Scrapbookpages Blog

September 23, 2010

Did the Nazis really use human skin to make handbags and purses?


The charge of making handbags from human skin was made at the American Military Tribunal held at Dachau in November 1945, when Martin Gottfried Weiss, the former Commandant, and 39 others were prosecuted as war criminals.   The star witness at these proceedings was Dr. Franz Blaha, a Communist who had been a prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp.

Dr. Blaha testified that he had worked as a surgeon in the Dachau concentration camp, but after he said that he didn’t want to do any more operations, he was punished by being “sent to the death chamber where autopsies were performed.” Dr. Blaha claimed that he had performed “six to seven thousand autopsies” at Dachau.

During the AMT proceedings at Dachau, Dr. Blaha gave testimony regarding the bodies upon which he had performed autopsies. The following is from the trial transcript of Dr. Blaha’s testimony, as quoted in Justice at Dachau by Joshua M. Greene:

We took the skin from the chest and back, then used chemicals to treat the skin. Then the skins were placed outside in the sun and parts were cut for saddles, breeches, gloves, house slippers, ladies’ handbags.

In answer to a question about what had happened to these items, Dr. Blaha said:

They were prepared and sent either to SS schools or given to some of the SS men.

According to Dr. Blaha’s testimony, these items were made from human skin while a man named Bruno, and then Willy Mirkle, were in charge of the autopsies. Neither of these men were on trial and no items allegedly made from human skin were ever presented as evidence, nor was any forensic report introduced by the prosecution. Blaha’s testimony was corroborated by a confession obtained by Lt. Paul Guth from Dr. Wilhelm Witteler, one of the doctors at Dachau who was among the accused.

Dr. Witteler testified that he had been forced to sign this confession, but Lt. Guth testified, under direct examination by the prosecutor, that no coercion had been used on any of the men that he had interrogated.

Here is the testimony of Dr. Witteler from the trial transcripts, as published in Justice at Dachau:

A: During my interrogation I had to sit in front of the desk of Lt. Guth. A spotlight was turned on me which stood on the desk. Lt. Guth stood behind the spotlight and the interrogation started. “We know you, we have the necessary records about you…” I started to make an explanation. I was immediately stopped. I was yelled at. He called me a swine, criminal, liar, murderer, and that is the way the interrogation continued. I couldn’t give any explanations. I was only told to answer “yes” or “no”… I was interrupted immediately and told that all I had to do was answer “yes” and “no”. I couldn’t even explain it. I was told to shut up and to answer “yes” or “no”… since it was not like he thought it was, I had to get up and stand. So I stood up until 1:30 in the morning – seven hours.

Q: … at the conclusion of the drafting of this statement you signed it?

A: No, I answered that it is not correct… this statement was not written in my presence. It was written in another room. The reporter was with me in the room all the time, but the statement was written in another room. After I couldn’t stand up any more this statement was put in front of me at 1:30. And then when I said that this testimony… is not by me, that is the testimony of Dr. Blaha — who was present for several hours that night… so that I didn’t want to sign it. Lt. Guth said he would interrogate me until tomorrow morning, that he had other methods…

Q: How many people were present at the time you were interrogated?

A: Altogether, three: Lt. Guth, Dr. Leiss, and I, and, for a short time, Dr. Blaha.

Q: This writing in your own handwriting. Was that dictated or did you make it up?

A: When I found that the interrogation would end that way, I wrote down this last part and signed my name to it.

Q: Was it your own words or was it dictated to you?

A: Lt. Guth dictated those words…

So now you know.  It was proved at the American Military Tribunal at Dachau, by a signed confession, dictated by Lt. Guth, that handbags were made from human skin at Dachau.

The gassing of prisoners at Dachau was not included in the charges against Martin Gottfried Weiss and the 39 others, but in spite of this, Dr. Franz Blaha was allowed to testify that the gas chamber at Dachau was used. Under the rules of the American Military Tribunal, any and all testimony was allowed, even if it had nothing to do with the charges or the men in the dock at Dachau.

The reason that Weiss and the 39 others were not charged with gassing prisoners at Dachau was that the names of the gassed prisoners were unknown.  Only crimes against Allied nationals were prosecuted at the American Military Tribunal, and since the names of the victims were unknown, there were no charges of gassing at Dachau.  The American Military Tribunal did not make use of the ex-post-facto law known as Crimes Against Humanity, which included the crime of gassing prisoners.

Why did the U.S. government deny that American flyers were held in Buchenwald?

This post is in response to Peg, a reader who commented today on a previous post that I wrote about the American pilots who were held in the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II.

Peg’s comment is quoted here:

My uncle, Robert Ward from Boone, Iowa was one of the men that was taken to Buchenwald. He is no longer alive, he nearly died while being held, but did manage to survive. He broke his ankle when they had to jump from their airplane and was then forced to walk without ever being treated for his injury. The story of their captivity is an amazing, but terrible one. I am amazed that they lived to tell about it.

He was definately a different man when he returned. For many many years even the American government denied that they were held in this camp.

One would think that the American government would have had a field day in condemning the Germans for violating the Geneva Convention of 1929 by putting POWs into a concentration camp instead of a POW camp, as required by the Geneva Convention. In fact, why didn’t the American government take advantage of this situation to retaliate against the German POWs being held in America?    (more…)

March 26, 2010

Noor Inayat Khan — if you tell a lie often enough, does it become the truth?

I was searching the blogs yesterday for anything about Dachau and came across this blog, which has an article about Noor Inayat Khan with the title “A Remarkable True Story for Women’s History Month.”  Noor Inayat Khan was a British SOE  spy who was allegedly executed at Dachau.

Whenever you see the word “allegedly” on my blog, it means that there is no proof whatsoever for whatever else is in that sentence.

Here is a quote from the “True Story” which I copied from the blog:

“In September 1944, Noor and three other female agents – Madeleine Damerment, Eliane Plewman and Yolande Beekman – were taken to the concentration camp at Dachau, just outside Munich.

“The three other agents were shot by the Germans on the day they arrived, but Noor was singled out to be beaten, tortured and possibly raped for hours before she was finally shot by an SS officer.

“As he placed the gun to her head and despite her tortured, weakened state, at least one source states that she summoned up the energy and courage to call out one final word before she died: ‘libertié‘.”

Noor Inayat Khan

After reading the information above, I did a new search on Noor Inayat Khan and found numerous blogs about her, all with essentially the same story about how Noor was beaten before she was executed at Dachau.

Here is a quote from another blog:

“It was a crisp Munich morning on September 13, 1944 when the four shackled women were led to the execution grounds. All were made to kneel. Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert, the SS trooper in charge of executions, gave the orders to shoot. By eyewitness account, one by one the troopers shot Madeleine Damerment, Eliane Plewman, and Yolande Beekman.

“Come the turn of the fourth prisoner, Wilhelm stopped the executioners. He stepped forward and hit the fourth prisoner with his gun butt. When she fell to the ground, he kicked her till she was reduced to a bloody mess. She was raised to her knees forcibly. Wilhelm then shot her in the back of her head thus bringing to an abrupt end the short life of Princess, spy, heroine, martyr Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, a great great granddaughter of Tipu Sultan, the last Muslim sovereign of South India. One died fighting British imperialism. The other died for Britain fighting Nazi imperialism. Her last word was “Liberté”. She was 30 years old.”

Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert is the man standing on the right

Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert is shown in the photo above; he is the man with a card around his neck with the number 2 on it.  The photo was taken during an American Military Tribunal proceeding at Dachau at which Ruppert was accused of participating in a “common plan” to commit war crimes by virtue of his job as the officer in charge of executions at Dachau.

Ruppert was specifically charged with supervising the execution of 90 Soviet Prisoners of War who had been condemned to death by an order from Adolf Hitler.  If he had refused to carry out an order given by Hitler, Ruppert would have been executed himself, but “superior orders” was not an acceptable defense, according to the American Military Tribunal; Ruppert was convicted and hanged.

Ruppert was not charged with beating Noor Inayat Khan and then personally shooting her. Why? Because nothing about this alleged execution was known at that time. There is no record of any British SOE women being brought to Dachau for execution nor for any other reason. There is no record of an order for the execution of any British SOE women being sent by the Berlin office of the Gestapo to Dachau.  There is no documentation or records of any kind that would prove that any British SOE women were ever executed at Dachau.

One of the witnesses against Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert at the American Military Tribunal was Rudolf Wolf, a 35-year-old German engraver from Frieberg, who was a prisoner at Dachau from September 1942 until the camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. Wolf testified that he had often seen Ruppert personally beat the prisoners. Wolf said that he had seen Ruppert kick the prisoners and also beat them with a whip so hard that the men became unconscious. According to Wolf’s testimony, Ruppert was a man who could beat people without changing expression; he was like a blacksmith striking cold iron.  Rudolf Wolf was a paid prosecution witness, whose testimony was not corroborated.

Ruppert’s sadistic nature was established by this dubious testimony at his trial which might have prompted an anonymous former Dutch prisoner at Dachau to contact author Jean Overton Fuller after reading her biography of British SOE agent Noor Inayat Khan. This anonymous prisoner, known only by his initials A.F., claimed to have witnessed the execution of Noor Inayat Khan on September 12, 1944 at Dachau. According to his story, A.F. had seen Wilhelm Ruppert undress Noor Inayat Khan and then beat her all over her body until she was a “bloody mess” before personally shooting her in the back of the head.

Execution spot where condemned prisoners were shot at Dachau

Condemned prisoners were executed with a shot in the neck at close range (Genickschuss). The execution place was located north of the crematorium; it was surrounded by thick shrubbery and trees. There was no bleacher section where the other prisoners could watch; the whole area was completely separate from the prison enclosure at Dachau.

The fact that the alleged witness said that Noor was “shot in the back of the head,” instead of being killed by a Genickschuss, shows that he knew nothing about the executions at Dachau, and had not seen anything.

Wilhelm Ruppert was an SS officer; it was not his job to personally execute prisoners at Dachau; he was the administrator in charge of the executions.  If he had personally beaten anyone, Ruppert would have received a visit from Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, the SS judge in charge of prosecuting SS men who committed crimes in the concentration camps.  For example, Amon Göth, the Commandant who allegedly shot prisoners from his balcony at the Plaszow camp in the Schindler’s List story, was arrested by Dr. Morgen and was awaiting trial when World War II ended.  He had been arrested on a charge of stealing from the camp warehouses, but not for shooting prisoners from his balcony because that never happened.

Noor Inayat Khan has been heavily promoted as a great heroine by the British in order to cover up what really happened.  Noor was chosen to be sent to France as a wireless operator because she was the least qualified woman in the SOE; the British wanted an SOE agent to be caught so that the Germans could acquire a British radio. The British wanted to  send messages that would be intercepted.  The messages would consist of incorrect information which the British wanted to give the Germans about the invasion of Sicily.

Noor was chosen for the job because she “was not overly burdened with brains,” in the words of her instructor.  Sure enough, when Noor was captured, the Germans found a notebook in which she had written down all of the codes that they would need in order to use her radio.  The Germans used Noor’s radio to send messages to the British and the British answered by sending misinformation about the invasion of Sicily.

According to Sarah Helm’s book A Life in Secrets, Hans Kieffer, the man who ordered Noor to be sent to Pforzheim prison after she made several escape attempts, said that he had no knowledge of her execution.

Sarah Helm wrote that the SOE was not above fabricating stories about Noor Inayat Khan in order to make her into more of a heroine than she actually was. In the citation for Noor to receive the George Medal, an award given to civilians for gallantry, it was noted that Noor “has also been instrumental in facilitating the escape of 30 Allied airmen shot down in France.” Such an escape never happened, according to Sarah Helm.

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