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February 8, 2010

Dachau Gives Answer to Why We Fought

Filed under: Dachau, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:19 pm

The photo above shows the front page of the 45th Division News, an American Army newspaper, published on May 13, 1945. The soldiers in the 45th Thunderbird Division of the U.S. Seventh Army were the first liberators to arrive at the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945.  The first thing they saw was a train with 39 cars, filled with dead bodies.

They were so angered by the sight of these dead bodies of prisoners, wearing striped uniforms, that they immediately started killing the first German soldiers who surrendered to them inside the SS garrison which was right next to the Dachau concentration camp.  The photo in the middle of the newspaper shows Thunderbird soldiers looking inside one of the railroad cars. The photo at the bottom shows Thunderbird soldiers sitting in Hitler’s apartment in Munich.

The newspaper article begins with these words:

Thunderbirds who last week still wondered why we fought the Germans and their beliefs got their answer at the Dachau prison camp where death claimed victims by the carload and murder was a wholesale sadistic business.

The headline about “Why We Fought” is reminiscent of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous quote, after he saw Orhdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, on April 12, 1945, the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt died.  Eisenhower said:

The American soldiers didn’t know what they were fighting for, until they saw the concentrations camps, then they knew what they were fighting against.

The 45th Thunderbird Division soldiers didn’t know and didn’t care why that train loaded with corpses was at Dachau, nor did they care how these prisoners had died. The soldiers made up their minds that they would take no prisoners; they entered the SS army garrison, next door to the concentration camp, through the railroad gate, and proceeded to kill every German soldier that surrendered to them with his hands in the air, no questions asked.  Geneva Convention?  Never heard of it!

In November 1945, when the staff members of the Dachau camp were put on trial by an American Military Tribunal at Dachau, the first prosecution witness was asked about the victims on the train.  The Dachau staff was being tried only on charges related to the death and mistreatment of Allied nationals, and the witness didn’t know what country the dead prisoners on the train were from.  The American prosecutor quickly moved on to another subject.

The massacre of the German soldiers at Dachau was kept secret for 40 years.  No one knows how many were killed but it was somewhere between 17 and 520. The families of the dead German soldiers were not notified of their deaths; if they asked, they were told that their family member had escaped when Dachau was liberated.

The American Army took over the SS garrison and stayed there for the next 28 years.  There are rumors that the German soldiers who were killed in the “Dachau massacre” were buried in a mass grave on the grounds of the former Army base after their dog tags had been removed.

A new movie, Shutter Island, which is due to be released on February 19, 2010, will show a flashback scene which will depict the Dachau massacre.

If you go to Dachau, notice that there is a plaque on the wall of the gatehouse in honor of the 42nd Rainbow Division, which also participated in the liberation of Dachau, but there is no plaque for the 45th Thunderbirds.

The German expellees

Filed under: Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:46 am

I am reading a book entitled A Terrible Revenge by Alfred-Maurice de Zayas. It is about the ethnic Germans who were the subjects of “ethnic cleansing” after World War II.  According to the book, a total of 9,575,000 ethnic Germans were expelled from the eastern territories of Germany and 3,477,000 were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1945 and 1946. An additional 1,371,000 ethnic Germans were expelled from Poland. Altogether, a total of 17,658,000 Volksdeutsche were expelled from their homelands and forced to flee to Germany, which was about the size of the state of Wisconsin after World War II.

The Dachau concentration camp became a refugee camp for Volksdeutsche, who occupied the barracks from 1948 to 1964, when they were finally kicked out so that a Memorial Site could be built.

I also read The High Cost of Vengence, by Freda Utley.  The following quote is from a Chapter titled “Our Crimes Against Humanity”:

The Poles, who were given possession of the territory “east of the Oder-Neisse line,” drove out the inhabitants with the utmost brutality, throwing women and children, the aged and the sick, out of their homes with only a few hours’ notice, and not sparing even those in hospitals and orphanages.

The Czechs, no less brutal, drove the Germans over the mountains on foot, and at the frontier stole such belongings as they had been able to carry. Having an eye for profit as well as revenge, the Czechs held thousands of German men as slave laborers while driving out their wives and children.

Many of the old, the young, and the sick died of hunger or cold or exposure on the long march into what remained of Germany, or perished of hunger and thirst and disease in the crowded cattle cars in which some of the refugees were transported. Those who survived the journey were thrust upon the slender resources of starving occupied Germany. No one of German race was allowed any help by the United Nations. The displaced-persons camps were closed to them and first the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and then the International Refugee Organization (IRO) was forbidden to succor them. The new untouchables were thrown into Germany to die, or survive as paupers in the miserable accommodations which the bombed-out cities of Germany could provide for those even more wretched than their original inhabitants.

How many people were killed or died will never be known. Out of a total of twelve to thirteen million people who had committed the crime of belonging to the German race, four or five million are unaccounted for. But no one knows how many are dead and how many are slave laborers. Only one thing is certain : Hitler’s barbaric liquidation of the Jews has been outmatched by the liquidation of Germans by the “democratic, peace-loving” powers of the United Nations.

As the Welsh minister, Dr. Elfan Rees, head of the refugee division of the World Council of Churches, said in a sermon delivered at Geneva University on March 13, 1949 : “More people have been rendered homeless by an Allied peace than by a Nazi war.”

The estimate of the number of German expellees, or flüchtlinge as the Germans call them, in Rump Germany is now eight or nine million. The International Refugee Organization (IRO) takes no account of them, and was expressly forbidden by act of Congress to give them any aid. It is obviously impossible for densely over-crowded Western Germany to provide for them. A few have been absorbed into industry or are working on German farms, but for the most part they are living in subhuman conditions without hope of acquiring homes or jobs.

In Bavaria, while we, the occupiers, have requisitioned thousands of hotels, chateaux, barracks and private houses for our exclusive use, and while the IRO’s dwindling DP population occupies comfortable quarters also provided by the Germans, the German DP’s are crammed into draughty huts and receive no gifts of food and clothing from international organizations. Having agreed that they should be expropriated and driven from their homes, the United States professes itself uninterested in their fate. Military Government tells the German Länder administrations that German refugees are entirely a “German concern.”

In effect, we say in Germany that anyone who was a victim of Nazi crimes is to be succored, but that those whose sufferings are our own responsibility can rot and die. We also make a careful racial distinction between the various categories of Communist persecutees. Thus a Czech who escapes from the Communist terror is entitled to enter the DP camps and be fed on American food. But a Russian, Rumanian, Hungarian, or Yugoslav who manages to slip across the border into Bavaria, has to live on the German economy. Members of these nations may not enter the DP camps, unless they were in Germany before the end of the war. In effect we say that with the sole exception of the Czechs, only Nazi victims are entitled to help, not Communist victims. Thus Germany not only has to provide accommodation for Hitler’s former victims, the German economy is also now forced to support hundreds of thousands of Stalin’s victims. Nor is this all. Germany acts as a receiving center and transit camp for many thousands of Jews who have left Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia since the Communists took over. In one Jewish DP camp near Munich every single person I spoke to had come to Germany after 1945 in hopes of getting to Palestine.

Although the number of displaced persons in Germany is continually diminishing and many of the camps are half empty, the Germans are not allowed either to regain possession of the many houses, barracks, and other buildings occupied by the DP’s, or to place their own refugees in them. Exact information is not available since the German authorities are not allowed to enter the DP camps but, according to the estimate of the Bavarian Minister for Refugees, between twenty-four and twenty-eight thousand beds are now unoccupied. While this accommodation is wasted the German refugees are crowded into unsanitary huts and other accommodation unprovided with the most elementary comforts and decencies, and frequently have to sleep on the floor.

Before coming to Nuremberg I visited several of the flüchtlinge camps in Bavaria. The contrast between their living conditions and those of the majority of non-German DP’s demonstrated how fortunate are the former victims of the Nazis as compared to those who suffer the consequences of the crimes against humanity committed by the “victorious democracies.”

In the Dachau camp near Munich I found fifty or more people—men, women and children—to each wooden hut 26 x 65 feet in size. There were no partitions, but the inmates were using some of their precious blankets to screen off their cubicles. The huts were cold and damp. It was raining and one woman with a little girl suffering from a bad cold showed me the wall behind their bed where the rain seeped through.

Four hundred people at Dachau shared one washroom and one outdoor latrine and there was no hot water. No one had any linen or sheets, and some had neither shoes nor overcoats.

Those of the flüchtlinge who have found employment have to continue living at places like Dachau since there is no other accommodation to be found. In Bavaria as a whole, there are already two people on an average in every room or cellar, and the situation is little better in the rest of the United States and British zones. So the flüchtlinge who get jobs often have to travel four or five hours a day, partly on foot, to reach them. One woman I talked to at Dachau told me her daughters left home at 5:30 a.m. and returned from work at 9:00 p.m. after walking two and a half hours each day.

For the most part, however, the flüchtlinge have no hope of work, especially since the currency reform which wiped out many small enterprises which had formerly given some of them employment. Moreover, a large proportion of the German refugees are women with young children.

I visited the two schools at the camp, one for Protestants and the other for Catholics. The schoolroom was an unheated wooden barrack without desks. The children sat on benches and had no books and hardly any paper or pencils. The two schoolmasters gave instruction by writing on the blackboard. One of them was a Social Democrat from the Sudetenland who had spent the war years in a Nazi concentration camp, and had been liberated only to be thrown out of his home by the Czechs. The children looked thin and pale, but somehow clean and neat, as almost all Germans somehow manage to be even when living in the most miserable conditions.

In both schoolrooms the children stood stiffly at attention and shouted “Grüss Gott” in unison when I came in. Formerly they would have said “Heil Hitler” in the same manner, and I could hardly imagine that at Dachau they thought “democracy” was an improvement on the Third Reich.

I spent the greater part of a day at Dachau, and spent several hours in Barracks No. 14 getting the history of each family there. The oldest inhabitants of the barrack were a Dr. Werner, aged 64, and his wife. He had been a judge in old Austria and then a state’s attorney in the Sudetenland for twenty years. The Werners’ only son had been killed on the Russian front. In May 1945 Dr. Werner had been arrested by the Czech Government and kept in prison for two years where he was himself starved and beaten, and witnessed the torturing of many fellow prisoners. When finally released he was a wreck and of course all his property had been confiscated. Meanwhile his wife had been driven out of Czechoslovakia and been robbed of everything she possessed, even her wedding ring. She had first been transported with thousands of others in open freight cars as far as Teplitz, and then literally driven by the Czechs on foot over the Erz Mountains. After five weeks of wandering hungry over the roads she had found a place as a farm worker in Saxony. Dr. Werner finally found her there after his own expulsion and was also hired by a farmer. But in August 1947 he was deported back to Bohemia as a slave laborer. Finally he was allowed to go to Bavaria to rejoin his wife who had managed to escape from the Russian zone.

These two old people had no hope at all. They were by now too worn out to do physical labor, and there was no other. They had been robbed of their home and their clothes, their furniture and their linen, and could expect gradually to rot away in Dachau. But they were brave old people and not merely concerned with their own troubles. Frau Werner was helping the women with young children and Dr. Werner clearly enjoyed the confidence and respect of all the other fifty-three people in the barracks. Thanks to him I got each of their case histories, and later when I managed to send him some food and clothing, and got friends in America to send a few CARE packages, Dr. Werner distributed them all around, as I know from letters I received.

Each family or individual in the barracks had had the same kind of experience as the Werners, and some had suffered far worse treatment. The case of Fritz Bernglau and his wife Melitta was typical. After fighting on the Russian front and being taken prisoner, he had escaped and got home to Czechoslovakia. There he had “eagerly awaited the arrival of the American troops, who unfortunately remained outside Karlsbad.” The Russians came and under their protection the Czech Communists looted the town of Bodenbach where the Bernglaus lived. Later the whole population was expelled in a veritable March of Death. In one day the twenty-four thousand inhabitants of the town were thrown out and then driven like cattle into Saxony. The women and children and old people who could not keep up the pace were beaten with clubs and many dropped by the way. All baggage had to be abandoned. After being unable to obtain shelter in Russian-occupied Lower Saxony, and wandering the roads there for three weeks, the Bernglaus turned back to Bodenbach hoping to be able to retrieve some clothes and linen they had hidden in their house before being expelled. Both were discovered and arrested and Melitta was brutally beaten. They spent ten weeks in prison where thirty-two people were penned into cells for two, and the women had to listen to the screams of men being tortured, for the prison was full of “political” prisoners, meaning “capitalists and landowners.” The wife of the banker Adler committed suicide because she thought the screams she heard were those of her husband in the next cell. Some prisoners were literally beaten to death.

“Having learned the horror of Bolshevism on our own bodies,” as Fritz Bernglau expressed it, he and his wife, after their release from the Czech prison, now had only one idea : to get out of the Russian zone. So today they are in Dachau, which, bad as it is, is preferable to being under Communist rule.

I will mention only one more case, that of Erika Bruno whose pretty little daughter Renate caught my attention when I entered the barracks. She was a farmer’s wife in Silesia but had been caught by the surrender visiting her brother in Czechoslovakia. Although pregnant she was banished to her home and had to walk two hundred miles on foot, over the Riésen Mountains, living on roots and what she could get by begging. But as soon as she got home, the Poles threw her out and robbed her of all she possessed, even her coat and shoes. In an advanced state of pregnancy she walked barefoot until Christmas 1945 from town to town as far as the March of Brandenburg, where she was admitted to a hospital and her child was born.

It was somewhat more cheerful to visit the Wagoner “factory” which a group of Sudeten expellees had managed to set up near Munich. They had been driven out with two thousand others on foot, and had the fifty-five pounds of baggage each had been allowed to carry stolen from them by the Czechs at the frontier. One of them had even been deprived of the little pushcart on which he was transporting his two-year-old son and had to carry him on his back. But the workers from the Wagoner Factory had kept together and had managed to get hold of a few machines from the American authorities who let them use dismantled reparation machinery for a time. Then the Norwegians had given them a couple of reparation machines in return for their services in repairing others. In this and other ways, being highly skilled workers, they had pieced together sufficient means of production to be able to earn their living once again, and were producing boring machines in a little factory. Visiting this enterprise one realized the stupidity of the Czech Government in throwing out skilled workers to satisfy their lust for revenge, or their greed.

But a sword of Damocles hung over the flüchtlinge who had ceased to be paupers. At any moment the United States reparations authorities might order the dismantlement of the transformers which supplied power to the Wagoner workshops and other small enterprises in the vicinity.

If this should happen, the Wagoner workers would be flung back into the misery of life at Dachau or other camps, as had already happened in the case of others who had established small productive enterprises only to be mined by the currency reform which wiped out their small capital resources.

It was not surprising to find that the Communists have considerable influence in the huge Dachau camp where people are living in such terrible conditions. The unofficial leader of the Dachau flüchtlinge was a Communist who by organizing a hunger strike and mass-protest meetings had forced the Bavarian administration to improve conditions in the camp, by “winterizing” the wooden buildings and providing somewhat more food.

The Bavarian authorities held responsible for the inadequate accommodations and food in the camps are not, however, the real culprits. Bavaria has been forced to take far more German expellees than any other part of Western Germany, and since so much housing has been requisitioned for DP’s and the occupation forces, the problem is insoluble.

According to Military Government estimates, in 1948 a quarter of the more than nine million inhabitants of Bavaria were not Bavarians. There are over a million expellees from Czechoslovakia; 606,000 from east of the Oder and Neisse rivers; 51,500 from Hungary; and another 170,000 from various other places. In addition, there are nearly 300,000 Germans from the other zones or other Western states; and 164,000 foreigners living on the German economy. To these figures there has to be added uncounted thousands of unregistered persons who have entered Bavaria illegally. In this respect Bavaria has the worst problem of all the Western Länder because of her long frontier, which vast numbers of people cross under the cover of night, coming from Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, as well as the Russian zone of Germany.

Whatever efforts are made to find work and adequate shelter for the refugees, so many more keep on coming that Bavaria is like a Sisyphus pushing uphill a stone which continually rolls down again.

Only half of the total population increase in Bavaria is accounted for by expellees “legally” brought in under the Potsdam agreement. By the first of January 1948, the Bavarian population which in 1939 was seven million had increased to nine and a quarter million; 1.8 million were refugees and 292,000 were evacuees from other parts of Germany.

Seventy thousand foreigners, not cared for by UNRRA, entered Bavaria in 1945-46. In 1947 another seventy-five thousand “border trespassers” were registered in the German camps in Bavaria. The currency reform in 1948 which entitled everyone to receive forty of the new D marks revealed the existence of a hundred thousand additional illegal immigrants in Bavaria who had never registered and had not received ration cards but had presumably existed on the black market.

An increase of two and a quarter million in Bavaria’s population makes it physically impossible for the German administration to provide adequate housing, for in addition there are 330,000 people who were rendered homeless either by the bombing of their houses or their requisitioning by Military Government. A million rooms were destroyed and another million seven hundred thousand damaged by bombing during the war. The United States Military Government has requisitioned another 115,000 rooms. Excluding the comparatively ample space reserved for the IRO’s DP’s and the far more than adequate accommodation taken over by the Military Government for the housing and recreation of Americans and their guests, Bavaria is today so overcrowded that the average “living space” is one room to each two persons. In Nuremberg, Regensburg, and other badly damaged cities there are nearly two and one-half persons per room or cellar.

This average housing space includes barracks, wooden summer camps unfit for living in winter, the dungeonlike bunkers (air-raid shelters) with damp cement walls in which thousands live, stables, and other structures unfit for human habitation.

Some refugees are housed in dance halls and gymnasiums and other quarters without sanitation or heating. The transit camps are so packed with humanity that newcomers often have to be kept in the freight cars in which they arrive, or left to sleep in the fields without cover.

The majority of the German refugees are women and children, but it is not even possible to find employment for the men and others fit to work. Of the 1.9 million German refugees in Bavaria, 1.2 million are sheltered in agricultural communities with fewer than four thousand inhabitants, and they cannot make use of refugee labor to any considerable extent.

The cost to the Bavarian state of feeding the refugees and providing them with beds, blankets, clothing, and household utensils is out of proportion to its resources. In 1948, it was providing three and a half million D marks a month for the maintenance of the camps, not counting the clothing and beds initially supplied.

In 1948 Herr Jaenicke, the Bavarian Minister, who is himself a refugee from Silesia, appealed to the United Nations for help, saying that it is impossible for Germany to house and feed the German and non-German refugees denied help by the International Refugee Organization. He appealed in particular for a) the release of unoccupied housing accommodations by the IRO; b) speeding up the repatriation or emigration of DP’s; c) extension of IRO care to the large number of foreign refugees who now escape from Soviet territory to Germany and have to be provided for by the German economy; d) consideration of the need to provide employment for German and other European refugees in the allocation of Marshall Plan funds.

Bavaria is the land of refuge for all who succeed in escaping from the countries ruled by the Communists. But when the Germans appeal for help in coping with this great influx of fugitives from Communist terror, they are told that it is not the concern of the Military Government, but entirely a German responsibility. It is not funny, however ridiculous, that, while insisting that expellees and refugees are a German responsibility, the Military Government should smugly announce that it has “directed that adequate reception and distribution facilities be provided.” For it knows as well as the Germans that this is impossible.

The frozen General at Mauthausen

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:08 am

Memorial to the frozen General at Mauthausen Memorial Site

This photo was taken from outside the gate into the prison compound at the former Mauthausen concentration camp; the wide road that leads up from the quarry is shown in the foreground. On the right is a large white marble memorial stone in honor of Lt. Gen. Dmitry Mikhailovich Karbyshev, a Soviet Prisoner of War, who was allegedly murdered at Mauthausen in February 1945.  The monument in honor of Lt. Gen. Karbyshev shows him encased in a block of ice.

Before I visited the Mauthausen Memorial Site, I read everything I could find about Mauthausen, but Karbyshev was not mentioned in any of the books. Not even Christian Bernadac, the author of the famous book entitled The 186 Steps, mentioned him.

A couple of weeks after an escape by Soviet prisoners from Block 20, Karbyshev was selected along with a group of other prisoners. The date and the number of men selected varies according to who is telling the story, but it was either the 16th, 17th or 18th of February and the number of victims was between 200 and 400.

The photo below shows the garage yard at Mauthausen where hundreds of naked prisoners are waiting for their clothes to be deloused in an attempt to prevent typhus which is spread by body lice.

Prisoners forced to stand naked in courtyard

Allegedly Karbyshev and the others were forced to stand naked for three hours in the garage yard and were then forced to take a cold shower. One version of the story says that Karbyshev refused to stand under the cold water and was beaten to death in the shower.

The Mauthausen Museum version says that he was forced to stand outside all night in the garage yard while cold water was poured over him. He died standing up, and in the morning his body was found inside a block of ice. Karbyshev was 64 years old. He was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1946.

Lt. Gen. Karbyshev was a prominent Soviet military engineer, and a graduate of the Omsk Military School, who was captured only one month after the German Army invaded Russia on June 22, 1941. Between 1941 and 1945, he was sent to 13 different prisons and camps including two different POW camps on the eastern front before being transferred to the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Germany.

Allegedly Karbyshev was treated well at first because the Gestapo wanted to recruit him for the infamous “Red Army of Liberation.” This was a division of the German army composed of Russian traitors commanded by General Vlasov, according to Christian Bernadac, author of The 186 Steps.

Karbyshev was a veteran of several wars and an expert on military fortifications. He refused to betray his country and fight against the Communists on the side of the Hitlerites, as two million of his countrymen did.  Karbyshev was then moved around to several other camps, spending time at the two major deaths camps in Poland (Majdanek and Auschwitz) before being transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.

Finally, he was sent to Mauthausen, the only Class III camp in the Nazi concentration camp system and the worst camp of them all.  Mauthausen was the final destination of POWs who had attempted escape and had been recaptured, but there is nothing about any escape attempt in the story of Karbyshev.

Lt. Gen. Karbyshev has become a legend; streets and ships are named after him and the story of his death by torture is retold on the anniversary of the liberation of the camp and in annual celebrations of the Soviet victory in World War II.

There is a whole field of monuments at Mauthausen in honor of the countries from which the prisoners at Mauthausen came, and there is also a wall of individual memorials, put up by the families of the victims. The crematorium, where the bodies were burned after the prisoners were gassed, also has memorials to individual prisoners. Even inside the gas chamber at Mauthausen, there are plaques on the wall in honor of the men who died there.

Mauthausen is in Austria, which was divided into four occupation zones after World War II, just like the four zones that were set up in Germany. Mauthausen was in the Soviet zone, which explains why  the memorial to Lt. Gen. Dmitry Mikhailovich Karbyshev has been given the place of honor right by the entrance to the former Mauthausen concentration camp.

My favorite German movie star of all time

Filed under: Germany, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:42 am

Curt Jürgens, my favorite German movie star

When I used to live in Germany, many years ago, I loved to go to the German movies. My favorite German movie star was Curt Jürgens, who was also in many American movies.  By the time that he came to America, he was much older than he is in this photo.

Classification of prisoners at Dachau concentration camp

Filed under: Dachau, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:48 am

The Dachau concentration camp prisoners were classified by nationality and by the type of crime allegedly committed.

When the Dachau camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, the largest number of prisoners in the whole Dachau system, including the 123 sub-camps, were classified as political prisoners, who numbered 43,401; the majority of them were Catholic. The political prisoners included Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, spies, and anti-Fascist resistance fighters from the Nazi occupied countries such as France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The largest national group in the main Dachau camp was the Polish prisoners, followed by Russians, French, Yugoslavs, Germans, Jews and Czechs, according to the Official Report made by the U.S. Seventh Army after the Dachau camp was liberated.

The Official Report listed the following statistics for the Dachau main camp:

Poles: 9,200; Russians: 3,900; French: 3,700; Yugoslavs: 3,200; Jews: 2,100; Czechoslovaks: 1,500; Germans: 1,000. There was also a combined total of 1,000 Belgians, Hungarians, Italians, Austrians, Greeks, etc.

According to Paul Berben, a former prisoner, who wrote a book entitled Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History, there were 67,649 prisoners in Dachau and its 123 sub-camps when the last census was taken on April 26, 1945, three days before the US 7th Army arrived to liberate the camp. There was a total of 22,100 Jews in the Dachau system on April 26, 1945 and most of them were in the sub-camps.

Many of the sub-camps, which Berben refers to as “Kommandos,” had already been evacuated and the prisoners had been brought to the main camp at Dachau before April 26, 1945. An estimated 7,000 prisoners arrived at the Dachau main camp, from other concentration camps, after the last census was taken.

The prisoners were also classified by the type of crime that they had allegedly committed, which was designated by the color of a badge that each prisoner had to wear. The two major classifications of badges were red and green: red was for political prisoners and green was for criminals.

The following quote is from Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History by Paul Berben:

The third main category of prisoners was the “criminals.” The S.S. distinguished between two groups in their statistical summaries: the P.S.V. and the B.V.; but both wore the same badges. The P.S.V. (Polizeisicherungsverwahrte) were criminals who had served their prison terms, in some cases many years since, but they were considered to be dangerous and were held in the concentration camp as a preventive measure (vorbeugend) . The second group, the B.V. (Befristete Vorbeugungshaft; often wrongly called Berufsverbrecher, professional criminal), was composed of men who were not released on the completion of their prison sentences but sent straight to the camp.

The following quote is from The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army:

As far as the prisoners themselves are concerned, the camp was divided sharply only between two groups: the “reds” or political prisoners and the “greens” or criminal prisoners. The SS tried to break down this distinction by an ingenious system of creating a “prisoners’ elite,” composed of both “reds” and “greens,” which assumed power over the internal organization of Dachau, controlled and frequently terrorized the camp in the name of the SS, but formally independent of the SS. […] However, despite this organization of internal corruption and terror, by which the SS exercised its control indirectly, the mass of political prisoners continued to live in sharp separation from and opposition to the “criminals” and most of the prisoner bosses whom they despised, feared and hated.

There were 759 common criminals at Dachau, according to Paul Berben. Some of the original Dachau common criminals had been previously transferred to Buchenwald and Mauthausen to work in the building of those camps and to assist the Nazis in supervising the other prisoners.

When a prisoner arrived at Dachau, or any other concentration camp in the Nazi system, a Hollerith punch card was made for him. These cards could be searched and sorted by an IBM Hollerith machine; Dachau had four Hollerith machines. One line of the card had a hole punched to indicate the prisoners classification.

According to the book entitled IBM and the Holocaust, by Edwin Black, the IBM cards had sixteen classifications of prisoners: The number 1 was punched for a political prisoner, 2 for a Jehovah’s Witness, 3 for a homosexual, 4 for dishonorable military discharge, 5 for a member of the clergy, 6 for a Communist Spaniard, 7 for a foreign civilian worker, 8 for a Jew, 9 for an asocial, 10 for a habitual criminal, 11 for a major felon, 12 for a Gypsy, 13 for a Prisoner of War, 14 for a spy, 15 for a prisoner sentenced to hard labor, and 16 for a Diplomatic Consul.

The IBM Hollerith cards were also punched for the work skills of each prisoner, so that workers could be found for assignments in the factories.

When a prisoner died in a Nazi concentration camp, his Hollerith card was punched with a code for the type of death: C-3 was for death by natural causes, D-4 was for execution, and E-5 was for suicide.

F-6 was the code for Sonderbehandlung (special treatment) which meant “extermination, either by gas chamber or bullet,” according to Edwin Black who wrote IBM and the Holocaust.  Edwin Black got this information from the Public Records Office in Great Britain which has on file the confession of Josef Kramer, commandant of Bergen-Belsen, who was interrogated tortured by the British on May 22, 1945 after the Bergen-Belsen camp was voluntarily turned over to them.

Dachau was the camp where Catholic priests, who were mostly from Poland, were imprisoned. There were 2,579 priests sent to Dachau; most had been arrested as illegal combatants after the invasion of Poland by the Nazis on Sept. 1, 1939. There were also 447 German priests incarcerated at Dachau and at least one of them, Father Leonard Roth, was there because he had been arrested as a pedophile.

There were 110 homosexuals, 85 Jehovah’s Witnesses and 1,066 anti-socials in Dachau and its sub-camps on April 26, 1945, according to Berben’s book. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were German citizens who were being held because they had refused to serve in the German army. The Nazis referred to the Jehovah’s Witnesses as “volunteer prisoners” because they were free to go anytime they decided to join the Germany Army. They worked as servants in the homes of the SS officers.

There was at least one Dachau prisoner who had African Ancestry: Johnny Voste, a Belgian resistance fighter who had been arrested in 1942 for alleged sabotage, was one of the survivors of Dachau.

Dachau was mainly a camp for adult men, but there were a few children there according to Berben who was a member of the International Committee at Dachau, which controlled the camp near the end. He wrote the following in his book:

As has already been mentioned, there were times when even children were imprisoned in Dachau. The International Committee saw to it that they were not abandoned. A school was organized for Russian children under a Yugoslavian teacher, and the older ones were placed in Kommandos [subsidiary work camps of Dachau] where they were looked after by prisoners who tried not only to keep them in good health but to teach them the rudiments of a trade as well.

In the early days of the Dachau camp, many Jews were brought there as prisoners, although they were always classified as political prisoners or criminals who had broken the law. For example, on June 12, 1937, a number of Jews accused of “race defilement” were brought to Dachau, according to Martin Gilbert, author of the book entitled Holocaust, who wrote that there were “some three hundred Jews being held” at Dachau by 1937. Gilbert wrote about how 120 of these 300 Jews were released in the Fall of 1937 after negotiations between the Gestapo and David Glick, a Jewish lawyer in Pittsburgh, who was a representative of the American Joint Distribution Committee.

The following quote is from Gilbert’s book Holocaust:

The Gestapo agreed to release them on condition that the 120 Jews emigrated immediately to a country beyond Europe. At Glick’s urging, the British Consul General in Munich, Consul Carvell, agreed to issue Palestine visas on condition that 5,000 British pounds was paid into a bank outside Germany to assist the settlement of the released men in Palestine. The Joint agreed and paid the money. The Jews were released.

According to Paul Berben’s account, the prisoners who arrived at Dachau were particularly numerous in 1944, as the inmates in other camps were evacuated from the war zone. He wrote that the last prisoner number at the end of 1943 was 60.869. By the end of 1944, the last prisoner number was 137.244, which indicates that 76,375 new prisoners were probably brought to Dachau in 1944; most of them were sent to the sub-camps to work in the factories. The last prisoner numbers registered at Dachau were around 161.900. It was at this point that life in the Dachau concentration camp began to deteriorate, according to Paul Berben.

In the final desperate days of trying to evacuate prisoners from the camps to prevent them from being released by the Allies, there were around 6,000 prisoners brought to Dachau from Flossenbürg, Buchenwald and Leipzig, who were not registered nor given a number, according to Berben.

The organization of the Dachau concentration camp was based on the system of indirect rule, according to The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army. There were two separate spheres of control: the external control by the SS guards and the internal control by the prisoners themselves.

The top SS officers at Dachau, and at all the other camps in the Nazi system, did not exercise direct control over the prisoners, but rather used the internal organization of the camp which was in the hands of the prisoners themselves.

The prisoners’ internal organization was headed by the camp senior or Lagerältester. Reporting to the camp senior were

1. The camp secretary or Lagerschreiber and his staff, who were in charge of camp records.

2. The camp chief of police or Polizeifürher and the camp policemen, called the Lagerpolizei.

3. The chief of the Labor Allocation Office, which was called the Arbeitseinsatz, and his staff members who were in charge of the work performed outside the camp. The Labor Office sent out the work details for the Arbeits Kommandos, of which there were around 160, each headed by a foreman or Kapo.

The SS issued general orders and the orders were carried out by the internal organization of the prisoners.

The Camp Senior at Dachau, when the camp was liberated, was Oskar Mueller, who was a German Communist. He was also a member of the International Committee of Dachau, a prisoner’s group that took over the administration of the camp about six months before it was liberated. The previous Camp Senior was a Red Army officer named Melazarian, who was an Armenian, according to The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army.

To guard against sabotage in the factories at Dachau, the SS employed prisoners as spies and informants. These agents of the SS were usually German criminals; sometimes they were disguised as political prisoners with a red badge instead of the green badge of a criminal. When the American liberators arrived, some of these informants were beaten to death by the prisoners.

The prisoners, who were part of the camp administration, and the Kapos enjoyed privileges such as better food, clothing and living conditions. They were allowed to use the swimming pool in the SS camp next to the prison camp.