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May 16, 2017

Death statistics at the Buchenwald concentration camp

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:37 am



The photo above shows American soldiers entering the gate into the Buchenwald camp after it was liberated.

One of the readers of my blog wrote in a comment that a recent news article mentioned that “at least 56,000 prisoners died at the Buchenwald camp.”

The 56,000 number is an estimate that was given, many years ago, by someone at the Memorial Site.

On April 19, 1945, only 8 days after the concentration camp had been liberated by the US Army, the Communist prisoners at Buchenwald held a mourning ceremony near the gate house where they had constructed an obelisk in honor of the victims. The obelisk is shown in the photo below.

Memorial in honor of the prisoners who died at Buchenwald

On June 5, 2009, President Barack Obama placed a single white rose on a plaque at the spot where this obelisk once stood. “The White Rose” was a student resistance group at the University of Munich which had opposed Hitler’s government during World War II.

The obelisk, shown in the photo above, was relocated in 1961 to the intersection in the road where the access road to the camp branches off the main road. The writing on the plaque lists the 18 countries of the victims.

In 1999, I went to visit the Memorial Site, where I learned that the official number of deaths at Buchenwald, that was given by the first U.S. Army Intelligence report, dated April 24, 1945, was 32,705.

After the camp was liberated, the Jews who were held in the “Small Camp” in the quarantine barracks at the bottom of the slope, which were the farthest away from the gate house, were not invited to attend the ceremony held by the Communist political prisoners. At this ceremony, the number of prisoners who died in the camp was estimated by the survivors to be 51,000.

In 1999 the Memorial Site at Buchenwald was giving an estimate of 56,000 prisoners who were killed at Buchenwald.

According to a booklet that I obtained from the Buchenwald Memorial Site, which was written by Sabine and Harry Stein, “A total of 11,000 Jews lost their lives in Buchenwald. Out of the 13,969 inmates who died in 1945, there were 7,000 Jews.”

The booklet written by Sabine and Harry Stein, which was available from the Memorial Site in 1999, states that, in addition to the number of recorded deaths at Buchenwald, “More than 8,000 Soviet prisoners of war were shot in the stable. An estimated number of 1,100 people were executed in the crematorium and an estimated number of between 12,000 and 15,000 people were dead upon arrival from the camps in the east or fell victim to the evacuation marches. This gives a total number of approximately 56,000 persons killed.”

The first U.S. Army Intelligence report, dated April 24, 1945, put the Buchenwald death toll at 32,705.

According to a U.S. Army report dated May 25, 1945, there was a total of 238,980 prisoners sent to Buchenwald during its 8-year history from July 1937 to April 11, 1945, and 34,375 of them died in the camp. This report was based on records confiscated from the camp by the US military, after the camp was liberated.

A later U.S. Government report in June, 1945 put the total deaths at 33,462 with 20,000 of the deaths in the final months of the war.

In the first news reel film about what the victorious American troops discovered in Germany near the end of the war, the narrator says that “20,000 out of the 80,000 prisoners at Buchenwald were found alive.” This would mean that 60,000 prisoners died at Buchenwald, which contradicts the Army reports.

The International Tracing Service of Arolsen, an affiliate of the Red Cross, released a report in 1984 which said that the number of documented deaths in Buchenwald was 20,671 plus an additional 7,463 at the notorious satellite camp called Dora, where prisoners were forced to work underground in the manufacturing of V-2 rockets for the German military. (In October 1944, Dora became an independent camp named Nordhausen.)

According to a guidebook which I purchased at Buchenwald in 1999, there were almost 10,000 Jews sent to Buchenwald on November 10, 1938, after the pogrom known as Kristallnacht, and more than 200 of them died after only a few weeks.

The Jews who died in 1945, in the last months of World War II, were prisoners who had been brought to Germany from the camps that were closed in the East as the Germans retreated from the advancing Soviet army. Under Article 7 of the 1929 Geneva Convention, Germany was obligated to move prisoners away from the combat zone.

According to an information booklet, which I obtained from the Buchenwald Memorial Site, records kept by the camp secretary show the number of deaths each year in Buchenwald, as follows:

1937 – 48

1938 – 771

1939 – 1235

1940 – 1772

1941 – 1522

1942 – 2898

1943 – 3516

1944 – 8644

January to March 1945 – 13,056

March to April 11, 1945 – 913

Total 34,375

The horrendous death toll during the first two months of 1945 was due to a typhus epidemic in the camp. During the same time period, there were also severe epidemics in all the other major concentration camps in Germany.

Typhus is spread by lice and prisoners coming into Germany from the death camps in what is now Poland were the carriers of the lice. The worst epidemic of all was at Bergen-Belsen where 35,000 prisoners died in March and the first two weeks of April 1945.

The death statistics for the first 11 days of April in Buchenwald indicate that the typhus epidemic was being brought under control there.

The Nazis did not use DDT, which was first used to stop epidemics in Europe in 1943. To kill the lice that spreads typhus, the Nazis used Zyklon-B, a poison gas which was also used to kill the Jews in the gas chambers in the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek camps.

The total number of prisoners at Buchenwald was only 5,382 at the start of the war on September 1, 1939, but by the end of September 1939, the camp population had increased to 8,634 after captured Polish soldiers were brought in. By December 1943, there were 37,319 prisoners in the camp, as Resistance fighters from Poland were brought in, along with many Soviet Prisoners of War that were sent to Buchenwald to be executed because they were Communist Commissars. The Soviet POWs were not registered as inmates.

There were 63,084 prisoners in the Buchenwald complex, including the sub-camps, in December 1944 according to the camp records. The population of the main camp and all the sub-camps reached 80,436 in late March 1945 after the death camps in what is now Poland were closed and the Jewish survivors were brought to various camps in Germany, including Buchenwald.

Many concentration camp inmates died on enforced marches, and thousands more died after they were evacuated out of Buchenwald by train in April 1945.

According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, “on April 6, 1945, the Germans began evacuating the Jewish prisoners. The following day, thousands of prisoners of various nationalities were evacuated from the main camps and the satellite camps. Of the 28,250 prisoners evacuated from the main camp, 7,000 to 8,000 either were killed or died by other means in the course of the evacuation. The total number of prisoners from the satellite camps and the main camp who fell victim during the evacuation of Buchenwald is estimated at 25,500….”

Among the prisoners, who died as a result of the evacuation from Buchenwald, were those on the “death train” that reached Dachau on April 28, 1945 after a three-week circuitous route through Czechoslovakia.

The total number of prisoners registered in the Buchenwald camp was around 238,000 according to a guidebook for the city of Weimar, which is about 5 miles from Buchenwald. This book puts the death total at 65,000. Various other sources put the total number of people sent to the camp between 239,000 and 250,000.

September 13, 2015

The full story of the march of Dachau prisoners to the South Tyrol

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 5:50 pm
The death march from Dachau to the South Tyrol

The death march, of Jews and Russian prisoners of war, from the Dachau concentration camp to the South Tyrol

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.  The photo above shows the prisoners on this march.

There seems to be a controversy, among the readers of my blog, regarding the march of the Dachau prisoners to the South Tyrol in the days just before the concentration camp was liberated. Were the prisoners marched out of the camp to kill them, or to save them?

The days and weeks just before the liberation of Dachau was 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 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 Hitler’s 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 called Dachau 1933 – 1945: The Official History:

Begin quote

At the beginning of the evacuation of these 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 the typhus epidemic spread.

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.

Eng quote
According to Paul Berben, there were 18,296 deaths in the main camp and all the subcamps 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.

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:

“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; he said that he himself 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:

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 prisoners on the march to the South Tyrol 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:

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.

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:

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.

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 own 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.

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:

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.

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.

End quote

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.

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:

Begin quote

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:

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.

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.


June 26, 2015

Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Bergen Belsen today, June 26, 2015

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 4:09 pm
My 2001 photo of the entrance stone at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the entrance stone at Bergen-Belsen

The words on the stone at the entrance into the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Site give the dates that this area was used as a prison camp, first for Prisoners of War in 1940, then as an exchange camp in 1943, and then for sick prisoners in 1944.

It was not until December 2, 1944 that Bergen-Belsen became a concentration camp.

A news story about the Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Bergen-Belsen begins with this quote:

Bergen-Belsen was the only concentration camp to be liberated by the British, who arrived on April 15, 1945, to scenes that shocked the world thanks to the accounts of BBC war reporter Richard Dimbleby.

Oops! What the news article failed to mention is that the Germans had sent a man to contact the British, who were fighting on the battlefield nearby. The Germans came to beg the British to come to the camp because a typhus epidemic at the camp were out of control. The Germans asked the British to take over because they were losing the war and they could not handle the epidemic.

Yet, every article about Bergen-Belsen that you will ever read, and including every article that you won’t read, tells you that the British broke down the gates into the Belsen camp and saved the inmates in the nick of time before the Germans could kill them all.

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

Queen meets with Bergen Belsen survivors

The woman on the far right, in the photo above, is Anita Lasker-Wallfisch. I have written two previous blog posts about Anita Lasker-Wallfisch.

This quote is from the news article:

Begin quote:

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch a Jew born in Breslau in what is now Poland, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 because she was travelling with forged papers.

After spells in prison and in Auschwitz, she arrived in Belsen in October 1944.

Asked what it was like to live in Belsen, she said: “It was more like dying there, not living there.

“There was nothing, it was the end, there was no food, nothing. The only reason anyone survived was because the British came in time.

“When the British came it was a miracle, we thought we were dreaming, suddenly we heard an English voice.”

End quote

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip pass by the memorial stone to the Jews

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip pass by the memorial stone to the Jews at the Bergen-Belsen memorial site

The back side of the Jewish Monument has an English translation of the words on the front:

“Israel and the world shall remember thirty thousand Jews exterminated in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen at the hands of the murderous Nazis. EARTH CONCEAL NOT THE BLOOD SHED ON THEE! First anniversary of Liberation 15th April 1946 Central Jewish Committee Brtish Zone”

My 2001 photo of the Jewish Monument that Queen Eliza passed by

My 2001 photo of the Jewish Monument with the House of Silence in the background

My close-up photo of the monument that the Queen passed on by

My close-up photo of the monument that the Queen passed on by, disrespecting the Jews

My photo above shows the Jewish Monument, which was erected on the first anniversary of the camp liberation, 15 April 1946.

In the background is a modern building where visitors can spend time quietly reflecting on the tragedy which occurred in this spot.

House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My photo of the House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the inside of the House of Silence at Bergen-Belsen

My 2001 photo of the inside of the House of Silence at the memorial site at Bergen-Belsen

I took this photo of a note left in the House of Silence

I took this photo of a note left in the House of Silence

The words on a note left in the House of Silence say: “It was horrible what was done to the people. Remember it. Peace is the only thing what I wish.”

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

Monument to Chaim Hertzog at Bergen-Belsen

The photo above shows a memorial stone for Chaim Herzog, president of Israel, who died April 17, 1997.

This is an honorary stone; Herzog is not buried at Bergen-Belsen. As a young intelligence officer from Palestine, serving in the British Army, Herzog was with the British troops that took over Bergen-Belsen.

His father was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland and later became the first Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel. Herzog was present when Heinrich Himmler allegedly committed suicide after being captured by the British.

The news article did not mention whether the Queen paid her respects to Herzog.

My photo of the obelisk at Bergen-Belsen, taken in the rain in 2001

My 2001 photo of the obelisk at Bergen-Belsen, taken in the rain. This stone honors all those who died at Belsen

The obelisk and wall in honor of the victims, shown in the photo above, was erected in 1947 on the orders of the British military occupation government. In the foreground, you can see one of the mass graves, and two more mass graves in the background.

Inscription at base of obelisk honors British victims at Bergen-Belsen

Inscription at the base of the obelisk honors the British victims at Bergen-Belsen

Queen Elizabeth paid homage to the British victims who are honored on the stone shown in the photo above.

The photo below shows her placing flowers at the British memorial at the obelisk.

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelisk

Queen Elizabeth lays wreath at the obelis

I think that the Jews might complain that the Queen did not bow low enough to them on her trip to Belsen.

February 29, 2012

the Lessons from Auschwitz project

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:36 am

I am writing about the Lessons from Auschwitz project again today because I learned this from an article that was published by The Jewish Chronicle Online on Feb. 17, 2012:

Before the Nazis came, Jews accounted for almost two-thirds of Oswiecim’s then 12,000 population. Not a single Jew lives there now.

A student who has taken a trip sponsored by the Lessons from Auschwitz project commented on a previous post on my blog, disputing my statement that there is currently no Jewish community in Oswiecim.

This quote is also from the article in the JC Online website:

A disbelieving hush descends on the Home Counties sixth-formers touring the Auschwitz memorial and museum as they enter a room housing a mountainous display of human hair – equivalent to that shorn from 40,000 women, their Polish guide explains quietly.

What else did the Polish guide explain quietly to the students?  Maybe she said something like this:

Notice that the hair is decomposing.  Human hair does not decompose.  This hair has been treated with chemicals to kill any lice that may have been in the hair.  The hair was shorn from the heads of all the prisoners, women and men alike, the moment that they arrived at Auschwitz, so as not to bring in lice that spreads typhus.  In spite of all the precautions that were taken by the Germans, there were two typhus epidemics at the Birkenau camp which caused thousands of deaths.  But it was nothing like the epidemic during World War I, in which 4 million people died from typhus in Poland.

Did the Polish guide really say that to the students?  No, of course not.  Students are led to believe that the hair was shorn from the women in order to humiliate them and to obtain hair that the Germans could use to make cloth.

Women had their hair shorn off upon arrival at Birkenau

Cloth was made from the hair of Auschwitz prisoners

This quote is from the JC Online article:

The 183 students and two dozen teachers are halfway through a day trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust as part of its Lessons from Auschwitz project. On the preceding Sunday, they had gathered in London to hear an emotive address from survivor Susan Pollack, whose extended family was all but wiped out in the Holocaust.   […]

The latest group takes participation in Lessons from Auschwitz beyond the 15,000 mark. The final elements of the programme – which is supported by the government and the Welsh and Scottish administrations – are a post-trip seminar and taking what they have learned into their schools and beyond.

I googled Susan Pollack and found this website which gives the story of Susan Pollack:

The family was first held in the Vac ghetto and Monor internment camp before moving, in May 1944, to Auschwitz, in the last transport of Hungarians. “Day after day in a dark, closed wagon, no hygiene, no food or water, people dying. There was not a breath of fresh air.’   […]

Susan was transferred to the Gubben slave labour camp and finally force-marched to Bergen-Belsen in the winter of 1944-45. “On liberation, I was virtually a corpse, unable to walk, and would soon have died.”

Note that Susan Pollack was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then transferred.  Birkenau was a transit camp, as well as a death camp.  That explains why there are so many Holocaust survivors alive today.  There was a typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen in the last months of the war and Susan may have been “virtually a corpse” because she had typhus.

August 7, 2011

Gen. Eisenhower predicted Holocaust denial long before it started

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:26 am

In the news today, I learned that House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in which he compared the work of MEMRI to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s efforts to prevent Holocaust denial after American troops discovered the Ohrdruf labor camp, a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, on April 4, 1945.

This quote is from the article in The Washington Times:

“Eisenhower ordered all available American troops to go and witness the horrors he’d just seen. He also forced German citizens and officials from nearby towns to do the same,” Mr. Boehner said in the letter.

“He understood that there must be a record, first-hand evidence and incontrovertible answers to those who would deny the Holocaust.”

Men from the town of Ohrdruf view the bodies found at the Ohrdruf labor camp

Civilians forced to enter barracks to view bodies of prisoners who died from typhus

Gen. Eisenhower was worried that future generations would not believe the horror that American soldiers had seen at Ohrdruf. Civilians in the town of Ohrdruf, who had nothing to do with the camp, were ordered to enter the lice-infested barracks to view the dead bodies. After their forced visit, the mayor of the town and his wife went home — and killed themselves!

Notice in the first photo that some of the bodies appear to be partially burned.  The Germans burned the bodies in an effort to stop the typhus epidemic; they had no DDT nor vaccine to prevent the epidemic.  Did Gen. Eisenhower order that all the civilians in the nearby town should be vaccinated?  No, of course not.  He was only concerned with spreading propaganda that would cause future generations to hate the Germans for all time.  How many of those civilians got typhus as a result of being exposed to this disease without being vaccinated?

For all of his efforts, Gen. Eisenhower did not succeed in stopping Holocaust denial.  If anything, he made it worse.

You can read all about Ohrdruf on my web site here.

November 24, 2010

Why didn’t Germany use DDT during World War II to stop typhus epidemics?

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:52 am

There are two possible answers to the question of why the Germans didn’t use DDT to stop the typhus epidemics that killed so many people at the tail end of World War II.

1.  DDT was not available in Germany.

2. Germany had already discovered that DDT has dangerous side effects.

I don’t know the answer to this question myself, but I am hoping that a knowledgeable reader can provide the answer.

After doing a little research on the Internet, I learned that DDT was first synthesized in 1874 by German chemist Othmar Zeidler, but DDT was not used as an insecticide until 1939. It was in 1939 that Swiss scientist Paul Hermann Muller discovered the insect-killing properties of DDT.

DDT was used for years in America until it was discovered that when DDT is ingested by humans, it is stored in body fats and can be passed on to nursing babies.

According to this web site:

“Low levels of DDT in humans are harmless but large concentrations can cause severe health problems such as liver cancer. When applied to an insect, DDT is easily absorbed through the body surface. After attacking the nervous system, DDT causes paralysis. Some insects have a resistance to DDT, thereby making the insecticide ineffective. These resistant insects are able to reproduce and pass this trait on to their offspring.”

If the Germans knew this in the 1940s, why didn’t they tell us?
It was not until the 1970s that Americans began to worry about the harmful effects of DDT on the environment. In June 1972, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) canceled all use of DDT on crops. Did the Germans know this 30 years before we figured it out?

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945, but the former inmates had to be kept inside the prison enclosure until all danger of spreading the typhus epidemic, that was killing the prisoners, had passed.

Just before the Americans arrived, up to 400 prisoners had been dying each day in the typhus epidemic which was out of control, according to the testimony of the Chief Doctor of the camp at the proceedings of the American Military Tribunal in November 1945.

DDT was sprayed directly on the prisoners at Dachau by the American liberators

On May 2, 1945, the American military’s 116th Evacuation Hospital arrived at Dachau and set up operations. According to a report made on May 20, 1945, there were 140 prisoners still dying each day in the camp; the principle causes of death were starvation, tuberculosis, typhus and dysentery. On the day the Americans arrived, there had been 4,000 prisoners in the prison hospital and an unknown number of sick prisoners in the barracks who had been receiving no medical attention.

Typhus ward set up by the Americans in the SS barracks

There were 18 one-story wooden SS barrack buildings in the Dachau army garrison, next door to the concentration camp, which were converted into hospital wards by the Americans. The American Army medical personnel were housed in the SS administration building. A Typhus Commission arrived and began vaccinating all medical personnel and the prisoners. There was a daily dusting of DDT to kill the lice which spreads typhus.  The photos above show a prisoner being dusted on the top of his head to kill the lice that spreads typhus and typhus patients in the typhus ward set up in the SS barracks next door to the Dachau concentration camp.

American reporters view the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus in the Dachau concentration camp

The photo above was taken on May 3, 1945 when American reporters were brought to see the bodies of Dachau prisoners who had died of typhus.  This was the day that the sick prisoners in the Dachau barracks were taken to the hospital wards set up by the Americans. The sick prisoners were bathed, dusted with DDT powder and given clean pajamas to wear; their old prison clothes were burned.

On this same day, May 3, 1945, the American liberators were busy filming the fake gas chamber that they had just constructed in the shower room at Dachau.  The film of the fake gas chamber was shown at the Nuremberg IMT on Nov. 29, 1945.

By July 1945, the typhus epidemic in the Dachau concentration camp had been completely brought under control by the US Army doctors, and all the prisoners had either been released or moved to a Displaced Persons camp at Landsberg am Lech. Around 2500 prisoners died of typhus before the epidemic could be stopped. Before being allowed to leave, the former inmates at Dachau were tested for any signs of typhus by the American doctors, as shown in the photo below.

Dachau prisoners had to pass a typhus test before they could leave Dachau

So why couldn’t the Germans have done what the Americans did?  Just spray all the prisoners with DDT to kill the lice, and burn all the clothes that were filled with lice.  Was there no DDT available in Germany?  Why didn’t America send a couple of tons of DDT over to them?

Instead, the Germans used Zyklon-B in Gaskammeren (gas chambers) at Dachau to kill lice in the prisoners’ clothing.  The American liberators announced to the world, the day after Dachau was liberated, that the Germans were killing people in gas chambers, and that the Germans had cruelly ordered the prisoners to take off their clothes and hang them on hangars before going into the gas chamber.

Famous photo taken outside the disinfection chambers at Dachau concentration camp

Famous photo of a disinfection chamber door at Dachau concentration camp

What about typhus vaccine?  The American soldiers had been vaccinated before being sent overseas.  Why couldn’t America have sent some vaccine to Germany through the Red Cross?