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May 11, 2011

90-year-old survivor of Dachau tells his story

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:33 am

Memories of Dachau, as told by Torbjoern Oevsttun, a 90-year-old Norwegian survivor, were written recently by a blogger and you can read his stories here.  According to another post on the blog, “Torbjoern was arrested because he was a member of the Kristian Stein organisation which was illegal, but did not carry a death sentence. They didn’t know about his other activities. If they had he would not be alive today.”  (Torbjoern was fighting illegally with the Norwegian Resistance.)

This quote from the blog tells about executions at Dachau, something that is completely new to me:

An area about a kilometre outside their (Dachau) camp, called Hermansplatz, was the place of execution.  Doomed prisoners were marched to this site daily.  A few managed to escape, but not many.  Torbjoern talked about the daily massacre of hundreds of men.  There were 400 prisoners in each barrack, measuring 10×9 metres.

When the Norwegians arrived in Dachau there were 30,000 prisoners in the camp and more arrived every day.  It looked like the Germans were determined to exterminate as many people as possible.  They began with the outermost barracks and worked their way systematically, killing 400 a day.  It sends chills down my spine when I heard Torbjoern say that their barrack was one day away from being the next target.  But that’s when the Americans arrived.  The day was 29th of April 1945.

I am not familiar with the name Hermansplatz, so I had to google it. Hermannsplatz (note the spelling) is near Berlin, but there is no such place as Hermansplatz.  Could he have meant Herbertshausen, the place near Dachau where Soviet POWs were allegedly shot for target practice?

Some people might say that this man’s memory is failing him because he is 90 years old.  Actually, old people can remember things from their younger days very clearly.  It is what they had for breakfast that old people can’t remember.

The number 400 is very curious.  I have read that 400 people per day were dying of typhus at Dachau just before the American liberators arrived.  Could it be that there was no typhus epidemic at Dachau and the Germans were really executing 400 prisoners per day?

Some Holocaust experts say that prisoners were brought to Dachau near the end of the war in order to kill them, not to surrender them to the Allies.  Torbjoern was sent to several different prison camps before he was finally sent to Dachau to be killed.  As the blogger mentioned, Torbjoern was a member of an organization that was fighting illegally and he could have been legally executed if the extent of his activities had been known, but he was kept alive for years before being transferred to Dachau to be executed.  He was saved just in time by the American liberators.

Update, May 12,2011:

On this post, the blogger wrote:

Ca 1500 men belonged to the Kristian Stein organisation. 204 were arrested and sent to camps in Germany. 57 died, either from hunger, mistreatment or they were executed.

Strangely, none of the Norwegian Resistance fighters died of disease.

If Dachau had not been liberated on April 29, 1945, the Norwegians at Dachau would have been evacuated out of the camp on the White Buses.  You can read about the White Buses here.

10 Comments

  1. The 90-year-old survivor is telling us the story which is 70 years old. Where was he in the past 70 years? Why wasn’t this story published before? Does his family need a few bucks and thus created the stupid story?
    Show me the evidence that the person by the name “Torbjoern Oevsttun existed in the first place and then you could verify his presence at Dachau KZ.

    Comment by Gasan — May 11, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

    • This guy is a well respected man and has a clear mind. He, and my father + others, were sent to various German concentration camps between 1942-45 because they were patriotic men who wanted a free Norway. Their last stop was Dachau, which was a hell-hole!! It is true – they did execute (shoot) 400 prisoners a day in April 1945. It was not until I became interested in his story that it has appeared on the internet. He is not after money or glory – he is an intelligent man who worked hard all his life. He has told his story – along with others – to the war department in Oslo. I shall meet this man when I go over to Norway in a months time. Yes he is 90 years old now, but not senile. He is the only one still alive of the men arrested. My own father told me similar stories, and I have written about this in the same blog. I have read books from that time, published by fellow-prisoners and they say the same.
      I hope this clears up a few things for you. Regards Elin

      Comment by elinshouse — May 12, 2011 @ 7:09 am

      • With all due respect, there was a WAR GOING ON. Wars were fought on the battlefield until World War II when countries that were quickly defeated continued to fight, but NOT ON THE BATTLEFIELD. This is now considered to be an honorable way of fighting. If you can’t defeat an army on the battlefield, you can be a hero by fighting as an illegal combatant. If you get caught, you will not be given the rights of a POW because you were not fighting as a legal combatant.

        It is true that Dachau was a “hell-hole” but that was only at the end of the war when Germany was losing the war. If the Germans had shot 400 people a day in April 1945, they would have been acting within the law because most of the prisoners at Dachau were there because they were fighting as illegal combatants and could have been legally executed.

        In the last weeks of World War II, Heinrich Himmler, who was in charge of the concentration camps, was trying to negotiate with the Western Allies. He was trying to cut the Soviet Union out and make a deal with the British and the Americans. That’s why Himmler agreed to allow prisoners from countries like Norway to be taken out of the concentration camps. (Google “White Buses”)

        In the last days of the war, Hitler gave orders for the concentration camps to be EVACUATED, so that the prisoners would not be released to roam the countryside, killing German civilians. If 400 people a day were being executed at Dachau, it would have been on the orders of either Hitler or Himmler. No such order was given. There were around 8,500 Jews evacuated out of Dachau, 6,700 of them on foot and 1,700 by train. If 400 per day were being executed at Dachau, it would have been the Jews, not the political prisoners. The Jews were being evacuated, not killed.

        I am not accusing your friend of being senile. I’m saying that he must have gotten the stories of Dachau mixed up.

        Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2011 @ 8:39 am

      • I have added an update to my original post. Click on the link I provided and read about the White Buses.

        Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2011 @ 9:29 am

      • It just occurred to me that your friend from Norway arrived at Dachau on April 9th, the same day that prisoners from the Buchenwald camp arrived. He may have talked to some of the men from Buchenwald. Some of the prisoners at Buchenwald claimed that the prisoners were killed “one shelf at a time” in the barracks buildings. A “shelf” was a three-tiered bunk in a barracks building. You may have read the book “published by fellow-prisoners” known as the Buchenwald Report. The claim that the prisoners were systematically killed, one shelf and one barrack at a time, was in the Buchenwald Report. I have never read any claims that prisoners at Dachau were killed, one barrack at a time.

        Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  2. It is all true, believe me! My father survived the war, and his friend Torbjoern is still alive, and very ‘with it’. I shall meet him in June when I go over to Norway to see relatives. The story Torbjoern told me on the CD was that the execution place was named Hermansplatz and was located near the camp. And yes – 400 men a day were executed in Dachau. Many died of various illnesses too, but the aim was to get rid of as many as possible.
    Regards Elin

    Comment by elinshouse — May 11, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    • I have read every book about Dachau that has ever been printed. I have done considerable research on the subject of Dachau and I have never read anything about the execution of 400 men a day at Dachau. I have never heard the name Hermansplatz in connection with Dachau. Does it seem strange to you that no other web site or blog has this information? I have never heard of any other survivor, nor any of the American liberators, who told anything like this story.

      The web site at this URL: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/dachau.html does not mention the execution of 400 prisoners a day at Dachau. This web site is considered to be one of the best web sites for Holocaust history.

      Not even the web site of the United States Memorial Museum mentions Hermansplatz. You can go to http://www.ushmm.org and do a search and you will not find it.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 11, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    • If the aim was to get rid of as many prisoners as possible at Dachau, why didn’t they start a little sooner? Why wait until just before the Americans were due to arrive? Why didn’t they use the gas chamber? Better yet, why didn’t they just poison the drinking water of the prisoners. When the camp was bombed on April 9, 1945, there was no more running water in the camp. Water had to be brought in, so the water given to the prisoners could have easily been poisoned without killing any of the Germans who were in charge of the camp.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 11, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

      • Maybe they could have poisoned the drinking water or got rid of the men some other way? I don’t know. I just know that this place they named ‘Hermansplatz’ (not a town, just open ground with mass graves) was a short distance from the camp. I was not there to verify it of course, but the place was full to overflow. There were 30.000 in the camp when they arrived in early April, and more came every day. Torbjoern told me over the phone that they went to see the mass graves after the war ended. I am not telling lies!
        Regards Elin

        Comment by elinshouse — May 12, 2011 @ 7:14 am

        • There is a hill called Leitenberg, located north of the Dachau concentration camp in the former village of Etzenhausen, which is now incorporated into the town of Dachau. The full name of this cemetery is KZ-Friedhof auf der Leiten, which in English means Concentration Camp Cemetery on the Leiten hill. This new cemetery was created by the Nazis in October 1944 after they had run out of coal to burn the bodies of the prisoners. If he went to see the mass graves, this is the place where he went.

          The name “Hermansplatz” doesn’t sound right because in German, the word Herman is spelled Hermann. The word Platz means a place. It is used to mean a place in a city, or a town square. Platz would not be used in a name for a place for mass graves.

          According to your blog post, Torbjoern arrived at Dachau on April 9, 1945. This was the day that a bomb hit the camp. It was also the day that a group of prisoners from the Buchenwald camp arrived at Dachau. So on this day, there was complete chaos in the camp. Because of the bomb damage, there was no running water in the camp after April 9th. This means that the toilets wouldn’t flush and latrines had to be dug. There was no water for showers, or for washing the clothing. The electricity was out so no cooking could be done on electric stoves or hot plates. The camp had run out of coal, so the only way to cook was on wood-burning stoves.

          Torbjoern was at Dachau for 20 days before the American liberators arrived. Many of the prisoners at Dachau in the last three weeks had just arrived from the sub-camps of Dachau. Previously, they had been prisoners in the death camps in Poland. Torbjoern may have heard stories from these prisoners who had been at Dachau for only two or three weeks. He may have heard that there were 400 prisoners dying each day just before the Americans arrived and he may have assumed that they were being executed, but actually, they were dying of typhus. There were around 2,700 prisoners who died in the typhus epidemic at Dachau AFTER the camp was liberated.

          Dachau was always mainly a camp for political prisoners; it was not a camp specifically for Jews. The Jews were sent to Poland, starting in February 1942. After the camps in Poland were closed, the survivors were brought back to Germany. The prisoners that were brought to Dachau were immediately sent to the sub-camps to work in the factories. Just before Dachau was liberated, they were marched to the main camp. Torbjoern may have been told that the Jews were brought to the main Dachau camp to be killed in the days just before the end of the war. He may have gotten the stories mixed up and assumed that 400 prisoners a day were being executed when actually, 400 prisoners a day were dying of typhus.

          Comment by furtherglory — May 12, 2011 @ 8:22 am


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