Scrapbookpages Blog

May 27, 2010

Prisoners at Dachau taunted by signs…

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:01 am

The first thing that visitors to Dachau are told by their tour guides is that the prisoners were taunted by a sign over the gate which said “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which is translated literally as Work makes Free.  Today I read a blog written by Corrine, a visitor who said that her tour guide told her that the “no smoking sign” in the administration building, which is now the Museum, was “put there as a taunt to the prisoners who were not allowed cigarettes.”  You can read Corrine’s blog here.

"Smoking Forbidden" sign in Dachau Museum

The photo above shows a sign painted on the wall of the former administration building at Dachau where incoming prisoners were processed.  Smoking was forbidden in this building, but the prisoners were allowed to smoke in other places inside the camp.  The Dachau prisoners were allowed to receive packages from friends and family, so they had a steady supply of cigarettes.  The prisoners were paid a small amount of money for the work that they did in the factories at Dachau and they could use the money to buy cigarettes at the camp canteen.

Corrine also wrote that her Dachau tour guide told her about “the shelves in the barracks for inmates not allowed to have possessions to put on those shelves…”  The photo below shows a Museum exhibit of the lockers in the barracks which had shelves.

Prisoner's locker is shown in Dachau Museum

The prisoners were allowed to have possessions, but they had to line them up neatly in their locker.  In the early days of the Dachau camp, the inmates were treated like prisoners in an army boot camp; this was supposed to rehabilitate political prisoners and get them  to change their ways.  If a prisoner had a messy locker, he was punished by being forced to scrub the inside of the locker with sand paper.

Corrine also wrote on her blog that her Dachau tour guide told the visitors about “The bunker built only for torture.”

The interrogation room in the Dachau bunker

The bunker was the camp prison.  Incoming prisoners who were spies were questioned in the interrogation room shown in the photograph above.  This room is 20 by 12 feet and has three large windows. Notice the radiator for central heating on the wall on the left side. The door on the right was added later so that visitors can now walk into the adjoining room.

A sign in the interrogation room tells visitors that this room had double doors and cavity walls to prevent cries from being heard as the prisoners were tortured. There is no mention of exactly how the prisoners were tortured.

From 1943 to 1945, the interrogation room was the prison cell of Richard Stevens, who was arrested at Venlo in Holland on November 9, 1939, along with Captain S. Payne Best on a charge of conspiring to assassinate Hitler and overthrow the German government. The exhibit glosses over this and does not even mention why Stevens was arrested.

A private room wasn’t enough for Stevens, who publicly complained, after the war, about the treatment he had received at the hands of the Nazis.  Captain Payne Best wrote a letter in which he claimed that Stevens got better treatment than he did.

Nerin E. Gun, a journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, wrote a book entitled “The Day of the Americans,” published in 1966, in which he said that Captain Sigismund Payne Best was the most privileged of all the privileged prisoners. The following quote is from his book:

Captain Best, who was fifty at the time of his arrest, had all the leisure he wanted in prison and was even allowed a typewriter. He was able to write a book in which he related all the tiresome details of his captivity. But he carefully avoided explaining what he was really doing in Holland at the time, or how much, if at all, he was implicated in the unfortunate affair at the Burgerbrau.

[…]

Best himself, in his book, admits that if he had remained free he would have known greater deprivation in wartime England, not to mention the risk of being buried under a German bomb.

According to Nerin E. Gun’s book, Captain Payne Best was allowed to keep his monocle and his personal possessions while in prison and he was given a radio capable of receiving London broadcasts. All the prisoners in the bunker were fed from the SS kitchens, but Captain Payne Best was given “double the normal SS ration of food,” according to Gun.

Of course, the tour guides don’t tell visitors the truth about how the Dachau prisoners in the bunker were really treated.  And they don’t tell tourists about who was really tortured in the bunker.

Here is a quote from the testimony of Johann Kick, the head of the branch office of the Gestapo at Dachau, when he was prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal in 1945:

Q: Now, Kick, for the court, will you describe the treatment which you received immediately following your arrest?

A: I ask to refuse to answer this question here in public.

President: The court desires to have the defendant answer the question.

A: I was here in Dachau from the 6th to the 15th of May, under arrest; during this time I was beaten all during the day and night… kicked… I had to stand to attention for hours; I had to kneel down on sharp objects or square objects; I had to stand under the lamp for hours and look into the light, at which time I was also beaten and kicked; as a result of this treatment my arm was paralyzed for about 8 to 10 weeks; only beginning with my transfer to Augsberg, this treatment stopped.

Q: What were you beaten with?

A: With all kinds of objects.

Q: Describe them, please.

A: With whips, with lashing whips, with rifle butts, pistol butts, and pistol barrels, and with hands and fists.

Q: And that continued daily over a period of what time?

A: From the morning of the 7th of May until the morning of the 15th of May.

Q: Kick, why did you hesitate to give that testimony?

A: If the court hadn’t decided I should talk about it, I wouldn’t have said anything about it today.

If visitors to Dachau were told the truth, there would be very few visitors. That’s why the tour guides keep adding lies to their spiel about Dachau.

The first lie that all tourists hear at Dachau is about the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign which the tour guides claim was intended to taunt the prisoners who had no chance of being released.  In fact, there were many prisoners who were released from Dachau.

"Arbeit Macht Frei" sign on Dachau gate

Prisoners who were released from Dachau

The photo above shows prisoners who were released from Dachau.  Prisoners who were arrested again after their release wore badges which indicated that they were a repeat offender.

Chart shows badges worn by repeat offenders

The second row on the chart above shows badges with a matching bar over the triangle. The bar denoted a “second-timer” or a prisoner who had been released and was then arrested again for a second offense. These prisoners were isolated from the general camp population and were not allowed privileges. Their work assignments were much more difficult.

In spite of this evidence that prisoners were released, tour guides at Dachau continue to tell visitors that incoming prisoners were taunted by the sign on the gate.

14 Comments

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  3. “Arbeit mach frei” Does that not mean “work makes one free”?? So, you do not know what happened at the more than thirty camps in Germany and Central and Western Europe. Then, Read! Read! Read! Preserve us all from the despicable creatures known as deniers. Learn about the Japanese diplomatic official who saved thousands of Jews by issuing transit visas to these unfortunate souls. Read and learn about the British diplomatic official who did the same thing. And, then, read some more and learn that there was a Chinese diplomatic officer also responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews from Europe. We are still at the stage of Western guilt and political correctness when it comes to examining many of the horrors of WW II. We have allowed the Japanese to engage in lies and deceit about Unit 731, the Japanese Imperial Army Chemical Warfare Unit that engaged in all sorts of experiments on Western POWs, as well as thousands of Chinese citizens. The Japanese who engaged in these crimes were never brought to Justice before the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (Tokyo War Crimes Trials). Rape. Rape. Rape is what Japan engaged in not only in all of Korea but China, Hong Kong, Burma, Malaya, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. They deserved Hiroshima and Nagasaki and I do not for a minute regret regret what we did to them in those two cities nor do I regret the fire bomb raids of 1945 on Tokyo. There comes a time when a citizenry bears full responsibility for what their country does in a war. It makes little difference that some people oppose the crimes of a state, such as those who attempted to kill Hitler on 20 July 1944. They also are not free of the sin.

    Just some random thoughts here. I recall being recalled to active duty in 1991 at age 57 and walking through a park in Worms, West Germany. I was taking a short break between trips back and forth to Saudi Arabia. I recall watching some young German men placing bumper sticker size signs on a statue, saying: Auslander Raus, which means “Foreigners Out”. And this in a city where Jews had lived for almost a thousand years. In 1945, six Jews returned to Worms. Never, never, never forget.

    Comment by Paul Anthony Marsh — February 23, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    • You neglected to mention Raoul Wallenberg who saved as many as 200,000 Hungarian Jews by providing them with an illegal protective passport (Schutz-Pass) which identified them as Swedish subjects living in Hungary. Wallenberg set up safe houses for Jewish refugees in Budapest which were paid for by the Swedish embassy. Some of the Jewish refugees were housed in the Swedish legation in Budapest. Bergen-Belsen was originally set up as an “exchange” camp for Jews and the Jews who had a passport from a foreign country were saved.

      I find it odd that you would point out that Jews were saved by officials from other countries who issued “transit visas” or other illegal papers. This seems to me to be evidence that the “despicable creatures known as deniers” are right. Germany supposedly had a policy of genocide but they were willing to let the Jews go if they had some sort of flimsy paper that would allow them into another country. I also find it strange that you would take time out from your busy schedule to visit Germany.

      You forgot to mention the bombing of Dresden. Surely you think that German civilians deserved to be bombed, just as much as the Japanese civilians in World War II. What about the Russian soldiers who raped millions of German women? Are they better than the Japanese rapists? Or do you think that the German women deserved to be raped?

      I think you mean “Never, never, never FORGIVE,” and carry on hatred of every race and ethnic group, except the Jews, for eternity.

      P.S. You mentioned that six Jews came back to the city of Worms. This also tends to disprove the Holocaust. Why would Jews come back to Germany in 1945 after six million of them had been killed by the Germans? You pointed out that Jews had lived in Germany for a thousand years. You failed to mention that they had been expelled by the Germans many times, but they always came back. Why?

      Comment by furtherglory — February 24, 2012 @ 6:50 am

  4. Unfortunately, Corinne has it set up so not anyone can write to her. Since you, FG, probably have a WordPress account number, you could give her the message to read your blog. She needs to.

    Comment by Sceptic — May 29, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    • It is not Corrine who needs to read my blog; it is the tour guides at Dachau. The German people are at the mercy of these tour guides who instruct Americans in hatred of the German people. I think that most of the guides are non-Germans. I had a tour guide when I went to Poland in 1998, but other than that, I have never had a tour guide at a concentration camp. I am afraid that I might burst out laughing and get arrested because the Holocaust denial laws in Germany are very strict.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 29, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

      • I still think you should post at Corinne’s blog to bring her to this one. I really feel for her in her confusion.

        Comment by Sceptic — May 30, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

        • O.K. I wrote a comment on Corrine’s blog.

          Comment by furtherglory — May 30, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

      • I appreciate the correction. I wanted to have a tour guide because I think that there’s a lot that I would have missed had I been there just on my own, but I have no control over whether or not a tour guide gives me misleading or incorrect information, and I have not had much time to do further reasearch yet. I don’t believe, however, that I was instructed in hatred of the German people, but only what had happened. I do agree that tour guides should definitely make sure of the information they give, because people on tours are there because they trust that information to be correct.

        Comment by Corinne — June 1, 2010 @ 11:51 am

        • After being told “what had happened” by the tour guides at Dachau, how could anyone not hate the German people. Without a tour guide to tell them what to think, visitors would question what they see. For example, the Rauchen Verboten sign. A visitor might say to herself, “Gee I wonder why the prisoners couldn’t smoke. Hitler didn’t smoke and Himmler was a health nut. I wonder which one of them gave the order that the prisoners couldn’t smoke.” Then the visitor would proceed through the Museum and see photos of prisoners with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and say to himself, “So the prisoners could smoke, just not while they were being processed as new prisoners. I wonder where and how they got cigarettes in the camp.” The visitor would then purchase the guidebook written by Paul Berben, a prisoner in the camp. They would learn that there was a canteen where prisoners could buy cigarettes with the money that they earned while working in the camp. They would learn that the prisoners received Red Cross packages and that they could also receive packages from friends and family. Without a guide, a visitor would be able to figure out for himself how the prisoners were treated. With a guide, all you are going to learn is how the prisoners were allegedly tortured and mistreated. After that, you are not likely to go to the trouble to find out what really happened at Dachau.

          Comment by furtherglory — June 1, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  5. I am glad to see that you were so disgusted (?)or irritated (?) by the gullible Corrine’s blog that you have written an excellent blog youself.

    I wonder how many people read her blog. Well, at least she admits she is confused, so she’s more honest than most. I think she can snap out of it one of these days. I’m going to tell her in her comment section about this blog inspired by her own. And ask her to leave a comment! I think there is hope for her.

    Comment by Sceptic — May 29, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  6. “Arbeit macht frei” — work liberates (you)/work will make you free.

    🙂 I am German and a proofreader; I just can’t not correct minor details.

    Seriously, I am impressed with how precise your texts are.

    Comment by Rachel Bartlett — May 28, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

    • I was trying to give the LITERAL translation, but I should have written “Work makes Free.” I have made that correction. The German expression “Arbeit macht Frei” cannot be translated word for word into English, but there are various English sentences that can be used that are comparable.

      I just put these German words into Google Translate. When I put in “Arbeit,” I got Work as the translation. Then I added “macht” and got Work is. When I added the last word “Frei,” Google Translate could not handle the whole sentence and just gave me “Arbeit macht Frei” which cannot be translated into English.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 28, 2010 @ 5:17 pm


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