Scrapbookpages Blog

August 20, 2016

Telford Taylor and his role in war crimes trials

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:49 am
My photo of a marker at the spot where men were executed at Dachau

My photo of a marker at the spot where men were executed at Dachau

Today, I am writing about General Telford Taylor and his role in history.

When the Nuremberg Doctors Trial started on December 9, 1946, it was apparently not yet known, for sure, whether Dr. Sigmund Rascher had been executed.

In his opening statement for the prosecution at the Doctors Trial, General Telford Taylor said the following:

Begin quote

There were many co-conspirators who are not in the dock. Among the planners and leaders of this plot were Conti and Grawitz, and Hippke whose whereabouts is unknown. Among the actual executioners, Dr. Ding is dead and Rascher is thought to be dead. There were many others.

End quote

Taylor was referring to the Doctors who were involved as “co-conspirators” in the Nazi “plot” to do medical experiments, but were not on trial for one reason or another.

The defendants in the Doctors Trial were accused of committing crimes under the guise of scientific research. The “executioners” were the Doctors who did the actual experiments, including Dr. Rascher. They were called “executioners” because their subjects were prisoners who had been classified as “professional criminals,” but instead of having a humane execution, they had allegedly been tortured to death.

Curiously, it was not known for certain by the American prosecutors at the Doctors Trial, whether Dr. Sigmund Rascher was alive or dead, 18 months after his alleged demise, even though Dr. Leo Alexander had supposedly deduced the reason for Dr. Rascher’s execution during the course of his investigation prior to the start of the trial.

The following testimony was given, at the Doctors Trial, by a member of the German nobility, Freiherr von Eberstein, the Police President in Munich, when he was asked about Dr. Rascher by prosecution attorney, Herr Pelckmann:

Begin quote:


Yes. Rascher remained under arrest in the detention house of the SS barracks, Munich-Freimann, to all appearances until the barracks, at least the detention house, was evacuated because of the approach of the American troops.

He was then sent to Dachau and I learned from the press that he must have been shot during the last few days. I cannot give any further information about this, since I was relieved of my post on 20 April 1945.”

End quote from testimony

So he was “sent to Dachau?” He was sent to Dachau “Because of the approach of the American troops?”

What about Dr. Rascher’s time in Buchenwald when he supposedly had incriminating conversations with Captain Payne Best?

Did Captain Payne Best actually meet Dr. Rascher for the first time on the march from Dachau to the South Tyrol, as reported by Gerald Reitlinger, a highly respected historian?

Shortly after he arrived at Dachau, Captain Payne Best was transferred from the Dachau bunker to the barrack building that had been formerly used as a brothel; it is possible that he didn’t meet Dr. Rascher until the bunker was evacuated on April 26, 1945.

It is possible that Dr. Rascher was never a prisoner at Buchenwald, and Captain Payne Best just assumed that he had been a prisoner there, since Dr. Rascher was brought to Dachau around the same time that other VIP prisoners at Buchenwald were transferred to Dachau.

In his 1143-page book entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” William L. Shirer wrote this about Dr. and Frau Rascher:

Begin quote from Shirer’s book:

“Neither survived, and it is believed that Himmler himself, in one of the last acts of his life, ordered their execution.”

In other words, no one knows for certain who ordered the murder of Dr. Sigmund Rascher.

Dr. Rascher’s execution had allegedly been ordered by Himmler, according to the Dachau Museum, and carried out by Theodor Bongartz, the man in charge of the crematorium where the bodies were disposed of. The execution had taken place, not at the usual place at the execution wall in the woods, but in the bunker in the presence of witnesses who would have heard the shot fired in Cell #73 and seen the brains spattered on the wall of the cell.

A prisoner, who had been sent to Dachau because he was a Jehovah’s Witness, was in charge of cleaning the bunker and he would have been a witness to the aftermath of the shooting.

If Himmler had given an execution order, it would normally have been given to the Gestapo chief in Berlin and the order would then have been sent by telegram to Johann Kick, the Gestapo department head at Dachau, who would have given the order to Wilhelm Ruppert, the officer in charge of executions at Dachau who would have then ordered Theodor Bongartz to shoot Dr. Rascher at the execution wall. Apparently none of this happened and there is no record of an execution order.


  1. Telford Taylor’s obituary in the New York Times says the following;-

    “As a young Army colonel at Nuremberg in 1945, Mr. Taylor helped write the rules for prosecuting Hermann Goring, Rudolf Hess and other top Nazis. He went on to become the trials’ chief prosecutor and an authority on the laws of war.”

    So, good ole’ Mr Taylor helped write the rules – because obviously there were none in existence before that moment in time. The young whippersnapper colonel then took it upon himself to prosecute leading figures from the government of his own employers former enemy – using the very rules that he himself created!

    Fair enough, if that is what actually happened – but please don’t try and pretend that these tribunals had anything to do with a fair trial or justice.

    Comment by Talbot — August 21, 2016 @ 9:51 am

    • You wrote: “Fair enough, if that is what actually happened – but please don’t try and pretend that these tribunals had anything to do with a fair trial or justice.”

      The word “Nuremberg” is now used to mean “an unfair trial”.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 21, 2016 @ 10:01 am

      • “Unfair trial”. The 2 words should mean,one big “goat f–k”. I’m serious. What I’m learning about that subject,Ringling Brothers and P T Barnum,ain’t got shit on that,when it comes to a circus.
        Seems to me the only thing missing from that courtroom,was the dancing poodle and the clowns that drove around in those little midget cars.

        Comment by Tim — August 21, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

    • There’s one thing,that sticks out like a big dog. He helped,”write the rules for prosecuting the nazis”.
      I thought that’s why we have laws already in place.
      Henry Wirz. He ran the prison at Andersonville . Prosecution nailed him for war crimes.
      Major John Gee. Salisbury Prison. He went on trial.
      So these were war crimes from the civil war. They didn’t need to come up with a separate set of laws for Nuremberg . Hey those boys that were POWs during the civil war,didn’t have it no better than the Jews of WW2 .
      So why did they have to rewrite the rules for the game. The ones we used in the civil war,would serve the same purpose. If the prosecution wanted a body count of dead nazis,fine. The rules and laws we used in the civil war,would’ve gotten the same results.
      Is this why it took so long to long to put Tojo and his Niponese partners in crime on trial? Did they have to rewrite the rules for the trials in the Pacific Theater?
      I’m not playing advocate for the Nips or Nazis here. It comes down to one thing here. What right is right,what’s wrong is wrong.
      The only difference between Andersonville and Auschwitz,is the time frame.
      If everything happened at Aushwitz,that history said happened,fine.
      The civil war ended in 1865. WW 2 ended,in 1945. That’s a difference of 80 years. Why did they have to write different rules? I don’t care what bought about the murder of whatever the number of people were,at the end of the day,murder is murder. Why write up a whole new set of rules? If that’s the case,then how can somebody say the defense attorneys were qualified to defend their clients?
      Once again. We invite someone to a card game,and deal from a fixed deck

      Comment by Tim — August 21, 2016 @ 2:58 pm

  2. Well that’s proof that the prosecution,were incompetent morons. They had “all their ducks in a row”, when it came to the other trials. You’re telling me, they didn’t know if this hammerhead was dead or not. Don’t wanna hear anyone say,” well they had so much on their plate”. BS ! Goes back to competency. If they can’t handle the workload,then they have no business in a court of law. A first year law student at Stanford,would’ve had more wits than those idiots. I would’ve been embarrassed to make that revelation. That persons boss should’ve told him,”get there early. Make sure you’re at the front of the unemployment line”.

    Comment by Tim — August 20, 2016 @ 11:09 am

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