A duty of openness

January 27, 2012

The story of British PoWs in Auschwitz was, until the publication last year of Denis Avey's The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz, almost forgotten.

Most of the files relating to the soldiers are still closed to historians - and to the soldiers and their families. This is simply wrong.

Quite apart from the fact that many unanswered questions about the British government's knowledge of and response to the Holocaust may be answered by their release, there is a moral duty to the men themselves. Their continued secrecy seems to be more a result of bureaucratic pedantry than any conscious decision to keep the files closed.

There would be no downside for Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, to release them. But there would be a great upside. As Yitzhak Persky's son, Shimon Peres, puts it: the men's families would be able to hold in their hands precious records of their heroic fight against the Nazis.

Last updated: 10:59am, January 27 2012