Himmler’s Hostages written by Tom Wall and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 272

This book tells the true story of Himmler’s plan to use prominent WWII concentration camp prisoners as hostages in an attempt to engage the Western Powers in negotiations. At the centre of the tale are five British survivors of the ‘Great Escape’, two MI5 agents kidnapped by the Nazis, and Irish born POWs.

Meticulously researched and revealing many previously unknown facts, it relates how the British group came to be integrated with a multinational group of VIP prisoners in Dachau concentration camp, including German family groups of men, women and children; relatives of those implicated in a plot to kill Hitler.

The lively narrative describes kidnapping, escape attempts, interpersonal conflict, betrayal and comradeship, as well as intrigues and love affairs among the prisoners, culminating in their dramatic attempt to free themselves from the SS.

You could be forgiven that this might be a heavy read due to who the book is about and what we know he was responsible for. But the book is very different to the heavy facts about the concentration camps and what happened to them. This book in fact focuses on a special plot or plan being devised by Himmler in order to use well known, strategic or ‘important’ people to keep together in one place where they could then be used as some kind of bargaining chip in negotiations with the allies or anything that was deemed strategically important. This is a fascinating storyline to the whole war and one that I hadn’t really heard about before. But the plan involved British survivors, members of MI5 and Irish prisoners of war. 

In a way the concentration camps and what went on there are used as a backdrop to the book, which makes it a different read to what might be expected. Listening to what happened, why these people were chosen and how as prisoners they got on with each or or in some cases, makes it a fascinating read. The book is split into four sections which I think helps the book and the flow of information, the book is well written and there is a huge chunk of research has been done. I would whole heartily recommend this book to others and it is full of a wealth of information.