Attacking The Devil: Harold Evans And The Last Nazi War Crime (12A)

Directed by David Morris and Jacqui Morris
Picturehouse, Liverpool
22nd March 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This documentary about the hundreds of children severely disabled by the use of the pill Thalidomide, to supposedly combat morning-sickness by their mothers, in the 1950s and early '60s was startling to watch.

Many of the victims were born without either arms of legs, or all four limbs. The most chilling comment was when a spokesman from the Thalidomide Trust stated that on numerous occasions babies, as soon as they were born with these disabilities, were taken away from their mother by nursing staff in hospitals and either suffocated or left naked in a cold room where they died. They informed the mothers that they had died naturally.

In other words personnel of the NHS had cold-heartedly committed murder of children less than a day old.

The Sunday Times editor Harold Evans, who had joined that paper from the North-East based Northern Echo, doggedly led, and finally won, the campaign against the UK company Distillers, who had patented and sold the drug, along with his Insight team of reporters, for over ten years, wanting a minimum of £20 million compensation for the children blighted by Thalidomide.

He refused to back down in his pursuit of the manufacturers of this lethal drug even when the legal establishment, a major part of 'The System', threatened to bring an injunction against his paper, and also the likely possibility of him being imprisoned for contempt of court.

The reference to the last Nazi war crime in the documentary title stems from the fact that Thalidomide was first developed by a German pharmaceutical company called Grunenthal during WWII. It was originally tested on concentration camp prisoners.

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