Scrapbookpages Blog

January 14, 2013

Residents of the town of Dachau were forced to view the atrocities in the Dachau camp after it was liberated

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:37 am

Today I read a blog post, written by a follower of my blog; you can read his blog post for yourself here.

This quote is from his blog post:

Below are photographs of an article entitled “Are Germans Human?” which appeared in the July 1945 edition of Woman’s Home Companion magazine, published by the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company of Park Avenue, New York City. The article was written by American war-correspondent Patricia Lochridge after her trip to the Bavarian town of Dachau, and its sensationalised concentration camp.

I originally wanted to track down this article due to its title, and Lochridge certainly had nothing but contempt for the Germans—even the children—she meet in Dachau, but what is really startling about her description of the Nazi horror camp, is the conspicuous absence of any mention of the gas chamber.

Lochridge writes in the article of being escorted around the town of Dachau by an “interpretor sergeant”, and meeting several Germans. She states: “The Americans liberated the camp three days earlier …”. Dachau was surrendered to the U.S. Army on April 29, 1945, meaning Lochridge likely toured the Dachau camp and town on May 2, 1945.

When I read that German citizens of Dachau were “likely” forced to tour the Dachau concentration camp “three days” after the camp was liberated, I remembered that I had read, in a book entitled Legacies of Dachau, written by Harold Marcuse, that the German tour of the camp took place on May 7, 1945, the same day that German citizens of the town of Dachau were forced to haul 2,400 corpses out of the camp.

Dachau farmers took bodies to Leitenberg for burial

Dachau farmers took bodies to Leitenberg for burial

Dachau residents burying the bodies from Dachau camp

Dachau residents burying the bodies from Dachau camp

Civilians in town of Dachau were forced to bury the bodies from the camp

Civilians in town of Dachau were forced to bury the bodies from the camp

Local farmers from the Dachau area were forced to haul the corpses of the Dachau prisoners, who had died in the typhus epidemic,  to Leitenberg, a hill near the camp, where they were buried in mass graves, even though their names were known. The farmers had to dress in their best Sunday clothes and the wagons had to take a circuitous route through the town of Dachau. The US Army had plenty of trucks and personnel for this task, but it was important to humiliate the locals and make them feel guilty.

This quote is from Legacies of Dachau:

While this burial work was taking place, an America officer decided to take a group of 25-30 responsible but not directly implicated Dachau notables on a tour of the Dachau concentration camp (illustration 9)  They were followed by journalists and an army film crew. […]  Patricia Lochridge, who had been an exchange student in Germany before the war and had accompanied the Dachau notables on their tour, sought out some of the involuntary participants a short time later and asked them about their reactions to what they had seen.

Were there two tours of Dachau, made by German citizens of the town?  As far as I know, there was only one tour of Dachau, taken by residents of the town.  Illustration 9 in Marcuse’s book shows the backsides of two mature men, wearing fedoras, who are looking at the bodies in the morgue room in Baracke X.  This room is adjacent to the shower room, which is now claimed to have been a “gas chamber,” although not for mass gassings.

US Army Signal Corps photo of bodies in Dachau morgue, 1945

US Army Signal Corps photo of bodies in Dachau morgue, 1945

In his blog post, which I quoted at the top of my post, the Black Rabbit expressed surprise that Lochridge did not mention the “gas chamber” in her magazine article.  On May 15, a group of four Congressmen gave their report on the Dachau gas chamber.  I previously blogged about the Congressmen and their report here.  The Congressmen had arrived at Dachau on May 1, 1945 and had perhaps written their report before the Americans had finished turning the shower room into a gas chamber.  The official visit to the “gas chamber” by the Congressmen was on May 3, 1945 when they were officially photographed inside the “gas chamber.”

Four US Congressmen look at the Dachau gas chamber on May 3, 1945

Four US Congressmen look at the Dachau gas chamber on May 3, 1945

Left to right,  in the photo above, the Congressmen are Senator Wherry from Nebraska, Senator Brooks from Illinois, Representative Vorhys from Ohio and Representative Richards from South Carolina. The American soldier who is standing between Senator Wherry and Senator Brooks is James Bolin. He is the third man from the left.

Were the bodies, found in the morgue room on the day of liberation, still there on May 7th when the Germans toured the camp?  That would have been 8 days after the camp was liberated.  These bodies were being kept for the benefit of American soldiers who were brought to see the atrocities at Dachau, on the orders of General Eisenhower, who wanted as many witnesses as possible to the German atrocities, in case that some day people would try to deny it.

On page 54 of his book Legacies of Dachau, Harold Marcuse wrote this:

Thus when news of Dachau’s liberation on 29 April reached the high command, General Patch ordered that the evidence of German brutality be left untouched awaiting inspections.  Four members of the congressional delegation toured Dachau on 1 May, within 48 hours of liberation.  The 18 member newspaper delegation arrived on 3 May. […] In a pre-tour briefing upon arrival in Paris, Eisenhower made clear to the delegation of journalists why the US government had brought them to Germany to tour the concentration camps. […]  He wanted somehow to make the American people know what sort of savages we were dealing with.

I read the whole article, written by Patricia Lochridge, and I didn’t see the word “typhus” but maybe I missed it.  Was she vaccinated for typhus before going inside the camp?  I did read that Lochridge was a graduate of Wellesley and also a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Columbia University was the home of the Frankfurt school, which included Herbert Marcuse, the grandfather of Harold Marcuse.  To his credit, Harold Marcuse did write about the typhus epidemic in his book Legacies of Dachau.

Lochridge wrote, in her article about the tour, that the mayor of Dachau was Edmund Suse, a name that I had never heard before, even though I have done extensive research on Dachau.  She mentioned that Suse was a “newly released” prisoner of Dachau, and had been “newly appointed” as the mayor, apparently by the American military.  Marcuse names 5 different mayors of Dachau, but the name Suse was not included.  Lochridge also mentioned that “two Polish girls” were working as “slaves” in a Dachau home.  Dachau was a camp primarily for men.  The few female prisoners worked in the homes of Dachau residents.

Patricia Lochridge wrote what was expected of a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.  Apparently, she was not told about the “gas chamber” at Dachau, or she most certainly would have included it in her story of the tour of the camp.  Her assignment was to demonize the German people, and “make the American people know what sort of savages” the Germans were; she accomplished that with her story.

The residents of the town of Dachau knew very well what was going on in the camp.  The SS guards came to the town to party with the locals, and two former prisoners of Dachau lived in the town.

The cafe in the town of Dachau where SS guards partied with the locals

The cafe in the town of Dachau where SS guards partied with the locals

Another view of the Cafe B

Another view of the Cafe Belstler

The four-story building in the two photographs above is the former location of the Cafe Belstler, which was a popular spot for drinking and dancing during the years that the SS had a Training Camp and garrison west of the Dachau concentration camp. If there were any atrocities going on in the Dachau camp, the locals would have known about it.

If Longridge is still alive, she is probably kicking herself that she didn’t hang around long enough to witness the newly completed “gas chamber.”