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February 19, 2014

My answer to a review of The Monuments Men, made by another blogger

Filed under: Germany, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:36 am

This morning, a comment was made, at 4:20 in the morning, on one of my previous blog posts, by “jenski katie” who did a review of The Monuments Men movie on her own blog at at

Scene from the movie The Monuments Men

Scene from the movie The Monuments Men

This quote is from jenski katie’s review of the movie The Monuments Men:

… As most of these artifacts were for Hitler’s own collection and in some cases they were bestowed to his best officers. The monuments men had to face a lot of difficulties from their forces as well. Whenever they tried to convince the raiding regiment to change their course of attack and hence avoid the unnecessary damage to the artifacts that might come in way they almost always refused to do so. Germans are planning to destroy these relics from history as much as 1000 years old meanwhile the monuments men do not agree with them and they must save the artifacts at all costs. The clock is ticking and the situation is getting worse. Will the monuments men be able to stand their ground?

The Ghent Altarpiece

The Ghent Altarpiece

I did my own review of the movie on Feb. 8th on my blog.  In my review, I said several times that the movie is hard to understand, unless you have read the book, on which the movie is based.  The book is The Monuments Men, Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, And The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel. This quote is from pages 150 and 151 of Edsel’s book:

Hitler knew it was impossible to steal renowned masterpieces on the scale of the Ghent Altarpiece without drawing the condemnation of the world.  While he had the conqueror’s mentality — he believed he was entitled to the spoils of war, and he was determined to have them — Hitler and the Nazis had gone to great lengths to establish new laws and procedures to “legalize” the looting activities that would follow. This included forcing the conquered countries to give him certain works as a term of their surrender. […] In 1940, Hitler […] had commissioned an inventory, later known as the Kümmel Report […]. The inventory listed every work of art in the Western world […] that rightly belonged to Germany. […] …this included every work [of art] taken from Germany since 1500… […] The Ghent Altarpiece was a touchstone and defining emblem of Belgian culture, but to the Nazis it was Germanic enough to belong to them. Even more important, six of the side panels (painted on both sides, representing fourteen scenes) of the Ghent Altarpiece had been owned by the German state prior to 1919.  The Germans had been forced under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to give the panels to Belgium as war reparations.

The movie The Monuments Men begins with a picture of the Ghent Altarpiece on the screen.  At that point, it would have been very helpful to explain that part of the Ghent Altarpiece had been owned by the German people for centuries, until Germany was forced to give 6 panels of the Altarpiece to Belgium as war reparations after World War I. But it was not only art treasures that the Germans lost through the Treaty of Versailles, which was forced upon Germany after World War I.  The German people also lost more than half of their country, which was given to Poland and other countries.  The Treaty of Versailles, which was forced upon the Germans, was what led to World War II, so it would have been helpful to mention this at the start of the movie. Instead The Monuments Men movie is all about how the Nazis stole all of the art in Europe and were planning to destroy it.  This movie is not a documentary, but a fictional movie for the masses.

This article, which you can read in full here, agrees with my opinion of the movie, and tells the true story of The Monuments men:

According to Karlsgodt, the depiction of Hitler’s Nero Decree is “oversimplified.” The decree was issued on March 19, 1945 as an attempt to prevent Allied forces from using resources against the Reich during the war. In it, Hitler ordered that “all military, transportation, communications, industrial, and food supply facilities” be destroyed, but it didn’t explicitly include art. In the movie, however, when Stokes reads the decree aloud, he lists “archives and art” among the things set to be destroyed. This, Karlsgodt points out, “enables the plot to move forward,” so that our heroes are “racing against the Germans who are set now to destroy the art if Hitler can’t have it.”

In actuality, Hitler’s will specified that his art go to German museums, “strong evidence” that he didn’t want that art destroyed. Karlsgodt also finds it highly improbable that the Monuments Men even knew about the decree during their mission. “The systematic destruction [as seen in the film] being carried out as a result of the Nero Decree never happened,” she says. “Nazis destroyed art that they considered degenerate, like Cubist, Surrealist, Expressionist paintings, and we know that they burned several thousand—at least—paintings that they thought were actually toxic to the German spirit… [But] they didn’t destroy the art they valued.” (This included Germanic art, and the Ghent Altarpiece depicted in the film, which Hitler considered to be an example of “Aryan genius.”)

Note that the article above mentions that “Nazis destroyed art that they considered degenerate.”  I blogged about degenerate art at

February 11, 2014

From start to finish, The Monuments Men book centers on the story of Harry Ettlinger

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 1:12 pm

The movie entitled The Monuments Men is based on a book written by Robert M. Edsel, which was published in 2009. After the “Author’s Note” in the front of the book, there are several pages of photographs of “the Monuments Men,” arranged in alphabetical order.  The second photo shows “Private Harry Ettlinger, U.S. Seventh Army.” The text, accompanying the photo reads: “A German Jew, Ettlinger fled Nazi persecution in 1938 with his family.”

You can read a news article about Harry Ettlinger at  The photo below accompanies the article. Dimitri Leonidas, who plays Harry Ettlinger in the movie, is shown on the far left.

From left, Dimitri Leonidas, John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bob Balaban in “The Monuments Men”

From left to right: Dimitri Leonidas, John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bob Balaban in “The Monuments Men”

Chapter 1 of Robert M. Edsel’s book is entitled “Out of Germany, Karlsruhe, Germany 1715 to 1938.”  The information in this chapter is about how “a Jewish congregation was established in [the city of ] Karlsruhe” in 1715.

In Chapter 1, we learn that, in 1800 “inhabitants of Germany became legally obligated to take a surname.” A Jew named Seligmann had emigrated to Karlsruhe from Ettlingen, a nearby town where his family had lived since 1600.  Seligmann took the surname Ettlinger; Harry Ettlinger is one of his descendents.

The purpose of Chapter 1, in Edsel’s book, is to establish that the Jews were Germans, who had a right to live in Germany.  The Nazis were wrong to persecute the Jews, who belonged in Germany. The Nazis were wrong to take the possessions of the Jews, especially the art that belonged to the Jews.

On page 10 of Edsel’s book, we learn that Harry Ettlinger’s maternal grandfather, Opa Oppenheimer, had an “art collection [which] contained almost two thousand prints, private ex libris bookplates and works by minor German Impressionists working in the late 1890s and early 1900s. One of the best was a print, made by a local artist, of the self-portrait by Rembrandt that hung in the Karlsruhe museum. […] In 1933, [after Hitler came to power] the museum had barred entry to Jews.”

According to Edsel’s book, the Ettlinger family left Germany in 1938, arriving in New York on October 9, 1938.  Exactly one month later, the event known as the “night of broken glass” [Kristallnacht] occurred.

This quote is from Edsel’s book:

The Jewish men of Karlsruhe were rounded up and put in the nearby Dachau internment camp. […] The magnificent hundred-year-old Konenstrasse Synagogue, where only weeks before Heinz Ludwig Chaim [Harry] Ettlinger had celebrated his bar mitzvah, was burned to the ground.  Harry Ettlinger was the last boy ever to have his bar mitzvah ceremony in the old synagogue of Karlsruhe.

But this story isn’t about the Kronenstrasse Synagogue, the internment camp at Dachau, or even the Holocaust against the Jews. It is about a different act of negation and aggression Hitler perpetrated on the people and nations of Europe: his war on culture. For when Private Harry Ettlinger, U.S. Army, finally returned to Karlsruhe, it wasn’t to search for his lost relatives or the remains of his community; it was to determine the fate of another aspect of his heritage stripped away by the Nazi regime: his grandfather’s beloved art collection. In the process he would discover, buried six hundred feet underground, something he had always known but never expected to see: the Rembrandt of Karlsruhe.

Harry Ettlinger was one of the Mountain Men

Harry Ettlinger looks at the picture that his grandfather owned

This quote is from pages 533 and 534, the last two pages in Edsel’s book:

… Harry learned another story about the mines in Heilbronn and Kochendorf.

In the Kochendorf mine, one or more chambers had been designed as secret manufacturing centers for the mass production of a crucial Nazi invention: the jet engine. […] The physical work at the mine, such as the expansion of the underground chambers, had been performed by fifteen hundred Hungarian Jewish slave laborers sent from Auschwitz to Germany. In September 1944, the British bombed Heilbronn to smithereens… […] As the roar of the planes retreated, a chant rose mysteriously from the black belly of the mine. […] It was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the Hungarian Jews were chanting the prayer of Kol Nidre.  […] In March 1945, less than a month before the arrival of the Americans, the slave laborers were shipped to Dachau.  Most of them froze to death during the five-day journey. The others were sent directly to the gas chamber.

The Monuments Men movie should have stuck to the story in the book by the same name, and featured Harry Ettlinger, because the book was about the Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis and stripped of their possessions, then sent to the gas chamber at Dachau.

As for the statement, in Edsel’s book, that the Hungarian Jews were sent directly to the gas chamber at Dachau, here is what really happened: According to a book published by the US Seventh Army immediately after the war, entitled Dachau Liberated, The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army, there was a total of 29,138 Jews brought to Dachau from other camps between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944.

The Official Report says that these Jews were brought to Dachau to be executed and that they were gassed in the gas chamber disguised as a shower room and also in the four smaller gas chambers, which the staff at the Dachau Memorial Site now claims were delousing chambers.

By November 1945, it was known that the 29,138 Jews brought to Dachau from other camps between June 20, 1944 and November 23, 1944 had been transferred to the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau to work in munitions factories and had not been gassed in the five gas chambers at Dachau, as stated in the Official Army Report that was written within days after the camp was liberated.

Contrary to what is stated in Edsel’s book, the Hungarian Jews who were working in the mines in Germany were not sent to the gas chamber at Dachau.

February 1, 2014

“to the victor belongs the spoils” even if you have to steal gold from an ally that helped to win the war

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:58 am

In doing some research about The Monuments Men, in preparation for seeing a new movie by the same name, I learned that the art treasures and the gold bullion, stored in the Merkers salt mine in Germany, was supposed to go to the Soviet Union, because it was located in the occupation zone that had been promised to the Russians.

German  gold was hidden in the  Merkers salt mine

German gold and art treasures were hidden in the Merkers salt mine

When General Patton heard about the gold in the Merkers mine, he claimed it for the USA and then notified General (“God, I hate the Germans”) Eisenhower.

The following quote, about the gold, is from this website:

Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure

By Greg Bradsher

Late on the evening of March 22, 1945, elements of Lt. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army crossed the Rhine, and soon thereafter his whole army crossed the river and drove into the heart of Germany. Advancing northeast from Frankfurt, elements of the Third Army cut into the future Soviet Zone and advanced on Gotha. Just before noon on April 4, the village of Merkers fell to the Third Battalion of the 358th Infantry Regiment, Ninetieth Infantry Division, Third Army. During that day and the next the Ninetieth Infantry Division, with its command post at Keiselbach, consolidated its holdings in the Merkers area.(1)

During April 4 and 5 [1945], displaced persons in the vicinity interrogated by the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) personnel of the Ninetieth Infantry Division mentioned a recent movement of German Reichsbank gold from Berlin to the Wintershal AG’s Kaiseroda potassium mine at Merkers. In all of these instances they quoted rumors, but none stated their own knowledge that gold was present in the mine. But just before noon on April 5, a member of Military Intelligence Team 404-G, attached to the 358th Infantry Regiment, who was in Bad Salzungen, about six miles from Merkers, interviewed French displaced persons who had worked in the mine at Merkers. They told him they had heard that gold had been stored in the mine. The information was passed on to the G-2 (intelligence section) of the Ninetieth Infantry Division, and orders were issued prohibiting all civilians from circulating in the area of the mine.(2)

You can read about Gotha on my website at

Note the date [April 4, 1945] that the Merkers mine was discovered by the Americans, after “displaced persons” told them about the gold.

"displaced persons" who have come back to the Ohrdruf camp

“displaced persons” who came back to the Ohrdruf camp after the Americans arrived

What is a “displaced person”?  This term refers to a former prisoner in a concentration camp, or a Nazi labor camp, who must find his way home because the Nazis have abandoned the camp where he was a prisoner.  The Nazis had abandoned the Ohrdruf  sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945, and had marched most the prisoners to the Buchenwald camp, except for a few who were too sick to walk, or a few who had escaped from the march.

How does one justify stealing “the spoils of war” from an ally [the Soviet Union], who has helped to defeat your enemy?  I know — let’s go to visit Ohrdruf, and make a big deal out of the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus. Let’s “build another page of the necessary evidence as to the brutality of the Germans” as General Patton wrote to General Eisenhower. Let’s take a photo of the dead bodies that were burned at Ohrdruf, and claim that the Germans had burned prisoners alive. Let’s build a museum in Washington, DC  and hang a photo of the burned bodies in front of the museum door.

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

This quote is also from the article written by Greg Bradsher:

[Col. Bernard D.] Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

On April 11 Bernstein returned to Merkers, and that morning, after arranging with Mason for setting up a command post at the mine building for the G-5 officers, he and Rave made an inspection of the art treasures. Later that day Lt. George Stout [one of the Monuments Men], USNR, MFAA Officer, G-5, Twelfth Army Group, and the SHAEF MFAA chief, British Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, reported for duty, with the expectation that they would handle the art matters. After Posey’s earlier visit to Merkers, he had notified Webb of the treasure and recommended Stout, former chief of conservation at Harvard’s Fogg Museum and considered America’s greatest expert on the techniques of packing and transporting, be sent to the mine to provide technical guidance. Webb and Stout arrived at Merkers only to find that they needed Bernstein’s permission to see the art. Bernstein showed them his letter from Gay authorizing him to decide who went into the mine and the need for Eddy’s permission for Allied personnel to inspect the mine. Bernstein agreed to let Stout view the works of art, but he denied Webb access.(40)  [George Stout is played by George Clooney in the movie The Monuments Men.]

Bernstein and Bartlett arrived at the 357th Infantry Regiment Command Post in Merkers at 5 p.m. on April 10. Accompanied by Mason, they went on a tour of the mine to see the vault containing the gold, currency, and art treasure. That evening Bernstein interviewed Veick and Reimer about the gold, currency, and other valuables, as well as any records relating to the gold. Veick provided detailed information about the transportation of the Reichsbank treasure to Merkers and the currency transactions during March and the first days of April. He said he did not know that much about the gold, but Thoms did; “He knows all,” Veick said. Reimer told Bernstein that “the records of the sale of the gold are with Thoms.”(38)

Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

January 29, 2014

New movie The Monuments Men opening Feb. 7, 2014

I have been reading the book entitled The Rape of Europa by Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas, in order to prepare for the new movie The Monuments Men which will open in theaters on  Feb. 7, 2014.  You can see a trailer for the movie below.

The trailer for the movie tells us that “the Nazis have been stealing art” and that there are “5 million pieces of stolen art” that the Monuments Men must find and preserve because “Hitler wants to destroy everything.”  Basically, “the Nazis are on the run and they have taken everything with them” according to the movie trailer.  The Monuments Men must find the art and save the culture of the world from the Nazis.  Sounds good to me.

The evil Nazis have stolen all the art in Europe and The Monuments Men have been “tasked” to find it.

What?  The Germans didn’t have any art of their own? They had stolen the art from Warsaw and other places with the intent of destroying it, according to the trailer for the movie.

At one point in the movie, the fictional character, played by George Clooney, explains the importance of the mission of The Monuments  Men:  “If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed,” he says. “That’s what Hitler wants and it’s the one thing we can’t allow.”

So the theme of the movie seems to be that a group of American art experts are going to prevent Hitler from destroying an entire generation of culture.  Hitler was an artist himself and he was planning an art museum in his home town of Linz, Austria, after the war.

According to the book entitled The Rape of Europa, the Nazis had stashed the art in a salt mine at Alt Aussee.  You can read what Wikipedia says about Altaussee at

Note the difference in the spelling of Altaussee.

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

August Eigruber was put on trial by the American Military Tribunal

This quote is from page 316 of The Rape of Europa:

The basic legend tells us that [August] Eigruber put bombs in the mines [at Altaussee] with the intention of blowing up everything, and that heroic Austrian Resistance workers removed them and thereby saved the priceless works for humanity. […]

…Hitler had ordered [Alt Aussee] and other repositories sealed and the works of art preserved at all  costs.

[The] next ploy was to try to persuade [August] Eigruber that the bombs would not destroy everything inside unless the mine entrances were sealed.  This would make the bombs inaccessible but the engineers convinced [Eigruber] that [the bombs] could be detonated by a long fuse to the exterior.  […]

Eigruber’s opponents turned to the highest [Nazi] Party authority still available [after Hitler’s suicide] — SS Intelligence Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was well known in Alt Aussee, where he kept a mistress.

Kaltenbrunner authorized the immediate removal of the bombs and promised to so inform Eigruber. […] On May 5 [1945]  the mine entrances were blasted shut.  Inside, the scattered masterpieces rested safely in the darkness.

This quote is also from the book entitled The Rape of Europa by  Ms. Lynn H. Nicholas:

By the summer of 1943 an Austrian official, Dr. Herbert Seiberl, had completed an investigation of the labyrinthine network of salt  mines in the Salzkammergut, a chic summer resort area high in the mountains of Salzberg. [..] The most suitable was at Alt Aussee where the main chambers lay more than a mile inside the mountain, reachable only by tiny special trains. Seiberl’s belief that the conditions would be ideal was supported by his discovery of a little chapel inside the mine in which oil paintings had been hanging since 1933 without ill effect. [..]

Seiberl was thinking of this place not for the Linz holdings [of Hitler], but for the Austrian collections, now for the first time within range of Allied bombers coming from Italy. […this mine] was immediately claimed for the exclusive use of the Führer. […] The arrangement met with Hitler’s approval. […]

In quite another mood, in August 1944 Hitler had ordered  all military installations, utilities, communications, archives, monuments, food stores, and transportation facilities destroyed as the German armies retreated so that only a wasteland would await the Allies. […] Albert Speer, who had proposed a more realistic program, was removed from office for a time, but eventually managed to compromise with the Führer and change the order for destruction to “disabling” all the while working under Hitler’s orders.

In addition to the scorched-earth order, on every front soldiers and Gauleiters were commanded to fight to the last or face execution, Hitler’s theory being, as Wolff had found out in Italy, that if they held out long enough, the Western Allies would join Germany to defeat Bolshevism. In this scenario Germany would remain intact, and the purloined treasures would be used. They must, therefore, be kept from the enemy as long as possible.  Indeed, in his will, written the day before his suicide, Hitler stipulated that his collections should be given to the [German] nation.  […]

Gauleiter Eigruber of Oberdonau had taken Hitler’s scorched earth decrees deeply to heart and was persuaded that the works of art at Alt Aussee should not fall into the hands of the Bolshevists [Communists] or “International Jewry.”   […]

The story of Eigruber’s fanatic desire for destruction, and the efforts to stop him, has become the legend of Alt Aussee.  […]

Strangely, Eigruber’s plot to blow up the art in the salt mine was not mentioned in his trial as a war criminal by the American Military Tribunal, which I wrote about on my website at

This quote, about August Eigruber, is from Wikipedia:

Right after Germany’s unconditional surrender in May 1945, Eigruber was arrested in the Salzkammergut by the United States Army, and he was questioned as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials. In the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials, Eigruber was sentenced in March 1946 by the Dachau International Military Tribunal to death by hanging for his responsibility for crimes at Mauthausen concentration camp. The sentence was carried out in the prison yard at Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech on May 28, 1947.


January 10, 2014

At last, the truth about war criminal August Eigruber comes out

In preparation for a new movie, coming out in February 2014, I am reading the book by Robert M. Edsel, entitled The Monuments Men.  The movie, also entitled The Monuments Men, is based on the book.

I ordered the book from and started reading it two days ago.  The book is 540 pages long, so of course I didn’t start reading it on page one.  No, I went straight to the index and started looking up words that would lead me to the important parts of the book.

The first word that I looked up in the index was Ohrdruf.  I have written extensively about Ohrdruf on my website and on my blog.  I found the name August Eigruber while I was looking up something else.

August Eigruber on the witness stand, Lt. Col. Denson on the right

August Eigruber on the witness stand, Lt. Col. Denson on the right

August Eigruber was put on trial by American prosecutors in an American Military Tribunal proceeding against the war criminals associated with the Mauhausen Concentration camp. In the photo above, Lt. Col. William Denson, the American prosecutor, seems to be amused by Eigruber’s testimony.

Several years ago, I wrote about Eigruber on my website.

The following quote is from my website:

The “big fish” among the accused in the Mauthausen case was August Eigruber, the former Gauleiter of Upper Austria. He was charged with participating in the common design to violate the Laws and Usages of War because, along with other alleged crimes, he had been involved in helping Heinrich Himmler to acquire the property where the Mauthausen camp was built. Hartheim Castle, near Linz, was also under Eigruber’s jurisdiction and he had leased it to the Reich. Prisoners from Mauthausen had been taken to the castle to be gassed, according to confessions obtained by the American military interrogators from several of the accused men.

Eigruber was an associate of such top Nazis as Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Adolf Eichmann and Adolf Hitler, all of whom were from Austria. He was also a friend of Martin Bormann, who was Hitler’s deputy. When he refused to talk after he was captured, Eigruber was sent to Washington, DC for questioning. Eigruber’s importance was such that he was originally slated to be among the men who were tried at the Nuremberg IMT.

According to Joshua Greene’s book Justice at Dachau, the chief prosecutor at Dachau, Lt. Col. William Denson, put in a call to Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg IMT and told him, “Send me Eigruber. I’ll hang him high as Haman.” Haman was the villain in the biblical story on which the Jewish holiday of Purim is based. Denson made good on his boast: Eigruber was hanged on May 28, 1947.

On February 18, 1946, August Eigruber was brought from Nuremberg to Dachau and turned over to Lt. Paul Guth for interrogation. Lt. Guth testified on the witness stand that he had not coerced or threatened Eigruber in any way. Although he had previously refused to talk, Eigruber voluntarily signed a statement for Lt. Guth the next day, in which he admitted that he was responsible for leasing Hartheim Castle to the Reich in 1939 for the killing of mental patients who were incurably ill or unable to work. He also admitted to inspecting the Mauthausen gas chamber once and to participating in the execution of ten prisoners of unknown nationality during the night in March or April 1945. Eigruber’s statement ended with the following words:

“This statement was made by me on three pages on the 19th of February 1946, in Dachau, Germany, of my own free will and without compulsion. To save time, a clerk wrote it down on a typewriter. I have read through it, and I have made corrections that appeared necessary to me. The above declaration contains my statements, and I swear before God that it is the entire truth. Signed, August Eigruber.”


Lt. Col. William Denson became famous for his 100% conviction rate in the first four proceedings conducted by the American Military Tribunal at Dachau. He died in 1998 at the age of 85 and in his obituary, he was quoted as saying that August Eigruber was “one of the most arrogant defendants I have ever encountered.” Eigruber was allegedly tortured to force him to confess, and there is even a rumor that he was “mutilated and castrated” after he was captured, but apparently even that didn’t humble him.

On page 505 of The Monuments Men, I read this about August Eigruber:

[Eigruber] was found guilty of war crimes committed at the Mauthausen concentration camp, including the execution of prisoners of war.

Much of the evidence used to convict [Eigruber] was from archives found in the salt mine at Altausee, probably another reason [Eigruber] was so keen to destroy the mine.

Altaussee salt mine where German art was stored

Altaussee salt mine where German art was stored

The photo above is from Wikipedia which has this caption on the photo:
Altaussee, May 1945 after the removal of the Nazi-bombs at the Nazi stolen art repository (Altaussee salt mine)

So maybe Eigruber actually did try to blow up the salt mine where German art treasures were stored.  This brings up the question:  Was he brought to America to be tortured into confessing that he had planted a bomb to destroy evidence against himself?

I wrote about the Prisoners of War, who were killed at Mauthausen, on my website here.  The Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention of 1929, and they were killing German POWs, so the Germans did not think that they were obligated to observe the Geneva Convention with regard to the Soviet Union.

August Eigruber did not personally commit any war crimes at Mauthausen. He didn’t personally execute POWs. He was charged with crimes at Mauthausen under the “common plan” concept that was invented by the Allies AFTER the war.  Under this concept, anyone who had anything whatsoever to do with a concentration camp was a war criminal.

Apparently Eigruber’s real crime was that he wanted to blow up the Altaussee salt mine to destroy the “spoils of war” to which the Americans felt that they were entitled.

On page 371 of The Monuments Men, I read this:

… [Bernard] Bernstein (one of the Monuments Men) was proceeding under the assumption that everything in the [Merkers] mine, including the [German] artwork, was captured enemy loot.  It would be months before he was disavowed of that notion.

On page 374, I had read that the Merkers mine (near Ohrdruf) was in the part of Germany that had been promised to the Soviet Union.  So Bernard Bernstein was proceeding under the assumption that Americans would not only steal all the German art treasures from the Germans, but they would also steal everything from the Soviets, who were entitled to the loot from their future zone of occupation of Germany.

So it turns out that Eigruber’s crime was that he wanted to destroy art that belonged to Germany, rather than see it go to the enemy as the “spoils of war.”  Strangely, that was not mentioned in the book about the trials of the German war criminals.

On page 371, just after the quote about Bernard Bernstein, we find this information about the Ohrdruf labor camp:

A[n Allied] guard showed us how the blood had congealed in coarse black scabs where the starving prisoners had torn out the entrails of the dead for food.

In all my research about Ohrdruf, I never learned about the starving prisoners eating the entrails of the dead for food.  I had to look up the word entrails to make sure of the meaning of the word.  Entrails are the intestines or guts of an animal or human being.  The food in the intestines has been digested and is on its way to being shit.  I can’t think of anything more likely to kill a person than eating entrails.

American officer Hayden Sears talks to Ohrdruf survivors

American officer Hayden Sears talks to Ohrdruf survivors

The photo above shows well dressed and well fed survivors of Ohrdruf talking to an American Army officer.  Apparently, eating entrails had not affected them.

The story of eating entrails at Ohrdruf was told by “an Allied guard.”  Why did the Germans have an “Allied guard” at a labor camp?  Could this have been a Kapo, that was an illegal combatant imprisoned at Ohrdruf, who helped the German guards?

The photo below shows a Kapo, standing on the left, who acted as a guide for General Eisenhower and other American military officers at Ohrdruf.  The next day, this man was killed by the other prisoners.

The man on the far left is a Kapo who worked as a helper at the Ohrdruf camp

The man on the far left is a Kapo who worked as a helper at the Ohrdruf camp

Finally, I started reading the book, starting with Chapter 1, which is about Harry Ettlinger, a Jew from Karlsruhe, Germany who escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, and came to America, where he settled in Newark, New Jersey.  The book tells about how Ettlinger had a hard time getting out of Germany because no country wanted to take the Jews who were fleeing the Nazis. As a German Jew, Ettlinger was the perfect candidate for the group, known as The Monuments Men.

General Eisenhower inspects the gold in the Merker mine near Ohrdruf

General Eisenhower inspects the gold in the Merkers mine near Ohrdruf

In the photo above, the soldier on the far left is Benjamin B. Ferencz.  Strangely, he is not included in the index of the book The Monuments Men. In 1945, Ferencz was transferred from General Patton’s army to the newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army, where his job was to gather evidence for future trials of German war criminals. A Jew from Transylvania, Ferencz had moved with his family to America at the age of 10 months.