Until just recently, I was not aware of the significance of the evacuation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and the so-called “death march” out of the camp. When I previously blogged about the “death march” out of Auschwitz, this generated a lot of comments with strong opinions.
A “death march” is usually defined as a long hike from one place to another with the stragglers being shot. The most famous “death march” during World War II was the Bataan Death March which you can read about here. (more…)
The official report made by the American liberators of Dachau was published in 2000. Chapter 5 of the report was entitled “Rudolf Hoess’ Mistress.” Rudof Hoess was the infamous Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau. His so-called mistress was a prisoner in Block 11 at the main Auschwitz camp for nine months, but after she became pregnant, allegedly by Hoess, and had an abortion, she was released and transferred to Munich; she was then sent to Dachau where she was liberated on April 29, 1945. To protect her identity, the official report only gave her initials: E.H. (more…)
Shortly after the American liberators of Dachau arrived on April 29, 1945, they interviewed 20 of the prisoners “in order to determine what conditions had been like in the judgement (sic) of these men.” According to the report, “Care was taken to pick only those with red triangles on their uniforms.” The political prisoners wore red triangles and the German criminals wore green triangles.
The Americans did not want to talk to the German “hardened criminals in the camp,” according to the Report. The political prisoners at Dachau were mainly Communists and were allies with the Americans. Many of the German criminals were Kapos who were prisoners who helped in running the camp. The Kapos might have told the story from the point of view of the SS administrators of the camp. Obviously, that’s not what the Americans wanted to hear.
A few weeks later, a report entitled “Dachau” was released. The report was later retitled “Dachau Liberated, The Official Report” and published in 2000; it was edited by Michael W. Perry and the book includes some additional material as well as some drawings done by an American soldier who was there when the camp was liberated. (more…)
I can vividly recall the moment when I first learned about the “death march” out of Auschwitz. It was when I read an article in my local newspaper about a Holocaust survivor who explained how she had managed to survive the march out of Auschwitz when the camp was abandoned on January 18, 1945. She said that her father had advised her to wear her ski boots when the family was transported on a train to Auschwitz. She managed to keep her ski boots throughout the time that she was a prisoner at Auschwitz and she wore them during the march out of the camp. This was what saved her life. (more…)
On July 11, 2010, a reader of my blog made a comment in which he provided a link to a book review of a book entitled “Murderous Medicine,” by Naomi Baumslag.
In his comment, the reader quoted the first paragraph of the book review:
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. On the book’s cover is a picture of the shaved heads of newly dead men, frozen in snow, with snow caps as skull caps, reminiscent of the Jewish yarmulke. Eyes and mouths are closed, forever blinded and silenced about the conditions of their deaths. Perhaps only pictures can capture the essence of Nazi medical atrocities; but pictures also limit these atrocities, which are almost too numerous to catalog. (more…)
I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust; I’ve been studying it for around 17 years. It turns out that I was wrong about many of the important details.
Today I read this on a wordpress blog:
Another example Eaton gave was a photograph widely circulated by the Holocaust deniers of General Eisenhower standing next to one of the gas chambers at Dachau. “And they hold this up and say, here is Eisenhower being shown a false gas chamber. And they are correct. At Dachau, which was a camp in Germany used mainly for political prisoners, they started to construct a gas chamber. They used inmates to construct the gas chamber. The inmates sabotaged the chamber and it was never actually used as a gas chamber.” (more…)
After World War II, staff members of the concentration camps in Germany and Austria were prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal which was held at Dachau. The charge against all of the accused in all of the AMT proceedings was that they had participated in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of War under the Geneva Convention of 1929 and the Hague Convention of 1907.
In all of the proceedings of the AMT, only crimes committed against the Allies during World War II were included. Since the names and nationality of the prisoners who were allegedly gassed at Dachau were unknown, there could be no testimony, during the proceedings against the Dachau staff, about any citizen of an Allied country, or an Allied soldier, who had been killed in the gas chamber at Dachau. (more…)
For years, I wondered why the staff at the Dachau concentration camp had left behind a gas chamber when they escaped the night before the American liberators arrived. The Americans had already found the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945 and the main Buchenwald camp on April 11, 1945. Bergen-Belsen had been turned over to the British on April 15, 1945. There had been plenty of time to blow up the Dachau gas chamber before the Americans arrived on April 29, 1945. So why did the SS men leave evidence of war crimes behind for the Americans to find?
The fact that the acting Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, and his men escaped before the Americans got there means that they were expecting to be charged with war crimes, or maybe even shot without being put on trial. So why did they leave evidence behind?
I finally learned the answer to this question a couple of years ago, and the answer may surprise you. (more…)
The number of deaths at Auschwitz has changed drastically over the past 75 years. The Nazis were famous for keeping detailed records, so why are the number of deaths at Auschwitz an estimate that keeps changing? (more…)
Years ago, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In an exhibit about the German invasion of the Soviet Union, I read that the reason for the invasion was that the Germans wanted “Lebensraum.” This makes sense: the Germans needed some Lebensraum (living space) after a big chunk of Germany was given to Poland, France and Czechoslovakia in the Treaty of Versailles that Germany was forced to sign after World War I.
In 1939, Germany signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, a non-aggression agreement with the Soviets, and the two countries then jointly invaded Poland. Was Germany willing to risk violating the non-aggression pact to invade a former Ally, less than two years later, just to get some living space? After all, Germany had taken back the territory that they had lost to Poland and they had gotten the Sudentenland back from the Czechs in 1938.
Napoleon famously said that “History is lies agreed upon.” The official history of World War II includes the lie that the USSR was not planning to invade Germany, and that the Germans were the aggressors. Now a reader of this blog has come up with some proof that the Russians were on the verge of invading Germany and the Germans made a pre-emptive strike. (more…)