Scrapbookpages Blog

November 16, 2015

The whipping of prisoners in the concentration camps

My photo of a whipping block on display at the Dachau memorial sire

My photo of a whipping block on display at Dachau memorial site

A new reader of my blog recently made a comment about the prisoners in the concentration camps being whipped.

In the Dachau Museum, a whipping block, that was used to punish the prisoners, was on display when I visited the Dachau Memorial Site in 2007.  It is shown in my photo above.

Visitors to the Museum are told that prisoners were given 25 lashes for such minor offenses as having a button missing from their uniform or putting their hands in their pockets.

One visitor to the Dachau Museum wrote this on his blog:

In the shower room they had set up a table where they used to whip people if they did anything against the rules. The rules included things such as having a dried spot of water on the bowl you ate out of.

What visitors to the Dachau Museum are not told is that all punishments had to be authorized by WVHA, the Central Office for Economic Administration in Oranienburg, after a report was filed; punishments for women had to be personally approved by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Imagine someone at the central office in charge of the camps reading a request for punishment of a prisoner who had a “dried spot of water” on his bowl.

Visitors to the Dachau Museum are not told that the whipping block was no longer used after 1942 when Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler gave an order that the SS men in the concentration camps were forbidden to “lay violent hands on the prisoners.”

American generals watch a demonstration of the whipping block at Ohrdruf camp

American generals watch a demonstration of the whipping block at Ohrdruf camp

A whipping block was constructed for a demonstration at Ohrdruf. Notice that it is not a real whipping block, like the one in the photo at the top of this page.

Rudolf Wolf, a former prisoner at Dachau, demonstrates the whipping block at the Dachau trial of Franz Trenkle

Rudolf Wolf, a former prisoner at Dachau, demonstrates the whipping block at the Dachau trial of Franz Trenkle

In the photo above, Rudolf Wolf, a former prisoner at Dachau, demonstrates the whipping block. Notice that this appears to be an ordinary table, not a whipping block like the one on display in the Dachau Museum.

Wolf testified that Franz Trenkle was in charge of punishments in the camp. In the photograph above, Wolf shows how he had to bend over the whipping block when he was punished at Dachau. Franz Trenkle was convicted and hanged on May 28, 1946.

Fake photo of the hanging punishment at Dachau

Fake photo of the hanging punishment in the Dachau Museum

The hanging punishment, shown in the photo above, was originated by Martin Sommer, an SS officer at Buchenwald. This punishment was abolished at Dachau by Commandant Martin Weiss in 1942.

Sommer was dismissed from his job at Buchenwald and sent to the Eastern front after being put on trial in 1943 in SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen’s court for abuse of the prisoners.

The photograph above, taken inside the old Dachau Museum in May 2001, shows a scene at Buchenwald that was created in 1958 for an East German DEFA film. (Source: H. Obenaus, “Das Foto vom Baumhängen: Ein Bild geht um die Welt,” in Stiftung Topographie des Terrors Berlin (ed.), Gedenkstätten-Rundbrief no. 68, Berlin, October 1995, pp. 3-8)

This fake photo was not included in the new Dachau Museum which opened in 2003, but all the tour guides at Dachau were still dwelling at length on the hanging punishment during my visits to the Memorial Site.

I previously blogged about Martin Sommer on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/two-catholic-priests-were-crucified-upside-down-at-buchenwald/

March 3, 2015

Did Amon Goeth have the authority to order executions?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:20 am
Amon Goeth's mugshot after he was arrested by the Germans

Amon Goeth’s mugshot after he was arrested by the Germans

In my blog post today, I am answering a comment made by one of my readers. The comment is quoted below:

“So he [Amon Goeth] didn’t shoot from the balcony. That excuses the thousands upon thousans whose deaths he ordered? Where did you study convoluted logic and denial at? You ought to have a master’s degree.”

Here is my answer to this question:

Several years ago, I went to visit the spot where the Plaszow camp was formerly located. I also visited a small museum in Krakow, where I copied Goeth’s mugshot photo at the top  of this page. Goeth had been arrested by the Germans for stealing from the warehouses of the Plaszow camp.

I read several books about Amon Goeth where I studied “convoluted logic and denial.”  In all my study of this subject, I never learned that Amon Goeth had had the authority to order thousands of deaths.

Amon Goeth, the commander of the Plaszow camp

Amon Goeth, the commander of the Plaszow camp

As the commandant of the Plaszow camp, Goeth had been ordered to carry out the executions that were ordered by others. These executions took place at the Plaszow camp. The people who were executed were not prisoners in  the Plaszow camp.

According to David Crowe’s book, entitled Oscar Schindler,  Wilek Chilowicz was a Jewish prisoner, who was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. Crowe wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.”

In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a Waffen-SS officer and attorney, whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943. Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, and his later execution by the Nazis.

According to David Crowe’s book, Goeth asked one of his SS officers, Josef Sowinski, to prepare a detailed, false report about a potential camp rebellion led by Chilowicz and other OD men. Based on this report, Koppe sent a secret letter to Goeth giving him the authority to carry out the execution of Chilowicz and several other OD men. The execution took place on August 13, 1944; Goeth was arrested exactly a month later and charged by Dr. Morgen with corruption and brutality, including the murder of Wilek Chilowicz and several others.

The office in Oranienburg did not have the authority to give an execution order; an execution could only be authorized by the Gestapo in Berlin.

Due to the fact that Germany was losing the war and the SS now had bigger problems, Goeth was never put on trial in Dr. Morgen’s court and this was the last investigation done by the SS.

After the war, Dr. Morgen was arrested as a “war criminal,” and imprisoned in the bunker at the Dachau concentration camp, which had been converted into “War Crimes Enclosure No. 1” by the American military. According to David Crowe’s book, Wilek Chilowicz was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. He wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.” In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a Waffen-SS officer and attorney whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943. Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, and his later execution by the Nazis. When Goeth realized that he was being investigated by Dr. Morgen, he sought permission from Wilhelm Koppe in the central office in Oranienburg to execute Wilek Chilowicz, who could have testified against him.

Amon Goeth leaves the courtroom in Poland after he was convicted of war crimes

Amon Goeth leaves the courtroom in Poland after he was convicted of war crimes

After World War II ended, the American military turned Amon Goeth over to the Polish government for prosecution as a war criminal. He was brought before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland in Krakow. His trial took place between August 27, 1946 and September 5, 1946. Goeth was charged with being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite army, both of which had been designated as criminal organizations by the Allies after the war. His crimes included the charges that he had taken part in the activities of these two criminal organizations. The crime of being a Nazi applied only to Nazi officials, and Goeth had never held a job as a Nazi official. In fact, at the time of Goeth’s conviction by the Polish court, the judgment against the SS and the Nazi party as criminal organizations had not yet been made by the Nuremberg IMT.

At Goeth’s trial, the Nazi party was said to be “an organization which, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, through aggressive wars, violence and other crimes, aimed at world domination and establishment of the National-Socialist regime.” Amon Goeth was accused of personally issuing orders to deprive people of freedom, to ill-treat and exterminate individuals and whole groups of people. His crimes, including the newly created crime of genocide, came under a new law of the Allies, called Crimes against Humanity.

The charges against Amon Goeth were as follows:

(1) The accused as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow) from 11th February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of about 8,000 inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.

Plateau at Plaszow camp where 8,000 people were executed

Plateau at Plaszow camp where 8,000 people were executed

(2) As a SS-Sturmführer the accused carried out on behalf of SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Haase the final closing down of the Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March, 1943, deprived of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the camp of Plaszow, and caused the death of about 2,000.

(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer the accused carried out on 3rd September, 1943, the closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an unknown number of people perished, having been killed on the spot in Tarnow; others died through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were exterminated in other camps, in particular at Auschwitz.

(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, the accused closed down the forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the death of several thousand persons.

(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.

The last charge, as stated in number (5) above, was the crime for which he had been arrested by the Gestapo on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

 

October 5, 2013

Rudolf Hoess had an affair with Elenore Hodys but he did NOT have her murdered

Several days ago, I wanted to answer a comment made by Ken Kelso on this post on another person’s blog. Ken commented on something that Brigitte Hoess, the granddaughter of Rudolf Hoess, said about him: “How can there be so many survivors if so many had been killed?’.

I think that Brigitte has asked a legitimate question.  There does seem to be a lot of Holocaust survivors, many of them still alive, 70 years after they escaped the gas chambers.  I previously blogged about Brigitte here.

Brigitte Hoess worked as a model when she was young

Brigitte Hoess worked as a model when she was young

I am quoting Ken Kelso’s comment (which has now disappeared) in which he answers Brigitte’s question:

First the Nazis kept records of all the Jews and other civilians they murdered.
The fact she makes such a lying comment shows how evil this woman is.

Then she tries to make excuses for her genocidal father by saying he had no choice.
Wrong! Hoess had Jews slaughtered in the gas chamber because he was a sadist murderer.

Its also well known, Hoess had an affair with a female prisoner in Aushwitz and was afraid his wife would find out about her, so Hoess sent her to the gas chamber and had her murdered. Why did Hoess have this innocent woman murdered? That was his choice.
This shows how evil this sadist Hoess was.

Then she tries to blame the British for saying her Father admitted to murdering 1 million Jews, instead of the mass murderer her father was.
I hope this woman dies of cancer soon.
It will be one less evil person on this planet.

The female prisoner, with whom Rudolf Hoess had an affair, while he was the Commandant at Auschwitz, was Eleanore Hodys.  Hoess did NOT have her murdered.  On the contrary, Eleanore was transferred out of the Auschwitz camp, and Hoess lost his job as the result of having this affair.

Hoess was relieved of his duties as Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau complex and was sent to Oranienburg to replace Arthur Liebehenschel as the Senior Director of WVHA, the SS Economic Department.

On December 1, 1944, Liebehenschel became the new Commandant of Auschwitz, but only the Auschwitz I camp, not the whole Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS judge, who had been assigned to investigate corruption in the Auschwitz camp, allegedly learned of the affair and fired Hoess from his position as Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau because of this.

After Eleanor Hodys wound up at Dachau, she told her sad story to the American soldiers who liberated Dachau.  I quoted extensively from the story told by Eleanore Hodys on this blog post.

June 2, 2010

Did Amon Goeth save more Jews than Oskar Schindler?

Filed under: Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:57 am

Amon Goeth was the Commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp; he was shown in the movie Schindler’s List as an evil monster who heartlessly shot innocent Jews from the balcony of his home.  In the movie, Goeth also beat his maid and committed many other atrocities. So why would anyone think that Amon Goeth, the epitome of evil, saved Jews during the Holocaust?

Scene from the movie Schindler’s List

After World War II ended, Amon Goeth was put on trial in Poland, but he was not charged with shooting prisoners from his balcony, nor with beating his maid.  He was charged with “liquidating” the Krakow ghetto, the Tarnow ghetto and the labor camp at  Szebnie near Jaslo.  During these liquidations, prisoners who tried to escape were shot and Amon Goeth was responsible for their deaths, although he didn’t personally shoot anyone.

When the ghettos were liquidated, some of the Jews were sent to forced labor camps, such as the Plaszow camp that is shown in Schindler’s List, but others were sent to the death camps at Belzec or Auschwitz. Amon Goeth took bribes from some of the Jews in the ghettos and then sent them to a labor camp instead of sending them to a death camp.  Goeth was arrested by the Nazis themselves on September 13, 1944 and charged by SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen with taking bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to a death camp.  The movie Schindler’s List did not mention Goeth’s arrest and his absence in the camp was never explained.

How many Jews did Amon Goeth save from certain death in the death camps?  No one knows, but he was amassing a fortune from the bribes that he took, and this attracted the attention of the SS Criminal Police; he was investigated for six months before he was finally arrested.

Amon Goeth at the Plaszow camp

Goeth’s first job, after he joined the Waffen-SS, had been to liquidate several ghettos in the Lublin area. In exchange for money or other valuables such as furs and furniture, Goeth had sent Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to the death camp at Belzec.  In the eyes of the Nazis, this was a crime because all possessions taken from the Jews belonged to the Third Reich, not to SS officers like Goeth.

According to Thomas Keneally’s novel, Schindler’s Ark, Amon Goeth was “selling a percentage of the prison rations on the open market in Cracow through an agent of his, a Jewish prisoner named Wilek Chilowicz, who had contacts with factory managements, merchants and even restaurants in Cracow.”   Thomas Keneally explained that Chilowicz was allegedly killed by Goeth because he was a potential witness to Goeth’s crime of stealing the prisoner’s food. (The movie Schindler’s List was based on the novel Schindler’s Ark.)

So Amon Goeth, whose name is synonymous with evil for a whole generation of Americans, was actually working with the Jews to become rich during World War II.  However, it is doubtful that Goeth was stealing food from the Plaszow camp when there was a jewelry factory there as well as a furniture factory and a custom tailor shop.  The Jews who made it onto Schindler’s List stole diamonds from the jewelry factory and used them to bribe Marcel Goldman, the Jew who made up Schindler’s List.

After Goeth was arrested by the Nazis on September 13, 1944, Oskar Schindler was arrested a few days later and interrogated by the SS as part of the Goeth investigation, according to David Crowe’s book entitled Oskar Schindler.

David Crowe wrote that Schindler

“did move a lot of the former Plaszow commandant’s war booty to Brünnlitz. Göth, who still seemed to consider Schindler his friend, visited Brünnlitz several times during the latter months of the war while on parole.”

Goeth had been kept in prison in Breslau until he was released on parole on October 22, 1944 because he was suffering from diabetes. He was recuperating in an SS sanitarium in Bad Tölz near Munich when he was arrested by General Patton’s troops in 1945. His mistress, Ruth Irene Kalder, was with him at Bad Tölz and their daughter, Monika, was born there in November 1945.

Mietek Pemper, a prisoner at Plaszow who worked as Goeth’s stenographer and was privy to secret SS documents, was the main witness against Amon Goeth when he was put on trial in Poland after the war. Pemper told author David Crowe that:

“the basis of Chilowicz’s wealth came from the goods that Göth had collected from Krakow’s Jews after the closing of the (Podgorze) ghetto. Though Göth was supposed to send these valuables to the Reichsbank, he told Chilowicz to keep most of it for his (Göth’s) own expenses. These goods became the basis of Göth’s black market empire at Plaszow. Chilowicz, who handled Göth’s black market deals, always managed to skim something off the top for himself.”

According to David Crowe’s book, Wilek Chilowicz was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. He wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.” In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a Waffen-SS officer and attorney whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943. Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, and his later execution by the Nazis. When Goeth realized that he was being investigated by Dr. Morgen, he sought permission from Wilhelm Koppe in the central office in Oranienburg to execute Wilek Chilowicz, who could have testified against him.

Wait a minute!  Amon Goeth, the man who shot prisoners at random from his balcony, “sought permission” to execute the Jew that he was working with to steal goods when the ghettos were liquidated?  That doesn’t make any sense at all.

According to David Crowe’s book, Goeth asked one of his SS officers, Josef Sowinski, to prepare a detailed, false report about a potential camp rebellion led by Chilowicz and other OD men. Based on this report, Koppe sent a secret letter to Goeth giving him the authority to carry out the execution of Chilowicz and several other OD men. The execution took place on August 13, 1944; Goeth was arrested exactly a month later and charged by Dr. Morgen with corruption and brutality, including the murder of Wilek Chilowicz and several others. The office in Oranienburg did not have the authority to give an execution order; an execution could only be authorized by the Gestapo in Berlin.

Oskar Schindler had a lot in common with Amon Goeth, including the fact that both were Catholic and both were arrested by the Nazis for engaging in black market activities. Both were out to get rich from the war-time economy in Poland. Both were born in the same year, 1908; both were hard drinkers and both had a “massive physique.” Goeth was Austrian, as were his fellow Nazi criminals Adolph Eichmann, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Adolph Hitler. Schindler was an ethnic German living in what is now the state of Moravia in the Czech Republic.

Amon Goeth  after he was arrested

After World War II ended, the American military turned Amon Goeth over to the Polish government for prosecution as a war criminal. He was brought before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland in Krakow. His trial took place between August 27, 1946 and September 5, 1946. Goeth was charged with being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite army, both of which had been designated as criminal organizations by the Allies after the war. His crime was that he had taken part in the activities of these two criminal organizations.

Goeth was also charged with the following crime:

(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.

The last charge against Goeth, as stated above, was the crime for which he had been arrested on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

So how did Goeth manage to “deprive the inmates of valuables, gold and money” in connection with the liquidation of the ghettos, as stated in the charges against him by the Polish government?  This is probably a reference to the bribes that Amon Goeth took to save some of the Jews from being sent to the death camps when the ghettos were liquidated.

Oskar Schinlder saved 1,200 Jews by putting them on a List of prisoners to be taken to his factory in what is now the Czech Republic.  Amon Goeth was in charge of liquidating at least 6 ghettos.  If he saved as many as 200 Jews from being sent to Belzec or Auschwitz from each of these ghettos, then his total of saved Jews would be comparable to the number on Schindler’s List.

Maybe Steven Spielberg should make a sequel in which he would show Amon Goeth taking bribes and sending Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to certain death.  It could be entitled “Goeth’s List” as a reference to the list of Jews from whom Goeth accepted bribes to save their lives.