To glean as much intelligence from captured U-boat crews as possible, the Royal Navy’s interrogators employed almost every trick in the book – and added new techniques themselves. Derek Nudd probes their methods

Perched uncomfortably on a hard chair in a brightened room, alone but for the piercing eyes of the naval officers sat easy on the opposite side of the desk, a German commander remained reticent and stoic. That is, until he received a sharp shock: “When I told these officers that I could not answer any questions, one remarked sarcastically, ‘Then we will tell you something.’ He then read me from a notebook my whole career, giving every detail…”

The anonymous Zeppelin captain had barely escaped his airship’s flaming wreck when he was subjected to an ear-battering by three interrogators. The encounter illustrates two key tools in their kit: disorientation and omniscience.

They carefully covered what they didn’t know with what they did, so their confused victim felt there was no point in holding back.

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