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January 6, 2016

Prisoners were marched out of Dachau near the end of WWII

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:11 am

I became interested in blogging around 5 years ago, when someone who was planning to write a book about the Dachau concentration camp prisoners, who were taken to the South Tyrol near the end of World War II, asked for my help in researching this subject. He was planning to write a book, but first he was planning to do a blog about his research on the subject.

At that time, I had just started a blog of my own, and had written my first blog post about a 3-legged dog named Tripod at the University of Missouri.

As it turned out, I don’t think that this fellow ever wrote the book that he was planning. So I decided to put the research that I had done, on this subject, on my website.

One of the regular readers of my blog recently wrote this in a comment:

“Due to Nazi fanaticism of almost all SS men, until the very last days of  the war, prisoners had been murdered or taken to a hidden place in the Tyrol mountains as hostages, where after the German surrender, an armed fight occurred between Wehrmacht and SS soldiers, who refused to let the hostages free.”

I am answering his comment with the information that I put on my website years ago about the march to the South Tyrol.

Begin quote from my website:

Due to Nazi fanaticism of almost all SS men until the very last days of the war, prisoners had been murdered, or taken to a hidden place in the Tyrol mountains as hostages, where after the German surrender, an armed fight between Wehrmacht soldiers and SS men, who refused to let the hostages free, had occurred.

Dachau prisoners marching to Tyrol

Dachau prisoners marching  from Dachau to the  South Tyrol in 1945

The days and weeks just before the liberation of Dachau were a frightening time for the prisoners. There were rumors that the SS had orders to kill them all, rather than let them be released by the Allies.

The prisoners knew that it would be difficult to evacuate the whole camp: convoys of trucks and trains were constantly being attacked by American fighter planes which were also strafing the outskirts of the camp; the Dachau sub-camp at Allach had been bombed just before the American liberators arrived and the Dachau main camp had been bombed on April 9, 1945.

In the last days of the Dachau camp, the Nazis had run out of coal to burn the bodies and corpses were piling up faster than they could be hauled out of the camp and buried. Realizing that the situation was totally out of control, the camp Commandant immediately proposed to surrender the Dachau camp to the Allies, but the concentration camp headquarters in Oranienburg refused to allow it because Hitler insisted that the inmates not be turned over to the Allies. One of his reasons was that all the camps in Germany, including Dachau, had prisoners who were career criminals that had been sent to a concentration camp after they had served their prison term for their second offense.

At the time of the American liberation of Dachau, there were 759 of these career criminals at Dachau, according to former prisoner Paul Berben’s book entitled “Dachau 1933 – 1945: The Official History.”

German citizens were already so terrorized that many of them were committing suicide by drowning or shooting themselves just before the Russians and the Americans arrived to take over their towns.

There was also the fear that typhus would spread throughout Germany if the prisoners were released after the camps were surrendered to the Allies.

Dachau was in the western part of Germany and it became an end destination for the prisoners from other camps in the east that were being evacuated from the war zone. The prisoners from the Kaufering sub-camps at Landsberg am Lech and the Mühldorf sub-camps were also brought to the Dachau main camp shortly before it was liberated.

Paul Berben, the official historian of Dachau and a member of the International Committee which controlled the main camp at the end, wrote the following in his book entitled “Dachau 1933 – 1945: The Official History”:

Begin quote

When the evacuation began of camps situated in areas threatened by the victorious advance of the Allies, the horror surpassed anything that had been seen till then. [….]

From the start of the evacuation tens of thousands of prisoners arrived at Dachau in a state of terrible exhaustion, and a vast number died before the liberation and in the weeks that followed. These massive arrivals caused unparalleled difficulties and a large number of deaths among the camp population, particularly as a typhus epidemic spread.

End quote

Half of the deaths in Dachau occurred in the last 6 months that the camp was in operation, including 2,226 prisoners who died in the month of May, after the liberation. According to Paul Berben, there were 18,296 deaths in the main camp and all the sub-camps of Dachau between November 1944 and the end of May 1945. Most of these deaths were due to the typhus epidemic in the camp, according to Berben.

On April 26, 1945, three days before the American liberators arrived at Dachau, a transport of 1,735 Jewish prisoners left on a train bound for the mountains in southern Germany.

Then another 6,887 prisoners, half of them Jews and half of them Russian POWs, were marched south toward the mountains of the South Tyrol. According to testimony given at the Nuremberg IMT, the march to the Tyrol was part of a plan, devised by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, to kill all these prisoners.

At the Nuremberg IMT, on January 2, 1946, Lt. Commander Whitney R. Harris submitted Document 3462-PS, the sworn interrogation of Bertus Gerdes, the former Gaustabsamtsleiter under the Gauleiter of Munich. This interrogation was taken in the course of an official military investigation by the U.S. Army. During the interrogation, Gerdes was ordered to state all he knew about Kaltenbrunner.

Lt. Commander Harris read part of Document 3462-PSI, beginning with the third paragraph of Page 2, as quoted below from the transcript of the Nuremberg IMT on January 2, 1946:

Begin quote

“Giesler told me that Kaltenbrunner was in constant touch with him because he was greatly worried about the attitude of the foreign workers and especially inmates of Concentration Camps Dachau, Mühldorf, and Landsberg, which were in the path of the approaching Allied armies. On a Tuesday in the middle of April 1945 I received a telephone call from Gauleiter Giesler asking me to be available for a conversation that night. In the course of our personal conversation that night, I was told by Giesler that he had received a directive from Obergruppenfuehrer Kaltenbrunner, by order of the Fuehrer, to work out a plan without delay for the liquidation of the concentration camp at Dachau and the two Jewish labor camps in Landsberg and Mühldorf. The directive proposed to liquidate the two Jewish labor camps at Landsberg and Mühldorf by use of the German Luftwaffe, since the construction area of these camps had previously been the targets of repeated enemy air attacks. This action received the code name of ‘Wolke A-1.'”

“I was certain that I would never let this directive be carried out. As the action Wolke A-1 should have become operational already for some time, I was literally swamped by couriers from Kaltenbrunner and moreover I was supposed to have discussed the details of the Mühldorf and Landsberg actions in detail with the two Kreisleiter concerned. The couriers, who were in most cases SS officers, usually SS Untersturmfuehrer, gave me terse and strict orders to read and initial. The orders threatened me with the most terrible punishment, including execution, if I did not comply with them. However, I could always excuse my failure to execute the plan because of bad flying weather and lack of gasoline and bombs. Therefore, Kaltenbrunner ordered that the Jews in Landsberg be marched to Dachau in order to include them in the Dachau extermination operations, and that the Mühldorf action was to be carried out by the Gestapo.

“Kaltenbrunner also ordered an operation Wolkenbrand for the Concentration Camp Dachau, which provided that the inmates of the concentration camp at Dachau were to be liquidated by poison with the exception of Aryan nationals of the Western Powers.

“Gauleiter Giesler received this order direct from Kaltenbrunner and discussed in my presence the procurement of the required amounts of poison with Dr. Harrfeld, the Gau health chief. Dr. Harrfeld promised to procure these quantities when ordered and was advised to await my further directions. As I was determined to prevent the execution of this plan in any event, I gave no further instructions to Dr. Harrfeld.

“The inmates of Landsberg had hardly been delivered at Dachau when Kaltenbrunner sent a courier declaring the Action Wolkenbrand was operational.

“I prevented the execution of the Wolfe A-1’ and ‘Wolkenbrand’ by giving Giesler the reason that the front was too close and asked him to transmit this on to Kaltenbrunner.

“Kaltenbrunner therefore issued directives in writing to Dachau to transport all Western European prisoners by truck to Switzerland and to march the remaining inmates into Tyrol, where the final liquidation of these prisoners was to take place without fail.”

End quote

Rudolf Hoess, the former Commandant of Auschwitz, testified at Nuremberg, as a defense witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner, that he had no knowledge of a plan to destroy the Dachau camp with a bomb or with poison.

The following quote is from the Nuremberg IMT trial transcript:

Begin quote

DR. KAUFFMANN: It has been maintained here–and this is my last question–that the Defendant Kaltenbrunner gave the order that Dachau and two auxiliary camps were to be destroyed by bombing or with poison. I ask you, did you hear anything about this; if not, would you consider such an order possible?
HOESS: I have never heard anything about this, and I do not know anything either about an order to evacuate any camps in southern Germany, as I have already mentioned. Apart from that, I consider it quite impossible that a camp could be destroyed by this method.

End quote

The death march to the South Tyrol is shown in the photograph at the top of my blog post. These prisoners were finally overtaken by American troops and liberated on May 2, 1945.

One of the Jewish prisoners who survived the march was Hirschel Grodzienski, who came to the USA in December 1946 and changed his name to Harold Gordon. Another survivor of the death march was Jack Adler, who was liberated by American troops on May 1, 1945.

The American Army believed that Hitler was planning to hole up in the mountains near the town of Berchtesgaden in a last-ditch effort to escape capture; some Holocaust historians believe that these prisoners were being sent to build a redoubt.

The 137 prominent VIP prisoners in Dachau were evacuated on April 26, 1945; they were moved southward for their own safety. Some of the Catholic priests in the camp were taken to the town of Dachau on April 24th and then released.

Dachau Commandant Wilhelm Eduard Weiter accompanied a transport of prisoners to Schloss Itter, a subcamp of Dachau in Austria. On May 6, 1945, Weiter shot himself, according to Johannes Tuchel, the author of “Dachau and the Nazi Terror 1933-1945.” However, the German Wikipedia gives May 2, 1945 as the date that Weiter shot himself.

Stanislav Zamecnik wrote in his book entitled “That was Dachau,” published in 2005, that Weiter committed suicide. Zvonimir Cuckovic stated that Weiter was buried in the forest near Schloss Itter.

However, in the book entitled “World without Civilization: Mass Murder and the Holocaust,” published in 2004, Robert M. Spector wrote the following:

Feig indicates that a Wilhelm Weiter, as Commandant, was “probably shot by a zealot SS officer.”

Nerin E. Gun, a journalist who was a former prisoner at Dachau, wrote the following in his book “The Day of the Americans,” published in 1966:

Begin quote

The SS commandant of the camp, Weiter, for having disobeyed Hitler’s orders, was executed by a fanatic SS sergeant, Ruppert, in the countryside while trying to escape. Weiter died with a bullet in the neck, clutching a picture of Hitler.

End quote

Friedrich Wilhelm Ruppert was the SS officer in charge of executions at Dachau; he was put on trial by an American Military Tribunal in November 1945, but he was not charged with the murder of Weiter, nor with the murder of four British SOE women, another crime that he was accused of by a former prisoner.

May 6, 1945, the day that Weiter either committed suicide, or was shot by someone else, was the same day that the 137 Dachau VIP prisoners were liberated by American soldiers. According to Gun, an SS man named Fritz threw a grenade at the liberators.

Regarding the American retaliation for the grenade attack, Gun wrote the following in “The Day of the Americans”:

Begin quote

The Americans were furious and shot down all the guards posted around the village. The Resistance, during this time, had not sat on its hands. The six Gestapo functionaries, the professional killers who had joined the convoy at Innsbruck, were hanging from the trees in the village square.

End quote

Nerin E. Gun also wrote that Dr. Sigmund Rascher was shot in Innsbruck, although the Museum at Dachau says that Dr. Rascher was executed on the orders of Heinrich Himmler in the bunker on April 26, 1945, the day that the VIP prisoners at Dachau were evacuated from the camp.

An account of the period just before the liberation of the camp, called “The Last Days of Dachau,” was written jointly by Arthur Haulot, a Belgian prisoner, and Dr. Ali Kuci, an Albanian prisoner. Nerin E. Gun mentioned in his book that he was Kuci’s assistant.

The book written by Haulot and Kuci mentions the orders given by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler after Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the head of the Security SD forces, ordered that the prisoners should be “liquidated” in the event that it was impossible to evacuate the camp. Himmler’s order stated that the camp was to be immediately evacuated and that “No prisoner should fall into the hands of the enemy alive…” This message was received in the camp in response to a query sent to Berlin by the camp commandant, according to Kuci and Haulot.

Information from “The Last Days of Dachau,” given by Marcus J. Smith in his book, “The Harrowing of Hell,” is as follows:

Begin quote

The day before (on April 8, 1945), the commandant and his staff had worried about the possibility of concealed knives and firearms in the prison compound; they feared an insurrection. Knowing that the prisoners were getting out of hand, they made plans to massacre them. At the designated time, the barracks were surrounded by SS troopers, their machine guns ready.

But the SS camp surgeon protested strongly. He believed that there should be no more killings. The commandant decided to search for weapons; if they were found, he could justify the executions. Nothing was found.

End quote

Kuci and Haulot wrote that the members of the Communist underground resistance group began to initiate action designed to create confusion within the camp in order to prevent the evacuation of the prisoners. At midnight on April 23rd, a group of 400 Jewish women arrived, having walked all the way from a sub-camp in Landsberg am Lech, near Munich. Many of them must have died soon afterwards because an official American Army report claims that there were only 225 Jewish women alive in the camp when it was liberated.

On April 24th, a group of Jewish inmates at Dachau were forced into boxcars parked outside the camp, but no engine was available for the train, so they had to remain there for three more days. According to Kuci, it was rumored that the Jews were being kept in the outer area in the hope that they would be bombed by the American planes.

On April 26th, according to Kuci, the prisoners ransacked the trains, canteen, kitchen and warehouses for food and civilian clothes. At 9 a.m. that day, the order was given to evacuate the entire camp, but the underground committee moved quickly to sabotage the SS plans.

According to Kuci’s book, the SS had assembled 6,700 prisoners for evacuation by 8 p.m. on April 26th. Then, just as the inmates were ready to leave the camp, a group of 120 barefoot women entered the camp; they were all that remained of 480 women who had walked all the way from the Auschwitz concentration camp, according to Kuci, as told by Marcus J. Smith in his book “The Harrowing of Hell.” In spite of this distraction, 6,887 prisoners left the camp at 10 p.m. that night.

Death march out of the Sachsenhausen camp

Death march out of Sachsenhausen camp

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin, had already been evacuated on April 21, 1945 and the prisoners were on a death march, trying to evade the approaching Red Army of the Soviet Union.

According to Kuci, the “death train” from Buchenwald had arrived at noon on April 27th. However, witnesses at the trial of the transport leader, Hans Merbach, said that the train had arrived on the 26th.

Kuci wrote that there were 1,600 survivors out of 2,400 who had left Buchenwald. Marcus J. Smith wrote that these figures were later changed to 2,000 to 2,500 out of 6,000 who started the trip three weeks before.

Two hundred of the survivors died that afternoon and another 400 had to be hospitalized immediately, according to Kuci. Two of the survivors said that there were only 1300 prisoners alive upon arrival, out of 5,000 who had originally been on the death train.

Victor Maurer, a representative of the Red Cross, said that he was told that, out of 5,000 prisoners who started the trip, 2,700 were dead on arrival, which would mean that there were 2,300 survivors who entered the camp.

The book “The Last Days of Dachau” ends with the following story, as told by Marcus J. Smith in his book:

Begin quote

The next day, April 28, the battle front was only ten or twelve kilometers away. The nearer it came, the fewer the number of Nazi soldiers in the camp. About one hundred remained; most of the officers were gone.

Members of the prisoners’ committee moved into the open, distributing a bulletin saying they were taking command. All prisoners were to remain in their quarters, to refrain from contact with the guards. (Some guards had been helpful in the last few months. They, too, were aware of the progress of the Allies.)

At 6 p.m., three of the committee leaders, Arthur Haulot, Captain Willem Boellaard, and Father Phily, a French priest, were summoned to the office of the commandant. Four others, Patrick O’Leary, Leon Malczewski, Ali Kuci and Edmond Michelet, waited nervously in the hospital. About two hours later the three reappeared, smiling.

The commandant had conceded, they said. He had introduced them to an official of the International Red Cross, who had just arrived with five truckloads of supplies.

“We had a long conversation with him concerning the distribution,” said Captain Boellaard.

End quote

According to Marcus J. Smith, the Red Cross representative, Victor Maurer, arrived at Dachau on April 27, 1945. Other sources say that the date of his arrival was April 28th. The following is an excerpt from Maurer’s official report, as quoted in Smith’s book, “The Harrowing of Hell”:

Begin quote

At the camp, I told a sentry that I wished to speak to the camp commandant. A little later I was received by the adjutant, Lt. Otto, in the commandant’s office. I asked for permission to circulate freely through the area where the prisoners were kept. The commandant said that it was not possible to issue such an authorization, that only General (Ernst) Kaltenbrunner could grant such permission, and that he was in the vicinity of Linz (Austria). The telephone and telegraph being out of order, the affair had become considerably complicated.

The Germans were very happy to know about the arrival of the (five truck loads of) food parcels. The commandant acquainted me with his desire for the immediate repatriation of 17,500 prisoners in a good state of health. These were mostly French and Polish; German, Jewish and Bulgarian inmates could not be released. I replied that I had to contact my district commander as soon as possible, but I could not do this until the next day. Lastly, the commandant asked me to quickly transport a cargo of food parcels to a depot in the Tyrols.

The request for food to be sent to the Tyrols might have been intended for the 6,887 prisoners who had left the camp at 10 p.m. on April 26th, headed in that direction. However, Smith also wrote that some of the prisoners who had escaped from the march reported that all the prisoners on this march had been murdered by the SS and that the only survivors were the 60 prisoners who had escaped.

End quote

The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army, which was based on interviews with 20 political prisoners at Dachau, included the story of the prisoners being massacred by the SS guards, leaving only 60 survivors.

One of the survivors of the march, Hirshel Grodzienski, wrote in his memoirs that the column of prisoners had been strafed by American planes, and in the confusion, he had escaped along with some of the other prisoners.

The official report of Victor Maurer continued as follows, as quoted in Smith’s book:

We said good-bye. I was permitted to personally distribute parcels to the prisoners. Lt. Otto accompanied me to the prison courtyard while a column of prisoners were led into the courtyard. Naturally, a very great joy prevailed among the prisoners because this was the first time a delegate of the ICRC has had access to the camp. Because some SS officers were always around, it was with great difficulty that I learned that, since January 1, 1945, 15,000 prisoners had died of typhus, and that in a transport of 5,000 prisoners from Buchenwald, about 2,700 were dead on arrival at Dachau.

End quote

The number of dead bodies on the train varies considerably, according to who is telling the story. Later, in the same report, Maurer said that there were 500 bodies on the train, and that some had been killed, while others had died of starvation.

Maurer’s report continues, as quoted by Marcus J. Smith in his book:

Begin quote

I further learned that M. Blum, Schuschnigg, and others were taken away a few days ago, at the same time as 6,000 others. In my opinion this happened because the combat front had drawn nearer. Some of the prisoners (trustees) emptied the trucks and signed the accompanying receipts. I spent the night in Barrack 203, Room 3. This was not in the prison camp.

End quote

On the night of April 28, 1945, Martin Gottfried Weiss left the camp dressed in civilian clothes and carrying false identification. The next day, two divisions of the US Seventh Army arrived to liberate the Dachau camp, but a few prisoners had already escaped from a work party sent to the town of Dachau in the last days just before the liberation.

Along with a few residents of the town, the prisoners fought a pitched battle with SS men in the town, but were defeated. The prisoners who survived the battle escaped. Two former prisoners of Dachau, Walter Neff and Georg Scherer, who had continued to work in the concentration camp after they were released, were the organizers of the confrontation with the SS in the town of Dachau.

On April 29, 1945, the same day that the camp was liberated, Weiss and his adjutant, Rudolf Heinrich Suttrop, were captured by 19-year-old Corporal Henry Senger in Munich after two escaped prisoners from Dachau told him where they were hiding. Senger did not identify the two prisoners, nor explain why they were in Munich on the day that Dachau was liberated. They may have been among the prisoners who had escaped with the help of Dachau citizens in the last days of the camp.

An account of the capture of Martin Gottfried Weiss was written by Senger, who now lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and it was put on the web by Harold Marcuse, a history professor at the University of Santa Barbara who is an expert on Dachau. You can read an article by Henry Senger on the web site of Harold Marcuse.

November 20, 2015

Nov. 20th, the anniversay of the start of the Nuremberg trial

My photo of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the war crimes trials were held

My photo of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the war crimes trials were held

Today is the 70ieth anniversary of the Nuremberg IMT, and you can read a news article about it here.

The headline of the news article is this:

How the Nuremberg Trial Bore Witness to the Nazis’ Worst Crimes

On the 70th anniversary of the world’s most famous trial, the prosecutors’ wise approach still offers a lesson for us.

What is the lesson that the Nuremberg Trial offers to us?

The lesson is this:  If you lose a war, you are a war criminal.  If you win a war, you put the enemy’s top men on trial as war criminals.

SS Major General Jurgen Sroop watches housing blocks burn during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

SS Major General Jurgen Sroop watches housing blocks burn during Warsaw Ghetto uprising

The photo above is at the top of the news article. What does this have to do with anything?

A better photo would be the one below which shows the building where the trials were held.

The building where the Nuremberg war crimes trials were held

The building where the Nuremberg war crimes trials were held

This quote is from the news article:

American chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson (also a U.S. Supreme Court justice) worried that “unless record was made … future generations would not believe how horrible the truth was.”

Jackson’s team shared his concern. As another American prosecutor, Robert Storey, later wrote, “The purpose of the Nuremberg trial was not merely, or even principally, to convict the leaders of Nazi Germany … Of far greater importance, it seemed to me from the outset, was the making of a record of the Hitler regime which would withstand the test of history.” Indeed, evidence offered at Nuremberg laid the foundation for much of what we know about the Holocaust, including the details of industrial-scale murder at Auschwitz and the now iconic statistic of 6 million Jewish dead.

End quote

The entire Nuremberg trial was captured on film and shown to the world on TV. Newsreel films showed the city of Nürnberg as a pile of rubble, which had not yet been cleared when the trial started; the bodies of 20,000 German civilians were still buried under the destroyed buildings as the German war criminals were brought into the courtroom of the Palace of Justice.

Bombed out church in Nuremberg and weekly market place

Bombed church in Nuremberg and weekly market place

The Palace of Justice had suffered some damage in the Allied bombing of Nürnberg, but it had been restored by the forced labor of the conquered Germans before the trial began.

It was at the Nuremberg trials that the whole world learned for the first time about the German atrocities, including all the gory details of the medical experiments on prisoners, the shrunken heads, the soap made from human fat, the leather goods made from the skin of concentration camp prisoners, and the gas chambers which accounted for the majority of the deaths at Auschwitz and Majdanek, where the Russians testified that not less than 4 million people had died in the Auschwitz complex and another 1.5 million had died at the Majdanek camp.

Today, the figures given for these deaths is 1.1 million deaths at Auschwitz and 78,000 at Majdanek, including 59,000 Jews.

Another bombed church in Nuremberg where war crimes trials were held

Another bombed church in Nuremberg where war crimes trials were held

The horror films of the Allied liberation of the Nazi concentration camps at Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau were shown at the trial, to the defendants and to the public. An American-made documentary film, which showed all the graphic details of the gas pipes and control wheels which regulated the flow of poison gas through the shower heads of the Dachau gas chamber, was shown in the courtroom on November 29, 1945.

The German military and economic leaders were visibly stunned by this proof of a gas chamber at Dachau, and claimed that they were seeing and hearing about this unprecedented atrocity for the first time. The American public was horrified that such a thing could have taken place in the civilized world.

Today, tourists are not allowed to see the gas pipes and control wheels that were shown in the courtroom at Nuremberg. Instead, they are shown bins on the outside wall of the gas chamber which were allegedly used to put the poison gas pellets into the room.

The Nuremberg IMT was more than just a trial. It was a graphic presentation to the entire world that the Allies had fought “the Good War” against the evil Nazis.

The charges at the Nuremberg main trial were based on the rules contained in Control Council Law No. 10 which stated the four categories of crimes, as follows:

CONTROL COUNCIL
Law No. 10

[…]

Article II

1. Each of the following acts is recognized as a crime:

(a) Crimes against Peace. Initiation of invasions of other countries and
wars of aggression in violation of international laws and treaties,
including but not limited to planning, preparation, initiation or waging
a war of aggression, or a war of violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or
conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.

(b) War Crimes. Atrocities or offenses against persons or property
constituting violations of the laws or customs of war, including but not
limited to, murder, ill treatment or deportation to slave labour or for
any other purpose, of civilian population from occupied territory,
murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas,
killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton
destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified
by military necessity.

End quote

Here is a transcript of narration in film shown at Nuremberg Trial in which Dachau gas chamber is described:

Document PS-2430: Nazi Concentration and Prisoner-of-War Camps: A Documentary Motion Picture, film shown at the Nuremberg Trial, 29 November 1945, IMT, XXX, p. 470:

“Dachau- factory of horrors. [ … ] Hanging in orderly rows were the clothes of prisoners who had been suffocated in the lethal gas chamber. They had been persuaded to remove their clothing under the pretext of taking a shower for which towels and soap were provided. This is the Brausebad — the showerbath. Inside the showerbath — the gas vents. On the ceiling — the dummy shower heads. In the engineers room — the intake and outlet pipes. Push buttons to control inflow and outtake of gas. A hand-valve to regulate pressure. Cyanide powder was used to generate the lethal smoke. From the gas chamber, the bodies were removed to the crematory.”

The film that was shown at the Nuremberg IMT can be seen on the web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem. A 22-minute movie shown in the Museum at the Dachau Memorial Site contains some footage from this film.

End quote

This final quote is from the news article:

The Nuremberg court was precedent-setting in many ways, establishing that “following orders” was not a legitimate defense for criminal acts and that heads of state could be subject to prosecution. But the historical documentation established in that courtroom is no less important a legacy. In her dispatch from the trial, Rebecca West referred to Nuremberg as “the historic peep show.” Yes, this trial was carefully staged—though not for lurid voyeurism but instead as a cautionary confrontation with state-sponsored criminality and an unimpeachable record of its evils.

December 21, 2014

69th anniversary of the Nuremberg IMT and Rudolf Hoess is back in the news

In the past, I have written several blog posts about the confession of Rudolf Hoess, the former Commandant of the Auschwitz “death camp.”

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/confession-of-rudolf-hoess/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/rudolf-hoess-confession/

I also wrote about the trial of Rudolf Hoess on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/RudolfHoess.html

Recently my blog posts, about Hoess, have been getting lots of hits, and I set out to find out why there is so much interest in Rudolf Hoess.  I found a recent news story, in a British newspaper, called The Telegraph.

The news story in the The Telegraph quotes an article, which was written on November 20, 2014, the 69th anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.  This article in the The Telegraph starts with this quote:

Auschwitz commander Rudolf Hoess was one of the men tried in Nuremburg, in a series of hearings which began 69 years ago today. His grandson tells The Telegraph of his shame over his relative’s actions – and why he thinks Europe has not learnt its lessons from the past…

Rudolf Hoess was NOT “tried in Nuremburg (sic)” on November 20, 1945. Hoess was a witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner in the trial at Nuremberg, which started on Nov. 20, 1945.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Begin quote:

On 25 May 1946, [Rudolf Hoess] was handed over to Polish authorities and the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland tried him for murder. His trial lasted from 11 March to 29 March 1947. During his trial, when accused of murdering three and a half million people, Höss replied, “No. Only two and one half million—the rest died from disease and starvation.”[34] Höss was sentenced to death by hanging on 2 April 1947. The sentence was carried out on 16 April immediately adjacent to the crematorium of the former Auschwitz I concentration camp. He was hanged on a short drop gallows constructed specifically for that purpose, at the location of the camp Gestapo. The message on the board that now marks the site reads:

“This is where the camp Gestapo was located. Prisoners suspected of involvement in the camp’s underground resistance movement or of preparing to escape were interrogated here. Many prisoners died as a result of being beaten or tortured. The first commandant of Auschwitz, SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, who was tried and sentenced to death after the war by the Polish Supreme National Tribunal, was hanged here on 16 April 1947.”

End quote

Gallows on which Rudolf Hoess was hanged at Auschwitz

Gallows on which Rudolf Hoess was hanged at Auschwitz

The gallows is a stone’s throw from the Auschwitz gas chamber, which you can see in my 2005 photo below.

Gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

Gas chamber in  Auschwitz camp

May 6, 2014

Holocaust denial is now illegal in Russia

Filed under: Germany — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:25 pm

Russian president Vladimir Putin has just signed a law which will make it a criminal offense for a Russian citizen to “deny facts recognized by the [Nuremberg] international military tribunal that judged and punished the major war criminals of the European Axis countries…”

You can read the full story in this news report:  http://jpupdates.com/2014/05/05/holocaust-deniers-russia-now-face-prison-time/

This quote is from the news article, cited above:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill making attempts to “whitewash Nazism” punishable with hefty fines and prison sentences, the Kremlin press service said Monday.

“The Federal Law makes it a criminal offense to deny facts recognized by the international military tribunal that judged and punished the major war criminals of the European Axis countries, approving the crimes this tribunal judged, and deliberately spreading false information about the Soviet Union’s activities during World War II,” the Kremlin press service said in an English-language statement, according to Russian media.

In my humble opinion, it is completely and totally stupid to base a law on “facts” that were “recognized” at the Nuremberg IMT. As almost everyone in the world knows by now, the verdicts at Nuremberg were based on lies told by prosecution witnesses, and on numerous fraudulent documents.

There is an article, written by Mark Weber for the Institute of Historical Review, which you can read in full at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p167_Webera.html

The article is quite lengthy, and excessively erudite, but this quote from the article outlines the most important aspects of the crimes committed by the Allies at the Nuremberg IMT:

The Charter of the International Military Tribunal permitted the use of normally inadmissible “evidence.” Article 19 specified that “The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence… and shall admit any evidence which it deems to have probative value.” Article 21 stipulated: /42

The Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof. It shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of the United [Allied] Nations, including acts and documents of the committees set up in the various allied countries for the investigation of war crimes, and the records and findings of military and other Tribunals of any of the United [Allied] Nations.

On the basis of these articles, the Tribunal accepted as valid the most dubious “evidence,” including hearsay and unsubstantiated reports of Soviet and American “investigative” commissions. For example, the Tribunal accepted an American congressional report that “proved” gas chamber killings at Dachau, and a Polish government report (submitted by the US) that “proved” killings by steam at Treblinka. /43 (No reputable historian now accepts either of these stories.)

In addition, the Tribunal validated Soviet reports about Auschwitz and Majdanek (documents USSR-8 and USSR-29), which explained in detail how the Germans killed four million at Auschwitz and another one-and-a-half million at Majdanek. (These days, no reputable historian accepts either of these fantastic figures.)

German guilt for the killing of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn forest near Smolensk was similarly confirmed by Nuremberg document USSR-54. This detailed report by yet another Soviet “investigative” commission was submitted as proof for the charge made in the joint indictment of the four Allied governments. As a Soviet prosecutor explained: “We find, in the Indictment, one of the most important criminal acts for which the major war criminals are responsible was the mass execution of Polish prisoners of war shot in the Katyn forest near Smolensk by the German fascist invaders.” /44 (Interestingly, two of the eight members of the Soviet Katyn Commission were also members of the Soviet Auschwitz commission: Academician N. Burdenko and Metropolitan Nikolai.) It wasn’t until 1990 that the Soviet government finally acknowledged that the Katyn massacre was carried out, not by a German unit, as “proven” at Nuremberg, but by the Soviet secret police. /45

It is sometimes claimed that the evidence presented by the prosecution to the Nuremberg Tribunal was so incontrovertible that none of the defense attorneys ever disputed the authenticity or accuracy of even a single prosecution document. /46 This is not true. Not only did defense lawyers protest against the prosecution use of spurious documents, but some of the most important Nuremberg documents are now generally acknowledged to be fraudulent. /47

For example, defense attorney Dr. Boehm protested to the Tribunal that Nuremberg document 1721-PS, which purportedly confirms attacks by stormtroopers against Jewish synagogues in November 1938, is a clumsy forgery. He went on to explain his reasons at some length. /48

Several Nuremberg documents based on the purported “death bed confession” of Mauthausen commandant Franz Ziereis, are demonstrably fraudulent. (Nuremberg documents 1515-PS, 3870-PS, and NO-1973.) These documents supposedly prove systematic killings of hundreds of thousands of people by gassing and other means at Mauthausen and Hartheim. /49

Almost forty years after the Tribunal handed down its verdicts, Nuremberg document USSR-378 was definitively exposed as a fraud. It is a purported record of numerous private conversations with Hitler by Hermann Rauschning, a former National Socialist official in Danzig. In brutal language, the Führer supposedly revealed his most intimate thoughts and secret plans for world conquest. Rauschning’s “memoir” was published in 1939 in Britain under the title Hitler Speaks, and in the United States in 1940 as The Voice of Destruction. It was this US edition that was accepted in evidence at Nuremberg as proof of the “guiding principles of the Nazi regime.”

Chief British prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross and his Soviet colleagues cited numerous quotations from it. Defendant Baldur von Schirach contested its authenticity, but defense attorney Pelckmann (who did not know any better) accepted this “evidence” as authentic. /50 In 1983 Swiss historian Wolfgang Hänel established that the “memoir” is entirely fraudulent. Rauschning never had even a single private meeting with Hitler. /51

Another fraudulent Nuremberg document is the so-called “Hossbach protocol” (document 386-PS), a purported record of a high-level 1937 conference at which Hitler supposedly revealed his secret plans for aggressive conquest. US Nuremberg prosecutor Sidney Alderman called it “one of the most striking and revealing of all the captured documents,” and told the Tribunal that it removed any remaining doubts about the guilt of the Germans leaders for their crimes against peace. It was largely on the basis of this document that Göring was condemned to death. /52

Similarly spurious is Nuremberg document L-3 (US-28), supposedly a record of a bellicose speech by Hitler to armed forces commanders on August 22, 1939. It contains a widely cited quotation attributed to Hitler, “Who talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” /53

In Germany, a person who is put on trial for Holocaust denial, is not allowed to put on a defense. I assume that this will also be the case in Russia. If not, there is sure to be a lot of Russian crimes exposed by deniers trying to defend themselves.

April 8, 2014

Russia will become the next country to make Holoaust denial illegal

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:53 am

According to a news article, in The Jerusalem Post, Russian lawmakers have approved a new law that will make denying the Holocaust illegal. You can read the news article in full at

http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Russian-lawmakers-approve-bill-making-Holocaust-denial-illegal-347848

This quote is from the news article in The Jerusalem Post:

Russian lawmakers approved a bill that would make Holocaust denial illegal.

The lower house of the Russian Parliament, or Duma, passed the measure Friday on its first reading, the Voice of Russia reported Monday, making it illegal to deny the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal and punishing the “rehabilitation of Nazism.”

Those found guilty of the crime could be fined up to $8,300 or imprisoned up to three years. Public officials or media personalities would be fined nearly double or face up to five years in prison.

Does anyone, besides me, see a problem with this new law?  The verdict at the Nuremberg IMT included the “proof” that 4 million people had been killed at Auschwitz, and 1.5 million people had been killed at Majdanek, according to the testimony of the Russians.  Now these numbers have been lowered to 1.1 million at Auschwitz and 78,000 at Majdanek.  Not only that, the verdict at the Nuremberg IMT included the “fact” that the Germans had killed prisoners at Katnyn Forest, according to the false testimony of the Russians.

I previously blogged about the Nuremberg IMT at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-nuremberg-show-trials-aka-the-nuremberg-international-military-tribunal/

I also blogged about the Nuremberg IMT at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/nov-29-1945-fake-evidence-day-at-the-nuremberg-imt/

The news article in The Jerusalem Post continues with this quote:

Those found guilty of the crime could be fined up to $8,300 or imprisoned up to three years. Public officials or media personalities would be fined nearly double or face up to five years in prison.

The bill also needs the approval of the Federation Council, or upper house. It was authored five years ago and resubmitted in February.

“Rehabilitation of Nazism is not only a shot fired at the past and mocking millions of victims,” the head of the Lower House Committee for Security, Irina Yarovaya, a main sponsor of the bill, said in parliament. “It is also a shot fired at the future, an instigation for new crimes against peace and security.”

This YouTube video tells about Katnyn Forest and the Nuremberg IMT.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DafupY7zozQ

August 27, 2013

The Nuremberg “show trials,” aka the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal

The Palace of Justice (Justizgebäude) at Fürtherstrasse 22, where the trial took place

Palace of Justice (Justizgebäude) at Fürtherstrasse 22 in Nuremberg, where the trial took place

Today I am expanding on a blog post written by The Black Rabbit of Inlé, one of my regular readers:  http://winstonsmithministryoftruth.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/goerings-execution-was-foregone.html?zx=649975c9486c2a32

This quote is from the blog post, cited above:

November 20, 1945 was the opening day of the Trial of the Major war Criminals at Nuremberg, but a letter written by [Sir Hartley] Shawcross on November 4, 1945 reveals that he knew Goering was going to be executed at the end of it.

The Nuremberg trials, which started on November 20, 1945, are called “show trials” because the outcome was known before the trials began.

German war criminals on trial at the Nuremberg IMT

German war criminals on trial at the Nuremberg IMT

The first and best known of the show trials was the “Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal.” This was the show trial of the 24 most important captured leaders of Germany. It was held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946.  The photo above shows Hermann Goering on the far left, with Rudolf Hess sitting next to him. On the far right is Ernst Kaltenbrunner.

 View of the bomb damage of Nürnberg from the castle hill Photo Credit: Charles J. Sheridan


View of the bomb damage of Nürnberg
Photo Credit: Charles J. Sheridan

Bombing Germany back to the stone age was not enough revenge for the Allies; they had to put on show trials.

The first trial, before the International Military Tribunal, had prosecutors and judges from the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. A second set of trials, known as the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, was conducted by the United States only. The most famous of these trials were the Doctors’ Trial and the Judges’ Trial.

The Trial of the Major War Criminals began on November 20, 1945 when British judge Sir Goeffrey Lawrence called the court to order, saying “This trial, which is now about to begin, is unique in the annals of jurisprudence.” The trial ended nine months later on October 1, 1946.

The trial was unprecedented because the prosecutors who conducted the trial and the judges who made up the jury were both from the victorious Allies only. The International Tribunal and the charges against the Germans had been created under the terms of an agreement among the Allies, known as the London Charter, signed on August 8, 1945.

At the main trial, there were 100,000 documents accepted into evidence and the transcript of the trial filled 42 volumes with more than 5 million words. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Allied prosecutors submitted some 3,000 tons of records at the Nuremberg IMT. The defense was not allowed access to any documents except the ones that were actually used by the prosecution.

Nürnberg [Nuremberg] was famous for producing toys and gingerbread cookies, not war materials; it was the ideological center of Nazi Germany and Hitler’s favorite city. Nürnberg was regarded as the “most German” of all the cities in Germany, which made it a target for vindictive Allied bombing.

On the night of January 2, 1945, 514 British Lancaster bombers and 7 other British planes destroyed or damaged most of the old city, including the medieval walls, the historic castle and two centuries-old Gothic churches. At that point in the war, it was the most devastating air-raid attack on a civilian population and only the Allied bombing of Dresden, six weeks later, caused more damage and civilian deaths in Germany.

One wing of the Palace of Justice had to be restored by the forced labor of German prisoners, so that the show trials could be held in Room 600.

Room 600 is the room which has the windows covered

Room 600 is the room which has the windows covered

You can read about why the Nuremberg IMT is called a “show trial” at http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_show_trials

I previously blogged about the start of World War II, as presented at the Nuremberg IMT at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/alfred-naujocks-and-the-start-of-world-war-ii/

The entire Nuremberg International Military Tribunal trial was captured on film and shown to the world on TV. Newsreel films showed the city of Nürnberg as a pile of rubble, which had not yet been cleared when the trial started; the bodies of 20,000 German civilians were still buried under the destroyed buildings as the German war criminals were brought into the courtroom of the Palace of Justice. The Palace of Justice had suffered some damage in the Allied bombing of Nürnberg, but it had been restored by the forced labor of the conquered Germans before the trial began.

It was at the Nuremberg trials that the whole world learned for the first time about the German atrocities, including all the gory details of the shrunken heads, the soap made from human fat, the leather goods made from the skin of concentration camp prisoners, and the gas chambers which accounted for the majority of the deaths at Auschwitz and Majdanek, where the Russians testified that not less than 4 million people had died in the Auschwitz complex and another 1.5 million had died at the Majdanek camp. Today, the figures given for these camps is 1.1 million deaths at Auschwitz and 78,000 at Majdanek, including 59,000 Jews.

The horror films of the Allied liberation of the Nazi concentration camps at Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau were shown at the trial, to the defendants and to the public. An American-made documentary film, which showed all the graphic details of the gas pipes and control wheels which regulated the flow of poison gas through the shower heads of the Dachau gas chamber was shown in the courtroom on November 29, 1945.  I blogged about the Dachau gas chamber film at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/proof-of-the-nazi-gas-chambers-given-at-the-nuremberg-imt-on-nov-29-1945/

The Nuremberg IMT was more than just a trial. It was a graphic presentation to the entire world that the Allies had fought “the Good War” against the evil Nazis.

The following quote is from the web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

The goals of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) transcended verdict and punishment. The creators of the court were deliberately assembling a public record of the horrific crimes committed by Germans during World War II, including those of the Holocaust. American chief prosecutor Robert Jackson worried that “unless record was made future generations would not believe how horrible the truth was.”

In order to avoid any accusation of exclusive reliance on personal testimony, which later generations might perceive to be biased, prosecutors decided to base their case primarily on thousands of documents written by the Germans themselves. These masses of documents were translated into the court’s four official languages, analyzed for their significance, and reproduced for distribution to defense attorneys and other trial participants. The prosecution presented other evidence through artifacts, diagrams, and photographs taken by Nazi photographers in concentration camps.

On the third day of his cross examination of Hermann Goering, American prosecutor Robert Jackson questioned him about the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany, including the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship which Goering had signed in September 1935.

Robert H. Jackson, chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg, during his closing address to the Tribunal.

Robert H. Jackson, chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg, during his closing address l

Then Jackson confronted Goering with the most incriminating piece of evidence in the entire trial: a letter dated July 31, 1941, in which Goering had ordered Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), to prepare a plan for the “Final solution of the Jewish question.” Goering testified that the German term “Die Endlösung” in the letter should have been translated as the “total solution,” and that it referred only to “the emigration of the Jews,” not the extermination of Jews.

The Protocols of the Wannsee Conference, at which the “Final Solution” was planned, were not found until 1947, so this important document was not included in the mountain of evidence introduced at the International Military Tribunal at which the German war criminals were tried for Crimes against Humanity.

Some people today claim that the Wannsee Conference never took place. Since the minutes of the meeting were not found until 1947, this is entirely possible.  Adolf Eichmann was the man who allegedly wrote the minutes that were not found until 1947.  He was put on trial in Israel so that he could elaborate on the plan to genocide the Jews, now known as “the Final Solution.”

Room where the Wannsee Conference was held

Wannsee Conference was held here

The photograph above shows the large dining room of a villa on the Grossen Wannsee, a lake in the Wannsee suburb of Berlin, where the Conference on “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was held on January 20, 1942. This is the room where the plans for the genocide of the Jews were discussed. The villa is now a Holocaust Museum.

For the most part, the International Military Tribunal charged the defendants, not with individual responsibility for specific crimes, but with a “Common Plan” to commit crimes.

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.

Before the trial, according to Conot’s book, Churchill and Roosevelt’s adviser Henry Morgenthau, Jr. had advocated that “the principal Nazi leaders should be charged with their crimes, then summarily shot.” Bernays argued for a trial as “the educational and therapeutic opportunity of our generation.” Regarding the Nazi crimes, Bernays wrote “The crimes and atrocities were not single or unconnected, but the inevitable outcome of the basic criminal conspiracy of the Nazi party.”

There was nothing in international law which allowed a charge of participating in a “Common Plan.”  The Nuremberg trials were conducted on the basis of new laws that were made up by the Allies AFTER  the war, specifically for the German war criminals.

Any atrocities committed by the Allies were not considered war crimes. After the war, France passed a law that no French citizen could be charged with a war crime.

The Nuremberg trial had far-reaching consequences — for America and the world. In 1948 President Harry Truman desegregated the American armed forces, and in 1954 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional, Justice Robert Jackson, who participated in the decision, said that the Nuremberg experience and the “awful consequences of racial prejudice revealed by … the Nazi regime” had influenced his decision.

According to Conot’s book, before the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal proceedings began, there was no international criminal code; the barbaric practices of the Nazis became war crimes under international law, only after the IMT proceedings, when the United Nations passed the Genocide Convention and a Declaration of Human Rights.

After World War II, the rules of warfare changed: reprisals can no longer be taken against hostages or Prisoners of War; forced labor is now outlawed; captured partisans are given equal status with POWs. The Germans had been convicted of all these crimes before they were crimes. The verdicts at the Nuremberg IMT established international law and the actions of the Germans in World War II are now war crimes.

Regulations of all the major World War II armies now state that orders which would constitute the commission of a crime need not be obeyed. All the crimes that were revealed at the Nuremberg trial have now been incorporated into international law and the defense used at the Nuremberg trial by the German generals and admirals that they were just obeying orders is no longer valid.

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 Oberfalz.net 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 Oberfalz.net.

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.”

August 16, 2012

Kurt Becher’s affidavit incriminating Ernst Kaltenbrunner at the Nuremberg IMT

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:16 am

Kurt Becher was an SS officer who was involved in the famous “Jews for Trucks” incident near the end of World War II.  When the war was over, Becher was arrested by the Allies and taken to Nuremberg, but he was not put on trial.  He was a “Righteous Gentile” because he had saved Jews.

SS officer Kurt Becher

Kurt Becher did not testify at Nuremberg, but he did sign an affidavit which was entered into the Nuremberg IMT. In his affidavit, Becher claimed that he had personally caused Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler to issue an order which forbade any liquidation of Jews at Mauthausen.  Himmler was dead, so he was not on trial. The affidavit was read in court because it contained accusations against Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was on trial as a war criminal.

But before we get to Becher’s affidavit and the accusations against Kaltenbrunner, here is the back story on the “Jews for Trucks” episode:

On August 21, 1944, three SS officers (Kurt Becher, Max Grüson and Hermann Krumey) and Rudolf Kastner (a representative of the Budapest Jews) met with Saly Mayer, a leading member of the Jewish Community in Switzerland.

The meeting took place in the middle of a bridge at St. Margarethen, on the border between Germany and Switzerland. Saly Mayer had refused to enter Germany and he also did not want the SS men to enter Switzerland, according to Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer.

Kurt Becher asked for farm machinery and 10,000 trucks, and in return, he promised to free 318 Hungarian Jews from Bergen-Belsen. In a show of good faith, the train with the 318 Jews was already waiting at the Swiss border. Mayer offered minerals and industry goods instead of the trucks.

A second group of 1368 Hungarian Jews left the Bergen-Belsen camp on December 4, 1944 and entered Switzerland just after midnight on December 7th, according to Yehuda Bauer.

Altogether, there was a total of 2,896 Jews released for ransom, including a transport of 1210 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto who entered Switzerland on February 7, 1945.

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

Now, back to the trial of Ernst Kaltenbrunner:

On 12 April 1946, the one hundred and sixth day of the Nuremberg IMT, the prosecutor read the affidavit of Kurt Becher, who was not in the courtroom.

The text of the affidavit is quoted below:

“I, Kurt Becher, formerly a colonel in the S.S., born 12th September, 1900, at Hamburg, declare the following under oath:

Between the middle of September and the middle of October, 1944, I caused the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler to issue the following order, which I received in two originals, one each for S.S. Generals Kaltenbrunner and Pohl, and a copy for myself:

By this order, which becomes immediately operative, I forbid any liquidation of Jews and order that on the contrary, care should be given to weak and sick persons. I hold you (and here Kaltenbrunner and Pohl were meant) personally responsible even if this order should not be strictly adhered to by the subordinate offices.

I personally took Pohl’s copy to him and left the copy for Kaltenbrunner at his office in Berlin. In my opinion Kaltenbrunner and Pohl bear the responsibility after this date for any further killings of Jewish prisoners.

When visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp on 27th April, 1945, at 9.00 a.m. I was told, in the strictest secrecy by the camp commandant, S.S. Colonel Ziereis, that ‘Kaltenbrunner gave me the order that at least a thousand persons have still to die at Mauthausen each day.’

The facts mentioned above are true. This declaration is made by me voluntarily and without coercion. I have read it through, signed it, and confirmed the statement with my oath.”

The most important part of Becher’s affidavit was his accusation that Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner had ordered 1,000 prisoners per day at the Mauthausen camp to be killed, even after Himmler had ordered that no more prisoners should be killed at Mauthausen.  Becher claimed that Mauthausen Commandant Franz Ziereis had personally told him, while he was on a visit to the camp, that Kaltenbrunner had given the order to continue killing prisoners.

After this affidavit was read in court, Kaltenbrunner was asked:

“Is that true or false, defendant?”

Kaltenbrunner’s answer is given in full in this quote from the testimony at the IMT:

A. In part it is correct and in part it is not. I shall explain it sentence by sentence.

Q. No. Suppose you simply tell us what you claim to be false, because we must get on with this.

A. I quite believe that you want to save time, but this is a question of establishing my guilt or my innocence and to do that I must be given an opportunity to make a statement in detail. Otherwise neither you nor the Tribunal would know the truth, And that is what we want here, isn’t it? I am glad that this witness Becher was found and that this statement is available, because it proves, firstly, that in September or October, 1944, Himmler was forced to issue this order, that same Himmler, about whom it has been established that since 1939 or 1940 he has committed the crime of killing Jews on the largest scale.

And now we must find out why in September or October Himmler had given such an order. Before I had seen this document I stated yesterday and today that this order was issued by Hitler through my intervention, and obviously this order from Himmler is based on another order which he received from Hitler.

Secondly, it is clear to me that Himmler gave such an order to Pohl as the person responsible for the concentration camps in which Jews were kept and that he gave the information to me as the person who had opposed him in this case. Where Becher is concerned, I should like to go into the question a little further.

Through this man Becher, Himmler committed some of the worst possible crimes, crimes which have been exposed here. Through Becher and the Joint Committee in Hungary and Switzerland he released Jews in exchange, first, for war equipment, then, secondly, for raw material and thirdly, for foreign currency. I heard about this through the Intelligence Service and immediately attempted to stop it – not through Himmler, because there I would have failed, but through Hitler; – at the moment any personal credit Himmler might still have had with Hitler was at an end – for this action might have damaged the reputation of the Reich abroad in the most serious manner.

At the same time my efforts in connection with Burckhardt had been going on, and now you understand why the witness Schellenberg stated that Himmler had said to him: “I am alarmed now. Kaltenbrunner has got me under his thumb. This means that Kaltenbrunner has completely exposed the things I was doing in Hungary and has told Hitler about it.”

This order was an attempt to camouflage the matter and to get out of the whole thing by pretending that the responsibility rested on Kaltenbrunner and Pohl. According to this document the responsibility rested on Himmler and Pohl, but, Kaltenbrunner had to be included and be told about it because otherwise he might bring the subject up with Hitler any day. That was the intention of the document.

This witness Becher is now in Nuremberg. Will you allow me to confront him here? I am quite able to prove to the world with the help of this witness that, starting with the transfer of the so-called Weiss AG. in Hungary up to that day, Himmler, Pohl and Becher, and the two committees in Hungary and Switzerland, were running this business. And I can prove how I fought against it.

There is yet another accusation in this document, that on 27th April I am supposed to have given a strictly secret order to Ziereis that a thousand Jews had to be destroyed in Mauthausen every day. I ask you to have the witness Hoettl, who is also held here, called in immediately, so that I may ask him on what day I dictated and sent by courier to Mauthausen the order that the entire camp, with all its inmates, be surrendered to the enemy. The witness will then confirm to you that this order was given several days before 27th April and that I could not have given orders to the contrary on the 27th.

In spite of Kaltenbrunner’s testimony which proved his innocence, he was convicted and hanged as a war criminal.

October 19, 2011

Goering testified at Nuremberg that neither he nor Hitler knew anything about the mass murder in the concentration camps

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:02 am

Hermann Goering was the number 2 man in the German Reich up until 1943.  At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, Goering told the Allied prosecutors that he knew nothing about the killing of 4 million people in the concentration camps. Amazingly, he maintained that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust either.

Goering denied that Germany had a policy to exterminate the Jews.  He claimed that Germany had a policy of emigration, not liquidation of the Jews.  I have given the highlights of Goering’s testimony below.  The important points are highlighted in bold.   (more…)

August 29, 2011

The “common design” theory of guilt, used by the Allies after WWII

When World War II came to an end in May 1945, the Allies were faced with the legal problem of how to punish the German war criminals.  At that time, there was no German law, nor any International law, that covered such crimes as the genocide of the Jews, nor the atrocities committed by the Germans in the concentration camps. New laws had to be made after the fact.

Col. Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg IMT, said in his opening address: “Hence I am not disturbed by the lack of precedent for the inquiry we propose to conduct.”  He meant that he was not concerned about the creation of new laws, called ex post facto laws, which were used in the proceedings of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Ex post facto laws were also used by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau, which prosecuted people who had been associated with the concentration camps that had been liberated by American soldiers.

The new law that was created, based on the concept of co-responsibility for the crimes that had been committed by others, was called “common design” or “common plan” by the Allies.

According to Robert E. Conot in his book Justice at Nuremberg, the idea of a “common design” was the brainchild of Lt. Col. Murray C. Bernays, a Lithuanian Jew who had emigrated with his family to America in 1900 at the age of six. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., a Jew who was the Secretary of the Treasury and one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s top advisers, had proposed that the German war criminals should be charged and then executed without a trial. But Bernays said, “Not to try these beasts would be to miss the educational and therapeutic opportunity of our generation. They must be tried not alone for their specific aims, but for the bestiality from which these crimes sprang.”

Under the “common plan” concept, organizations as well as individuals could be charged with war crimes and membership in an organization was enough to convict an individual of a war crime, whether or not that person committed any criminal acts himself.

For the American Military Tribunal proceedings at Dachau, the “common design” or “common plan” theory meant that individuals were guilty of crimes committed by others on the staff of a concentration camp even if they didn’t serve at the same time. It didn’t matter whether or not the crimes allegedly committed by others in a particular concentration camp had ever been proved in a court of law or by a military tribunal; staff members of that camp were presumed to be guilty of these crimes, and there was no defense against the new law of “common design.”

This new concept of collective guilt was formulated by the Allies in order to see that justice was done. The legal basis for the proceedings of the American Military Tribunal at Dachau was that the German war criminals had participated in a “common design” to commit war crimes. The prosecution had only to prove that the accused had participated in a common plan by virtue of his position on the staff of a concentration camp, whether or not he had personally committed any atrocities.

The accused in the “Dachau trials” were not charged with committing any specific crime, but rather with aiding and abetting the commission of crimes in the concentration camp system which was designated by the Allies to be a criminal enterprise.

The basis for the “common design” theory of guilt was Article II, paragraph 2 of Law Order No. 10, passed by the Allies, which stated as follows:

2. Any person without regard to nationality or the capacity in which he acted, is deemed to have committed a crime as defined in paragraph 1 of this Article, if he was (a) a principal or (b) was an accessory to the commission of any such crime or ordered or abetted the same or (c) took a consenting part therein or (d) was connected with plans or enterprises involving its commission or (e) was a member of any organization or group connected with the commission of any such crime or (f) with reference to paragraph 1 (a), if he held a high political, civil or military (including General Staff) position in Germany or in one of its Allies, co-belligerents or satellites or held high position in the financial, industrial or economic life of any such country.

Crimes against Humanity was another new concept which did not exist before the proceedings of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal began. This new law, which was one of the four categories of crimes described by Allied Control Council Law No. 10, was enacted after the end of World War II. It covered brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities and other inhumane acts, including the murder of six million Jews in the Nazi camps.

Some of the top-level war criminals at the Nuremberg IMT were charged with Crimes against Humanity, but this charge was not used in the proceedings against the staff members of the Dachau concentration camp who were tried by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau. Crimes against Humanity included crimes against anyone of any nationality.  The American Military Tribunal prosecuted only crimes against citizens of the Allied countries and the names of the prisoners who were killed in the Dachau gas chamber were unknown.

These quotes are from the Nuremberg Principles, which you can read in full here.

Principle I. Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.  […]
Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

The charges at the American Military Tribunal at Dachau were “Participating in a common design to Violate the Laws and Usages of War, according to the Geneva Convention of 1929 and the Hague Convention of 1907.”

The Soviet Union had not signed the Third Geneva Convention of 1929, which was the rules of warfare pertaining to Prisoners of War. The Soviet Union did not treat German POWs according to the rules of the convention, neither during nor after the war. Germany had signed the Geneva Convention and charges were brought against the German war criminals at Dachau for violations of this convention with respect to Soviet POWs who were Communist Commissars.

The Geneva Convention specifically stated that after a country had formally surrendered, it was a breach of the convention to once again take up arms. The Allied powers encouraged resistance movements in all the German-occupied countries. Captured resistance fighters were sent to concentration camps, rather than to a POW camp.

During the Dachau proceedings, concentration camp personnel were charged with crimes against the Laws and Usages of War, according to the Geneva Convention of 1929, for ill treatment of captured resistance fighters, even though the resistance fighters did not have the protection of the Geneva Convention and they had been incarcerated for a violation of the Geneva Convention themselves.

In March 1945, on the written order of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, captured German POWs were designated as Disarmed Enemy Forces so that they would not have to be treated according to the Geneva convention. There were 1.7 million German soldiers who surrendered to Eisenhower’s Army; their families claimed that they never returned home. They are presumed to have died in “Eisenhower’s death camps.”

It was not until 1948 that the newly-created United Nations announced a law against genocide. With no existing laws in place, the Allies had created new international laws.  Let’s hope that America will never lose a war and have to answer for crimes committed under laws that do not yet exist.

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