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August 10, 2015

Oskar Groening stood on the ramp at Birkenau 3 times, but was sentenced to four years in prison

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:04 pm
Oskar Groening at his trial

Oskar Groening at his trial

Today, I read an old news story here about the trial of Oskar Groening, a former German SS man, who was prosecuted as a war criminal because he had formerly served as an accountant at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Oskar Groening as a young soldier

Oskar Groening as a young soldier

This quote is from the news story:

Though he [Groening] was more regularly assigned to the camp’s Auschwitz I section, he said he guarded the Birkenau ramp three times, including one busy 24-hour shift. The main gas chambers were located at Birkenau.

“The capacity of the gas chambers and the capacity of the crematoria were quite limited. Someone said that 5,000 people were processed in 24 hours but I didn’t verify this. I didn’t know,” he said. “For the sake of order we waited until train 1 was entirely processed and finished.”

Auschwitz survivors describe their arrival as chaotic, with Nazi guards yelling orders, dogs barking and families being ripped apart.

But Groening, 93, maintained the opposite, saying “it was very orderly and not as strenuous” on the ramp at Birkenau.
“The process was the same as Auschwitz I. The only difference was that there were no trucks,” he said during the second day of his trial. “They all walked – some in one direction some, in another direction … to where the crematoria and gas chambers were.”

Wait a minute! Where were the crematoria?  The gas chamber buildings at Birkenau, and in the main Auschwitz camp, did not have a crematorium.  The room, which would normally have been a crematorium, was instead an undressing room.  Everyone knows that!

Note that Groening worked at the ramp, where selections for the gas chamber were made, only 3 times. Yet he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. I don’t think that this was a fair sentence.  Groening should have been sentenced to only THREE YEARS in prison, one year for each time when he was at the ramp, collecting money from the luggage.

Groening had nothing to do with the prisoners being gassed, but he was THERE, so he is guilty of a war crime. This is according to the ex-post-facto law, known as “common plan.”

Groening committed his crime BEFORE the common plan law was created by the Allies after the war.

November 17, 2014

Update on Oskar Groening, the SS guard at Auschwitz “who did’t kill with his hands, but was part of that killing machinery”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 5:44 am

In a recent news article, which you can read in full here, I learned that “437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz in the span of 57 days in the sping and early summer of 1944. They were murdeed at a rate of 3.5 Jews per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that by the end of the 57th day 300,000 of them were dead.”

Strangely, most of the survivors of the Holocaust, who are still alive today, are Hungarian Jews, who have written books about how they fooled the Nazis and escaped the gas chamber.

This quote is from the news article:

Judy Lysy is a Holocaust survivor [of Auschwitz] in Toronto. […] She is not among the co-plaintiffs in the Groening case since the charges against him, for German legal reasons, only cover the 57-day killing frenzy associated with the Jewish Hungarian deportees. […]

Ms. Lysy, a Slovakian Jew, was raised in pro-Nazi, Hungarian-occupied territory. She arrived in Auschwitz in April 1944. It was a sunny day. She was 16. […]

“We did not know where those people had gone for the first 10 days. And this was my arrival to Auschwitz. Oskar Groening didn’t kill with his hands. But he was part of that killing machinery.”

The news article goes on to explain that Ms. Lysy was given the job of a translator at Auschwitz.  She was also over the age of 15, so she would not have been sent to the gas chamber, in any case.

Child survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau after they were liberated

Child survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau after they were liberated (Click on photo to enlarge)

The photo above is used to illustrate the news story. Despite my many complaints about inappropriate photos being used to illustrate the Holocaust, once again a photo of children with chubby cheeks is used to illustrate a story about 300,000 Jews being gassed in 57 days.

Dead bodies found in Block 11 at the Auschwitz main camp

Dead bodies found in Block 11 at the Auschwitz main camp

The photo above, which shows dead bodies found in Block 11 in the main Auschwitz camp, would be an appropriate photo for this news story.

This quote is from the news story, cited above:

The accused is Oskar Groening, the so-called “bookkeeper” of Auschwitz, a former SS sergeant who sorted and counted monies stolen from the murdered Jews, occasionally couriering it to his Nazi overlords in Berlin. He also stood guard on the train platform in Auschwitz, as cattle cars delivered their doomed Jewish cargo. Doing so in the belief that, as he told DER SPIEGEL magazine in 2005, the destruction of the Jews was a “necessary thing.”

I previously blogged about Oskar Groening at

I also wrote about Oskar Groening in this blog post:

It seems that Oskar Groening will now be put on trial under the ex-post-facto law known as “common plan.”  Under this concept, anyone who was there when the crime of killing Jews was perpetrated, is guilty of a crime.  There is no defense against the “common plan” law, so he will be automatically convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life, or to a nursing home in Germany, where he will live out his days as a convicted war criminal.

The ruins of Krema III, one of the four gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The ruins of Krema III, one of the four gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Click on photo to enlarge)

October 11, 2013

Unrepentant Nazi war criminal “remained an arrogant Nazi monster until his dieing (sic) day,” according to UK newspaper

An article in the International Business Times, which you can read in full here, starts off with this headline:

Nazi War Criminal Erich Priebke’s Political Will: ‘Jews were to Blame for the Holocaust’

This quote is from the article:

In the interview, [Eric] Priebke proved he remained an arrogant Nazi monster until his dieing day. He claimed Jews are partially to blame for the Holocaust, which extent he however denied. He reveals himself as an unreconstructed anti-Semite who continued to peddle the lies that stoked the genocide of six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, as well as millions of Russians, Poles, gypsies and gays.

“Responsibility lies with both parties,” [Priebke] said. “Due to their religious beliefs most Jews considered themselves better and above all other human beings,” Priebke says, adding that nevertheless he doesn’t hate them. “There are also good people among them.”
“In Germany Jews’ behaviour was openly criticised since the early years 1900s. They had amassed a huge economic and political power, despite being a scanty part of the world population. This was perceived as unjust.

“It is a fact that even today if you take the 1,000 most powerful and rich individuals in the world, most are Jews,” Priebke said..

Priebke claimed that Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe caused “a real catastrophe” in Germany after the First World War. [Following World War I, German territory was given to the new country of Poland. The Poles denied citizenship to the Jews, and forced them to go to Germany where they became stateless persons.]

“They stockpiled huge capital while most of Germans were living in poverty. Moneylenders got richer and annoyance towards Jews grew higher,” Priebke says.

Priebke said Hitler tried to persuade Jews to leave Germany peacefully but “had to lock them up in lagers as war enemies” after the Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. [Jewish men were locked up for several weeks until their families could arrange for them to leave Germany.]

So, what was the heinous war crime committed by Priebke?  Why was he hunted down in Argentina and brought back to Germany for trial?

Erich Priebke as a young SS soldier

Erich Priebke as a young SS soldier

This quote from the article in the International Business Times explains Priebke’s crime:

During WWII [Priebke] served under the command of Herbert Kappler in Rome.

On 23 March 1944 Keppler ordered the execution of 335 Italians, in retaliation for an attack by partisan troops that had killed 33 German soldiers.

The execution by firing squad was carried out under captain Priebke’s supervision in the ancient Ardeatine Caves in central Rome.

At his trial Priebke claimed he had only ticked off the names of those killed from a list that included 12 underage boys, about 80 Jews and a catholic priest.

After World War II ended, the Allies made a new law called “common plan,” or “common design,” under which any German was guilty of a crime if he or she were anywhere near where the crime was committed. So when Priebke “ticked off the names” of the people to be killed in a reprisal action, he was guilty of a  crime under the new law of  “common plan.”

Note that the article in the International Business Times does not mention the word “reprisal.”

During World War II, reprisals were legal.  A reprisal was an action carried out against the enemy in an effort to stop the enemy from engaging in partisan activity.  Note that the people killed in the reprisal in Italy were described as “partisans.”

Under the rules of the Geneva Convention of 1929, POWs, who had been captured while fighting on the battlefield, were protected from reprisals.  However, it was not until the Geneva Convention of 1949 that civilians were also protected against reprisals. The Geneva Convention of 1949 states that the principle of the prohibition of reprisals against persons has now become part of international law in respect to all persons, whether they are members of the armed forces or civilians.

According to international law during World War II, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, it was legal to violate the laws of war by responding with a reprisal against civilians in order to stop partisan actions that were against international law.

The fact that “underage boys” as well as Jews and a Catholic priest were killed in the reprisal where Priebke “ticked off the names,” indicates that this was a legal action taken against civilians as revenge against the civilians for killing German soldiers.

Priebke was guilty of being a “war criminal” only because the Allies changed the laws AFTER World War II.

Would it have killed the reporter for the International Business Times to have explained all this?

In today’s news, only one side of the story is told.

March 6, 2013

What is the meaning of the girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List?

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler's List

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is now out on Blu-Ray and there is renewed interest in this fictional movie.  The photo above shows one of the scenes from the movie, which is loosely based on history.

In March 1941, the Jews in the area of Krakow, Poland had been put into a walled ghetto in Podgorze, a district of Krakow. This ghetto is depicted in the movie, Schindler’s List, but the actual scenes were filmed nearby in the old Jewish quarter called Kazimierz because there are modern buildings in Podgorze now, while Kazimierz was still in its original state in 1993.

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

On March 13, 1943, a Saturday, the Podgorze ghetto in Krakow, Poland was officially closed and around 6,000 Jews who were able to work were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, while around 2,000 children and old people were sent to other camps, including Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, which was both a labor camp and a death camp.

The next stage of the Final Solution for the Krakow Jews was the liquidation of the Podgorze ghetto and the transportation of the remaining Jews to the forced labor camp at Plaszow on March 13 and 14, 1943. Before the liquidation of the ghetto, there were 2,000 prisoners at the Plaszow camp, all of them Jews. Afterwards, the camp population rose to 8,000. At this point, Plaszow was still not a concentration camp, but a penal labor camp under the jurisdiction of local SS men in the General Government, as the central section of occupied Poland was called by the Nazis. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, it was because Plaszow was a labor camp, under local authority, that the random killing of prisoners by Amon Goeth did not command much attention among the top brass. The novel Schindler’s Ark explains that executions and floggings at all of the concentration camps had to be approved by the central administrative office in Berlin, but not at the labor camps.

Until the middle of 1943, all the prisoners at the Plaszow forced labor camp were Jews. In July 1943, a separate section was fenced off for Polish prisoners who were sent to the camp for breaking the laws of the German occupational government. Polish prisoners served their sentences and were then released from the prison. The Jews remained in the camp indefinitely. Many Jews were sent on to the Auschwitz concentration camp, only 60 kilometers southwest of Krakow.

The Schindler Jews at first lived in the Plaszow camp and walked 2.5 kilometers to and from Schindler’s enamelware factory each day. The factory was in an ordinary-looking, modern, but dreary building in Krakow. Then Schindler bribed Plaszow Commandant Amon Goeth to let his workers move into barracks which he built in the courtyard of the factory. Schindler himself lived in a nondescript gray apartment building close to his factory. When I visited Krakow in 1998, Schindler’s factory building was being used by an electronics factory called Toplar. It is now a Museum for tourists.

There were many small sub-camps, such as the Schindler factory, in the Nazi labor camp system, but none where the prisoners were so well treated. The Nazis provided food for the Schindler Jews, but Schindler spent the equivalent of $360,000 to provide extra food, which he bought on the black market, for his prisoners.

One day, Oskar Schindler was out riding his horse, along a bridal path on a hill overlooking the Podgorze ghetto, when he saw the girl in the red coat among the Jews being marched out of the ghetto, walking on their way to the Plaszow camp.

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

In the photo above, you can see a red car, driving on Krakusa Street, where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat.

The photo below shows the bridal path along the edge of the hill overlooking Krakusa Street. This is where Schindler looked down from his horse and saw 7,000 Jews being marched out of the Podgorze ghetto, according to the novel, Schindler’s Ark. The bridal path was overgrown with trees when I took this photo in 1998.

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Podgorze ghetto was a master pharmacist named Tadeusz Pankiewicz. His Eagle Pharmacy was located at #18 on the cobble-stoned Plac Zgody which was the main square where selections took place and from where transports of Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp. I previously blogged here about how Amon Goeth took bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.

In 1993, the same year that the movie Schindler’s List was filmed, the Eagle Pharmacy building was turned into a National Memorial Museum. I visited the museum in 1998 and saw  displays which showed pictures of the roundup and deportation of the Jews of Krakow. There was also a photo of Amon Goeth on display.

In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz published his memoirs called The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto. It is an account of how his pharmacy became a meeting place for the Jews in the ghetto where they could get information from the underground press. Letters were sent from and received at the pharmacy. It was also a hiding place for Jews whom the Nazis were trying to arrest for violations of their laws. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, the pharmacy was where messages were passed between the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the partisans of the Polish People’s Army, the two main groups which fought the Nazis in guerrilla warfare during World War II. In the movie, Schindler’s List, there is no mention of how Jewish partisans resisted the Nazis and helped to defeat the Germans in World War II.

So what does all this have to do with the girl in the red coat?  In the novel, Schindler’s Ark, Oskar Schindler sees the body of the little girl in the red coat and at that point, he realizes that he should do something to save the Jews.  Prior to this, Schindler had only been concerned with making lots of money by using the labor of Jews from the Podgorze ghetto. Using the labor of non-Jewish workers in his factory would have been at a much higher cost.

Did all this really happen?  No, the girl in the red coat is symbolic, although she is based on a real girl in the ghetto, who was not killed.

The following quote is from an article in the Huffington Post about the movie Schindler’s List, which you can read in full here:

The name Oliwia Dabrowska holds little meaning to film buffs, but the 23-year-old’s first movie role was quite significant. Dabrowska played “Red Genia” or the “girl in the red coat” in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” […]

Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” has been the subject of much discussion and interpretation since “Schindler’s List” was released in 1993. The character bore surface similarities to Holocaust survivor Roma Ligocka, who was known for her red coat in the Krakow Ghetto, and wrote a memoir about her experiences. (Unlike Ligocka, Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” died in “Schindler’s List.”) Spielberg himself has said the significance of the red coat, the only splash of color in the black-and-white film, has more to do with reminding viewers of the way citizens of the world allowed the Holocaust to happen:

[ Spielberg said this] “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”

This quote from Wikipedia also gives the same words spoken by Steven Spielberg:

While the film is shot primarily in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat (portrayed by Oliwia Dabrowska). Later in the film, the girl appears to be one of the dead Jewish people, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation).[18] The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said “it is something that stays with you forever.”

According to Andy Patrizio of IGN, the girl in the red coat is used to indicate that Schindler has changed: “Spielberg put a twist on her [Ligocka’s] story, turning her into one more pile on the cart of corpses to be incinerated. The look on Schindler’s face is unmistakable. Minutes earlier, he saw the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.”[19] Andre Caron wondered whether it was done “to symbolize innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust?”[20] Spielberg himself has explained that he only followed the novel, and his interpretation was that

“America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”[21]

This quote, about the girl in the red coat, is also from Wikipedia:

Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers so he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, away from the Final Solution. Goeth charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.

[…]   The train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Höß, with a cache of diamonds in exchange for releasing the women to Brinnlitz.

Contrary to what Wikipedia says, Schindler did NOT “prevail upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers.”  By that point in the movie, Goeth had been arrested by the Nazis and he was awaiting trial in Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen’s court.  Goeth had disappeared from the movie and nothing more was said about him.

Schindler and Stern did NOT assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.  Schindler’s famous list was a list of workers to be sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler was setting up a sub-camp of Gross Rosen near his old home town.

Rudolf Höß was NOT the “camp commander” at the time that Schindler bribed someone to release the women to Brinnlitz.

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right in this photo from the Auschwitz Album

Dr. Josef Mengele, the man who selected Jews for the gas chamber at the Birkenau death camp, is shown in the center of the photo above. On his left is Richard Baer, the last commandant of the Auschwitz main camp and on his right is Rudolf Höß (aka Rudolf Hoess), who had been the first Commandant of the whole Auschwitz complex; he was given this assignment on May 1, 1940. Höß was relieved of his duties as the Commandant of the Auschwitz complex at the end of November 1943 and promoted to a position in the Economic Administration Head Office (WHVA) in Oranienburg.

On May 8, 1944, Höß was brought back to Auschwitz to be the Commander of the SS men at Auschwitz and to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews. (According to Laurence Rees, in his book Auschwitz, a New History, Hoess was also given authority over the Commandants of the Auschwitz II and Auschwitz III camps when he came back in May 1944.)  Auschwitz II was Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp.

I believe that Spielberg is completely wrong in his claim that “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it.”  What is today known as “the Holocaust” was mostly unknown until many years after World War II.

What was the real reason that Oskar Schindler made up a list of Jews to be saved from certain death.

Oskar Schindler’s real motive, in making a list of 1200 Jews to be saved, was to save his own skin, NOT to save these 1200 Jews.

Schindler knew that he would be put on trial as a war criminal, after the war, because he was the commander of a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp. He knew that the Allies had made up ex-post-facto war crimes, under which the Germans would be prosecuted as war criminals after the war.

Schindler knew that the Allies had already made up new laws, such as the “common plan” principle, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted.  Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had any connection to a concentration camp, in any capacity whatsoever, would be automatically guilty of a war crime.

By saving 1200 Jews in a new sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp, he would have a defense to the “common plan” principle. He would have 1200 Jews to put in a good word for him and save him.

That is exactly what happened: Schindler was not put on trial after the war, and the Jews that he had saved took care of him for the rest of his life.

August 21, 2012

the Demjanjuk principle (aka “common plan”) explained

The online JTA newspaper has an article about an unnamed 87-year-old World War II “war criminal,” now living in Germany, who might be put on trial in a German court in the near future.

This quote is from the article which you can read in full here.

Kurt Schrimm, head of the central investigation office, told the online newspaper that the case was a direct result of the verdict against former concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk, who died in March after being convicted as an accessory to murder of nearly 29,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland. He was sentenced to five years in prison but the case was on appeal when he died.

Schrimm said the Demjanjuk case “triggered a shift in the interpretation of the law,” expressly allowing courts to go after war criminals who enabled others to commit murder. Since then, the investigative body has aggressively pursued similar cases, starting with those that look most promising, he told

The verdict against Demjanjuk created a new legal principle in Germany which will now allow German citizens who served in the military in World War II to be put on trial if they were anywhere near a location where Jews died in the Holocaust.  The next man who might be put on trial in Germany is a former guard at the Auschwitz camp. You can read about Auschwitz on my website here.

This quote is from the JTA article:

An investigation of the man — whose name has not yet been released by the Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes — shows that he volunteered for the Waffen SS in 1942 and was trained as a guard, according to the German news agency dpa.

The guard worked at the arrivals ramp and in a guard tower at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he has been accused of contributing “significantly” to the murder of at least 344,000 people in the gas chambers in 1944. According to the report, most of the victims were Jews from Hungary.

The legal precedent for these charges goes back to the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal where the German war criminals were prosecuted under a charge of participating in a “common plan,” or a “common design.”

In his opening statement at the Nuremberg IMT, the American prosecutor Robert Jackson said this:

It is my purpose to open the case, particularly under Count One of the Indictment, and to deal with the Common Plan or Conspiracy to achieve ends possible only by resort to Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity. My emphasis will not be on individual barbarities and perversions which may have occurred independently of any central plan. One of the dangers ever present is that this Trial may be protracted by details of particular wrongs and that we will become lost in a “wilderness of single instances”. Nor will I now dwell on the activity of individual defendants except as it may contribute to exposition of the common plan.

According to the book Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot, the idea for the Common Plan charges against the Germans came from Lieutenant Colonel Murray C. Bernays, a Lithuanian Jew who had emigrated to American in 1900 at the age of six.

This quote is from the opening statement by Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg IMT, which you can read in full here:

Let there be no misunderstanding about the charge of persecuting Jews. What we charge against these defendants is not those arrogances and pretensions which frequently accompany the intermingling of different peoples and which are likely, despite the honest efforts of government, to produce regrettable crimes and convulsions. It is my purpose to show a plan and design, to which all Nazis were fanatically committed, to annihilate all Jewish people. These crimes were organized and promoted by the Party leadership, executed and protected by the Nazi officials, as we shall convince you by written orders of the Secret State Police itself.


The conspiracy or common plan to exterminate the Jew was so methodically and thoroughly pursued, that despite the German defeat and Nazi prostration this Nazi aim largely has succeeded. Only remnants of the European Jewish population remain in Germany, in the countries which Germany occupied, and in those which were her satellites or collaborators. Of the 9,600,000 Jews who lived in Nazi-dominated Europe, 60 percent are authoritatively estimated to have perished. Five million seven hundred thousand Jews are missing from the countries in which they formerly lived, and over 4,500,000 cannot be accounted for by the normal death rate nor by immigration; nor are they included among displaced persons. History does not record a crime ever perpetrated against so many victims or one ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.

Robert Jackson went on to say this in his opening statement:

We charge that all atrocities against Jews were the manifestation and culmination of the Nazi plan to which every defendant here was a party.


Determination to destroy the Jews was a binding force which at all times cemented the elements of this conspiracy. On many internal policies there were differences among the defendants. But there is not one of them who has not echoed the rallying cry of nazism: “Deutschland erwache, Juda verrecke!” (Germany awake, Jewry perish!).

This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, is not the product of abstract speculations nor is it created to vindicate legalistic theories. This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times — aggressive war. The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched. It is a cause of that magnitude that the United Nations will lay before Your Honors.

The “common plan” theory of guilt was never used in modern times — until the John Demjanjuk case.  There was no evidence presented in court that Demjanjuk had done anything wrong, yet he was convicted of being an accessory to the killing of Jews because he was allegedly a guard at the Sobibor camp.  This opens up a new charge that can now be used against every living person who was a guard at a concentration camp during World War II.

In his opening statement at the Nuremberg IMT, Robert Jackson used “The Stroop Report” to show the “common plan” aspect of the German war crimes.

This quote from Jackson’s opening statement is about the Stroop Report, which was the report given by Juergen Stroop on the battle against the Jews for control of the Warsaw ghetto:

I shall not dwell on this subject longer than to quote one more sickening document which evidences the planned and systematic character of the Jewish persecutions. I hold a report written with Teutonic devotion to detail, illustrated with photographs to authenticate its almost incredible text, and beautifully bound in leather with the loving care bestowed on a proud work. It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carries the inscription, “The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists.” It is characteristic that one of the captions explains that the photograph concerned shows the driving out of Jewish “bandits”; those whom the photograph shows being driven out are almost entirely women and little children. It contains a day-by-day account of the killings mainly carried out by the SS organization, too long to relate, but let me quote General Stroop’s summary:

“The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsführer SS ordered, therefore, on 23 April 1948, the clearing out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I, therefore, decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dismantled and then burned. Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire. Sometimes they changed their hideouts during the night into the ruins of burned buildings. Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers. SS men or policemen climbed bravely through the manholes to capture these Jews. Sometimes they stumbled over Jewish corpses; sometimes they were shot at. Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting. The longer the resistance continued the tougher became the members of the Waffen SS, Police and Wehrmacht who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. Frequently Jews who tried to replenish their food supplies during the night or to communicate with neighboring groups were exterminated.

“This action eliminated,” says the SS commander, “a proved total of 56,065. To that, we haste to add the number killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted.” (1061-PS)

Regarding the future treatment of the German people, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler predicted that something like the “common plan” theory would be put into action, when he made a speech on November 8, 1938 in Munich.  The following quote is from that speech:

“Furthermore, Czechoslovakia has become anti-Semitic, all the Balkans are anti-Semitic, the whole of Palestine is engaged in a desperate struggle against the Jews, so that some day there will be no place in the world left for the Jew. He says to himself, this danger will only be removed if the source, if the originating country of anti-Semitism, if Germany is burnt out and destroyed (ausgebrannt und vernichtet). Be clear about it, in the battle which will decide if we are defeated, there will be no reservation remaining for the Germans, all will be starved out and butchered. That will face everyone, be he now an enthusiastic supporter of the Third Reich or not – it will suffice that he speaks German and had a German mother.”

Hitler and his henchmen: Göring, Keitel, Dönitz and Himmler

It turns out that Himmler was right.  Anyone who was alive during World War II will now be targeted, by the Germans themselves, if he “speaks German and had a German mother.”  This is the real “common plan.”

December 6, 2011

War crimes committed by Hermann Pister — the last Commandant of Buchenwald

Yesterday, I blogged about Irving Roth, a survivor of Buchenwald, and Rick Carrier, one of the liberators of Buchenwald.  The Huffington Post did an article about this same story, and mentioned that “Hermann Pister, the commandant of Buchenwald, was hanged for his crimes in 1948.”

Actually, Hermann Pister was not hanged; he died before the death sentence for his crimes at Buchenwald could be carried out.

Hermann Pister, the last commandant of Buchewald, was born in 1896

You don’t hear much about Hermann Pister. Karl Otto Koch, the husband of the infamous Ilse Koch, is much better known. Koch was executed after he was tried by the Nazis and found guilty of ordering the death of two Buchenwald prisoners. The alleged crimes of Hermann Pister were ignored by Dr. Konrad Georg Morgen, the Nazi judge who tried and convicted Karl Otto Koch.

In the trial of the Buchenwald war criminals, there were 30 men and one women (Ilse Koch) in the dock, whereas there were 40 war criminals in the Dachau trial and 61 in the Mauthausen trial.  Why so few war criminals in the Buchenwald camp?

One possible reason is because the Buchenwald camp was actually run by the Communist prisoners, who secretly stored weapons inside the camp, and took over the camp as soon as American troops arrived in the vicinity. The SS staff members fled the scene, but the prisoners chased them down, brought them back to the camp and beat them to death, with the American liberators joining in.

The trial of Hermann Pister began on April 11, 1947, two years to the day after the Buchenwald camp was liberated.  The trial was conducted by the American Military Tribunal in a courtroom at the former Dachau concentration camp.

So exactly what were the crimes of Commandant Hermann Pister?

The charge against Hermann Pister was that he had participated in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of war against the Hague Convention of 1907 and the third Geneva Convention, written in 1929, which pertained to the rights of Prisoners of War. 

The “common plan” charge was a new concept of co-responsibility, which had been made up by the Allies after World War II ended. 

Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had anything whatsoever to do with a concentration camp was a war criminal and there was no defense against this charge. 

During the proceedings of the American Military Tribunal against the Buchenwald war criminals, American prosecutor Lt. Col. William Denson confronted Pister on the witness stand with his crime of violating The Hague Convention:

“You knew that according to The Hague Convention, an occupying power must respect the rights and lives and religious convictions of persons living in the occupied zone, did you not?”

To this question, Commandant Pister replied:

“First of all, I did not know The Hague Convention. Furthermore, I did not bring these people to Buchenwald.”

The basis, for charging the staff members of the Nazi concentration camps for violating the Geneva Convention of 1929, was that the illegal combatants who were prisoners in the concentration camps were detainees who should have been given the same rights as Prisoners of War because, in the eyes of the victorious Allies, they were the equivalent of POWs. The Geneva Convention of 1949 now gives all detainees the same rights as POWs, but the 1929 Geneva Convention did not.

Many of the prisoners at Buchenwald were Resistance fighters from the German-occupied countries in Europe who were fighting as illegal combatants in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Besides the Resistance fighters, who were illegal combatants under the rules of the 1929 Geneva Convention, there were also Soviet POWs in the Buchenwald camp . The American prosecutors of the American Military Tribunal declared that the Soviet POWs should have been treated according to the 1929 Geneva Convention even though the Soviets had not signed the convention and were not following it.  Soviet POWs who were Communist Commissars had been executed at Buchenwald on the orders of Adolf Hitler.

Before he took the stand to testify on his own behalf, Pister’s defense attorney, Dr. Richard Wacker, told the court:

“The defense will prove that the accused Pister was responsible neither for the existence of Buchenwald nor the orders he received there, and is therefore not guilty. The defense will give the accused Pister an opportunity to express his point of view and show for what reasons he did not look upon those orders as criminal, but carried them out, believing in good faith in their legality.”

The defense that the accused was acting under “superior orders” was not allowed in the American Military Tribunals. Hermann Pister was a war criminal because he had not stopped executions that had been ordered by Adolf Hitler himself.    (more…)

February 25, 2011

John Demjanjuk’s alleged crimes against the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier)

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:04 am

If John Demjanjuk survives his current trial in Germany, his next trial will be held in Spain where he has been charged with war crimes in connection with the deaths of 60 Red Spaniards at the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he served as a guard after his service at Sobibor.

“Red Spaniards” was the name for the Spanish Republicans who fought in the Spanish Civil War against General Francisco Franco’s forces.  They were called the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier) because they were Communists and Red was the color of the Communists. After their defeat by General Franco’s Army, the Spanish Republicans escaped to France where they were put into internment camps by the French government. After Germany conquered France in 1940, around 30,000 of these prisoners were deported by the Nazis to concentration camps in Germany and Austria as political prisoners because of their anti-Fascist or Communist political affiliation.

On June 19, 2008, a criminal lawsuit was filed at the offices of the Audiencia Nacional (Madrid) on behalf of several survivors and family members of the Red Spaniards who were sent to concentration camps. (more…)

September 27, 2010

German courts now using the “common plan” or co-responsibility charge against John Demjanjuk

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:11 am

The trial of John Demjanjuk in a German court is on again, after a summer break.  Ninety-year-old Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in German-occupied Poland during World War II. Although there are no specific charges against him, he is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews who were gassed at Sobibor. Demjanjuk denies that he worked as a guard at Sobibor.   (more…)