Update August 8. 2015: The Wikipedia page about Alfred de Grazia has been updated since I wrote this blog post. The photo above is no longer on the page about Alfred de Grazia. Wikipedia now has this page about the photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capt.Alfred_de_Grazia_at_Dachau_concentration_camp,_ca_May_1st_1945.jpg
Continue reading my original blog post:
The photo above, borrowed from Wikipedia, shows Captain Alfred de Grazia, who was the Commanding Officer of the Psychological Warfare Propaganda team attached to the U.S. Seventh Army during World War II. He is standing in front of a pile of bodies outside the Baracke X building at Dachau on May 1, 1945.
Did America really have an Army team, during World War II, that carried out PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE and PROPAGANDA? To our everlasting shame — YES!!!
The men in America’s Psychological Warfare and Propaganda military unit were mostly Jewish immigrants from Germany, who had been trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland; they were known as “The Ritchie Boys.”
This quote is from Wikipedia’s entry for Alfred de Grazia:
In World War II, Alfred de Grazia served in the ranks from private to captain, in artillery, intelligence, and psychological warfare. He received training in this then new field at in Washington D.C. and the newly established Camp Ritchie, Maryland. He served with the 3rd, 5th and 7th US Armies and as a liaison officer with the British 8th Army. He took part in six campaigns, from North Africa to Italy (Battle of Monte Cassino) to France and Germany, receiving several decorations.
He co-authored a report on psychological warfare for the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force. By the end of the war, he was Commanding Officer of the Psychological Warfare Propaganda Team attached to the headquarters of the 7th Army.
May 1, 1945, the day that Alfred de Grazia arrived at Dachau, was the same day that a group of American Congressmen arrived. The Congressmen had to wait until May 3rd before they could be photographed in the newly built gas chamber, which is shown in the photo below.
The delegation of US Congressmen had flown to Paris on April 22, 1945, at Eisenhower’s request, and had first visited Buchenwald on April 24, 1945, two weeks after the camp was liberated on April 11th. The Congressmen arrived in Dachau on May 1, 1945, the same day that newsreels were first released in American theaters, showing the Nazi atrocities at Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen. Dachau had been liberated on April 29, 1945, just two days before the Congressmen arrived.
What did the “gas chamber” at Dachau look like before the Psychological Warfare and Propaganda team arrived at Dachau? Before the shower room in Barrack X was converted into a gas chamber, it looked something like the shower room in the administration building, which is now the Dachau Museum. The pipes and shower heads were removed before the building was turned into a Museum.
In 2004, I saw a documentary film about the Ritchie Boys. Alfred de Grazia was not included among the Ritchie Boys who were featured in the film.
I wrote a review of the film on my website. This quote is from my review, which you can read in full here:
The movie does not fully explain why one of the Ritchie boys was sent to Nordhausen. It was not to interrogate the Jewish survivors, nor to gather evidence of war crimes, but to arrange for getting everything out of the V-2 rocket factory and on its way to America before the camp had to be turned over to the Russians in July 1945 because Nordhausen had been promised to the Soviet Union, since it was in their zone of occupation according to the terms of the Yalta agreement. The British had also been promised a share of the loot, but the Americans made sure that they got there first.
The significance of Nordhausen is lost in the film because of Parloff’s story about a Jew standing on a pile of ashes. There is no mention of the rocket technology that America stole from our Russian allies after they made such a great sacrifice to win the war, or the fact that this was a violation of President Roosevelt’s agreement with Uncle Joe at Yalta. The documentary implies that Nordhausen was a “death camp” where Jews were murdered and then cremated.
During the war crimes trial of the Nordhausen staff, held at Dachau after the war, the defense pointed out that it took one to three months to train a worker for the V-2 rocket factory, and the Germans did their best to keep these prisoners alive, although it was a losing battle due to the severe conditions in the tunnels and the typhus epidemics that were out of control in all of the camps at the end of the war. The prisoners who worked in the tunnels were political prisoners from Buchenwald; they worked side by side with German civilians in the rocket factory. They were even paid a small amount of money which they could use to buy cigarettes and food in the camp canteen, or to visit one of the prostitutes in the camp brothel.
However, there was also a “recuperation camp” near the town of Nordhausen where the factory workers were sent to recover when they were too sick to work in the underground factory. In the last months of the war, Jewish prisoners who had been evacuated from Auschwitz were brought to this sub-camp of Nordhausen, which was called Boelke Kaserne by the Germans. A few days before the recuperation camp was liberated, it was bombed by American planes and around 1500 prisoners were killed. There were other prisoners who had died of tuberculosis or typhus and when the liberators arrived, there were around 3,000 unburied bodies and around 700 sick and dying prisoners who had been left behind when the camp was evacuated.
During the Boelke Kaserne segment in the documentary, a shot of the crematorium at Dachau is shown with bodies piled up against the wooden structure in front of the outside wall. Then another shot of some sick prisoners in wagons, which was taken at Dachau, is shown. This footage is from the film entitled “Nazi Concentration Camps,” which was made by Lt. Col. George C. Stevens a day or two after Dachau was liberated; it was shown during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Christian Bauer obtained the film clips for his documentary from the US Archives.
Bauer now lives in Munich, 18 kilometers from Dachau. Surely, he must have recognized that this footage was taken at Dachau and not at the Nordhausen sick camp. Perhaps he used the scenes from Dachau instead of Nordhausen because so many of the bodies found at the Nordhausen “recuperation camp” had been blown to pieces by American bombs.