One of the regular readers of my blog made a comment about the different colors of smoke when bodies of prisoners of the concentration camps were burned. Of course, this happened! I am not a Holocaust denier as some people claim.
Here is the exact quote from the comment:
“He survived when the Germans ran out of gas, and while they were preoccupied, he escaped through the multi-colored smoke from the different nationalities burning in the krema.”
I am pretty sure that this comment was a joke, but in fact, there were different colors of smoke when the bodies of different nationalities of prisoners were burned in the Nazi concentration camps.
Many years ago, I wrote about this subject on this page of my website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauTrials/Mauthausen04.html
The following information is from the page of my website, which is cited above:
Mauthausen concentration camp, a Class III camp in Austria for “Return Unwanted” prisoners, was liberated on May 5, 1945; it was the last of the Nazi camps to be liberated by American troops, just three days before World War II ended on May 8, 1945.
The American soldiers were greeted by 37-year-old Lt. Jack H. Taylor, a Commando in the United States Navy, who had been captured after leading a sabotage mission behind enemy lines. Lt. Taylor had been a prisoner at Mauthausen for only 35 days; he had arrived in the camp on April 1, 1945, after being transferred from a Gestapo prison in Vienna because Soviet troops were 50 kilometers from the city and advancing rapidly.
The photograph above shows Lt. Jack Taylor, taken shortly after his liberation from the Mauthausen camp.
On his jacket, Lt. Taylor was required to wear a red triangle, pointing downward. This identified him as a non-German political prisoner.
Because he was fighting with a group of partisans, Lt. Jack Taylor was an illegal combatant under the Geneva Convention of 1929, and was not entitled to the rights of a Prisoner of War.
Lt. Taylor was imprisoned at the main camp at Mauthausen, but the mountains in the background of the photo indicate that it was taken at one of the sub-camps of Mauthausen.
Only hours after the liberation of the Mauthausen camp, Lt. Col. George C. Stevens, the famed Hollywood director, arrived to shoot some footage of Lt. Taylor for his film entitled “Nazi Concentration Camps,” which was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on November 29, 1945. Lt. Taylor was a former dentist from Hollywood, California and he started off by saying that this was the first time he had ever been in a movie.
According to Lt. Taylor’s debriefing statement, there were two other American men at Mauthausen and two British citizens, one a pilot and one a spy in the SOE, when the camp was liberated, but none of them testified at Nuremberg, nor at Dachau.
Lt. Taylor was the only American ever to testify for the prosecution in the Dachau trials and his testimony was considered to be more credible than that of the other former prisoners who might have been seeking revenge, more than justice.
After he was liberated from the Mauthausen camp, Jack Taylor was promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander. He stayed in Europe, after the war, to testify in the war crimes trials.
The photo below shows Lt. Cmdr. Jack H. Taylor on the witness stand at Dachau, looking much the same as he did in the photo taken after he was liberated from Mauthausen.
Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was a key witness at the Trial of the 61 accused men from the Mauthausen concentration camp. The prosecution had only to prove that there was a “common design” to commit war crimes at Mauthausen and that each of the accused had participated in that plan because he was associated with the camp in some capacity. Taylor’s testimony proved that there was a “common design” and all 61 of the accused were convicted.
Prior to the proceedings at Dachau in the Mauthausen case, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Taylor had given the following testimony at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal:
Begin quote of Jack Taylor’s testimony:
“In October ’44, I was the first Allied officer to drop onto Austria. I was captured December 1st, by the Gestapo, severely beaten, ah, even though I was in uniform, severely beaten, and, and, considered as a non-prisoner of war. I was taken to Vienna prison where I was held for four months. When the Russians neared Vienna, I was taken to this Mauthausen concentration lager [camp], an extermination camp, the worst in Germany, where we have been starving and, and beaten and killed, ah, fortunately, my turn hadn’t come. Ah, two American officers at least have been executed here. Here is the insignia of one, a U.S. naval officer, and here is his dog tag. Here is the army officer, executed by gas in this lager [camp]. Ah…there were…
[Question: “How many ways did they execute them?”]
Five or six ways: by gas, by shooting, by beating, that is beating with clubs, ah, by exposure, that is standing out in the snow, naked, for 48 hours and having cold water put on them, thrown on them in the middle of winter, starvation, dogs, and pushing over a hundred-foot cliff.”
End of Jack Taylor’s testimony
After only 35 days in the notorious Mauthausen camp, Jack Taylor knew all about the crimes committed there: torture, hangings, shootings, beatings, and the execution of an unnamed American army officer in the gas chamber. A Special Finding, made by the president of the court, Maj. Gen. Fay B. Prickett, declared that there was enough evidence of death by shootings, gassings, hangings and starvation to find every member of the Mauthausen camp personnel guilty of war crimes, including Kapos, who were prisoners that had authority over other prisoners.
This Special Finding in the main Mauthausen proceeding was later used to establish guilt in subsequent proceedings against the staff and Kapos at Mauthausen. The “evidence” presented at the Mauthausen trial was mainly hearsay testimony by witnesses such as Jack Taylor.
Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was the first witness for the prosecution in the Mauthausen case, which was brought before an American Military Tribunal at Dachau. By now, he was an experienced prosecution witness and he elaborated on his Nuremberg testimony.
When asked by prosecutor Lt. Col. William Denson, on direct examination, how many different forms of killing that he had come in contact with in Mauthausen, Taylor testified as follows:
The following quote is from the testimony of Jack Taylor
Gassing, hanging, shooting, beating. There was one particular group of Dutch Jews who were beaten until they jumped over the cliff into the stone quarry. Some that were not killed on the first fall were taken back up and thrown over to be sure. Then there was exposure. Any new transport coming in was forced to stand out in the open, regardless of the time of the year, practically naked. Other forms of killing included clubbing to death with axes or hammers and so forth, tearing to pieces by dogs specially trained for the purpose, injections into the heart and veins with magnesium chloride or benzene, whippings with a cow-tail to tear the flesh away, mashing in a concrete mixer, forcing them to drink a great quantity of water and jumping on the stomach while the prisoner was lying on his back, freezing half-naked in subzero temperatures, buried alive, red-hot poker down the throat. I remember a very prominent Czech general who was held down in the shower room and had a hose forced down his throat. He drowned that way.
End quote from Jack Taylor’s testimony
Of course, Jack Taylor had never seen anyone carried back up to the top of a cliff and thrown off a second time, nor had he ever seen anyone mashed in a concrete mixer, nor buried alive, nor killed with a red-hot poker shoved down his throat. These were stories that he had heard from the other prisoners.
This kind of hearsay testimony was common in all the Dachau proceedings. The purpose of reiterating these stories in sworn testimony on the witness stand was to get these atrocities entered into the record, so that these alleged crimes would go down in history for future generations to read as the gospel truth.