The liberation of Dachau

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I have been to Munich several times over the last 15 years or so, and every time I visited the city I planned to take the short train journey to Dachau.But for some bizarre reason I never got there.It was as if fate didn’t want me to go there, maybe it was afraid I wasn’t ready to face the horrors that were committed there, for I am an emotional man,not whiny but emotional.

I can not even fathom the disgust and hate the allied troops must have felt when they liberated the camp this day 72 years ago.

Below are pictures if what they found when they arrived on 29 April 1945, subsequently the same day Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun.

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Polish survivors celebrating the liberation of Dachau

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Walenty Lenarczyk, a prisoner at Dachau, stated that following the camp’s liberation “prisoners swarmed over the wire and grabbed the Americans and lifted them to their shoulders… other prisoners caught the SS men… The first SS man elbowed one or two prisoners out of his way, but the courage of the prisoners mounted, they knocked them down and nobody could see whether they were stomped or what, but they were killed.”Elsewhere in the camp SS men, Kapos and informers were beaten to a pulp with fists, sticks and shovels. There was at least one incident where American troops turned away from two prisoners beating a German guard to death with a shovel, and Lt. Bill Walsh witnessed one such beating.Another soldier witnessed an inmate stomping on an SS trooper’s face until “there wasn’t much left.” When the soldier said to him, “You’ve got a lot of hate in your heart,” he simply nodded.

An American chaplain was told by three young Jewish men, who had left the camp during liberation, that they had beaten to death one of the more sadistic SS guards when they discovered him hiding in a barn and dressed as a peasant.

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Killings by the American soldiers

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Some of the American troops who liberated Dachau were so appalled by conditions at the camp that they machine-gunned at least two groups of captured German guards. It is officially reported that 30 SS guards were killed in this fashion, but conspiracy theorists have alleged that more than 10 times that number were executed by the American liberators.

he German citizens of the town of Dachau were later forced to bury the 9,000 dead inmates found at the camp.

Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, a battalion commander of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Seventh United States Army, wrote about the incident. Sparks watched as about 50 German prisoners captured by the 157th Infantry.

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Regiment were confined in an area that had been used for storing coal. The area was partially enclosed by an L-shaped masonry wall about 8 ft (2.4 m) high and next to a hospital. The German POWs were watched over by a machine gun team from Company I. He left those men behind to head towards the center of the camp where there were SS who had not yet surrendered; he had only gone a short distance when he heard a soldier yell, “They’re trying to get away!” and then machine-gun fire coming from the area he had just left. He ran back and kicked a 19-year-old soldier nicknamed “Birdeye” who was manning the machine gun and who had killed about 12 of the prisoners and wounded several more. The gunner, who was crying hysterically, said that the prisoners had tried to escape. Sparks said that he doubted the story; Sparks placed an NCO on the gun before resuming his journey towards the center of the camp.Sparks further stated:

It was the foregoing incident which has given rise to wild claims in various publications that most or all of the German prisoners captured at Dachau were executed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly did not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure. The regimental records for that date indicate that over a thousand German prisoners were brought to the regimental collecting point. Since my task force was leading the regimental attack, almost all the prisoners were taken by the task force, including several hundred from Dachau.

Some historians claim this incident constituted a war crime, I don’t subscribe to that point of view. The allied troops witnessed evil which was beyond anything they had ever witnessed. The slaughter of innocent,mostly civilian lives.

The German citizens of the town of Dachau were later forced to bury the 9,000 dead inmates found at the camp.

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The forgotten victims of Dachau-The Christian Clergy.

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(picture above:The Blessed Antoni Zawistowski was tortured and died at Dachau in 1942,courtesy Falco van Delft)

Dachau became the camp where 2,720 clergymen were sent, including 2,579 Catholic Priests. The priests at Dachau were separated from the other prisoners and housed together in several barrack buildings in the rear of the camp. There were 1,780 Polish priests and 447 German priests at Dachau. Of the 1,034 priests who died in the camp, 868 were Polish and 94 were German.(Source: “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?” by Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler)

Other clergymen at Dachau included 109 Protestant ministers, 22 Greek Orthodox, 2 Muslims and 8 men who were classified as “Old Catholic and Mariaists.”

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Many clergy were imprisoned at Dachau. The first Churchman arrived at Dachau in 1935, but from 1940, Dachau became the concentration point for clerical prisoners of the Nazi regime.

 

According to Ronald Rychlak( an American lawyer, jurist, author and political commentator) the clergy prisoners were treated marginally better than other prisoners, however treatment worsened in the wake of Papal or episcopal announcements critical of the Nazi regime, such as Pope Pius XII’s 1942 Christmas address.

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One Easter, the guards marked Good Friday by torturing 60 priests. Tying their hands behind their backs, chaining their wrists, and hoisting them up by the chains – tearing joints apart and killing and disabling several of the priests. The threat of further torture was used to keep the priests obedient. Food was so lacking, that prisoners would retrieve scraps from the compost pile.

The Nazis introduced a racial hierarchy – keeping Poles in harsh conditions, while favouring German priests. 697 Poles arrived in December 1941, and a further 500 of mainly elderly clergy were brought in October the following year. Inadequately clothed for the bitter cold, of this group only 82 survived. A large number of Polish priests were chosen for Nazi medical experiments. In November 1942, 20 were given phlegmons. 120 were used by Dr Schilling for malaria experiments between July 1942 and May 1944.

Klaus_SCHILLING_arzt_KZ_dachauSeveral Poles met their deaths with the “invalid trains” sent out from the camp, others were liquidated in the camp and given bogus death certificates. Some died of cruel punishment for misdemeanors – beaten to death or run to exhaustion.

Polish priests were not permitted religious activity. Anti-religious prisoners were planted in the Polish block to watch that the rule was not broken, but some found ways to circumvent the prohibition: clandestinely celebrating the mass on their work details. By 1944, conditions had been relaxed and Poles could hold a weekly service. Eventually, they were allowed to attend the chapel, with Germany’s hopes of victory in the war fading.

Amid the Nazi persecution of the Tirolian Catholics, the Blessed Otto Neururer, a parish priest was sent to Dachau for “slander to the detriment of German marriage”, after he advised a girl against marrying the friend of a senior Nazi. He was cruelly executed at Buchenwald in 1940 for conducting a baptism there. He was the first priest killed in the concentration camps

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Father Hermann Scheipers was saved from the gas chamber by his twin sister on 13th August 1942. After a secret meeting with her brother in Dachau she made a private visit to the civil servants in the Central Reich Security Office in Berlin who were responsible for the imprisoned priests. Following a dramatic conversation she received a promise from the civil servants that her brother would not be gassed. This promise also applied to all the other priests. Indeed, from that moment on, no priests were sent to the gas chamber. Thus Anna Scheipers not only saved her brother’s life but those of more than 500 other priests.

In Dachau Scheipers constantly witnessed the cruel treatment and deadly human experiments on the prisoners. Many of them were immersed in cold water to test the limits of hypothermia. The experiments were needed in order to develop special clothing for the Armed Forces. According to Scheipers: “All of them died when their body temperature sank to 27°. Only one Russian held out to 17°”. Nonetheless Scheipers’ faith and reinforced inner conviction prevented his feelings from being deadened. Indeed the opposite was true. He remained constantly full of hope and gave aid to his co-prisoners, in particular the Polish priests, wherever he could. He also began to take an interest in the Russian language.

Scheipers said  at one stage his “death certificate” was signed when he was feeling faint during a role  call session one morning in 1942, because he had become “completely exhausted from all the work” in the camp, not because he was sick.

 

The execution of Hermann Fegelein-Eva Braun’s Brother in law.

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Hans Otto Georg Hermann Fegelein (30 October 1906 – 28 April 1945) was a high-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany. He was a member of Adolf Hitler’s entourage and brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl.

Fegelein joined a cavalry regiment of the Reichswehr in 1925 and transferred to the SS on 10 April 1933. He became a leader of an SS equestrian group, and was in charge of preparation for the equestrian events of the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. He tried out for the Olympic equestrian team himself, but was eliminated in the qualifying rounds.

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In September 1939, after the Invasion of Poland, Fegelein commanded the SS Totenkopf Reiterstandarte (Death’s-Head Horse Regiment). They were garrisoned in Warsaw until December. In May and June 1940, he participated in the Battle of Belgium and France as a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (later renamed the Waffen-SS). Units under his command on the Eastern Front in 1941 were responsible for the deaths of over 17,000 civilians during the Pripyat swamps punitive operation in the Byelorussian SSR. As commander of the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer in 1943, he was involved in operations against partisans as well as defensive operations against the Red Army.

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Fegelein was seriously wounded in September 1943, and was reassigned by Heinrich Himmler to Hitler’s headquarters staff as his liaison officer and representative of the SS. Fegelein was present at the failed attempt on Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944. He was on duty at Hitler’s Führerbunker in Berlin in the closing months of the war.

By early 1945, Germany’s military situation was on the verge of total collapse. Hitler, presiding over a rapidly disintegrating Third Reich, retreated to his Führerbunker in Berlin on 16 January 1945. To the Nazi leadership, it was clear that the battle for Berlin would be the final battle of the war.Berlin was bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time on 20 April 1945 (Hitler’s birthday). By the evening of 21 April, Red Army tanks reached the outskirts of the city.By 27 April, Berlin was cut off from the rest of Germany.

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On 27 April 1945, Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD) deputy commander SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Högl was sent out from the Reich Chancellery

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to find Fegelein who had abandoned his post at the Führerbunker after deciding he did not want to “join a suicide pact”.Fegelein was caught by the RSD squad in his Berlin apartment, wearing civilian clothes and preparing to flee to Sweden or Switzerland. He was carrying cash—German and foreign—and jewellery, some of which belonged to Braun. Högl also uncovered a briefcase containing documents with evidence of Himmler’s attempted peace negotiations with the Western Allies.According to most accounts, he was intoxicated when arrested and brought back to the Führerbunker.He was kept in a makeshift cell until the evening of 28 April. That night, Hitler was informed of the BBC broadcast of a Reuters news report about Himmler’s attempted negotiations with the western Allies via Count Bernadotte.

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Hitler flew into a rage about this apparent betrayal and ordered Himmler’s arrest.Sensing a connection between Fegelein’s disappearance and Himmler’s betrayal, Hitler ordered SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller to interrogate Fegelein as to what he knew of Himmler’s plans.Thereafter, according to Otto Günsche (Hitler’s personal adjutant), Hitler ordered that Fegelein be stripped of all rank and to be transferred to Kampfgruppe “Mohnke” to prove his loyalty in combat. Günsche and Bormann expressed their concern to Hitler that Fegelein would only desert again. Hitler then ordered Fegelein court-martialed.

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Fegelein’s wife was then in the late stages of pregnancy (the baby was born in early May). Hitler considered releasing him without punishment or assigning him to Mohnke’s troops. Junge—an eye-witness to bunker events—stated that Braun pleaded with Hitler to spare her brother-in-law and tried to justify Fegelein’s actions. He was taken to the garden of the Reich Chancellery on 28 April, and was “shot like a dog”

 

Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

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Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazis and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, (such as those from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, run by Jewish gay rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld) were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

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While male homosexuality remained illegal in Weimar Germany under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code, German homosexual-rights activists became worldwide leaders in efforts to reform societal attitudes that condemned homosexuality. Many in Germany regarded the Weimar Republic’s toleration of homosexuals as a sign of Germany’s decadence. The Nazis posed as moral crusaders who wanted to stamp out the “vice” of homosexuality from Germany in order to help win the racial struggle. Once they took power in 1933, the Nazis intensified persecution of German male homosexuals. Persecution ranged from the dissolution of homosexual organizations to internment in concentration camps.

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The Nazis believed that male homosexuals were weak, effeminate men who could not fight for the German nation. They saw homosexuals as unlikely to produce children and increase the German birthrate. The Nazis held that inferior races produced more children than “Aryans,” so anything that diminished Germany’s reproductive potential was considered a racial danger.

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In late February 1933, as the moderating influence of Ernst Röhm-Röhm’s sexual orientation was no secret after the mid-1920s. Hitler either ignored it or said it was immaterial-weakened, the Nazi Party launched its purge of homosexual (gay, lesbian, and bisexual; then known as homophile) clubs in Berlin, outlawed sex publications, and banned organized gay groups. As a consequence, many fled Germany

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In March 1933, Kurt Hiller, the main organizer of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research, was sent to a concentration camp.

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On May 6, 1933, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Institute of Sex Research. A few days later on May 10, the Institute’s library and archives were publicly hauled out and burned in the streets of the opernplatz. Around 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. Also seized were the Institute’s extensive lists of names and addresses of homosexuals.[4] In the midst of the burning, Joseph Goebbels gave a political speech to a crowd of around 40,000 people.

Hitler initially protected Röhm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be a violation of the party’s strong anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Röhm to be a potential threat to his power. During the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, a purge of those whom Hitler deemed threats to his power took place, he had Röhm murdered and used Röhm’s homosexuality as a justification to suppress outrage within the ranks of the SA.

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After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

On June 28, 1935, the Ministry of Justice revised Paragraph 175. The revisions provided a legal basis for extending Nazi persecution of homosexuals. Ministry officials expanded the category of “criminally indecent activities between men” to include any act that could be construed as homosexual.

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The courts later decided that even intent or thought sufficed. On October 26, 1936, Himmler formed within the Security Police the Reich Central Office for Combating Abortion and Homosexuality. Josef Meisinger, executed in 1947 for his brutality in occupied Poland, led the new office.

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The police had powers to hold in protective custody or preventive arrest those deemed dangerous to Germany’s moral fiber, jailing indefinitely—without trial—anyone they chose. In addition, homosexual prisoners just released from jail were immediately re-arrested and sent to concentration camps if the police thought it likely that they would continue to engage in homosexual acts.

 

From 1937 to 1939, the peak years of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the police increasingly raided homosexual meeting places, seized address books, and created networks of informers and undercover agents to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals.

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On April 4, 1938, the Gestapo issued a directive indicating that men convicted of homosexuality could be incarcerated in concentration camps. Between 1933 and 1945 the police arrested an estimated 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most of the 50,000 men sentenced by the courts spent time in regular prisons, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps.

The Nazis interned some homosexuals in concentration camps immediately after the seizure of power in January 1933. Those interned came from all areas of German society, and often had only the cause of their imprisonment in common. Some homosexuals were interned under other categories by mistake, and the Nazis purposefully miscategorized some political prisoners as homosexuals. Prisoners marked by pink triangles to signify homosexuality were treated harshly in the camps. According to many survivor accounts, homosexuals were among the most abused groups in the camps.

Because some Nazis believed homosexuality was a sickness that could be cured, they designed policies to “cure” homosexuals of their “disease” through humiliation and hard work. Guards ridiculed and beat homosexual prisoners upon arrival, often separating them from other inmates. Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, wrote in his memoirs that homosexuals were segregated in order to prevent homosexuality from spreading to other inmates and guards. Personnel in charge of work details in the Dora-Mittelbau underground rocket factory or in the stone quarries at Flossenbürg and Buchenwald often gave deadly assignments to homosexuals.

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Survival in camps took on many forms. Some homosexual inmates secured administrative and clerical jobs. For other prisoners, sexuality became a means of survival. In exchange for sexual favors, some Kapos protected a chosen prisoner, usually of young age, giving him extra food and shielding him from the abuses of other prisoners.

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Homosexuals themselves very rarely became Kapos due to the lack of a support network. Kapo guardianship was no protection against the guards’ brutality, of course. In any case, the Kapo often tired of an individual, sometimes killing him and finding another on the next transport. Though individual homosexual inmates could secure a measure of protection in some ways, as a group homosexual prisoners lacked the support network common to other groups. Without this help in mitigating brutality, homosexual prisoners were unlikely to survive long.

One avenue of survival available to some homosexuals was castration, which some criminal justice officials advocated as a way of “curing” sexual deviance. Homosexual defendants in criminal cases or concentration camps could agree to castration in exchange for lower sentences. Later, judges and SS camp officials could order castration without the consent of a homosexual prisoner.

Nazis interested in finding a “cure” for homosexuality expanded this program to include medical experimentation on homosexual inmates of concentration camps. These experiments caused illness, mutilation, and even death, and yielded no scientific knowledge.

At Buchenwald, Danish doctor Carl Værnetconducted hormonal experiments on twelve gay men. He made incisions in their groin and implanted a metal tube that released testosterone over a prolonged period, as he believed that a lack of testosterone was the cause of homosexuality.

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There are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.

Memorial “Stolperstein” for Arnold Bastian, a homosexual victim of the Nazis. It is located at Große Straße 54 in Flensburg. The text reads: “Here lived Arnold Bastian, born 1908. Arrested 15 January 1944. Penitentiary at Celle. Dead on 17 February 1945 at the penitentiary in Hameln.

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The last days of “Il Duce” Benito Mussolini

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In September 1943, Nazi paratroopers staged a daring commando raid that rescued Mussolini from the Apennine Mountain ski resort where he was being detained. Hitler installed Mussolini as the figurehead of the Social Republic of Italy (known informally as the Republic of Salo), a Nazi puppet state in German-occupied northern Italy.

By April 25, 1945, however, the Third Reich was quickly losing its grip on northern Italy. With his stronghold of Milan teetering on the precipice, Mussolini agreed to meet with a delegation of partisans at the palace of Milan’s Cardinal Alfredo Schuster. There, a furious Mussolini learned that, unbeknownst to him, the Nazis had begun negotiations for an unconditional surrender.

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Mussolini stormed out of the palace and fled Milan with his 33-year-old mistress, Clara Petacci, in the 1939 Alfa Romeo sport car he had bought as a gift for his girlfriend.

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The following day, the pair joined a convoy of fellow fascists and German soldiers heading north toward Lake Como and the border with Switzerland. Mussolini donned a German Luftwaffe helmet and overcoat, but the disguise did little to save him when partisans stopped the convoy at the lakeside town of Dongo ,on the north western shore of Lake Como.,on April 27. For 20 years, Mussolini had built a cult of personality with his image emblazoned on posters and newspapers. Now, the familiarity of his distinctive shaved head and granite jaw, even in disguise, did him in.

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A group of local communist partisans led by Pier Luigi Bellini delle Stelle and Urbano Lazzaro attacked the convoy and forced it to halt.

The partisans recognised one Italian fascist leader in the convoy, but not Mussolini at this stage, and made the Germans hand over all the Italians in exchange for allowing the Germans to proceed. Eventually Mussolini was discovered slumped in one of the convoy vehicles. Lazzaro later said that

His face was like wax and his stare glassy, but somehow blind. I read utter exhaustion, but not fear … Mussolini seemed completely lacking in will, spiritually dead.

The partisans arrested Mussolini and took him to Dongo, where he spent part of the night in the local barracks.In all, over fifty fascist leaders and their families were found in the convoy and arrested by the partisans. Aside from Mussolini and Petacci, sixteen of the most prominent of them would be summarily shot in Dongo the following day and a further ten would be killed over two successive nights.

Claretta Petacci, Mussolini’s mistress, was captured  with him.

Fighting was still going on in the area around Dongo. Fearing that Mussolini and Petacci might be rescued by fascist supporters, the partisans drove them, in the middle of the night, to a nearby farm of a peasant family named de Maria; they believed this would be a safe place to hold them. Mussolini and Petacci spent the rest of the night and most of the following day there.

On the evening of Mussolini’s capture, Sandro Pertini, the Socialist partisan leader in northern Italy, announced on Radio Milano:

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“The head of this association of delinquents, Mussolini, while yellow with rancour and fear and trying to cross the Swiss frontier, has been arrested. He must be handed over to a tribunal of the people so it can judge him quickly. We want this, even though we think an execution platoon is too much of an honour for this man. He would deserve to be killed like a mangy dog.”

Mussolini and Claretta Petacci were executed the following day.

 

The execution of Sigmund Rascher

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If there was ever any indication how warped the Nazi ideology was , it is probably best illustrated in the execution of Dr Sigmund Rascher.

Dr Sigmund Rascher was one of the most ruthless and brutal Nazi physicians in many ways even worse then Mengele.

Among the worst atrocities committed at the infamous Dachau concentration camp were the cruel and inhumane medical experiments, using prisoners as guinea pigs, conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher for the benefit of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. From March 1942 until August 1942, Dr. Rascher performed high altitude experiments under the authority of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The Nazi justification for these experiments was that this was done in an effort to save the lives of German pilots.

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Rascher also conducted so-called “freezing experiments” on behalf of the Luftwaffe, in which 300 test subjects were experimented upon without any consent. These were also conducted at Dachau after the high-altitude experiments had concluded. The purpose was to determine the best way of warming German pilots who had been forced down in the North Sea and suffered hypothermia.

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Rascher’s victims were forced to remain outdoors naked in freezing weather for up to 14 hours, or kept in a tank of icewater for three hours, their pulse and internal temperature measured through a series of electrodes. Warming of the victims was then attempted by different methods, most usually and successfully by immersion in hot water; at least one witness, an assistant to some of these procedures, later testified that some victims were thrown into boiling water for rewarming.

Rascher experimented with the effects of Polygal, a substance made from beet and apple pectin, which aided blood clotting.

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He predicted that the preventive use of Polygal tablets would reduce bleeding from gunshot wounds sustained during combat or during surgery. Subjects were given a Polygal tablet, and shot through the neck or chest, or their limbs amputated without anaesthesia. Rascher published an article on his experience of using Polygal, without detailing the nature of the human trials and also set up a company to manufacture the substance, staffed by prisoners.

In a normal society all these crimes would have been enough reason for a trial. But not in Nazi Germany. Since these crimes weren’t seen as crimes because they were conducted on “subhumans” and therefore were seen as bonafide medical experiments for the betterment of the Aryan race.

The one thing the Nazis didn’t like though was being lied to.

Attempting to please Himmler through demonstrating that population growth could be accelerated by extending female childbearing age, Rascher publicized the fact that his wife had given birth to three children even after reaching 48 years of age, and Himmler used a photograph of Rascher’s family as propaganda material. However, during her fourth “pregnancy,” Mrs. Rascher was arrested while attempting to kidnap a baby and an investigation revealed that her other three children had been either purchased or kidnapped. Himmler felt betrayed by this conduct, and Rascher was arrested in April 1944.

In addition to acting as an accessory in the kidnappings of the three infants, Rascher was also accused of financial irregularities, the alleged murder of his former lab assistant, (not clear who this was) and scientific fraud. Both Rascher and his wife were hastily condemned without trial to the concentration camps.

Rascher was imprisoned at Buchenwald following his arrest in 1944, until the camp’s evacuation in April 1945. He and other prisoners were then taken to Dachau where Rascher was executed by SS-Hauptscharführer Theodor Bongartz  on 26 April 1945, three days before the camp was liberated by American troops.

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The legacy of his experiments went on long after the war and were taken up by the allied troops and US Government.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/10/01/nazis-nasa-and-dachau/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/11/05/hubertus-strughold-father-of-space-medicinebut-at-what-cost/

The Nazi Race doctrine

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The three groups displayed on the poster are, from top to bottom, “ostbaltische Rasse” (“East Baltic race”), “ostische Rasse” (“Alpine race”), and “dinarische Rasse” (“Dinaric race”). All these three groups were considered part of the sub-races of the Caucasian race, others including the Nordic and Mediterranean.

The Nazis went to great extents on teaching the German youth to be proud of their race through biology teaching, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) in particular taught in schools that they should be proud of their race and not to race mix.

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Race biology was meant to encourage the Germans to maintain their racial purity, the NSLB stressed that as early as primary schools Germans have to work on only the Nordic racial element of the German Volk (people) again and again and have to contrast this with the racial differences that foreign peoples such as the Jews represent.

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Nazi racial policy did not always include in degrading Jews but had to always maintain the importance of German blood and the Aryan race. This was often connected to the blood and soil ideology. Whilst the young Germans were being taught about the importance of one’s blood, at the same time they were being taught about the dangers that the Jews represent in Germany and the necessary living space in the East, in particular Russia. Novels portrayed the Germans as uniquely endowed and possessors of a unique destiny. The segregation of races was said to be natural, just as separate species did not come together in nature.

In 1935 after the induction of the Nuremberg Laws, any sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans became a criminalized offence.

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Aryans that were found guilty under the laws and charged with Rassenschande (“racial shame”) faced the possibility of incarceration in a concentration camp, while non-Aryans could possibly face the death penalty.

Fort Breendonk -Concentration camp

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Fort Breendonk was originally built for the Belgian army between 1906-13 as part of the second ring of defenses of the National Redoubt protecting the important port-city of Antwerp.It was covered by a five-metre thick layer of soil for defense against bombings, a water-filled moat and measured 656 by 984 feet (200 by 300 m).

By 1940, Breendonk was already militarily obsolete and was unnecessary for the German occupiers. Soon after the start of the German occupation, the Nazis transformed it into a prison camp which was controlled by SS and other security agencies of Nazi Germany (SIPO and SD in particular) although Belgium itself was under military jurisdiction and controlled by general Alexander von Falkenhausen

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During World War II, the fort was requisitioned by the Germans as a prison camp for detaining Belgian political dissidents, captured resistance members and Jews. Although technically a prison rather than a concentration camp, the Fort was famous for its prisoners’ poor living conditions and for the use of torture. Most prisoners who were detained at the camp were later transferred to larger concentration camps in Eastern Europe. Of the 3,590 prisoners known to have been imprisoned at Breendonk, 303 died or were executed within the fort itself but as many as 1,741 died subsequently in other camps before the end of the war.

 

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On 20 September 1940, the first prisoners arrived. Initially most of the prisoners were petty criminals, people deemed anti-social, or who did not conform to the German race laws. Later on, resistance fighters, political prisoners and ordinary people captured as hostages were detained as well. Another section was used as a transit camp for Jews being sent to death camps in Eastern Europe such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The camp was guarded by Flemish as well as German SS units.

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Of the 300 prisoners that died in the camp itself, 185 were executed; many of the rest died of torture, disease or exposure. Most of those that did survive were transported to concentration camps. The German execution poles and gallows, as well as the torture chamber, are preserved in the current museum on the site.

Between 3,500 and 3,600 prisoners were incarcerated in Breendonk during its existence,of whom 1,733 died before liberation.About 400-500 were Jews.Most of the non-Jewish prisoners were left-wing members of the Belgian resistance or were held as hostages by the Germans. In September 1941, the Belgian Communist prisoners held at Breendonk were deported to Neuengamme concentration camp.

Jewish prisoners in Breendonk were segregated from other prisoners until 1942. Thereafter, Jews were transferred to the nearby Mechelen transit camp and deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Upon arrival at the camp, new inmates were brought to the courtyard where they would have to stand facing the wall until they were processed into the camp.

breendonkThey were forbidden to move and any motion was severely punished. In the camp, punishment consisted of beatings, torture in the old gunpowder magazine,hanging or execution by firing squad. Inmates were forced to watch any executions that took place. The camp commander Lagerkommandant Philipp Schmitt was known to set his German Shepherd dog (called “Lump”)loose on the inmates.

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His wife was also known to wander the camp, ridiculing the inmates and ordering punishments at whim. Severe and arbitrary beating occurred daily. During winter 1942-1943, after the German defeat at Stalingrad, it occurred more than once that inmates, mostly Jewish, were forced by the Flemish SS guards to enter into the extremely cold water of the moat and kept there with a shovel. The victims gradually sank or fell into the mud and most of them, after a struggle that could last for over 15 minutes, finally drowned

All the prisoners were subjected to forced labour. The camp authorities wanted the earth that had covered much of the Fort to be removed and shifted to build a high bank around the camp to hide it from outside view. In the few years Fort Breendonk was used by the Nazis, 250,000 cubic metres (8,800,000 cu ft) of soil covering the fort were removed by the prisoners by hand at a gruelling pace.Prisoners only had hand tools to complete this enormous task and the soil had to be transported to the outer wall via hand carts on a narrow gauge railway system. The ground in the camp was often very soggy causing the rails to sink away in the mud. Prisoners were then expected to move by hand the carts filled with dirt, pushing and dragging them back and forth over a distance of more than 300 meters. This regime was imposed for over 12 hours a day, seven days a week, even in the worst of weather conditions. Orders were given only in German, so inmates were forced to learn the basic commands rather quickly or otherwise be punished for failure to obey orders. Prisoners were also forced to salute and stand to attention every time a guard passed.

Accommodation in the fort consisted of the old barracks. Built from thick stone, without windows and with only minimal ventilation, these were extremely cold and damp. Each barrack room only had a small coal burning stove, and providing sufficient heating was nearly impossible. Rooms were originally designed for no more than 38 people, but frequently housed over 50 inmates sleeping in three-tier bunk beds on straw mattresses. The top bunks were highly prized. Inmates only had a single small bucket per room for a toilet during the night, and many of the sick and weakened inmates simply allowed their waste to drop down to the lower levels. This caused much fighting between inmates, which was probably what the guards wanted.

Prisoners were allowed to use the toilet in the given order only twice a day. There were two gathering spaces inside the fort, east and west, each one with a small building, made of brick and without doors, equipped with four holes and one urinal. Only in 1944 a greater facility was added. But to go to the toilet was always done under surveillance, in group and in a hurry: an additional opportunity for the guards to intimidate and humiliate the prisoners.

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Jewish prisoners were segregated from other inmates and housed in specially constructed wooden barracks. These barracks were poorly insulated and over-crowded. Other prisoners were housed in cells, either in small groups or individually. The aim was to isolate certain prisoners for later interrogation and torture.

Food was severely rationed for the prisoners and distributed in different quantities to the various types of inmates. Jews received the least food and water. Prisoners were served three meals a day. Breakfast consisted of two cups of a coffee substitute made of roasted acorns and 125 grams (4.4 oz) of bread. Lunch was usually 1 litre of soup (mostly just hot water). Supper was again 2 cups of a coffee substitute and 100 grams (3.5 oz) of bread.[14] This was far from enough to sustain a human being, especially considering the intense cold or heat, harsh labour and physical punishments the prisoners were subjected to

This harsh treatment of prisoners started to leak outside the Fort to such a degree that the head of the administrative staff of the Military Governor of Belgium Eggert Reeder was compelled to order an inspection of the Fort because Von Falkenhausen “did not want the camp to become known to history as the hell of Breendonk”.

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But the respite was short lived also because the SS seized and forwarded to Germany most of the food parcels sent in by the Red Cross.

Conditions in the camp were so cruel and harsh that those who left alive were so weak that their chances of survival at the final destination were severely hampered. Often prisoners were so sick and weak that they were led straight to the gas chambers or simply died within weeks of their arrival. The regime in the camp was at least as harsh as in an actual concentration camp. On 4 September 1944 the SS evacuated the Fort, and all the remaining prisoners were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.Fewer than 10 percent of the inmates survived the war.

Particular controversy surrounds the Flemish SS guards of the camp, who so openly and cruelly turned against their fellow countrymen in blind support of their Nazi paymasters.

(the Flemish SS Fernand Weiss, with his mother)

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The artist Jacques Ochs was interned in Breendonk from 1940 to 1942, when he managed to escape. A few of the drawings he made during his time there had survived. He used them after the war to reconstruct scenes of life in the camp, and in 1947 published those in the book Breendonck – Bagnards et Bourreaux (“Breendonck – Slave Laborers and Hangmen“)

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The “Blood for Goods” deal

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On April 25, 1944, in his office at the Hotel Majestic in Budapest, Eichmann met with Joel Brand, a leading member of the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee. Brand had already attended previous meetings with Eichmann and other SS officers in an attempt to bribe them to allow a number of Jews out of Hungary. Now Eichmann said to Brand, “I am prepared to sell one million Jews to you.

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The Nazis chose Joel Brand, a member of the Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest (also known as the Va’ada) to assist them in negotiations with world Jewish leaders and the Allied governments. Also chosen to manage negotiations with the Allies was Andor Grosz, a minor intelligence agent and employee of both the Va’ada and the SS at different times. Grosz was supposed to lead a different set of discussions: A separate German truce with the Western allies. Brand was a decoy to distract the allies from Grosz’s more important mission.

Brand was approached in April 1944 by Adolf Eichmann, the German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer in charge of the deportations.

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Eichmann proposed that Brand broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain, in which the Nazis would exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks for the Eastern front and large quantities of tea and other goods. It was the most ambitious of a series of such deals between Nazi and Jewish leaders. Eichmann called it “Blut gegen Waren” (“blood for goods”)

The offer was not seriously considered because the Allies believed it to be a trick and did not want to negotiate with the Nazis. The British press stirred up opposition to the proposal, calling the “monstrous offer” to exchange goods for Jews blackmail.

Several considerations factored into the decision of the Allies to dismiss the deal: Soviet opposition of the idea; British hesitancy to absorb that number of Jewish immigrants should the Nazis really permit them to emigrate; and the continuation of the Final Solution in Hungary.

After the Allies learned of the plan, Grosz was arrested and unable to complete his assignment. Brand left for Palestine but was arrested on June 5, 1944. Still under arrest, the British allowed him to speak with Moshe Shertok (Sharett) five days later, then head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department about the deal, and Shertok tried to promote support for it.

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After his meeting with Shertok in June, Brand was imprisoned in Cairo until October and then allowed into Palestine. For a long time he believed that the Allies were at fault for not allowing the exchange to take place, but toward the end of his life he decided that Himmler’s true intentions were to distract the Allies, and in the meantime, create a Nazi-western coalition against Moscow.

The NAZI’s blueprint for extermination camps.

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The concept of the concentration camps was not a Nazi concept. It was in fact the British who created the first concentration camps. The first use of concentration camps was by the British during the Boer war (1899–1902).

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Boers and black Africans were placed in camps so that they would be unable to aid Boer guerrillas. It is reported that more than 27,000 Boers and 14,000 Africans died in the camps from disease and starvation. Most of the dead were children, clearly noncombatants in the conflict.

A little known genocide took place between 1904 and 1907 in Namibia and was carried out by the troops of the Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Herero and Nama genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It is considered one of the first genocides of the 20th century.

In January 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero and Nama(or Namaqua) Captain Hendrik Witbooi, rebelled against German colonial rule.

In August, German General Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of dehydration.

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In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans, only to suffer a similar fate.

Under German colonial rule, natives were routinely used as slave labourers, and their lands were frequently confiscated and given to colonists, who were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives; that land was stocked with cattle stolen from the Herero and Namas.

General Trotha stated his proposed solution to end the resistance of the Herero people in a letter, before the Battle of Waterberg:

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I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this was not possible by tactical measures, have to be expelled from the country … This will be possible if the water-holes from Grootfontein to Gobabis are occupied. The constant movement of our troops will enable us to find the small groups of this nation who have moved backwards and destroy them gradually.

Trotha’s troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg on 11–12 August 1904 but were unable to encircle and annihilate the retreating survivors.

Survivors of the massacre, the majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in places like Shark Island Concentration Camp,

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where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labour for German military and settlers. All prisoners were categorised into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating “death by exhaustion following privation” were issued.The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918

Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice with no additions. As the prisoners lacked pots and the rice they received was uncooked, it was indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. Dysentery and lung diseases were common. Despite those conditions, the Herero were taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.[25]:76

Shootings, hangings, beatings, and other harsh treatment of the forced labourers (including use of sjamboks) were common.

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A 28 September 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some of the abuse with the heading: “In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty”.

Contrary to the German belief, the indigenous Herero and Nama people were not savages. The Herero had a sophisticated culture, having occupied their ancient lands for centuries, while the Nama  –  the mixed-race offspring of early Dutch settlers  –  were ferocious warriors as well as Christians.

Three-and-a-half thousand innocent Africans were liquidated here at the hands of the Germans, decades before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, with the tacit sanction of the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and his ministers.792550-hhzwilhelm2The story of the German extermination of the Herero and Namaqua peoples has been expunged from the history books  –  and the tourists and scuba divers on the Shark Bay waterfront will find no mention of it in their guides.

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More chilling still, the book raises another awful prospect. That the Nazi crimes of World War II were not an aberration, as some have claimed, but emerged from a tradition deeply embedded in the heart of German culture, with its warped beliefs about racial superiority, going back into the 19th century.

In 1908 Eugen Fischer(a German professor of medicine, anthropology, and eugenics, and a member of the Nazi Party.  conducted field research in German Southwest Africa (now Namibia).

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He studied the Basters, offspring of German or Boer men who had fathered children by the native women (Hottentots) in that area. His study concluded with a call to prevent a “mixed race” by the prohibition of “mixed marriage” such as those he had studied. It included unethical medical practices on the Herero and Namaqua people.He argued that while the existing Mischling descendants of the mixed marriages might be useful for Germany, he recommended that they should not continue to reproduce.

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His recommendations were followed and by 1912 interracial marriage was prohibited throughout the German colonies. As a precursor to his experiments on Jews in Nazi Germany, he collected bones and skulls for his studies, in part from medical experimentation on African prisoners of war in Namibia during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.

His ideas expressed in this work, related to maintaining the purity of races, influenced future German legislation on race, including the Nuremberg law