I am not using the word “review” in my blog post about Bill O’Reilly’s latest book, which is entitled Killing Patton, because this is not a review, but rather a complaint. I am a big fan of Bill O’Reilly’s TV show; I have watched the show faithfully every night, since the show started many year ago. I previously blogged about Bill O’Reilly at http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/keith-olbermann-vs-bill-oreilly-on-the-malmedy-massacre/
I was very disappointed in O’Reilly’s book, which has gotten mostly good reviews, as far as I know. However, one review, which you can read at http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/10/02/historians-rip-oreillys-new-patton-book/200986 claims that Patton was not killed by the Soviets, but died from his injuries in a vehicle accident.
I received my copy of the book last night, delivered to my front door by UPS, at around 5 p.m., a day early. I eagerly tore open the box and started thumbing through the book, looking for the most interesting parts. The book starts off with the details of Patton’s death, which I already know. I skipped over to Chapter 14 which is about Auschwitz.
Why is there a detailed section about Auschwitz in a book about General Patton? Did Patton ever go to visit any of the three Auschwitz camps? Not that I know of. The only camps that Patton ever visited were Buchenwald and Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald.
I wrote about Patton’s visit to Ohrdruf on this blog post: http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/general-dwight-d-eisenhower-the-things-i-saw-beggar-description/
On the blog post, cited above, I wrote that the reason that Eisenhower went to visit the Ohrdruf camp, and no other, is because there were rumors that the Germans had tested an atomic bomb near the camp. The testing of an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf was only briefly mentioned in O’Reilly’s new book.
In the book Killing Patton, the section about Auschwitz is very large, too large for a book about Patton, who had absolutely nothing to do with Auschwitz. I know that O’Reilly is not Jewish, but what about Martin Dugard? I had to do an extensive search on him before I decided that he is also not Jewish. So why the huge, detailed section about Auschwitz? The Holocaust and Auschwitz are covered in 20 pages in two chapters, yet important information is left out.
The part about Auschwitz starts on page 173 with these words:
January 26, 1945, 1 a.m.
The earth convulses as Krema V explodes.
How many of O’Reilly’s readers will know what Krema V was? Krema is the German word for crematorium. How many of O’Reilly’s readers will know that Krema V was one of the two above-ground crematorium buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau which had shower rooms that were allegedly gas chambers in disguise? Holocaust deniers claim that Krema V was a crematorium which had shower rooms for the prisoners, not gas chambers.
The alleged gassing of the Jews in Krema V had stopped in October 1944, and the prisoners had been marched out of the camp on January 18, 1945. Yet someone was blowing up Krema V on January 26, the day before the Soviet soldiers arrived to liberate those prisoners who had stayed behind. According to the book Killing Patton, the prisoners were not marched out of the camp until January 26, the day before the Soviets arrived.
The first words in Chapter 14, about Auschwitz-Birkenau, continue with this quote:
Tongues of flame turn the coal-black winter sky bright red. Nazi guards watch the inferno intently, but only for a long as it takes to know that the destruction is complete, and there will be no need to place another round of dynamite charges. The grisly evidence is now destroyed.
This implies that the SS men at Auschwitz waited, until 8 days after the prisoners had marched out of the camp, to blow up the evidence of gassing. Isn’t that just like the German people? Never planning in advance, but instead, waiting until the last minute to do something that was so important.
Before starting to read the book, I went to Amazon.com and read some of the 721 reviews of the book.
I used the Find feature to find out what the readers had said about “Auschwitz.” Not one of the 721 reviews had mentioned the word Auschwitz.
I skimmed through the text to find the word Gleiwitz. Prisoners from the Auschwitz III (Monowitz) camp were marched toward Gleiwitz, but Gleiwitz was not mentioned in the text of O’Reilly’s book. Prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau were marched towards Wodzislaw, which is also not mentioned in the book.
This quote is from my own website:
On January 18, 1945, the three Auschwitz camps, called Auschwitz I, II and III, and the 40 satellite camps were abandoned by the Germans. The gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, had stopped at the end of October 1944. The evacuation of the Birkenau survivors to other concentration camps in the West had already begun in early October. Anne Frank and her sister Margo were on one of the first transports out of Auschwitz, which took them to Bergen-Belsen, where they both died of typhus. Aerial photos taken by the Allies showed that the roofs of crematoria buildings Krema II and Krema III at Birkenau had been removed in November 1944, so that the cremation ovens could be removed by cranes. [...]
According to Danuta Czech, who wrote a book entitled Auschwitz Kalendarium, the total count from the last roll call on January 17, 1945 was 67,012 prisoners in all three Auschwitz camps.
According to Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, the prisoners were given a choice between staying in the camps until the Soviet troops arrived or going on a 50-kilometer fast hike through two feet of snow to the border of the old German Reich where they would be put on trains and taken to camps in Germany. This was a “death march” with those who couldn’t keep up being shot and left alongside the road, including SS guards, according to a survivor. Those who were too young, too old or too sick to march were left behind. The VIP prisoners, a group of famous scientists and intellectuals, were also left behind.
Elie Wiesel, the most famous survivor of the Holocaust, was in a hospital at Monowitz, recovering from an operation on his foot, when he chose to join the march out of the camp, and eventually ended up at the Buchenwald camp.
In his book entitled Night, Elie Wiesel wrote the following regarding his decision to join the Germans on the march out of Auschwitz:
Begin quote: The choice was in our hands. For once we could decide our fate for ourselves. We could both stay in the hospital, where I could, thanks to my doctor, get him (his father) entered as a patient or nurse. Or else we could follow the others. “Well, what shall we do, father?” He was silent. “Let’s be evacuated with the others,” I told him. End quote
Around 60,000 prisoners chose to go with the Germans and many of them didn’t survive the march. Those who couldn’t keep up were shot and their bodies were left in the snow. Many more died on the trains taking them to Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen or Mauthausen. Otto Frank chose to stay in the camp and he survived.
There were 611 children in the Birkenau camp who stayed behind when the camp was evacuated on January 18, 1945. According to Danuta Czech, the evacuation began in the early morning hours when 500 women with children were escorted out of the camp by SS guards. They reached Wodzislaw on January 21st. The men arrived the next day and all were loaded onto open box cars and taken to Germany.
The prisoners at Monowitz and all the prisoners in the sub-camps marched to the four concentration camps at Gleiwitz near the German border, arriving on January 21st. They were then taken on trains to Buchenwald, Dachau, Sachsenhausen or Mauthausen.
There were 4,428 women and girls and 169 boys who stayed behind. Around 2,000 prisoners were left behind in the men’s camp at Birkenau; there were around 1250 men in the main camp who did not join the march out of the camp and 850 who chose to stay behind at Monowitz.
This quote from Killing Patton is on page 173:
The [Auschwitz-Birkenau] prisoners are ordered to march. Their destination is unclear, but the road soon takes them past the train station [in the town of Auschwitz] where they first entered this hellhole, and then on to the commandant’s lavish house. They are leaving Birkenau, though they know not why.
Wait a minute! The prisoners don’t know why they are leaving Auschwitz? The Soviet liberators were on their way, but the prisoners have not been told this? They have not been told that they have a choice: they can join the march out of the camp, or stay put until the Soviet soldiers arrive.
Why were the prisoners being taken to the Commandant’s “lavish house” which was located just outside the Auschwitz I main camp? Did the Commandant want to wave goodbye to them? No, Commandant Rudolf Hoess was at Birkenau, organizing the march out of the camp.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the Commandant’s lavish house would have been seen by the marching prisoners BEFORE they saw the train station, which was farther away from the Birkenau camp.
The photo below shows the “lavish house” where Commandant Hoess lived with his family, just outside the main Auschwitz camp.
This quote from Killing Patton indicates that the prisoners were marched from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp to the main camp, aka Auschwitz I:
Now, as the SS men prod the prisoners through the snow, moving them to another section [...] those child prisoners unwilling or unable to walk the mile from the Birkenau section of the camp to the main camp are immediately shot dead.
Actually, it was more than a mile from the Birkenau camp to the main camp, but this is only a minor error. The important point is that child prisoners were allegedly shot if they couldn’t walk to the main camp. Why did they have to walk to the main camp? The way I heard it, the prisoners marched out of the Birkenau camp to the German border where they were put on trains and taken to camps in Germany. German soldiers led the way, tramping down the snow for the women and children. Many survivors mention the fact that German soldiers were leading the way, and that there was a sag wagon for the women and children to ride for awhile if they became too tired to walk.
On the next page of the book, there is a photo which has the caption: “The entrance to Auschwitz.”
Compare the two photos above. The first photo, which is shown in O’Reilly’s book, has the pedestrian gate on the right hand side, but the photo of the prisoners leaving the camp shows the pedestrian gate on the left hand side. This is because the first photo does NOT show the ENTRANCE into the Birkenau camp, but rather the INSIDE of the camp. This mistake is frequently made, but O’Reilly should have had some fact checkers reviewing the book before it was published.
I wrote about the location of the Commandant’s house, just outside the main Auschwitz camp, on this blog post: http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/the-grandson-of-rudolf-hoess-is-still-bothered-by-the-shame-associated-with-his-family-name/
Moving right along to page 175, we find this quote from O’Reilly’s book:
But even now, when their thoughts are filled with plans to escape, the SS cannot stop themselves from killing. It has become a way of life for them over the past few years, as routine as eating breakfast. They have shot thousands by lining them up against the notorious “Black Wall,” as the firing squad barrier next to the medical experiments building is known.
Do the authors of this book think that no one will bother to look up the term “Black Wall” on the Internet? If anyone does a search on the “Black Wall” they might find this quote from this page of my website http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Auschwitz1/Auschwitz05.html
It was in front of this black wall that political prisoners, mostly Polish resistance fighters, who had been convicted by the Gestapo Summary Court, were executed. These prisoners were brought to the Auschwitz I camp, but were not registered as inmates; they were housed in dormitory rooms on the first and second floors of Block 11 while they awaited trial in a courtroom set up in the building. After they were convicted, the prisoners were taken to a small washroom in the building where they were ordered to strip naked, after which they were marched to the wall in groups of three and executed with one shot to the neck at close range. Some of the prisoners, who were sent here, were Czech resistance fighters from the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt.
A photo of a painting of the “Black Wall” is shown below.
On page 208 of the book, we find the photo below.
I have the same photo on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Buchenwald/GeneralPatton.html
I purchased an original copy of this photo in an antique shop several years ago. The un-cropped photo was in a frame that was 11 by 14 inches. The photo included more of the picture, which is not shown in my photo, nor in the cropped version in O’Reilly’s book.
I took the photo, which I had purchased, to a photo shop, where I had it reprinted in a sepia tone, and cropped to show only the important part. I can tell you that the original photo was not taken at close range, but from a distance. The photo that O’Reilly used has also been cropped.
The version of the photo, in O’Reilly’s book, has no photo credit, but the same cropped photo, that he used in the book, is advertised for sale on e-bay for $2,500. There might be a problem here, since O’Reilly did not give a photo credit.
O.K., that’s it for me. I have been totaled out.
Page 175 goes on to tell about Eva Moses and her twin sister, who stayed behind when the prisoners were marched out. Be sure to read the footnote on page 175 which tells about Dr. Mengele sewing together two twins back to back to create Siamese twins.
I wrote about Dr. Mengele and the Siamese twins experiment on this blog post: http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/dr-josef-mengele-dont-it-make-my-brown-eyes-blue/