Who was Stanley Green?
Who was Stanley Green and what happened to him when he was deported to Germany during the Occupation?
According to Madeleine Bunting, who wrote one of the more controversial books on the German Occupation The Model Occupation, he was a cinema projectionist sent to Buchenwald concentration camp for possessing a radio, and while there he took photographs with a camera he smuggled in, and then managed to smuggle them out again, to be used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials.
The Model Occupation, published in 1995, accused islanders of acquiescing to the point of collaboration with their occupiers, and so proved highly controversial . Presenting the other side of the story the author, a Guardian journalist, wrote of those who fell foul of the Germans because of their involvement in varying acts of defiance, including the possession of illicit radios.
Bunting wrote that one of these was cinema projectionist and amateur photographer Stanley Green, and the book includes two photographs, reproduced here, allegedly taken by him at Buchenwald and then smuggled out and subsequently used in the war crimes trials.
But this claim has been disputed by other historians who say that Green, who would have been naked on admission to Buchenwald could not possibly have concealed a camera. It is further suggested that the photographs were taken after the camp’s liberation, probably by one of the liberating troops.
Account in book
In her book Bunting wrote:
- ”Stanley Green, the cinema projections, was arrested for a radio offence. Green was involved in a range of resistance activities. He was a good photographer, and had photographed the maps of the German fortifications for Major Crawford-Morrison. His son Maurice also says his father had built a transmitter. The Germans did not find either the photographs or the transmitter, but they did find a radio hidden in the roof of the cinema. Maurice claims his father was informed on and that the informants were paid, but the two men alleged to have been the informers were themselves imprisoned, and it is possible that they gave information under duress after their arrest.
- ”Stanley Green was first sent to Paris, where he was tortured at Gestapo headquarters; his fingernails were ripped out. He was then sent to a French prison at Fresnes, from which he was transferred to Buchenwald. He spent seven and a half months there, and it nearly killed him. He was never to recover from the searing experience of what he saw in Buchenwald, which he later described in detail to his son Maurice:
- ’Dad was put on the job of picking up bodies from the pile of bodies and putting them on a cart and taking the cart to the crematorium and dropping them down a chute. Many of the bodies were still just living, although they were passed as dead because they had typhus and other diseases. Some were being eaten by rats. The piles of bodies stretched for as far as you could see.
- ’Every second week, he was stripped off to the waist and he went down to the builers with buckets and a shovel and he scraped the fat off the walls and floors. He had to make sure each bucket was levelled off like he was filling it with cement. If he didn’t do that, he was beaten by the Ukrainian guard with a club covered with nails. One guard put a bayonet through Dad’s foot for no reason; a doctor got some charcoal and cauterised it.’
- ”Green managed to smuggle a letter written on cement paper sacking to his other son, who had been deported to Laufen internment camp in southern Germany. The son contacted the Red Cross, who succeeded in getting Green released from Buchenwald. He was taken to Munich, where he was caught in a terrible bombing raid. His SS guards locked him in a shed and retreated to a bomb shelter. Two prisoners with Green were killed when a bomb fell nearby, and everything he was wearing was burnt in the blast. He managed to walk from Munich to Laufen – a distance of over a hundred miles. When he arrived his son didn’t recognise the bowed, skeletal figure as his father; Green’s weight had dropped from 13 stone to five.”
Bunting completes her account of Stanley Green’s ordeal with this amazing claim:
- ”Green survived; he was the only inmate of Buchenwald to smuggle photographs out of the camp, and his evidence was used at the Nuremberg trials. He returned to Jersey where he died at the age of 74, but he never fully recovered from the horrors he had witnessed.”
There is certainly a Stanley Green listed among the List of deportees to prisons and concentration camps compiled by Occupation historian Joe Miere, but the only details of why he was deported and imprisoned and what happened to him are those supplied in Madeleine Bunting’s book.
The subject is taken up in David Wingeate Pike’s 2003 book Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, Horror on the Danube which examines some of the exaggerated accounts of life in concentration camps and accuses some writers as having ‘no understanding of the reality of an SS camp’.
- ”The English jounalist Madeleine Bunting, writing on Buchenwald, makes two remarkable claims: first that the British prisoner Stanley Green smuggled a camera with film into the camp; and second, that he smuggled photographs out of the camp, and that this evidence was used at the Nuremberg trials. Bunting owed it to her readers to explain in what part of his naked body did Green, on his arrival at Buchenwald, hide the camera.
- ”The two photographs presented by Bunting as ‘the only photographs to be taken inside Buchenwald by an inmate’ furthermore came as a surprise to the international association of survivors of Buchenwald, for two reasons: first because the photographs record scenes that logically belong to the liberation (a sick inmate is being gently lifted on to a truck while a bustander is apparently wearing a nose-mask), and second, because Buchenwald did indeed have its own prisoner-photographer, the modest but highly respected Georges Angeli, who has never heard the name of Stanley Green and who considers Bunting’s claim incredible.”
Frenchman Georges Angeli is certainly recognised as having taken a large number of clandestine photographs while an inmate at Buchenwald, and those which appear on line include graphic images of the camp resources.
So whether Stanley Green also took photographs at Buchenwald remains a mystery. Had he been there when the camp was liberated and had the pictures in his possession at the time the story would appear more credible, but given his son’s account and Bunting’s description of his release and survival of the Munich air raid with all his clothes burned, followed by his walk to Laufen, the whole account of this Jerseyman’s ordeal appears at the very least to be open to doubt.