwinkel

12.
Alone

13.
The Order of the Blood

14.
Remembrance

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

APPENDIX A:
THE FIFTY

APPENDIX B:
A SURVIVOR’S TALE

BIBLIOGRAPHY

SOURCE NOTES

INDEX

LIST OF CHARACTERS

ROYAL AIR FORCE INVESTIGATION TEAM

Squadron Leader Francis P. McKenna

Wing Commander Wilfred “Freddie” Bowes

Flight Lieutenant Stephen Courtney

Flight Sergeant H. J. Williams

Sergeant Wilhelm Smit

Flight Lieutenant Harold Harrison

Flight Lieutenant A. R. Lyon

Flight Sergeant R. M. Daniel

Squadron Leader W. P. Thomas

Sergeant J. Van Giessen

Flying Officer D. J. Walker

UPPER NAZI HIERARCHY

Adolf Hitler

Reichsmarschall
Hermann Göring

Feldmarschall
Wilhelm Keitel

Reichsführer
-SS Heinrich Himmler

AT THE CENTRAL SECURITY OFFICE (RSHA) UNDER HIMMLER

SS
Obergruppenführer
and General of Police Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Gestapo SS
Gruppenführer
Heinrich Müller

Kriminalpolizei (Kripo)
SS
Gruppenführer
Arthur Nebe

REGIONAL
KRIPO
AND GESTAPO PERSONNEL

BRESLAU

Dr. Wilhelm Scharpwinkel: Head of the local Gestapo

Max Wielen: Head of the local
Kripo

Dr. Gunther Absalon: SS captain charged with prisoner-of-war security in Sagan region

Dr. Ernst Kah: Head of local SD, intelligence agency of the SS

Heinrich Seetzen: Inspector of local Security Police

Hans Schumacher: Senior officer with local
Kripo

Max Richard Hansel:
Kriminal
Inspektor
with the Görlitz Gestapo

Lux: Breslau Gestapo agent and chief executioner

Knappe: Breslau Gestapo agent and member of Scharpwinkel’s murder squad

Kiske: Breslau Gestapo agent and member of Scharpwinkel’s murder squad

Robert Schröder: Scharpwinkel’s driver

Erwin Wieczorek: SS officer present at the shooting of four captured airmen

Laeufer: Breslau Gestapo agent and member of Scharpwinkel’s murder squad

BRNO/ZLÍN

Hans Ziegler: Head of the Zlín Frontier Police, which served as an auxiliary to the Brno Gestapo

Wilhelm Nöelle: Head of the Brno Gestapo

Franz Schauschütz: Inspector with the Brno Gestapo

Hugo Roemer: Section chief in the Brno Gestapo

Adolf Knuppelberg: Senior Brno Gestapo official, who shot Thomas Kirby-Green

Friedrich Kiowsky: Driver for the Zlín Frontier Police (Gestapo)

Fritz Schwarzer: Hugo Roemer’s personal driver

Erich Zacharias: Officer with the Zlín Frontier Police (Gestapo), who shot Gordon Kidder

Otto Kozlowsky: Brno Gestapo lawyer

DANZIG

Dr. Günther Venediger: Head of the local Gestapo

Erich Graes: Deputy director of the local
Kripo

Kurt Achterberg: A deputy in the local Gestapo

Reinhold Bruchardt: Venediger’s right-hand man

KARLSRUHE

Josef Gmeiner: Head of the local Gestapo

Walter Herberg: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Otto Preiss: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Heinrich Boschert: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Otto Ganninger: Deputy commandant of Natzweiler concentration camp

Magnus Wochner: Camp registrar at Natzweiler

KIEL

Friedrich (Fritz) Schmidt: Head of the local Gestapo

Johannes Post: Deputy in local Gestapo and chief executioner

Oskar Schmidt: Agent with the local Gestapo assigned to the murder squad

Hans Kaehler: Inspector with the local Gestapo

Franz Schmidt: Agent with the local Gestapo assigned to the murder squad

Walter Jacobs: Agent with the local Gestapo assigned to the murder squad

Artur Denkmann: Driver with the local Gestapo

Wilhelm Struve: Driver with the local Gestapo

LIBEREC

Bernhard Baatz: Head of the local Gestapo

Robert Weyland: Local Gestapo agent and suspected gunman

Robert Weissmann: Local Gestapo agent and suspected gunman

MUNICH

Dr. Oswald Schäfer: Head of the local Gestapo

Anton Gassner: Agent with the local
Kripo
in charge of Munich search operations

Greiner: Head of the local Kripo

Johann Schneider: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Emil Weil: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Martin Schermer: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

Eduard Geith: Local Gestapo agent assigned to the murder squad

STRASBOURG

Alfred Schimmel: Head of the local Gestapo

BOOK: Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen
5.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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