Friday, May 25, 2007

Tribulations And Trials

A marvellous short film script arrived in my inbox to read and make notes on. It arrived at just the right time of the day and proved to be a very welcome respite from transcribing yesterday’s tape.

Talking about the fun and games and jolly japery that went on, on the film sets was all well and good but for the second sit down with the Actress we concentrated on her family background. Hearing about her father’s childhood in India and his schooling in Shimla, in full view of the Himalayas, was certainly interesting. Eventually returning to England with his parents he studied law at Cambridge before joining up.

After the end of the war, and now a Major, he was one of the lawyers assigned as defence council in the Bergen-Belsen trial held in Luneberg toward the end of 1945. Although in civilised society we believe that everyone deserves a fair trial, it must have been utterly galling to have to prepare a defence for people who systematically tortured and murdered untold thousands of innocent people.

Bergen-Belsen was where Anne Frank and her sister Margot died. Bergen-Belsen was where Irma Grese, one of the most notorious female Nazi war criminals, had lampshades made from the skins of three of the inmates. The Actress’ father had to defend three of the SS women who worked at the camp. Which, as his first ever job as a young lawyer, really was being thrown into the deep end.

After an hour researching the trial, during which time I could feel my skin crawl, I had to stop and watch Ice Age just to clear my head.


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