In my blog post today, I am responding to a comment made by a reader of my blog, who wrote:
“What reason would have had Buchenwald inmates to lie about that Concentration Camp conditions? Do you know the work of Eugen Kogon, an austrian right wing catholic nationalist-?”
Yes, I know all about Eugen Kogon. You can read the story of Eugen Kogon on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Kogon#Works_as_co-editor
Eugen Kogon testified for the prosecution at the Buchenwald trial on April 16, 1947
One thing that Wikipedia does not mention is that Eugen Kogon’s famous book was based on The Buchenwald Report written by the Americans who liberated the camp on April 11, 1945.
Dr. Eugen Kogon was an Austrian Social Democrat and political activist, who was a prisoner at Buchenwald from September 1939 to April 1945. You can read more about Eugen Kogon at this revisionist website:
Kogon was the main contributor to The Buchenwald Report, a 400-page book about the Buchenwald camp which was put together in only four weeks by the US Army, after conducting interviews with over 100 former prisoners at the camp.
Kogon later wrote a book called The Theory and Practice of Hell, which was a rewrite of The Buchenwald Report and one of the first books about the Nazi atrocities in the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Kogon testified during the Dachau proceedings, at the American Military Tribunal, about the harsh treatment suffered by the prisoners at Buchenwald, although he himself was one of the privileged political prisoners, who actually ran the camp.
During the AMT proceedings, Kogon’s testimony was contradicted by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, who was the main witness for the defense in the Buchenwald case.
Dr. Morgen had also testified at the Nuremberg IMT in August 1946, before the Buchenwald case came to trial at the American Military Tribunal at Dachau.
At Nuremberg, Morgen testified on 7 August 1946 regarding the conditions at Buchenwald. In response to a question from the prosecutor at Nuremberg, Morgen had answered as follows:
Q. Did you gain the impression, and at what time, that the concentration camps were places for the extermination of human beings?
A. I did not gain this impression. A concentration camp is not a place for the extermination of human beings. I must say that my first visit to a concentration camp, namely Weimar-Buchenwald, was a great surprise to me. The camp was on wooded heights, with a wonderful view. The installations were clean and freshly painted. There were grass and flowers. The prisoners were healthy, normally fed, sun-tanned, working…
THE PRESIDENT of the Tribunal: When are you speaking of? When are you speaking of?
A. I am speaking of the beginning of my investigations in July, 1943.
Q. What crimes – you may continue – please, be more brief.
A. The installations of the camp were in good order, especially the hospital. The camp authorities, under the Commandant Pister, aimed at providing the prisoners with an existence worthy of human beings. They had regular mail service. They had a large camp library, even with foreign books. They had variety shows, motion pictures, sporting events. They even had a brothel. Nearly all the other concentration camps were similar to Buchenwald.
THE PRESIDENT: What was it they even had?
A. A brothel.
To get back to the question of why the inmates of the Buchenwald camp would lie about the conditions in the camp:
The first camp, that was ever seen by the American military, was Ohrdruf, which was a sub-camp of Buchenwald. On April 12, 1945, General George Patton visited the Ohrdruf camp, along with General Omar Bradley and General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
General Patton was the only one of the 3 generals, who then visited the main Buchenwald camp. On April 15, 1945, the day that General George S. Patton visited Buchenwald, he wrote the following in a letter to General Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“I told the press to go up there and see it, and then write as much about it as they could. I also called General Bradley last night and suggested that you send selected individuals from the upper strata of the press to look at it, so that you can build another page of the necessary evidence as to the brutality of the Germans.”
So to answer the reader’s question: the American military wanted to “build another page of the necessary evidence as to the brutality of the Germans.”
In other words, General Patton wanted to start a propaganda campaign to demonize the German people for time and all eternity.
Patton later changed his mind about the Germans and turned against the Jews, which some people think was the reason for his untimely death.
Truck loads of Americans soldiers were brought to the Buchenwald camp several days after it was liberated on April 11, 1945
After the Buchenwald camp was liberated, truck loads of American soldiers were brought to the camp, as shown in the photo above.
These American soldiers were astounded when the Communist prisoners in the Buchenwald camp took them to see a display table, which showed pieces of tattooed human skin, two shrunken heads, preserved human body parts, an ash tray made from a human bone, and a table lamp with a lampshade allegedly made from human skin. The shrunken heads resembled those made by primitive tribes in South America.
Display table put up at Buchenwald for the benefit of American soldiers who were brought to see the camp several days after the camp was liberated
A movie about the Buchenwald camp, directed by famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder, was made by a film crew of the Signal Corps of the US Army, shortly after the liberation of the camp; it included some footage of the display table, shown in the photo above.
In 1947, the American Military Tribunal held proceedings against 31 people associated with the Buchenwald camp. The so-called “Buchenwald trial” began with the showing of the film that had been made by Billy Wilder. The defense objected to the showing of this film, pointing out that the film had been made three or four days after the camp came under the control of the American Army, and that it did not show anything that had occurred prior to that time.
The objection was overruled and the film was shown. The defense also objected to the display of the two shrunken heads, but this objection was also overruled.
Dr. Kurte Sitte shows a shrunken head during the Buchenwald proceedings of the AMT
At the Buchenwald trial, Dr. Kurte Sitte, a 36-year-old doctor of Physics at Manchester University, who had been a political prisoner at Buchenwald since September 1939, testified that a shrunken head, which he identified in the courtroom, was the head of a Polish prisoner who had been decapitated on the order of SS Doctor Mueller at Buchenwald. Although the prisoners in all the Nazi camps had their heads shaved, this Polish prisoner had long black hair at the time he was decapitated.
American defense attorney Capt. Emmanuel Lewis objected to the admission of the shrunken head into evidence because Dr. Mueller was not on trial, but his objection was overruled. Under the rules of the American Military Tribunal, any and all evidence was admissible, whether or not it pertained to the case, because the charges against all of the accused was participating in a “common plan” to commit war crimes. There was no defense to the “common plan” charge.
In all of the Nazi concentration camps, all punishments and executions had to be cleared with the main office in Oranienburg. An SS officer, named Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, was in charge of investigating cruelty and black market activities in all of the camps. Col. Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, had been engaging in both of these crimes, and he was eventually arrested in August 1943 for inciting the murder of two prisoners and for embezzlement.
According to The Buchenwald Report, the murder charge against Col. Koch was based on the accusation that he had ordered the execution of hospital orderly Walter Krämer and his assistant, both of whom had treated Koch for syphilis; Koch wanted them killed so that they could not reveal his secret. According to the charges against him, Koch had falsely claimed that these two men were executed for political reasons.
Ilse Koch, the wife of the Commandant, and Dr. Waldemar Hoven were also arrested by Morgen in August 1943 for mistreatment and murder of the prisoners.
After a six-month investigation, Karl Otto Koch was condemned to death on both counts of murder and embezzlement, but his wife, Ilse Koch, was acquitted of these charges. The charge of making lampshades from human skin was withdrawn by Morgen for lack of evidence.
According to The Buchenwald Report, one week before the American liberators arrived, Col. Koch was executed by the Nazis at the German Armament Works near the camp, thus saving the Americans the trouble of putting him on trial. However, in a footnote in the book, Death Dealer, editor Steven Paskuly wrote that Koch “was shot in Buchenwald in September 1944.”
Ilse Koch’s lover, SS officer Hermann Florstedt, was later transferred to the Majdanek camp, where he became the Commandant. Florstedt was also executed by the Nazis after he was convicted in an SS Court by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.
After the war, Dr. Morgen was imprisoned in War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 at the former Dachau concentration camp to await his own trial as a war criminal. As a member of the SS, Dr. Morgen was automatically a war criminal because the SS had been declared a criminal organization by the Allies after the war.
Dr. Morgen was asked to sign an affidavit that his investigation had determined that Ilse Koch ordered lamp shades made from human skin, but he refused even after several beatings by the American interrogators, according to historian John Toland in his book entitled Adolf Hitler.
The Nazi concentration camps had been declared to be a criminal enterprise by the Allies. Under the ex-post-facto law of co-responsibility which was used in all the World War II war crimes trials, anyone who had worked in one of the camps in any capacity was a war criminal. The 31 accused persons in the Buchenwald trial included at least one person who represented each job title in the camp.
The relatively low number of Buchenwald war criminals might have been due to the fact that 76 of the SS staff members had been hunted down and killed by the inmates with the help of the American liberators.
It was not a war crime for American soldiers to kill German POWs because General Dwight D. Eisenhower had had the foresight in March 1945 to designate all future German POWs as Disarmed Enemy Forces in order to get around the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929, which America had signed.
The charges against the 31 accused war criminals in the Buchenwald trial was that they had participated in a “common design” or a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of War under the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1929. These two conventions stated the rules of warfare pertaining to Enemy Prisoners of War.
Buchenwald was not a prisoner of war camp, but in the proceedings of the American Military Tribunal at Dachau, the prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps were designated as detainees, who were entitled to the same treatment as POWs under the Geneva Convention of 1929. It was not until 1949, after all the Military Tribunals, conducted by the Allies, had been concluded, that a new Geneva Convention gave all detainees the same rights as POWs.