These are some testimonies of victims, perpetrators an liberators. I will not specify who is who, but the language makes the testimony and context clear.
At the end of blog is a description on one method of mass murder which was used by the einsatzgruppen.
“The order said—they are to be shot.” “And for me, that was binding.”
“We had to stand and watch, while the two girls dug their own graves, then were shot, and we had to bury them.”
“After two years they [the SS] told us to pack our things and go to the station, and they put us on a train
which travelled for a [sic] unknown destination. We were seven days in the train travelling very slowly,
when we were liberated by the American army on the 13th of April. It was the luckiest day of my life.
At that moment I was bathing in the river when I saw the first American soldier from afar. What a joy.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was sure it was a dream, but still it was true.
A few minutes before the American soldiers arrived we were told that we should have to go on foot over
the Elbe River. But the American army saved us from a sure death, which we will never forget.
I was also sad this day because I remembered how many people of value had died and couldn’t see the
liberation and the fall of the barbarian, Hitler. I shall never forget what I owe to the American army.
I hope that I will be able to estimate the right value, what the Americans have done for us. Now, after
five years of suffering I shall know how to appreciate the more my liberty.”
“True opponents of the state had to be securely locked up. Only the SS were capable of protecting the National Socialist State from all internal danger. All other organisations lacked the necessary toughness.”
“I saw an SS-man, a junior officer, walking around the gravel pit with a pistol in his hand…It was sadism. ‘You dogs! You damned communists! You pieces of shit!’ Horrible words like these. And from time to time he would direct the pistol downwards and shoot: pow… pow pow.”
Sergeant Leon Bass:
“We were in the intelligence reconnaissance section of our unit and we went right to Buchenwald. And that
was the day that I was to discover what had really been going on in Europe under the Nazis because
I walked through the gates and I saw walking dead people.
And just looking at these people who were skin and bone and dressed in those pajama-type uniforms,
their heads clean shaved, and filled with sores through the malnutrition. I just looked at this in amazement
and I said to myself, you know, “My God, who are these people? What was their crime?” You know?
It’s hard for me to try to understand why anyone could have been treated this way. I don’t care what they
had done. And I didn’t have any way of thinking or putting a handle on it, no frame of reference. I was
only 20. Had I been told, I doubt if I could have had, in my mind’s eye, envisioned anything as horrible as I saw”
“As the Americans were approaching, the SS thought that it was them who were firing the shots, The SS fled, and the prisoners armed themselves with the abandoned weapons. We occupied all the watchtowers and blocked the forest in the direction of Weimar in order to intercept any returning SS.”
“Because my hatred towards the Jews is too great. And I admit my thinking on this point is unjust, I admit this. But what I experienced from my earliest youth when I was living on a farm, what the Jews were doing to us—well that will never change. That is my unshakeable conviction.”
Lieutenant Marie Knowles Ellifritz:
“The emotional trauma caused by our medical participation in the liberation of the European concentration
camps was beyond belief. As Americans and as women we never before had been subjected to such inhumanity to man. And my initial feeling was of a tremendous job to do.
To take in 1,500 patients into a 400-bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness. And itproved to become a tremendous overwhelming job. Clinically, it was a matter of sorting the dead from the
living, deciding who would live for at least three days or more, and to make all those we found comfortable and to begin the process of treatment. A tent to keep the patient dry, an air mattress to give them a place
to lie down, a blanket to help them keep warm, pajamas to give them some dignity, a small amount of food to nourish them, and plasma to preserve the remaining life and begin them on a road back to living.
Everyone had work to do. The patients themselves helped as much as they could.
We deloused them. We moved them out of the larger camp into our tent city and we let the fresh air, the sunshine, the space, and
most of all their freedom do its work.
It seemed to take one to three days for us to convince some of them that they were truly free at last. And
when that reality came they simply closed their eyes and died in peace and freedom. Some of the patients
seemed to know immediately that they were free once again and so they were able to rejoice and begin
to make plans for the future. Life force for these patients had begun when the camp’s gates were opened
by their liberators”
Józef Paczynski —:
“I personally was afraid of walking past Block 11. Personally, I was afraid. Although it was closed off, I was really scared to walk past there. Whether it was the avenue when I was walking there, or what… I was afraid. Block 11 meant death.”
“During an evening roll call, we were told that all the sick among us could go away for treatment… that they could leave to be cured, and that they were to sign up. Of course, it was said that they would be going for treatment. And, in the camp, some people believed it…”
“I ran in that direction and as I came onto that place I noticed many prisoners yelling and screaming and
jumping and dancing. And there standing amongst them were seven giants, young people. They must have been 18 or 19—American soldiers. There were seven or eight of them standing inside the camp. Apparently
they cut the wire and came into the camp.
They were bewildered by us. Wild and unkempt and dirty and, I’m sure, smelly people, jumping and dancing and trying to embrace them and kiss them. And I did too. I also joined the crowd and yelled and screamed and somehow knew that the day of liberation has come.
It was a strange feeling for me, however, because as I remember it, on the one hand, I was, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected and unhoped for encounter of freedom, but at the same time, what
was happening was outside of me. I really—I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew I was free, but I didn’t count on it. I somehow didn’t know what it meant. And I knew it was great, but I, I was overjoyed
because all people around me were overjoyed and were singing and dancing and, and—but I, I was 17.I, I was free, but what it meant, I wasn’t sure”
“That’s how it was—the first execution—the most horrible one. It wasn’t the last one. There were three more large executions after that with 2000 to 3000 people shot at every one of them. More people were executed afterwards in smaller scale ones and this is how the Jewish community of Ostrog was annihilated.”
All over the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 the Nazis and their collaborators were murdering women and children at close range and in cold blood. Himmler realised he had to find a better way of killing—better for the murderers, not their victims.
Which is why SS Lieutenant Dr. Albert Widmann of the Technical Institute of the Criminal Police travelled into Eastern Europe. Widmann and his colleagues had been involved in the experiments which had led to the use of bottled carbon monoxide to kill the disabled. But he knew that it would be expensive and difficult to send canisters of carbon monoxide all the way to the new killing locations far from Germany. So he had to find a new way forward, which is why he drove into the Soviet Union followed by a truck carrying boxes of high explosive. Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.
Widmann reported to Artur Nebe, commander of one of the killing squads, at his headquarters in the Lenin House in Minsk.
“I hope you’ve got enough explosives with you? You ordered 250 kg, I’ve brought 450 kg with me. You never know. Very good.”
Nazi eyewitness account of murder experiment with explosives: “The bunker had totally collapsed, there was total silence. Body parts were scattered on the ground and hanging in the trees. And the next day we collected the body parts and threw them back into the bunker. Those parts that were too high in the trees were just left there.”
After this horror, Widmann and his SS colleagues tried another method of mass murder—this one suggested by what had happened to Artur Nebe of the SS earlier on in the year. Nebe had driven home drunk from a party in Berlin and passed out in his garage with the car engine still running. As a result the carbon monoxide from the exhaust gasses had nearly killed him. Learning from Nebe’s experience, Widmann and his colleagues then conducted experiments in the Soviet Union, like that one.