This is the story behind a sensational historical controversy - the allegation that, in forcibly handing over 70,000 Cossacks and Yugoslavs to be massacred by the Communists in the summer of 1945, the British army in Austria, guided by a "conspiracy" involving Harold Macmillan, was party to a major "war crime". When these charges were first made they were widely accepted, not least by the BBC which broadcast no fewer than nine documentaries on the handovers. In 1989 the controversy culminated in a High Court action, in which Lord Aldington was awarded the highest libel damages in British legal history. This book also tells the extraordinary story of how an exhaustive investigation into the events of 1945 finally revealed just how all those previously-published accounts had turned history upside down. What happened in Austria was tragic. But there was no conspiracy. Macmillan's role was irrelevant. Many "massacres" described in lurid detail never took place.
As Booker describes how the story of the repatriations came to be presented in such a distorted fashion, his book turns into a study of people's willingness to cling on to a "make believe" version of history, even when all the facts have proved it wrong.
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- ID: 9780715627389
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