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June 26, 2014

What should Auschwitz guard Johann Breyer have done to avoid being a war criminal

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:26 am

According to a news article, which you can read in full here, “Johann Breyer, 89, had successfully eluded a dark past that allegedly included the extermination of hundreds of thousands of people according to [German] prosecutors.”

There were 900,000 Jews allegedly “exterminated” at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp, according to the latest figures.

Beginning in May 1944, Breyer was a guard at the Auschwitz main camp, the Auschwitz I camp, which was mainly a prison for political prisoners, although there was a gas chamber in the morgue

In May 1944, while Breyer was working as a guard in the main camp, the gas chamber there was no longer in use, because it had been converted into a bomb shelter for the German guards in the camp.

According to Wikipedia: “On 14th June 1940, German authorities in occupied Poland organised the first mass transport of prisoners to the recently opened Auschwitz Concentration Camp [the main Auschwitz camp where Breyer was working in 1944]. The transport, which set out from the southern Polish city of Tarnów, consisted of 728 Poles, including 20 Jews.[1] They were “political” prisoners and members of the Polish resistance…”

Aerial view of the Auschwitz main camp

Aerial view of the Auschwitz main camp, which opened in 1940

Entrance into Auschwitz main camp Photo Credit: REUTERS

Entrance into Auschwitz main camp Photo Credit: REUTERS

Fence around Auschwitz main camp where Johann Breyer worked as a guard

Fence around Auschwitz main camp where Johann Breyer worked as a guard

What should Breyer have done to avoid charges, 70 years later, that include “the extermination of hundreds of thousands of people” at Auschwitz?

First of all, as a guard at the main Auschwitz camp, Breyer should have made it his business to learn that there was another Auschwitz camp, 3 kilometers down the road from where he was working as a lowly guard, and that this camp, known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, was an “extermination camp,” where Jews were being gassed upon arrival.

Breyer was a young man, 17 years old, when he enlisted in the German Army. After he was transferred, from the Buchenwald camp [where he had worked for several years] to Auschwitz, he was still a young man, in the prime of life. He could have easily made regular 3K runs to Auschwitz-Birkenau, to meet the 158 trains that brought Jews to the extermination camp.  He should have known that the 216,000 Jews on those 158 trains were all taken immediately to one of the 4 gas chambers in operation in 1944, and he should done something to stop this horror.

Auschwtiz-Birkenau was a 425 acre site where Jews were gassed upon arrival

Auschwtiz-Birkenau was a 425 acre site where Jews were gassed upon arrival (Click to enlarge)

Newbies to the Holocaust saga might be confused about why the Nazis built a 425-acre camp for the purpose of gassing the Jews upon arrival.  This was how the Nazis tried to fool later generations. The thousands of wooden barracks at Birkenau were fake buildings, that were never used to house prisoners.  Besides that, Auschwitz-Birkeanu was never used as a transit camp; the location of the camp was not selected by Heinrich Himmler because of all the train lines coming into this location.

Old women in one of the barracks at Auschwitz-Birkeanu after the camp was liberated

Old women in one of the barracks at Auschwitz-Birkeanu after the camp was liberated

Don’t let the photo above fool you. These women are actresses, posing in a fake barrack at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Old women were immediately gassed upon arrival.  Johann Breyer had a duty to the Jews to stop this massacre.

Johann Breyer was a German soldier, who might have mistakenly thought that his duty was to serve his country (My country, right or wrong) but he was wrong. His duty was to save the Jews from the gas chambers, located 3 kilometers down the road, from where he was a guard.


The quote is from the news article, cited above:
The German government alleges that Breyer served in the Nazi “Death’s Head Guard Battalion” from 1943 to 1945 at Auschwitz and another location according to court papers. They have charged Breyer with complicity in the murder of more than 216,000 Jews from Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia who were deported to Auschwitz in southern Poland on 158 trains. The Germans have asked him to be extradited. Breyer has repeatedly denied any involvement in the deaths of Jews. “Not the slightest idea, never, never, ever,” Breyer told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1992. “All I know is from the television. What was happening at the camps, it never came up at that time.”
So the gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau “never camp up at that time”?   Is he saying that the gassing story was only learned later?  Before you say that this is impossible, remember that Elie Wiesel, who was a prisoner at Auschwitz, didn’t know about the gassing of the Jews at Birkenau. He wrote, in his famous book, entitled Night, that the Jews were tossed into burning pits.  This book was written a few years after the war, when Elie should have known about the gas chambers.

Painting done by a Holocaust survivor shows babies being tossed into a burning pit at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Painting done by a Holocaust survivor shows babies being tossed into a burning pit at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Men selected for labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau were not gassed

Men selected for labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau were not gassed

Women and children walking to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkeanu

Women and children walking to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkeanau

Look at the background in the two photos above. The train that brought these two groups of Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau is shown in the background. Notice that the fence posts are the same in both photos.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, the women who were selected to be gassed immediately walked down the same road, that was used by the men who had been selected for labor.  How was Johann Breyer, working as a guard 3 kilometers away, supposed to know that all the prisoners in BOTH of these groups were gassed?  Yet there are still thousands of survivors, who are still living, and lauding the Germans for putting an innocent former German soldier on trial.

Before becoming a guard at the Auschwitz I camp, Johann Breyer had worked at the Buchenwald concentration camp as a guard.  He was transferred to Auschwitz in 1944.

This quote is from a previous American court case against Breyer in 1994:

Breyer was initially assigned to the Buchenwald concentration camp where he served in the SS Totenkopf guard unit from February, 1943 to May, 1944. At Buchenwald, Breyer was trained to use a rifle and guard prisoners. In uniform, Breyer accompanied prisoners to and from work sites, and stood guard with a loaded rifle at the perimeter of the camp, under orders to shoot any prisoner trying to escape who failed to heed a warning to stop. In May, 1944, Breyer was transferred to Auschwitz, a death camp complex established in Nazi-occupied Poland. Again uniformed as an SS Totenkopf guard and armed with a rifle, Breyer patrolled the camp’s perimeters and escorted prisoners to and from work. In August, 1944, Breyer took a paid leave, never to return to guard duty. While Breyer denied that he personally engaged in any abuse of prisoners, he was aware that prisoners were tortured and killed at Buchenwald and Auschwitz.


  1. Excellent post once more from Black Rabbit on the cartoonist “Giles ” who used to work for Beaverbrooks ” Daily Express ” . This newspaper is now owned by the pornographer Richard Desmond. It rivals the Daily Mail in England for its obsession with the Holocost.

    At one point during World War II Giles was assigned as War Correspondent to the Coldstream Guards unit which liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Giles interviewed the camp commandant, Josef Kramer, who turned out to be aware of and an admirer of Giles’s work. Kramer gave Giles his Walther P38 pistol and holster, a ceremonial dagger, and his swastika armband, in return asking for a signed original of Giles’s work. Giles said:

    ” I have to say, that I quite liked the man. I am ashamed to say such a thing. But had I not been able to see what was happening outside the window I would have said he was very civilised. Odd, isn’t it? But maybe there was a rather dishonourable reason. I have always found it difficult to dislike someone who was an admirer of my work. And strangely, Kramer was. I never sent him an original. What was the point? He had been hanged. “

    Comment by peter — June 28, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

    • That’s always the question people ask, namely, how could such a cultured, intelligent and civilised nation like Germany lower itself to such barbarism.

      Indeed, I often wonder myself, doesn’t seem plausible.

      And nobody ever seems to be able to answer it…..all you get is “well it happened, everybody knows that…”

      Comment by DB — June 29, 2014 @ 3:37 am

    • Thanks for the link to Black Rabbit’s blog. I read the article about the controversy over the proposed “disco.” When I went to Auschwitz the first time in 1998, there were many empty buildings across the street from the entrance into the camp. There was talk about building a large grocery or a night club in one of the buildings.

      I took photos of the entrance into the camp, which I put on this page of my website:

      I was very surprised that the main camp was in a suburb of a town and that there were commercial buildings across the street. I was amazed at the lack of secrecy in a “death camp” where there was allegedly a gas chamber.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 29, 2014 @ 7:46 am

  2. After the war, the Allies declared many Nazi organizations to be de facto criminal — of course the SS was one of those. So if you were 1) a member of a criminal organization, and 2) a guard at a concentration camp, you have no chance. What defense could you offer? You were a member of a de facto criminal organization; they can pretty much say whatever they want about what happened at the camp, and no one will question it (in fact, depending on the country, it may be illegal to question it); and then declare you shared responsibility/culpability for that via your presence there, and membership in the criminal organization.

    The verdict is not in question; only the sentence.

    Comment by eah — June 28, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

    • Anyone who was employed by the Nazis and stationed at the camps is complicit in the killings and should die in prison or by hanging. In the united states is 2 people rob a store and on of them kills someone the other is still charged as complicit to murder even if he/she kill someone themselves. Also there is Conspiracy charges, that is an agreement between 2 or more people to commit a crime which in this case Johann Breyer was just another Nazi who participated in the mass murder. I am just glad to know this scumbag died in jail.

      Comment by Justin — February 7, 2015 @ 11:11 pm

      • Wikipedia has a page on American war crimes:

        AFAIK, no American was ever put on trial for committing a war crime. America had prison camps where German-American citizens were held during the war and for TWO YEARS after the war. German citizens living in South America were KIDNAPPED and brought to America where they were imprisoned. If there are any Americans still living, who worked in any of the camps for German prisoners, should they be put on trial and automatically convicted.

        Under what law could American citizens be put on trial for working in an American camp for German-American citizens.

        Johann Breyer was charged with a crime under the EX POST FACTO law called “Common Design.” In other words, at the time that he committed his alleged crimes, there was no law which made his actions illegal. It is not too late for America to pass an ex post facto law, under which American citizens could be prosecuted for for war crimes.

        I wrote about war crimes committed by American soldiers at Dachau on this blog post:

        Comment by furtherglory — February 8, 2015 @ 9:35 am

  3. It’s about time they started arresting Polish people.

    Why? Well two reasons spring to mind immediately,

    1. They were living on the same territory as these death camps and therefore must bear some responsibility.

    2. They didn’t storm the camps and liberate the prisoners ( This of course would have been extremely dangerous, but hey, you’re saving Jews, nothing else matters )

    Comment by DB — June 26, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

  4. What should Auschwitz guard Johann Breyer have done to avoid being a war criminal ? maybe he shouldnt have got found out

    Comment by soulsearcher — June 26, 2014 @ 11:49 am

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