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August 25, 2010

Mel Gibson’s uncle killed when he fell out of a guard tower at a concentration camp — Jay Leno joke

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:58 am

On Sunday, Aug 22, 2010, at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California, Leno told a tasteless joke about actor Mel Gibson. 

The joke went like this:

“That Mel Gibson, huh? What a mess. Mel Gibson actually had an uncle who died at a concentration camp … yeah, really.”

“Yep, died at a concentration camp.”  (a pause with a few seconds  of silence)  “Yep, he fell out of the guard tower — drunk!”

What kind of a guard tower was it that he fell out of?  Maybe a guard tower like the one in the photo below, taken at Auschwitz Birkenau?

Guard tower at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau

The photo above shows a guard tower at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on the main road through the camp.  Several guard towers like this were added long after the Germans abandoned the camp on January 18, 1945.  The old photo below shows no guard towers along the main camp road, which is very strange since Birkenau was a “death camp.”

Jews were brought from Hungary to be gassed at Birkenau in May 1944. Notice that there are no guard towers along the main camp road.

Pictured below is a very old guard tower at the Auschwitz main camp.  This guard tower was first used when Auschwitz I was a Polish military garrison between World War I and World War II.

Old guard tower at Auschwitz main camp

Two reconstructed guard towers at Dachau

Reconstructed Tower B at Dachau

Dead German guards at the base of Tower B at Dachau, April 29, 1945

The photograph above shows the bodies of six SS soldiers at the base of Tower B at Dachau after they had surrendered, but were gunned down by American soldiers. The bodies of two other SS men from Tower B, who were killed by the Americans after they surrendered, had fallen into the Würm river canal beside the tower and the Americans riddled their dead bodies with bullets.

The color photograph of Tower B shows how the restored guard tower looks today. When the camp was in operation, the door into the tower was outside the fence. During the reconstruction, the door was put inside the prison enclosure.

On April 29, 1945, the day that the Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops, white flags had been flying from all seven of the Dachau guard towers since 7 o’clock in the morning. When American soldiers first entered the 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; the others were shot after they had surrendered.  Eight guards from Tower A, which is on top of the gatehouse, then came down the stairs and surrendered to the Americans.

Funny, there are never any jokes about the war crimes committed by the American liberators who shot the German guards in the towers after they surrendered.  A couple of the guards who survived the Dachau massacre were prosecuted by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau on a charge of participating in a “common plan,” but no Americans were ever put on trial for war crimes committed in World War II.  Too bad — Jay Leno could be joking about the American liberators being drunk when they killed the guards at Dachau.


  1. My Great Grandparents were Nazis-but they secretly helped the jews escape. They were good guys, using their Nazi uniforms as a disguise. They risked their lives to save others. Not all Nazis were bad and deserved to be gunned down. Remember, Hitler brainwashed the whole country.

    Comment by Megan Straight — February 19, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  2. Oh, boo-hoo-hoo, those poor Nazis. My heart bleeds for them.

    Comment by Peter — October 5, 2011 @ 4:13 am

  3. It is my understanding that Dachau guard did not “surrender”, but was in the process of transfer of the camp to the Americans. It is also my understanding, that 520 SS men under command of SS Untersturmführers Heinrich Wicker and Heinrich Skodzensky offered no armed resistance because they were promised to be transferred across the front lines. The agreements were made via Red Cross channels. They were deceived. Would they transfer the camp peacefully if they knew they will be machine-gunned down. Anyone can imagine what would happen if those 520 men actually have fought?

    Comment by Gasan — August 25, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    • There were guards in the towers on the day of liberation at Dachau, the same as on any other day, but they had been ordered not to shoot, and they didn’t. When the American liberators arrived, they ordered the guards to come down from the towers and they did. After they were on the ground, with their hands in the air, they were shot by American soldiers.

      There is no record of anyone named Heinrich Skodzensky in the archives at Dachau. This name was mentioned by one of the prisoners who didn’t know the name of the commander of the SS garrison. There was no promise to be transferred across the front lines that I know of. There were Waffen-SS soldiers who had been sent to surrender the camp. I don’t know what promise had been made to them, but the Waffen-SS men assumed that they would not be shot when they surrendered. The Waffen-SS men did not fight and there were no Americans killed. They had been ordered not to fight, and they didn’t. There were around 500 soldiers quartered in the SS garrison and according to Howard Buechner they were lined up and shot that day. They were not the guards from the concentration camp. The guards had all left the night before. Heinrich Wicker had stayed at the SS garrison because his mother and his girl friend were there visiting him. He was recruited by the Red Cross man to surrender the camp, but he was not part of the regular camp personnel. He was there because he had led several groups of prisoners from other camps to Dachau. He was in charge of a small group of men who had helped with the evacuation of the other camps. The German soldiers never imagined that the American Army was so undisciplined that the Americans would murder them in cold blood after they had surrendered.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 25, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  4. When I visited not too long ago, a companion inspected the guard’s tower that was just inside the main entrance to Birkenau and told me it was new wood of low quality (not the kind the Germans would have used) and there was no access into it, i.e. no ladder. It looked like the one in your picture … rather flimsy. But the visitors there are like in a trance; they want to believe everything some young tour guide tells them and not questions any of it.

    I think Tampalam is just being over the top on purpose. Some kind of prankster.

    Comment by Skeptic — August 25, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    • I also noticed that there are no ladders for the guard towers at Auschwitz, but I thought maybe the guards would climb up and then pull up the ladder, so that the prisoners couldn’t climb into the towers. David Irving was the one who first noticed that there are no guard towers in the old photos of Birkenau. Apparently, the Germans weren’t expecting the prisoners to riot when they got off the trains because they didn’t have guards in towers to control the crowds.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 25, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  5. Too bad the American troops spared some of the Nazis. As for war crimes charges against Americans. There were charges for rape and murder on many troops during WWII. I don’t think killing a nazi should be a crime though. Just ridding the world of a threat and a coward murderer.

    Comment by tampalam — August 25, 2010 @ 10:12 am

    • Killing a German soldier, whether or not he belonged to the National Socialist (Nazi) political party, after he had surrendered, was a crime under the Geneva Convention of 1929 which America had signed. The Geneva Convention of 1929 protected prisoners of war, regardless of what country they were from or which side they were on.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 25, 2010 @ 10:34 am

    • The Geneva Convention of 1929 did not protect illegal combatants after they were captured. It was legal to execute a captured illegal combatant in World War II. That was changed in the Geneva Convention of 1949. The American liberators did not follow the Geneva Convention of 1929; German concentration camp administrators and guards were prosecuted for the deaths of illegal combatants and for executing soldiers from the Soviet Union which had not signed the Geneva Convention of 1929. So America changed the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929 to suit themselves after Germany was defeated. No American soldiers were ever put on trial for violating the Geneva Convention when they liberated the camps.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 25, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  6. I think it was a very funny joke which Leno told. Appropriate jabs at nazi sympathizers are always funny. Why would you need guard towers in a place where people are marched to a gas chamber by armed thugs? Silly logic from a nazi.

    Comment by tampalam — August 25, 2010 @ 10:08 am

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