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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”:

THE CHIEF OF THE SECURITY POLICE AND THE SD – IV – g. Rs
Please quote date and above reference
your reply
(Rubber stamp)

KLD Dep. VIa-F-Sb. ABw
Received: 9-4-45
Daybook No. 42/45
BERLIN SW 11.
the 5. April 1945
(in pencil)
SECRET

State affair!

Express Letter

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

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.

 

March 12, 2018

Oskar Groening has died…

Filed under: Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 1:52 pm

Oskar Groening has died. Long live Oskar Groening!

You can read about his death in this news article: http://www.jpost.com/International/Bookkeeper-of-Auschwitz-dies-before-starting-sentence-544895

Groening was a book keeper. He never hurt anyone, nor killed anyone. So why was he a “war criminal”?

The answer is that all Germans were considered to be war criminals after World War II ended. That’s what happens when you lose a war.

I lived in Germany for 20 months, after World War II was over. My husband was an American Army officer who was stationed in Germany. I met many German men due to this. I was extremely impressed by how nice these men were.  We met them in restaurants and bars.

Maybe they were only pretending to be nice people. They could have been criminals, for all I know.

 

March 10, 2018

The story of the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 5:11 pm

Ohrdruf — a sub-camp of Buchenwald

Colonel Hayden Sears poses with Ohrdruf survivors, April 8, 1945

On April 4, 1945, American soldiers of the 4th Armored Division of General Patton’s US Third Army were moving through the area south of the city of Gotha in search of a secret Nazi communications center when they unexpectedly came across the ghastly scene of the abandoned Ohrdruf forced labor camp.

A few soldiers in the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army reached the abandoned camp that same day, after being alerted by prisoners who had escaped from the march out of the camp, which had started on April 2nd. Prior to that, in September 1944, US troops had witnessed their first concentration camp: the abandoned Natzweiler camp in Alsace, which was then a part of the Greater German Reich, but is now in France.

Ohrdruf, also known as Ohrdruf-Nord, was the first Nazi prison camp to be discovered while it still had inmates living inside of it, although 9,000 prisoners had already been evacuated from Ohrdruf on April 2nd and marched 32 miles to the main camp at Buchenwald. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the camp had a population of 11,700 prisoners in late March, 1945 before the evacuation began.

The photograph at the top of this page, taken at Ohrdruf on April 8, 1945, shows survivors who had escaped during the evacuation of the camp, but came back after the American liberators arrived.

One of the American liberators who saw the Ohrdruf camp on April 4, 1945 was Bruce Nickols. He was on a patrol as a member of the I & R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division, Third US Army. According to Nickols, there were survivors in the barracks who had hidden when the SS massacred 60 to 70 prisoners on the roll call square before they left the camp on April 2nd. The body of a dead SS soldier lay at the entrance to the camp, according to Nickols.

Dead prisoners at Ohrdruf forced labor camp

In the photo above, the prisoners have been partially covered by blankets because their pants had been pulled down, an indication that these men might have been killed by their fellow prisoners after the Germens left. The first Americans on the scene said that the blood was still wet. The liberators all agreed that these prisoners had been shot, although some witnesses said that they had been shot in the neck, while others said that they had been mowed down by machine gun fire.

The American soldiers were told by Ohrdruf survivors that these prisoners had been shot by the SS on April 2nd because they had run out of trucks for transporting sick prisoners out of the camp, but there were sick prisoners still inside the barracks when the Americans arrived.

Among the soldiers who helped to liberate Ohrdruf was Charles T. Payne, who is Senator Barak Obama’s great uncle, the brother of his maternal grandmother. Charles T. Payne was a member of Company K, 355th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division.

According to an Associated Press story, published on June 4, 2009, Charles T. Payne’s unit arrived at the Ohrdruf camp on April 6, 1945.

The following is an excerpt from the Associated Press story:

“I remember the whole area before you got to the camp, the town and around the camp, was full of people who had been inmates,” Payne, 84, said in a telephone interview from his home in Chicago.

“The people were in terrible shape, dressed in rags, most of them emaciated, the effects of starvation. Practically skin and bones.”

When Payne’s unit arrived, the gates to the camp were open, the Nazis already gone.

“In the gate, in the very middle of the gate on the ground was a dead man whose head had been beaten in with a metal bar,” Payne recalled. The body was of a prisoner who had served as a guard under the Germans and been killed by other inmates that morning.

“A short distance inside the front gate was a place where almost a circle of people had been … killed and were lying on the ground, holding their tin cups, as if they had been expecting food and were instead killed,” he said. “You could see where the machine gun had been set up behind some bushes, but the Germans were all gone by that time.”

He said he only moved some 200-300 feet (60-100 meters) inside of the camp. But that was enough to capture images so horrible that Gen. George S. Patton Jr. ordered townspeople into Ohrdruf to see for themselves the crimes committed by their countrymen – an order that would repeated at Buchenwald, Dachau and other camps liberated by U.S. soldiers.

“In some sheds were stacks of bodies, stripped extremely – most of them looked like they had starved to death. They had sprinkled lime over them to keep the smell down and stacked them several high and the length of the room,” Payne said.

On April 11, 1945, just a week after the discovery of the Ohrdruf camp, American soldiers liberated the infamous Buchenwald main camp, which was to become synonymous with Nazi barbarity for a whole generation of Americans. Buchenwald is located 5 miles north of the city of Weimar, which is 20 miles to the east of Gotha, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had set up his headquarters.

The Ohrdruf forced labor camp was a sub-camp of the huge Buchenwald camp. Ohrdruf had been opened in November 1944 when prisoners were brought from Buchenwald to work on the construction of a vast underground bunker to house a new Führer headquarters for Hitler and his henchmen. This location was in the vicinity of a secret Nazi communications center and it was also near an underground salt mine where the Nazis had stored their treasures.

A. C. Boyd was one of the soldiers in the 89th Infantry Division who witnessed the Ohrdruf “death camp.” In a recent news article, written by Jimmy Smothers, Boyd mentioned that he saw bodies of prisoners who had been gassed at Ohrdruf.

The following quote is from the news article in The Gadsden Times:

On April 7, 1945, the 89th Infantry Division received orders to move into the German town of Ohrdruf, which surrendered as the Americans arrived. A mile or so past this quaint village lay Stalag Nord Ohrdruf.

[…]

When regiments of the 89th Division got to the camp, the gates were open and the guards apparently all had gone, but the doors to the wooden barracks were closed. Lying on the ground in front were bodies of prisoners who recently had been shot.

“When I went into the camp I just happened to open the door to a small room,” recalled Boyd. “Inside, the Germans had stacked bodies very high. They had dumped some lime over them, hoping it would dissolve the bodies.

[…]

“I still have vivid memories of what I saw, but I try not to dwell on it,” Boyd continued. “We had been warned about what we might find, but actually seeing it was horrible. There were so many dead, and some so starved all they could do was gape open their mouths, feebly move their arms and murmur.

“There were ditches dug out in the compound and we could see torsos, lots of arms, severed legs, etc., sticking out. Many had been beaten to death, and bodies were still in the ‘beating shed’. Many had been led to the ‘showers,’ where they were pushed in, the doors locked and then gassed.”

One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Rabbi Murray Kohn, who was then 16 years old. He was marched from Ohrdruf on April 2nd to the main camp at Buchenwald and then evacuated by train to Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic.

The following quote is from a speech that Rabbi Kohn made on April 23, 1995 at Wichita, Kansas, at a gathering of the soldiers of the 89th Division for the 50ieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps:

It has been recorded that in Ohrdruf itself the last days were a slaughterhouse. We were shot at, beaten and molested. At every turn went on the destruction of the remaining inmates. Indiscriminant criminal behavior (like the murderers of Oklahoma City some days ago). Some days before the first Americans appeared at the gates of Ohrdruf, the last retreating Nazi guards managed to execute with hand pistols, literally emptying their last bullets on whomever they encountered leaving them bleeding to death as testified by an American of the 37th Tank Battalion Medical section, 10 a.m. April 4, 1945.

Today I’m privileged thanks to God and you gallant fighting men. I’m here to reminisce, and reflect, and experience instant recollections of those moments. Those horrible scenes and that special instance when an Allied soldier outstretched his arm to help me up became my re-entrance, my being re-invited into humanity and restoring my inalienable right to a dignified existence as a human being and as a Jew. Something, which was denied me from September 1939 to the day of liberation in 1945. I had no right to live and survived, out of 80 members of my family, the infernal ordeal of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Ohrdruf, and its satellite camp Crawinkel and finally Theresienstadt Ghetto-Concentration Camp.

I must tell you something about Crawinkel, just outside Ohrdruf. It was recently discovered after the reunification of east and West Germany that in nearby Crawinkel, the Nazis were preparing the Führerbunker, the final headquarters of Hitler from where he planned to strike a deal with the Americans to join in fighting the Red Army. We worked around the clock, the project was known as the Olga Project. We were excavating inside the hills a bunker. Ten thousand people died there and it was completed with rivers of blood right down to the cutlery to embellish Hitler’s table.

When in Auschwitz my eyes witnessed the gassed transports of Jews at the Birkenau Crematories. My own eyes have witnessed Buchenwald terror and planned starvation. My body was decimated, starved and thrashed to the point of no return in Ohrdruf for stealing a piece of a potato, and my flickering life was daily, and hourly on the brink of being snuffed out from starvation or being clubbed for no reason or literally being pushed off a steep cliff over a yawning ravine at Crawinkel.

[….]

The war was intrinsically a war against the shallowness of a civilization which had evidently so little moral depth, a nation which can acquiesce in such a short time to the demagoguery of a “corporal” and accept the manifesto of racial superiority, entitled to destroy their supposed inferior enemies, as a moral right. World War II was by far not a testing ground of arms or strategic skills and sophistication, but A MORAL WAR, which declared that human rights, freedom and the equality of all men and women are the highest divine commandment, the supreme commandment to deny the Nazi racists and their cohorts any victory. My friends, many of your comrades (a half million Americans lost their lives to declare eternal war against inhumanity). Six million innocent Jews, five million Christians and some 27 million plus, lost their lives to secure finally that humanity is never to rest until crimes against humans have been eradicated.

The American military knew about the Nazi forced labor camps and concentration camps because Allied planes had done aerial photographs of numerous factories near the camps in both Germany and Poland, and many of these camps, including Buchenwald, had been bombed, killing thousands of innocent prisoners. In fact, General George S. Patton bragged in his autobiography about the precision bombing of a munitions factory near the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 24, 1944 which he erroneously claimed had not damaged the nearby camp. Not only was the camp hit by the bombs, there were 400 prisoners who were killed, along with 350 Germans.

On Easter weekend in April 1945, the 90th Infantry Division overran the little town of Merkers, which was near the Ohrdruf camp, and captured the Kaiseroda salt mine.

Hidden deep inside the salt mine was virtually the entire gold and currency reserves of the German Reichsbank, together with all of the priceless art treasures which had been removed from Berlin’s museums for protection against Allied bombing raids and possible capture by the Allied armies. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum web site, the soldiers also found important documents that were introduced at the Nuremberg IMT as evidence of the Holocaust.

All of America’s top military leaders in Europe, including Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, visited the mine and viewed the treasure.

The photo below shows General Dwight D. Eisenhower as he examines some paintings stored inside the Kaiseroda salt mine, which he visited on April 12, 1945, along with General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, and other high-ranking American Army officers before going to see the Ohrdruf camp. The Nazis had hidden valuable paintings and 250 million dollars worth of gold bars inside the salt mine.

General Eisenhower on visit to salt mine near Ohrdruf

General Dwight D. Eisenhower examines Nazi treasure in a salt mine

The soldier on the far left, in the photo, is Benjamin B. Ferencz. In the center is General Eisenhower and behind him, wearing a helmet with four stars is General Omar Bradley.

In 1945, Ferencz was transferred from General Patton’s army to the newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army, where his job was to gather evidence for future trials of German war criminals. A Jew from Transylvania, Ferencz had moved with his family to America at the age of 10 months.

General Patton, left, and General Bradley, center, at Ohrdruf, 12 April 1945

On the same day that the Generals visited the salt mine, they made a side trip to the Ohrdruf forced labor camp after lunch. The photo above was taken at Ohrdruf. Except for General Patton, who visited Buchenwald on April 15, 1945, none of the top American Army Generals ever visited another forced labor camp, nor any of the concentration camps.

One of the first Americans to see Ohrdruf, a few days before the Generals arrived, was Captain Alois Liethen from Appleton, WI. Liethen was an interpreter and an interrogator in the XX Corp, G-2 Section of the US Third Army.

On 13 April 1945, he wrote a letter home to his family about this important discovery at Ohrdruf. Although Buchenwald was more important and had more evidence of Nazi atrocities, it was due to the information uncovered by Captain Liethen that the generals visited Ohrdruf instead.

The following is a quote from his letter in which Captain Alois Liethen explains how the visit by the generals, shown in the photo above, came about:

Begin quote from letter

Several days ago I heard about the American forces taking a real honest to goodness concentration camp and I made it a point to get there and see the thing first hand as well as to investigate the thing and get the real story just as I did in the case of the Prisoner of War camp which I described in my last letter. This camp was near the little city of OHRDRUF not far from GOTHA, and tho it was just a small place — about 7 to 10000 inmates it was considered as one of the better types of such camps. After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.

End quote from letter

The photograph below was contributed by Mary Liethen Meier, the niece of Captain Liethen. The man standing next to General Eisenhower, and pointing to the prisoner demonstrating how the inmates were punished at Ohrdruf, is Alois Liethen, her uncle. Left to right, the men in the front row are Lt. General George S. Patton, Third U.S. Army Commander; General Omar N. Bradley, Twelfth Army group commander; and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander.

This photo was published in an American newspaper above a headline which read: U.S. GENERALS SEE A “TORTURE” DEMONSTRATION

Generals watch a demonstration of the whipping block

In the photo above, an ordinary wooden table is being used to demonstrate punishment on a whipping block.

By order of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, whipping prisoners on a wooden block was discontinued in 1942, so no whipping block had been found at Ohrdruf.

The first photo below shows another demonstration at Ohrdruf on a reconstructed wooden whipping block.

The second photo below shows the whipping block that was found at Natzweiler by American troops in September 1944.

Ohrdruf survivors demonstrate the whipping block for the Americans

Whipping block used at Natzweiler

All punishments in the concentration camps had to be approved by the head office in Oranienburg where Rudolf Hoess became a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz at the end of December 1943.

According to the testimony of Rudolf Hoess on April 15, 1946 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, this punishment was rarely used and it was discontinued in 1942 because Heinrich Himmler, the head of the concentration camp system, had forbidden the SS guards to strike the prisoners.

Some of the prisoners at Ohrdruf, who had previously been at the Buchenwald main camp for a number of years, were familiar with this punishment device and were able to reconstruct it.

Captain Liethen’s letter, dated 13 April 1945, continues as follows:

Yesterday I had the honor of being the interpreter for such honorable gentlemen as Gen EISENHOWER, Gen BRADLEY, Gen PATTON and several lesser general officers, all in all there were 21 stars present, Eisenhower with 5, Bradley with 4, Patton 3, my own commanding general with 2 and there were several others of this grade as well as several one star generals. Since I had made the investigation with some of the men who had escaped from the place the day that we captured it I was more or less the conductor of the tour for this famous party. There were batteries of cameras that took pictures of us as we went about the whole place and as I made several demonstrations for them — hell I felt like Garbo getting of (sic) a train in Chicago.

Now about this concentration camp. It was evacuated by the germans when things got too hot for them, this was on the night of April 2. All the healthy ones were marched away in the night, and those who were sick were loaded into trucks and wagons, and then when there was no more transportation available the remainder — about 35 were shot as they lay here waiting for something to come to take them away. Too, in another building there were about 40 dead ones which they did not have the time to bury in their hasty departure.

End of letter

One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Andrew Rosner, a Jewish prisoner who had escaped from the march out of the camp and was rescued by soldiers of the 89th Division in the town of Ohrdruf.

The following is a quote from Andrew Rosner on the occasion of a 50ieth anniversary celebration of the liberation of the camp, held on 23 April 1995 at Wichita, Kansas:

Begin quote

At the age of 23, I was barely alive as we began the death march eastward. All around me, I heard the sound of thunder – really the sound of heavy artillery and machinery. I looked for any opportunity to drop out of the march. But, any man who fell behind or to the side was shot instantly by the Nazis. So, I marched on in my delirium and as night fell, I threw myself off into the side of the road and into a clump of trees. I lay there — waiting — and waiting — and suddenly nothing! No more Nazis shouting orders. No more marching feet. No more people. Alone. All alone and alive — although barely.

I moved farther into the woods when I realized I was not really left behind. I slept for awhile as the darkness of night shielded me from the eyes of men. But, as the light of dawn broke, I heard shooting all around me. I played dead as men ran over me, stumbling over me as they went. I lay there as bullets passed by me and Nazis fell all around me. Then all was quiet. The battle was over. I waited for hours before I dared to move. I got up and saw dead German soldiers laying everywhere. I made my way back toward the road and started walking in the direction of a small village, which I could see in the distance. As I approached the village two Germans appeared. One raised his gun toward me and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was lost from the evacuation march. He told me that I must have escaped and I knew he was about to shoot me when the other German told him to let me be. It would not serve them well to harm me now. They allowed me to walk away and as I did, I said a final prayer knowing that a bullet in the back would now find me for sure. It never did!

In the small village I was told to go farther down the road to the town of Ohrdruf from where I had come three days before. There, I would find the Americans. And so I did.

As I entered the outskirts of the town of Ohrdruf two American soldiers met me and escorted me into town. I was immediately surrounded by Americans and as their officers questioned where I had been and what had happened to me, GIs were showering me with food and chocolate and other treats that I had not known for almost five years.

You were all so kind and so compassionate. But, my years in the camps, my weakened state of health, the forced death march, and my escape to freedom was more than a human body could bear any longer and I collapsed into the arms of you, my rescuing angels.

End quote

When the generals and their entourage toured the Ohrdruf-Nord camp on April 12th, the dead bodies on the roll-call square had been left outside to decompose in the sun and the rain for more than a week. The stench of the rotting corpses had now reached the point that General Patton, a battle-hardened veteran of 40 years of warfare, the leader of the American Third Army which had won the bloody Battle of the Bulge, and an experienced soldier who had seen the atrocities of two World Wars, threw up his lunch behind one of the barracks.

The photo below shows the naked bodies of prisoners in a shed at Ohrdruf where their bodies had been layered with lime to keep down the smell.

Corpses sprinkled with lime in shed at Ohrdruf-Nord camp

General Eisenhower was not as easily sickened by the smell of the dead bodies. Although he didn’t mention the name Ohrdruf in his book entitled “Crusade in Europe,” Eisenhower wrote the following about the Ohrdruf camp:

Begin quote from Eisenhower’s book:

I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that ‘the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.’ Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.

End quote

General Patton wrote in his memoirs that he had learned from the surviving inmates that 3,000 prisoners had died in the camp since January 1, 1945. A few dozen bodies on a pyre, constructed out of railroad tracks, had recently been burned and their gruesome remains were still on display.

According to General Patton, the bodies had been buried, but were later dug up and burned because “the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crimes.”

But after all that effort to cover up their crimes, the SS guards had allegedly shot sick prisoners when they ran short of transportation to move them out of the camp, and had left the bodies as evidence.

The first news reel film about alleged German war-time atrocities, that was shown in American movie theaters, referred to the Ohrdruf labor camp as a “murder mill.” Burned corpses were shown as the narrator of the film asked rhetorically “How many were burned alive?” The narrator described “the murder shed” at Ohrdruf where prisoners were “slain in cold blood.” Lest anyone should be inclined to assume that this news reel was sheer propaganda, the narrator prophetically intoned: “For the first time, America can believe what they thought was impossible propaganda. This is documentary evidence of sheer mass murder – murder that will blacken the name of Germany for the rest of recorded history.”

The documentary film about all the camps, directed by famed Hollywood director George Stevens, which was shown on November 29, 1945 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, claimed that the Germans “starved, clubbed, and burned to death more than 4,000 political prisoners over a period of 8 months” at Ohrdruf-Nord. These atrocities allegedly took place while the Nazis were desperately trying to finish building a secret underground hideout for Hitler who was holed up in Berlin.

Ohrdruf-Nord survivor shows shallow grave to the Generals

In the photo above, the soldier on the far right, holding a notepad in his hand, is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who was at Ohrdruf to gather evidence of Nazi atrocities for future war crimes trials.

Five years after seeing the Ohrdruf camp, General Bradley recalled that “The smell of death overwhelmed us even before we passed through the stockade. More than 3,200 naked, emaciated bodies had been flung into shallow graves. Others lay in the streets where they had fallen. Lice crawled over the yellowed skin of their sharp, bony frames.” The presence of lice in the camp indicates that there was probably an epidemic of typhus, which is spread by lice.

In his letter to his family, written 13 April 1945, Alois Liethen wrote the following regarding the burial pit:

Then, about 2 kilometers from the enclosure was the ‘pit’ where the germans had buried 3200 since December when this camp opened. About 3 weeks ago the commandant of the camp was ordered to destroy all of the evidence of the mass killings in this place and he sent several hundred of these inmates out on the detail to exhume these bodies and have them burned. However, there wasn’t time enough to burn all of the 3200 and only 1606 were actually burned and the balance were still buried under a light film of dirt. I know that all of this may seem gruesome to you, it was to me too, and some of you may think that I may have become warped of mind in hatred, well, every single thing that I stated here and to the generals yesterday are carefully recorded in 16 pictures which I took with my camera at the place itself.

Both General George S. Patton and General Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to the Ohrdruf-Nord camp as a “horror camp” in their wartime memoirs.

Eisenhower wrote the following in his book, “Crusade in Europe” about April 12, 1945, the day he visited the salt mines that held the Nazi treasures:

Begin quote from book

The same day, I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.

End quote

Eisenhower did not take the time to visit the main camp at Buchenwald, which was in the immediate area and had been discovered by the American army just the day before.

End of quote from letter

The Ohrdruf camp did not have a crematorium to burn the bodies. Instead, the bodies were at first taken to Buchenwald for burning, but as the death rate climbed, the bodies were buried about a mile from the camp. During the last days before the camp was liberated, bodies were being burned on a pyre made from railroad tracks. The rails were readily available because the underground bunker that was being built by the Ohrdruf prisoners featured a railroad where a whole train could be hidden underground.

In the photo below, the man on the far right wearing a dark jacket is a Dutch survivor of the camp who served as a guide for the American generals on their visit. The second man from the right is Captain Alois Liethen, who is interpreting for General Bradley to his left and General Eisenhower in the center of the photo.

The man to the left of General Eisenhower, in the photo, is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who is taking notes. On the far left is one of the survivors of Ohrdruf.

Gen. Eisenhower views burned bodies, April 12, 1945

On the same day that the Generals visited Ohrdruf, a group of citizens from the town of Ohrdruf and a captured German Army officer were being forced to take the tour.

Colonel Charles Codman, an aide to General Patton, wrote to his wife about an incident that happened that day. A young soldier had accidentally bumped into the captured German officer and had laughed nervously.

“General Eisenhower fixed him with a cold eye,” Codman wrote “and when he spoke, each word was like the drop off an icicle. ‘Still having trouble hating them?’ he said.” General Eisenhower had no trouble hating the Germans, as he would demonstrate when he set up a POW camp in Gotha a few weeks later.

After his visit to the salt mines and the Ohrdruf camp on April 12, 1945, General Eisenhower wrote the following in a cable on April 15th to General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC;

This quote is prominently displayed at the U.S. Holocaust Museum:

Begin quote

. . .the most interesting–although horrible–sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”

Ironically, General Eisenhower’s words about “propaganda,” turned out to be prophetic: only a few years later, Paul Rassinier, who was a French resistance fighter imprisoned at the Buchenwald main camp, wrote the first Holocaust denial book, entitled Debunking the Genocide Myth, in which he refuted the claim by the French government at the 1946 Nuremberg trial that there were gas chambers in Buchenwald.

End quote

Note that General Eisenhower referred to Ohrdruf as an “internment camp,” which was what Americans called the camps where Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were held without charges during World War II.

Ohrdruf was undoubtedly the first, and only, “internment camp” that General Eisenhower ever saw.

Why was Captain Alois Liethen investigating this small, obscure forced labor camp long before he arrived in Germany? Why did all the US Army generals visit this small camp and no other? Could it be because there was something else of great interest in the Ohrdruf area besides the Führer bunker and the salt mine where Nazi treasures were stored?

The Buchenwald camp had been liberated the day before the visit to the Ohrdruf camp. At Buchenwald, there were shrunken heads, human skin lampshades and ashtrays made from human bones. At Ohrdruf, there was nothing to see except a shed filled with 40 bodies. So why did Captain Alois Liethen take the four generals to Ohrdruf instead of Buchenwald?

What was Captain Liethen referring to when he wrote these words in a letter to his family?

Begin quote from letter:

After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.

End quote

There has been some speculation that the Germans might have tested an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf. In his book entitled “The SS Brotherhood of the Bell,” author James P. Farrell wrote about “the alleged German test of a small critial mass, high yield atom bomb at or near the Ohrdruf troop parade ground on March 4, 1945.” The “troop parade ground” was at the German Army Base right next to the Ohrdruf labor camp.

Why did General Eisenhower immediately order a propaganda campaign about Nazi atrocities? Was it to distract the media from discovering a far more important story? The first news reel about the Nazi camps called Ohrdruf a “murder mill.”

News reel film calls Ohrdruf a “murder mill”

 

March 9, 2018

The day that American soldiers liberated the Dachau concentration camp…

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 2:01 pm

The execution of German SS soldiers at Dachau

The following quote was written by Flint Whitlock, in his book entitled “The Rock of Anzio, From Sicily to Dachau: A history of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division”

Begin quote

“The killing of unarmed POWs did not trouble many of the men in I company that day for to them the SS guards did not deserve the same protected status as enemy soldiers who have been captured after a valiant fight. To many of the men in I company, the SS were nothing more than wild, vicious animals whose role in this war was to starve, brutalize, torment, torture and murder helpless civilians.”

End quote

 

Waffen-SS soldiers being executed by the American liberators at Dachau

The photograph above is a still photo that was taken by T/4 Arland B. Musser, 163rd Signal Photographic Company, US Seventh Army, on April 29, 1945, the day that the Dachau concentration camp was liberated.

The photo shows 60 Waffen-SS soldiers on the ground, some wounded, some playing dead, and 17 dead, according to Flint Whitlock, the historian for the 45th Thunderbird Division, who got this information from Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division of the US Seventh Army, the first unit to arrive at the Dachau camp.

Read more on my website at

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/SoldiersKilled.html

January 4, 2018

The story of Rudolf Hess (not Rudolf Hoess)

Filed under: Germany, World War II — furtherglory @ 8:25 am

Rudolf Hess is sometimes confused with Rudolf Hoess. Many people mispronounce the name Hoess, which leads to confusion.

Here is the real story:

On May 10, 1941, Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, flew to Scotland in a Messerschmitt 110 airplane and parachuted out before the plane crash-landed.

Hess made this trip in an attempt to negotiate peace with the British and end the war on the western front, so that Germany could then attack Russia without worrying about fighting on two fronts.

Hess was promptly arrested as soon as his parachute touched the ground, and he was held in prison for the duration of the war. At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, after the war, Hess was convicted of Crimes against Peace and sentenced to life in prison.

Finally on June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in a pre-emptive strike against Communism, or Judeo-Bolshevism, as the Nazis called it, and the killing of innocent Jewish civilians by special soldiers called the Einsatzgruppen began. All of this could have been prevented if the Allies had taken immediate action on March 12, 1938 when Hitler and his troops marched triumphantly into Austria in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.

The failure of the Allies to act immediately at the first sign of Nazi aggression, and the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 has been frequently cited by historians and politicians as an object lesson in history whenever new dictators like Miloslovich or Saddam Hussein have emerged to threaten America’s freedom.

According to William Shirer, a famous American correspondent in Europe during that period, there was so little American interest in the fate of Austria that he had a very difficult time persuading CBS to allow him to report the story of the Anschluss on the radio.

End of Story — That’s all she wrote — and she rubbed that out.

December 31, 2017

Oskar Groening is back in the news!

Filed under: Auschwitz, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 8:33 am
Oskar Groening

Poor Oskar looks to old to go to jail.

You can read about Oskar in this 12/31/2017 news article:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/240016

Begin Quote from news article:

He came to attention in 2005 after giving interviews about his work in the camp in an attempt to persuade Holocaust deniers that the genocide had taken place.

End Quote

You can read my many other blog posts about Oskar by following the links below:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/oskar-groening/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/oskar-groening/page/2/

 

December 24, 2017

Stille Nacht, nice video

Filed under: Germany, Language, Music, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 2:49 pm

Stille Nacht – Heilige Nacht – Wehrmacht Radio 24.12.1942

Filed under: Language, Music, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 2:43 pm

Stille Nacht

Filed under: Language, Music, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 2:33 pm

December 19, 2017

Does Trump’s America mirror Hitler’s Germany?

Filed under: Trump, World War II — furtherglory @ 4:06 pm

You can read all about it in this news article: https://www.salon.com/2017/12/19/frightening-ways-trumps-america-mirrors-hitlers-germany_partner/

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

President Obama has come right out and said it: “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we’ve seen societies where that happens.”

Yes, he invoked Nazi Germany, adding, “Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or ’30s that looked and seemed as if it ― filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging ― would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos.”

End quote

Were the Nazis responsible for killing 60 million people? Or was it only 6 million people?

The news article continues with this quote:

Begin quote

It was a shocking reminder of Milton Mayer and his seminal work, They Thought They Were Free, first published back in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press.

Shortly after World War II, Mayer, an American journalist and college instructor, went to Germany and befriended a small group of 10 “ordinary Germans” who had lived and worked through the war, and interviewed them in depth.

Mayer’s burning question was, “How does something like Nazi Germany happen?”

What he learned was every bit as shocking as President Obama drawing the same parallels. He wrote, presciently, “Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany – not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted – or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

“I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt – and feel – that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to

It was a shocking reminder of Milton Mayer and his seminal work, They Thought They Were Free, first published back in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press.

Shortly after World War II, Mayer, an American journalist and college instructor, went to Germany and befriended a small group of 10 “ordinary Germans” who had lived and worked through the war, and interviewed them in depth.

Mayer’s burning question was, “How does something like Nazi Germany happen?”

What he learned was every bit as shocking as President Obama drawing the same parallels. He wrote, presciently, “Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany – not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted – or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

“I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt – and feel – that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

“If I – and my countrymen – ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm.”

Mayer tells the story largely through the words of the Germans he got to know during his year in Germany after the war.  One, a college professor, told him:

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. . .

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. . . .

“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

End quote

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