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August 31, 2015

Eugen Kogon and his famous book entitled “Der SS-Staat”

Filed under: Buchenwald, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:58 pm

The subject of Eugen Kogon, and his famous book entitled Der SS-Staat has come up in the comments section of my blog, so I am going to tell you what I know about him.

Eugen Kogon testified at the trial of SS men at Buchenwald

Eugen Kogon testified at the trial of the Buchenwald SS men in the Dachau trials

One of the most famous inmates of Buchenwald was 43-year-old Dr. Eugen Kogon, an Austrian Social Democrat and political activist, who was a prisoner in the Buchenwald camp from September 1939 to April 1945.

Kogon was the main contributor to The Buchenwald Report, a 400-page book about the Buchenwald camp which was put together in only four weeks by the US Army, after conducting interviews with over 100 former prisoners at the camp.

Kogon later wrote a book entitled The Theory and Practice of Hell, which was a rewrite of the Buchenwald Report and one of the first books about the alleged Nazi atrocities in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Kogon testified during the proceedings in the Dachau Trials about the harsh treatment suffered by the prisoners at Buchenwald, although he was one of the privileged political prisoners who actually ran the camp.

Kogon’s testimony was contradicted by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, who was the main witness for the defense in the Buchenwald case. Morgen also testified at the Nuremberg IMT in August 1946, before the Buchenwald case came to trial at Dachau.

At Nuremberg, Morgen testified on 7 August 1946 regarding the conditions at Buchenwald. In response to questions from the prosecutor at Nuremberg, Morgen answered as follows:

Q. Did you gain the impression, and at what time, that the concentration camps were places for the extermination of human beings?

A. I did not gain this impression. A concentration camp is not a place for the extermination of human beings. I must say that my first visit to a concentration camp, namely Weimar-Buchenwald, was a great surprise to me. The camp was on wooded heights, with a wonderful view. The installations were clean and freshly painted. There were grass and flowers. The prisoners were healthy, normally fed, sun-tanned, working…

THE PRESIDENT of the Tribunal: When are you speaking of? When are you speaking of?

A. I am speaking of the beginning of my investigations in July, 1943.

Q. What crimes – you may continue – please, be more brief.

A. The installations of the camp were in good order, especially the hospital. The camp authorities, under the Commandant Pister, aimed at providing the prisoners with an existence worthy of human beings.

They had regular mail service. They had a large camp library, even with foreign books. They had variety shows, motion pictures, sporting events. They even had a brothel. Nearly all the other concentration camps were similar to Buchenwald.

THE PRESIDENT: What was it they even had?

A. A brothel.


  1. nazis assigned people to concentration [Koncentrationsläger=KL] camps for punishment or work, extermination camp [vernichtsunslager=VL] for death. dachau was a KL, tho by the end of the war it was taking prisoners from VLs as they were over run. death rates in KLs were substantially lower than in VL [98%, and the nazis were trying for that last 2% when the war ended.

    kogon was in dachau, a KL, and knew little about VLs like auschwitz. not that dachau was a picnic, even for a trusty-clerk like kogon.

    the KL/VL designation gets confused as the war went on. auschwitz began as a KL, became a VL for >3 million, and after 1942 hosted KL subcamps like buna, tho most prisoners were shifted to the VL side as they became sick or exhausted.

    Comment by tim kimball — May 30, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

  2. Before 1938 Kogon had been the editor of SCHOENERE ZIKUNFT a chatolic paper where also articles hostile to Jews had been pubblished. In 1039 he had been among the first to be sent to Buchenwald. He states to have been the “secretary” to one of the Lager Doctors and so to have had the opportunity to watch many things. For various reasons in the Lagers – not only at Buchemwald – political prisoniers had been chosen for performing many tasks and are therefore precious witnesses; many had been comunists which had been among the first to have imprisoned in Lagers.
    As to SS judge Morgen before his visit there might have been a LAGERVERSCHOENERUNG – Lager Embelishment; his statements were ridiculous.

    Comment by Wolf MURMELSTEIN — August 31, 2015 @ 10:28 pm

  3. This is where everything gets confusing. First off the Army puts together a 400 page book . I’m guessing they used that at evidence at the trial. I’ve seen murder trials ,where only one person stands accused ,take longer than a month to get everything together. From what I’ve seen,a better part of the people on trial,were pretty much charged with Capitol Murder. Carries a sentence of death. That’s how it looks to me. If I’m wrong,I’m open to be educated. Okay this guy wrote a book about the horrors that went on in the camp. Was he giving testimony that the place “was not” a place for bumping off Jews . He turns around and has the place made out to be like “club med”. Flower garden ,well fed inmates,library,even a whorehouse. I’m having a hard time with the library and whorehouse.

    Comment by Timm — August 31, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

    • You wrote: “He turns around and has the place made out to be like “club med”. Flower garden ,well fed inmates,library,even a whorehouse. I’m having a hard time with the library and whorehouse.”

      The person who said those words was Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, who was a witness for the defense. He was a German judge, who inspected the camps. He was arrested by the Americans and put into a prison at Dachau. He was put on trial, but was acquitted.

      This quote is from Wikipedia: Georg Konrad Morgen (8 June 1909 – 4 February 1982) was an SS judge and lawyer who investigated crimes committed in Nazi concentration camps. He rose to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (major). After the war, Morgen continued his legal career and died on 4 February 1982.

      The men who put together the 400 page book were mostly Jews. They got their information for the book from the prisoners who were Jewish. The same thing happened at Dachau. The American army put together a book based on the lies told by the prisoners. This book was called “The Official Report.” I blogged about this at

      Comment by furtherglory — September 1, 2015 @ 6:30 am

      • In 1943 almost all the Jewish inmates of Buchenwald hat been sent to the Lublin area camps; the simple order had been “Alle Juden zu Koch, Lublin”. So, what Your statement “… they got their information from the prisoniers who were Jewish” ought be revised.

        Comment by Wolf MURMELSTEIN — September 1, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  4. After the liberation of Buchenwald Eugen Kogen was driven to the schloss that had once belonged to Balder von Sirach, the head of the Hitler Youth, by a team of U.S. Army SCHAEF psychological warfare soldiers where he wrote this turgid atrocity tale. Kogen writes:

    “In order to dispel certain fears, and to show that this report [that is what he calls The Theory and Practice of Hell ] cannot be construed as an accusation against certain prisoners who held dominant positions, I read it aloud, at the beginning of the month of May 1945, as soon as it was down on paper, lacking only the last two chapters out of a total of twelve, to a group of fifteen people, who had been members of the clandestine government of the camp,[6] or who represented certain political alignments among the prisoners. These persons approved its accuracy and its objectivity. Present at the reading were:

    Walter Bartel, Communist from Berlin, president of the international committee in the camp.
    Heinz Baumeister, Social, from Dortmund, who for years had been a member of the Buchenwald Secretariat; second secretary of Block 50.
    Ernst Busse, Communist, from Solingen, Kapo of the prisoners’ infirmary.
    Boria Banilenko, head of Communist youth groups in the Ukraine, member of the Russian committee.
    Hans Eiden, Communist, from Trier, first camp elder.
    Baptiste Feflen, Communist, from Aix-la-Chapelle, washhouse Kapo.
    Franz Hackel, Left independent, from Prague. One of our friends, without position in the camp.
    Stephan Heymann, Communist, from Mannheim, member of camp information office.
    Werner Hilpert, Centrist, from Leipzig, member of the international committee in the camp.
    Otto Horn, Communist, from Vienna, member of the Austrian committee.
    A. Kaltschin, Russian prisoner of war, member of the Russian committee.
    Otto Kipp, Communist, from Dresden, assistant Kapo of the prisoners’ infirmary.
    Ferdinand Romhild, Communist, from Frankfurt am Main, first secretary of the prisoners’ infirmary.
    Ernst Thappe, Social, head of the German committee.
    Walter Wolff, Communist, head of the camp information office.” (Page 20-21)

    This statement, in itself, is enough to render suspect the entire testimony: “In order to dispel certain fears, and to show that this report cannot be construed as an accusation against certain prisoners who held dominant positions in the — camp… ” Here Eugen Kogon avoided reporting anything accusatory against the Haeftlingsfuehrung (inmate government); rather, he harbored grievances only against the SS. No historian could ever accept that. On the contrary, one is justified in thinking that in this way he has paid a debt to those who got him his privileged positions in the camp and that he has chosen to defend those with whom he had common interests, as well as himself, before the public.

    The fifteen persons listed who passed judgment on his “accuracy and objectivity” are suspect. They are all Communists or fellow-travelers, and if, by chance, there was an exception, he could only be under obligation to the others. The list is made up of the highest functionaries of the Haeftlingsfuehrung of Buchenwald who, naturally, are likely to share Kogon’s point of view.

    Such titles as “president” or “member” of this or that “committee” are meaningless because they awarded these titles to themselves at the time of the camp’s liberation and afterwards. Paying little attention to the notion of “committees” then, these fifteen persons were only too happy to find in Eugen Kogon an artful pen who freed them from responsibility for their actions in the eyes of posterity.

    Kogen was purportedly a Christian Socialist and a propagandist on the U.S. Army SHAEF payroll. He was a witness at the trial of Ilsa Koch and had a long career after the war as a Holocaust lecturer and author of another book on the mechanics of the gas chambers

    Comment by who dares wings — August 31, 2015 @ 5:14 pm

    • The title of the book is called “Der SS-Staat”, not Stadt which means in German ‘City’

      Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — August 31, 2015 @ 6:02 pm

      • Yes — die Stadt = the city; der Staat = the state, as in man v state. Note the different definite article — der v die. Clearly, given the importance/role of the SS, Staat makes a lot more sense, and the title of the book is ‘Der SS-Staat’ — fg should make the correction.

        Comment by eah — August 31, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

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