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April 30, 2013

Mayday, Mayday

Filed under: Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:00 pm

Dancing around the Maypole in Buchenberg, Germany

Dancing around the Maypole in Buchenberg, Germany

The term Mayday is an international radiotelephone signal word used by aircraft and ships in distress, according to the Online Dictionary. The term comes from the French term venez m’aider, meaning “Come help me.”

Mayday in Germany, and in German-American communities in the USA, also means a celebration of Spring.  According to tradition, the first person (of the opposite sex) that you see on Mayday is your true love.

The photo above shows both male and female dancers dancing around a Maypole, but it is usually young girls who dance around a pole on the first day of May in America.  This custom used to be followed religiously in German-American communities in America, but today — not so much.

Two holidays occur on May 1st in Germany, and the Germans celebrate them both. May Day has been a nationwide holiday in Germany since 1919, when the German National Assembly declared it to be a holiday to honor working men and women. It is also widely celebrated in Germany as a rite of spring, with music, dancing and maypoles.  The May Day traditional celebration goes back to the Wiccan holiday Beltane, which was a celebration of Spring.

Muttertag is the German celebration of May 1st, which features dancing around a Maypole.  Over 120 years ago, America inspired the celebration of labor on May Day.  The European Labor Day began in 1890 as a sympathy gesture for striking Americans in Chicago.  Dancing around the Maypole goes back quite a bit farther.

To dance around a Maypole, the dancers walk around a tall pole, clutching a rainbow of colored ribbons.  An outer circle of dancers moves clockwise while an inner circle dances in the opposite direction.  At the start, the dancers stretch their ribbons far away from the center, but move closer as the colors wrap around the pole.  In synch with each other, and the music, the circles then change direction and unwind themselves.

The German Maypole custom goes back to pre-Christian celebrations of spring.  Beginning with the Equinox in March and April, German tribes used to celebrate the new life and fertility of the season.  Trees received a particular reverence during these rituals.  Dancing around them became the precedent for the Maypole.

Young girls dancing around a Maypole

Young girls dancing around a Maypole

In Germany, the Maypole is left up for at least a month.  I took the photos below on a trip to Germany and a trip to Austria.

A Maypole in the town square in Linz, Austria

A Maypole in the town square in Linz, Austria

Maypole in the town square of Geseke, Germany

Maypole in the town square of Geseke, Germany

A German Jew writes a letter to his wife and mentions the liberation of Dachau

Fritz Schnaittacher, a Jew who had been living in Germany until 1933, was an intelligence officer with the U.S. Seventh Army in Germany during World War II.

Fritz Schnaittacher

Fritz Schnaittacher

You can read the full story, entitled “A German Jew in the U.S. Army Confronts Dachau” here.

In a letter to his wife in 1945, First Lieutenant Fritz Schnaittacher, an intelligence officer with the U.S. Seventh Army in Germany, wrote about how he was almost sent to Dachau 12 years ago, which would have been in 1933 when the Dachau camp was first opened.  The first prisoners, who were sent to Dachau in 1933, were taken from the Munich prison to the first German concentration camp which had just been opened.  These first prisoners had been arrested as “enemies of the state” after the Reichstag fire. What was this young German Jew doing in 1933 that he was just missed being sent to Dachau by “the skin of his teeth,” as he wrote in his letter to his wife.

This quote is from Schnaittacher’s letter to his wife:

Twelve years ago to day I came to Munich — yesterday we took it — to day we were in the heart of it — another coincidence. The past few days were some of the greatest and saddest in my life. Our regiment took Dachau or should I say liberated the human wreckage which was left there. This I consider one of the most glorious pages in the history of our regiment, not because the fighting was tough, it wasn’t, but because it finally opened the gates of one of the world’s most hellish places.

You have heard the stories over the radio — I don’t want to add much more — the most striking picture I saw was the “death train” — I say picture, no not picture, but carload and carload full of corpses, once upon a time people, who were alive, who were happy and people who had convictions or were Jews — then slowly but methodically they were killed. Death has an ugly face on these people — they were starved to death — the positions they were lying in show that they succumbed slowly — they made one move, fell, were too weak to make another move, and there are hundreds of such lifeless skeletons covered by some skin. I tried to find out the origin of this train. Some of the stories corresponded — whether this train was to leave Dachau or had just arrived is not essential — essential is that they were locked into these cattle cars without sanitation and without food. The SS had to take off in a hurry — we came too fast — it was too late to cover up their atrocities.

First prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp in 1933

First prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp in 1933

You can read about the first prisoners who were sent to Dachau, on my website here.  A few of the first prisoners who were sent to Dachau in 1933 were Jewish, but none of the first prisoners were sent there just because they were Jews; they were transferred to the first concentration camp, from the Munich jail, because of their politically activity against the state.

In reading the letter that Fritz wrote to his wife, I was struck by the fact that he wrote about the “death train” but didn’t write about what was happening to the German people in the last days of the war. I am currently reading a book entitled Germany 1945, in which the author mentions that 500,000 German civilians were killed during the Allied bombing of German cities and that 26 million Germans (one fourth of the total population) were homeless.  This number did not include the ethnic Germans, in other European countries, who were expelled from their homes and forced to go to Germany, where there was no housing available.  On top of this, the American Army officers forced German civilians out of their homes so that they could occupy them.  Fritz had no sympathy for the German civilians who were treated very badly by the Americans.

Before you say that the Germans got what they deserved because Germany started the war, read a blog post that I wrote 3 years ago about the start of World War II.

April 29, 2013

Holocaust survivor was standing in line for the gas chamber on the day that Dachau was liberated.

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:45 pm

Today, the United States Holocaust Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary. You can read about it online here.

This quote is from the news article about the USHMM:

For 20 years, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has reminded visitors of atrocity, grief and survival.

On Monday, nearly 4,000 supporters joined 843 Holocaust survivors and 130 veterans to celebrate its 20th anniversary and hear speeches from President Bill Clinton and museum founding chairman Elie Wiesel.  Under a large tent outside the museum, just south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., survivors talked with American soldiers who liberated concentration camps, sharing their stories.

Ernest Gross, who survived the Dachau concentration camp, searched for years to find a camp liberator. He found one in Don Greenbaum of Philadelphia. The two traveled to Washington to attend the ceremony together.

“I was transported from Camp 7 to Dachau to be gassed and to go into the ovens,” Gross told ABC News just before the ceremony, from his seat next to Greenbaum.

“I was standing in line, and I was close enough that I was able to see the ovens, and all of a sudden I see the German soldiers are throwing their weapons down,” Gross said.  “I didn’t know why I turned around, and I saw the American Army liberating the camp, and for 67 years I looked for somebody who liberated me to thank him.”

The USHMM website has a page about Ernest Gross, which mentions that he was a prisoner in the Kaufering VII sub-camp of Dachau.  In the last days of the war, the prisoners in the eleven Kaufering camps were evacuated to the Dachau main camp, except for Kaufering IV which was the camp for sick prisoners.

Now we know why the prisoners were brought from the Kaufering sub-camps to the main camp.  It was not to allow them to be liberated by the American Army which was on its way to Dachau.  No, Ernst Gross and the rest of the Kaufering prisoners were brought to the main camp to be killed in the gas chamber.  Ernst was saved in the nick of time.

SS soldiers were shot by Lt. Bill Walsh on the day that Dachau was liberated

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:03 pm
American soldiers pose beside the bodies of SS soldiers killed during the liberation of Dachau

American soldiers pose beside the bodies of SS soldiers killed during the liberation of Dachau

The photo above shows the bodies of SS soldiers who were shot by American soldiers during the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945.

I previously blogged here about a new book about the liberation of Dachau, written by Alex Kershaw.  This morning, I read an excerpt from the book on this website.

Kershaw wrote at length about “I Company commander Lieutenant Bill Walsh”  describing him with these words: “twenty-five-year-old Walsh, a tall and imposing figure with a chowder-thick accent from Newton, Massachusetts, arrived at the junction with I Company, which had earned the presidential unit citation for its actions at Anzio.”

U.S. soldiers view the bodies of SS men who were taken to the "death train" and shot

U.S. soldiers view the bodies of SS men who were taken to the “death train” and shot

You can read about the Dachau “death train” on my website here.

This quote is from the excerpt from Kershaw’s book which you can read in full here:

Walsh had no idea what [Lt. Col. Felix] Sparks meant by “concentration camp.” He had once seen a POW camp in upstate New York that had housed fit, well-fed, and happy German prisoners. Perhaps Dachau would be the same kind of place.

[ …]

There were thirty-nine boxcars in all, containing some two thousand corpses. The train had left Buchenwald with around forty-eight hundred prisoners some three weeks earlier. It had first stopped so that hundreds could be shot. The SS that cruelest of springs had been over- whelmed, confused, and exasperated by the sheer numbers of their victims and, under orders not to let any prisoners fall into the hands of the Allies, had killed with clinical efficiency. On April 21, when the train halted for the second time, thirty-one hundred severely malnourished and dehydrated people on board were still alive. Six days later, when the train pulled into Dachau at night, there were just eight hundred. The dead were left to rot on the train.

I Company commander Bill Walsh arrived at the boxcars. At first, he thought the skeletal people were sleeping.

What the hell is this?

Sparks was next on the scene, having left his jeep in a nearby side street, along with his shotgun and radio. His only weapon now was his Colt .45, holstered at his hip. At first, as were many of his men, he was paralyzed by what he saw. The sights and smells robbed the mind of reason.

[…]

Sparks ordered his men to check to see if any people were alive. None were. Then he told them to keep going toward the camp, a hundred yards in the distance.

Bill Walsh still looked stunned. “Okay, move!” Sparks ordered Walsh.

Walsh and I Company began to move past more railroad cars, down the tracks that led into the Dachau complex.

Sparks followed behind, passing more open boxcars filled with bodies, boxcars like the ones he had ridden in across America ten years before. Ahead of him, some of his men were boiling with rage, eager to avenge the SS crimes. I Company scout Private John Lee had never seen his fellow Thunderbirds so unhinged.

Sparks heard men screaming and cursing. “Let’s get these Nazi dogs.”

It was all too much. His men were losing their minds. Lieutenant Walsh set the tone, ranting and raving about SS sons of bitches. He and others had been pushed past the breaking point. The army had trained them to fight. It had not prepared them for this kind of psychological shock. Nothing could. They had come across a tragedy beyond comprehension. “Every man in the outfit who saw those boxcars,” recalled one of Sparks’s men, “felt [like] meting out death as punishment to the Germans who were responsible.”

Sparks snapped commands and tried to regain control of his men. It took several minutes.

“Okay,” he finally said when I Company had calmed down enough for him to make himself clearly understood. “We’re going in the camp.” Sparks led the way over a perimeter wall with one group of men while Lieutenant Walsh advanced with another group from I Company. On the other side of the wall, Sparks found himself in the neat garden of a pleasant home, one of several used by families of the SS officers within the Dachau complex.

[…]

Meanwhile, Walsh and  his party came across four SS men who had their hands on their heads. Walsh took them into one of the box- cars and called for a machine gun. Then he changed his mind and fired his pistol at them. But he did not kill them all. Other I Company men could hear the survivors’ cries of pain. A private called Pruitt entered the boxcar and lifted his M1 rifle and fired, killing the wounded men with eight or nine clinical shots. “They were suffering and taking on and I figured there was no use letting them suffer, so I finished them off,” Pruitt later testified. “I never like to see anybody suffer.”

Walsh’s  men carried  on, moving  beyond  the rail tracks into the Dachau complex itself.

[…]

Then [Sparks] saw Lieutenant Bill Walsh emerge from between a couple of buildings. He was chasing a German.

“You sons of bitches,” Walsh was screaming repeatedly.

Walsh began to beat the German over the head with the barrel of his carbine.

“Bastards. Bastards. Bastards.”

Sparks ordered Walsh to stop, but Walsh ignored him. So Sparks pulled out his .45 and clubbed Walsh on the head with its butt, stunning him and knocking him to the ground.

Walsh lay there, crying hysterically.

“I’m taking over command of the company,” yelled Sparks.

One of Walsh’s men, Sidney C. Horn, recalled that seven men were needed to take a hysterical Walsh into a room and “get him quieted down. He really lost it there.” Walsh had gone “crazy,” as Sparks would later put it, overwhelmed like many of his men by the scenes of atrocity. Walsh later confessed: “I’ll be honest with you. I broke down. I started crying. The whole thing was getting to me. This was the culmination of something that I had never been trained for.”

The boxcar where SS men at Dachau were shot

The boxcar where SS men at Dachau were shot

The “Dachau massacre” was kept secret for over 40 years.  The explanation given for the bodies of the men whose legs were hanging out of the boxcar is that these were prisoners who were shot by the SS men when they tried to escape.

April 28, 2013

April 29, 1945 — the day that the Dachau concentration camp was liberated — stories of two survivors

Belief in the “death march” as a means of killing Jews is required in the Holocaustianity religion, so don’t even think of denying this, unless you want your future career to be permanently vitiated.

Death march OUT of Dachau in the last days of World War II

Death march OUT of Dachau in the last days of World War II

The photo above shows Jews being marched OUT of Dachau in order to prevent them from attacking civilians, since they would soon be liberated from Dachau.  Sorry, but I don’t have any photos that show a death march TO Dachau.

In his best-selling book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen wrote this on page 367 in Chapter 14, entitled “Marching to What End?”

Finally, the fidelity of the Germans to their genocidal enterprise was so great as seeming to defy comprehension. Their world was disintegrating around them, yet they persisted in genocidal killing until the end.

Goldhagen was referring to the death marches out of Auschwitz in the final days of the war, but this definition also applies to another death march out of Auschwitz, which began in July 1944 and ended at Dachau on August 6, 1944.

Two of the famous survivors of this death march were Max Mannheimer and Sol Teichman.

This quote is from an article which you can read in full here:

One of my closest friends here in Los Angeles is Mr. Sol Teichman, a prominent citizen, businessman, philanthropist, and a Holocaust survivor.

Born on September 9, 1927, in the Hungarian town of Munkacs, Sol’s family were (sic) prominent and prosperous grain, bean and walnut merchants. The family lived in a lovely home in a quiet cul-de-sac and were known in the tight-knit Jewish community for their piety, charity, and close ties to the Belzer and Munkacs Hasidic dynasties.

Of course, the Nazi death grip descended on the Jews of Hungary, and by 1943, the Teichman home and business had been confiscated. The Jews of Munkacs were cruelly herded into a ghetto and then shipped in cattle cars to Auschwitz.

Sol, 17 years old, and his brother Steve, 14, survived the death camp, only to be sent on a death march to Dachau in August 1944.

This quote is from this website:

Shortly after Sol’s Bar Mitzvah in 1940, his father was taken away to a Hungarian labor camp. On the second day of Passover,1944, all the Jews of Munkacz were given one hour to vacate their homes and were herded into ghettos.

In June, they were transported to Auschwitz. That was the last time that Sol Teichman saw his mother, sister and three of his brothers. […]  As the end of the war approached, the Nazis forced many of their Jewish prisoners to participate in their infamous death march to Dachau. Sol and his brother Steve began the march. But Steve’s strength gave out so Sol carried him for the rest of the journey. Of the 6,000 who started the march, only about 600 survived, Sol and his brother among them.

This quote about Max Mannheimer is from Wikipedia:

In October 1943, Mannheimer and his younger brother, Edger were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto to clear rubble.[4] In July 1944, he was sent on a death march to Dachau, arriving on August 6, 1944. After three weeks in quarantine, he was sent to Allach, a Dachau subcamp where he worked at a BMW factory. At the beginning of 1945, he and his brother were sent to Mühldorf subcamp, which was evacuated by train on April 28, 1945. The train was liberated by American troops on April 30, 1945 in Seeshaupt. In the end, only Mannheimer and his brother Edgar survived.[1][3]

Now for Sol Teichman’s story, which is a real tear-jerker:

Quoted from this website:

Here is an excerpt from Sol’s privately printed memoir, The Long Journey Home, in which he describes hell on earth.

The Crimson Lake

It was a death march, and I was terrified at each and every step. My body was convulsed with excruciating muscle spasms. Everywhere was the sharp crack of rifle fire as the Germans picked off one Jew after another. Was I going to be murdered next?  I had no idea where we were going or for how long we were going to march. Would we be on this road for one day, two days, a week, a month, or did the Germans plan on marching us until we were all dead? Not knowing was torture, just as the Germans planned.

If a prisoner tried to step aside to relieve himself, he was shot, bayoneted or beaten to death with the heavy butt of a rifle.

On the first night of the march my brother Steve lost heart.

“I don’t want to go on. I don’t want to live,” he said.

I looked at my brother and I knew in the depths of my soul that there was no choice. And so, though Steve was bigger and heavier than me, I leaned over, draped him over my back and carried my brother.

All I could do was place one foot in front of the other, one breath and then another.

We marched for days and nights without food or water. The heat was unbearable. My bones felt crushed, pulverized. Every breath was torture, my lungs felt as if they were exploding from unbearable pressure. But I knew that if I stopped, if I collapsed, the Germans would shoot us, beat us to death, or let their attack dogs rip us from limb to limb. And so I staggered onward.

One day, in the distance, we spied a lake.  I think it was T’sha B’Av night. Many of the men on the march started running towards the water, desperate to get a drink of water. As I staggered closer to the lake I saw that the water was a strange color.

And then I realized that the lake was red.

The Germans were shooting hundreds of Jews by the shores of the lake—and the water turned to blood.

We stood and stared at the crimson lake. I could not, would not, drink the bloody water.

We lay down, tried to sleep, and then in the middle of the night a tremendous thunderstorm exploded. Rain poured from the sky.

I stood in the middle of the field, opened my mouth and savored the sharp needles of rain dripping down my throat. The thunderstorm was miraculous and provided just enough water to relieve my overwhelming thirst.

Shivering in the rain and mud, I snatched bits of fitful sleep.

In the middle of the night I awoke and watched in dismay as starved prisoners, crazed by empty bellies, shoved tufts of grass—black dirt clinging to the roots—into their mouths, chewed and swallowed.

In the inky darkness, someone whispered that nearby was a meadow filled with wild potatoes. Steve wanted to sneak into the field and eat the raw potatoes, but I wouldn’t let him. I knew that they would make us sick. Taking advantage of the night because the German guards couldn’t see what was going on, some Jews did sneak off and pick the potatoes. They devoured the raw potatoes in quick, starving bites. But soon they doubled over with agonizing cramps and diarrhea, and then, a few hours later, they died. Those who didn’t die, those who were too sick to move, were shot to death by the Germans.

Later, I discovered that, carrying Steve on my back, I had marched for four days and covered approximately seventy miles. But at the time, not knowing how long or how far I traveled, time seemed to vanish and distances seemed endless as I pushed onward, day after day under the oppressive heat, my back bent like a bow. My throat was parched from thirst; the sun beat down and my skin was burned raw. I was dizzy from exhaustion, hunger and fear. Every bone in my body was throbbing. I felt like a marching skeleton. Thousands were murdered along that road. My fellow Jewish prisoners were beaten to death with wooden clubs and iron bars. Some Jews welcomed death for life had become endless torture, unendurable.

Four uncles and several cousins died on this death march.

In a daze, I realized that we had reached a valley. There we camped for the night. The next day we continued a short distance to a railhead and were loaded on cattle cars bound for Dachau.

When we started the march we were about 6,000 Jews, arriving at Dachau there were only about 600 survivors.

You can see color photos of the survivors of Dachau on this website.

Grandson of a Nazi war criminal takes a tour of the Dachau Memorial Site

A very interesting article about Dachau, written fairly recently, by Jeaneane Payne, can be read here on the online Knoxville Daily Sun.  One surprising fact that I learned from this article is the information in this quote:

“Germans today prefer to use the term ‘death camps’ as opposed to concentration camps because the only purpose of the camps was to kill people in an industrialized way,” stated [the grandson of an SS man]. […]

[This young man’s] grandfather was a Nazi war criminal, an SS agent stationed at Dachau. As I was planning my trip to Germany to visit my daughter and son-in-law, [he] asked if he could travel to Dachau from Southwest Germany with us. […]

His grandfather was a volunteer in the SS. “He was proud of his involvement with the SS,” [his grandson] said. “He never showed remorse for his actions.”

After the war, the SS was declared to be a criminal organization by the Allies at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, so every man in the SS was a war criminal, regardless of his behavior during World War II.  You can read about it on this website.  The grandfather of this young man could have personally saved the lives of many Jews at Dachau, yet he would still have been a war criminal simply because he was in a military unit that had been declared (ex-post-facto) by the enemy to be a criminal organization.

This quote is from the article by Ms. Payne:

After touring the main facilities, we decided to go as a group to visit the crematorium knowing this would be the most difficult part for each of us, particularly for [the grandson of an SS man] who knew his grandfather had a part in the effort by the SS of placing so many innocent people in the ovens.

The crematorium had been built at the backside of the camp, out of view and out of hearing range of the screams of many thousands of people as they were being place[d] into the ovens. It was adjacent to the gas chamber which had been disguised as “showers”.

Cremation ovens at Dachau concentration camp

Cremation ovens at Dachau concentration camp

View of the inside of one of the Dachau ovens

View of the inside of one of the Dachau ovens

Dr. Francizek Blaha was a prisoner, who worked at the Dachau crematorium, performing autopsies. The following quote is from the affidavit of Dr. Blaha, given to American interrogators on 3 May 1945, and presented at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in November 1945:

Sometimes prisoners were killed only because they had dysentery or vomited and gave the nurses too much trouble. Mental patients were liquidated by being led to the gas chamber and injected there or shot. Shooting was a common method of execution. Prisoners could be shot just outside the crematorium and carried in. I have seen people pushed into the ovens while they were still breathing and making sounds, although if they were too much alive they were usually hit on the head first.

Could this be the origin of the claim that prisoners were burned alive in the ovens at Dachau?  Are tour guides now telling visitors that people were burned alive at Dachau?

According to Marcus J. Smith, a U.S. Army doctor, who wrote a book called The Harrowing of Hell about the days immediately following the liberation of the camp, the ovens at Dachau were used by the American military to cremate the bodies found in the camp, including the bodies of some of the Waffen-SS soldiers who were killed when the camp was liberated.

Smith wrote that, around May 6, 1945, the disposal of the bodies in the camp began:

It is time to dispose of the bodies. Some are carried to the gravel pits. Then the furnaces of the crematorium are stoked and reignited. By increasing the work day for the operators from four to ten hours, 710 corpses are cremated in the next four days. Too slow! A top-level decision is made to bury the dead.

Dachau prisoners who loaded the dead bodies into the ovens pose for a photo

Dachau prisoners who loaded the dead bodies into the ovens pose for a photo

The old photo above show crematory workers demonstrating how they dragged the dead bodies out of the morgue, loaded them onto a stretcher and then shoved them into the cremation ovens. Posed photographs, such as the photo shown above, were offered for sale to American soldiers who visited the museum set up in Baracke X by the US Army after the liberation of Dachau.

According to Marcus J. Smith, the chief of the Dachau crematorium crew was Ludvik “a heavy, powerfully muscled Czech who has labored in the crematorium for a long time.” Smith wrote that Ludvik sent him a letter in which he complained that his team of 10 people were not being treated as well as they had been by the SS. Ludvik wrote in this letter: “We feel that after our liberation, at least the same standard of living should be maintained. But our position is worse than then as to food, drinks and tobacco.”

Could it be that Ludvik and his fellow prisoners shoved Jews into the ovens alive?  Or did the SS men come into the crematorium at night and burn a few Jews alive, just for fun?  Is this why the SS was declared to be a criminal organization by the Allies ex post facto (after the fact)?  The grandsons of the SS men should not be tortured by being told that SS men burned people alive in the ovens at Dachau.  For shame!

Smith wrote that, because the cremation efforts were too slow, the bodies were buried by German civilians “at the American commander’s request.” The corpses were taken on carts to the burial site on a hill called Leitenberg where the bodies were transferred to a bulldozed excavation, according to Smith. He wrote that “Eventually 2,400 bodies were buried.” That would mean that there was a total of 3,110 bodies in the camp, including those of the prisoners who died between April 29th and May 6th after the liberation. There were allegedly 2,310 bodies on the death train that arrived in the camp on April 27, 1945, which would have to be included in this total. There were 2,226 prisoners who died in the month of May 1945 after the liberation of the camp; they were buried in a cemetery in the town of Dachau.

Photo of the body of Louis Schloss, who died at Dachau

Photo of the body of Louis Schloss, who died at Dachau

Ms. Payne shows a photo of Louis Schloss, a prisoner who died after being punished at Dachau with this caption under the photo:

Nurembourg (sic) businessman Louis Schloss died on May 16, 1933 at Dachau as a result of a beating. To give the incident the appearance of a suicide, he was hung on a hook with suspenders. The above image was taken on May 17, 1933 under the direction of the State Prosecution Office.

It is true that Louis Schloss died in the Dachau camp after being beaten.  Here is what happened:  When the Dachau camp was first opened on March 22, 1933, the guards were police officers with the Munich police, but after only a few weeks, SS soldiers were assigned to guard duty in the camp.

The first Commandant of Dachau was SS Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle, who began using that title on April 19, 1933. Wäckerle was instructed by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and the acting Police Chief of Munich, to draw up a set of rules for discipline in the camp. His rules were extremely harsh and a number of prisoners died after being punished.

The deaths in the Dachau camp came to the attention of the Munich prosecutor after Sophie Handschuch made a formal complaint in 1933, demanding to know the true cause of death of her son who had been an inmate at Dachau. Other prisoners who died in the early days of the camp were Dr. Rudolf Benario, Fritz Dressel, Sepp Götz, Ernst Goldmann, Arthur Kahn, and Erwin Kahn. Karl Lehrburger and Wilhelm Aron, both Jewish, also died as a result of harsh treatment in the Dachau camp. Herbert Hunglinge committed suicide to escape the unbearable conditions in the camp.

After an investigation by the Munich police, Wäckerle was charged with murder for the deaths of Louis Schloss on May 16, Leonard Hausmann on May 17, Dr. Alfred Strauss on May 24 and Sebastian Nefzger on May 25. Dr. Strauss and Louis Schloss were both Jewish. Because of the criminal charges, Himmler was forced to relieve Wäckerle of his command, as of June 25, 1933. The charges against Wäckerle were later dropped, but he was dismissed from his job as Commandant and sent to fight on the Eastern front, where he was killed in action. Wäckerle was replaced by Theodor Eicke who became the new Commandant. Eicke was also killed in action after he was transferred to the Eastern front.

In June 1934, Eicke was given the title of Inspector General and the authority to approve all punishments in all the camps.

The following quote is from the article written by Ms. Payne:

Pole hanging was a method of torture used in interrogation as well as punishment. Victims were hung up by their wrists, swung back and forth, and beaten.

“These are the torments of hell! The whole body weight hangs from the arms that are twisted backward. And the monsters stand in front of you and laugh at your pain, ask you whether you now want to confess, slap you in the face and pull and tug at your body. When you stay silent they swing you, often they whip you at the same time.” — “The Powerful and the Helpless,” prisoner account of Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz (1940-1945 in the Dachau concentration camp) on pole hanging, 1957 (excerpt).

Fake photo of "tree hanging" is a still shot from a documentary made by the Soviet Union

Fake photo of “tree hanging” is a still shot from a documentary made by the Soviet Union

Pole hanging was also called “tree hanging.”  I previously blogged about pole hanging here.  The photo shown above was taken in the second Dachau Museum, which first opened in 1965.  When the Museum was expanded in 2003, this photo was removed.  Although it was known that this was a fake photo, it was left up in the Dachau Museum for several years.
This quote is also from the article by Ms. Payne, which shows a photo of a door into a prison cell in the Dachau bunker:

During the 5 hours we spent at Dachau, the most difficult for me was viewing the prison cells. The walk down a long corridor portrayed each cell as being more deplorable than that the last.

Apparently, Ms. Payne was not told that the bunker had private cells for the privileged prisoners who were allowed to walk around around outside their cells and even to receive visitors.  There was one wing of the bunker, that has since been torn down, which housed the SS men who had broken the rules.  The night before the Dachau camp was liberated, 128 SS men were released from their prison cells in the bunker and ordered to man the guard towers, while the regular SS guards  left that night.

After Dachau was liberated, it was turned into “War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 for German war criminals”.  The cells in the bunker were used to incarcerate high ranking German prisoners. The Germans didn’t get a private cell; 5 men were placed in each cell where there was only one bed.  They had to take turns standing, sitting and sleeping.

Ms. Payne shows a photo of one of the disinfection cells with the caption “Gas chamber.”  At least, she got that right.  A disinfection cell at Dachau was called a Gaskammer or “gas chamber” in English.

Photo of disinfection cell with the caption "Gas chamber"

Photo of disinfection cell with the caption “Gas chamber”

April 27, 2013

“Dachau Liberation reprisals” — another term for the “Dachau Massacre”

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:19 am
SS soldier who was killed in the "Dachau reprisal"

SS soldier who was killed in the “Dachau Liberation reprisals”

The term “Dachau Massacre” is frequently used to mean the killing of SS soldiers during the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, by American troops, on April 29, 1945.  There are photos of the dead SS soldiers, yet Wikipedia states that “American soldiers allegedly wounded and killed German camp guards and German prisoners of war” on a page with the title Dachau Liberation reprisals.  You can read all about the Dachau Massacre on my web site here.

The Geneva Convention of 1949, which is currently in effect, states that the principle of the prohibition of reprisals against persons has now become part of international law in respect to all persons, whether they are members of the armed forces or civilians.

According to international law during World War II, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, it was legal to violate the laws of war by responding with a reprisal against civilians in order to stop guerrilla actions that were against international law.   It was NOT legal under the Geneva Convention of 1929 to kill Prisoners of War in a reprisal. 

In plain words, it was a war crime for American soldiers to shoot German Prisoners of War at Dachau in a reprisal.  The title of the Wikipedia article should be “Dachau Liberation war crimes.”

This quote is from the Wikipedia article about the “Dachau Liberation reprisals”:

The Dachau liberation reprisals were a series of killings of German camp guards and German prisoners of war from the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, during World War II. Following the prisoners’ liberation by American soldiers from 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Seventh Army, American soldiers allegedly wounded and killed German camp guards and German prisoners of war. The number of victims differs widely by account, though the estimated death toll stands at 123.[1] Other camp guards were killed and tortured by former inmates.

The reprisals occurred after the U.S. 45th Infantry Division entered the Dachau concentration camp. Before the soldiers entered the camp, they found outside 40 roofless boxcars (or freight-cars) full of emaciated dead bodies in advanced stages of decomposition.[2][3] More bodies were found about the camp. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp’s capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium and a gas chamber.[1]

In American railroad terminology, roofless boxcars are called gondola cars.  The cars on the death train found at Dachau were Italian cars, as shown in the photo below.

Line of cars on the "death train" found at Dachau

Line of cars on the “death train” found at Dachau

This quote, from the words of Private John Lee, a soldier in the 45th Division, is at the top of my website page about the death train which you can read in full here:

“These people were stuffed in these cars. The cars had bullet holes all over them, evidently from strafing on the way to Dachau. Most of the GIs just stood there in silence and disbelief. We had seen men in battle blown apart, burnt to death, and die many different ways, but we were never prepared for this. Several of the dead lay there with their eyes open, a picture I will never get out of my mind. It seems they were looking at us and saying, ‘What took you so long?'” 

The prisoners on the Death Train had been brought to Dachau from the Buchenwald camp, in order to prevent them from being released by the American liberators.  There was a fear that the prisoners might go to the nearby city of Weimar and attack German civilians if they were released.

Hans Merbach was the 35-year-old SS man who was assigned to supervise the evacuation of Buchenwald prisoners to Dachau. The train had left the Weimar station near Buchenwald on April 8, 1945 and didn’t arrive at Dachau until almost three weeks later. The train was delayed because of Allied bombing of the railroad tracks.

Martin Rosenfeld, one of the prisoners on the death train who survived, testified at the trial of Hans Merbach that the train was strafed by Allied planes on the way and that the prisoners were forced to stay in the open boxcars, while the SS men took cover in the woods. Rosenfeld’s testimony was 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.

It is understandable that the American liberators were upset when they saw the dead bodies on the train, but they should not have committed a war crime by shooting the SS men in the Dachau training camp who had nothing to do with the train.  They should not have shot SS guards who had surrendered and had their hands in the air.  Wounded Wehrmacht soldiers should not have been dragged out of a hospital at Dachau and shot; this was a war crime that should not be covered up by calling it a reprisal.

You can read about the Dachau trial of Hans Merbach on my website here.

April 26, 2013

Photos of the ruins of Krema II at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:55 am

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I am putting up some pictures of Krema II (the gas chamber building) at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The building was allegedly blown up by the Nazis on January 20, 1945. Or maybe by the Soviet liberators — who knows?  (The SS men had left on January 18, 1945, leading a death march out of the camp.)

These photos were taken by me in October 2005.  The ruins of Krema II have probably collapsed more since then, so I am sharing these photos.

2005 photo of the ruins of Krema II at Auschwitz-Birkenau

2005 photo of the ruins of Krema II at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Ruins of the crematorium in the Krema II building at Birkeanu

Ruins of the crematorium in the Krema II building at Birkenau

Ruins of Krema II

Ruins of Krema II

Holes in roof of Krema II

Holes in the roof of Krema II

Several revisionists have climbed down into the gas chamber, which is located under the collapsed roof shown in the photo above.  I am not sure if the hole shown in the photo is the hole that was used to climb down into the gas chamber.  These are NOT the holes that were used to pour the Zyklon-B pellets into the gas chamber.  Those holes have never been found.

April 26th, the anniversary of the day that Dr. Sigmund Rascher was allegedly executed at Dachau in 1945

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:39 am

On this website, you can read an article with this headline:  1945: Sigmund Rascher, feared science

Dr. Sigmund Rascher is shown on the right, as he conducts an experiment

Dr. Sigmund Rascher is shown on the right, as he conducts an experiment

The article on the website cited above begins with these words:

It’s on this date in 1945 that Sigmund Rascher is supposed to have been summarily executed in Dachau.

If that’s what happened, it’s no more than Rascher (English Wikipedia page | German) deserved.

There is a link in the article to a page on my website which you can read here. (the link on the website with the article does not work)

I don’t believe that Dr. Rascher was executed at Dachau.  I wrote a blog post about the alleged execution of Dr. Rascher, which you can read here.  (the website with the article links to my blog post)

Dr. Rascher conducted some very cruel experiments for the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at Dachau.  America also conducted experiments for the American Air Force, but stopped short of letting the subjects die during the experiments.

An experiment carried out by Dr. Sigmund Rascher at Dachau

An experiment carried out by Dr. Sigmund Rascher at Dachau for the Luftwaffe

The photo above shows a Russian POW who was the subject of one of Dr. Rascher’s experiments.  You can read more about Dr. Rascher’s cruel experiments on my website here.  I was horrified when I saw the photo above at Dachau.  The man looks like an American, but I learned later that he is Russian.

If Dr. Sigmund Rascher had not been killed, he would probably have been brought to America, along with other German scientists and doctors, after the war.  Or he might have been put on trial in the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg.

April 25, 2013

Holocaust Survivor tells students that Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz III where the women were marched straight to the gas chamber

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:06 pm
Quarantine barracks at Auschwitz II (Birkenau)

Quarantine barracks at Auschwitz II (Birkenau)

The photo above shows tourists looking at the barracks, just inside the gate, at the Auschwitz II camp. Incoming prisoners had to spend time in quarantine in these barracks until it could be determined that they had no communicable diseases.  All except Phil Gans and his family, who were sent from the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands directly to the Auschwitz III camp (Monowitz) in 1943.

Tracks where incoming prisoners were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Tracks on which incoming prisoners were brought inside the Auschwitz II camp in 1944

The photo above shows the tracks which were built in 1944 to bring prisoners inside the Birkenau camp.  To the left of the tracks, you can see the main camp road and the women’s camp. On the right, but not shown in the photo, are the quarantine barracks.  This photo was taken in the early morning, but already there are two tour groups at the Auschwitz II camp, aka Birkenau.

In 1943, when Phil Gans was sent to Auschwitz, the prisoners got off the transport trains at the Judenrampe, which was near the town of Auschwitz; they were taken by truck to the Auschwitz II camp (Birkeanau), NOT to the Auschwitz III camp (Monowitz).

According to Phil, the women, on his transport to the Auschwitz III camp in 1943, were sent directly to the gas chamber.  On the contrary, the women prisoners, who were capable of working, were sent to the barracks in the women’s camp in Auschwitz II, which was very near the gate into the camp.

Women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Women’s camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Phil Gans told his story recently to some American students at the Appoquinimink High School.  The following quote is from his talk, which you can read in full here:

The number tattooed on his left forearm – 139755 – reminds Phil Gans every day of the 21 months he spent imprisoned in concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

After moving from their home in Amsterdam and hiding for nearly a year, his family was arrested on the evening of July 24, 1943 – his father’s birthday. Gans was 15.

Now 85 and living in Clearwater, Fla., Gans said he remembers events like they were yesterday: traveling with his family in cattle cars stuffed with about 1,000 people from Westerbork in Holland, where they were detained for about a month, to the infamous Auschwitz III.

[….]

There, each prisoner stood before a Nazi officer, who looked at them and sent them either left, with the women, or right, with some of the men.

When it was Gans’ turn, he said, the soldier hesitated.

“He went to the right,” he said. “Had he gone to the left, I wouldn’t be standing here, because all of the women and people he had chosen to his left marched straight to the gas chambers. Gassed and cremated. I never said goodbye to mom, my sister or grandma, not knowing I would never see them again.

“They didn’t know,” he said. “They were told they were going to get a shower and disinfected, and in front of the so-called shower rooms, a Nazi told them, ‘You had a rough trip in those cattle cars. I’m going to make it up. You’re going to get a shower, and life will be nice from there on in.’

“Little did they know when they walked into those shower rooms that gas came out,” Gans said.

In his talk to the students, Phil Gans said that ALL OF THE WOMEN were sent to the left and marched straight into the gas chambers.  This took place at the Auschwitz III camp, according to the news article.  Did he really say Auschwitz III or did the reporter make a mistake?  Phil Gans is now 85 years old; it could be that his memory is failing.

The selection process at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944

The selection process at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944

The photo above shows how women and men formed two lines at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  SS men at the camp then selected those who would work and those who would go immediately to the gas chambers.

Women who have been sent to the left in the selection at Birkenau

Women who have been sent to the officer’s left in the selection at Birkenau

The photo above shows two women who have been sent to the left to the gas chamber in 1944.  Or maybe, they are on their way to the Sauna, which was to the left of the train tracks, as you are facing the gate into the Birkenau camp.

The Sauna where prisoners took a shower at Birkenau

The Sauna where prisoners took a shower at Birkenau

Should a Holocaust survivor, who spent 21 months in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, be out of the lecture circuit, telling egregious lies to uninformed students?  No, this should be a crime, punishable by five years in prison.

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