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August 23, 2013

The number of Jewish prisoners at Dachau: Figures don’t lie, but liars figure

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:05 am

Almost every news story, or website, that you will ever read, mentions that 2/3 of the prisoners at Dachau were Jews.  This is very misleading; it implies that Dachau was a camp for Jews, instead of a camp that held mainly political prisoners.

When the Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, there were 2,539 Jews among approximately 32,000 survivors in the main camp, located just outside the town of Dachau.  By what slight of hand does 2,539 figure out to be two thirds of 32,000?

Political prisoners at Dachau after the camp was liberated

Political prisoners at Dachau after the camp was liberated

According to Paul Berben, a former prisoner, who wrote a book called Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History, there were 67,649 prisoners in the main Dachau camp AND IT’S 123 SUB-CAMPS when the last census was taken on April 26, 1945, three days before the US 7th Army arrived to liberate the MAIN camp.  Most of the Jews were in the sub-camps, not the main camp.

Many of the sub-camps, which Berben refers to as “Kommandos,” had already been evacuated and the prisoners had been brought to the main camp at Dachau.  Before the evacuation of the sub-camps, there were virtually no Jews in the main camp.

The largest number of prisoners in the whole Dachau system were classified as political prisoners, who numbered 43,401; the majority of the political prisoners were Catholic. The political prisoners included Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, spies, and anti-Fascist resistance fighters from the Nazi occupied countries such as France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Dachau survivors pose in a barracks building after they were liberated

Dachau survivors pose in a barracks building after they were liberated

There was a total of 22,100 Jews in the Dachau system on April 26, 1945 and most of them were in the sub-camps. Many of the Jews in the main camp had just arrived a few days before from the sub-camps that had been evacuated.

On April 26th, approximately 3,400 Jews had been death-marched out of the main camp, headed south toward the mountains where it is believed that the Nazis intended to hold them as hostages to use in surrender negotiations with the Allies. Another 1,735 Jews had been evacuated from Dachau by train on April 26th.

The evacuation of prisoners from the sub-camps to the main Dachau camp had begun in March 1945, in preparation for surrendering the prisoners to the Allies. The evacuated prisoners had to walk for several days to the main camp because Allied bombs were destroying the railroad tracks as fast as the Germans could repair them. The few trains that did bring prisoners to Dachau, including a train load of women and children, were bombed or strafed by American planes, killing many of the prisoners.

Women prisoners who had recently arrived at Dachau

Women prisoners who had recently arrived at Dachau

Most of the prisoners in the sub-camps of Dachau were Jews who had survived Auschwitz and had been brought on trains to Germany in January 1945 after a 50-kilometer death march out of the camp. By the time that the survivors staggered into the Dachau main camp in the last weeks of April, they were emaciated, sick and exhausted. Other Jews at Dachau in 1945 had been brought from the three Lithuanian ghettos in the Summer of 1944 to work in the Dachau sub-camps. The American liberators got most of their information about the Dachau camp from these Jews who had only recently arrived and were eager to tell their stories about abuse at the hands of the Nazis.

Since March 1945, around 15,000 new prisoners had been accommodated in the Dachau main camp, which had been originally designed for 5,000 men. By the time that the American liberators arrived, there were over 30,000 prisoners in the main camp, although the exact number was unknown.

According to Paul Berben’s account, the prisoners who arrived at Dachau were particularly numerous in 1944, as the inmates in other camps were evacuated from the war zone. He wrote that the last prisoner number at the end of 1943 was 60.869.

By the end of 1944, the last prisoner number was 137.244, which indicates that 76,375 new prisoners were brought to Dachau in 1944; most of them were sent to the sub-camps to work in the factories. The last prisoner numbers registered at Dachau were around 161.900. It was at this point that life in the Dachau concentration camp began to deteriorate.

In the final desperate days of trying to evacuate prisoners from the camps to prevent them from being released by the Allies, there were around 6,000 prisoners brought to Dachau from Flossenbürg, Buchenwald and Leipzig. These prisoners were not registered at Dachau, nor given a number, according to Paul Berben.

Throughout the 12 years that the Dachau camp was in existence, there were approximately 206,000 prisoners brought to the main camp and it’s 123 sub-camps.  There were 31,951 recorded deaths.  The Dachau Memorial Site estimates that there were at least 41,000 deaths, including the deaths, during the last days, which were not recorded.

In her speech at Dachau on August 20, 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the following:

“At the same time, this place [Dachau] is a constant warning: how did Germany reach the point of taking away the right of people to live because of their origin, their religion… or their sexual orientation?”

Dachau was primarily a place where the right of people to live was taken away because they were political enemies of the German government, or their right to live had been taken away because they had broken the law, for example, the law known as Paragraph 175 which made it a crime to have homosexual sex in public.  Most of the prisoners at Dachau were Catholic, but they were not imprisoned because of their religion.  There were numerous prisoners at Dachau who were incarcerated because they were fighting in a war as illegal combatants.

June 6, 2011

Polish Political prisoners at Dachau

Polish political prisoners at Dachau

In the photo above, Polish prisoners celebrate the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945. Today, most people think of Dachau as a death camp, second only to Auschwitz, where Jews were sent to be “exterminated,” but it was actually a camp that was primarily for “political prisoners” who were “Resistance fighters” during World War II. On the day that Dachau was liberated, the largest number of prisoners in the whole Dachau system, including the 123 sub-camps, were the 43,401 “political prisoners.” The majority of them were Catholic.

The “political prisoners” included Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and spies, but most of them were anti-Fascist resistance fighters from German-occupied countries, including France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland.  The largest group of “political prisoners” was from Poland.

The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army, which was released a few days after Dachau was liberated, listed the following statistics for the Dachau main camp:

Poles: 9,200; Russians: 3,900; French: 3,700; Yugoslavs: 3,200; Jews: 2,100; Czechoslovaks: 1,500; Germans: 1,000. There was also a combined total of 1,000 Belgians, Hungarians, Italians, Austrians, Greeks, etc.

Most of the Jews had only recently arrived from the Dachau sub-camps where they were sent after being brought to Germany from the death camps in Poland.  The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army was based on two days of interviews with the survivors of the camp, including the Jewish survivors who told stories about how they had been treated at Auschwitz.  Today, visitors to Dachau can rent an audio guide to the camp and listen to these stories told by Auschwitz survivors who were only at Dachau for a few days before the camp was liberated.

The official history of Dachau is now a book entitled  That was Dachau  written by Stanislav Zamecnik and published in 2002. Zamecnik was a Polish political prisoner at Dachau from 1941 to 1945.  His book has replaced the old Dachau history, written by Paul Berben, who was also a Dachau prisoner. Berben’s book told too many good things about Dachau; he did not write about the atrocities committed by the Germans, so that’s why his book had to be replaced.

Another book, entitled  Listy spod morwy (Leaves under the Mulberry Tree), written by Polish political prisoner Gustaw Morcinek and published in 1957, is quoted on one of the signs that have been put up for tourists at Dachau in recent years. Morcinek was a prisoner at Dachau from 1940 to 1945.

This quote from Leaves under the Mulberry Tree is on a sign at Dachau:

The particular hate of the SS men was vented [on the Jewish prisoners], they were beaten, hounded by dogs, starved, forced to heavy, trying work, and above all hit with rifle butts and batons until they died under the beating. If someone needed too long to die, a SS man with boots jumped on his chest, the breastbone broke with dry crackle, blood flowed out of the victim’s mouth, and then slowly the body went rigid.

Two days before Dachau was liberated, there were 128 SS men who had been imprisoned in the bunker (camp prison) for crimes committed against concentration camp prisoners; they were released and ordered to guard the camp after the regular guards fled for their lives.  The SS man who killed Jews by jumping on their chests was probably among the SS men in the wing of the bunker that was reserved for the SS men who committed such crimes.  He was probably killed during the “Dachau massacre” so we will never know his side of the story.

You can read all about Morcinek on Wikipedia here.  This quote is from Wikipedia:

In 1914 he (Morcinek) was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army and after 1918 served briefly in the Polish Army. In 1920, when Cieszyn Silesia was divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia, his hometown Karviná fell to Czechoslovakia. Morcinek was a pro-Polish activist and thus decided to stay in Poland.
[…]
Morcinek spent the years 1936-1939 abroad, in Western Europe.

He returned to Poland shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Morcinek was arrested by the Gestapo on 6 September 1939.  He was initially imprisoned with Wadysaw Dworaczek and the rest of people belonging to the Polish intellectuals from Silesia.   Gustav spent the whole war in the German concentration camps Skrochowitz, Sachsenhausen, and Dachau.  The supposed reason given for his arrest was his “anti-German activity” before the war and the fact that a dog in one of his novels was called “Bismarck.” When he was in concentration camps he was given a choice to sign a Volksliste but refused.

His “anti-German activity” BEFORE the war?  How can that be?  The Poles did nothing to provoke the German invasion of Poland in 1939.  Or did they?  What exactly was his “anti-German activity”?  We will probably never know because it is now politically incorrect to mention something like that.  As far as visitors to Dachau know, Morcinek was a perfectly innocent Polish citizen who was kept, for no reason, in a concentration camp from 1939 to 1945.

But wait! Wikipedia goes on to say, in this quote, that Morcinek was actually engaging in anti-Germany activity:

Morcinek was politically active from a young age. He was an active advocate of joining whole Cieszyn Silesia to Poland. During the interwar period when he was an anti-German activist, some critics accused him of spreading hatred. After the war, he was a supporter of PZPR (Polish United Workers’ Party) and was a member of the Sejm (parliament) from Katowice electoral district (1952-1957).

When I visited Poland for the first time in 1998, my private tour guide drove me through the Polish countryside towards Auschwitz.  The scenery was the same for miles and miles, then all of a sudden, there was a change in the terrain and the look of the houses.  I remarked to my guide: “This looks a lot like Germany.”  To which she replied, “This IS Germany.”  We had just entered the territory known as Silesia.   The reason that Silesia was so important back then was because it was a region with coal and other minerals.  In fact, Morcinek had worked in a coal mine as a young man.  It was because of the coal and other minerals that he wanted Poland to have this important region.

Finally, the big day arrived: Dachau was liberated and the Polish political prisoners got their revenge.  The photo below, which hangs in the Dachau Museum, shows a Polish political prisoner preparing to beat a German to death with a shovel while American soldiers are shown in the background shooting the Germans who have just surrendered the camp. Note that this same man is shown in the photo at the top of the page.  He is the man in the middle, holding up a bottle of wine as the Polish political prisoners celebrate their liberation.

Dachau prisoners prepare to beat a German to death

The American liberators aided the Polish political prisoners at Dachau in their revenge killings by shooting the German guards in the leg so that they could not escape.  The man in the photo above appears to have been wounded in the leg.

June 15, 2010

How the story of Dachau, as told to tourists, has changed over the years…

Filed under: Dachau, Germany — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:51 am

This morning, I came across some excellent photos of Dachau, taken by a visitor who was there on May 27, 2010.  Included among the photos, which you can see here, were two photos of signs that have been put up at the camp since I last visited.

One of the new signs has these words:

The particular hate of the SS men was vented [on the Jewish prisoners], they were beaten, hounded by dogs, starved, forced to heavy, trying work, and above all hit with rifle butts and batons until they died under the beating. If someone needed too long to die, a SS man with boots jumped on his chest, the breastbone broke with dry crackle, blood flowed out of the victim’s mouth, and then slowly the body went rigid.

“Listy spod morwy” (Leaves under the Mulberry Tree) prisoner account of Gustaw Morcinek (1940 – 1945 in the Dachau conentration camp), 1957 (excerpt)

Right away, I deduced that Gustaw Morcinek was not Jewish because he was a prisoner in the camp from 1940 to 1945, and he was not stomped to death by an SS man.

I had never heard of Gustaw Morcinek, nor his book Leaves under the Mulberry Tree, so I had to google him.  I learned from Wikipedia that Morcinek was arrested in Poland by the Gestapo on September 6, 1939, less than a week after Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  According to Wikipedia, the supposed reason given for his arrest was his “anti-German activity” before World War II.  Was Morcinek one of the Poles who were killing ethnic Germans in Poland or forcing them off their land?

Soon after the Germans crossed the border on September 1, 1939, they talked to tearful ethnic German women in Poland who told them all about the atrocities committed by the Poles; the Germans filmed this scene and you can still see it in some documentaries.

I think that the quote from Gustaw Morcinek needs an explanation, so that visitors can evaluate his degree of bias.  It should be mentioned on the sign that Morcinek was one of the first people arrested in Poland for his “anti-German activities” before the war.  An explanation of just what those activities were would be helpful.  One of the stories that I read was that the Poles were killing ethnic Germans, then cutting open the corpse and stuffing a dead rabbit inside.  I would really like to know what that was all about.

As for Morcinek’s description of how the prisoners were treated, the SS men had a different version of the story.  Rudolf Hoess, the infamous Commandant of Auschwitz, was a member of the Dachau staff from 1934 to 1938. With regard to Dachau and the other Nazi camps, Hoess testified as follows at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on April 15, 1946:

DR. KAUFFMANN: I ask you, therefore, first of all, whether you have any knowledge regarding the treatment of internees, whether certain methods became known to you according to which they were tortured and cruelly treated? Please formulate your statement according to periods, up to 1939 and after 1939.

HOESS: Until the outbreak of war in 1939, the situation in the camps regarding feeding, accommodations, and treatment of internees, was the same as in any other prison or penitentiary in the Reich. The internees were treated severely, but methodical beatings or ill-treatments were out of the question. The Reichsführer gave frequent orders that every SS man who laid violent hands on an internee would be punished; and several times SS men who did ill-treat internees were punished.

Another sign at the Dachau Memorial Site has these words:

Death from Starvation

In Dachau death only seldom had a heroic character. Death was something normal, it occurred everywhere: at roll call, at work, on the block road, at the toilets.  In normal life the death of a cat that has died on the street draws attention and arouses pity.  The emaciated, wretched prisoner lying in death attracted no great attention.

That was Dachau by Stanislav Zamecnik (1941 – 1945 in the Dachau Concentration Camp), 2002 (excerpt)

The Dachau Memorial site now sells the book written by Stanislav Zamecnik as the official history of Dachau. Previously, the official history of Dachau was a book written by a prisoner named Paul Berben.

According to Paul Berben’s book, the following items were for sale in the canteen at Dachau:

Beetroot jam, oatmeal, sauerkraut, dried vegetables, tinned mussels and fish, cucumbers, condiments, etc. were on sale The canteen also stocked articles such as needles and thread, and particularly lotions, creams and perfume: the close-cropped prisoner was invited to buy something to put on his hair!

Berben maintains that, in the early days before the war, the prisoners received adequate food, and even after the war started, the prisoners who worked received extra food.

The following quote is from Paul Berben’s book:

When manpower needs became pressing during the war supplementary food was sanctioned to increase output. Certain categories of workers were given a much appreciated “second breakfast,” called Brotzeit, consisting of an eighth or tenth part of a loaf and 2 ounces of sausage.

When prisoners went to the town of Dachau to work, the people in the town sometimes tried to give them food, but this was forbidden by the Nazis. They did, however, allow the clergy in Dachau to collect and send food packages to the camp for the prisoners.

Berben wrote:

From the end of 1942, however, large consignments of food and other useful things did reach the camp.

The following quote is from Paul Berben’s book:

Food parcels could be sent to the clergy and the food situation improved noticeably. Germans and Poles particularly received them in considerable quantities from their families, their parishioners and members of religious communities. In Block 26 one hundred sometimes arrived on the same day. This period of relative plenty lasted till the end of 1944 when the disruption of communications stopped the dispatch of parcels. Nevertheless the German clergy continued to receive food through the Dean of Dachau, Herr Pfanzelt, to whom the correspondents sent food tickets: the priests bought bread and sausage with these and sent the parcels by the local post.

Red Cross packages also reached the camp, according to Paul Berben, who mentioned that the Red Cross sent thousands of parcels to Dachau.

Nerin E. Gun, a journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, wrote in his book The Day of the Americans, that there was a thriving black market operating in the shower room in the administration building at Dachau; cigarettes were used as currency and the items that were sold or traded were from the Red Cross packages or from packages that all of the inmates, except for the Nacht und Nebel prisoners, were allowed to receive from friends and relatives.

On pages 121 and 122 of his book The Day of the Americans, Nerin E. Gun wrote:

Then there was the matter of the Red Cross food parcels. A large number of them were issued to the prisoners during the last days of our captivity. The Germans no loner knew what to do with them. Because of the Allied advance, the only road open to the supply trains of the International Red Cross from Switzerland was the road to Dachau. So all the food packages intended for all the other prison camps had been funneled to Dachau. The camp commander, probably thinking he was making points for himself in the final days, decided to distribute them among the internees. It was manna from heaven, for food had become extremely scarce in the camp and the statistics of those dying of starvation had soared.

But the Geneva International Red Cross had a very “Swiss franc” concept of human solidarity. It had laid down the rule that the packages could be given only to nationals of those countries which contributed hard-currency dollars to the organization. Therefore the food could legally be given only to Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen, to some Poles, to Scandinavians and other citizens of Allied countries. Russians, Germans, Italians and Jews were entitled to nothing.

[…]

These windfalls turned out to be the cause of serious trouble, arguments, sometimes bloody fights. Each parcel call meant that the following night there might be up to a hundred dead. The Russians, true to their Bolshevik catechism, used force to seize the packages belonging to others. The Poles, even though they got their own packages, wanted more, and organized regular armed expeditions to get them. The German Kapos demanded their rake-off.

Visitors to the Dachau Memorial Site don’t want to hear about the camp canteen nor about the Red Cross packages, and certainly not about the “second breakfast” given to the prisoners.  They don’t want to hear about how the SS men were punished for “laying violent hands on the prisoners.”  They only want to know about how the Dachau prisoners were starved to death, or beaten to death.  Only then can they return to Munich, having gotten their money’s worth on their tour of Dachau, and visit the Hofbräuhaus, the next stop on their tour of Germany.

February 8, 2010

Classification of prisoners at Dachau concentration camp

Filed under: Dachau, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:48 am

The Dachau concentration camp prisoners were classified by nationality and by the type of crime allegedly committed.

When the Dachau camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, the largest number of prisoners in the whole Dachau system, including the 123 sub-camps, were classified as political prisoners, who numbered 43,401; the majority of them were Catholic. The political prisoners included Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, spies, and anti-Fascist resistance fighters from the Nazi occupied countries such as France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The largest national group in the main Dachau camp was the Polish prisoners, followed by Russians, French, Yugoslavs, Germans, Jews and Czechs, according to the Official Report made by the U.S. Seventh Army after the Dachau camp was liberated.

The Official Report listed the following statistics for the Dachau main camp:

Poles: 9,200; Russians: 3,900; French: 3,700; Yugoslavs: 3,200; Jews: 2,100; Czechoslovaks: 1,500; Germans: 1,000. There was also a combined total of 1,000 Belgians, Hungarians, Italians, Austrians, Greeks, etc.

According to Paul Berben, a former prisoner, who wrote a book entitled Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History, there were 67,649 prisoners in Dachau and its 123 sub-camps when the last census was taken on April 26, 1945, three days before the US 7th Army arrived to liberate the camp. There was a total of 22,100 Jews in the Dachau system on April 26, 1945 and most of them were in the sub-camps.

Many of the sub-camps, which Berben refers to as “Kommandos,” had already been evacuated and the prisoners had been brought to the main camp at Dachau before April 26, 1945. An estimated 7,000 prisoners arrived at the Dachau main camp, from other concentration camps, after the last census was taken.

The prisoners were also classified by the type of crime that they had allegedly committed, which was designated by the color of a badge that each prisoner had to wear. The two major classifications of badges were red and green: red was for political prisoners and green was for criminals.

The following quote is from Dachau: 1933 – 1945: The Official History by Paul Berben:

The third main category of prisoners was the “criminals.” The S.S. distinguished between two groups in their statistical summaries: the P.S.V. and the B.V.; but both wore the same badges. The P.S.V. (Polizeisicherungsverwahrte) were criminals who had served their prison terms, in some cases many years since, but they were considered to be dangerous and were held in the concentration camp as a preventive measure (vorbeugend) . The second group, the B.V. (Befristete Vorbeugungshaft; often wrongly called Berufsverbrecher, professional criminal), was composed of men who were not released on the completion of their prison sentences but sent straight to the camp.

The following quote is from The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army:

As far as the prisoners themselves are concerned, the camp was divided sharply only between two groups: the “reds” or political prisoners and the “greens” or criminal prisoners. The SS tried to break down this distinction by an ingenious system of creating a “prisoners’ elite,” composed of both “reds” and “greens,” which assumed power over the internal organization of Dachau, controlled and frequently terrorized the camp in the name of the SS, but formally independent of the SS. […] However, despite this organization of internal corruption and terror, by which the SS exercised its control indirectly, the mass of political prisoners continued to live in sharp separation from and opposition to the “criminals” and most of the prisoner bosses whom they despised, feared and hated.

There were 759 common criminals at Dachau, according to Paul Berben. Some of the original Dachau common criminals had been previously transferred to Buchenwald and Mauthausen to work in the building of those camps and to assist the Nazis in supervising the other prisoners.

When a prisoner arrived at Dachau, or any other concentration camp in the Nazi system, a Hollerith punch card was made for him. These cards could be searched and sorted by an IBM Hollerith machine; Dachau had four Hollerith machines. One line of the card had a hole punched to indicate the prisoners classification.

According to the book entitled IBM and the Holocaust, by Edwin Black, the IBM cards had sixteen classifications of prisoners: The number 1 was punched for a political prisoner, 2 for a Jehovah’s Witness, 3 for a homosexual, 4 for dishonorable military discharge, 5 for a member of the clergy, 6 for a Communist Spaniard, 7 for a foreign civilian worker, 8 for a Jew, 9 for an asocial, 10 for a habitual criminal, 11 for a major felon, 12 for a Gypsy, 13 for a Prisoner of War, 14 for a spy, 15 for a prisoner sentenced to hard labor, and 16 for a Diplomatic Consul.

The IBM Hollerith cards were also punched for the work skills of each prisoner, so that workers could be found for assignments in the factories.

When a prisoner died in a Nazi concentration camp, his Hollerith card was punched with a code for the type of death: C-3 was for death by natural causes, D-4 was for execution, and E-5 was for suicide.

F-6 was the code for Sonderbehandlung (special treatment) which meant “extermination, either by gas chamber or bullet,” according to Edwin Black who wrote IBM and the Holocaust.  Edwin Black got this information from the Public Records Office in Great Britain which has on file the confession of Josef Kramer, commandant of Bergen-Belsen, who was interrogated tortured by the British on May 22, 1945 after the Bergen-Belsen camp was voluntarily turned over to them.

Dachau was the camp where Catholic priests, who were mostly from Poland, were imprisoned. There were 2,579 priests sent to Dachau; most had been arrested as illegal combatants after the invasion of Poland by the Nazis on Sept. 1, 1939. There were also 447 German priests incarcerated at Dachau and at least one of them, Father Leonard Roth, was there because he had been arrested as a pedophile.

There were 110 homosexuals, 85 Jehovah’s Witnesses and 1,066 anti-socials in Dachau and its sub-camps on April 26, 1945, according to Berben’s book. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were German citizens who were being held because they had refused to serve in the German army. The Nazis referred to the Jehovah’s Witnesses as “volunteer prisoners” because they were free to go anytime they decided to join the Germany Army. They worked as servants in the homes of the SS officers.

There was at least one Dachau prisoner who had African Ancestry: Johnny Voste, a Belgian resistance fighter who had been arrested in 1942 for alleged sabotage, was one of the survivors of Dachau.

Dachau was mainly a camp for adult men, but there were a few children there according to Berben who was a member of the International Committee at Dachau, which controlled the camp near the end. He wrote the following in his book:

As has already been mentioned, there were times when even children were imprisoned in Dachau. The International Committee saw to it that they were not abandoned. A school was organized for Russian children under a Yugoslavian teacher, and the older ones were placed in Kommandos [subsidiary work camps of Dachau] where they were looked after by prisoners who tried not only to keep them in good health but to teach them the rudiments of a trade as well.

In the early days of the Dachau camp, many Jews were brought there as prisoners, although they were always classified as political prisoners or criminals who had broken the law. For example, on June 12, 1937, a number of Jews accused of “race defilement” were brought to Dachau, according to Martin Gilbert, author of the book entitled Holocaust, who wrote that there were “some three hundred Jews being held” at Dachau by 1937. Gilbert wrote about how 120 of these 300 Jews were released in the Fall of 1937 after negotiations between the Gestapo and David Glick, a Jewish lawyer in Pittsburgh, who was a representative of the American Joint Distribution Committee.

The following quote is from Gilbert’s book Holocaust:

The Gestapo agreed to release them on condition that the 120 Jews emigrated immediately to a country beyond Europe. At Glick’s urging, the British Consul General in Munich, Consul Carvell, agreed to issue Palestine visas on condition that 5,000 British pounds was paid into a bank outside Germany to assist the settlement of the released men in Palestine. The Joint agreed and paid the money. The Jews were released.

According to Paul Berben’s account, the prisoners who arrived at Dachau were particularly numerous in 1944, as the inmates in other camps were evacuated from the war zone. He wrote that the last prisoner number at the end of 1943 was 60.869. By the end of 1944, the last prisoner number was 137.244, which indicates that 76,375 new prisoners were probably brought to Dachau in 1944; most of them were sent to the sub-camps to work in the factories. The last prisoner numbers registered at Dachau were around 161.900. It was at this point that life in the Dachau concentration camp began to deteriorate, according to Paul Berben.

In the final desperate days of trying to evacuate prisoners from the camps to prevent them from being released by the Allies, there were around 6,000 prisoners brought to Dachau from Flossenbürg, Buchenwald and Leipzig, who were not registered nor given a number, according to Berben.

The organization of the Dachau concentration camp was based on the system of indirect rule, according to The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army. There were two separate spheres of control: the external control by the SS guards and the internal control by the prisoners themselves.

The top SS officers at Dachau, and at all the other camps in the Nazi system, did not exercise direct control over the prisoners, but rather used the internal organization of the camp which was in the hands of the prisoners themselves.

The prisoners’ internal organization was headed by the camp senior or Lagerältester. Reporting to the camp senior were

1. The camp secretary or Lagerschreiber and his staff, who were in charge of camp records.

2. The camp chief of police or Polizeifürher and the camp policemen, called the Lagerpolizei.

3. The chief of the Labor Allocation Office, which was called the Arbeitseinsatz, and his staff members who were in charge of the work performed outside the camp. The Labor Office sent out the work details for the Arbeits Kommandos, of which there were around 160, each headed by a foreman or Kapo.

The SS issued general orders and the orders were carried out by the internal organization of the prisoners.

The Camp Senior at Dachau, when the camp was liberated, was Oskar Mueller, who was a German Communist. He was also a member of the International Committee of Dachau, a prisoner’s group that took over the administration of the camp about six months before it was liberated. The previous Camp Senior was a Red Army officer named Melazarian, who was an Armenian, according to The Official Report by the U.S. Seventh Army.

To guard against sabotage in the factories at Dachau, the SS employed prisoners as spies and informants. These agents of the SS were usually German criminals; sometimes they were disguised as political prisoners with a red badge instead of the green badge of a criminal. When the American liberators arrived, some of these informants were beaten to death by the prisoners.

The prisoners, who were part of the camp administration, and the Kapos enjoyed privileges such as better food, clothing and living conditions. They were allowed to use the swimming pool in the SS camp next to the prison camp.