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May 25, 2013

Iron hooks over the ovens at Dachau where prisoners were hung to watch as their comrades were burned alive

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:13 pm

The title of my blog post today comes from a quote from a letter which a 19-year-old American soldier sent to his family after he was taken to see the Dachau concentration camp in July 1945. Dachau had been liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945.

You can read the full news article about the letter here.

Here is the exact quote from the American soldier’s letter which describes the ovens at Dachau:

“Over and in front of the ovens were iron hooks from which a person would be hung while watching his comrades burned alive,” Zohn wrote “The next room is where we found bodies stacked so high that the lights in the ceiling were broken. The blood stood four-feet high.”

Bodies stacked up in the morgue at Dachau

Bodies stacked up in the morgue at Dachau and blood running down the floor drain

The photo above shows the bodies stacked in the morgue at Dachau, but where is the blood standing four feet high?  These bodies had been removed by July 1945, so this soldier must have seen only a photo of the bodies.

Sign above the ovens at Dachau says that prisoners were hung from hooks

Sign above the ovens at Dachau says “Prisoners were hanged from here”

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a small hook, to the right of the center beam.  To the left of the beam is another hook that is less visible.  The pulley above the ovens was used to raise and lower the inner doors of the ovens.  I  previously blogged about the two sets of doors in the ovens at Dachau.

This is a full quote from the news article about the letter:

Zohn’s letter described the tour the U.S. soldiers took through a carefully organized killing machine of gas chambers, torture rooms, body rooms and the incinerators.

Groups of men, women and children were first lured into the gas chamber, thinking they were showers.
“They went in a long, low-ceilinged room with shower ‘nozzles’ all in the ceiling, but a closer inspection reveals that the nozzles are fakes,” Zohn wrote. “After the 100 or so victims died, they were stacked in the next room which had large drain pipes to drain off the blood and other fluids.

Nazi guards used iron stretchers to deposit the bodies into the ovens, a 20- to 30-minute process, he wrote.

“Over and in front of the ovens were iron hooks from which a person would be hung while watching his comrades burned alive,” Zohn wrote “The next room is where we found bodies stacked so high that the lights in the ceiling were broken. The blood stood four-feet high.”

Posed photo of Dachau crematorium workers demonstrating how they put bodies into the oven

Posed photo of Dachau crematorium workers demonstrating how they put bodies into the oven

The photo above was taken after the Dachau camp was liberated.  It is one of a series of photos that were sold to the American soldiers, who were brought to Dachau on Eisenhower’s orders, so that they could see the atrocities committed at Dachau. Eisenhower wanted the American soldiers to know what they were fighting for.

America fought World War II to stop the evil Nazis from burning prisoners alive while other prisoners watched from where they were hung on a hook above the oven.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a photo which shows how prisoners were hung from hooks in front of the oven so that they could watch as their fellow prisoners were burned alive.

The ovens in the new crematorium at Dachau

The ovens in the new crematorium at Dachau

My photo, of the Dachau ovens above, does not show the hooks, which are very small and hard to see.  I think the Nazis were taking a big chance, that the weight of a body hung from a hook above the ovens, would have pulled down the rafters.  But you know by now how stupid the Nazis were.  How many times do I have to tell you people this?

4 Comments

  1. Why do you think, furtherglory, that stories are perpetuated about concentration camps and the Holocaust that are so wrong. Doesn’t it follow that the ridiculousness of them just works against our capacity for compassion? I find myself really quite angry at the rubbish that gets written, when the truth is difficult enough as it is.
    I am wondering if we have made the Holocaust story the depository for all our nastiness to each other…You know, the horror that we human beings do to each other in one convenient app….and as a result we don’t think twice about the idea of prisoners being hung to watch others burn.

    Geez…..

    Comment by Rose Nooteboom — June 8, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  2. Im not saying the bodies were or were not hung up from these hooks, but the comment about the weight of the prisoner bringing the rafters down,
    The prisoners hardly weighed anything because of the starvation.

    Comment by mutter — May 25, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

    • You are assuming that the prisoners were starved before they were hung up to watch other prisoners being burned alive. This makes sense because old photos show that some of the Dachau prisoners were fat when they were first brought to the camp.

      What about the prisoners who were burned alive? Were they burned alive before they were starved, so that there would be some fat on the bodies, making them easier to burn?

      What about the size of the hooks? It was necessary to use a heavy rope to hang a body. Shouldn’t the hooks have been bigger to allow a heavy rope to pass through them?

      The folks at the Dachau Memorial Site tell visitors that prisoners were hung by the neck until dead in front of the ovens, in order to save time. The body could be cut down and immediately shoved into one of the ovens. However, there was a gallows, for hanging prisoners, right outside the building that housed the ovens. The amount of time saved would have been only a few minutes.

      Comment by furtherglory — May 25, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    • Even a skeletal human body doesn’t hardly weigh anything.

      It requires a tremendous effort to move it, even on a short distance.

      Just ask any nurse.

      Comment by Eager For Answers — May 25, 2013 @ 7:56 pm


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