Eric Reginald Pleasants, 1944
|Died||1998 (aged 86–87)|
|Years of service||?-1945|
|Unit||British Free Corps|
Pleasants attended school in Norwich to age 14, then worked variously as trainee electrician, forester, boxer, wrestler and then showman weight-lifter in Britain and continental Europe. In late 1939 he joined the Merchant Navy as a "compromise" between military call-up and distaste for war. He served on a freighter bringing potatoes from Jersey to Southampton, but overstayed his time ashore on the island, missed his boat, and was caught there when the Channel Islands were occupied by the German Army in July 1940. He obtained temporary farm work as a potato picker, but also began stealing from empty properties, resulting in arrest and prosecution in the Magistrates' Court, and eventual deportation by the German occupying authorities first to an internment camp in France, and eventually to Germany.
In Germany he chose to join the Waffen SS, and became an SS-Schütze in the British Free Corps which in 1944 became a foreign legion of the Waffen-SS. He claimed to have been invited to join the German broadcasting service from Berlin to Allied and neutral countries, and, in this connection, to have met William Joyce and John Amery, and to have discussed with them the possibilities of charges of treason. He claimed also to have "slept with" Joyce's wife, Eileen. Pleasants deserted from the Waffen-SS in 1945 and went into hiding. Captured by the Red Army in 1946, he was imprisoned in a GULAG along the arctic circle before being repatriated to England in about 1952. No action was taken against him by the British authorities, although he was apparently interviewed.
Pleasants' autobiography was ghost-written by Eddie Chapman (a British safe-breaker whom he befriended in German custody) under the title I Killed to Live – The Story of Eric Pleasants as told to Eddie Chapman, Cassell & Co, 1957. Another version appears to have been edited by Ian Sayer and Douglas Botting and published posthumously as Hitler's Bastard: Through Hell and Back in Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia, 2003.
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