The title of my blog post today is in quotes because these are words that were written by David Friedmann, a Jewish writer, back in June 2016.
A recent news article explains that “kapos [is] a Holocaust-era term referring to Jews who cooperated with the Nazis.”
This is the headline of the news article:
Dem: Trump’s Israel ambassador uses ‘frighteningly casual’ Holocaust talk to vilify liberal Jews
You can read the news article in full at https://origin-nyi.thehill.com/policy/international/310876-dem-trumps-israel-ambassador-uses-frighteningly-casual-holocaust
The news article continues with this quote:
Moore specifically ripped David Friedman for comparing liberal Jews to Nazi collaborators.
“From his blind support for settlements in the West Bank and flagrant opposition to a two-state solution to his unconscionable and frighteningly causal use of holocaust imagery to vilify progressive American Jews, Mr. Friedman lacks the experience and temperament necessary to serve as our nation’s ambassador to Israel,” she said in a statement Friday.
So, what exactly is a kapo?
The daily supervision of the Nazi concentration inmates was handled by prisoners who were designated as Kapos; the job of a Kapo was to assist the German guards.
The Kapos were usually German criminals. They were typically more cruel than the guards and would beat the prisoners while the guards looked the other way.
After World War II ended, some of the Kapos at the Dachau concentration camp, and the Kapos at other camps, were prosecuted by the American Military as war criminals because they had aided the Nazis. Jewish and homosexual prisoners had particularly been singled out for abuse by the Kapos.
The testimony of Rudolf Hoess, on April 15, 1946 at the Nuremberg IMT, put the blame for ill treatment of the prisoners in all the camps on the Kapos.
The following quote is from the trial transcripts of the testimony of Hoess at the Nuremberg IMT:
HERR BABEL: Did you make any observations as to whether there was any ill-treatment of prisoners to a greater or lesser degree on the part of those guards, or whether the ill-treatment was mainly to be traced back to the so-called Kapos?
HOESS: If any ill-treatment of prisoners by guards occurred-I myself have never observed any–then this was possible only to a very small degree since all offices in charge of the camps took care that as few SS men as possible had direct contact with the inmates, because in the course of the years the guard personnel had deteriorated to such an extent that the standards formerly demanded could no longer be maintained.
We had thousands of guards who could hardly speak German, who came from all lands as volunteers and joined these units, or we had older men, between 50 and 60, who lacked all interest in their work, so that a camp commander had to watch constantly that these men fulfilled even the lowest requirements of their duties. It is obvious that there were elements among them who would ill-treat internees, but this ill-treatment was never tolerated. Besides, it was impossible to have these masses of people directed at work or when in the camp by SS men only; therefore, inmates had to be assigned everywhere to direct the other prisoners and set them to work. The internal administration of the camp was almost completely in their hands. Of course a great deal of ill-treatment occurred which could not be avoided because at night there were hardly any members of the SS in the camps. Only in specific cases were SS men allowed to enter the camp, so that the internees were more or less exposed to these Kapos.
According to Harold Marcuse, who wrote the book “Legacies of Dachau,” Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, did not condone cruelty in the concentration camps. Marcuse wrote that “Himmler had indeed punished several of the most sadistic and corrupt concentration camp commandants. He replaced the sadist Piorkowski in Dachau, for instance, with the much more competent Martin Weiss in September 1942…”
In his testimony at the Nuremberg IMT on April 15, 1946, Rudolf Hoess spoke about how the prisoners at Dachau and other concentration camps were punished.
The following quote is from the testimony of Rudolf Hoess at the Nuremberg IMT:
HERR BABEL: You have already mentioned regulations which existed for the guards, but there was also a standing order in each camp. In this camp order certainly punishment was provided for internees who violated the camp rules. What punishment was provided?
HOESS: First of all, transfer to a penal company (Strafkompanie), that is to say, harder work and restricted accommodations; next, detention in the cell block, detention in a dark cell; and in very serious cases, chaining or strapping. Punishment by strapping was prohibited in the year 1942 or 1943–I cannot say exactly when–by the Reichsführer. Then there was the punishment of standing at the camp gate over a rather long period, and finally corporal punishment.
However, no commander could decree this corporal punishment on his own authority. He could only apply for it. In the case of men, the decision came from the Inspector of Concentration Camps Gruppenführer Schmidt, and where women were concerned, the Reichsführer reserved the decision exclusively for himself.
Discipline in all the concentration camps was very strict and even the guards or camp administrators, who broke the rules, were put into a wing of the Dachau bunker (camp prison) which was reserved for SS men. Just before the camp was liberated, there were 128 SS men from various concentration camps, who were in prison at Dachau.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the head of RSHA, testified at Nuremberg that there were 13 main concentration camps and one of them, called Danzig-Matzkau was a Straflager (punishment camp) for SS men who had mistreated prisoners. The 12 main concentration camps in the Greater German Reich, as listed by Lucy Dawidowicz in her book entitled “The War Against the Jews, 1933 – 1945,” were Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück, Flossenbürg, Neuengamme, Gross Rosen, Natzweiler-Struthof, Mauthausen, Stutthof, Mittelbau-Dora and Theresienstadt. Bergen-Belsen was initially a holding camp which did not become a concentration camp until December 1944.