Scrapbookpages Blog

November 16, 2015

The whipping of prisoners in the concentration camps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fake photo of the hanging punishment at Dachau

Fake photo of the hanging punishment in the Dachau Museum

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

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

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

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

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

November 18, 2012

the infamous Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 3:04 pm

With nothing better to do, I did some searching on the Internet today, and came across two blogs which feature photos of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

I visited the Natzweiler-Struthof Memorial Site in the Fall of 2004 and took some photos, including the photo below, which shows a wooden bench, used for whipping prisoners.

Whipping block on display at Natzweiler Memorial Site

This blog shows a photo of the same bench with this caption:

Implements of torture, before waterboarding was in vogue. They just strapped you to this and removed body parts.

Not quite. The photo on the blog shows a bench used for whipping prisoners, not a bench for removing body parts.

Punishment of prisoners at Natzweiler and all the other concentration camps had to be approved by the WVHA economic office in Oranienburg, where Rudolf Hoess was a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz in December 1943.

At the Nuremberg IMT, on April 15, 1946, Hoess testified that punishment on the whipping block was seldom used and that this punishment was discontinued in 1942 because Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler gave a new order that the SS men were forbidden to strike the prisoners.

On my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof in 2004, I took a photo of the exterior wall of a shower room, which is shown below.  The photo clearly shows water pipes entering the shower room.  In the lower right hand corner of the photo, you can see the rear of the cremation oven.

Water pipes on the outside wall of a shower room in Natzweiler

This blog shows a similar photo, which the blogger claims to be a photo of the interior of the gas chamber at Natzweiler.

This quote is from the blog, cited above:

In August 1943 a gas chamber was constructed in Natzweiler, in one of the buildings that had formed part of the hotel compound. The contractors for the project, Waffen –SS Natzweiler left behind a rare document in which, contrary to the coded terminology generally employed by the Nazis, specific mention was made of “the construction of a gas chamber at Struthof.”

This appeared in an invoice that the SS sent to the Strasbourg University Institute of Anatomy, charging it 236.08 Reichsmarks for the job. It was for the skeleton collection of the director of that institute, Professor August Hirt, that at least one hundred and thirty prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to be killed in the Natzweiler gas chamber. Most of these prisoners were Jews.

Another member of the Strasbourg University faculty, Professor Otto Bickenbach, also availed himself of the Natzweiler gas chamber, to conduct experiments on prisoners with antidotes of phosgene, a poisonous gas.

The victims were Gypsies who had been transferred from Auschwitz, the previous year to serve as human guinea pigs for SS doctors experimenting with anti-typhus injections.

After my trip to Natzweiler-Struthof, I did a lot of research and wrote about the alleged gas chambers there on this page of my website.