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March 21, 2018

My first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau — many years ago

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 1:55 pm

This morning, I read a news article about high school students who had recently visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Many years ago, I wrote about my first visit to Birkenau:

The following quote is from my website:

Begin quote

Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, was the largest of the Nazi extermination centers; by the Spring of 1943, Birkenau had 2 very large underground gas chambers, 2 smaller above-ground gas chambers, and an old farmhouse called “the little white house” that were used for gassing the Jews. Another old farmhouse, called “the little red house,” that was used as the first gas chamber at Birkenau, had been torn down.

The word Birkenau means birch tree meadow. The grove of birch trees at the western end of the Auschwitz II camp is shown in the photo below.

My photo of Birch trees at Birkenau

Were Jews sent to Auschwitz merely for the crime of being Jewish?

Filed under: Auschwitz, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 11:55 am

The following quote is from this recent news article:

Begin quote from news article:

“… being sent to a certain awful death at Auschwitz merely for the crime of being Jewish?”

End quote from news article

No, no, no! The reason, that is given above, is not why the Jews were sent to camps, and not why the Jews died at Auschwitz.

My blog post today is a comment on the quote above, which is from this news article:

The Jews were not sent to camps by the Nazis for the crime of being Jewish. They were sent to camps because they were lying, cheating and stealing during war time.

March 20, 2018

Schindler’s List — the movie

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — furtherglory @ 3:24 pm

Photos of the place where Schindler’s List was filmed

Courtyard in Kazimierz used for movie location

In 1993, when Stephen Spielberg made a movie out of a novel called “Schindler’s Ark,” written by Australian author Thomas Keneally, he needed an authentic Jewish quarter for the scenes depicting the Jewish ghetto of Podgorze in Krakow. He chose the Kazimierz district of Krakow because this area had not changed since the 1940s, while Podgorze had been partially rebuilt with modern buildings.

Schindler’s List tells the story of how Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German industrialist from the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic, saved 1098 Jews from the misery of having to work at the Nazi forced labor camp at Plaszow, by employing them in his factory in the Zablocie district of Krakow.

Schindler’s factory became a sub-camp in the Nazi concentration camp system; the Jewish prisoners lived in barracks which Schindler built for them on the grounds of his factory.

Instead of paying wages to the Jews, Schindler paid less than normal wages to the WVHA (SS Economic Office in Oranienburg) for their labor. Although Schindler didn’t mistreat his Jewish workers, he did profit from their slave labor. Initially, he was motivated by the desire for money, not by a desire to save the Jews.

The photo above shows the balconies in the courtyard from where the suitcases were thrown down in the scene in Spielberg’s movie in which the Podgorze Ghetto is liquidated.

According to my tour guide, a courtyard such as this is typical of the way living space was traditionally arranged in the old Jewish quarters of Polish cities.

Since the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989, Kazimierz has been revived as a Jewish community, and it has also become a popular tourist attraction with special tours of the places where the movie was filmed.

In October 1998, I took a guided tour of Kazimierz and took some photographs of the places where Schindler’s List was filmed.

One of the most memorable passages in the novel Schindler’s List is the one where Mrs. Dresner hides under a stairwell when the Nazis come to round up the Jews in the Ghetto in June 1942, to take them to the Belzec extermination camp.

According to the book, after this roundup in which many of the Jews escaped, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB), a group of resistance fighters, bombed the Cyganeria Restaurant and killed 7 German SS soldiers. Next, the SS-only Bagatella Cinema was bombed in Krakow.

In the next few months the ZOB sank German patrol boats on the Vistula, fire-bombed German military garages in Krakow and derailed a German army train, besides forging papers and passports for Jews to pass as Aryans.

In the movie, the date of the scene where Mrs. Dresner hides has been changed to the day of the liquidation of the ghetto on March 13, 1943.

The photograph below shows the stairway used in the scene in which Mrs. Dresner hides from the Jewish police who were helping the Germans to round up the Jews for “transportation to the East,” a euphemism for taking them to the alleged gas chambers.

Stairs where Mrs. Dresner hid in the story of Schindler’s List

The guided tour that I took in 1998 was called “Schindler’s Steps”.  From Krakow, the tour entered Kazimierz on Jozefa street and the first thing we saw was the courtyard, which links Jozefa street with Meiselsa street, and the stairwell where the hiding scene in Schindler’s List was filmed.

Mrs. Dresner hid under the stairwell, pictured above, after a neighbor allowed her daughter, but not her, to hide behind a false wall in an apartment. Mrs. Dresner was the aunt of Genia, the little girl in red, in the movie.

In the movie, the Nazis went through the Podgorze ghetto, room by room, and tore down walls as they looked for Jews who were hiding. While they are searching for Jews, a German soldier stops to play the piano. The Nazis loved classical music and this is a reference to the Jewish saying that the Nazis literally put down their violins in order to kill the Jews.

Germany was the most civilized and advanced country in the world in the 1930s, which makes it all the harder to understand how the Nazis could have planned the deliberate genocide of the Jews.

According to the novel, entitled “Schindler’s Ark,” around 4,000 Jews were found hiding in Podgorze during the liquidation of the ghetto and they were executed on the spot.

However, during the post war trial of Amon Goeth, the Commandant of the Plazow camp, the charges against him mentioned that 2,000 Jews were killed during the liquidation of the Podgorze ghetto.

The Jews who managed to escape from the ghetto joined the partisans of the Polish People’s Army, who were hiding in the forests of Niepolomice. Unlike the novel, the movie “Schindler’s List” does not mention the heroic Jewish resistance fighters, who managed to escape from the Nazis, and lived to fight as partisans throughout the war.

The Schindler’s Steps guided tour, which I took in October 1998, started in Krakow with Schindler’s modern apartment building at #7 Straszewskiego Street. From there, Schindler could look out his third floor windows and see the Planty, a narrow park all the way around Old Town Krakow which marks the area where the town walls once stood.

This apartment, in a very ordinary, ugly gray building, was given to Schindler by the Nazis after it was taken, without compensation, from the Jewish Nussbaum family.

Straszewskiego Street ends at Wawel, the limestone hill where the ancient royal palaces still stand. During the German occupation of Poland, Hans Frank, the governor of occupied Poland, which was called “the General Government,” lived on Wawel hill in the Castle originally built by King Kazimierz the Great, the founder of the separate city of Kazimierz. Schindler’s apartment in Krakow was north of the Kazimierz district and north of Wawel hill.

Street in Kazimierz before the Germans came

The next stop, on the tour that I took, was Schindler’s Enameled Pots and Pans Factory, on the south side of the river Vistula, at #4 Lipowa Street. Lipowa Street goes through Podgorze, and the factory is just east of the former ghetto and across the railroad tracks.

Enamelware was apparently widely used in Poland instead of pottery or china, judging by the large amounts of enameled dishes, that were brought to the concentration camps by the prisoners. It is now on display in the museums at Auschwitz and Majdanek.

Enamelware is the type of dishes that Americans associate with the Old West when cowboys ate the beans that they cooked over the campfire on metal plates coated with mottled gray enamel. The most popular color of enameled bowls, displayed in the museums in Poland, is a dull brick red. Enameled pots and pans, such as Schindler produced in his factory, were also popular in American kitchens up until the 1960s.

Oskar Schindler

Schindler obtained a contract with the Germans to supply mess kits and field kitchen pots to the German army. Schindler’s Krakow factory produced armaments as well as enamelware. The Enamelware part of the factory remained open until 1945 with 300 Polish non-Jewish workers.

When the Plaszow camp closed, Schindler moved the munitions part of his factory to Brünnlitz in what is now the Czech Republic.

The factory produced 45 mm anti-tank shells, but none of his shells were ever used because Schindler deliberately set his machines so that the calibration was incorrect, according to the movie “Schindler’s List.” Other sources claim that Schindler spent all the money that he made on his enamelware business to purchase shells on the black market which he then sold to the Nazis. By that time, his purpose was not to make money, but to save his Jewish workers, and thereby save himself from being indicted as a war criminal.

Thomas Keneally, the author of the novel “Schindler’s Ark,” who is a native of Australia, mentioned in the book that in 1944, an Australian plane was shot down by the Germans over Schindler’s factory; the plane was not trying to bomb his munitions factory, but was dropping supplies to the Jewish and Polish partisans in the forest east of Krakow, according to the author.

Schindler’s factory building was still being used for an electronics factory when I visited Krakow in 1998 and I only saw it from the street. The factory is an ordinary gray stucco three-story building with lots of windows, built right next to the sidewalk.

The architectural style of the building is what Americans would call Art Deco; in Poland in the 1940s, this style was called Modern. There is an iron gate at the entrance to the factory courtyard where Schindler built barracks for his workers.

The factory was named Deutsche Emailwaren Fabrick (German Enamelware Factory) and was called DEF for short.

Jewish workers at Schindler’s factory

Oscar Schindler’s factory was taken over by the Jewish Council in Krakow and the building then had a sign outside, just like the original sign, which says “Deutsche Emalia Fabrika – Oscar Schindler.” The factory is now included on the Schindler’s Steps tour; visitors can see the stairs that were used in the filming of the movie.

Schindler’s original office is at the top of the stairs and visitors may sit at his desk. The rest of the factory is off limits but visitors can look around the grounds. The factory interior was not used in the film, except for the stairs.

The photos below were contributed by Richard Stephenson, who took the Schindler’s Steps tour in December 2005.

The grounds of Oskar Schindler’s Factory in Krakow

Photo Credit: Richard Stephenson

Stairs in the factory were shown in Schindler’s List

Photo Credit: Richard Stephenson

Oskar Schindler’s real office was not shown in Schindler’s List

Photo Credit: Richard Stephenson

On my visit to Poland in 1998, I stayed at the Hotel Cracovia in Krakow which was owned by Orbis Travel Agency, the tour company that I used. Built in 1965, it was a first class, but inexpensive, hotel where tour groups from all over Europe stayed before visiting such places as Auschwitz, which is due west of Krakow.

Tours of Kazimierz and the site of the Plaszow labor camp can be arranged from the hotel, as well as private tours of the Auschwitz concentration camp.


Schindler’s List – the Movie

Podgorze ghetto in Krakow

Books about Schindler’s List

March 19, 2018

It all started with Oradour-sur-Glane

Filed under: Holocaust — furtherglory @ 11:19 am

One of the first places that I went, when I began traveling, was to Oradour-sur-Glane.

I wrote about it on my website at

The Official Story of Oradour-sur-Glane

The official story of the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane is told in a 190-page book entitled “Oradour-sur-Glane, a Vision of Horror.” This is the Official Publication of the Remembrance Committee and the National Association of the Families of the Martyrs of Oradour-sur-Glane, written by Guy Pauchou, sub-prefect of Rochechouart, which is a nearby town, and Dr. Pierre Masfrand, the curator of the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane.

The book tells the official story of the destruction of the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944 when 642 innocent men, women and children were brutally murdered for no reason at all and the whole town was destroyed by Waffen-SS soldiers in Hitler’s elite army.

On June 6, 1944, four days before the Massacre, the Allies had landed at Normandy; this was a crucial time for the German Army. If the Germans had any chance of winning the war, they had to get to Normandy as soon as possible and stop the invasion, yet Waffen-SS soldiers took time out to go to Oradour-sur-Glane to murder innocent civilians who were not involved in the war in any way.

This official version of the Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, as told by the survivors, reveals the enormous pride that the inhabitants had in this unique village in the rolling farm country of the Limosin. The survivors never recovered from the overwhelming grief that gripped them after they lost their entire families and the village that held so many fond memories from their childhood. Their peaceful way of life was destroyed forever by marauding Waffen-SS soldiers who targeted defenseless French civilians for no good reason on a beautiful Summer day in 1944.

After the war, the town received a citation from the Nation of France, which reads as follows:

“The methodical rounding up, the deliberate massacre of these 700 men, women and children, the systematic destruction of these 328 buildings, is the archetypal example of a French community that suffered under barbarism. A motiveless crime, an unthinking cruelty which did nothing but lift the patriotic fervour of the French people, stiffen their desire for liberation, and add to, if possible, the dishonour of Germany and the disgust it engendered.”

According to the Official Publication, the perpetrators of the atrocity at Oradour-sur-Glane were Waffen-SS soldiers of the 3rd Company of the SS regiment “der Führer,” which was part of the 2nd Panzer Division known as “das Reich” Division.

On June 9th, the day before the massacre, a detachment of “das Reich” Division soldiers was billeted in the area bordering Oradour. Some of the soldiers were staying at Rochechourart and others were staying at Saint-Junien, only 13 kilometers from Oradour-sur-Glane, where the French Resistance had blown up a bridge that day. That evening, the soldiers at Rochechourart were moved to Saint-Junien after committing acts of violence and killing several citizens in the town.

Included among the SS soldiers, who were involved in the Rochechourart violence, were some from Schiltigheim, a suburb of Strasbourg in Alsace, a former French province that had been annexed by the Germans into the Greater German Reich after France was defeated in June 1940. There were also refugees from Schiltigheim living in Oradour-sur-Glane.

One out of every three soldiers in the 3rd Company of “der Führer” regiment, the perpetrators of the Oradour massacre, was a Frenchman from Alsace and most of them were under 18 years of age. Except for one man who had volunteered to join the SS, the Alsatians who participated in the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane had been drafted into the regular German Army and were then assigned to the volunteer SS army, according to their testimony in the trial held in 1953.

At least one survivor, Monsieur Paul Doutre, was a 21-year-old “draft dodger” who stayed in his home while the villagers were being assembled and then managed to escape after the SS set fire to his house. Although the booklet doesn’t mention it, he might have been a refugee from Alsace or Lorraine and was called a “draft dodger” because he had refused to join the German army after Alsace-Lorraine was annexed into the Greater German Reich in 1940.

The authors of the booklet, “Oradour-sur-Glane, A Vision of Horror,” point out that what was most striking about the destruction of the village was “the methodical, systematic and even scientific manner in which it was perpetrated.” As the booklet explains, “The German insistence in asking whether there were any munitions dumps was evidently a step of prudence which may be explained by the desire to protect against explosions which the fire might cause and of which they might be the first victims.”

The SS soldiers brought with them all the equipment necessary to destroy the village including bombs, grenades, cartridges, and incendiary bombs, a collection of modern weapons which the authors call “the last word in science and progress!”

According to the authors, “An asphyxiating gas container intended for the liquidation of the unfortunate victims in the church was specially brought in by lorry.” In the opinion of the authors, “The Germans have distinguished themselves from other peoples by their delirious taste for torture, death and blood.” The official story is that the German beasts made plans in advance to gas the women and children and to carry out this terrible crime in the sanctity of a church.

The official version of the massacre makes it abundantly clear that the people of the village were completely innocent. Although the Limosin region was the center of the Communist Resistance movement, the villagers in Oradour-sur-Glane were completely isolated from the war going on all around them.

No German soldier had ever before set foot in Oradour, because there was no reason to. No one in the village had anything to do with the French Resistance. No weapons had ever been stored there and no Maquisards, as the Resistance fighters were called, had ever stayed there. No attacks on SS soldiers had ever occurred in the town, nor anywhere near it, according to the official version of the story. Nothing had ever happened that could possibly offer any justification for the murder of defenseless civilians, nor the burning alive of women and children and the desecration of a Catholic Church.

In 1944, Oradour-sur-Glane was an idyllic village that was heretofore untouched by the war. The inhabitants were neither collaborators with the enemy, nor connected in any way with the Resistance movement. They were engaged only in peaceful pursuits such as playing soccer, fishing in the Glane river, gathering in the numerous cafes, or socializing at the tram station where it was the custom for the villagers meet the daily trains from Limoges.

The word Oradour comes from the Latin oratorium which means an altar and a place to offer prayers for the dead who, in Roman times, were buried in the vicinity of a crossroads. An ancient “lantern for the dead” in the cemetery at Oradour-sur-Glane is one of the few that have survived from the Roman days.

The Glane river flows past the southern entrance to the village, “singing under deep green cradles its eternal hymn of glory to our beautiful Limousin,” as the book so poignantly describes it.

Oradour-sur-Glane was an island in a sea of chaos, where hundreds of refugees had come to get away from the war, including some of the Red Spaniards, the Communists who had fought in the Spanish Civil War which ended in 1939. The town itself had 330 inhabitants, but there was an equal number of refugees there at the time of the massacre. There were even a few Jews hiding in the village, safe in the knowledge that the villagers were non-partisan, so there was no reason for the German occupiers to ever enter the village.

This quote from the Official Publication mentions the Jewish survivors:

“We must also mention: Monsieur Litaud, former postman; Madame Lauzanet, a woman in her sixties; and finally two young Israeli girls by the name of Pinede, and their younger brother, who managed to escape the massacre by fleeing under the Germans’ noses.”

The town was surrounded by small hamlets where the farmers lived. They shopped in the town and sent their children to the Oradour schools. According to the 1936 census, the commune of Oradour-sur-Glane had a population of 1,574 people, including the 330 residents of the town and the inhabitants of all the surrounding hamlets. As the Official Publication states, “It was into this small, quiet, delightful town that the German hordes would perpetrate the most monstrous and abominable crime in our history.”

There was no excuse whatsoever for the German occupiers to select Oradour-sur-Glane for such a horrific crime. The official version points out that “the Nazis had no valid reason to attack this peaceful town.”

There are various theories about why the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was randomly selected by the SS. One possible reason was that the town was mistaken for another village, only 15 miles away, with a similar name, Oradour-sur-Vayres, which was active in the Resistance.

In his book entitled “Justice at Nuremberg,” author Robert E. Conot wrote the following:

When a popular battalion commander was killed in the village of Oradour-sur-Vayres, near Limoges, the troopers descended in error on Oradour-sur-Glane. Unable to extract any information, they machine-gunned the 190 men of the community in the square, and burned 245 women and 207 children alive in the church. The account of an eyewitness was introduced into evidence: “Outside the church the soil was freshly dug, children’s garments were piled up, half burned. Where the barns had stood, completely calcinated human skeletons, heaped one on the other, partially covered with various materials, made a horrible charnel house.”

The above testimony was given by one of the survivors at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946. The “popular battalion commander” was Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, a close personal friend of Adolf Diekmann, the man who had ordered the massacre. (Diekmann’s name is given as Otto Dickmann in all the official accounts.)

Another story is that an SS officer dropped a pencil on a map and the tip pointed to Oradour-sur-Glane.

Some say that nearby Saint-Junien was originally the target because Resistance fighters had blown up a bridge in the town the day before, but when the mayor told the SS that there were 1800 partisans in the town, they chose Oradour-sur-Glane instead. As the authors of the Official Publication explain, Oradour-sur-Glane was targeted since “it was not because of elements of resistance there, but rather because they knew very pertinently that there were not and that they could consequently commit their odious crime with impunity.”

In a book entitled “Oradour, Village of the Dead,” the author Philip Beck wrote the following:

Colonel Rousselier, commander of the 12th military region of the FFI at Limoges, stressed: “There were no engagements of any sort in the region of Oradour-sur-Glane. We had no camp, no arms cache and no explosives anywhere near the village.”

The FFI was the French Forces of the Interior, a French resistance organization which was very active in the area near Oradour-sur-Glane; it was the army of Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French, who had his headquarters in London.

Philip Beck points out that the inhabitants of Oradour would have been fearful of reprisals and would have tried to flee when the SS arrived if they had been involved with the resistance. He wrote: “All accounts point to their air of innocence throughout.”

The Official Publication paints a vivid picture of the Waffen-SS and the German people as barbarians devoid of any civilized manners or feelings. The first sentence of their version of the story tells us that Oradour-sur-Glane was “a charming, attractive, small town” before it was “crucified with such atrocity by German barbarity.”

Oradour-sur-Glane is today called a “martyr village;” the ruins have been preserved as a symbol of German barbarity, according to the Official Publication.

The authors of the Official Publication were particularly offended by two reports filed by the SS shortly after the massacre. Regarding the first report, on June 13, 1944, the Official Publication states that “it is understandable that its purpose was to justify the massacre by mentioning the importance of the advantages that the Reich had gained from it.” This is a reference to the fact that Resistance activity in the area ceased after the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane and the SS troops were finally able to get to Normandy to fight the Allied invaders, instead of battling the guerrillas.

The second report by the SS on June 17, 1944 was even more offensive because it “raises the matter of its salutary influence on the troops’ morale.” Before the massacre, the morale of the SS had been low because they were frustrated by the delay in getting to Normandy since the railway lines had been sabotaged by “terrorists,” and the SS soldiers were being attacked by the Maquisards, the Resistance fighters. This report implied that their morale had been raised by the joy of killing innocent villagers who had never done them any harm.

The Official Publication points out that the

… unleashing of such monstrous instincts and the obsession with atrocities such as these has no name in any language – except however in the German language, where the term ‘Schadenfreude’ has been created and which may be translated as ‘pleasure in doing evil.’ How edifying it is when we find that in Germany such a brutal state of mind, heart and spirit should be so natural, normal and usual that it should be necessary to create a special word to designate this!

The German word Schadenfreude is frequently used in America to mean “taking malicious pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.” It is not used to mean “pleasure in doing evil.”

In the Forward at the front of the book, the authors of the Official Publication leave no doubt about their opinion of the SS soldiers whom they refer to as “The Huns.” This is a pejorative term that was first used during World War I when German soldiers were accused of cutting off the hands of babies in Belgium.

The following paragraph is a quote from the Forward of the Official Publication:

A traveler in June 1944 leaving Limoges for Angouleme would have been captivated by the charming balance of the surrounding countryside. How easily he would have stepped aside from the main road to take some more intimate by-way to discover to his delight, above the meandering river Glane, between two rows of willows and poplars, the church of the town going by the melodic name of Oradour.

A few days later, nothing was left of this village apart from ruins and embers, the blackened sections of walls grasping the sky like stumps, and the charred remains of its inhabitants. The Huns had been that way, killing, pillaging, destroying, burning and annihilating animate beings and inanimate alike with method and refinement, for in the art of killing they are masters par excellence.

The “fateful day” of the massacre was on a Saturday, the 10th of June, 1944. The villagers were looking forward to the Sunday Mass the next day, which was to be the First Communion day for some of the Catholic children. Ironically, the 10th of June was also the date of the German destruction of the town of Lidice, two years earlier, in what is now the Czech Republic. At the trial of the perpetrators in 1953, the survivors of Lidice were invited to witness the proceedings, along with the survivors of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Oradour-sur-Glane was crowded with people that June day, including children who had been evacuated from other areas, especially Nice, Avignon, Montpelier and Bordeaux. Although it was a Saturday, the schools were filled with children because a medical visit had been scheduled. In addition to a boys school and three separate classroom buildings for girls, there was a special school for refugee children from Alsace-Lorraine which had 21 students. There were 64 pupils in the boys school and 109 girls in three classrooms, making a total of 191 children registered in the Oradour schools.

Many of the parents of these children lived outside the town itself and were not killed in the massacre. They continued to live in the area, mourning the loss of their children for the rest of their lives. Only one of the school children escaped that day. In addition, younger children and babies died in the church, the youngest one only a week old.

On the day of the massacre, there was to be a distribution of tobacco rations in Oradour-sur-Glane. The village was located in a rich agricultural region and many people were there to stock up on food provisions. Others had come for week-end recreation, as the Glane river was noted as a great place to fish. The Hotel Avril was full of guests, some of whom had come to the town to escape the “danger of bombardments in Paris,” or from other places like Reims and Bordeaux.

There were “one or two Jewish families hiding under assumed names” who were long-term guests at the Hotel. At the Milord Hotel, the tables were also full for lunch. Amongst the regulars who were eating lunch at the Milord were “Parisians with their families.” It was a beautiful summer day and the residents had no reason to believe that the hostilities between the German occupiers and the French Resistance fighters would ever reach their peaceful community.

The inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane had just finished a leisurely lunch when “the Krauts” arrived around 2 p.m. according to Madame Lang, one of the survivors, who lived near the church.

The Official Publication also quotes Hubert Desourteaux, who was one of the first to observe the SS soldiers at around 2:15 p.m. According to his recollection, there was a “heavy lorry convoy” consisting of “ten or so vehicles, five of which (three lorries and two half-tracks) moved through the main street, rue Emile-Desourteaux, making for the upper town, where they stopped.” They had entered the lower town at the south end of the main street, coming from the direction of Limoges. He estimated that there were around 200 soldiers, all wearing camouflage jackets in shades of green and yellow.

The town crier, Monsieur Depierrefiche, was ordered to walk through the streets, beating a drum, and reading out an order that all the inhabitants, without exception, men, women and children, were to assemble immediately in the Market Square with their papers for an identity check. The fact that Oradour-sur-Glane had a town crier gives one an idea of how much life has changed in the 60 years since the massacre. For years, the survivors mourned the loss of their former way of life, and the loss of the scene of their childhood, neither of which could ever be replaced. The ruins of the village serve as a constant reminder of what was lost when the German barbarians overran Europe.

According to Monsieur Marcel Darthout, who was one of the survivors, the SS men “went into the houses in Oradour, had every door opened and under threat of arms, brutally forced everybody, even the ill, to the assembly point.” The troops “proceeded without hesitation, methodically and with order, just as if on manoeuvres.”

Survivor Clement Broussaudier described how a sick school teacher, named Madame Binet, was forced to leave her bed and go to the Market Square in her pajamas. The crippled uncle of Armand Senon, another survivor, was beaten and forced to leave his house. Everyone had to assemble under the pretext of checking their identity papers.

There were unverified stories that one of the SS soldiers said that a skirmish was expected to take place in the village and he would himself escort the children to the church to “assure their safety.” There was only one school child who was not killed in the massacre. Roger Godfrin, a schoolboy from the French province of Lorraine, which had been annexed into the Greater German Reich in 1940, escaped through the garden behind the school and disappeared into the woods. According to the official story, Godfrin told a friend: “They’re Germans, I know what they’re like. They’ll try to hurt us. I’m going to try and escape.”

Madame Lang observed the scene from her hiding place in one of the houses. “What an anguishing sight,” she said, “of mothers enfolding their babies in their arms and others pushing them in prams. Young girls were crying. Then the school children arrived, boys and girls, making their way to their place of execution. I can still hear the sound of those poor kids’ shoes, tapping the road, overshadowed by the heavy thud of the torturers’ boots.”

The book lists the names of all the victims, along with their occupation. One of them was Jean Ramnoux, a clog maker. The sound of the shoes “tapping the road” came from the wooden clogs, probably made by Ramnoux. The majority of the victims were unemployed, according to the list in the Official Publication.

The SS soldiers also rounded up the inhabitants who lived in the surrounding hamlets south of the village of Oradour and drove them in trucks to the Market Square. The family of survivor Marguerite Rouffanche was among them. By 2:45 p.m. everyone had been assembled. Mothers carried babies in their arms; old people had been dragged from their beds, and the town baker, who had been interrupted in his work, was standing there bare-chested and covered with flour. The assembled villagers were surrounded by SS soldiers who had six sub-machine guns trained on them.

Dr. Jacques Desourteaux, who had been out on a house call, drove into the village in his car just as the people were being assembled. His father, Dr. Paul Desourteaux, who was the mayor of the town, was ordered by one of the soldiers to select 30 hostages. When he refused, he was taken to the Town Hall for a short time and then returned to the assembly point. He had offered himself and his family as the hostages, but his offer was declined.

At 3 p.m. the assembled inhabitants were divided into two groups with women and children in one group and the men in the other. The women and children were marched off to the church while the men were ordered to sit down in three rows, facing a wall.

Monsieur Darthout is quoted in the book as saying the following:

“They had to find a pretext for the terrible massacre they were preparing. An interpreter stood forward and announced “There are secret arms and munitions deposits here made by ‘terrorists’. We shall make searches. During this time, to facilitate our operations we shall put you in the barns. If you know of any such deposits,” he added, “we request you to reveal them to us now.”


No one admitted to any deposit and for the good reason that there were none. It was a totally peaceful village where each went about his own small business or farming his land. I must mention that never was any assassination committed against any German soldier and there was no reason that might justify the least reprisal from them.”

According to the Official Publication, while the women were awaiting their fate in the church and the men were sitting in rows of three on the Market Square, the SS began carrying out a systematic pillage of the town, searching each house and emptying it of its contents.

The Official Publication claims that this was not a search for weapons, but rather a search for valuables that the SS wanted to steal. “The village was rich and theft was bound to be lucrative: silver, linen, provisions, precious objects, everything was there.”

The next day a locked safe was found in the burned out home of Monsieur Dupic, where the SS soldiers had stayed the night after the destruction of the village. When the safe was forced open, it was found to be empty, proof that the SS had stolen the money from it, according to the Official Publication.

At 3:30 p.m. “an officer, tall and thin looking, came from the side of the church to speak to Monsieur Desourteaux,” according to 29-year-old Armand Senon who witnessed the action from his house which was on the Market Square. He was not at the assembly point because he was incapacitated by a broken leg, which he had sustained playing football. After a brief discussion, the men of the town were ordered into six locations: the Laudy, Milord, and Bouchoule barns, the Desourteaux garage, the Denis Wine and Spirits storehouse and the Beaulieu smithy.

According to Monsieur Roby, one of the five survivors who escaped from the Laudy barn, the SS soldiers leveled machine guns at them as they sat in the barn. And then “Suddenly, five minutes after our entrance into the barns, as if in obedience to a signal like a powerful explosion, that I judged to come from the Market Square, they gave a loud cry and cowardly opened fire on us.” Several of the survivors mentioned hearing a loud explosion, which they thought was a signal, just before the men of the village were murdered.

The first men to fall, during the shooting in the barns, were protected by the bodies that fell on top of them. After all the men had apparently been shot, the “torturers walked on top of our bodies to finish off at point blank range with their revolvers any injured person they saw still moving,” according to Roby. The SS men then piled “straw, hay, faggots, cart slats, ladders and so on” on top of the bodies and set fire to them. Then they left the barn. The men in the Laudy barn, who had not been hit, or who were only slightly injured, managed to crawl out from under the bodies and escaped through a hole in the wall into an adjoining storeroom. An SS soldier returned and set fire to some straw in the storeroom. When he left, the five survivors managed to escape through an exit in the storeroom to another building where they hid for the next three hours. The fire eventually reached this building, and the five men escaped through a narrow passageway between two walls. They made their way to the Market Square. It was now around 7 p.m. The SS men had apparently left, so the survivors ran towards the cemetery, where they finally found safety in the surrounding fields.

All of the survivors reported that the men in the barn were initially shot in the legs. The five survivors who escaped from the Laudy barn all said that there were wounded men who were burned alive. Madame Lang, a survivor who was hiding in a house only six yards from the Milord barn, said that she “heard the most heartrending screams and cries for help with intermittent strafes of gun fire.” There is no explanation offered in the official version for why the prisoners were shot in the legs and then burned alive.

In the barn belonging to Monsieur Bouchoule, the bodies of women and children were found, along with the charred remains of the men. This barn is located across the road from the Church. In the wine storehouse of Monsieur Denis, the remains of both men and women were found. The official version of the massacre explains that “No doubt, these were poor victims apprehended at the last moment and added at random to the men’s group.” There were no women or children found in the other four buildings where the men were massacred.

The village of Oradour-sur-Glane was connected to the city of Limoges by a tram line. In the midst of the destruction of the village, two trams arrived. The first tram had only tramway employees in it. The SS soldiers shot one of the employees, Monsieur Chalard, after he stepped off the tram and tried to cross the bridge over the Glane river. His corpse was thrown into the river and the tram was sent back to Limoges with the rest of the employees still in it.

The second train arrived around 7 p.m. by which time, most of the villagers had been murdered and the town had been burning for at least two hours. One of the passengers was Mademoiselle Marie Gauthier, a resident of Limoges, who gave the following account, which is quoted in the small booklet entitled “Oradour-sur-Glane, A Vision of Horror,” the official version of the story:

“This tram was stopped at the changeover point of the Saint-Victurnien road by the Germans, who made us stay in the carriages. A soldier left by bicycle apparently to get orders and when he came back, he made all the passengers who were heading for Oradour get out. There were about 22 or 23 of us and we were heavily escorted to a point not far from the village of Les Bordes. We were made to cross the Glane on a narrow footbridge with the help of a tree trunk and then were directed to the Thomas house where the command post was situated.

Our group was then stopped in the open country. The officer commanding the detachment held a discussion with the officer of the command post. The men and women were then separated and an identity check was made before we were brought back together again. After some hesitation and debate, suddenly the S.S. came forward, cocked their guns and made a circle around us. There was no doubt in our minds that they were preparing to execute us. Those were interminable moments of anguish and terror. Finally after a somewhat heated discussion between the officer and the commander, they announced that we were free. We immediately hurried to reach the country.”

The tram was then sent back to Limoges where it arrived at around midnight.

A group of SS soldiers spent the night in the home of Monsieur Dupic, a fabric merchant who managed to escape when he saw the Germans enter the town. His house was located at the north end of the main street. The SS soldiers did not leave Oradour-Sur-Glane until the following day at about 11 a.m. They set fire to the Dupic house just before they left. The next day, the remains of 20 to 25 Champagne bottles were found in the ruins.

According to the Official Publication:

Without doubt, during the night, the most atrocious orgies occurred in this house. […] They drank and binged in the Teutonic fashion, whilst other discoveries indicate clearly enough the monstrous nature of the scenes that these sadistic brutes gave themselves over to in the light of the fading glow of the fires.



The SS Version of the Story – illegal in France

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March 17, 2018

The Hungarian Jews who were deported to Bergen-Belsen

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 2:33 pm

The Deportation of the Hungarian Jews

Bergen-Belsen camp, April 1945

According to Eberhard Kolb, who wrote a book entitled “Bergen-Belsen from 1943 to 1945,” Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had opened a special section at the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on July 8, 1944, where 1,683 Hungarian Jews from Budapest had been brought. The Jews in the Hungarian section were treated better than all the others at Bergen-Belsen. They received better food and medical care and were not required to work nor to attend the daily roll calls. They wore their own clothes, but were required to wear a yellow Star of David patch. The Bergen-Belsen camp had different categories of prisoners, and the Hungarian Jews were in the category of Preferential Jews (Vorzugsjuden) because they were considered desirable for exchange purposes.

Prisoners at the Bergen-Belsen camp

The first transport of 318 “exchange Jews” left the Bergen-Belsen Hungarian camp on August 18, 1944, bound for Switzerland. On August 20th, the trainload of Hungarian Jews arrived in Bregenz and then went on to St. Gallen the next day.

Hitler had given his permission in December 1942 to release Jews for ransom, so Himmler was not going against established Nazi policy.

On August 21, 1944, three SS officers (Kurt Becher, Max Grüson and Hermann Krumey) who were representing Himmler, and a representative of the Budapest Jews, Rudolf Kastner, met with Saly Mayer, a leading member of the Jewish Community in Switzerland. The meeting took place in the middle of a bridge at St. Margarethen, on the border between Germany and Switzerland, because Mayer refused to enter Germany and he also did not want the SS men to enter Switzerland, according to Yehuda Bauer.

Becher asked for farm machinery and 10,000 trucks, and in return, he promised to free 318 Hungarian Jews from Bergen-Belsen.

In a show of good faith, the train with the 318 Jews was already waiting at the Swiss border. Mayer offered minerals and industry goods instead of the trucks.

According to Yehuda Bauer, Becher later claimed that he had persuaded Himmler not to deport the Budapest Jews, and that was why Himmler issued an order to stop the deportation three days later.

A second group of 1,368 Hungarian Jews left the Bergen-Belsen detention camp on December 4, 1944 and entered Switzerland just after midnight on December 7th, according to Yehuda Bauer. Altogether, there was a total of 2,896 Jews released for ransom, including a transport of 1,210 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, who entered Switzerland on February 7, 1945.

After the departure of the second Hungarian transport to Switzerland in December, more transports from Budapest continued to arrive at Bergen-Belsen and the Hungarian section remained in existence there until April 15, 1945 when the camp was voluntarily turned over to the British by Heinrich Himmler.

According to Eberhard Kolb, it was a transport of Hungarian Jews in February 1945 that bought in the lice that started a typhus epidemic in the camp. The delousing facilities in the camp had been temporarily out of order at that time.

After the Hungarian Jews had entered Switzerland, there were false reports by the Swiss press that the Jews were being ransomed in exchange for asylum for 200 SS officers who were planning to defect. When Hitler heard this, from Ernst Kaltenbrunner who was no friend of Himmler, he ordered all further releases of Jews for ransom to stop.

Between April 6 and April 11, 1945 the Hungarian Jews were evacuated from Bergen-Belsen on the orders of Himmler who was planning to use them as bargaining chips in his negotiations with the Allies. Himmler still had hopes that the Western Allies would join the Germans in fighting against the Communist Soviet Union.

The next day, on April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and Hitler and Himmler truly believed that America would now join them in their war against the Communists.

The Jews in the Star Camp and also in the Neutrals Camp were also evacuated, along with the Hungarians, in three trains which held altogether about 7,000 Jews who were considered “exchange Jews.”

One of these trains arrived with 1,712 Jews on April 21, 1945 in the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Two weeks later, the Theresienstadt Ghetto was turned over to the Red Cross, just before Soviet troops arrived with Russian doctors to take care of the prisoners who were sick with typhus.

The other two trains from Bergen-Belsen never made it to Theresienstadt because they had to keep making detours due to frequent Allied air attacks, according to Eberhard Kolb. One of the trains finally stopped on April 14th near Magdeburg in northern Germany; the guards ran away and the Jews on the train were liberated by American troops.

The third train halted on April 23, 1945 near the village of Tröbitz in the Niederlausitz region; they were liberated by Soviet troops after the guards escaped.


Eli Wiesel – A famous Hungarian Jew

The war of the Crosses was my introduction to the Holocaust

Filed under: Auschwitz, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 10:03 am

The 1998 War of the Crosses or Whose Holocaust is it?

My photo of crosses that were put up in 1998 in front of Block 11

In 1998, Polish nationalists embarked upon a mission to put up 152 Christian crosses in honor of the Polish Catholic resistance fighters who were executed by the Nazis in a gravel pit behind Block 11 at the main Auschwitz concentration camp. This was their way of protesting Jewish demands, over the previous 10 years, that the 26-foot souvenir cross from a Mass, said by the Pope at Birkenau, be removed. The basic attitude of the Poles, as expressed to me, was “This is our country. You have your country and we have ours. If we want to put up a Catholic Cross in our country, we’ll put it.”

It was Kazmirierz Switon, a Polish citizen, who began the crosses campaign in August 1998. The crosses were removed on May 28, 1999, and peace was restored. The place where the crosses were set up was right next to the building where Carmelite nuns had set up a convent. At that time, the plot of land where the crosses were set up had been leased to a non-profit “save the cross” group that wanted to save the Pope’s cross, which the Jews wanted removed.

Graffiti on billboards along the route to the Auschwitz camp in 1998 alerted visitors to the War of the Crosses before they even reached the camp. The graffiti that I saw was light-hearted and joked about the controversy, even mentioning Winnie the Pooh. When I was there in October 1998, the War of the Crosses had escalated to the point that the Polish Catholics were threatening to put up over 1,000 crosses, or one for each year that Poland has been Catholic territory. During the years when Poland had ceased to be a country, it was the Catholic Church that kept the spirit of Polish nationalism alive.

Jewish protests against Christian symbols were increasing in 1998, and there was a new demand that the Catholic Church in the former SS administration building at Birkenau be removed because it is not appropriate at the place where over a million Jews perished in the gas chambers.

In October 2005, when the photo below was taken, a Catholic Church was still in this building.

Catholic Church in administration building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The War of the Crosses was the culmination of years of tension between the Poles and the Jews. The Jews are still resentful that some of the Poles collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, and even worse, after the war in 1946, there were pogroms in which more Jews were killed by Polish civilians. The Jews say that the Nazis killed the Jews because they were acting under orders, but the Poles killed the Jews because they wanted to. As late as 1968, there was violence against the Jews in Poland, and even today Jewish memorials and Synagogues in Warsaw must be constantly guarded against vandalism and arson.

The desire of the Jews is to make Auschwitz an international site, rather than a place under the control of the Polish government. Jewish students come from Israel, and from other countries all over the world, for a bi-annual event called the “March of the Living” and at this time, they meet and talk informally with Polish students in an attempt to understand the past and to prevent future bloodshed.

Auschwitz is the world’s largest Jewish graveyard. It was here that over a million innocent Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis. The very name Auschwitz is synonymous with Jewish suffering and genocide. So why would anyone ever want to put up Christian crosses at Auschwitz? Worst of all, why would anyone put up crosses just outside the grounds of a Holocaust Memorial Site, where they might be seen by Jewish mourners praying inside?

The photograph below shows Block 11, the prison building at the main Auschwitz camp with the execution wall, called “the black wall,” on the left. A person standing here in October 1998 would not have been able to see the crosses that were erected in the gravel pit on the other side of this building.

The other side of the Block 11 building, taken from inside the camp

Actually, the place where most of the Jews perished in the Holocaust is not at the Auschwitz main camp, called Auschwitz I, outside of which Christian crosses were placed in 1998, but at Auschwitz II, a huge subsidiary camp, 3 kilometers from the Auschwitz I camp. Auschwitz II is better known as Birkenau, and the whole camp complex is now called Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Every school child in America knows about the Holocaust and the fate of Anne Frank, who died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen, where she was transferred after being a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The place where Anne Frank was sent was actually Auschwitz II, now called Birkenau. Birkenau is the German name for the village of Brzezinka where the camp for Jewish prisoners, brought from all over Europe, was located. It was at Birkenau that the genocide of the Jews was carried out, not at the main camp where the crosses were placed.

To understand the War of the Crosses, from the viewpoint of Polish nationalists, one needs to understand that the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz I, which has been turned into a museum, is called the Museum of Martyrdom, suggesting a non-denominational connotation. When the main Auschwitz camp was first turned into a museum in 1947, the official decree read, “On the site of the former Nazi concentration camp, a monument to the martyrdom of the Polish nation and of other nations is to be erected for all time to come.” There was no mention of Jews or the Holocaust in any of the official Museum guidebooks at that time. The Museum was intended to be strictly political, a monument to the struggle of the Communists against the Fascists. The Museum was officially described as an “International Monument to Victims of Fascism.”

It was only after the fall of Communism in 1989 that the genocide of the Jews was even mentioned on the monument in the former Birkenau camp. Before 1989, few people from outside Poland had ever seen Auschwitz-Birkenau, but there were actually more visitors during the Communist regime than there were in 1998 because all Polish citizens were encouraged to go on group tours of the camp and most of these visitors were Catholic. In 1998, the largest group of visitors were the Polish Catholic high school students who were fulfilling an educational requirement to visit Auschwitz where so many of their Catholic grandfathers suffered and died bravely during the Polish resistance to the Nazi occupation.

From the first day that the Auschwitz main concentration camp opened in June 1940, it was the place where Polish political prisoners were sent. It was Catholic religious pictures that were laboriously scratched with fingernails onto the concrete walls of a basement prison cell at Auschwitz by Polish resistance fighters who were imprisoned there. It was mostly Catholic political prisoners who were led naked to the black wall at Auschwitz and executed with a shot in the neck. It was mug shots of Polish Catholic prisoners that lined the walls of the corridors in 1998 in the former camp buildings at Auschwitz that have been converted into a museum.

For the Polish people, who are 98% Catholic, Auschwitz-Birkenau is the place where not one, but two, of their Catholic saints died as martyrs. Both Father Maksymilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest, and a Carmelite nun named Edith Stein met their deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau and have been canonized as Catholic saints. The prison cell in Block 11 at the Auschwitz main camp, which was occupied by Father Kolbe who volunteered to die to save the life of a fellow prisoner, is a prominent Catholic shrine. In 1998, the controversial crosses were placed in front of the side wall of the Block 11 building, where Father Kolbe was imprisoned in a “starvation cell.”

Pictured below is the inside of the basement cell where Father Kolbe was left to die. On the wall is a memorial plaque. This cell is always decorated with fresh flowers, but notice that there is no cross here, as this building is inside the main Auschwitz camp, which is now a museum.

My 2005 photo of Prison Cell No. 18, Father Kolbe’s cell

Edith Stein was born a Jew and was an atheist, but converted to the Catholic religion and became a Carmelite nun under the name of Sister Benedicta of the Cross. Because she was a Jewess, she was gassed in the gas chamber in the little cottage known as Bunker 2 at Birkenau on August 9, 1942; she was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church in October 1998.

The original War of the Crosses began in 1979 after pious Catholics erected a Christian cross at the ruins of Bunker 2, following the announcement by the Pope that the Church was initiating the beatification process, the first step toward sainthood. Jews then erected a Star of David symbol and soon there was a proliferation of crosses and stars: the war had begun.

2005 photo of the ruins of Bunker 2

The original War of the Crosses ended when an agreement was reached in May 1997 and signed in December 1997 between Jewish leaders and Polish leaders. The agreement stated that no religious, political or ideological symbols would be placed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The papal Cross, used by Pope John Paul II when he said Mass at Birkenau, was exempted in the agreement. The Jewish leaders did not approve of this exemption and in 1998, the new War of the Crosses began.

It was the Carmelite nuns who had placed the papal cross at the Auschwitz main camp in 1988, near their convent which was just outside the walls of the camp. The Carmelite convent had been established in 1984 in a brick building, which was formerly used by the Nazis to store the Zyklon-B pellets that were used for gassing the Jews.

There is also a Carmelite convent just outside the walls of the former Dachau concentration camp, and the Christian cross on the top of it is within sight of, and only a few yards from, the Jewish Memorial which was built at a later date. The convent at Dachau has an entrance through one of the former guard towers at the camp and it is open to tourists who are visiting the former concentration camp.

The Jews have also protested against the Dachau convent, but to no avail. It was still there when I visited in May 2007, along with a Protestant Memorial Chapel and a Catholic Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the former camp. There are no crosses or Christian symbols of any kind atop the memorial chapels at Dachau, although the nearby Jewish Memorial has a Menorah on top and a Star of David on the entrance gate.

Protests about the convent at Auschwitz were more effective and finally the hierarchy of the Catholic Church agreed to evict the nuns from the building.

The controversy became even more heated in the summer of 1989 when the nuns failed to meet the deadline for moving. Local residents reacted furiously when Jewish activists from the USA and Israel staged a series of protests at the site. The Poles interpreted the protests as a hostile foreign intrusion and an assault on the sovereignty of the Polish nation by the governments of other countries.

The nuns finally moved to new quarters across the street in 1993, but left behind the cross from the Pope’s mass, which they had erected near their convent.

Poland became the premier country for the world’s Catholics because it was the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow, who was elected in 1978 as the first-ever Polish pope and the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. The birthplace of John Paul II is only 30 kilometers from Auschwitz in Wadowice, a small and once obscure town that has become a popular place of pilgrimage for pious Catholics. Wadowice now has an international airport to handle the many visitors to the town.

On June 7, 1979, Cardinal Wojtyla came back to Poland, as Pope John Paul II, and honored the country of his birth by saying Mass at the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz II or Birkenau. Birkenau was chosen because it is the closest place to the Pope’s home town that was large enough to hold the crowd of 500,000 people who attended this unique event in the history of Catholic Poland.

The 26-foot cross from the altar of that Mass is the same cross that was erected by the Carmelite nuns in 1988 at their new convent in a building just outside the grounds of the Museum of Martyrdom at Auschwitz I. The building that the nuns moved into had formerly been a theater before World War II.

The pictures below, taken in 1998, represent a panoramic view of the scene of the controversy about the crosses. The first picture starts at the left of the scene and shows the former building occupied by the Catholic Carmelite nuns; the other pictures were snapped from left to right as you take in the whole area of the crosses. Shown in the last two pictures is the brick building inside the camp, called Block 11, where Father Kolbe was imprisoned. On the other side of Block 11 is the infamous black wall where many Polish Catholic prisoners were shot.

On the spot where the large cross now stands, 152 Polish Catholics were shot. The gas chamber where Jews and Russian Prisoners of War were gassed between January 1942 and March 1942 is on the opposite side of the camp, as far away as you can get from the place where the crosses were erected in 1998.

Former Catholic Carmelite convent

Polish flag and flowers honoring 152 Polish Catholics who were executed on this spot

Some of the more than 200 crosses erected outside Auschwitz I camp

Block 11 which was the prison block at Auschwitz I

26-foot cross used by Pope John Paul II to say mass

As the last three pictures above show, the crosses were placed on three sides of a former gravel pit, surrounding the 26-foot cross from the Mass said by the Pope in 1979 which was erected in the middle of the former gravel pit, now covered with grass.

At the time that these photos were taken on October 1, 1998, the number of crosses here was over 200. The whole display was tastefully done and not as chaotic or disrespectful as one might imagine from reading about the controversy in the Los Angeles Times.

The yellow sign erected along the fence, shown in the first picture, demanded the return of the Carmelite nuns to the beautiful brick building here. The nuns moved to new quarters in 1993 in response to Jewish protests, led by Rabbi Weiss in New York, but left behind the 26-foot cross that was erected in 1988.

The photo below shows the front of the building from which the nuns were evicted. A new house was built for them across the road, and this building is now empty.

2005 photo of building where Carmelite nuns formerly lived

The former gravel pit, which is in a sunken area below the fence around the Auschwitz I camp, is the spot where 152 Polish Catholic political prisoners were executed by the Nazis.

This spot is located just down the street from the tourist entrance to the former camp and the brick administration building which is now a part of the Museum.

Since the crosses are in a low spot, not even the 26-foot cross can be seen from inside the camp because it is hidden behind the Block 11 building.

When I visited Auschwitz again in October 2005, only the 26-foot cross remained in the gravel pit and everything had returned to normal.

Block 11 with 26-foot cross in former gravel pit

On Sunday, May 28, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic Church, visited the former camp at Auschwitz, which was mainly a prison for political prisoners, and the Birkenau camp where 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered.

The photo below shows the Pope, wearing a white robe and red shoes, as he walks into the Auschwitz main camp through the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate, followed by his entourage of Catholic bishops and cardinals.

Pope Benedict enters Auschwitz main camp Photo Credit: Associated Press

The photo below shows Pope Benedict XVI standing at the International Monument at Birkenau as he pays homage to the victims who were gassed in Crematorium II and Crematorium III, the ruins of which are only a few steps away, on either side of the monument.

Pope Benedict XVI at the International Monument at Birkenau 

The Pope’s visit did nothing to heal the rift between Catholics and Jews. In spite of the fact that Pope Benedict XVI paid his respects to the Jews who were murdered at Auschwitz and bowed his head in shame, he was widely criticized in the media for not mentioning the anti-Semitism of the Catholic church which contributed to the hatred of the Jews in Europe, and for not addressing the failure of Pope Pious XII to do everything in his power to prevent the deportation of the Jews to the death camps. Pope Benedict XVI offered no apology to the Jews for Auschwitz.

The Pope spoke in Italian, so as not to offend the Poles and the Jews by speaking in the hated German language, but still managed to insult the Jews with these words: “In a place like this, words fail; in the end there can only be a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?”

It was not God, but rather the millions of Catholics in Europe who were silent, and it was not God, but the ordinary Germans who tolerated the genocide of the Jews, according to the media critics.

In his speech at Auschwitz, Pope Benedict XVI blamed the Holocaust on the “criminals” in the Nazi regime and did not acknowledge the collective guilt of the German people who enthusiastically supported Hitler. The Pope also neglected to acknowledge his own Nazi past as an unwilling member of the Hitler Youth and a soldier forced to fight in the German Army.

The Pope visited the Black Wall at Block 11 and lit a candle in honor of the political prisoners who were executed there, but he wisely avoided the other side of Block 11 where the cross used for the Mass said by Pope John Paul II still stands.

He visited the cell where Father Kolbe died, but stayed far away from the Catholic Church in the former administration building at Birkenau and avoided the empty building where the Carmelite nuns formerly lived.

The general consensus in the media was that the Pope did his best, but his best wasn’t good enough.

March 16, 2018

Photo of a German girl

Filed under: Germany — furtherglory @ 12:13 pm

Photo of a German girl

You can read about this German girl in a recent news story:

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Germany’s Nicole Schott took to the ice Friday, putting forth a beautiful figure skating performance with just one point of contention, the chosen music was the John Williams’ classic score from the film “Schindler’s List.” It’s a touchy subject to say the least, a German skate-dancing to “Schindler’s List”?

The song from the film carries such a crippling weight of mass-genocidal-Nazi tones, that it’s very hard for most viewers to get past such a graphic and horrible visual when it’s played.

But this is not the first time this has happened in figure skating competition, in fact it’s not even the first time a German has skated to the music. John Williams’ soundtrack of violin music (played by the Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman) has actually been popular with skaters since the film’s release in 1994.

End quote

The history of Theresienstadt

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 10:36 am

My photo of the gate into the town of Theresienstadt

Another section,  across the road, was for convicted criminals

Americans normally think of a “ghetto” as a section of a large city that is a rundown, dilapidated, rat-infested slum inhabited by one ethnic group that has been forced to live there because of discrimination or institutionalized racism. In former times in Europe, “ghetto” was the term for a walled section of a city where the Jews were forced, according to the laws of the city, to live separately from the Christians.

Because of over-crowding and isolation, these ghettos usually turned into slums. So when the Germans turned the town of Theresienstadt into a Jewish ghetto in November 1941, this was not by any means a Nazi innovation.

Even before the word ghetto came into use, and long before the Nazis came upon the scene, the Jews were eventually segregated into a ghetto in almost every city where they settled. Usually they were already living in a separate part of the city, known as the Jewish quarter. These segregated quarters became ghettos only after walls were erected, a curfew for the Jews was established, and the Jews were forced to wear distinctive clothing to instantly identify themselves to non-Jews.

The word “ghetto” derives from the name of an area of the city of Venice where the city’s foundries were located. In the Venetian dialect, a foundry was known as a “geto” which meant a workshop or a factory. The word “geto” was derived from the verb “gettare” which means “to cast” as in to cast iron in a foundry.

After the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497, many of them settled in Venice. In 1516, a city decree forced the Jews of Venice to live on a small island with only two access points which were sealed off at sunset. This island had previously been the area of the “gheto nuovo” or new workshops.

However, even before the word ghetto came into use, the Jews, particularly in Poland, were confined to walled sections of the city where they lived. In 1492 the Jews of Krakow in Poland were put into a walled-off section after they were accused of setting fires in the city. There were no walled Jewish ghettos in the Old Reich, as Germany proper was called, during Hitler’s regime. Hitler sent the German Jews to the Lodz ghetto, located in what had formerly been Poland or to Theresienstadt, located in what was formerly the country of Czechoslovakia.

After the Nazis invaded Poland and then occupied the country, they initially put the Polish Jews into ghettos, using the excuse that had been used for centuries, that the Jews were responsible for spreading disease. Later, these ghettos became a convenient way to concentrate the Jews in one location for eventual transport to the concentration camps for extermination in Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”

On October 10, 1941, the Germans initially decided to make Theresienstadt into a ghetto for selected Jews in the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and in the Greater German Reich, which included Austria and part of western Poland. The Jews who were to be sent to Theresienstadt included those over 60 years old, World War I veterans, prominent people such as artists or musicians, very important persons, the blind, the deaf, and the inmates of the Jewish mental hospitals and the Jewish orphanages.

The first Jews, who were brought to Theresienstadt on November 24, 1941, were 342 men who were housed in the Sudeten barracks on the west side of the old garrison, from where one can see the Sudeten mountain range near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. This first transport, called the Aufbaukommando, was brought there to prepare the 10 barracks buildings for the rest of the Jews who would soon follow. On December 4, 1941 another transport of 1,000 Jews who were to form the Jewish “self-government” of the ghetto was sent to Theresienstadt. These two early transports became known as AK1 and AK2.

A short time after the construction crews had prepared the barracks, 7,000 Jews from Prague and Brno in what is now the Czech Republic arrived in the ghetto; men and women were put into separate barracks and they were not allowed to mix with the townspeople. On Feb. 16, 1942, the 3,500 townspeople were given notice that they had to evacuate the town by June 30th. At that time, the whole town was converted into a prison camp for the Jews.

Even before the transports departed to Theresienstadt, the Jewish Council of the Elders (Ältestenrat) was appointed in Prague to do the ghetto administration. The Nazis gave oral orders to the Council each day and the Jewish “self-government” informed the prisoners of the order of the day.

There were three Jewish Elders (Judenältester) who served in turn as the head of the ghetto “self-government.” The first was Jakob Edelstein, who served as the ghetto Elder from December 4, 1941 to November 27, 1943. He was arrested for falsifying camps records and was sent to the Small Fortress across the river from the ghetto. From there he was transferred to Auschwitz where he was first put on trial in a Nazi court and was then executed at the infamous “black wall” on June 20, 1944 after being forced to watch as his wife and son were being shot.

The second Jewish leader of Theresienstadt was Dr. Paul Eppstein who was taken to the Small Fortress on September 7, 1944 and immediately shot without the benefit of a trial because he too disobeyed the orders of the Nazis. The last Jewish leader of the ghetto was Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, who served from Sept. 7, 1944 until the end of the war. The ghetto guards were 150 Czech policemen; there was also an unarmed Jewish ghetto guard unit which helped to maintain order in the ghetto. On the wall near the entry door to the Museum in the Magdeburg building, there is a plaque which lauds the Jewish leaders in the ghetto for their resistance against the Nazis, even though it meant death for two of the Elders.

Plaque on wall of Museum honors Jewish leaders who resisted the Nazis

By the time that the Nazis started deporting the Jews from Germany, there were less than 200,000 of them left in the country; all the others had already emigrated to escape the Nazi persecution. Forty percent of the remaining Jews in Germany were over 60 years old, as the children and young people had been the first to leave. After Austria became part of the Greater German Reich in March 1938, the Jews were forced to emigrate to any country that would take them, and only 15,000 old people were allowed to remain. All of these elderly Austrian Jews were deported to Theresienstadt where their mortality rate was the highest of all.

The first name that the Nazis gave to the garrison town, which had been renamed Terezin by the Czechs, was Theresienbad, which means Spa Theresien, implying that it was a spa town where people could take mineral baths. Then the name was changed to Reichsaltersheim, or State Old People’s Home. Some of the unsuspecting elderly Jews in Germany actually paid for an apartment in the ghetto and signed contracts for housing, food and medical treatment which was to be provided. They were very disappointed when they got to Theresienstadt and learned that it was nothing like the spa town or old folks home that they were expecting and that they were not going to have luxury accommodations, even though they had paid. Since they were too old to work, their rations were less than the amount given to the workers, and their mortality rate was extremely high.

Theresienstadt is frequently referred to as the “Paradise Ghetto,” although this was never a name used by the Nazis. For most of its existence, the Theresienstadt ghetto was called the Jewish Self Administration or Jüdische Selbstverwaltung.

Besides the ordinary people who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps, there were also many well known and prominent Jews, who were incarcerated along with the others. In every camp where these prominent people were confined, they were given privileged treatment and Theresienstadt was no exception.

Important people, such as Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck of Berlin, whom the Nazis called “the Pope of the Jews,” were given private apartments in Theresienstadt. The rest of the Jews were housed in large barrack rooms where they were crowded together into three rows of triple decker wooden bunk beds. As the ghetto filled up, the newcomers were forced to live in attic space without heat, running water or toilets.

Each transport to the camp contained around 1,000 Jews. Upon arrival, the Jews went through a checkpoint, which was called die Schleuse, which means the lock as in a lock on a canal. Here they were searched for items that were forbidden in the camp. After that, the men and women were assigned to separate barracks. The barracks were named after towns in Germany, for example, the Dresden and Magdeburg barracks for the women, the Hanover barracks for men and Hamburg barracks for women. The Magdeburg barracks also housed the offices of the Jewish “self-government.”

Dresden barracks for women which has an inner courtyard

The first transport to be sent to the east from Theresienstadt consisted of 2,000 Jews who were sent to Riga on January 9, 1942 from the Bohusovice station. According to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, all 2,000 were taken to the nearby Rumbuli forest where they were shot. The most horrible aspect of this is that the Jewish “self-government” in the camp was initially in charge of selecting the people for the transports, although they did not know what their fate would be at that time. Unwittingly, they sent the young able-bodied Jews to their deaths, thinking that they were sending workers to labor camps in the east.

A total of 44,693 Jews from Theresienstadt were sent to Auschwitz, where all but a few of them perished. On September 8, 1943, a transport of 5,006 Czech Jews was sent to Auschwitz where they were put into a “family camp” which was liquidated six months later. There were 22,503 Jews from Theresienstadt who were transported to unknown destinations in the east.

In keeping with the stated policy at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, Hitler’s plan was to evacuate all the Jews to the east. Eight thousand were sent from Theresienstadt to Treblinka and 1,000 to Sobibor, two death camps that were right on the border between German occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Another 1,000 were transported from the Theresienstadt ghetto to a concentration camp near the village of Maly Trostenets, just outside of Minsk in what is now Belarus, better known to Americans as White Russia. Two thousand Jews from the ghetto were sent to Zamosc, 3,000 to Izbica and 3,000 to Lublin, all of which were cities near the eastern border of occupied Poland.

Although the Theresienstadt ghetto was originally supposed to be a home for elderly Jews, the Nazis began including some of the older inmates in the transports to the east after the camp population on September 18, 1942 had reached 58,497, its highest number of prisoners. With such horrendous overcrowding, the death toll was around 4,000 just for the month of September in 1942 and most of the dead were elderly people. Between September 19, 1942 and October 22, 1942, there were 11 transports carrying ghetto inmates from Theresienstadt to other camps farther east in order to relieve the overcrowding.

In the northwest section of the old garrison town, there is a building, called the Bauhof by the Nazis, that was used in the ghetto for craft workshops. It is the yellow building shown in the photograph below. To the right you can see part of the old fortifications; the road shown in the photograph goes through an opening in the fortifications here.

Bauhof where workshops were located near Litomerice gate

According to the Ghetto Museum, in 1945 a homicidal gas chamber was built in a corridor of the town’s fortifications wall near the Litomerice gate, which is right by the Bauhof building, shown in the photograph above. (Click here to see a map of the ghetto. The Bauhof building is number 14 on the map.) According to Martin Gilbert, this gas chamber was never “activated.”

The homicidal gas chamber is directly across from the Jäger (Hunter) barracks, an identical building on the opposite side of the town, which was used as a disinfection station where the prisoners and their clothing were deloused. The prisoners were disinfected by being completely submerged in a tub containing a chemical which would kill the lice on their bodies.

At the same time, their clothing was disinfected by hot steam, and they would have to put their clothes back on while they were still wet and then return to their barracks. The oldest inmates of the ghetto were housed in the Jäger barracks so they wouldn’t get chilled by walking through the cold in wet clothes. Behind the Jäger barracks is the Südberg or South Hill where a a soccer field was built for the inmates.

The ghetto inmates became aware of the Theresienstadt homicidal gas chamber and were planning to blow it up, but the war ended just in time to save the Theresienstadt Jews from being gassed right in the ghetto.

In October 1944, the Jews at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) did manage to blow up one of the homicidal gas chambers and shortly thereafter, Heinrich Himmler is believed to have ordered the gassing operation to be stopped.

The gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were converted into air raid shelters, since the Allies had begun bombing the camp, after taking aerial photos which showed extensive munitions factories there.

The photograph below shows the fortifications on either side of the Litomerice gate on the northwest side of Theresienstadt. When Theresienstadt was a ghetto for the Jews, this road was closed off and there was no traffic through the garrison town.

Litomerice gate is an opening between fortifications walls

There were rumors circulating in all of the major Nazi concentration camps toward the end of the war that Hitler had given the order for all the inmates to be killed before the arrival of the Soviet or American soldiers. This was believed to be the purpose for building a gas chamber at Theresienstadt in 1945 at the tail end of the war.

At Auschwitz, the inmates were given the choice to stay in the camp, or to follow the Germans on a death march to the camps in the west before the Soviet army arrived. Very few stayed behind, except those who were too old or too sick to walk, because the prisoners believed that they would be killed if they stayed.

After April 20, 1945, there were 13,454 of these wretched survivors from Auschwitz and other camps who poured into Theresienstadt. Some were housed in the Hamburg barracks, right by the railroad tracks. The others were put into temporary wooden barracks outside the ghetto, which were taken down soon after the war.

Some of the newcomers had been evacuated from Buchenwald on April 5th just before the camp was liberated by American troops on April 11, 1945. Before the Americans arrived, Hitler himself had given the order to evacuate the Jews from Buchenwald in an effort to prevent them from exacting revenge on German citizens after they were freed.

Some of them arrived at Theresienstadt in terrible condition after they had been traveling by train for two weeks without food. After the liberation of Buchenwald, some of the prisoners, who had not been evacuated, commandeered American army jeeps and weapons, then drove to the nearby town of Weimar where, in an orgy of revenge, they looted German homes and shot innocent civilians at random; this was the type of thing that the Nazis were trying to prevent by evacuating the concentration camps before they were liberated.

According to Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who was one of the prisoners brought to Theresienstadt in the last days of the war, the inmates of the Theresienstadt ghetto went on a rampage as soon as they were released. They looted homes, beat to death an SS guard from the ghetto, and attacked the ethnic Germans who were now homeless refugees, fleeing to Germany, after being driven out of the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia.

Some of the people who arrived from the evacuated camps were former inmates of Theresienstadt who were now returning. Others were Jews who had been in the eastern concentration camps for years. On May 3, 1945, the ghetto was turned over to the Red Cross by Commandant Karl Rahm.

According to Martin Gilbert in his book “Holocaust Journey,” Rahm told the Red Cross that he had received orders from Berlin to kill all the inmates in the ghetto before the Russians arrived, but he had disobeyed the order. Because of this, Gilbert wrote, Rahm was allowed to leave the camp unmolested on the day before the Russians arrived on May 8, 1945. He was later captured and tried in a Special People’s Court in nearby Litomerice; he was held in the Small Fortress until he was executed in 1947.

Death Statistics for the Theresienstadt Ghetto

The Red Cross Visit

Early History of Theresienstadt


March 15, 2018

Gerog Elser – the man who tried to kill Hitler

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 1:10 pm

Georg Elser, who tried to kill Hitler

Museum Display about Georg Elser

According to an exhibit in the new Dachau Museum which opened at the Dachau Memorial Site in 2003, Georg Elser was secretly executed at Dachau on April 9, 1945, and his death was blamed on an Allied bombing raid.

In the old Museum exhibits which were put up in 1965 and replaced in 2003, the execution of Georg Elser, the German hero who tried to kill Hitler, was not mentioned.

For five and a half years, Johann Georg Elser had been in prison, first at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and then at Dachau, awaiting trial for his attempt to kill Adolf Hitler on November 8, 1939 with a bomb placed at the Bürgerbräukeller where Hitler was giving his annual speech on the anniversary of his 1923 Putsch. Hitler left the hall early and was not hurt, although 8 people were killed by the blast and 63 others were injured, according to the Dachau Memorial Site.

Georg Elser

Along with Elser, Captain Sigismund Payne Best, a British intelligence agent, was also imprisoned at Sachsenhausen, and later at Dachau, while he awaited trial on a charge of conspiracy in the assassination attempt by Elser, which was believed by Hitler to have been instigated by the British government.

The story of Georg Elser’s execution, according to Captain Sigismund Payne Best, is that either Adolf Hitler or Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had ordered the head of the Gestapo, SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, to deliver a letter, authorizing the execution of “special prisoner Georg Eller” during the next Allied air raid, to the Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter, on April 5, 1945. Eller was a code name for Elser so that the other prisoners would not know his true identity. By some strange coincidence, Captain Payne Best had come into possession of this letter in May 1945 shortly before the end of World War II.

Normally, an execution order would have come from RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) in Berlin, addressed to the head of the Gestapo branch office at Dachau, Johann Kick. Kick would have given the order to Wilhelm Ruppert who was the SS officer in charge of executions at Dachau. Ruppert would have given the order to either Franz Trenkle or Theodor Bongartz, the two SS men who carried out executions at Dachau. After the execution, RSHA and the Gestapo would have received documentation that the execution had taken place. In the case of Georg Elser, none of this happened.

Heinrich Müller, the chief of the Gestapo, who had allegedly ordered the murder of Georg Elser, was last seen leaving Hitler’s bunker on April 29, 1945, the day that Dachau was liberated. No trace of him has ever been found. Hitler killed himself the next day on April 30, 1945 and Himmler allegedly committed suicide after he was captured by the British in May 1945.

Dachau Commandant Wilhelm Eduard Weiter, who had allegedly received the order to execute Elser, shot himself at Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachau in Austria, on May 6, 1945, according to Johannes Tuchel, the author of “Dachau and the Nazi Terror 1933-1945.”

However, Nerin E. Gun claimed in his book “The Day of the Americans” that Weiter was shot in the neck by Ruppert at Schloss Itter because he had refused to obey Hitler’s order to kill all the Dachau prisoners.

Georg Elser had been a prisoner in the Dachau prison, called the bunker, since he was transferred from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in February 1945, according to Nerin E. Gun, a journalist who was also a prisoner at Dachau. Captain Payne Best was transferred from Sachsenhausen to Buchenwald, and from there to Dachau in April 1945.

Prison cells on both sides of hallway in the Dachau Bunker

The following account of the assassination attempt by Georg Elser is from the book entitled “Hitler’s War,” first published in 1977:

Normally Hitler spoke for about ninety minutes, but this time he spoke for just under an hour, standing at a lectern in front of one of the big, wood-paneled pillars. Many of the Old Guard were away at the front, so the hall was filled with other senior Party members and local dignitaries as well as the next of kin of the sixteen Nazis killed in the 1923 putsch. Hitler’s speech was undistinguished, a pure tirade of abuse against Britain, whose “true motives” for this new crusade Hitler identified as jealousy and hatred of the new Germany, which had achieved in six years more than Britain had in centuries. Julius Schaub, who was responsible for seeing to it that his chief reached the railroad station on time, nervously passed him cards on which he had scrawled increasingly urgent admonitions: “Ten minutes!” then “Five!” and finally a peremptory “Stop!”-a method he had previously had to use to remind his Führer, who never used a watch, of the passage of mortal time. “Party members, comrades of our National Socialist movement, our German people, and above all our victorious Wehrmacht: Siegheil !” Hitler concluded, and stepped into the midst of the Party officials who thronged forward. A harassed Julius Schaub managed to shepherd the Führer out of the hall at twelve minutes past nine. The express was due to leave from the main railway station in nineteen minutes.

At the Augsburg station, the first stop after Munich, confused word was passed to Hitler’s coach that something unusual, though as yet undefined, had occurred at the Bürgerbräu. At the Nuremberg station, the local police chief, a Dr. Martin, was waiting with more detailed news: just eight minutes after Hitler had left the beer hall a powerful bomb had exploded in the paneled pillar right behind where he had been speaking. There were many dead and injured. Hitler’s Luftwaffe aide, Colonel Nicolaus von Below, later wrote: “For a moment Hitler refused to believe it. He had been there himself and nothing had happened then…. The news made a vivid impression on Hitler. He fell very silent, and then described it as a miracle that the bomb had missed him.”(3) He spoke by telephone with SS General von Eberstein, the Munich police chief (who had been flatly forbidden to encroach on this strictly Party preserve with regular police security measures), and consoled the anguished SS general: Don’t worry-it was not your fault. The casualties are regrettable, but all’s well that ends well.” By 7 A.M. the news was that six people had been killed (the death toll later rose to eight) and over sixty injured.

Georg Elser’s motive was, in his own words: “Ich habe den Krieg verhindern wollen.” (I wanted to prevent the war.)

A plaque on the wall of a building in Königsbronn, where Elser spent his youth, credits Elser with saying “Ich wollte ja durch meine Tat noch grösseres Blutvergiessen verhindern.” (I wanted to prevent, through my deed, even more bloodshed.)

In Germany, Georg Elser is not considered a traitor to his country, but is honored as a hero. A stamp with his photo was issued and a small square in Munich is named Georg-Elser-Platz.

There is also a concert hall in Munich, Georg Elser Halle, named after him. A new memorial for Elser is being planned in Berlin. The Bürgerbräukeller where the assassination attempt took place has since been torn down.

In November 1939, Great Britain and France were at war with Germany, both countries having declared war against Germany two days after German troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, but at that point, the war was a “sitzkrieg” or “phony war” with no fighting going on.

On September 17, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the other side, but the British and the French did not declare war since they had only agreed to defend Poland against an attack by Germany.

Following the conquest of Poland, Hitler had made an appeal for peace in a speech on October 6, 1939 in the Reichstag, but British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had said in a speech to the Commons six days later that “No reliance can be put on the promises of the present German government.”

By November 1939, Hitler had had to face the fact that the war would not be a “sitzkrieg” forever and that the British and the French were probably making plans to invade Germany at that very moment.

According to the book entitled “Hitler’s War,” Hitler had provisionally ordered the German attack on the British and the French, coded named “Yellow,” to begin on Sunday, November 12, 1939, but he was willing to postpone the offensive until spring if need be. Two days later, Hitler postponed the offensive for three days, giving bad weather as the reason.

The following quote is from “Hitler’s War”:

Hitler was aware that the army’s opposition was not limited to objective debate of the merits of “Yellow.”

There was a clique of as yet unidentifiable officers bent on his forcible removal from power, and their contacts with the western governments made them potentially very dangerous men indeed. During October he accordingly authorized Heydrich’s secret service to develop its contacts with the British Intelligence network in Holland. Heydrich’s men were to pretend to represent dissident German army generals willing to risk all in a plot to overthrow the Führer. If they could secure the British agents’ confidence, the names of the real German conspirators might be revealed, or gleaned from the subsequent radio traffic between the agents and their Intelligence masters in London. This was the SS plan, and it worked up to a point. After a convincing series of false starts and unkept rendezvous, the first clandestine meeting between the British agents and Heydrich’s “army generals” took place on Dutch soil in the second half of October; certain questions were submitted for the British Cabinet to answer, on the assumption that the generals captured Hitler and ended the war; and an additional rendezvous was arranged for early November. Hitler was intrigued by the possibility of embarrassing the Dutch government by exploiting the evidence of Anglo-Dutch staff collaboration revealed by these SS ploys, and he discussed this with Ribbentrop and Heydrich’s lieutenant, Dr. Werner Best; a plan to kidnap the British agents was first considered, then shelved for the time being.

On November 9, 1939, the day after the assassination attempt, two British intelligence officers, Captain Sigismund Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens, were arrested in a sting operation at the Cafe Bacchus near Venlo in the Netherlands, 125 feet from the German border.

According to Nerin E. Gun, the British had been contacted previously by a German anti-Nazi named Dr. Franz who told them that some German officers were planning a revolt and wanted the support of Great Britain.

The following quote is from “The Day of the Americans”:

British Intelligence agents were to meet there (at the Cafe) with a group of German conspirators, including a Wehrmacht general, who had tried to overthrow the regime. It had first been planned that Hitler himself, made prisoner by the general, would be turned over, bound hand and foot, to the men who came there from The Hague.

This fantastic plot had been afoot since the first days of September, right after war broke out. Captain (preferring to be called Mister) S. Payne Best, whose functions within the British Intelligence service remain shadowy even today, but about whom we can guess that he was head of its European network, had been contacted by a German anti-Nazi emigre, Dr. Franz. Some German officers, Franz had told him, were planning a revolt and wanted the support of Great Britain. Mr. Best asked the home office to give him competent military advice. They sent him Major R. H. Stevens. Since it was an important affair, at least in the imagination of the British, the head of the Dutch Secret Service, Major General van Oorscholt, had also been brought in on it. The latter respected the obligations of neutrality in his own way, and did not hesitate to plunge into this international intrigue, which had the earmarks of a Hollywood thriller. He delegated Lieutenant Dirk Clopp (Klop), to whom the British were to give the code name of “Captain Coppers, of His Gracious British Majesty’s Guard Regiment,” to represent him, and contact was established with the plotters.

According to Nerin E. Gun’s book, the plot was to capture Hitler, smuggle him across the German border to Venlo and then sneak him onto a submarine anchored outside of Rotterdam.

On the morning of November 9th, the German radio announced the failed attempt on Hitler’s life, but Captain Payne Best assumed that this was a ruse designed to explain the disappearance of Hitler whom he believed was already in the hands of the plotters.

One of the German plotters was a man named “Major Schaemmel” who was, in reality, Walter Schellenberg, the Chief of German Intelligence. There was an actual person named Schaemmel, in case the British checked him out.

After the arrest of Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens, Hitler came to the conclusion that the failed assassination had been planned by the British in an attempt to overthrow the government of Germany.

The following quote is from the memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, entitled “The Labyrinth”:

He (Hitler) began to issue detailed directives on the handling of the case to Himmler, Heydrich, and me and gave releases to the press. To my dismay, he became increasingly convinced that the attempt on his life had been the work of the British Intelligence, and that Best and Stevens, working together with Otto Strasser, were the real organizers of this crime (the assassination attempt).

Otto Strasser was a left-wing politician who had formed his own faction within the Nazi Party, along with his brother, Gregor Strasser. After he was expelled from the Nazi party by Hitler in 1930, Otto Strasser formed an organization called the “Black Front.” At the time of the assassination attempt, Strasser was living in Switzerland. Georg Elser had worked for a time as a carpenter in Switzerland.

The quote from the memoirs of Schellenberg continues as follows:

Meanwhile a carpenter by the name of Elser had been arrested while trying to escape over the Swiss border. The circumstantial evidence against him was very strong, and finally he confessed. He had built an explosive mechanism into one of the wooden pillars of the Beer Cellar. It consisted of an ingeniously worked alarm clock which could run for three days and set off the explosive charge at any given time during that period. Elser stated that he had first undertaken the scheme entirely on his own initiative, but that later on two other persons had helped him and had promised to provide him with a refuge abroad afterward. He insisted, however, that the identity of neither of them was known to him.

I thought it possible that the “Black Front” organization of Otto Strasser might have something to do with the matter and that the British Secret Service might also be involved. But to connect Best and Stevens with the Beer Cellar attempt on Hitler’s life seemed to me quite ridiculous. Nevertheless that was exactly what was in Hitler’s mind. He announced to the press that Elser and the officers of the British Secret Service would be tried together. In high places there was talk of a great public trial, to be staged with the full orchestra of the propaganda machine, for the benefit of the German people. I tried to think of the best way to prevent this lunacy.

Schellenberg mentioned in his memoir that Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, had told him that “there is no possibility of any connection between Elser and Best and Stevens.” Himmler then said that Elser had admitted that he was connected with two unknown men, but whether or not he was in touch with any political group was unknown. One other clue that Himmler confided to Schellenberg was that “our technical men are practically certain that the explosives and the fuses used in the bomb were made abroad.”

Heinrich Himmler stands behind Hitler, Nürnberg rally, 1934

The Gestapo went to great lengths to get more information out of Elser, but to no avail. They tried drugs and hypnosis, but he would not reveal the names of the two men who had helped him. He confessed to planting the bomb, but claimed that he did not know the names of his two accomplices.

When Elser was captured, he was found to be carrying various incriminating pieces of evidence. The following quote is from “Hitler’s War”:

On the night of November 13 this man, Georg Elser, a thirty-six-year-old Swabian watchmaker, confessed that he had single-handedly designed, built, and installed a time bomb in the pillar. In his pockets were found a pair of pliers, sketches of grenade and fuse designs, pieces of a fuse, a picture postcard of the Bürgerbräu hall’s interior; a badge of the former “Red Front” Communist movement was found concealed under his lapel. Under Gestapo interrogation a week later the whole story came out-how he had joined the Red Front ten years before but had long lost interest in politics, and how he had been angered by the regimentation of labor and religion as well as by the relative pauperization of craftsmen such as himself in the early years of Nazi rule. The year before he had resolved to dispose of Adolf Hitler and had begun work on an ingenious time-bomb controlled by two clock-mechanisms for added reliability. After thirty nights of arduous chiseling at the pillar behind the paneling, he installed the preset clocks in one last session on the night of November 5, the evening after Hitler’s furious altercation with Brauchitsch in Berlin. The mechanism was soundproofed in cork to prevent the ticking from being heard, and Elser’s simple pride in his craftsmanship was evident from the records of his interrogations.

According to William L. Shirer, in his book entitled “The Nightmare Years: 1930-1940,” Heinrich Himmler announced on November 21, 1939 that he had found and arrested the culprit, Georg Elser, a carpenter who had formerly resided in Munich but lately in a concentration camp. Himmler said, according to Shirer, that Elser had been aided and abetted by two British secret agents, Captain S. Payne Best and Major R. H. Stevens.

Shirer wrote that Georg Elser was treated very well after he was imprisoned, but he was eventually murdered by order of Heinrich Himmler. The following quote is from Shirer’s book “The Nightmare Years: 1930 – 1940”:

But Himmler kept his eye on him. It would never do to let the carpenter survive, if the war were lost, to tell his tale. When it (the war) became irretrievably lost, the Gestapo chief (Müller) acted. On April 16, 1945, as the end of the Third Reich neared, it was announced that Elser had been killed in an Allied bombing attack. Actually, Himmler had him murdered by the Gestapo.

Curiously, Himmler had allowed Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens to live to tell their tale.

Just as there were people who immediately claimed that the Reichstag fire on the night of February 27, 1933 was an inside job, perpetrated by the Nazis themselves, there were journalists, including Ernest R. Pope, who immediately speculated that the bomb set off in the Bürgerbräukeller was put there by the Nazis.

The following quote is from an article written by journalist Ernest R. Pope, which is included in a book entitled “They were There” by Curt Riess:

There were many telltale indications that the Munich explosion was an inside Nazi job.


My own opinion is that the Bürgerbräu explosion was a job inspired by Goebbels and executed by Himmler in order to make the Germans hate the British. The jubilation over the Polish conquest had expired, there was a dismal stalemate on the western front, and the disgruntled Germans were beginning to grumble more audibly about the blackout, the rationed food, and the freezing temperatures in their homes. They were still angry at Hitler for plunging their country into war, and had not yet been seriously bombed or attacked by the Allies, so had no reason to hate England. The Munichers especially remembered Chamberlain vividly as their angel of peace. Goebbels thought that six dead, petty Brown Shirts and one Munich waitress was a bargain price to pay for getting obstinate Germans to curse the British Prime Minister.

The 8th victim of the blast died after the above news article was written.

The next day after the bomb blast, the only newspaper to cover the story was Hitler’s own paper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, according to William L. Shirer, author of the book entitled “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” Shirer wrote that the newspaper account blamed the “British Secret Service,” and even Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for the foul deed.

Shirer wrote in his diary on the evening of November 9th: “undoubtedly will buck up public opinion behind Hitler and stir up hatred of England . . . Most of us think it smells of another Reichstag fire.”

The following quote is from “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer:

An hour or two after the bomb went off in Munich, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS and the Gestapo, telephoned to one of his rising young subordinates, Walter Schellenberg at Duesseldorf and ordered him by command of the Fuehrer, to cross the border into Holland the next day and kidnap two British secret-service agents with whom Schellenberg had been in contact.


Up to this moment, the objectives of the two sides were clear. The British were trying to establish direct contact with the German military putschists in order to encourage and aid them. Himmler was attempting to find out through the British who the German plotters were and what their connection was to the enemy secret service. That Himmler and Hitler were already suspicious of some of the generals as well as men like Oster and Canaris of the Abwehr is clear. But now on the night of November 8, Hitler and Himmler found need of a new objective: Kidnap Best and Stevens and blame these two British secret-service agents for the Buergerbräu bombing!

After their arrest at Venlo, Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens were both sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where Georg Elser was soon to become a prisoner in Cell No. 13, according to a book entitled “The Venlo Incident,” written by Captain Payne Best. Captain Payne Best was later transferred to Buchenwald, and then to Dachau on April 9, 1945. In January 1941, Major Richard H. Stevens was moved to the bunker at Dachau where he remained until the VIP prisoners were evacuated on April 26, 1945.

Room where Richard H. Stevens was a prisoner at Dachau, 1943 to 1945

According to Captain S. Payne Best, Georg Elser had been sent to the Dachau concentration camp prior to the assassination attempt. He had been arrested for being “anti-social” and “workshy,” according to Payne Best.

The following quote about Elser’s time in Dachau is from “The Venlo Incident” by Captain Payne Best, who claimed that he learned this information from Elser himself in letters that he secretly passed to Payne Best at Sachsenhausen:

One day early in October 1939 he (Elser) was called to the Kommandantur (at Dachau) where he was interviewed by two men who asked him a number of questions about his antecedents, and in particular about the names of former associates and relations. As for the latter he had none as far as he knew and friends, well he knew them as Paul, Heinz, or Karl, just as they knew him as the little Georg – surnames were not much used in the circles he had frequented.

A week or two later he was again called for and again met the same two men. On the first occasion he had been questioned while standing at attention, but this time he was taken into another office, was told to sit down, and was given a cigarette. The men were extremely friendly, told him that the commandant had shown them some of his work and that really it was a shame that so good a workman should be wasting his life in a concentration camp. Would he not like to regain his freedom? To this suggestion Elser expressed cordial agreement. Well, this could easily be arranged if he would only be absolutely discreet and obey orders without question; all that they wanted from him was that he should do a little job in his own line, and when this was finished he would be handsomely rewarded and sent to Switzerland where he would be free to live as he liked and hold whatever opinions he pleased. As Elser put it: “What else could I do but say yes. If I had refused, I should certainly have gone up the chimney that evening.” This was the expression used by the inmates of concentration camps to describe the process of execution and cremation.

I do not know whether it was on this or on a later occasion that he was told the story of a plot against Hitler in which some of his closest associates were involved. Hitler was to speak at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on 8th November in commemoration of his comrades who fell during the 1923 Putsch, when he made his first attempt to overthrow the government. After Hitler had finished speaking it was his custom to stay a while talking to his old associates, and certain scoundrelly traitors had conceived the plan of hustling him to one side and shooting him. Although the names of the people involved in the plot were known it was not considered advisable to arrest them, as this would occasion a big scandal which, now, in war-time, must be avoided, and it was therefore intended to adopt other measures to liquidate the traitors. The idea was to build an infernal machine in one of the pillars in the cellar which could be exploded immediately the Führer left the building, which he would do directly his speech was finished; in this way all the conspirators would be exterminated, lock, stock, and barrel, and no one need hear anything more about their plot.

Elser was not such a fool really to believe that after he had been told so much he would be set free or even left alive, but since it was a question of certain immediate death or liquidation at some uncertain future date, he naturally promised to do what was required of him.

After this interview Elser was not allowed to return to his old quarters in the camp, but was put in a comfortable cell in a building used to house important political prisoners. Here, instead of his striped prison garb, he was given civilian clothes, and he was also brought good food and as many cigarettes as he wished. Next day, as he expressed a desire to finish some work which he had on hand, a carpenters’ bench was brought to a large cell in the building and he was given his tools.

In the first week of November 1939 Elser was on two occasions fetched at nightfall by the same two men and taken by car to the Bürgerbräukeller where he was shown the pillar into which the bomb was to be built. This pillar was covered with an ornamental wood panelling over bricks, so all that he had to do was remove part of the panelling and extract a couple of bricks. Into the recess thus formed, he inserted the explosive, which was of a putty-like nature, the inside of an alarm clock, and a fuse. From the fuse he was instructed to make an electric lead to a push button in an alcove near the street level entrance to the building. The whole job was to him mere child’s play and he was at a loss to understand why such a fuss had been made about it.

I took a great deal of trouble to get from Elser the clearest possible description of the bomb, and from what he wrote it was quite clear that the clock, which he called an ordinary Swiss alarm, had nothing to do with the fuse which could only be actuated by electric current applied from outside.

Elser’s comfortable life at Dachau continued for yet a few days; he had been told that he would have to wait for his release until it had been proved that he had carried out his task properly. He was not afraid of any failure here, though he had little faith in the promise made him of freedom and reward.

On the 9th or 10th November the two men called for him again and when he got into a car which was waiting, they told him that he was now on the way to Switzerland and a life of liberty. They took the road leading to the Swiss frontier near Bregenz at the eastern end of the Lake of Constance which Elser knew well since for a time he had worked at St. Gallen just across the frontier, so at all events he could check the direction of his journey. When they reached a point about a quarter of a mile from the frontier customs post the car stopped and he was told that he would have to make his way farther on foot. He was handed an envelope which, as far as he could see, contained a large sum in German and Swiss notes; he was also given a picture postcard which illustrated the Bürgerbräukeller and on which the pillar into which he had built the bomb was marked with a cross. He was told that if he showed this to the frontier guards they would know who he was and would let him through without asking him for his papers; everything had been arranged.

He did as he was told, but neither frontier guard nor customs seemed to know anything about him or to understand the meaning of the postcard. He was asked a lot of questions and, as he had no passport or other papers, he was searched. The envelope containing the money was found and he was immediately marched off and put into jail on a charge of currency smuggling. Presumably, if the pretended ignorance of the men at the frontier was real, someone who saw the marked postcard became suspicious and, having heard of the bomb outrage at Munich, reported the arrest of Elser to a higher quarter. Anyhow, next day Elser was taken, handcuffed and heavily guarded, by prison van to an airfield and flown to Berlin. On arrival, still handcuffed, he was put into a cell and later was interrogated, being badly beaten up in the process. He was, however, wise, and said nothing about the trick which had resulted in his capture. He admitted that he had built the bomb into the pillar, but denied that he had had accomplices, stating that his action was the result of his own political opinions and his hatred of Nazi domination. His interrogation continued until deep into the night, but nothing more could be got out of him.

Next morning he was taken by lift to one of the upper floors where, in a room to which the jailer took him, he found the two men with whom all his previous arrangements had been made. They were most friendly and sympathetic and told him that his arrest at the frontier was entirely due to the unfortunate fact that the guard who had instructions to let him through had suddenly been taken ill and was therefore not on duty when he reached the frontier; he was not to worry though, everything would come all right in the end. Unfortunately, he could not be liberated at once as his photograph had been circulated to the police throughout the country and had also appeared in the Press; everyone thought that he had been guilty of an attempt on the Führer’s life, and if he were to show his nose anywhere he would simply be torn to pieces for, as he could well imagine, everyone in Germany was overcome with fury at the dastardly outrage which had so nearly succeeded. For the time being he would have to remain safely under cover but he need fear no more ill-treatment, everything possible would be done to make him comfortable, and as soon as the first excitement had blown over steps would be taken to get him to Switzerland as had been promised. He was then taken to a big room on the top floor of the building which, as he later discovered was the Gestapo Headquarters in the Prinz Albrechtstrasse, where he found a bed, a carpenter’s bench and the tools which he had used at Dachau. Two men remained with him as guards and from that moment he was never left alone for a moment. He was not, however, interfered with and was well fed; having been given suitable wood he set to work and made himself a zither; he could not play it but it had always been his ambition to learn.

He remained here undisturbed for about a fortnight when he was again visited by his two friends who took him down to one of the corridors where he was told to sit on a bench. He was told that an Englishman would be brought along past him, and he must look at him carefully so that he would be sure to recognize him if he saw him again. A tall dark man followed by two others passed him twice, apparently on his way to and from the lavatory. A few days later he was taken to the same place again and shown the same man. After this he was taken to an office where there was a high-ranking officer of the SS in uniform and another man, obviously an ex-student, as his face was covered with duelling scars. This man now talked to him and asked him whether he understood that his life was forfeit, and that he was nothing more than a candidate for death. This phrase was often used. He had already admitted to the police that he had built the bomb into the pillar of the cellar, and the whole German people was eagerly awaiting news of his trial and execution. He had, however, been promised life and freedom and the Gestapo always kept its word; he must though do something more to earn his security. He was then told the following story:

The German Army had already proved in Poland that it was invincible, and nothing now could save England from defeat. When that country was occupied by the victorious German Army he would have to appear as witness at a trial of the British Secret Service chiefs who, as all the world knew, were a gang of murderers and gangsters, and through their false information were really responsible for the whole war. At this trial one of the chief defendants would be the Englishman whom he had just seen; a certain Captain Best who had been captured a short time ago while attempting to leave Germany where he had been spying.

Elser would have to declare at the trial that for a long time he had been in relation with Otto Strasser in Switzerland and had acted for him as courier to and from Germany. In December 1938, Strasser had called him to Zurich where, at the Hotel Bauer au Lac, he had introduced him to the Englishman Best, telling him that in future he wished him to work for the British who were determined to get rid of Hitler and who could certainly do more than he could himself. Elser was therefore to take his orders from Captain Best who lived in Holland, and arrangements were made so that they could communicate with each other via the Dutch frontier. The Englishman handed Elser a thousand Swiss francs in notes as earnest money.

During the months that followed he had maintained regular contact with Captain Best, and had acted as courier between him and other agents in Germany; in this way the British Intelligence had received valuable information regarding German rearmament, and for his work he had been very well paid. In October 1939 he had met Captain Best at a place in Holland called Venlo, and there he had been given instructions about planting a bomb in the Bürgerbräukeller at Munich with the promise that if he did so he would receive a sum of 40,000 Swiss francs as reward. At first he had refused to have anything to do with this but Best put pressure on him and left him no choice but to do as he was told or be denounced to the Gestapo as a British agent. In the end he had agreed to do what was required of him and he was given an address in Germany where he would receive his final instructions and be given the infernal machine. He was then to tell in his evidence how he went to the Bürgerbräukeller some four weeks before the date fixed for the explosion and had little difficulty in concealing himself there so that he could do his work during the night. He built the bomb into one of the pillars as he had been instructed, but did not wind up the clock which actuated the fuse as this could only be set to work a maximum of ten days later. He was therefore obliged to pay a second visit to the cellar at the end of October in order to wind and set the clock. He had no difficulty in doing so as he went in the afternoon when the place was quite deserted.

Elser was given a typewritten copy of this story which contained a lot of further details about the work he was supposed to have done for Strasser and me, and this he was told to learn by heart. Subsequently he was several times examined to see whether he was word perfect.

Captain S. Payne Best was transferred from Buchenwald to Dachau on April 9, 1945 on the very day that Georg Elser was executed, according to the Dachau Museum. Elser’s execution “apparently accounted for our long wait at the entrance to the camp,” according to Captain Payne Best’s account in his book, “The Venlo Incident.”

In his book, Captain S. Payne Best wrote that immediately upon his (Payne Best’s) arrival at Dachau, Georg Elser “was taken out into the garden by Stiller and shot in the back of the neck. The man who shot him had been brought from one of the condemned cells and had been executed immediately after and both bodies had been taken at once to the crematorium.” The “garden” was the landscaped area north of the crematorium building at Dachau where the execution wall was located.

Sign designates spot where prisoners were executed

In his book entitled “The Venlo Incident,” Captain S. Payne Best included a copy of the order for The Englishman Best (Wolf) and other prisoners to be taken to Dachau which was in the same letter as the order for Georg Elser’s execution.

This letter is quoted below from “The Venlo Incident”:

Please quote date and above reference
your reply
(Rubber stamp)

KLD Dep. VIa-F-Sb. ABw
Received: 9-4-45
Daybook No. 42/45
the 5. April 1945
(in pencil)

State affair!

Express Letter

To the
Commandant of the K.L.
SS-Obersturmbannführer Weiter

On orders of the R(eichs) F(uhrer) SS and after obtaining the decision of the highest authority the prisoners scheduled below are immediately to be admitted to the K.L. Dachau.

The former Colonel-General Halder
General Thomas
Hjalmar Schacht
Schuschnigg with wife and child
The former General v. Falkenhausen
The Englishman Best (Wolf)
Molotov’s Nephew Kokorin
The Colonel, General Staff, v. Bonin

As I know that you only dispose of very limited space in the Cell Building I beg you, after examination to put these prisoners together. Please, however, take steps so that the prisoner Schuschnigg, who bears the pseudonym Oyster under which name kindly have him registered, is allotted a larger living cell. The wife has shared his imprisonment of her own free will and is therefore not a ‘prisoner-in-protective-custody’. I request that she may be allowed the same freedom as she has hitherto enjoyed.

The RF-SS directs that Halder, Thomas, Schacht, Schuschnigg, and v. Falkenhausen are to be well treated.

I beg you on all accounts to ensure that the prisoner Best (pseudonym Wolf) does not make contact with the Englishman Stevens who is already there.

v. Bonin was employed at the Führer’s Head Quarters and is now in a kind of honourable detention. He is still a Colonel on the Active List and will presumably retain this status. I beg you therefore to treat him particularly well.

The question of our prisoner in special protective custody, ‘Eller’, has also again been discussed at highest level. The following directions have been issued:

On the occasion of one of the next ‘Terror’ Attacks on Munich, or, as the case may be, the neighbourhood of Dachau, it shall be pretended that ‘Eller’ suffered fatal injuries.

I request you therefore, when such an occasion arises to liquidate ‘Eller’ as discreetly as possible. Please take steps that only very few people, who must be specially pledged to silence, hear about this. The notification to me regarding the execution of this order should be worded something like this:

On … on the occasion of a Terror Attack on … the prisoner in protective custody ‘Eller’ was fatally wounded.

After noting the contents and carrying out the orders contained in it kindly destroy this letter.

Signature: illegible.

Captain Payne Best explained that Eller was a pseudonym for Elser and that his own code name was Wolf, while Major Richard H. Stevens was known as Fuchs (Fox).

The following quote is from “The Venlo Incident”:

It is perhaps worth noting that the above letter, although written to the camp commandant, was contained in an envelope addressed to Untersturmführer Stiller with a note that, in the event of the latter’s death, it should be destroyed unopened. Stiller appears to have been a direct representative of the SD at Dachau and thus, although a subordinate, possessed of more real authority than the commandant. This was directly in line with Nazi policy which, as is the case in Soviet Russia, always took care that every man holding a position of any importance was kept under observation. There was another man, a Hauptscharführer, who appeared to spy on Stiller in turn.

Captain Payne Best’s book was published in 1950, but the transcript of Elser’s interrogation by the Gestapo was not released until the 1960ies.

Captain Payne Best wrote in his book that Georg Elser was guarded day and night at Sachsenhausen by three guards who stayed inside the cell with Elser. No one was allowed to get near Elser, but Captain Payne Best claimed that he nevertheless established a relationship with Elser by sending him gifts through the guards. Elser was so grateful that he built a bookshelf for Payne Best and hid a letter inside it. The letter contained Elser’s story of how he was approached by the two men at Dachau who offered him 40,000 Swiss francs and freedom in exchange for planting a bomb at the beer hall.

The Reverend Martin Niemöller, who was a prisoner at Sachenshausen, claimed that Georg Elser also told him his story, according to a footnote in William L. Shirer’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” Based on what Elser told him, the Reverend Niemöller said later that his personal conviction was that Hitler had sanctioned the bombing to increase his own popularity and to stir up the war fever of the people. Did the Reverend Niemöller really talk with this heavily-guarded, code-named prisoner, or did he get this opinion from fellow prisoner Captain Payne Best’s book? Did Hitler actually sanction an attempt on his own life in which he stayed inside the beer hall until 8 minutes before the bomb was set to go off?

Captain Payne Best wrote that Elser was stopped at the Swiss border on November 9th or 10th but the press reported that he had been arrested at the border while Hitler was still speaking, before the bomb went off.

Regarding Georg Elser, Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, a prisoner in the bunker at Dachau, wrote the following in his book entitled “What was it like in the concentration camp Dachau?”:

A thick veil enveloped him (Elser) and his outrage. It was characteristic that this joiner journeyman from Munich, who, it was reputed, had made an attempt on the life of the “Führer” (Hitler) on November 9, 1939 (sic), was not executed at once as the men of July 20, 1944. He was not even brought to trial, but he was carefully secluded from all the world, first in the camp at Sachsenhausen, later Dachau. Nevertheless, he always enjoyed special privileges, for example, he received a larger cell and a workshop, also sheet music for playing the zither, etc. When he was transferred to Dachau from Sachsenhausen because of the approach of the Russians on Berlin, a wall dividing two cells was taken down – men worked all day and night at it – to provide a larger cell for him. However, he was not allowed to come in contact with the other prisoners (except later in the shelter bunker during air raids); a guard had to sit in front of his door continuously.

Apparently, Elser was not taken to the shelter bunker during the air raid on the day that he was allegedly killed and Dr. Neuhäusler did not know what had happened to Elser until weeks later.

The following is a quote from Dr. Neuhäusler’s book:

In April 1945, he (Elser) suddenly disappeared. At that time, it puzzled us, but it was cleared up, however, when we were transferred to South Tyrol at the end of April 1945. Then our fellow-prisoner, Captain S. Paine (sic) Best, one of the two English officers who had been carried off by force after the Bürgerbräu outrage at Venlo, succeeded in taking an “express letter” from a SS-escort watchman, a letter which the chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service had addressed to the commandant of the Dachau camp on April 5, 1945.

Dr. Neuhäusler was wrong about the letter, according to Captain Payne Best’s version of the story. Payne Best had not taken the letter to anyone; he had only come into possession of the letter much later. According to Payne Best, the letter was in an open envelope addressed to SS man Edgar Stiller, who was in charge of the prisoners in the Dachau bunker. The letter itself was not addressed to anyone and the name of the man who signed it was not typewritten.

In a letter in answer to questions asked by the Magistrate of the Landgericht München II Court which was investigating Edgar Stiller as an accessory to the murder of Georg Elser in August 1951, Payne Best wrote:

8. Question: How did you come into possession of the above designated letter (Schnellbrief) dated 5 April 1945, together with the envelope?

Answer: On either 2nd or 3rd May 1945 an SS man belonging to Stiller’s guard troop came up to the Prags Wildbad Hotel and asked to see me. He was a tall man wearing a leather jacket and was, I believe, one of the drivers. He pulled out of his pocket an untidy bunch of papers saying: “Obersturmführer Stiller is burning all the papers he had with him. I put these in my pocket when he wasn’t looking. Perhaps they might interest you. He then went on to say that he was really Wehrmacht and not SS and had been drafted to the SS after his release from hospital; he showed me his Soldbuch in proof of his statement and asked whether I would let him stay with us and rejoin the Wehrmacht troops who had been sent by General von Vietinhof to protect us. We had had several similar cases and I believe Colonel von Bonin arranged with von Alvensleben for the man to be incorporated in the Wehrmacht troops under the latter’s command. When I examined the papers given to me by this man I found that most of them were merely daily routine orders regarding the running of the Sonderbau but amongst them I found the envelope containing the ‘Schnellbrief’ both of which I handed over some months ago to Dr. Josef Müller, Bayrisch Justizminister.

The Sonderbau, referred to by Captain Payne Best in the above quote was the “special building,” called the annex by Americans. It was the former brothel that was turned into a prison for VIP prisoners, including Payne Best, who was transferred from the bunker to the Sonderbau on April 21, 1945.

Dr. Neuhäusler wrote the following regarding the reason that the Nazis allegedly executed Georg Elser:

H. Best solved the further riddle for me why they first treated Elser favorably for six years and then suddenly and secretly “liquidated” him by the explanation:

“Very simple. At first they wanted to save Elser for a great staged trial after the victory, in which the (British) ‘Intelligence Service’ would have been exposed as the instigator of the Bürgerbräu outrage. All the taking of depositions had been practiced with Elser. But as they began to realize that the victory would not now take place, the staged trial fell through, the man who hid the secret of the outrage in his breast had to be silenced. An air-raid would give a good opportunity for the ‘liquidation’.”

If the motive for executing Georg Elser was that a staged trial could no longer take place because Germany was losing the war, why weren’t Captain Payne Best and Major Richard Stevens also “liquidated” at the same time, since they were also being held for the same trial which was to take place after the war was over?

If the cover-up story was that Elser was killed during an air raid, wouldn’t this have raised questions about why Elser had not been taken to the air raid shelter with the other important prisoners? The bunker was never hit by a bomb, so how was Elser supposed to get out of his cell and into a place where he could allegedly be killed during an air raid?

Was it just a coincidence that the order to transfer Captain Payne Best to Dachau was given in the same letter in which Hitler allegedly gave the order to secretly kill Elser and blame it on the next Allied air raid? Hitler believed that Captain Payne Best was involved in the plot to kill him, so why didn’t he also order the execution of Payne Best in this same letter? Captain Payne Best made a point of saying in his book that he was held up at the gate into Dachau on April 9, 1945 because, just as he arrived, the execution of Elser was taking place at the crematorium which was outside the camp. He did not mention that there was an air raid on Munich or the Dachau area on that day.

On April 9, 1945, the Dachau complex was allegedly hit by an Allied bomb, providing the cover-up story for the secret execution of Georg Elser. Elser was the only person in the bunker who was alleged to have been killed by a bomb that hit Dachau.

However, William L. Shirer wrote the following regarding the air raid:

Shortly before the war ended, on April 16, 1945, the Gestapo announced that Georg Elser had been killed in an Allied bombing attack the previous day. We know now that the Gestapo murdered him.

In a book entitled “Target Hitler,” by James P. Duffy and Vincent L. Ricci, it was stated that Eduard Weiter, the Commandant of Dachau, announced that Georg Elser had been mortally wounded during an Allied bombing raid. No date for the announcement or the air raid was given by Duffy and Ricci.

On April 21, 1945, after more VIP prisoners had been brought to Dachau and housed in the bunker, Captain Payne Best was moved to a barracks building called the annex, also known as “the girl’s school” or brothel, according to Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler. This date is important because this means that Captain Payne Best was still a prisoner in the bunker on April 15th, the day that Georg Elser was killed, according to William L. Shirer. Captain Payne Best made a point of saying that he had not yet entered the Dachau camp on April 9, 1945, the day that he claimed that Georg Elser was killed.

On the same day that the Dachau Museum says that Georg Elser was killed by a bomb, April 9, 1945, a group of traitors to the Fatherland, including Rear Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and General Hans Oster were executed at the Flossenbürg concentration camp on the orders of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller, but there was no attempted cover-up of these executions. Canaris, who was the head of the Abwehr, Nazi Germany’s military intelligence agency, before he was arrested, was involved in two failed attempts to assassinate Hitler in 1938 and 1939. General Oster had been arrested the day after the failed July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. On April 8, 1945, General Wilhelm Canaris and General Hans Oster were put on trial and both were convicted.

The death of Georg Elser was not the first time that an important prisoner was allegedly killed during a bombing raid at a concentration camp. Dr. Rudolf Breitscheid, chairman of the Social Democrats in the German Parliament, and Mafalda, the Princess of Hesse and daughter of the Italian king, were kept under arrest at the Buchenwald concentration camp, in a separate isolation barrack, surrounded by a wall, beginning in 1943. The Nazis claimed that both of them were killed in a bombing raid on the nearby armament factories at Buchenwald on August 24, 1944.

Map shows where bomb hit Buchenwald camp

The Nazis also claimed that Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the German Communist political party and a member of the Reichstag, was killed in the same bombing raid. However, a sign on the crematorium building at Buchenwald says that Thälmann was shot at the entrance to the crematorium during the night from 17th to 18th August 1944. Curiously, there is no plaque in honor of Georg Elser at the execution spot at Dachau.

The Memorial Site at Sachsenhausen claims that both Breitscheid and Thälmann were executed at Sachsenhausen.

Theodor Bongartz

The two SS men who were in charge of carrying out executions at Dachau were Franz Trenkle and Theodor Bongartz.

According to the Museum at Dachau, Theodor Bongartz was the man who carried out the secret execution of Georg Elser on April 9, 1945, the secret execution of General Charles Delestraint on April 19, 1945, and the secret execution of Dr. Sigmund Rascher in the Dachau bunker on April 26, 1945. No execution orders from the Reich Security Head Office (RSHA) in Berlin were ever found for any of these executions.

Theodor Bongartz was born in 1902 in Krefeld, Germany. He joined the SA in 1928 and the SS in 1932. The day before the Dachau camp was liberated by American troops, Bongartz fled along with the acting Commandant of the camp, Martin Gottfried Weiss, and most of the guards. Disguised as a Wehrmacht soldier, Bongartz was captured and imprisoned in an American Prisoner of War camp at Heilbronn-Böckingen. He allegedly died of natural causes on May 15, 1945 while in captivity.

Franz Trenkle survived to be put on trial by an American Military Tribunal in November 1945. He was convicted and hanged on May 28, 1946.

On the 60ieth anniversary of the death of Georg Elser, Barbara Distel, the director of the Dachau Museum, said the following in a speech in which she claimed that Theodor Bongartz murdered Georg Elser with a shot in the neck and his body was cremated fully clothed in the Dachau crematorium. Her speech is quoted below:

Ein SS-Mann brachte ihn zum Krematorium, wo ihn der Leiter des Krematoriums, der SS-Mann Theodor Bongartz durch Genickschuss ermordete. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt wurden die toten Häftlinge des Lagers Dachau aufgrund von Kohlemangels nicht mehr eingeäschert, sondern in einem nahe gelegenen Massengrab verscharrt. Eine Ausnahme bildeten die Gefangenen, die dort einzeln exekutiert und anschließend verbrannt wurden. Mitglieder eines Häftlingskommando, deren Aufgabe darin bestand, die Toten einzuäschern wohnte noch immer im Krematoriumsgebäude. Sie wurden beauftragt, den toten Georg Elser im Gegensatz zu sonstigen Gepflogenheit nicht nackt, sondern mit seinen Kleidern zu verbrennen.

In 1954, Theodor Bongartz was determined to have been the murderer of Georg Elser during a German court proceeding in which SS-Unterscharführer Edgar Stiller was on trial as an accessory to murder. As the SS man in charge of the special prisoners in the bunker from 1943 to 1945, Stiller was accused of escorting Elser to the crematorium where he was allegedly shot by Bongartz.

In a previous proceeding before an American Military Tribunal at Dachau which started in November 1945, Stiller had been convicted of being a war criminal, although there were no specific charges brought against him, according to the Dachau Museum. Stiller was sentenced to 7 years in prison by the American Military Tribunal. The death of Georg Elser was not mentioned at the American Military Tribunal proceedings against Stiller and 39 other staff members at Dachau.

Stiller was released in 1950, before finishing his sentence, but was then arrested and brought before a German court in 1951. The American Military Tribunal only tried cases in which the victims were citizens of the Allied countries. Crimes against German citizens, such as Georg Elser, were tried in German courts, beginning in 1948 when America and Germany became Allies.

Stiller was acquitted by the German court after Captain Payne Best gave him an excellent report in a letter to the judge. Captain Payne Best said that Stiller had saved the lives of the special prisoners in the bunker by turning them over to him after they were evacuated from the camp on April 26, 1945. According to Captain Payne Best, the VIP prisoners at Dachau had been sent to the South Tyrol to be killed.

However, in his letter to the Magistrate, Captain Payne Best answered another question with these words:

As far as I can remember it was (Wilhelm) Visintainer who told me that Elser had been killed by a “Genickschuss” and also that the SS-man who had shot him, a man taken from one of the death cells, had been executed immediately after Elser’s death. I cannot, however, state definitely from whom I had this information.

Captain Payne Best’s description of “the SS-man who shot him, a man taken from one of the death cells” could be a reference to one of the 128 SS men who were imprisoned in one wing of the bunker at Dachau.


Holocaust education needed for recent migrants to Germany

Filed under: Germany — furtherglory @ 10:38 am

The German people once again kow tow to the Jews. New immigrants to Germany must learn that the Germans are an evil bunch of criminals who do not have enough respect for Jews.

You can read about it in this news article:

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

With more than a million newcomers to Germany since 2015, there’s been a resulting rise in anti-Semitism. Now there are growing calls to mandate that refugees and Muslim migrants visit concentration camps to help improve their understanding of the country’s terrible past and the echoes today. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

End quote

I lived in Germany for 20 months, back when my husband was stationed there in the American army. The German people were very nice to me. I couldn’t get over how nice they were.

We gave them gifts of American goods, which may have been why they were so nice to us, but I think that they were just nice people.

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