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June 22, 2010

Letter written by an American soldier who visited Dachau in September 1945

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:13 am

Robert “Brud” Monson was a 21-year-old pilot in the US Army Air Corps during World War II.  His niece, Cheryl, gave a copy of a letter that he wrote to his family on September 18, 1945 to Harold Marcuse, who published it on his web site, which you can read here.

Here is Monson’s letter, which I copied from the web site of Harold Marcuse:

September 18, 1945:
A US Soldier writes home about his visit in Dachau
letter by Robert “Bob / Brud” Monson
(1924-1995)

Sept 18 1945
Munich

Dear Mom + Dad
I am sorry but I have to write this in pencil as I just this minute ran out of ink in my pen and I have no more at the moment.

Just got back from the little village of Dachau a few minutes ago. That is where one of the most famous German concentration camps was and is located, except it is in our hands now. I was there once before but was not allowed to tell you about it or take pictures but now I can. The place is cleaned up out there now and has chang-ed considerably. However, there are still some earmarks left by the German brutes. Oh well, I may as well tell you how the camp operated under the Huns. It is a camp surrounded by two fences electrically charged with enough juice to kill you outside of this there is a canal with some sort of anti escape devices. Around this walk guards with trained dogs. There has never been a person escape from there alive to tell about it. That how-ever, is only the beginning. When the camp was first started five years ago it was an ordinary P.W. camp with but one exception and that was a single oven where they burned the people who died through starvation or other Jerry methods. About two years ago when business started to take a jump upwards, this one oven wasn’t enough so they build another delux building with four oven and several torture rooms. These so called discipline rooms used such ways as tying a man’s hands behind his back and then hanging him up for hours and maybe until dead. Now about these ovens where thousands of people were burnt. They were heated by coal, that is until the Germans became hard pressed for fuel and then they would simply start the fires with coal and then burn human beings as to heat the oven enough to burn those in it. Their ashes then where taken outside and spread around to cover the blood soaked earth where they had shot some other people. Now this mass murder had to be stepped up again because no longer could the ovens take care of the incoming prisoners so they used the following method in conjunction with the other means. They would march these victims many oh very many miles to Dachau. Now these people were not only surprised but pleased to be met at the gate by smiling Huns and told the very first thing they would do was to shower and then go to sleep. These poor people were led into a building and as many as possible were crowded into this shower room which is just about 20 feet square. Now what these people didn’t know or notice that this was a strange room it had only one window which was very small and had a heavy iron screen in front of it. Also the very door they entered through was 3 feet thick with concrete. Now all these people are in here and a smiling face of a madman peering through the little window.

The heavy three foot door closed and bolted behind them the showers turned on. But no water came out instead gas. They have a room fully 30 feet square and 20 feet high. These walls are literally discolored with blood and the ceiling covered with foot prints and bloody hand smears. The blood drawn from the useless attempt to escape from the shower room. To this day you can smell the dead of 6 months ago.

Well folks, that gives you a little idea how the Kaults [sic] are. Let’s hope we aren’t suckers enough to fall for the soft soap they are peddling now. So will close now.
With all my love, Brud

What I find interesting about this letter is the way that “Brud” calls the Germans “brutes” and “Huns” and “Jerry” and “Krauts.”  He misspelled Krauts but his meaning is clear.  “Brud” is probably short for Bruder which is the German word for brother.  His name, Monson, was probably the German name Monsohn before his family changed the name.  The term “Huns” was a pejorative term for the Germans which was popularized by the British during World War I in their propaganda campaign to get German Americans to fight against their relatives in World War I. Many German Americans changed their German names to the English version during World War I because of the lies told by the British.  The point is that “Brud” had been conditioned by years of lies told about the German people before he visited Dachau, so he was ready to believe everything he was told.

The details about Dachau in his letter indicate that he was given a tour of the Dachau camp and that he had previously been at Dachau but had not been allowed to write about it before.

Here are some of the details about Dachau that seem dubious to me:

1.  “Now about these ovens where thousands of people were burnt. They were heated by coal, that is until the Germans became hard pressed for fuel and then they would simply start the fires with coal and then burn human beings as to heat the oven enough to burn those in it.”

“Brud” actually believed that dead bodies were pushed through the small door that was used to put in the coal and that bodies were burned for fuel.  Actually, the ovens at Dachau had not been used regularly since October 1944 because of the shortage of coal; the bodies were being buried in mass graves at Leitenberg.

2. “These poor people were led into a building and as many as possible were crowded into this shower room which is just about 20 feet square. Now what these people didn’t know or notice that this was a strange room it had only one window which was very small and had a heavy iron screen in front of it.”

What is he talking about?  Does he mean the peephole that is on the west wall of the gas chamber?

Close-up of the peephole in the Dachau gas chamber

The Dachau gas chamber, as it looks today, has two openings on the east wall, which are shown in the photo below. “Brud” mentioned only one window, so he was probably not referring to these openings, although some tour guides at Dachau tell visitors that the two openings on the east wall were windows where the Nazis watched the prisoners die in the gas chamber.  The official story, told at the Dachau Memorial site today, is that the openings on the east wall “could have been used” to pour Zykon-B pellets onto the floor of the gas chamber.  It is very strange that Robert Monson didn’t notice these openings on his visit on September 18, 1945.  On November 29, 1945, the American prosecution team at the Nuremberg IMT showed a film in which it was claimed that the poison gas came through the shower heads in the Dachau gas chamber.  Is it possible that the openings on the east wall weren’t there on September 18, 1945?

Two openings on the east wall of the Dachau gas chamber

3.  “Also the very door they entered through was 3 feet thick with concrete.”

Does he mean that the door itself was made of concrete that was 3 feet thick?  Or does he mean that the walls of the gas chamber were three feet thick?  The first photo below shows the door into the Dachau gas chamber, and the second photo shows the thickness of the walls.

Door of Dachau gas chamber was an air-raid shelter door

Doorway into gas chamber shows thickness of walls

4.  “They have a room fully 30 feet square and 20 feet high. These walls are literally discolored with blood and the ceiling covered with foot prints and bloody hand smears. The blood drawn from the useless attempt to escape from the shower room.”

“Brud” is describing the morgue room, which was actually only 10 feet high and 20 feet square.  The bodies from the gas chamber were removed and put into the morgue to await burning in the ovens. The bodies might have been piled up to the ceiling, but how did the dead bodies make foot prints and hand smears?  This American soldier seems to be exaggerating in order to make the “Huns” seem worse than they actually were.

Look at the photo of Robert “Brud” Monson below.  He could pass for a German “brute” himself.

Robert Monsoon, American airforce pilot Photo Credit: Harold Marcuse

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