Zoologist and film-maker Heinz Sielmann (1917 – 2006) was the German equivalent of Britain’s David Attenborough. His extraordinary life and accomplishments are celebrated in a documentary on the NDR TV network this evening at 19.15 British time (20.15 German time).
Sielmann served in the German army during WW2 and was taken prisoner by British forces immediately after the German surrender in May 1945. He spent a short time in a POW camp in Egypt before being brought to the UK.
As author of Hitler’s Last Army, I was invited to take part in the programme to speak about Britain’s treatment of German prisoners of war in the immediate post-war years. Evidently the British considered him to be a reliable person who could be trusted to play a role in a new, democratic Germany. He was repatriated relatively early to a country which at the time was still under Allied control, and this probably gave him a career advantage which served him well a few years later in the new West Germany.