Jewish leaders have called for a public inquiry into whether alleged Nazi war criminals were protected from prosecution because they spied for the UK during the Cold War.
It comes after an investigation by the BBC uncovered evidence that suspected Nazi collaborator and murderer Stanislaw Chrzanowski may have worked for MI6.
Chrzanowski, who died in 2017 aged 96, was from Slonim – in what was then Poland but is now part of Belarus – and was said to have been involved in the Nazis’ murder and torture of civilians in the city during the Second World War.
One witness interviewed in 1996 described how he had shot 50 Jews as part of Nazi efforts which saw six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
In recordings recently given to the BBC, he is heard telling his stepson, John Kingston, of his ‘English secret’ which he said he was not supposed to reveal.
And newsreel footage from the 1950s shows him in a camp in West Berlin which housed refugees fleeing from Communist Europe.
The camp was allegedly a ‘hive’ of spies sent by countries including the UK to get information on Soviet and Communist activities during the Cold War.
The film contradicted Chrzanowski’s claim that had not left UK shores since arriving in 1946.
The BBC also uncovered evidence that other men suspected of committing atrocities may have worked for British intelligence
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, branded the evidence ‘shocking’ and called for an inquiry into the claims.
The case came to light after a campaign by his own stepson, John Kingston, who long suspected that the pensioner, despite his denials, had committed war crimes.
Chrzanowski, who lived in Telford, Shropshire, had previously been interviewed by British police but never charged with any crime.
Stanislaw Chrzanowski, who died in 2017, was an alleged Nazi war criminal who murdered Jewish people in the city of Slonim during the Second World War
Mr Kingston had suspected for many years that his stepfather had been a Nazi war criminal who had evaded justice.
He tried and failed to get British authorities to prosecute him.
A BBC news video from 1996 shows Mr Kingston confronting his stepfather outside his home with evidence he had gathered after visiting Slonim.
As Chrzanowski got out of his car, Mr Kingston told him he had been to Slonim and spoken to locals who said he had ‘killed hundreds of people’.
He then asked, ‘is this right Dad?’ as Chrzanowski stormed into his home and refused to answer.
When Mr Kingston died in 2016, BBC reporter Nick Southall – who knew him – was given all his research into Chrzanowski.
Chrzanowski is said to have claimed he was a forced to become a civilian guard for the local council by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis after they invaded Poland.
Chrzanowski was said to have been involved in the Nazis’ murder and torture of civilians Slonim. Pictured: File pictures from Slonim show prisoners being lined up in front of mass graves
German authorities were examining claims Chrzanowski tortured and killed civilians in Belarus. Right: Chrzanowski dressed in the uniform of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police – a local militia who worked for the Nazis
He claimed to have escaped before becoming a prisoner of war and then joining the Polish military to fight with the Allies.
However, Chrzanowski also told his stepson about horrific atrocities committed in Slonim by the Nazis.
Mr Kingston said he even demonstrated how a baby was murdered but claimed to have witnessed all the crimes through binoculars.
It led him to suspect that his stepfather had in fact done terrible things himself.
After seeing an advert asking for information on war criminals who may be living in Britain, Mr Kingston wrote to UK authorities with his information.
Chrzanowski was reportedly interviewed by the Metropolian Police but no further action was taken, allegedly because of a lack of evidence.
When the BBC went to Slonim to investigate in 1996, one woman – Alexandra Daletski – told reporters: ‘We knew him as a butcher. That is what he did – kill people.’
An image, said to be from 1942, shows Chrzanowski dressed in the uniform of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police – a local militia who worked for the Nazis.
Ms Daletski said her husband had been one of 200 people rounded up by officers including Chrzanowski. She said he shot her husband when he tried to run.
Newsreel footage from the 1950s shows Chrzanowsk (centre) standing in the arrivals hall of a transit camp in West Berlin in 1954. According to the BBC, the camp was a ‘hive of spies’ – because refugees from Communist territory were useful sources of information
Another witness described seeing him shoot 50 people over three days.
Historian Martin Dean told the the BBC that more than 30 other suspected Nazi collaborators in Slonim settled in England and Wales after the War.
Germany’s specialist war crimes unit began to investigate Chrzanowski on the strength of the witness testimony gathered in Slonim.
The probe into Chrzanowski was a landmark case because he was the first UK citizen to be investigated by Germany for alleged war crimes.
Among the trove of material gifted to the BBC were recordings of conversations between Mr Kingston and his stepfather.
In one, he spoke of an ‘English secret’ he should not reveal and appeared to be saying that British authorities had told him to stay silent.
He is said to have then added: ‘They, no… want this publicity. They waiting if we all dead.’
American newsreel footage uncovered by the BBC showed Chrzanowski standing in the arrivals hall of a transit camp in West Berlin in 1954.
Chrzanowski was interviewed by British police but no further action was taken, reportedly because of a lack of evidence
Marienfelde camp housed refugees fleeing from Communist East Berlin.
Chrzanowski had told his stepson that he had not left the UK since arriving in 1946.
In the camp footage, the BBC also spotted other men who had been with Chrzanowski in Slonim.
According to the BBC, the camp was a ‘hive of spies’ – because refugees from Communist territory were useful sources of information.
Intelligence agencies in Britain, France and the US wanted to learn as much as possible about Soviet forces and East Germany, historian Dr Keith Allen told the BBC.
People such as Chrzanowski – who spoke Russian, Polish and German – would have been useful to authorities in western nations.
Historian Dr Stephen Dorril claimed that there had been a ‘long-term cover up’ about the use of spies.
Documents which ‘almost certainly’ revealed information on former Nazi collaborators who allegedly went on to work for UK intelligence are said to have been destroyed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘The Met does not discuss whether it has had or has ongoing investigations into named individuals.
‘In July 1995 the Met submitted a file to the CPS in relation to an 73-year-old male suspected of committing war crimes in World War Two.
‘The case failed to meet the evidential test. The male has since died and there is no active investigation.’
A spokesman for the Home Office said: ‘This case was reviewed by the CPS in the 1990s, but was not proceeded as it did not meet the evidential test.
‘The CPS and its decisions are entirely independent from the Home Office.’
When news emerged in 2018 that Chrzanowski was being investigated by German authorities, his former neighbours told how he was a regular sight on his mobility scooter.
He often wore a military-style leather bomber jacket to pop to the shops and to church.
Carly Maddox, 31, who lived opposite Mr Chrzanowski for 12 years, said: ‘You couldn’t miss him. He was a real character.
‘I remember one time I let my dog Taylor, a sweet natured collie cross, run out on the green in the crescent which separated our homes and he hit it with a stick.
‘Taylor came bounding up to him in his mobility scooter. The scooter always had a couple of walking sticks poking out the back of it, and he swung at the dog.’
Ms Maddox added: ‘I saw it happen and had to go and tell him to stop. This was a few years ago and he was very old then. I don’t know what kind of battery he had in his scooter but he used to fly around the paths.
‘One time he took a corner on the crescent too fast and it crashed onto its side. He was sent sprawling.’
Another neighbour Bruno Alsdorf, 91, said: ‘I knew him just as Stan and would always just say hello to him in passing.
‘I knew he was Eastern European but we never spoke about the war. He was protective about his past but many people who lived through the war were like that in my experience.
‘He used to grow plums and oranges in his back garden. He told me he loved fresh fruit and said he always reminded him of when he was a child when he went searching for berries in the woods where he lived.’