Scrapbookpages Blog

August 4, 2012

Unveiling of Bomber Command Memorial in London brings back stories of the meat hooks at Buchenwald

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

A news story on the website of the online Niagra-this-week newspaper, which you can read here, mentions that allied prisoners in the Buchenwald concentration camp were executed by being hung from meat hooks on the wall of the morgue in the crematorium.  This quote is from the news article:

Buchenwald was one of the first and largest concentration camps on German soil. It was here that Carter-Edwards [a Canadian airman] would witness the worst of humanity as well as a miracle.

“We were greeted by 45,000 walking skeletons,” Carter-Edwards says of the camp’s prisoners. A total of 167 allied airmen — from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica — found themselves at Buchenwald on Aug. 20, 1944, Carter-Edwards and 25 other Canadian airmen among them.


Carter-Edwards calls it a miracle that their enemy in the air was their saviour (sic) on land. The German air force, the Luftwaffe, learned the airmen were at the camp and had them transferred to Stalag Luft III, a POW camp 100 miles southeast of Berlin. They were saved just five days before they were to be executed on the meat hooks in the crematorium — a fate that befell 35 allied agents at Buchenwald.

The “35 allied agents” who were executed on meat hooks at Buchenwald were SOE agents.  This is mentioned on Wikipedia on the entry for Frank Herbert Dedrick Pinkersgill:

Frank Herbert Dedrick Pickersgill (May 28, 1915, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – September 14, 1944, Weimar, Thuringia, Germany) is a Canadian hero of World War II.  […]
Pickersgill was executed at Buchenwald by the Nazis on September 14, 1944, along with 35 other SOE agents, including Canadians Roméo Sabourin and John Kenneth Macalister. Though there are conflicting reports about their death, the men are commonly thought to have been hung on meat hooks and strangled with piano wire, a painful death typically reserved for traitors and spies.[citation needed] Their bodies were incinerated.

What happened to the bodies of the SOE agents after they were executed by being hung on meathooks?  Did the Nazis cut off their heads to make shrunken heads?  Did they remove their skin to makes lampshades? Did the Nazis make soap out of the bodies of the SOE men?

Shrunken heads and human lampshade on display at Buchenwald

Meat hooks on the wall of the “execution room” in the basement of the crematorium

In the room that should have been a morgue at Buchenwald, there were meat hooks on the wall, but not for hanging bodies until they could be cremated.  No, these meat hooks were for executing the prisoners by hanging them with piano wire.

If the prisoners didn’t die fast enough on the meat hooks, they were clubbed to death with a large club which is shown in the photo below.

American Congressmen are shown the club used to kill prisoners

A group of American Congressmen flew to Germany and visited the Buchenwald camp on April 24, 1945.  They were shown the club that was used to beat prisoners to death if they didn’t die fast enough on the meat hooks.  Note the dummy on the wall on the right hand side.  This was part of the display set up for visitors.

A still photo from a film taken by the US Army at Buchenwald

Curiously, there was no gas chamber at Buchenwald, so the Congressmen had to go to Dachau next, where the Americans had discovered that the shower room was really a gas chamber in disguise.

Corpse cellar at Sachsenhausen camp

The corpse cellar at the Sachsenhausen camp was similar in construction to the execution room at Buchenwald, but it was used to store bodies before they were burned, not to execute prisoners on meat hooks.

You can read more about the meat hooks at Buchenwald and see more photos on this blog post.


  1. Black Rabbit What is the source of that modern version of the shrunken head + Lampshade photo? Where are those items held?

    You probably know this but some editor published a book a couple of years ago claiming to have found the Buchenwald Human Lampshade in New Orleans – with added tassles

    Comment by littlegreyrabbit — August 7, 2012 @ 2:38 am

  2. You’ll no doubt be disgusted to hear FG, that those evil Germans also killed prisoners with interesting tattoos at Sachsenhausen:

    Statement by Harry Naujoks (German communist), former camp senior:

    “In 1941 Dr. Lewe came to Sachsenhausen from the Buchenwald camp to take charge of the pathology department. Being camp senior, I was told that block seniors had to report inmates with unusual tattoos. This report was passed onto the roll call leader. Eventually, each of the tattooed inmates was ordered to come to the sickbay. Soon after we’d receive a death notice. Several times I went to the pathology department while Dr. Lewe wasn’t there and in his room saw pieces of skin and body parts with these tattoos, which were kept in jars of alchol lining the walls. In the drawers too, prepared sections of skin were kept. I have held such sections of skin with my own hand.”

    It seems strange that with the Nazi’s obsession with “unusual tattoos”, the blood group tattoos of the SS were so plain and discreet.

    I also found a photo of the lampshade and one of the shrunken heads at Buchenwald in 1993, they’d changed quite a bit since 1945.

    Comment by The Black Rabbit of Inlé — August 4, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

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