From the May 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard
An expert cracksman who, it was stated, was called in by Scotland Yard during the war for secret safe-blowing missions behind the enemy lines was sentenced to five years' imprisonment at the High Court here today. He was John Rawsey, 45, and he pleaded guilty to having blown open a safe in a Glasgow sub-post office and having stolen £410 and a number of savings stamps. Mr. Ross Maclean, K.C., defending, urged that Rawsey's war-time exploits merited a special judgment.
“Counsel said that Rawsey's life of crime began when he was sent to Borstal at 16. In 1938 he was sent to prison for five years in Aberdeen for opening a safe by explosives.
“He came out in 1942 and after he had been at home for a short period was asked to go to Scotland Yard. There he was told that a Commando unit had need of someone with his experience in the use of explosives. Rawsey volunteered. He eventually became an instructor. He was sent on several missions behind enemy lines, sometimes being dropped by parachute, to blow open safes containing enemy confidential documents and secret records.
“His release book had the word ‘exemplary' under the heading 'military conduct.' On his return to civil life Rawsey tried to reform. He became a bookmaker, and it was when he ran into financial difficulties that he turned again to his old profession of blowing safes. He served another five years penal servitude and was discharged only six or seven weeks before being caught by police climbing down from the roof of the post office.
“Lord Russell said that he had listened with a certain amount of respect to the qualities which Rawsey possessed and had demonstrated during the war. But for his record a heavier sentence would have been imposed."
The above is a news item printed in the Daily Telegraph (21/2/51).
Such are the ways of capitalism, to open “Nazi" safes during the war was an act of “exemplary” conduct. To use this skill to feather one's own nest is a Crime. Still the theologians preach about an absolute right and wrong, even the “sacred'' rights of property may occasionally be flaunted to one's advantage. Now we hear that the “Nazi” war criminals are to be released, apparently their “sins” are now forgiven.
What a maze of contradictions, today a hero tomorrow a criminal, or vice-versa, everything depending on the policy of those who are in control.
P. J. Mellor