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February 27, 2011

Nazi myths and legends

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 7:55 am

When I was a young college student, majoring in Journalism, I took a course in Greek mythology because I knew that a good journalist should sprinkle into his stories lots of references to Hercules, Pandora, Medusa, and the Trojan War.  A journalist today, or even a writer of a TV comedy series, needs to know Nazi mythology so that he can make references to Mengele, Goebbels, and Rudolf Hoess (often confused with Rudolf Hess).  For example, two of my favorite TV shows, Two and a Half Men and Seinfeld, have frequent jokes about the Nazis.

A good knowledge of Nazi myths and legends is required for all writers today.  For example, the myth of the concentration camp prisoners being forced to move rocks from one place to another and then move them back again to the original place.

This myth was featured in the movie entitled Bent, which is about two gay men in a concentration camp.  They are shown carrying rocks from one location to another for no reason at all, then carrying snow from place to place with their bare hands in the winter.  Today, I read a blog written by a young high school student who had recently visited Dachau. This person was told by a tour guide that the prisoners at Dachau were forced to carry rocks from one place to another.  Can this really be true?   Were there no factories where the prisoners could do productive work at Dachau?

Dachau prisoners working in a factory

Work was a serious business at Dachau.  When prisoners were registered at the camp, a Hollerith card was made for each man and holes were punched in the card to indicate what skills each prisoner had.  You can read all about the Labor Allocation at Dachau here.

In the photo below, the black circles under the badges in the third row denote prisoners who were assigned to the penal colony. They were given the most difficult work assignments, usually in a rock quarry or gravel pit. Many of the camp locations were chosen because they were near a quarry which could furnish building materials for the new buildings Hitler was planning for Berlin and Linz, Austria, his former home town. Dachau had a gravel pit which was located where the Carmelite convent now stands.

Chart shows the badges worn  at Dachau

This quote is from the original Dachau guidebook, written by Barbara Distel:

At first within the Dachau camp area every sort of hand industry was set up, from basketry to wrought-iron work. Initially the production of the camps was directly under the control of the individual camp commander. But as the camps continued to grow, the range of production increased apace, till in 1938 the “Wirtschaftliche Unternehmungen der SS” (the SS Industries) were centralized under their main office in Berlin.

Dachau prisoners were also required for the management and maintenance of the camp; still others had to work under SS guard outside the camp in so-called branch detachments, at road construction, in gravel pits, or at marsh cultivation.

[…]

In the course of the war the work force of the concentration camps became more and more indispensable to the German armament industry. The network of camps which gradually extended over the whole of Central Europe took on gigantic proportions. The camp at Dachau alone had, besides numerous smaller ones, thirty-six large subsidiary camps in which approximately 37,000 prisoners worked almost exclusively on armaments.

So why would a tour guide tell tourists at Dachau today that the prisoners worked at mindless tasks like moving rocks from one place to another?  What rocks?  There was no quarry at Dachau.  Did they put the small rocks at the gravel pit into piles and move the piles from one place to another?  Do the guides then say “If you believe that story, I have a gas chamber that I want to show you.”?

16 Comments

  1. Dear Gentlemen,

    At present I am working on the manuscript of a book called “The Adventures of Cadet Lehner”,
    who came from Hungary. One of the chapters deals with the cadet’s life in the POW camp in
    Regensburg. Hopefully I will manage to publish the book on Kindle. It will take some months
    yet. It is a true story.

    Someone wrote on this website that there are “justifiable punishments in the military” like … was
    it crawling in the mud? I feel pity for a person who thinks things like that. What a thing to think!

    Please keep your eyes open for the book and read it and please do not write to me.

    All the best,
    D.

    Comment by Dorothea — December 12, 2011 @ 6:10 am

  2. Dear Gasan
    You are free to share with others what I have written so far and I just enclosed a few comments on my blog. Yes,your assumption is correct all intorrogaters were sons of Moses and more German than American.Kirschbaum even fathered Ilse Koch’s child during the trials in Dachau, but then the holding cells were so low that you could not stand up, so lying down was the most convenient position!
    I will try to add some more details etc to what I have written so far despite the fact I was trying to forgive and forget.

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 15, 2011 @ 3:38 am

  3. Mr. Stolpmann,
    I would like to ask to you write down and organize everything you have shared with us so far, regarding your military service in WWII. Maybe you could write a short biography and put it on your blog. I would love to share your stories with my friends, with your permission of course.
    Tell us, what you have experienced as sixteen-years old soldier and we will do the historical evaluation of it.
    You are a war hero, no matter what you had accomplished, during that time.
    Of course, the GI’s were the good guys over all. How many of them were ethnic Germans? They knew the compassion. But, Eisenhower wanted all of you to die.
    This is your statement:
    “We had dug out squares into the ground with tent sheets above to have shelter from the elements, but conditions did not improve, interrogation of some sort took place and our details had been taken ,this was done by German-American GI’s as well as officers.”
    “German-American GI’s” huh! Does it mean German Jews, or am I being “antisemite” again and should I report myself to that Mannheim prison in BRD.

    Comment by Gasan — March 14, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

  4. I have read those claims about Admiral Canaris being executed by ” be pulled up and down several times”, but there are no credible witnesses of that. The best source I could find was Wikipedia entry in German:
    Ein SS-Mann sagte später als Zeuge: Canaris und vier weitere SS-Opfer mussten sich wenig später nackt ausziehen und wurden gehängt. Ein SS-Mann sagte später als Zeuge:„Bei dem kleinen Admiral hat es sehr lange gedauert. Er ist ein paar Mal rauf und runter gezogen worden.“
    “Ein SS-Mann” testified? What was his name? This is not acceptable testimony and I know that you would agree with me. I bet that his real name was Erwin Heinrich René Lahousen Edler von Vivremont,
    “Nach Kriegsende geriet Generalmajor Lahousen in US-amerikanische Gefangenschaft und vom 23. August bis 8. Dezember 1946 in die Hände des britischen Secret Service, wobei er auch im Lazarett lag.”
    Another traitor to his own country, who happened to survive.
    This British spy gave his testimonies to INT voluntarily and lied as much as he wanted.
    And of course, hanging with the piano strings is a bogus claim. I have explained that one already.

    Comment by Gasan — March 14, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

  5. Dear Gasan
    I did read somewhere in this blog you expressing doubt as to the method of Canaris’s hanging with piano wire and I agree with your opinion that it is most unlikely and impssible.I did found a witness report in German that reads”Bei dem kleinen Admiral hat es lange gedauert.Er ist ein paar Mal rauf und runter gezogen”.(With the little Admiral it took quite long.He had to be pulled up and down several times”.In other words this was a type of lynching as I understand it being pulled up on a rope around the neck until he stops breathing or the victims neck is broken

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 14, 2011 @ 4:47 am

  6. Dear Gasan and Readers
    My POW Experience to continue
    Sonndorf
    We had dug out squares into the ground with tent sheets above to have shelter from the elements,but conditions did not improve,interrogation of some sort took place and our details had been taken,this was done by German-American GI’s as well as officers.The only one who spoke up against poor condition and hunger were German communists,they were not afraid,would bare their tattooed chests and would shout at the guards,”come on why don’t you shoot”.In a way I must admit I admired them for their courage,while others felt this will make condition even worse.This went on until July1945 when I was lucky enough yo be taken to Grafenau as a work-team to repair potholes in roads leading to Passau.We were fairly free with a Military Government Pass and two pleasant guards who directed and supervised our work.Myself I was still very weak and did only interpreting.We had our own cook who received meat from a local slaughter house. This did not last very long and we had been told by the civilian authorities that we all be returned into our Heimat,what a lie.To our horror we finished up in Sonndorf but only for a week.I looked for my old “Home” and sure enough I found the old tent and took the sheets with me as I had a feeling that things may go wrong again than better.
    We were taken by trucks to Regensburg and virtually dumped into a mud field with no facilities of any sort,lucky I had my tent with many “friendly” comrades to help me set it up.Myself, I almost finished up sleeping at the opening flap. I estimate there were about 10000 POW’s.The aim apparently was to build a proper camp near a sugar factory which a Hungarian company had already started.It was here when a rather sophisticated and well educated German Sgt. took me under his wings who was in charge of a six -men work team to re-glaze the shattered windows of a boys Gymnasium in Regensburg that was taken over by an American Army Topographical Unit.The work was light and we had our daily GI-Chow.Yet to this day this Sgt remains an enigma to me who he really was,his English was better than mine but never used it,had contacts with outside civilians where-ever we went,how he did this is a mystery to me.Only once that I became suspicious when he told me to ask the guard if he could go across the road to meet his wife and only shook her hand.When he returned,the guard said”das war nicht seine Frau”!(That was not his wife).I can only guess he was an Agent setting up safe houses and escape routes for wanted criminals.He disappeared when almost he entire camp was trucked away to France,Belgium and Holland or other German destinations for work. I finished up in Hohenbrunn,south of Munich in an old KZ Sub camp at an ammunition factory.The work was heavy and I soon collapsed.
    It were Gi’s in general that had pity with me and I was able to help in their mess-hall making coffee or tea for their division.This was a full time job and it lasted from September 45 to January 1946. I did some interpreting for a friendly Lieutenant who was also responsible for the POW Camp and thought due to my youth to give me my freedom,so I could do what I liked don’t have to obey any rules or orders etc.He only saw this from the American point of view.Anyway it was done and I was discharged into civilian life.What a culture shock I had being treated as a Prussian Refugee,although I was staying with a butcher family,the treatment I received were unbelievable shocking.The only consolation I had that I was able to work in the mess hall as before,so I asked my friendly LT. please let me go back into the POW Camp.”Sorry,but I cant do that,Herb”. But there is another Camp in Taufkirchen where Hauptmann Heinrich has given me his word of honor that none of his soldiers will escape and have free movement “I will talk to him, so you can stay with them.”
    That’s what happened,and I was ever so grateful to him.As the Administration of Hohenbrunn went into civilian control and I was sick of Jackboots and clicking heels,I tried my luck in Allach near Munich at an US Ordnance Mtc. Shop at the supply Depot until we were transferred to Dachau in 1947/48 were I stayed and met my future wife and followed her in 1956 to New Zealnd and worked for the Ford Motor Co, and later on for a Plastics co until my retirement.

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 12, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

  7. Dear Gasan and readers
    My type of Military Training
    There seems to be still some misunderstanding when it comes to methods of our SS Instructors to basic training and punishments. In my case I did not brake any violation of the Wehrmacht code, I had distributed leaflets which came close to pornography.My punishment was supervised by an officer,yet we received explicit instruction in sex education which again were held by officers,professionals on the subject.One of our men was engaged (he was 19) to be married and Hess would never give up to degrade him in any way possible.Most of us were Theology Students and looking back it was simply a matter of breaking our spirit.He did break the rules by hitting and punching boys that could not and would not accept his teachings of the NS doctrine.The training was harsh and brutal.Two boys committed suicide, one by holding the barrel(pipe) of a Panzerfaust against his chest and fired himself to pieces.The other one simple hanged himself over trumped up charges, he allegedly had urinated inside a corridor wall which had frozen in the cold.In fact an NCO had used his canteen and had poured water along the wall.This was a method of getting rid of those that “did not fit in”.It was common practice by both Wehrmacht and SS not to send Instructors with recruits into combat,you would simple shoot them in the back at the first opportunity.
    You are correct that mindless rock-carrying everyday labour is a bogus claim,project work was carried out at the quarry and I had understood, that some inmates had been punished that way by Kapos or SS-guards.
    When it comes to the execution of Jungvolk members by US forces, you have to understand that these were forced into our depleting ranks sometimes at gunpoint still in their Jungvolk or older ones in HJ uniforms and thus not legally members of the Wehrmacht. US armored columns spearheaded way ahead of the main bunch and we were caught “behind”enemy lines. I do not know what treatment was dished out when taken prisoner in HJ uniform I never seen any one in a POW camp.
    The execution I referred to took place in the Harz region (Thueringen) by an American Advance column that had to retreat later on.I have no pictures of the execution,but they were published and are still available through the archives of the German Bildzeitung Der Stern.I will later on show a typical method of shooting in my blog.

    I was taken prisoner on May 9th 1945 south of the Czechoslovakian border and taken by truck to a POW collection camp at Sonndorf in Bavaria.This was the worst camp I ever been into.As Eisenhower had declared us “Disarmed Enemy Forces”=DEF,he ordered that these Germans did not fall under the Geneva Rules, and we were not to be fed or given any water or medical attention. The Swiss Red Cross was not to inspect the camps,for under the DEF classification,they had no such authority or jurisdiction.
    I would clarify one thing when I said I was eating grass, it were in fact leaves of dandelions that I boiled in a tin on an open fire. The taste was bitter,but if you boiled it several times it went down quite well. You can guess what went in at one end came quickly out on the other. Later on we received from another Unit about half a liter of hot soup-like water with dried onions in it and sometimes one slice of bread per day. After about a month I was so weak I could no longer get up. I was carried into a German Red Cross Hospital Tent,was weighed in at 50kg and slowly nourished back to reasonable health.I have permanent loss of muscle tissues ever since.
    When it comes deaths due to starvation I can only speak for only 5 that died in my time in the field hospital. I doubt the figure of 1.7 million that is often quoted by some authors, that’s a hell of a lot of dead bodies.Google Eisenhower’, Holocaust-His Slaughter of 1.7 Million Germans or In Eisenhower’s Death Camps:A U.S. Prison Guard’s Story. I will tell you the kindness and compassion that I received from individual GI’s at a later stage-running out of space.

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 12, 2011 @ 1:35 am

  8. Mr. Stolpmann,
    I have read your blog and about your wartime experience. There was some confusion regarding “senseless carrying the rocks”. It is my understanding that SS Unterscharführer Hess was punishing you for some violation of Wehrmacht code, thus making you to run with the rock in your hand. It is also my understanding that you were 16 years old, a minor at that time and were not supposed to be reading whatever your were reading. And he did not make you to run with that rock for 8 or more hours every day, right?
    But, the webmaster of this blog was talking about “mindless rock-carrying everyday labor” bogus claim. You have mentioned that there was an artificial lake built by the inmates and “contractors” near Dachau KZ. Well, this is a “project”, not a mindless work as a measure of punishment. It is my understanding that “the contractors” were not inmates but the professional construction workers. Correct? That means we are all right in our assessments.
    Your wartime experience is horrible. I have been drafted at the age 19 in the time of “peace on earth” and I have seen no combat action whatsoever. I could only imagine what you have to go through. Is that true that all those kids from Jungfolk and HJ were executed by Allies on the spot? They really executed the children captured on the front lines?
    Your experience as POW was even worse. How long you were in American captivity? How long you have been starving that you weight was reduced to 50 kg, while you documents show your height as 182 cm. With this ratio of height/weight you should look like one of those KZ inmates.
    How many German POW’s died in your camp, you think?
    Your short comment and your documents have taught me even more about WWII.
    The “mean” SS Unterscharführer Hess punished 16 years old kid for reading improper letters for his age and “sentenced” him to physical exercise for a couple of hours. The “liberators” did not execute the same kid on the spot, while they could without any problems Instead they have sent him to one of their POW’s camp, where he was eating grass in order not to die. Thus he was sentenced to slow death through starvation, but he has survived.
    Mr. Stolpmann, what should I think about your story? Who is better person: SS Unterscharführer Hess or General Eisenhower? How every other normal person would feel about your story as 16 years old soldier and POW.
    The normal person would not blame Hess, he did not draft you. But Eisenhower, who wanted you to die from starvation and ordered to kill your classmates instead sending all of you back to home, to your mothers, is a real war criminal. You are a victim of the war crimes committed by the Allies.
    Mr. Stolpmann,
    If you feel, that I was somewhat rude or tactless in my responding comments, please accept my sincere apologies.
    Respectfully Yours.
    Gasan

    Comment by Gasan — March 10, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  9. HUUUUUUUUMMMMMFFFFFF

    Comment by Tucker E — March 3, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  10. Mr. Stolpmann
    Would you kindly elaborate your experience in the German Army and your SS instructors? Have you been enlisted in a SS formation, or you were a member HJ or Volksturm? If you were enlisted in Wehrmacht, it is very unlikely that you would have an “SS instructors”. If you were a member of a SS formation you could tell us without a problem. We are all friends here.
    Also, I don’t quite understand the purpose of “Sisyphean task” type of work introduce to you by SS officers.
    I served two years in the Army and know for a fact that there are always lots of “projects”, which could be completed by the soldiers arrested for 3-5 days for violation of military codes.
    Those “projects” could be building a new facility or cleaning the lavatories, cleaning every other possible areas, peeling off potatoes for the entire battalion in the night instead of sleeping, you name it.
    When there is absolutely nothing else to do, the soldiers from “Hauptwacht” (military unit jail) would have to exercise the skills, such as “goose-step” marching, crawling in the mud, or whatever. All of it are military justifiable exercises, nothing even close to senseless carrying rocks back and forth. But nobody dies from it.
    Are you seriously claiming that SS officers were forcing you to carry rocks senselessly from one place to another, instead of engaging you in some sort of productive labor, even for punishment purposes?
    You have never been in the military, have you?

    Comment by Gasan — March 1, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

    • Dear Gason
      Assuming you are an American I have an understanding that most of them are confused over certain aspects on a number of issues during the so called Nazi era.If you are German you should know what was going on at the end of the war.As for myself I was called up for a short period to become a Hilfsausbilder December 1944 at the 5th Reichsausbildungslager in Bistritz am Hostein, Slovakia. These training facilities were entirely run by the SS. The total number of trainees amounted to 500 boys aged 16-19. The instructors were without exception all NCO’s.Most of them wounded and unfit for combat. We were in groups of 7 and I had a rather fanatic NCO by the name of Hess,his rank was Unterscharfuehrer. My offense was that I had copied a number of a
      “Love Letter” that was quite “innocent” unless you read every second line which was of a sexual nature.I had been reported and as I had degraded the “honor” of the Germanic Womanhood (there was not much honor left after being raped by the Russians) I received a punishments like carrying a rock while running and the usual crawling in the mud etc.
      After my successful completion of training I was sent to Ruedesheim am Rhein which was a Wehrertuechtungslager to teach in the use of the Panzerfaust, this was my main task, to young and old, partly Volkssturm men. We all had our Soldbuch which states clearly that you are a member of the “Wehrmacht”. Yet due to the small sizes of uniforms unavailable we did wear the Luftwaffenhelfer outfit which was Air Force blue in color. My Unit was the 12th Panzervernichtungsbrigade, which was in part decimated during the fighting after the Americans crossed the Rhein at Remagen. To refill our ranks, members of the HJ or Jungvolk were forced into combat with disastrous consequences. Anyone taken prisoner by the American forces were shot without mercy. I myself saw the bodies unearthed out of a shallow grave in the vicinity of the Harz Mountains.They were some of ours OK, a priest had been present during the execution and confirmed the event what had taken place. As we were pushed back towards the Tschec border it was decided to surrender part of the brigade, except 15 men and one Lt. and we roamed through the Sudeten Mountains until we heard of the unconditional surrender of Germany and became POW’s, under Eisenhower in a number of his Death Camps were 1.2 million Germans died of starvation,yet I doubt this figure although I have been eating grass and my weight was down to 50kg.There was no Red Cross or the Geneva Convention for us.
      I have never been a member of the HJ or Volkssturm but was part of the younger Junkvolk and have no regrets nor did it ever harm me in any way.I will endeavour to send you my Army Discharge Papers to satisfy your curiosity in the hope that I receive a reply from you and also check and read my blog!
      AS a footnote about 7-8 SS Instructors were unmarried and all of them had rather attractive Jewess girl friends working within the military installation. It shows you when boy meets girl and the chemistry is right religion colour or creed does not matter. They(instructors) taught the official NS-Party line when it came to their private life it was a different story.

      here is a link to my blog and evidence of my discharge papers

      http://dachaukz.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-discharge-papers-from-pow-camp.html

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 4, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  11. Although there was no quarry at Dachau, a so called “Kiesgrube”=(quarry) was worked by inmates as well as ccontracters at about half a mile south towards Rotschweige to the depth of appr 2.50 meters when ground water filled the pit and thus became a lake, commenly called the “Baggersee”clearly marked as a lake on local maps.
    When it comes to the “senseless” carrying of rocks from one place to another, this was a method of punishment, which I myself experienced during my short time in the German Army when I had SS- Instructers.
    Herbert Stolpmann

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 1, 2011 @ 12:00 am

  12. Can you link the blog?

    Where does that picture of prisoners working come from? It must be from Germans right?

    Comment by Kageki — February 28, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    • That photo is from the original Dachau guidebook for the original Dachau Museum. I scanned it from the book and put it on my web site here: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/DachauLife5.html

      I assume that the photo was taken by the Germans.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 28, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    • No its not?

      Comment by Tucker E — March 3, 2011 @ 11:58 am

      • Can you tell me how liberators would be in a position to take pictures of prisoners calmly working in factories?

        I just imagine there must be tons of photos the Germans took that has yet to be unveiled to the public.

        Comment by Kageki — March 24, 2011 @ 10:09 pm


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