London's Most Desirable Neighborhood Has An Old Torture Facility
Kensington Palace Gardens is arguably the most desirable neighborhood in the world. If you moved there today, you'd be neighbors with the Sultan of Brunei and Lakshmi Mittal, the third-richest man on Earth. A house will set you back around $47 million, which gets you a central London location near some great schools, nightmares haunted by the eternal screams of thousands of tortured souls, and four and a half baths.
Rewind the clock 70 years, and one of those chic mansions was home to a covert interrogation and torture operation nicknamed the London Cage. Run by MI9, the section of the British War Office responsible for interrogating prisoners of war, the Cage could hold up to 60 prisoners at a time, and processed 3,573 POWs in total. The only thing separating the Cage from the bustling London streets was a single barbed wire fence.
Prisoners were subjected to forced labor, sleep deprivation, starvation, beatings, dangerously rapid temperature changes, and threats of execution. It's said that one prisoner screamed so loud and so often that he drew the attention of the local police. Another prisoner, a German journalist, said that he'd spent two years as a prisoner of the Gestapo, and not once did they treat him as badly as British intelligence. It's like if Guantanamo Bay was being run out of that quaint old Craftsman at the end of your street.
The Cage mostly remained a secret well into the 1950s. And if you're thinking that it was a necessary evil to defeat the Nazis by stooping to their level, keep in mind that German civilians were held alongside the soldiers and war criminals until 1948. German citizens were being tortured in the heart of London during a period of peace for Britain. But surely that's an awful relic of another age. Could you imagine the outrage today if a major Western power secretly tortured foreign citizens during peacetime?
Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here, and published his first short story here.
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