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July 3, 2010

General Dwight D. Eisenhower: “The things I saw beggar description…”

On the outside of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC there are four plaques with quotes from four presidents, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The Eisenhower quote is in the most prominent spot and it is, by far, the most famous:

“The things I saw beggar description…The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering…I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”

This quote was condensed from a paragraph in a letter that General Eisenhower wrote to General George C. Marshall on April 15, 1945.  The letter starts out with Eisenhower outlining his plans for how he will conduct the war in the next few weeks.

You can see a photograph of the second page of the letter here.

On the second page of the letter, in the second paragraph, General Eisenhower wrote the following:

On a recent tour of the forward areas in First and Third Armies, I stopped momentarily at the salt mines to take a look at the German treasure.  There is a lot of it.  But the most interesting — although horrible — sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description.  While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape.  I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick.  In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter.  He said he would get sick if he did so.  I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops the tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”

General Eisenhower stopped “momentarily” at the Merkers mine to see the “German treasure.”

Col. Hayden Sears talks to prisoners, April 8, 1945

The photo above shows prisoners from Ohrdruf who escaped, but then returned to the camp after the American soldiers arrived on April 4, 1945.  Notice that they seem to be in good health.

Eisenhower “deliberately” made a visit to this shed

The photo above shows the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus at Ohrdruf.  Eisenhower deliberately went into this shed so that he could give “first-hand evidence” if ever in the future anyone would charge these allegations to “propaganda.”

Although he didn’t mention the name Ohrdruf in his book entitled Crusade in Europe, Eisenhower wrote the following about April 12, 1945, the day he visited the Merkers salt mines that held the Nazi treasures:

The same day, I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.

I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that “the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.” Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.

So without going to see Buchenwald or any other camp, Eisenhower immediately started a propaganda campaign about the horror of the German camps.  Was the word typhus ever mentioned in all of this propaganda.  NO!

The first news reel film about the alleged German war-time atrocities, that was shown in American movie theaters, referred to the Ohrdruf labor camp as a “murder mill.” Burned corpses were shown as the narrator of the film asked rhetorically “How many were burned alive?”

The narrator described “the murder shed” at Ohrdruf where prisoners were “slain in cold blood.” Lest anyone should be inclined to assume that this news reel was sheer propaganda, the narrator prophetically intoned:

“For the first time, America can believe what they thought was impossible propaganda. This is documentary evidence of sheer mass murder – murder that will blacken the name of Germany for the rest of recorded history.”

German civilians were forced to view the bodies at all of the concentration camps

On the same day that the American Generals visited Ohrdruf, a group of citizens from the town of Ohrdruf and a captured German Army officer were being forced to take the tour.

Colonel Charles Codman, an aide to General Patton, wrote to his wife about an incident that happened that day. A young soldier had accidentally bumped into the captured German officer and had laughed nervously. “General Eisenhower fixed him with a cold eye,” Codman wrote “and when he spoke, each word was like the drop off an icicle. ‘Still having trouble hating them?’ he said.”

General Eisenhower had no trouble hating the Germans.  He wrote to his wife, Mamie: “God, I hate the Germans!”

The photograph below was sent to me a few years ago by Mary Liethen Meier, the niece of Captain Alois Liethen, who was General Eisenhower’s interpreter that day.  The man standing next to General Eisenhower, and pointing to the prisoner demonstrating how the inmates were punished at Ohrdruf, is Alois Liethen, her uncle. Left to right, the men in the front row are Lt. General George S. Patton, Third U.S. Army Commander; General Omar N. Bradley, Twelfth Army group commander; and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander. This photo was published in an American newspaper above a headline which read: U.S. GENERALS SEE A “TORTURE” DEMONSTRATION

Former prisoners at Ohrdruf demonstrate the whipping block

Captain Alois Liethen wrote the following in a letter to his family, dated 13 April 1945, the day after he served as the interpreter on the tour of Ohrdruf:

The treatment of the prisoners was something that even amazed me. If anyone dared to even as much as smile in ranks he received 25 lashes with a heavy oak staff while he was bent over nearly double over a whipping post, anyone who tried to escape was hanged — not by a rope but by a wire from a gibbet — all of the inmates had to witness these hangings even tho they were sick or feeble. When they were out on a work detail — which they were every day from daylight to darkness they were beaten if they didn’t produce as fast as they should, and then in many cases when the whims of the guards arose to the occasion they would shoot at them just for the pure fun of it — those that ducked were surely doomed for then they were a sure target for the second shot. Then to come to the matter of food. Each man received 300 grams of bread (black sour hard stuff) and 1 liter of soup, of course there were those who performed those special duties such as the one that I spoke to mostly — he was on the burning and burying detail — he got 500 grams of bread and 2 liters of soup perday (sic). They were kept very busy for there were estimated that there were 200 to 250 buried or burned every week.

Captain Liethen was German-American and he spoke German like a native; he had learned German at home from his parents.  Yet, he believed every word that these former prisoners told him.

Notice that the “whipping block,” which is shown in the photo above, is an ordinary table that had been hastily put together for this demonstration because no whipping block was found at Ohrdruf.  Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had given an order in 1942 that whipping the prisoners was forbidden. Ohrdruf was not opened until 1944, so this was an obvious lie told by the former prisoners.

Captain Alois Liethen had been investigating this small, obscure forced labor camp long before he arrived in Germany, but why? Why did all the US Army generals visit this small camp and no other? Could it be because there was something else of great interest in the Ohrdruf area besides the Führer bunker and the salt mine where Nazi treasures were stored?

The Buchenwald camp had been liberated on April 11, 1945, the day before the visit to the Ohrdruf camp. At Buchenwald, there were shrunken heads, human skin lampshades and ashtrays made from human bones. At Ohrdruf, there was nothing to see except a shed filled with 20 to 30 bodies. So why did Captain Alois Liethen take the generals to Ohrdruf instead of Buchenwald?

What was Captain Liethen referring to when he wrote these words in a letter to his family?

“After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.”

There has been some speculation that the Germans might have tested an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf. In his book entitled The SS Brotherhood of the Bell, author James P. Farrell wrote about “the alleged German test of a small critical mass, high yield atom bomb at or near the Ohrdruf troop parade ground on March 4, 1945.” The “troop parade ground” was at the German Army Base right next to the Ohrdruf labor camp.

Why did General Eisenhower immediately order a propaganda campaign about Nazi atrocities after his visit to Ohrdruf? Was it to distract the media from discovering a far more important story that Eisenhower wanted to keep secret?

Eisenhower views the bodies that were burned at Ohrdruf

In the photo above, the man on the far right, wearing a dark jacket, is a Dutch survivor of the camp who served as a guide for the American generals on their visit. The second man from the right is Captain Alois Liethen, who is interpreting for General Bradley to his left and General Eisenhower in the center of the photo. The man to the left of General Eisenhower is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who is taking notes. On the far left is one of the survivors of Ohrdruf.

General Eisenhower views the gallows at Ohrdruf

In the photo above, the man on the far left, wearing a jacket and a scarf, is one of the survivors who served as a guide for General Eisenhower and his entourage. General Patton wrote in his memoirs that the next day the guide was “killed by some of the inmates,” because the guide “was not a prisoner at all, but one of the executioners.”

In a letter dated April 15, 1945, addressed to Ike (General Dwight D. Eisenhower), Patton wrote the following regarding this man who had served as their guide at Ohrdruf:

“It may interest you to know that the very talkative, alleged former member of the murder camp was recognized by a Russian prisoner as a former guard. The prisoner beat his brains out with a rock.”

This prisoner was probably one of the Kapos in the camp whose job had been to assist the German guards; it is doubtful that an SS soldier would have remained behind when the camp was evacuated, knowing that the prisoners would exact revenge as soon as the Americans arrived.

If any SS men had remained in the camp, they would have been promptly killed or taken into custody on April 4, 1945 when the camp was first discovered by American troops. It has been alleged that some of the SS men at the concentration camps tried to disguise themselves by putting on civilian clothes or prison garb when the American troops approached, but the prisoners beat them to death after the camps were liberated.

American soldier posed with bodies at Ohrdruf in May 1945

The Ohrdruf camp had been abandoned on April 2, 1945 and the survivors had been marched to the main camp at Buchenwald. American soldiers discovered the abandoned camp on April 4, 1945; the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus were left out for a month, so that American soldiers could be brought to the camp to see them.

13 Comments »

  1. BRUTALITY , NO MORE. WE NEVER FORGET.

    Comment by MIGUEL CONTY LOPEZ — September 11, 2013 @ 4:34 am

  2. […] Starting in January 1945, Jewish survivors of Auschwitz were brought to Germany and put into various concentration camps, including Buchenwald.   Most of the Jews were sent to sub-camps of Buchenwald to work in factories, except for the youngest prisoners.  One of the sub-camps was Ohrdruf, which was found by American soldiers on April 4, 1945.  Ohrdruf was the only camp ever visited by General Eisenhower. […]

    Pingback by 60,000 Buchenwald prisoners were executed just before the camp was liberated, according to a Jewish survivor | Scrapbookpages Blog — June 5, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  3. This was genicde i am unable to believe another Human was able to do such things to men women and children. America has every right to be proud they helped atop the worst camp there was and Britain does as well those who fougtin that war everyone should be bloody proud of them selves for what happend to them innocent people was not human and anything not human is not right that is something we can all agree on.

    Comment by Katie — February 17, 2013 @ 4:50 am

    • You wrote: “America has every right to be proud they helped atop (sic) the worst camp there was and Britain does as well…”

      To which camp are you referring? The only camp that Eisenhower ever saw was the Ohrdruf camp, which was a SUB-CAMP of Buchenwald that had been evacuated by the time that Eisenhower visited it. The worst camp would be Auschwitz, which Americans did not see until much later. The only camp “liberated” by the British was the Bergen-Belsen camp which was voluntarily turned over to them because it was in a war zone. The British proceeded to arrest the SS men who had voluntarily stayed behind in the camp to help the British with the typhus epidemic that was in progress.

      You wrote: “I am unable to believe another Human was able to do such things to men women and children.” Are you referring to Eisenhower’s death camps, where 1.7 million German soldiers were killed? I am unable to believe what Eisenhower did.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 17, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  4. Hitler was a horrible person, he killed over 3 million Jews!!!!!!

    Comment by Brandi — February 5, 2013 @ 4:35 am

    • Who killed the other 3 million Jews who died during the Holocaust?

      Comment by furtherglory — February 5, 2013 @ 6:51 am

      • You moron really is there a defiant total on how many gypsies or slavs ,or even mentally restarted people and children they killed ? No because they just killed weather by starvation,disease,gas,brutality,bullets,knife wounds all those deaths trace back to hitler to the ss caused these crimes it is there fault moron , this s the very reason why Germany itself has such strict laws on people like you . There overwhelming evidence what happened thats why people lie you get locked up in Germany spewing out outdated properganda your so sure of your figures try voicing them there love to see you in cuffs :–) you sick bastards are all a dying breed and a dime a dozen just please for the love of humanity don’t breed we got enough misguide wondertards on earth right now

        Comment by Mirreh — September 11, 2013 @ 6:59 am

  5. “Furtherglory, presumably of the Third Reich, I will no longer talk to you, nor read your blog. I accuse publicly of being a distorter of history, and a borderline Holocaust denier.”

    I recently ran across your site and found it overwhelming in its meticulous detail of the death camps – especailly the obscure ones around Treblinka.

    It’s hard to get a handle on you, because you seem to defend the Germans while admiting to the Holocaust.

    Which begs the question – is this because you are okay with it – that getting rid of the Jews was somehow a good thing?

    Furtherglory – you need to clarify your position in your blog or else you will lose credibility.

    Comment by Arcadia — July 19, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

    • Hi Arcadia. I assume that you were recruited to attack me in place of Paul who has stormed off. Since you are new, and have apparently not read many of my 200 posts, I will try to explain the purpose of my blog. My blog is like the Op-Ed section of a newspaper and my web site is like a newspaper in the olden days, when newspapers used to tell both sides of a story. I detect that you are fairly young and you may not be familiar with news which tells both sides. Newspapers now “manage” the news and leave some stories out altogether, while telling only one side of other stories. History books now take a viewpoint which tells only one side of history.

      The purpose of my blog is to point out errors and omissions in today’s news and also old news. For example, the blog that you commented on is about how Eisenhower went on a side trip to Ohrdruf, after first visiting a salt mine where the Nazi gold was stored. Eisenhower was aware that the Allies were raping and looting their way across Germany, and he wanted to start a propaganda campaign about how bad the Nazis were. Notice that Eisenhower called Ohrdruf an “internment camp.” That was the term used in America for the camps for Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans. Eisenhower wanted to down-play the American camps by telling lies about the Nazi camps. Few people know about this, especially young people, so that is why I blog about it. I am sort of an investigative journalist after the fact, reporting on news that was covered up after the war.

      If your mind is made up, and you don’t want to hear both sides of any story, this blog is not for you. So just pass this along to someone else, who might have better luck in attacking me.

      My blog today is about an article written a few days ago which tells only one side of the story of the Buchenwald camp and makes an error about the hooks in the morgue at Buchenwald. Many people don’t know this side of the story, so I filled in the blanks that were left out, as is the custom in today’s “managed news.”

      Comment by furtherglory — July 20, 2010 @ 9:09 am

      • I am not young, and I know a great deal about Nazi Germany. From looking at your site, I can see that you are not young either.

        Nor have I been recruited by anyone. I stumbled on your site, looking for information about the Holocaust. The section on Treblinka and the nearby camps is excellent. Lots of information not commonly known and the writing was very powerful, in its spare, “just the facts, ma’am” style. Very Heart of Darkness.

        I know that you are factually correct in your posts, with their meticulous Germanic detail. (Although, I think you enter speculative territory when you attribute motives to people. But, that is your right – you can speculate all you want.)

        I can speculate, too. I can see that while you do not deny the Holocaust, you do not condem it. However, you do condemn minor errors of fact, the mistreatment of the Germans, during and after the war, etc. If someone were to look at your blog and just see the amount of space you devote to these issues, one could interpret that you feel there is a moral equivalence between the actions of US/British armies in Germany and the Holocaust; that getting one’s facts mixed up about the Holocaust is the same denying it.

        You are a smart guy; I think can figure out where I am going here.

        Comment by Arcadia — July 20, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  6. http://www.jci.org/articles/view/27260

    In “Murderous medicine”, Naomi Baumslag documents the complicity of Nazi doctors and pharmaceutical companies in murderous medical experiments related to epidemic typhus to further Jewish genocide.

    Under Nazi occupation the Jews of Warsaw were herded into the city ghetto: four square kilometres for around 400,000 souls. Even before the deportations to the Treblinka death camp started, death could be arbitrary and instant. Yet a paradox created a sliver of hope. Squalor and near-starvation (the monthly bread ration was two kilos, or 4.5lb) created ideal conditions for typhus, which would have killed Germans too.

    from:
    http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/?en/press/jews-leave-swedish-city-after.6371.htm

    At Birkenau there were five hundred Jews at the camp. Among all of her fellow prisoners she was considered “the saint”. She treated the prisoners like they were common patients, and was also trying to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as typhus. She wanted to help people so they wouldn’t die from immediate death from these dreadful illnesses and malnutrition.

    She was then sent to Auschwitz. Her reaction to Auschwitz death camp, “we are under sentence of death. Let us behave like human beings as long as we are alive.”
    Nazi Doctors, p. 256, Nazi doctors used ‘phenol injections’ to kill patients under the guise of curing typhus.

    from: The Nazi Doctors, Lifton.

    p. 250, my paraphrases: When a prisoner-doctor became ill with typhus, a sympathetic Nazi dr. sent him to the “aryan bloc” where he had a ‘better chance’ to survive.

    p. 217, Nazi drs used prisoner-doctors to help control epidemics among the prisoners in the camp.

    p. 148, Nazi SS Drs. who contracted typhus were sometimes sent to the gas chamber by the other Nazis!
    ———-
    My comments: This can only mean that they had ltd amounts of medicine to fight typhus, if any at all. If they had no medicine to cure typhus, which is a contagious disease, then the camps were not created to prevent outbreaks of typhus and other epidemics; on the contrary, the epidemics were caused by the conditions in the camps. Starvation and overcrowding helped create the conditions that made typhus possible.

    from: Nuremberg Trials, Doctors Trials:

    9. Between September 1939 and April 1945 the defendants Karl Brandt, Blome, Brack, and Hoven unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly committed war crimes, as defined by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, and were connected with plans and enterprises involving the execution of the so-called “euthanasia” program of the German Reich in the course of which the defendants herein murdered hundreds of thousands of human beings, including nationals of German-occupied countries. This program involved the systematic and secret execution of the aged, insane, incurably ill, of deformed children, and other persons, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums. Such persons were regarded as “useless eaters” and a burden to the German war machine. The relatives of these victims were informed that they died from natural causes, such as heart failure. German doctors involved in the “euthanasia” program were also sent to Eastern occupied countries to assist in the mass extermination of Jews.

    10. The said war crimes constitute violations of international conventions, particularly of Articles 4, 5, 6, 7, and 46 of the Hague Regulations, 1907, and Articles 2, 3, and 4 of the Prisoner-of-War Convention (Geneva, 1929), the laws and customs of war, the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws of all civilized nations, the internal penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed, and Article II of Control Council Law No. 10.

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/nurembergdoctortrial.html

    Furtherglory, presumably of the Third Reich, I will no longer talk to you, nor read your blog. I accuse publicly of being a distorter of history, and a borderline Holocaust denier. Goodbye. I will give you the chance if you want to respond on my blog.

    Comment by paolosilv — July 11, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

  7. Eisenhower should have looked at himself in the mirror. All of the real”horrors” he witnessed in the concentration camps were the product of thoroughly depraved creatures like himself. The Nazis and SS were the “Good Guys” who had kept the prisoners alive as best they could by sharing their own meager food and medicines and shelter with the prisoners.

    The real mass murderers were monsters-in-human-form like Eisenhower. Eisenhower deserved to be burned alive on a stake. That would have been an educational experience for vermin like him.

    See the essay linked through my website (column left,top) by Mike Davis about the “German Village” for example. Mass murder of innocent civilians by incineration was a major feature of the Anglo-American “strategy.” America has nothing to be proud of or self-righteous about.

    Friedrich Paul Berg
    Learn everything at http://www.nazigassings.com
    Nazi Gassings Never Happened!

    Comment by Friedrich Paul Berg — July 3, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

    • It was also Eisenhower who invaded Poland and France and droped bombs on London and other Uk cities.
      Hilter was a “Good Guy” All he wanted was to create a master race and rule the world.

      Comment by Pablo — April 19, 2012 @ 1:02 am


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