Scrapbookpages Blog

August 19, 2013

Edward D. Royce took photos at Dachau that “have long served as rebuttal to Holocaust deniers”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 3:15 pm

Edward D. Royce is the father of Republican Congressman Ed R. Royce.  In the news today is an article in the Orange County Register, about Edward D. Royce, which you can read in full here.

This quote is from the news article in the online Orange County [California] Register:

Former Stanton Mayor Edward D. Royce, whose photographs of corpses at the Dachau concentration camp have long served as rebuttal to Holocaust deniers, was honored Monday with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Distinguished Service Award for his role in helping liberate the camp when he was an Army private.

Royce, father of Republican Congressman Ed R. Royce, took the podium at the Museum of Tolerance ceremony and recalled being among the first liberating forces to arrive at the camp on April 29, 1945.

So Edward D. Royce was one of the American soldiers who arrived at Dachau on April 29, 1945, the day that the camp was surrendered to American soldiers under a white flag of truce.  That means that he was either with the 45th Division or the 42nd Division, the two outfits that are credited with liberating the Dachau camp.  I did a quick check on the internet to determine which outift he was with and found this website:  http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/48477

This quote, regarding the military service of Edward D. Royce is from the website, cited above:

Branch of Service:
Army
Unit of Service:
3rd Field Artillery Observation Battalion

Oops! This means that Edward D. Royce was not at Dachau on the day that the camp was liberated.  He might have been among the soldiers who were brought in trucks to see the camp, long after it was liberated.

This quote from the Orange County Register tells about what Edward D. Royce saw at Dachau:

“I saw heaps of clothes in front of the building with bad – German for bath – painted on the door, the shower heads that pumped deadly gas instead of water, the room filled halfway to the ceiling with naked bodies and the room with ovens for burning the bodies,” said Royce, 88. [...]

Royce’s black-and-white photos, taken with a camera borrowed from his brother, documented the ovens and corpses at the camp. An estimated 6 million Jews were killed during World War II, and an estimated 30,000 prisoners died at Dachau, including deaths from extermination, disease, starvation and suicide.

I did an Image search on Google and found this page for Edward D. Royce:

I found only one photo of Dachau in the search results for Edward D. Royce, and it is not a photo that was taken by any of the American soldiers.

The photo, which is shown below, was one of the pictures in a packet of photos that were available for purchase when the U.S. soldiers were brought to Dachau in trucks, long after liberation day, so that they could go home and tell their relatives that they had participated in the liberation of Dachau.

Photo that was available for purchase at Dachau

Photo from Google Image search results for Edward D. Royce

The photo, from the Image search, has been cropped so that it does not show the logo that is in the bottom left hand corner. This is supposed to be a photo, taken by Edward D. Royce at Dachau.

I have the same photo on this page of my website.  The photo below shows the full picture before it was cropped.

Photo taken long after Dachau was liberated was available for sale

Photo, taken long after Dachau was liberated, was available for sale

Notice the logo in the lower left hand corner. This photo was taken long after the Dachau camp was liberated.

A small Museum was set up by the former prisoners at Dachau, shortly after the camp was liberated.  On this page of my website, you can see a photo of the original small museum that was set up by the prisoners.

So it appears that another “liar, liar, pants on fire,” has been caught lying about his role in the liberation of Dachau.

August 11, 2013

Holocaust survivor Steve Ross, recovering from a stroke, can’t remember details of Dachau liberation

Steve Ross is the young boy on the far left, standing at the barbed wire fence around Dachau

Steve Ross is the young boy on the far left, standing at the barbed wire fence around Dachau

According to a news article, which you can read in full here, Holocaust survivor Steve Ross, shown in the photo above, is recovering from a debilitating stroke that he suffered late last November.  I can relate because I suffered a stroke a little over three years ago.  There are a lot of things that happened in 1945, which I can’t remember, due to brain damage caused by the stroke.

Steve Ross (real name Szmulek Rozental) is famous for being a Jewish boy who survived 10 different concentration camps in 5 years.

According to the news article:

In places like Budzyn, Krasnik, Czechna in Radon, Bietigheim, Vaihingen, Unterriexingen, Grossachsenheim, Neckarsulm, Auschwitz, and lastly, Dachau. Nazi concentration camps where he was imprisoned, tortured, starved, and beaten for five years, from the age of nine to 14. Yet try as they did, the Nazis couldn’t break him. And in the end, Steve survived.

Note that Steve Ross survived Auschwitz, although he was under the age of 15.  Why wasn’t he sent to one of the Auschwitz gas chambers?  This is easily explained.  Dr. Mengele could not estimate age to within 5 years, so many children got through the selection process by lying about their age.

This quote is also from the news article:

As a boy, [Steve Ross] watched as those big green tanks with white stars crashed through the gates of Dachau that spring morning in 1945, followed by lots of tall men in uniforms he’d never seen, shouting a language he’d never heard. They fanned out around the fence perimeter, then like some rapid parade in motion, poured into the camp. There were so many, so fast. Yet he and dozens of his fellow prisoners could only watch from their barracks, for they were too weak from starvation, overwork, disease, and injuries to move.

It is understandable that, after having a stroke, Steve Ross can’t remember everything about the day that he was liberated from Dachau.  I can relate.  So I am going to help him to remember what actually happened.

There were no big green tanks with white stars that crashed through the gates of Dachau.  The photo below shows the scene just after General Linden had accepted the surrender of the camp by a tall  SS soldier, Lt. Wicker, accompanied by a Red Cross man, wearing an arm band.

General Linden standing at the gate into Dachau after the camp was surrendered

General Linden standing at the gate into the Dachau camp after the camp was surrendered

American tanks had not been able to get to Dachau, to crash through the “Arbeit macht Frei” gate, which is shown intact in the photo above.

This quote, about the time line on the day of the liberation of Dachau, is from this website:

09:30 Tanks of the 101st Tank Battalion enter the city of Dachau after an alternate river crossing is found.

10:30 I Company and elements of M Company (3rd Battalion) are dispatched in the direction of the concentration camp. Tanks are held up by a bridge over the Amper River which is blown when armor is within 20 yards, killing a large number of German soldiers who are unable to cross in time.

10:45 1st Lt. L.R. Stewart and 1st Sgt. Robert Wilson of L Company find a footbridge defended by a lone German machine gunner. After firing one belt of ammunition the German retreats and I Company then crosses. Tanks and L Company remain behind to clear Dachau and continue the attack toward Munich.

The news article continues with this quote:

He saw the guards put up their hands, as if to surrender. But wait, was he seeing things? Was his chronic malnutrition causing him to be delusional? No, this time it was real. But who were these strange big men whom his all-powerful Nazi overlords were cowering before? As if to answer his thoughts, one of his fellow prisoners shouted one word.

Americans!

The American Army had arrived. His long nightmare was finally over. He would live. The American soldiers had saved him from certain death. And as 14-year-old Steve Ross walked out of Dachau that day in 1945, a tall American soldier on a big American tank called him over. The soldier gave him some cans of food, smiled, and warmly touched his head. Steve cried. For the first time in five years, he cried. His emotions, bottled up through a half decade of hell, had finally poured out. The soldier told him something he couldn’t understand, then handed him a colorful cloth with stars and stripes.

The regular guards at Dachau had fled the night before the Americans arrived.  The “guards” who put up their hands, “as if to surrender” were SS men who were inside the SS garrison next to the camp.  Steve Ross was in the concentration camp, where he could not have seen the SS men with their hands in the air.  He might have seen the guards, who were in Tower B, come down with their hands in the air.  These guards, who had surrendered in good faith, were shot by the Americans and their bodies thrown into the moat, where the Americans continued to shoot at their dead bodies.

Steve Ross could not have walked out of the Dachau camp on the day that it was liberated.  The prisoners had to be kept inside until the typhus epidemic, that was going on, could be brought under control.

Fortunately, I wrote about Steve Ross on my website before I had a stroke that wiped out some of my memory.  The following information is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

The young boy at the far left in the photograph [at the top of my blog post] is Stephen Ross, a 14-year-old Jewish orphan from Poland, who said that he had survived 10 different concentration camps in 5 years before he was liberated at Dachau. Standing next to him is Juda Kukieda, the son of Mordcha Mendel and Ruchla Sta.

According to the book “Dachau 29 April 1945, the Rainbow Liberation Memoirs,” edited by Sam Dann, Stephen Ross (real name Szmulek Rozental) was one of the lucky few who was rescued in the nick of time when Dachau was liberated. Ross was interviewed for the book and according to his own story, he was one of the 1,800 prisoners who were crowded into one quarantine barrack, which was designed to hold only about a hundred prisoners.

Ross said that the prisoners in the quarantine barrack had not been fed for two weeks before the Seventh Army arrived. Food was scarce, and according to Ross, the prisoners were fed only occasionally when they were given “a biscuit, hard as a rock and covered with mold.”

From the quarantine block, Ross said that 80 to 100 prisoners a day were carried out and put on the pile of dead bodies near the barbed wire fence, from where they were taken to the crematory. According to Ross, the quarantine block was where the German SS Doctors Sigmund Rascher and Klaus Schilling selected prisoners for their ghastly experiments. The doctors “removed thirty to forty prisoners on a daily basis for experiments” according to Ross.

Ross said that he “had been isolated in quarantine for experiments since 1944.” On the day of liberation, Ross made his way to the main gate, although he “was very weak and hardly able to walk.” With the help of his brother, who was also in the camp, Ross made it to the front of the crowd and was included in one of the most famous photographs of the liberation, shown at the top of this page.

After the liberation of Dachau, Ross had to stay in the camp until the typhus epidemic was brought under control. When he was released, he made his way to Munich where he was hospitalized for 6 months and treated for tuberculosis. He was then sent to a Displaced Persons camp for orphans at a former forced labor camp in Landsberg am Lech, near Munich. Finally, he was brought to America where he was able to recover his health.

Here’s my advice to young people:  Write down everything that you want to remember, because when you get old, you might have a stroke, and make a fool of yourself by telling stories about events that never happened.

The following quote is also from my website:

The following information about Stephen Ross is from The New England Holocaust Memorial:

The effort to build the New England Holocaust Memorial began with a Holocaust survivor, Stephen Ross (Szmulek Rozental), who was imprisoned at the age of 9 and whose parents, one brother and 5 sisters were murdered by the Nazi’s. Between 1940 and 1945, he survived 10 different concentration camps.

Like so many others Stephen Ross suffered terribly. His back was broken by a guard who caught him stealing a raw potato. Tuberculosis wracked his body. He once hid in an outhouse, submerged to his neck in human waste, to save himself from being shot. At one time he was hung [by his arms] for eating a raw potato. At age fourteen he was liberated from the infamous torture camp Dachau by American troops. Stephen will never forget the soldiers who found him, emaciated and nearly dead. They liberated him from a certain death.

When Stephen and his older brother, Harry, the only other surviving family member, were released from the Dachau Camp to seek medical attention, they came upon a U.S. Tank Unit. One of the soldiers jumped off his tank, gave Stephen and Harry his rations to eat and put his arms around Stephen. Stephen fell to his knees, kissed the G.I.’s boots and began to cry for the first time in five years.

The soldier took out of his pocket a piece of cloth and gave it to Stephen to wipe his tears. Stephen later found out that it was a small American Flag with 48 stars. This small flag is a treasured item and it will be kept by Stephen and his children as a symbol of freedom, life, compassion and love of the American soldiers.

At the age of 16, Stephen was brought to America in 1948 under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for Orphaned Children. He was illiterate, having had minimal education prior to the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939. Over the years, he managed to earn three college degrees. Steve made a new life in the Boston area and has worked for the City of Boston for over forty years.

He provides guidance and clinical services to inner-city underprivileged youth and families. He eventually achieved the level of Senior Staff Psychologist.

Note that Steve Ross came upon a U.S. Tank unit AFTER he was released from Dachau.

Note that Steve mentioned that he had been hung by his arms at Dachau.  The “tree hanging” punishment was used at Buchenwald, not Dachau.  I blogged here about Martin Sommer, the guard who originated this atrocity.  Martin Sommer was put on trial by the Germans in the court of Dr. Konrad Morgen. After being convicted, Sommer was sent to the Eastern front, where he was wounded, losing an arm and a leg.

Note also that Steve was submerged up to his neck in human waste in an outhouse.  Where did this happen?  Dachau had flush toilets, but no outhouses.  Steve was obviously remembering what he saw in a Spielberg movie, not what he suffered at Dachau.

However, he could have sunk down into a flush toilet at Dachau because the toilets had no seat. The photo below shows a toilet in one of the cells in the bunker, a prison within the Dachau camp.

The toilets at Dachau had no seat

The toilets at Dachau had no seat

April 27, 2013

“Dachau Liberation reprisals” — another term for the “Dachau Massacre”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:19 am
SS soldier who was killed in the "Dachau reprisal"

SS soldier who was killed in the “Dachau Liberation reprisals”

The term “Dachau Massacre” is frequently used to mean the killing of SS soldiers during the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, by American troops, on April 29, 1945.  There are photos of the dead SS soldiers, yet Wikipedia states that “American soldiers allegedly wounded and killed German camp guards and German prisoners of war” on a page with the title Dachau Liberation reprisals.  You can read all about the Dachau Massacre on my web site here.

The Geneva Convention of 1949, which is currently in effect, states that the principle of the prohibition of reprisals against persons has now become part of international law in respect to all persons, whether they are members of the armed forces or civilians.

According to international law during World War II, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, it was legal to violate the laws of war by responding with a reprisal against civilians in order to stop guerrilla actions that were against international law.   It was NOT legal under the Geneva Convention of 1929 to kill Prisoners of War in a reprisal. 

In plain words, it was a war crime for American soldiers to shoot German Prisoners of War at Dachau in a reprisal.  The title of the Wikipedia article should be “Dachau Liberation war crimes.”

This quote is from the Wikipedia article about the “Dachau Liberation reprisals”:

The Dachau liberation reprisals were a series of killings of German camp guards and German prisoners of war from the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, during World War II. Following the prisoners’ liberation by American soldiers from 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Seventh Army, American soldiers allegedly wounded and killed German camp guards and German prisoners of war. The number of victims differs widely by account, though the estimated death toll stands at 123.[1] Other camp guards were killed and tortured by former inmates.

The reprisals occurred after the U.S. 45th Infantry Division entered the Dachau concentration camp. Before the soldiers entered the camp, they found outside 40 roofless boxcars (or freight-cars) full of emaciated dead bodies in advanced stages of decomposition.[2][3] More bodies were found about the camp. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp’s capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium and a gas chamber.[1]

In American railroad terminology, roofless boxcars are called gondola cars.  The cars on the death train found at Dachau were Italian cars, as shown in the photo below.

Line of cars on the "death train" found at Dachau

Line of cars on the “death train” found at Dachau

This quote, from the words of Private John Lee, a soldier in the 45th Division, is at the top of my website page about the death train which you can read in full here:

“These people were stuffed in these cars. The cars had bullet holes all over them, evidently from strafing on the way to Dachau. Most of the GIs just stood there in silence and disbelief. We had seen men in battle blown apart, burnt to death, and die many different ways, but we were never prepared for this. Several of the dead lay there with their eyes open, a picture I will never get out of my mind. It seems they were looking at us and saying, ‘What took you so long?'” 

The prisoners on the Death Train had been brought to Dachau from the Buchenwald camp, in order to prevent them from being released by the American liberators.  There was a fear that the prisoners might go to the nearby city of Weimar and attack German civilians if they were released.

Hans Merbach was the 35-year-old SS man who was assigned to supervise the evacuation of Buchenwald prisoners to Dachau. The train had left the Weimar station near Buchenwald on April 8, 1945 and didn’t arrive at Dachau until almost three weeks later. The train was delayed because of Allied bombing of the railroad tracks.

Martin Rosenfeld, one of the prisoners on the death train who survived, testified at the trial of Hans Merbach that the train was strafed by Allied planes on the way and that the prisoners were forced to stay in the open boxcars, while the SS men took cover in the woods. Rosenfeld’s testimony was quoted by Joshua M. Greene in his book Justice at Dachau. Other survivors of the Death Train testified that Merbach had shot dying prisoners and prisoners who had been wounded by American bullets.

It is understandable that the American liberators were upset when they saw the dead bodies on the train, but they should not have committed a war crime by shooting the SS men in the Dachau training camp who had nothing to do with the train.  They should not have shot SS guards who had surrendered and had their hands in the air.  Wounded Wehrmacht soldiers should not have been dragged out of a hospital at Dachau and shot; this was a war crime that should not be covered up by calling it a reprisal.

You can read about the Dachau trial of Hans Merbach on my website here.

February 5, 2013

the elusive Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky, alleged Commandant of the SS garrison at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:12 am

This popular website begins the timeline of the surrender of the Dachau concentration camp with the story of Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky, who surrendered the SS garrison at the Dachau complex on April 29, 1945.  This quote is from the website:

06:00 Waffen SS-Obersturmführer (Lt.) Heinrich Skodzensky, the new, hastily designated Camp Commandant, holds morning roll call for the garrison now guarding Dachau. His roll call tallied 560 men, many of them in hospital. A mere lieutenant had never before commanded the massive concentration camp, but the real SS Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, had “run off” the day before, along with more than a thousand of the Allgemeine and Death’s Head SS guards stationed at the camp prior to the American approach. Skodzensky’s orders were to surrender. (Dachau Archive)

Was there really a man named Heinrich Skodzensky at Dachau when the camp was liberated?  Of course! Several books written by eye-witnesses mention him.  For example, the book entitled The Day of the Americans, written by Nerin E. Gun, a Turkish journalist who was a political prisoner in the camp.

Regarding the liberation of Dachau, Nerin E. Gun  wrote the following about what happened when the Americans reached the gate house into the concentration camp prison compound:

Then came the first American jeeps: a GI got out and opened the gate. Machine-gun fire burst from the center watchtower, the very one which since morning had been flying the white flag! The jeeps turned about and an armored tank came on. With a few bursts, it silenced the fire from the watchtower. The body of an SS man fell off the platform and came crashing loudly to the asphalt of the little square.

Gun wrote that the International Committee of Dachau, headed by Patrick O’Leary, had set up its headquarters at 9 a.m. on April 29th in Block 1, the barracks building that was the closest to the gate house of the prison compound. This was the building that housed the camp library. Gun wrote that Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky had arrived at Dachau on April 27th and on April 29th, the day of the liberation, he had remained in the gate house all that day.

In his book The Day of the Americans, Gun quoted Patrick O’Leary (real name Albert Guérisse) as follows:

“I ascertain that the Americans are now masters of the situation. I go toward the officer who has come down from the tank, introduce myself and he embraces me. He is a major. His uniform is dusty, his shirt, open almost to the navel, is filthy, soaked with sweat, his helmet is on crooked, he is unshaven and his cigarette dangles from the left corner of his lip.

“At this point, the young Teutonic lieutenant, Heinrich Skodzensky, emerges from the guard post and comes to attention before the American officer. The German is blond, handsome, perfumed, his boots glistening, his uniform well-tailored. He reports, as if he were on the military parade grounds near the Unter den Linden during an exercise, then very properly raising his arm he salutes with a very respectful “Heil Hitler!” and clicks his heels.

[...]

“Am I dreaming? It seems that I can see before me the striking contrast of a beast and a god. Only that the Boche is the one who looks divine.

(Boche is a French derogatory term for a German person.)

[...]

“The major gave an order, the jeep with the young German officer in it went outside the camp again. A few minutes went by, my comrades had not yet dared to come out of their barracks, for at that distance they could not tell the outcome of the negotiations between the American officer and the SS men.

“Then I hear several shots.

“The bastard is dead! the American major says to me.

“He gives some orders, transmitted to the radiomen in the jeeps, and more officers start arriving, newspapermen, little trucks. Now the prisoners have understood, they jump on the Americans, embrace them, kiss their feet, their hands; the celebration is on.”

Did anyone else write about the death of Lt. Heinrich Skodensky?  Of course!  In a book entitled The Day the War Ended, Martin Gilbert wrote the following about the liberation of Dachau, based on the account given by British SOE agent Albert Guérisse who was usng the name Patrick O’Leary in the camp:

As the first American officer, a major, descended from his tank, “the young Teutonic lieutenant, Heinrich Skodzensky,” emerged from the guard post and came to attention before the American officer. The German is blond, handsome, perfumed, his boots glistening, his uniform well-tailored. He reports as if he were on the military parade grounds near Unter den Linden during an exercise, then very properly raising his arm he salutes with a very respectful “Heil Hitler!” and clicks his heels. “I hereby turn over to you the concentration camp of Dachau, 30,000 residents, 2,340 sick, 27,000 on the outside, 560 garrison troops.”

The American major did not return the German Lieutenant’s salute. He hesitates a moment as if he were trying to make sure he is remembering the adequate words. Then he spits into the face of the German, “Du Schweinehund!” And then, “Sit down here” – pointing to the rear seat of one of the jeeps which in the meantime have driven up. The major gave an order, the jeep with the young German officer in it went outside the camp again. A few minutes went by. Then I heard several shots.

Lieutenant Skodzensky was dead. Within an hour, all five hundred of his garrison troops were to be killed, some by the inmates themselves but more than three hundred of them by the American soldiers who had been literally sickened by what they saw of rotting corpses and desperate starving inmates. In one incident, an American lieutenant (1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead) machine gunned 346 of the SS guards after they had surrendered and were lined up against a wall. The lieutenant, who had entered Dachau a few moments earlier, had just seen the corpses of the inmates piled up around the camp crematorium and at the railway station.

Jack Bushyhead had just been given a tour of the crematorium area by Albert Guérisse, aka Patrick O’Leary.

In his book entitled Deliverance Day, Michael Selzer wrote that the American liberators marched 122 SS soldiers, who had surrendered at the Dachau Concentration Camp, to a wall and with their hands up, shot them with machine guns. Included among the 122 SS soldiers was the Commander of the SS garrison, Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky, who had only moments before surrendered the camp to Colonel Jackson of the 45th Thunderbird division, saying in English, “I am the commanding officer of the guard in the camp, and I herewith surrender the camp to your forces.” Skodzensky was shot along with the others, dressed in his immaculate black SS uniform, according to Selzer’s account.

Robert H. Abzug wrote in his book entitled Inside the Vicious Heart that the American soldiers had been enraged by Skodzensky’s clean uniform and shined boots in these squalid surroundings, and that is why he was killed.

Strangely, no records of an SS officer named Skodzensky have ever been found and the story of 122 SS soldiers being shot has never been corroborated by any of the American soldiers who were there. The Dachau Memorial Site has no record of Lt. Heinrich Skodzensky in its archives and there is no record of a man named Heinrich Skodzensky in the Berlin Bundesarchiv.

So was there really a man named Heinrich Skodzensky, who was shot down because his black SS uniform was too clean and his boots were too shiny?  What does Wikipedia have to say about it?

This quote is from the German Wikipedia:  “Ein Mann mit diesem Namen [Skodzensky] konnte jedoch nie ermittelt werden, vermutlich ist er identisch mit Heinrich Wicker.”  With my limited knowledge of the German language, I think that German Wikipedia is saying that the man who surrendered the camp was named Heinrich Wicker.

I have written extensively about the surrender of the Dachau camp to Heinrich Wicker.  You can read it in full at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/Surrender.html

You can read more about Heinrich Wicker at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/Wicker.html

So what actually happened on April 29, 1945, the day that the Dachau camp was liberated?

Dachau was mainly a camp for Communist political prisoners and anti-Fascist resistance fighters who had been captured in the Nazi-occupied countries. On the day of the famous liberation of Dachau, the political prisoners were in control of the concentration camp. The camp Commandant, Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, had left the camp on April 26, 1945, along with a transport of prisoners who were being evacuated to Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachau in Austria. Former Commandant Martin Gottfried Weiss was in charge of the camp for two days until he fled, along with most of the regular guards, on the night of April 28, 1945.

Before he left, Weiss had turned the camp over to the International Committee of Dachau, an organization of prisoners inside the camp. Albert Guérisse, a British SOE agent from Belgium, who was hiding his identity by using the name Patrick O’Leary was the head of the International Committee.  Albert Guérisse was one of five British SOE agents who had survived the Nazi concentration camps at Mauthausen in Austria and Natzweiler in Alsace before being transferred to Dachau.

After the 45th Division soldiers had left the Dachau SS garrison and proceeded to the concentration camp, Guérisse greeted Lt. William P. Walsh and 1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead of the 45th Infantry Division at the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate.  He took them on a tour of the camp, showing them the gas chamber and the ovens in the crematorium.  At this time, the Dachau massacre had already happened.  It was the “Death Train” which triggered the massacre, not the gas chamber or the bodies in the crematorium.

June 19, 2012

91-year-old WWII veteran breaks his silence about the Dachau massacre

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:38 am

Most news articles, about the American soldiers who liberated the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, mention that these veterans have never talked to their families about the horror of Dachau.  Now one of the Dachau liberators, Don Ritzenthaler, has broken his silence and has told his grandson about what really happened at Dachau when the camp was liberated.

Gatehouse at Dachau concentration camp, 1945

This quote is from an article written by John Deem on May 25, 2012 in the Lake Norman Citizen newspaper:

Grandpa Ritz has never been able to talk about Dachau, other than to say he was there, and that what he saw was horrible. After reading about the place and what the Germans did to their mostly Jewish prisoners, I wasn’t surprised that the mention of Dachau rendered my typically effusive grandfather mute.

But there always was something in Grandpa’s reaction that made me wonder: Was he haunted by more than just the ghosts of what he’d seen on April 29, 1945?

According to the Official Report by the U.S. Army, there were 31,432 prisoners in the main camp on the day the camp was liberated.  Among the survivors were 2,539 Jews who had been brought to the main camp from some of the 123 sub-camps just a few weeks before the liberators arrived.

Most of the prisoners in the sub-camps of Dachau were Jews who had survived Auschwitz and had been brought on trains to Germany after Auschwitz was abandoned by the Germans in January 1945. Other Jews at Dachau on the day of liberation had been brought there from three Lithuanian ghettos in the Summer of 1944. The American liberators got most of their information about the Dachau main camp from these Jews who had only recently arrived and were eager to tell their stories.

Throughout its 12-year history, Dachau was mainly a camp for political prisoners, including Communists, Social Democrats, trade union leaders, spies, resistance fighters, and others who were considered “enemies of the state.”  Also among the prisoners were Catholic priests, common criminals, Gypsy men, homosexuals, and asocials. Dachau was not a death camp for the genocide of the Jews.

This quote is from the article written by John Deem:

“We were some of the first ones in,” he [Don Ritzenthaler] recalled. “It was a terrible place.”

We’d heard that much before, and nothing more. But I always sensed that there was something more. I even had a pretty good idea just what that something was.

“After what we saw, we shot any German guards we saw on sight,” Grandpa [Ritzenthaler] continued.

The shooting of the “German guards” and a few Wehrmacht soldiers who were dragged out of a military hospital at Dachau, an event known as the Dachau massacre, was kept secret for over 40 years.

The article by John Deem includes this quote:

I now knew that for 67 years, the uncharacteristically violent actions of this uncommonly gentle man had only multiplied the horror of what he’d seen, because he had become a participant in it.

Of course, most of us would have done the same thing. But leaving hell with Satan’s blood on our hands makes us the Devil’s kin, even if it’s as distant cousins. It means we’ve surrendered to the very hate that so repulsed us in the first place.

While he’s never said so, I can’t help but believe that this nexus of revulsion and revenge triggered something unrecognizable, something uncontrollable, in Grandpa, and it frightens him still.

Here is the full story on the liberation of Dachau:

On April 29, 1945, SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker surrendered the camp to the 42nd Rainbow Division of the US Seventh Army, which had found the camp on its way to take the city of Munich, 18 kilometers to the south. Accompanied by Red Cross representative Victor Maurer, 2nd Lt. Wicker surrendered the Dachau concentration camp to Brigadier General Henning Linden, commander of the 42nd Rainbow Division, under a white flag of truce.

The 45th Thunderbird Division of the US Seventh Army also participated in the liberation of Dachau, arriving at the nearby SS garrison before the 42nd Division approached the main entrance on the south side of the Dachau complex where 2nd Lt. Wicker was waiting to surrender the camp.

Before reaching the concentration camp, the 45th Thunderbird Division had discovered an abandoned train, with no engine, on a branch railroad line which at that time ran from the Dachau station along Freisinger Street in the direction of the camp. Inside the 39 train cars were the corpses of prisoners who had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 7, 1945 and, because of heavy bombing and strafing by Allied planes in the last days of the war, had not reached Dachau until three weeks later, two days before the American soldiers arrived.

Most of the regular SS guards and the administrative staff had fled from the camp the next day and there was no one left to oversee the burial of the bodies. No precise figures are available, but the train had started out with approximately 4,500 to 6,000 prisoners on board and between 1,300 and 2,600 had made it to Dachau still alive. Some of the dead had been buried along the way, or left in rows alongside the tracks. The gruesome sight of the death train, with some of the corpses in the open cars riddled by bullets, so affected the young soldiers of the 45th Thunderbird Division that they executed Waffen-SS soldiers stationed at the Dachau garrison after they had surrendered.

Upon entering the camp after the surrender, the American liberators, and the news reporters accompanying them, were horrified to discover over 900 dying prisoners in the infirmary barracks. According to the court testimony of the camp doctor, as many as 400 prisoners were dying of disease each day in the final days before the liberation.

Political prisoners at Dachau after the camp was liberated Photo credit: USHMM

Accompanied by Communist political prisoners, who served as guides, the Americans toured the prison camp and were shown the building, just outside the barbed wire enclosure, which housed the homicidal gas chamber disguised as a shower room. The Americans heard eye-witness accounts from Dachau survivors who said that prisoners had been gassed to death in the fake shower room; they also heard stories of how prisoners had been shoved into the crematory ovens while still alive. Bodies of fully-clothed dead inmates were found piled inside the new crematorium building and many more naked corpses were piled up outside. Outside the disinfection chambers, there was a huge pile of clothing waiting to be fumigated with Zyklon-B gas pellets.

Waffen SS soldiers, still wearing battle fatigue uniforms, were sent to Dachau to help with the surrender of the camp

The so-called “guards”, who were killed by the Americans, were German and Hungarian SS troops who had been sent from the battlefield to help with the surrender of the camp.  The men, who were killed by the American liberators, were completely innocent, but were murdered in cold blood by the Americans who didn’t bother to ask questions before shooting anyone they saw who was not dressed in a prison uniform.

It is good that some of the Americans involved in the Dachau massacre are now admitting what they did.  Here is one last quote from the article by the grandson of Don Ritzenthaler:

What I pray, though, is that he dies knowing he was nothing like the Germans who acted as Satan’s lackeys at Dachau. If he had been like them, he wouldn’t have shot them, because he wouldn’t have given a damn.

I agree that, if Don Ritzenthaler had been like the Germans at Dachau, he would not have shot the the “guards” who were wearing battle fatigues or the Wehrmacht soldiers who were recovering from war wounds in a hospital.  He would not have shot anyone, after the Army that he was fighting with, had accepted the surrender of a camp that held mostly political prisoners.

August 30, 2011

989th Artillery Battalion “blew the doors to smithereens” at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 5:31 pm

The following story is from an article, written by Shirley Welsh in the Vail Daily News, on June 7, 2007.  The title of the article is “Have you ever heard of Dachau?”  I found this old article when I was going through my files today, weeding out old documents.  This is the story told by Frank Doll, an American soldier, who was with the 989th Artillery Battalion.

Quote from the article by Shirley Welsh:

“Have you heard of Dachau?” (Asked the Colonel)

“No, sir,” Frank replied.

“It’s a concentration camp. The Nazis have been moving a lot of prisoners there from the other camps to Dachau. The 42nd is going to take the camp, but they need artillery for support.”   (more…)

April 30, 2011

the US 7th Army IG Report on the killing of guards in Tower B at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:48 am

Dead guards at Tower B in the Dachau camp

The infamous Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945 by the 42nd Infantry Division, along with the 45th Infantry Division, of the US Seventh Army. Yesterday, on the 66th anniversary of the liberation, newspapers were filled with the stories of 42nd Division veterans who recalled the the horror of what they saw and did that day.  The photo above shows the bodies of Dachau guards who were killed at Tower  B on the day that Dachau was liberated.

The shooting of disarmed German soldiers during the Dachau liberation was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Seventh Army. Their report was finished on June 8, 1945 but was marked Secret. The report was eventually made public, around 40 years later, and a copy of it was reproduced in Col. John H. Linden’s book entitled Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp 29 April 1945.

Here are four paragraphs from the report which pertain to the shooting of the guards at Tower B.

11. After entry into the camp, personnel of the 42nd Division discovered the presence of guards, presumed to be SS men, in a tower to the left of the main gate of the inmate stockade. This tower was attacked by Tec 3 Henry J. Wells 39271327, Headquarters Military Intelligence Service, ETO, covered and aided by a party under Lt. Col. Walter J. Fellenz, 0-23055, 222 Infantry. No fire was delivered against them by the guards in the tower. A number of Germans were taken prisoner; after they were taken, and within a few feet of the tower, from which they were taken, they were shot and killed.

12. Considerable confusion exists in the testimony as to the particulars of this shooting; however Wells, German interrogator for the 222 Infantry, states that he had lined these Germans up in double rank, preparatory to moving them out; that he saw no threatening gesture; but that he shot into them after some other American soldiers, whose identities are unknown, started shooting them.

13. Lt. Colonel Fellenz was entering the door of the tower at the time of this shooting, took no part in it and testified that he could not have stopped it.

18. It is obvious that the Americans present when the guards were shot at the tower labored under much excitement. However Wells could speak German fluently, he knew no shots had been fired at him in his attack on the tower, he had these prisoners lined up, he saw no threatening gesture or act. It is felt that his shooting into them was entirely unwarranted; the whole incident smacks of execution similar to the other incidents described in this report.

Tower B as it looks today

On the day that Dachau was liberated, white flags had been flying from all seven of the Dachau guard towers since 7 o’clock in the morning, according to Nerin E. Gun, a Turkish journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau. When American soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division first entered the prison enclosure of the Dachau concentration camp, eight SS men descended from Tower G, the one closest to the gatehouse, and then surrendered with their hands in the air. One of the guards in Tower G was an SS man named Stahl, who survived to tell the story.

Eight guards from Tower A, which is on top of the gatehouse, then came down the stairs and surrendered to the Americans.  The photo below shows the Waffen SS soldiers with their hands in the air after they had come down from the towers.

Guards in the guard towers at Dachau surrendered with their hands in the air

The dead bodies of some of the guards from Tower B were thrown into the canal which borders the western side of the Dachau camp.  American soldiers continued to shoot at the bodies.  The photo below shows one of the bodies being pulled out of the canal.

Body of dead German soldier, who was killed by American liberators, being pulled out of Dachau moat

Here is the back story on the liberation of the Dachau camp:

Victor Maurer, a Red Cross representative from Switzerland, had arrived at the Dachau prison compound on April 27, 1945, two days before the liberation. Maurer had tried to persuade Obersturmführer Johannes Otto, the Adjutant to the last Commandant, Edward Weiter, to leave guards in the towers in order to secure the camp until the Americans arrived, but most of the regular guards left on April 28th, along with Martin Gottfried Weiss, the acting Commandant. The Commandant of the camp, Eduard Weiter, had already left on April 26th with a transport of prisoners headed toward Austria.

Finally, Maurer convinced SS 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker not to abandon the camp, but to leave guards posted in the towers to keep order until the prisoners could be turned over to armed American soldiers. Wicker was in charge of a group of SS men who had recently arrived at Dachau; they were former guards in three sub-camps of the Natzweiler-Struthof camp in Alsace. The guards, who were gunned down by Wells and the other American soldiers, had only been at Dachau for a few weeks and they were, in no way, responsible for the conditions in the camp.

Maurer knew that there were around 800 common criminals, including convicted murderers, who had been imprisoned at Dachau. He was fearful that an estimated 40,000 vengeful Dachau inmates would be released to wreak havoc in the surrounding area which was still a battle zone. There was also a typhus epidemic in the camp and Maurer did not want the prisoners to be released until the epidemic could be brought under control.

When an advance party from the 42nd Division arrived in a jeep on the street that borders the south side of the SS complex, they saw Maurer and Wicker waiting to surrender the camp under a white flag of truce. By that time, I Company of the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division had already arrived at the railroad gate into the SS camp, on the west side of the complex, almost a mile from the prison enclosure. Waffen-SS soldiers who had surrendered to I Company were immediately gunned down in the coal yard of the SS camp; this incident is usually referred to as the “Dachau massacre.”

You can see a color video of the liberation of Dachau here.

April 29, 2011

the final resting places of the victims of the Dachau death camp

Filed under: Dachau, Germany — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:48 am

Waldfriedhof cemetery in Dachau

When Dachau was liberated by the American Seventh Army on April 29, 1945, most of the German guards had fled the night before, and mounds of unburied corpses were found in the camp. There were also 2,310 bodies found on an abandoned train outside the camp. Everything was left untouched until newpaper reporters, American Congressmen and film makers could be brought in to document the horror. Burial began on May 13, 1945 after the bodies could no longer be kept on display because they were beginning to constitute a serious health hazard.

18 American newspaper reporters view Dachau bodies

The photo above was taken on May 3, 1945, the same day that a film of the Dachau gas chamber was made; the film was shown at the Nuremberg IMT as proof that the victims at Dachau had been gassed.

In May 1945, the first month after Dachau was liberated, there were 2,226 deaths in the camp. There were 196 deaths in June 1945 before the typhus epidemic in the camp was finally brought under control. The people of the town of Dachau were forced to bury 1,268 of these victims at Waldfriedhof, the town cemetery of Dachau.  Other victims of the typhus epidemic were buried in mass graves at the Leitenberg cemetery, and around 800 bodies were burned in the crematorium at the concentration camp.   (more…)

December 26, 2010

Dachau Liberated: The Official Report

Filed under: Dachau, Germany — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:09 pm

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.

Recently there has been some discussion about the one Irish person who was allegedly a prisoner at Dachau.  The Dachau report does not mention an Irish prisoner.  There were many countries listed in the Dachau Statistics as having one prisoner in the camp, but not Ireland.

The Official Report lists 1 Dane, 1 Maltese, 1 Arabians, 1 Finns, 1 Iraqs, 1 Irans, 2 Swiss, 2 Armenians, 3 Turks, 6 Americans, and 8 British.   There were 9082 Poles in the camp, according to The Official Report, and 4258 Russians, 3918 French, 2907 Slovenes, 2184 Italians, 1632 Czechs, 848 Belgians, 670 Hungarians and 558 Dutch.  Other countries that were included in the statistics had smaller numbers of prisoners.

There were 2539 Jews, including 225 women, but most of them had only recently arrived, after having been evacuated from the sub-camps and brought to the main Dachau camp.

Here is a quote from The Official Report:

The purpose of this investigation was to find out two things:  (1) What conditions in the Camp actually had been like, and (2) How much did the townspeople of Dachau know of the goings-on and what was their present attitude toward this monumental crime of twelve years’ duration that had transformed their sleepy little town into a world-famous place.

Dachau was “world-famous” in 1945?  I don’t think so.  Some of the American liberators said later that they had never even heard of the camp before they liberated it.  In German, the term “world-famous” would be “weltbekannt,” an expression that I have frequently heard German speakers use.   Did Americans use the words “world-famous” with a hyphen in 1945?  This seems to have been written by someone in the American military who could speak German.  Someone in the OSS perhaps?

The most important point in the quote that I put up is that it seems that the Americans had already made up their mind that the issue of the townspeople of Dachau should be addressed immediately.  In case the townspeople should dispute the stories told by the 20 prisoners, this had to be nipped in the bud.

The Americans wisely decided to find out what the camp was “actually” like from the Communist prisoners and then find out how much the townspeople knew, so that any stories that differed from the “actual” account could be immediately discredited.  To this day, it is claimed that the townspeople knew everything that was told by the prisoners, but they decided not to do anything about it.

More importantly, the Americans wanted to know the “present attitude toward this monumental crime of twelve years’ duration.”

It seems that the Americans had already decided, before talking to the townspeople, that there had been “monumental” crimes going on at Dachau for 12 years.  And they needed to know the “present attitude.”  The townspeople needed to change their attitude and acknowledge that they were guilty because they had sat around for 12 years and had not lifted a finger to stop the “monumental” crimes.

Strangely, the 20 prisoners, who told about what Dachau was “actually” like, did not include any of the 6 Americans in the camp.  One of these Americans was in the OSS.  If he ever said anything, one way or another, about what it was like in Dachau, I’ve never heard about it.

September 7, 2010

The liberation of Dachau, as reported by the New York Times

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:58 pm

This New York Times article is about the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.  It is printed here just as it was written in 1945:

Dachau captured by Americans who kill guards, liberate 32,000

DACHAU, Germany, April 30 – Dachau, Germany’s most dreaded extermination camp, has been captured and its surviving 32,000 tortured inmates have been freed by outraged American troops who killed or captured its brutal garrison in a furious battle.

Prisoners with access to records said that 9,000 captives had died of hunger and disease or been shot in the past three months, and 14,000 more had perished during the winter. Typhus was prevalent in the camp and the city’s water supply was reported to have been contaminated by drainage from 6,000 graves near the prison.

39 Cars Full of Bodies

A short time after the battle there was a train of thirty-nine coal cars on a siding. The cars were loaded with hundreds of bodies and from them was removed at least one pitiful human wreck that still clung to life. These victims were mostly Poles and most of them had starved to death as the train stood there idle for several days. Lying alongside a busy road near by were the murdered bodies of those who had tried to escape.

Bavarian peasants – who traveled this road daily – ignored both the bodies and the horrors inside the camp to turn the American seizure of their city into an orgy of looting. Even German children rode by the bodies without a glance, carrying stolen clothing.

The camp held 32,000 emaciated, unshaven men and 350 women, jammed in the wooden barracks. Prisoners said that 7,000 others had been marched away on foot during the past few days. The survivors went wild with joy as the Americans broke open their pens, smothering their liberators with embraces.

Bodies were found in many places. Here also were the gas chambers – camouflaged as “showers” into which prisoners were herded under the pretext of bathing – and the cremation ovens. Huge stacks of clothing bore mute testimony to the fate of their owners.

A French general was slain last week as he walked toward a truck, believing that he was to be evacuated, prisoners reported. They said that Elite Guards had shot him in the back.

The Americans stormed through the camp with tornadic fury. Not a stone’s throw from a trainload of corpses lay the bleeding bodies of sixteen guards shot down as they fled.

When Lieut. Col. Will Cowling of Leavenworth, Kan. slipped the lock in the main gate, there was still no sign of life inside this area. He looked around for a few seconds and then a tremendous human cry roared forth. A flood of humanity poured across the flat yard – which would hold a half dozen baseball diamonds — Colonel Cowling was all but mobbed.

Rescued by soldiers

He was hoisted to the shoulders of the seething, swaying crowd of Russians, Poles, Frenchmen, Czechs, and Austrians, cheering the Americans in their native tongues. The American colonel was rescued by soldiers, but the din kept up.

Flags appeared and waved from the barracks. There was even an American flag, although only one American was held there. He is a major from Chicago captured behind the German lines when he was on special assignment for the Office of Strategic Services.

—————

Update, Sept. 8, 2010:

A reader requested in a comment that I write something about what is known now that was not known then.  So here goes:

1.  The article is dated April 30, 1945 but it does not give the date of the liberation which was April 29, 1945.

2.  Dachau was not “the most dreaded extermination camp.”  It was not an extermination camp at all.  I am amazed that this term was used so soon after Dachau was liberated.

3.  The report mentions the “tortured” inmates. This was a concentration camp, not a death camp, and torture is usually used to get information.  But why would the Dachau inmates have been “tortured”?  I wrote a blog post on the people who were tortured at Dachau, which you can read here.

4. There was no “furious battle” to capture the “brutal garrison.”  The garrison, next door to the concentration camp, was an SS garrison; the first four soldiers, who came forward and surrendered to the Americans, were marched to the train outside the camp and killed.   Then more SS soldiers were killed in cold blood after they had surrendered.

5.  “Prisoners with access to records”?  So the reporter got his information from prisoners.  The article makes it sound like 9,000 PLUS an additional 14,000 had died in the last few months.  Half of the deaths in Dachau occurred in the last 6 months that the camp was in operation, including 2,226 prisoners who died in the month of May, after the liberation. According to Paul Berben, a prisoner who wrote the history of the camp, there were 18,296 deaths in the main camp and all the sub-camps of Dachau between November 1944 and the end of May 1945. Most of these deaths were due to the typhus epidemic in the camp, according to Berben.   I am also amazed that the reporter mentioned typhus; this is usually left out of the story.

6.  The 6,000 graves were on a hill called Leitenberg, which was a couple of miles from the camp. The grave site was located far from the camp to PREVENT contamination of the water supply.  The Dachau camp had been hit by an Allied bomb on April 9, 1945 and there was no running water at the camp.  The prisoners had apparently told the reporter something about the water supply, but got the story mixed up.

7.  Not all of the 39 cars on the train were coal cars, and not all of them were filled with dead bodies.  The prisoners on the train were Jews and Soviet POWs from Buchenwald.  They had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 7, 1945 and the train had taken 20 days to reach the camp because the tracks had been bombed by Allied planes.  Prisoners in the coal cars had been killed when the train was strafed by Allied planes, according to a Jewish prisoner who was on the train; he testified at the proceedings against the SS man who was in charge of the train.

Victor Maurer, a representative of the Red Cross, who arrived at Dachau a day or two before the liberation, said that he was told that, out of 5,000 prisoners who started the train trip to Dachau, 2,700 were dead on arrival, which would mean that there were 2,300 survivors who entered the camp. Maurer also said that there were  only 500 bodies on the train when the Americans arrived, and that some had been killed, while others had died of starvation.  The official count of the dead bodies on the train was 2,130.

8.  The “orgy of looting” which was done by the “Bavarian peasants” was caused by the warehouses at the SS garrison being turned over to the prisoners when the acting Commandant and the regular guards left the camp on April 28, 1945.  The people in the town heard that the warehouses were open and they went to the camp to get food for themselves.

9.  Half of the 32,000 prisoners had been at the camp for two weeks or less.  They had been brought to the main camp from the sub-camps.  Very few were emaciated or even “unshaven,” judging by the photos taken at the liberation.

10.  “Huge stacks of clothing bore mute testimony to the fate of their owners.”  The prisoners, who were in charge of the camp after the acting Commandant and the guards left,  told the gullible liberators that the clothes hung up outside the disinfection gas chambers were the clothes of the prisoners who had been gassed. Allegedly, the prisoners were forced to hang up their clothes outside the disinfection chambers before they went in to be gassed.

11.  The “French General” was General Charles Delestraint.  I have an article about his death on my web site which you can read here.

I find it interesting that the prisoners would tell the reporter about Delestraint’s death and specify that it was the “Elite Guards” (SS men) who had killed him.  TMI  in my opinion.  I think the prisoners killed the French General themselves and blamed it on the SS.

12.  The bodies of the “sixteen guards shot down as they fled” were the bodies of the SS men who were killed in cold blood by the liberators.  They were not fleeing; they were trying to surrender the camp to the Americans.

13.  The one American who was held there was Lt. Rene Guiraud. He had been trained in Canada before he was parachuted into Nazi-occupied France, along with a radio operator. His mission was to collect intelligence, harass German military units and occupation forces, sabotage critical war material facilities, and carry on other resistance activities. Guiraud organized 1500 guerrilla fighters and developed intelligence networks in Europe. During all this, Guiraud posed as a French citizen, wearing civilian clothing, which means that when he was caught, he was not protected under the 1929 Geneva Convention.  Guiraud was captured in France and interrogated for two months by the Gestapo, then sent to Dachau in September 1944.

Note that the reporter did not learn the name of the one American.  That’s because Guiraud kept his mouth shut; he did not come forward and tell lies to the liberators.  To his credit, Guiraud did not EVER talk about Dachau.  He knew when he volunteered for this job, that he would be put in prison if caught.  He did not write a book and whine about his treatment at Dachau.

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers