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.
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.