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July 6, 2010

Don’t tell the soldiers who saw Dachau that there was no Holocaust!

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:58 am

This morning I was searching for something else when I came across the web site of Don Rodda, an American soldier in World War II; he wrote about his trip to Dachau on May 1, 1945 which you can read here.

At the end of the article on Rodda’s web site, he wrote:

It may have been our Supreme Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was responsible for our being at Dachau that May Day. As the camps were being overrun, I read in “Yank” a quote from Ike who said, “I hope every American newspaper will print the story of German bestiality in detail.”

Now, fifty-odd years later, and despite all that has been written about the infamous camps, there are those who today deny The Holocaust.

But not I… Not anyone who had seen Dachau.

The word Holocaust was not yet being used in 1945, so how could Eisenhower have known that some day, there would be “Holocaust deniers”?  But not the soldiers who saw Dachau — those soldiers know that the Holocaust happened, because they saw the bodies; they saw the gas chambers; they read about the “German bestiality” in the American newspapers.

Eisenhower himself never saw Dachau. The only camp that Eisenhower ever saw was Ohrdruf, and he didn’t mention the name of the camp in his book, “Crusade in Europe,”  although he did mention his trip to see the camp. We have General Eisenhower to thank for American newspapers printing “the story of German bestiality,” which they continue to report today, 65 years later.

Sign at the entrance to the Dachau Memorial Site

The English words on the sign, shown in the photo above, are:

“Dachau- the significance of this name will never be erased from German history. It stands for all concentration camps which the Nazis established in their territory.” (Eugen Kogan)

When World War II ended, the Buchenwald and Sachsenshausen camps were in the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany, while Mauthausen was in the Soviet zone of occupation in Austria.  The six death camps, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Chelmno, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, were all in Poland after the war. That’s why Dachau “stands for all concentration camps” even to this day.  The Dachau tour guides tell visitors the story of the Holcocaust, even though the Holocaust took place in what is now Poland, not at Dachau.

Here is what Don Rodda wrote about his trip to Dachau on May 1, 1945:

On this May Day morning quite unexpectedly I became part of a hastily-organized contingent of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division which had fought its way deep into Germany from North Africa via Sicily, Italy, Anzio and Southern France.

None of us knew what this hurry-up mission was about. But since representatives of other attached units were included, I speculated that it might have something to do with our Division newspaper to which I had contributed stories involving men of our ack-ack battalion.

As it soon turned out, no special talents or orientation were required, only eyes to see — Dachau, with its dead, dying, and living skeletons.

Until Allied forces had begun to overrun concentration camps, not much was known about them, certainly not at the ordinary GIs (my) level. Regardless of what anyone may have known, or suspected, about the camps, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of Dachau.

Our group entered the camp through a railroad siding. The first things we saw were mostly roofless freight cars which, judging from legends painted on their sides, came from towns all over France and Germany. Some of these were World War I vintage “40 and 8s” that originally were designed to carry “Hommes” (Men) 40, and “Chevaux” (Horses) 8. But Hitler’s minions had found other uses for the old cars.

Up ahead, soldiers from our group began climbing the sides of cars to look down into them. I followed suit –and wished I hadn’t. Dead bodies lay in most of the 30 or 40 cars. It appeared that these poor shrunken, emaciated people either died enroute to Dachau, or upon arrival, lacked the strength to drag themselves out of the box-cars.

Some men were almost nude or covered with scraps of clothing. Some lay in convulsed positions on the car floors. Others apparently had wedged themselves in corners of the cars, sitting upright to await the inevitable.

An officer conducting our contingent speculated that this may have been the last trainload of prisoners of the Nazis who had been shipped to Dachau for slave-labor, for medical experimentation, or simply to be eliminated. Historians of what later became known as The Holocaust have said that more than 32,000 Jews and other so-called “enemies of the Reich” were killed at Dachau.

As we moved further into the camp, we saw bodies of prison guards and German soldiers who had been killed when American infantrymen had over-run the camp about 48 hours before our arrival. Some of the defenders, including black-clad SS troops with their lightning insignia, had been tossed into a moat or canal about six feet wide and perhaps two feet deep, which was immediately outside of the camp’s broad compound. Face up or face down, some of the dead soldiers’ blondhair floated eerily in the gently moving stream.

We next approached a large building, outside of which were racks of the striped pajama-like prisoners’ uniforms. All were methodically sorted, jackets and pants, and hung apparently for future use. Nearby was a huge mound of this clothing that hadn’t been sorted.

When we entered this empty building, it appeared to be a large shower room with the usual fixtures near the ceiling. It came as a shock when our guide explained that these fixtures were gas jets by which countless men, women and children met their deaths in the Nazi extermination program.

Our macabre tour progressed to two more large rooms which provided even greater shock because each was packed, literally floor-to-ceiling, with naked dead. Now it was easy to guess where and from whom the pile of unsorted clothing had come.

Everywhere the results of starvation and harsh treatment were obvious. All of the bodies were emaciated. Many had bloody indications as to how these prisoners had met their end. And even in this abattoir, vaunted German efficiency prevailed in that bodies were stacked alternately head-to-toe, seemingly to conserve space and to assure stability.

As I moved out of these rooms as quickly as our single-file permitted, I almost stepped on a human hand which had somehow become extruded into the narrow walkway.

It didn’t seem possible that there were more horrors, but there were, for we had come to the actual crematoria at the end of the building. There were five ovens, or furnaces, each of which was in full use. This day, the cremation was being conducted by, we were told, captured Yugoslav and Russian soldiers supervised by a kapo (prisoner trustee).

We had seen hundreds of dead bodies, and were told many more were to be found elsewhere in the camp and in barracks. Apparently the cremation was continued as a means of removing the bodies, or, because at this early date, no other method had been decided upon.

We were informed that in the three months before the camp’s liberation, 10,000 people had been cremated at Dachau. Every soldier I talked to was glad to get out of these infernal quarters.

A far better sight awaited us outside where thousands of liberated souls were celebrating their new-found freedom and, in many cases, perhaps life itself. These people were assembled on the very ground where Nazi officers and guards once had held the dreaded appell, or roll call, which required prisoners to stand for hours in the bitter cold or under the relentless sun. The camp held an estimated 30,000 inmates at its liberation.

After our dismal walk-through of Dachau, I became convinced that higher authority had decreed Nazi inhumanity and atrocities never should fall into the rumor category so often rampant in military organizations; that soldiers must see these things for themselves.

There are several things that are note worthy about this description of Dachau.

1. The camp had been “liberated” two days before, yet it was still not known why there were dead prisoners on a train parked outside the camp. You can read about the “death train” here.

2. The bodies of SS men who had surrendered the camp were still lying around when American soldiers were brought in as witnesses to the killing of German soldiers in violation of the Geneva Convention.

3.  There was no mention of the typhus epidemic in the camp.  There were  2,226 prisoners who died of typhus in the month of May, AFTER the Dachau camp was liberated.

4.  There was no mention of the bins on the east wall, which tour guides tell visitors today were used to put the poison Zyklon-B pellets into the gas chamber. Rodda was told that the shower heads were “gas jets.”  Today, visitors can see that the shower heads are not attached to any pipes.

5.  There was no mention that half of the 30,000 prisoners had been there two weeks or less.

13 Comments

  1. This is in reply to Rudolfo:

    You spotted one gross error, namely that the prisoners were not marched out of the camps to keep them from giving evidence about the atrocities because there were live prisoners still at Dachau and the other camps.

    There are many more errors in the comment. I have made a new post so that readers can comment on the errors.

    Comment by furtherglory — July 17, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  2. source: wiki, Stutthoff

    Comment by paolosilv — July 10, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

  3. Death march from Stutthoff

    Camp memorialT
    he evacuation of prisoners from the Stutthof camp system in northern Poland began in January 1945. When the final evacuation began, there were nearly 50,000 prisoners, the majority of them Jews, in the Stutthof camp system.

    About 5,000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machine gunned.

    The rest of the prisoners were marched in the direction of Lauenburg in eastern Germany. They were cut off by advancing Soviet forces. The Germans forced the surviving prisoners back to Stutthof. Marching in severe winter conditions and treated brutally by SS guards, thousands died during the march.

    In late April 1945, the remaining prisoners were removed from Stutthof by sea, since Stutthof was completely encircled by Soviet forces. Again, hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. Over 4,000 were sent by small boat to Germany, some to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, and some to camps along the Baltic coast. Many drowned along the way. A barge full of prisoners was washed ashore at Klintholm Havn in Denmark where 351 of the 370 on board were saved on 5 May 1945. Shortly before the German surrender, some prisoners were transferred to Malmö, Sweden, and released to the care of that neutral country. It has been estimated that over 25,000 prisoners, one in two, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps.

    —-

    Now why did the Nazis do this act of barbarity? Because of Himmler’s orders not to let the prisoners survive. They could have been sent West to be handed over to the Allies (US & UK). Can you prove your claim that Himmler’s order in the archives is a fake? Probably not.

    Comment by paolosilv — July 10, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

  4. You write, “to prevent them from being released to attack the civilians at the nearby city of Weimar.” But this sentence taken out of context doesn’t mean much. The Nazis had a plan to murder all or most of the prisoners, which I believe I posted.

    As for the ‘pits’ at Auschwitz , I found this evidence from PBS, which supports Wiesel’s contention:

    Oskar Groening, Auschwitz clerk:

    “Because I want to tell those deniers: I have seen the gas chambers, I have seen the crematoria, I have seen the burning pits – and I want you to believe me that these atrocities happened.

    I was there.”

    http://www.pbs.org/auschwitz/40-45/victims/perps.html

    Comment by paolosilv — July 9, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  5. I looked at the USHMM, and they discuss Dachau quite differently. It still doesn’t address the issue of Himmler’s orders to kill all the prisoners of the Death Camps, nor the fact that the laborers were enslaved. I have inquired as to the calories in the diet of these prisoners and was told that they were of a starvation-level.

    Comment by Paulo — July 8, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    • I did a search on USHMM and Dachau and found this page which came up first: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005214

      Then I did a search on History of Dachau and my own web site came up first on google: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Dachauscrapbook/overview.html

      I found one mistake on the USHMM page: “On April 29, 1945, American forces liberated Dachau. As they neared the camp, they found more than 30 railroad cars filled with bodies brought to Dachau, all in an advanced state of decomposition.”

      The dead prisoners on the train were not “bodies brought to Dachau.” These were live prisoners who had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 7, 1945 to prevent them from being released to attack the civilians at the nearby city of Weimar. It took three weeks for the prisoners to get to Dachau because American planes had destroyed the tracks. The prisoners had starved to death because, at the end of the war, there was not much food available, except at Dachau. Dachau had a large warehouse full of food; it was the only place where the Red Cross could deliver packages after all the Allied destruction.

      I have tried my best to be as objective as possible on my history of Dachau page, whereas the USHMM has an agenda to make Dachau sound as bad as possible. The Allies did not try to find out about the train that had arrived at Dachau; they just made up stories.

      The USHMM is not a good source of information, since they have an agenda to make the Nazis and the Holocaust sound as bad as possible; the USHMM does not write objective history.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 8, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  6. The prisoners on the trains were not given sufficient or any food and water. They did not only die from the Allied air attacks on the trains.

    Comment by paolosilv — July 7, 2010 @ 2:15 am

    • The prisoners on the train were given enough food to last them until they got to the Flossenburg camp, but when they got there, the Flossenburg camp had already been evacuated, so they had to continue on to Dachau, a distance of only 220 miles. However, the tracks had been destroyed by American planes and the train had to be re-routed through Czechoslovakia. The train took around three weeks to get to Dachau, so that’s why food and water became a problem.

      All of Europe was starving in the last days of the war and the towns along the way did not have much food to give the prisoners. You can read about the train at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Dachauscrapbook/DachauLiberation/DeathTrain2.html and about the trial of the leader of the train at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/HansMerbach.html

      These prisoners were evacuated from Buchenwald because they were considered dangerous to the civilians in the area. They were evacuated to delay their release as long as possible so that they would not attack German civilians. Prisoners were marched out of Dachau for the same reason.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 7, 2010 @ 6:10 am

      • I have not been posting or responding to comments because I have suffered a mild stroke. There was a comment made which wordpress classified as spam. I had the option to approve the comment, but I didn’t and deleted it as spam. Now that I am recovering a bit, I have changed my mind, so I am putting up this comment.

        Comment:
        Further Glory, I admire the work you have put into your scrapbookpages site, and I admire your effort to be completely accurate. However, I do find certain tendencies on this blog disturbing. For example, your response to the comment above, giving reasons why the prisoners on the “death train” from Buchenwald were evacuated, is misleading at best. “Dangerous to civilians” is a Nazi ideological euphemism, just like the need for a “final solution” to the Jewish “parasite” problem in Europe. It presumes some kind of rationality behind the Nazi murder system. Shunting and marching prisoners around the country does not make them less “dangerous to civilians,” but more so, especially when they are left for days at a time in train stations (a local pastor in what had been Czechoslovakia had time to give bread to the starving inmates, for instance). In any case the death marches in 1945 were a largely futile attempt to keep human evidence of and witnesses to atrocities from falling into Allied hands. That rationale hinged on the illusory notion that the Germans would ultimately defend some territory and in some bizarre way “win” the war. When some responsible German officials realized beyond doubt that the war was lost, they drew the “logical” conclusion and burned the marching prisoners alive, as happened at Ohrdruf, Gardelegen and numerous other places. For them apparently, dead evidence was better than alive evidence. Also: “all Europe was starving” is misleading, as is “enough food to last them until they got to Flossenburg.” I don’t need to quibble with you, but doing some kind of calorie per person per day calculation would show that “enough” is a very relative term, even in comparison with the general lack of foodstuffs in Europe (never mind that KZ warehouses were well stocked). So what is my point? I don’t like the drift of your comments. Saying that Holocaust courses in the US teach students to hate Germans is nonsense. I teach Holocaust and German history courses in the US that certainly do not do that. Isn’t that the kind of blanket statement you are trying to debunk? You closed your comments on other pages, and have no place for general comments (I somewhat expect you will delete this one, I have to say), but I would like to give you an example for another of your pages, about the “Dachau massacre”: “The guards and staff members who survived the massacre at the liberation of Dachau were put on trial by an American Military Tribunal conducted at Dachau and all were convicted of participating in a common design to violate the Laws and Usages of War under the Geneva Convention of 1929.” Only a relative handful of the staff of Dachau were ever put on trial, and certainly not all were convicted under the “common design” charge. You know this–why do you make such a statement? Even your caveat, the staff who “survived the massacre” is designed to mislead–there was never any attempt by the US GIs present to massacre ALL of the Germans/SS/Nazis (yes, many of those shot down were Hungarian SS–but we have no idea whether some of them might not have been brutal guards), so it was not a big deal to “survive” a spontaneous shooting that was never conceived as a blanket massacre, but “merely” a venting of rage and outrage by some soldiers unprepared for and lacking understanding of what they saw. Very different than what the guards of the death marches and trains did to their charges. Sorry for such a long post, but I really am disturbed that someone who does such careful research as you do would write with such denier-friendly carelessness. I have recommended your site to many people who come to me with questions about Dachau, but with this tendency can no longer do so. Sincerely, Harold Marcuse Prof. of German history at UC Santa Barbara
        marcuse@history.ucsb.edu
        Harold Marcuse
        http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/dachau.htm
        spam
        Quick Edit | Edit | Not Spam | Delete Permanently

        I will leave it up to the readers to spot what I believe are errors in this reader’s comment. I am too tired to type any more, but if no one can spot the errors in his comment, I will post another comment and give you the answers.

        Comment by furtherglory — July 17, 2010 @ 9:19 am

        • Marcuse writes … “When some responsible German officials realized beyond doubt that the war was lost, they drew the “logical” conclusion and burned the marching prisoners alive, as happened at Ohrdruf, Gardelegen and numerous other places. For them apparently, dead evidence was better than alive evidence ”

          The idea that the Nazis killed the prisoners to ‘hide’ evidence is absurd, as there were tens of thousands of live prisoners in the camps when they were liberated. Unfortunately pictures of these prisoners have been systematically suppressed in the media, and you’ve likely never seen them. Google (images) for dachau liberation to see them.

          Comment by Rudolfo — July 17, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

    • Word, brother paolosilv!

      Comment by Mr.Tbag — July 18, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  7. SS “troops” should have been summarily executed as they were not real soldiers. They were all Nazis. These Nazi apologists and deniers are a bunch of morons.

    Comment by tampalam — July 6, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    • Nazi was a nickname used by the Allies for the National Socialist political party. Not all of the SS soldiers were members of the National Socialist political party. The Waffen-SS was a volunteer army; at the end of World War II, 60% of the Waffen-SS soldiers were from other countries besides Germany. Saying that the SS soldiers were all Nazis is like saying that the Marines were all members of the Republican political party in America. You can read about the history of the SS at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/SScamp/SSHistory.html

      Comment by furtherglory — July 7, 2010 @ 6:19 am


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