Scrapbookpages Blog

June 23, 2012

The Ravensbrück gas chamber …. and the Lachout document

Ravensbrück is one of the few Nazi concentration camps that I have never visited.  I am writing about it today because the subject came up in the comments on my last post, which was about Joe the Plumber, who thinks that the Holocaust was allowed to happen because Hitler instituted gun control in 1939.

One of the regular readers of my blog, The Black Rabbit of Inlé, who has just returned from a trip to Germany, wrote a comment which included a link to his photos of the Ravensbrück crematorium and the memorial stone that marks the spot where the gas chamber was located before it was destroyed by the Nazis on April 23, 1945.

Wait a minute!  The Ravensbrück gas chamber was destroyed a week before the camp was liberated by the Russians on April 30, 1945?  This sounds just like the story of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the Russians arrived on January 27, 1945 and found that the Germans had destroyed the gas chamber on January 20, 1945. Very suspicious!

Another coincidence is that all the records from both the Auschwitz camp and the Ravensbrück camp were confiscated by the Russians.  The Ravensbrück records have never been released.

Years ago, I contemplated a visit to the Ravensbrück Memorial Site, and to prepare for the trip, I read the book Ravensbrück, Everyday Life in a Women’s Concentration Camp 1939-45 by Jack G. Morrison.  The section about the Ravensbrück gas chamber begins with this sentence:

The existence and operation of a gas chamber are not in doubt.

Seriously?  The gas chamber at Ravensbrück is not in doubt?  Everything about the Holocaust is in doubt.  Ever hear of “Holocaust deniers”?  Ever hear of the Lachout Document?  You can read the text of the Lachout Document on my website here.  Ravensbrück is one of the camps that is included in the document.

Note that, on my website, I have a link to The Nizkor Project which claims that the Lachout Document is a forgery.

I consider the deathcamps.org website to be the best of the True Believer Holocaust websites.  You can read their page about the Ravensbrück gas chamber here.

This quote is from the deathcamps.org website:

The last gassings happened when the Swedish Red Cross was in the camp to compile transports with weakened prisoners to carry them to neutral Sweden (via the still occupied Denmark).

Strangely, the same thing happened at the Mauthausen concentration camp where the Nazis were gassing prisoners while the Red Cross was taking prisoners out of the camp.

This quote is from this page of my own website:

As further evidence that prisoners at Mauthausen were gassed in the final days of war, Christian Bernadac quotes [in his book] the testimony of Maurice-Georges Savourey on May 4, 1945 at La Plaine, near Geneva, immediately after he was taken out of the camp by the Red Cross convoy. Savourey’s testimony, obtained from Choumoff’s book, is quoted below from Bernadac’s book:

“…The day on which the first Red Cross convoy left, Saturday, April 21, 1945, out of two thousand men…one hundred, exhausted by the short route to be covered, were led to the gas chamber and executed…One (sic) Sunday, the 22nd, one hundred fifty men went to the gas chamber; on Monday, the 23rd, eighty men met the same fate…; on Tuesday, the 24th, one hundred eighty, in two groups, all Slavs, were gassed. One of them broke away, ran through the “free camp” in his nightshirt, stumbling, not knowing which way to turn, made his way back to camp 3. There he was retaken by the S.S. and the inner camp police, and returned for execution in the gas chamber. In addition, some forty French were said to have been gassed.”

In his account of the liberation of Mauthausen, the Red Cross representative, Louis Haefliger, confirms that the “annihilation” of the prisoners in the gas chamber continued until Commandant Ziereis fled the camp on the night of May 2-3, 1945. Apparently the Nazis were gassing as many of the prisoners as they could, while at the same time, the Red Cross was allowed to take selected prisoners out of the camp.

The section about the gas chamber in the book by Jack G. Morrison continues with this quote:

However, there are some uncertainties surrounding this issue, caused in part by the SS’s destruction of the gas chamber in the closing days of the war, and by their virtual annihilation of those prisoners who worked in the crematorium and gas chamber.  The SS did a quite thorough job of destroying evidence that might be used against them.  Following the war, the Russians did not help matters by keeping researchers out of the camp and making sweeping changes, turning it into a military post.

In April 1945, the Ravensbrück prisoners, who were still able to walk, had been marched out of the camp toward one of the sub-camps. Eventually the marchers reached the Allied lines and were liberated in early May, 1945.

To his credit, author Jack G. Morrison includes the story of the liberation of Ravensbrück in his book on page 303.

That night (30 April) the Russian arrived.  Rather than being liberators, they put the French women [prisoners] through a more hellish ordeal than what they had experienced in the camp.  The women were raped repeatedly by the Russian troops, to the point where some of them were too weakened to continue their journey  [the march out of the camp].  When Soviet forces liberated the subcamp at Neustadt-Glewe, they raped all the women and girls: Jewish, Hungarian, German — it didn’t matter.

One of the prisoners at Ravensbrück was Odette Sansom, a British SOE agent, who was allegedly having an affair with the camp Commandant, Fritz Suhren.   When the march out of the camp started, Odette rode with Fritz Suhren in his car to the American lines where he surrendered on May 3, 1945. He was expecting Odette to put in a good word for him to save himself from being charged as a war criminal, but she refused.

After the war, there were rumors that Odette had survived Ravensbrück because she had been the mistress of Suhren, who was a handsome man. But Odette claimed that her toenails had been pulled out while she was a prisoner at Ravensbrück.  Strangely, Odette was the only one who was tortured this way even though she had told her captors that she was married to a relative of Winston Churchill.  Did Fritz pull out all of Odette’s toenails to convince her to sleep with him?  Is that why she refused to testify on his behalf?

Odette was one of the three SOE agents who survived Ravensbrück; the other two were Yvonne Baseden and Eileen Nearne.

Four of the 8 female SOE agents, who were sent to Ravensbrück, were executed there, according to eye-witness testimony. Their names are Denise Bloch, Lilian Rolfe, Violette Szabo and Cecily Lefort.   According to the testimony of Sylvia Salvensen, a former prisoner in the camp, Cecily Lefort was one of the women who died in the gas chamber on May 1, 1945.  This was after the march out of the camp began and the marchers were overtaken by Russian troops.

The SS man who was the second in command at Ravensbrück, Johann Schwarzhuber, gave detailed testimony in the British Military Court at Hamburg, where 16 staff members of Ravensbrück were on trial from December 5, 1946 to February 3, 1947. Schwarzhuber testified that SOE agents Violette Szabo, Lilian Rolfe and Denise Bloch were executed by a shot in the neck shortly after Schwarzhuber was transferred to the camp on January 12, 1945.

Until Vera Atkins interrogated Schwarzhuber on March 13, 1946 and got him to confess to witnessing the murder of the SOE agents, nothing was known about the fate of these three women who had been at Ravensbrück since August 22, 1944. Schwarzhuber filled in all the details that Atkins wanted to hear, about how the women had died bravely and how the SS men had been impressed with their bearing.

I previously blogged about Vera Atkins here.

Schwarzhuber, who was on trial himself, said in the deposition taken from him by Vera Atkins and repeated in the courtroom, that Commandant Fritz Suhren had been annoyed that the Gestapo had not carried out these executions themselves. Suhren was not on trial since he had escaped from custody. Schwarzhuber also testified that Suhren had ordered him to organize a mass gassing of the women prisoners at the end of February 1945 at a time when sixty to seventy prisoners were dying each day during a typhus epidemic.

Prior to being sent to Ravensbrück, Schwarzhuber had worked at Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Auschwitz II, better known as Birkenau. Schwarzhuber was convicted and executed on May 3, 1947.

Schwarzhuber was the most important witness at the Ravensbrück proceedings; he had first told his story when he gave a deposition after being interrogated by Vera Atkins. How was Vera Atkins able to get Schwarzhuber to confess to crimes for which he knew that he would surely be executed? Did she threaten to turn his family over to the Russians, a threat that was usually effective?

If any of the camp records were ever found, they were not released. All of the information about the women who were executed at Ravensbrück came from the testimony of Johann Schwarzhuber and from some of their fellow prisoners.

10 Comments

  1. This site reports Odette Sansom as having affairs with two Camp Commandants – Hartjenstein and Suhren. Is there evidence for this?

    Comment by bernardoconnorBernard O'Connor — February 9, 2016 @ 2:37 am

    • I wrote two blog posts under the tag Odette Sansom: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/odette-sansom/

      Comment by furtherglory — February 9, 2016 @ 4:47 am

      • The revised post mentions Odette Sansom as allegedly sleeping with Suhren. OK.
        Fritz Hartjenstein does not appear to have been Commandant at Ravensbruck. Natzweiler and Flossenburg yes. Any idea where the evidence for his relationship with Odette came from?

        Comment by bernardoconnor — February 9, 2016 @ 9:47 pm

        • I have written about the SOE women on several blog posts and on my website. The following information is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

          One of the prisoners at Ravensbrück was Odette Sansom, a British SOE agent, who was allegedly having an affair with the camp Commandant, Fritz Suhren. When the march out of the camp started, Odette rode with Fritz Suhren in his car to the American lines where he surrendered on May 3, 1945. He was expecting Odette to put in a good word for him to save himself from being charged as a war criminal, but she refused.

          After the war, there were rumors that Odette had survived Ravensbrück because she had been the mistress of Suhren, who was a handsome man. But Odette claimed that her toenails had been pulled out while she was a prisoner at Ravensbrück. Strangely, Odette was the only one who was tortured this way even though she had told her captors that she was married to a relative of Winston Churchill. Did Fritz pull out all of Odette’s toenails to convince her to sleep with him? Is that why she refused to testify on his behalf?

          Odette was one of the three SOE agents who survived Ravensbrück; the other two were Yvonne Baseden and Eileen Nearne.

          There was one British SOE woman at Ravensbrück, Odette Sansom, who was not executed; she survived because she was having an affair with the Commandant, Fritz Hartjenstein. Odette claimed that all her toenails were pulled out by the Gestapo men who were trying to make her talk.

          The toenail story, told by Odette, makes me think that she was mentally ill.

          Comment by furtherglory — February 10, 2016 @ 7:05 am

  2. Black Rabbit,
    I have found a few interesting writings on the walls of Ravensbrück, both in Russian
    http://ravensbrueck2012.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/tailors-workshop.html

    КБАССР stands for Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
    Рязань-Ryazan is a city in Central Russia. It was never captured by German Armed Forces.
    Interesting, who made those curving on the walls? I doubt, it were Soviet inmates.

    Comment by Gasan — June 25, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  3. The French terrorist Marie-Claude “I indisputably regard the Soviet penitentiary system as the most desirable in the whole world” Vaillant-Couturier( nee Vogel), who miraculously survived Auschwitz and Ravensbruck gave a thoroughly detailed description of the Ravensbruck gas chamber in her testimony at Nuremberg:

    (scroll to 224, although her collection of fantastic lies is worth reading)

    “I visited the gas chamber which was a hermetically sealed building made of boards, and inside it one could still smell the disagreeable odor of gas.”

    Comment by Eager for Answers — June 23, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    • Thanks for this information. I followed the link that you gave and found this at 224:

      “During this period, in all the Revieren, selections were made and all patients considered unfit for work were sent to the gas chamber. The Ravensbruck gas chamber was situated just behind the wall of the camp, next to the crematory. When the trucks came to fetch the patients we heard the sound of the motor across the camp, and the noise ceased right by the crematory whose chimney rose above the high wall of the camp.

      At the time of the liberation I returned to these places. I visited the gas chamber which was a hermetically sealed building made of boards, and inside it one could still smell the disagreeable odor of gas. I know that at Auschwitz the gases were the same as those which were used against the lice, and the only traces they left were small, pale green crystals which were swept out when the windows were opened. I know these details, since the men employed in delousing the blocks were in contact with the personnel who gassed the victims and they told them that one and the same gas was used in both cases.”

      So she knew about the disinfection chambers at Auschwitz which used the same gas as the homicidal gas chambers. She is describing what could have been a disinfection chamber at Ravensbrueck. Her proof that women were gassed at Ravensbrueck is that she heard the sound of the engine of the trucks that took women outside the camp and the sound stopped at the crematorium.

      I have unusually good hearing but I don’t think that I could identify the exact spot where the sound of a moving vehicle stopped.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 24, 2012 @ 7:44 am

    • Is there a photo of the Ravensbrueck gas chamber before it was destroyed? I wonder if there was a skull and crossbones on the door and the word “Gaskammer.” Maybe a photo like the famous photo of one of the doors of the four disinfection chambers at Dachau. You can see the photo to which I am referring on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/GasChamber/disinfection01.html

      This black and white photo was taken by the American liberators. The Americans believed that this was a door into a homicidal gas chamber. They thought that the Jews had been forced to take off their clothes and hang them neatly on hangers before entering a homicidal gas chamber with the word Gaszeit on the door. Since the Gaskammer at Ravensbrueck was not used until the typhus epidemic started, there is reason to believe that it was a disinfection chamber for clothing, just like the ones at Dachau.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 24, 2012 @ 10:57 am

  4. The Jewess Vera Atkins was Rudolf Vrba’s cousin. Rudolf Vrba was born Walter Rosenberg. There’s something fishy about Vera Atkins (her real name?) and Rudolf Vrba’s stories. It became obvious during the the cross examination of Vrba by Doug Christie at the first Zundel trial in Toronto in l984 that his eyewitness account of gassings in his book I Cannot Forgive were fiction yet when Vrba/Rosenberg died in Vancouver BC in 2006 he was written up as a glowing Holocaust hero by the international press.

    Comment by who dares wings — June 23, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

    • The other “eye witness” of the Morgenthau seance was Fritz Wetzler.His name after war was Josef Lanik.Yad Vashem data base claims both,Rosenberg-Vrba and Wetzler-Lanik “perished in der shoa” in Sobibor.Well,not very credible,this obvious and absolute serious “written history”.

      Comment by gebis — June 25, 2012 @ 9:19 am


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: