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April 24, 2012

The atrocity at Nammering, Germany in the last days of World War II…

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:58 pm

In the photo below, taken on Sunday May 6, 1945, American soldiers are showing some citizens of Nammering a sign that has been erected in their town.  American soldiers discovered the atrocity at Nammering on April 28, 1945, one day before the Dachau concentration camp was liberated.

Sign erected at Nammering, Germany in 1945 Photo Credit: USHMM courtesy of Seymour Schenkman

This quote is from the USHMM website which shows the photograph above:

An American soldier stands next to a sign erected by the U.S. Army to mark the site of the Nammering atrocity. It reads: “In eternal memory. Here lie 800 martyrs who were murdered by Nazi executioners in April 1945. Rest in peace.”

Here is the back story of the Nammering atrocity, as told on the USHMM website:

On April 19, 1945, a freight train with nearly 4,500 prisoners from Buchenwald pulled onto the railroad siding at Nammering. The train had been destined for Dachau, but at Plattling it was diverted towards Nammering because of damage to the railroad caused by Allied bombing.

Once in Nammering, some of the local inhabitants attempted to give the prisoners food and water, but these provisions were stolen by the 150 SS and police officers guarding the train. The commanding officer in charge, Lieutenant Hans Meerbach (sic), ordered during the halt that the bodies of the dead be removed from the train and cremated. This work proceeded too slowly for him, however, and prisoners were forced to carry the bodies of the dead to a nearby mass grave in a ravine roughly 500 yards from the train.

There the prisoners carrying the corpses were shot by the guards and they were also buried in the grave. Altogether 524 prisoners were shot and nearly 800 were interred in the mass grave. The bodies were then covered with lime and the grave was flooded to speed up decomposition.

Those 3,100 prisoners who had remained on the train were sent on to Dachau, where they were liberated…

Bodies of prisoners that were exhumed from a mass grave at Nammering, Germany in April 1945

According to Dachau, A Guide to its Contemporary History by Hans-Günther Richardi, the ill-fated train had left Buchenwald on April 7, 1945 carrying 4,500 French, Italian, Austrian, Polish, Russian and Jewish prisoners from the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald. Five hours after the train departed from Weimar, Hans Erich Merbach, the transport leader, was informed that the Flossenbürg concentration camp, their destination, had already been liberated by the Americans. The prisoners at Flossenbürg had been evacuated and were being death marched to Dachau. The train had to be rerouted to Dachau but it took almost three weeks to get there because of numerous delays caused by American planes bombing the railroad tracks.

Due to the bombing of the railroad tracks, the train from Buchenwald had to take several very long detours through Leipzig, Dresden and finally through the town of Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. In the village of Nammering, the train was delayed for four days while the track was repaired, and the mayor of the town brought bread and potatoes for the prisoners, according to Harold Marcuse in his book Legacies of Dachau.  Marcuse did not mention that the food was stolen from the prisoners by SS men.

Continuing on via Pocking, the train was attacked by American planes because they thought it was a military transport, according to Richardi. Many of the prisoners were riding in open gondola cars with no protection from the hail of bullets.

According to the USHMM website, “an American officer in the Nammering area forced SS men collected from a nearby POW camp to exhume the corpses and lay them out on either side of the ravine above the mass grave. The inhabitants of Nammering were then ordered to walk through the gravesite, and the bodies were buried in the surrounding towns of Eging am See, Aicha vom Wald, Nammering, and Fuerstenstein.”

The photo below shows that civilians in the town of Nammering were forced to dig individual graves for the prisoners.  Note that there are some women and young girls shown in the photo.

Civilians in town of Nammering were ordered to dig graves for the prisoners

The following quote is from this website:

On 14 April Himmler sent a telegram to the commandant at Flossenbürg, ordering a full evacuation and specifying, “No prisoner may fall into enemy hands alive.”

An assault on prisoners quite similar to the one reported in the captions [on the photographs on this website] had taken place just before it, and apparently in the same vicinity. On 7 April 4480 prisoners were dispatched by train from Buchenwald, destined for Dachau, but the train was diverted to the town of Nammering, near Passau, and there, on 19 April, about 800 prisoners were shot or burnt by the SS. The killing was halted only after a protest by local farmers and a priest. On 26 April the remaining prisoners were sent on to Dachau. Shortly thereafter, on orders from the commander of the American forces who had liberated the area, residents of several nearby towns were forced to bury the victims of the massacre. Among the Germans who were forced to participate were people from Nammering. There are close parallels between this train of events and the one described in several captions in the Flossenbürg collection. These captions, too, report the massacre of about 800 prisoners in transit in April 1945. Again the people of Nammering are noted, and in this case they are accused (note photo #46864) of having participated in the killing. The captions portray the victims as inmates from Flossenbürg, rather than Buchenwald, and report that they had been sent out on 20 April, whereas the massacre of the prisoners from Buchenwald appears, as previously noted, to have taken place on the 19th. Perhaps there was in fact only one massacre, with a confusion on dates and the identity of the victims. Possibly there were in fact two separate incidents, coincidentally close in time and in location.

Hans Eric Merbach, the man in charge of the train that stopped for four days in Nammering, was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal.  Merbach’s crime was that he was part of the “common plan” to kill the Buchenwald prisoners because he had prevented the escape of most of the prisoners from the train. Merbach said that he could not release the prisoners because “every time a prisoner escaped the most incredible things were happening among the civilian population.”

Hans Erich Merbach was the 35-year-old SS man assigned to supervise the evacuation of Buchenwald prisoners to Dachau to prevent them from being released by the American liberators.

One of the Jewish prisoners who survived the evacuation transport from Buchenwald to Dachau was Martin Rosenfeld. He testified for the prosecution at the proceedings against Hans Erich Merbach by an American Military Tribunal held at Dachau, which began on April 11, 1947. On the witness stand, Rosenfeld claimed that 350 of the prisoners were shot as they walked the 5 miles from the Buchenwald concentration camp down to the train station at Weimar.  He testified that he personally saw Merbach shoot ten of the prisoners.

Rosenfeld also testified that Merbach used a Machine Pistol to kill civilians in the Czechoslovakian town of Pilsen because they had heard about the train on the radio and had brought food for the prisoners when the train stopped. He claimed that when the train made another stop along the way, Merbach went from one boxcar to another, shooting the prisoners, including 20 in the boxcar that Rosenfeld was riding in.

According to Rosenfeld, Merbach ordered all of the French prisoners out of the boxcars and then mercilessly gunned them down. The remaining prisoners were forced to bury the bodies and those who were too weak for the task were shot.

The train was strafed by Allied planes on the way and the prisoners were forced to stay in the open boxcars, while the SS men took cover in the woods, according to Rosenfeld’s testimony, as quoted by Joshua M. Greene in his book Justice at Dachau. Other survivors of the Death Train testified that Merbach had shot dying prisoners and prisoners who had been wounded by American bullets.

During direct examination by his defense attorney, Merbach testified that there were already dead bodies lying beside the road from Buchenwald to Weimar before the prisoners were marched to the train station on April 7, 1945. These prisoners had died on an earlier evacuation march out of Buchenwald to the Flossenbürg camp, or on the April 2nd evacuation march from the Ohrdruf sub-camp to the main camp at Buchenwald.

Merbach claimed that he had gone out of his way to get additional food for the prisoners after he realized that the train would be delayed because the tracks had been bombed by Allied planes. He said that when he tried to get more food, he was told that there was “barely any bread left” at Buchenwald.  Merbach testified that at every stop, he sent four prisoners to the National Socialist Welfare Association to get buckets of water for the other prisoners.

When the train stopped at Dresden, the captain of the police there told Merbach that “it was impossible to get a piece of bread because the city was overrun with refugees.” The refugees were German women and children who were trying to escape from the advancing Russian soldiers. Dresden had been fire bombed by American and British planes, only 8 week before, and thousands of civilians had been killed.

In his defense, Merbach testified that the citizens of Pilsen in Czechoslovakia had not brought food to the train and he cast doubt on Rosenfeld’s claim that the residents had heard about the train’s arrival from a Czech radio station. The next stop was Namering, a town in Upper Bavaria. There the prisoners did receive rations from the people in the town, according to Merbach. This was confirmed by the mayor of Namering.

Merbach said that some of the prisoners had escaped from the train, which sounds plausible since they were riding in open boxcars.

Most of the cars on the Death Train were open box cars

The purpose of evacuating these prisoners had been to keep them from being released by American troops who were nearing Buchenwald. After Buchenwald was liberated, the Americans did release some of the prisoners and provided them with guns and American jeeps. The prisoners went down to Weimar where they engaged in an orgy of raping, looting and killing innocent German civilians.

Due to the Allied bombing of the German railroad tracks, the trip to Dachau took almost three weeks instead of the originally estimated 24 hours to travel 220 miles from Buchenwald to Dachau.

In the proceedings of the American Military Tribunals at Dachau, the accused were considered guilty until proven innocent. Their guilt had already been established by interrogations beforehand.

The interrogation of Hans Merbach took place at Freising on July 11, 1945 at which time Merbach testified that “Officers were beaten with a piece of cable in the face. And that, I suppose, is why the most incredible stories came out, particularly concerning this transport.”

When Merbach was asked by the prosecuting attorney if he wanted to change his sworn statement, made in Freising when his memory was fresher, Merbach addressed the tribunal directly with the following statement, as quoted by Joshau M. Greene in his book Justice at Dachau:

Yes, my memory in Freising was better, but the methods of interrogation caused me to say crazy things. Among the accused here are other officers who were beaten at that time. May it please the court, I was raised by decent parents. In 1917, when I was only seven, my mother got sick and a Jewish physician named Falkenstein treated her every day. I was very much grateful to him, although I knew he was Jewish. Even during my maneuvers with the Wehrmacht in 1936 and 1937 I didn’t make any difference between Aryans and half-Jewish soldiers. I hated to participate in this fight of the government against religion. For me existed only one thing, love of my country and my people. It was not in me to participate in cruelties against unarmed people, to mistreat them or kill them. I am horrified about the accusations that are made here in court against me. About the transport, I have told you everything I know. I am imprisoned now for the past two years, and every day I search myself and weigh the good and the bad. I got food for prisoners, helped wherever I could and had deepest feelings for these poor people. If you members of the high court find me criminal in this transport, I have confidence you will at least not put me on the level of men who had bad intentions. Judge me as a man who tried to do his best. I had to obey crazy orders. Until the end I always tried the best. I await your judgment.

On August 14, 1947, Hans Merbach was convicted by the Tribunal at Dachau and sentenced to death. He was the last of the war criminals in the main Buchenwald trial to be hanged.

Whose fault was it that prisoners died on the train from Buchenwald to Dachau?  The Allies who bombed the railroad tracks and delayed the train for three weeks?  Or the Allies who strafed the open box cars on the train? Or the transport leader, Hans Erich Merbach, who participated in a “common design” to commit war crimes when he prevented the prisoners from escaping the train?

5 Comments

  1. The atrocities committed by the Nazi state during 12 years of power mean that the Third Reich was a political system founded on in blood, whose political aims were drenched in blood, whose leader purposely immersed himself in an environment of terror and murder. We all know this.
    After getting a university degree in the achinations of he Nazi state and after spending years reading thousands of dcments and hundreds of books, after listing to revisionists, holocaust deniers, anti-nazis, historians of every stripe, I have finally, irrevocably come to the following conclusion:There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Nammering atrocity ocurred, that Merbach wilfully murdered prisoners because only a brave man with a death wish would defy the orders of Himmler. We know that Merbach was not brave. he was a Nazi in spirit, if not in party affiliation (only 4 million Germans were party members, a limit set by Hitler himself and even SS men did not have to be party members). Hee himself testified that he had to obey orders. There is no such thing as an innocent Nazi. They all read the party’s 25 point programme. They all knew it was ‘juden verecke’ The only nazi who comes close to forgiveness is Kurt Gerstein, an ss officer who, after visiting Auschwitz in 1942-3, staged a one ancient mariner show trying to alert the Vatican and the Allies as to what was going on in the camps. Charged with war crimes, Gerstein committed suicide after the war. Yeah, exactly that is what he should have done… it proved he was human with feelings of overwhelming guilt.The idea that all are guilty until proven innocent is the right one in this case. The Amercans are blameless. They in fact have my admiration for freeing prisoners, giving them weapons and jeeps and letting them take revenge…emember ths: anywhere a poliical system uses tanks and napalm to control its population, there the spirit of Hitler is alive. All of you who have been trying to cast doubt on this story, all who say it is an Amercan war lie…you should be ashamed of yourselves…

    Comment by gord — January 6, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

    • Your comment reads as if it were typed by Archie the cockroach. In case you don’t know what I am talking about, this quote is from Wikipedia:

      Begin quote:
      In 1916, Marquis introduced Archy, a fictional cockroach, into his daily newspaper column at The New York Evening Sun. Archy (whose name was always written in lower case in the book titles, but was upper case when Marquis would write about him in narrative form) was a cockroach who had been a free verse poet in a previous life, and took to writing stories and poems on an old typewriter at the newspaper office when everyone in the building had left. Archy would climb up onto the typewriter and hurl himself at the keys, laboriously typing out stories of the daily challenges and travails of a cockroach. Archy’s best friend was Mehitabel, an alley cat. The two of them shared a series of day-to-day adventures that made satiric commentary on daily life in the city during the 1910s and 1920s.

      Because he was a cockroach, Archy was unable to operate the shift key on the typewriter (he jumped on each key to type; since using shift requires two keys to be pressed simultaneously, he physically could not use capitals), and so all of his verse was written without capitalization or punctuation. (Writing in his own persona, though, Marquis always used correct capitalization and punctuation. As E. B. White wrote in his introduction to The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel, it would be incorrect to conclude that, “because Don Marquis’s cockroach was incapable of operating the shift key of a typewriter, nobody else could operate it.”)
      End quote

      Comment by furtherglory — January 7, 2015 @ 8:44 am

  2. I’ve looked at most of the pictures of Nammering’s dead bodies and none of these corpses seemed shot. They all seemed exhausted by a too long travel and its consequences (undeliberate starvation and diseases). I think that the alleged “atrocities of Nammering” are another American war lie. Nammering is not far from Buchenwald. Did the ‘American liberators’ also find shrunken heads and human lamp shades in Nammering? 😉

    This story looks like the so called “death trains” story. Allegely shot, photographied a lot, but no bullet holes anywhere to be seen…

    Anyway why evacuate people and shot them after weeks of difficult travel?

    Comment by hermie — December 20, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  3. furtherglory’s blog is one of the rare places on the internet where one can see real historian work being done live in action. subjects no one has covered and he unveils before the zionist propaganda has covered every trace of it. any thought on printing a book FG? we need hard ware of this like we inheritated books and writings of those who were able to publish before WW2 when we were still free. Without those printed sources how could we be able to retrace jewish bolshevism for instance.

    Comment by wolf — April 28, 2012 @ 1:10 pm


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