Testimony by Joseph Berman regarding atrocities committed by Oberscharführer-SS Rudolf Seck and others in Latvia

They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and that is true, but it never tells the full story. It is just a snap shot of time. Especially when it comes to the Holocaust, pictures are powerful but I believe the testimonies of those who survived and lived through the horrors are much more powerful.

Rudolf Joachim Seck was an SS officer during World War II during the course of which he committed a large numbers of crimes against humanity, for which he was later sentenced to serve life in prison by a West German court. Seck held the SS ranks of Unterscharführer and later Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant). He was the commander of Jungfernhof concentration camp, near Riga, Latvia. His office was at the Gestapo headquarters in Riga on Reimerstrasse. According to Joseph Berman, a Jewish man from Ventspils and a survivor of The Holocaust in Latvia, who was assigned to the work detail cleaning Seck’s automobile, Seck was closely associated with Rudolf Lange, the main SS leader in occupied Latvia.

Rudolf Lange

Seck made it a habit to meet, at the Skirotava railway station, trains of Jews deported from Germany, Austria, or Czechoslovakia. Theoretically these Jews were to be sent to the Riga Ghetto or the Jungfernhof or Salaspils concentration camps, but usually this did not occur, as Seck would instead take them to Bi ernieki or Rumbula forests, near Riga, and shoot them.

Following the war, Seck was tried in West Germany before the Landsgericht Hamburg with other Nazi personnel who planned or participated in the murder of Jews in Latvia. In 1951, Seck was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Below is the testimony of Joseph Berman against Seck

“I am the Joseph Berman mentioned in the House of Commons White Paper on Buchenwald, Advisor to the Prosecution and first Rebuttal Witness in the Buchenwald Trials held at Dachau in 1947; former Intelligence Investigator of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria.

I, Joseph Berman, born on the 25th June 1925 at Ventspils, Latvia, and now living in London, was a political prisoner during the German occupation, first at the main headquarters of all concentration camps in Latvia – Kaiserwald, Riga and later on in the extermination camp Dondangen, Kurland, Latvia. I hereby make the following declaration:-

Rudolf SECK was the man I saw almost every day, beginning from 1941, either coming from or going to the headquarters of the Gestapo for the Baltic States, which was situated at Reimerstrasse, Riga. Mostly he travelled with his car to and from Jungfernhof, Salaspils, the Headquarters, Central Prison, and sometimes also the Riga Ghetto.

He was always with “Sturmbannfuehrer” Dr. Lange’s group, which met the incoming transports of Austrian, Czech and German Jewry at Skirotawa Station. These people were supposed to be taken by him to Salaspils, Jungfernhof or the Riga Ghetto, but usually did not arrive at their destination, because he took them to the Bikernieku or Rumbuli forest to be shot. These facts are known to me because, when cleaning the car of Seck and all the other cars every day, they used to stand next to me and I could hear them brag about their shooting abilities.

I used to see Seck leaving Reimerstrasse with the various convoys that set out from Riga to other parts of the Baltic States and White Russia to quell partisan uprisings and liquidate certain camps or Ghettos or the so-called special “Himmelfahrtskommando.”

I also saw Seck at Peterholm Street, the Clothing Depot of the Gestapo, from where he took away suit-cases full of new clothing, Jewelry, etc., after the unfortunate victims had been taken care of by him.

I also saw him during the “actions” in the Riga Ghetto in 1941, and he was a visitor of Scherwitz at Auseklu Street, and later at Lenta.

Although he never asked me to come with him when he went out on these criminal expeditions, I am aware of the fact that he was one of the leaders of the N.C.O.s at Gestapo headquarters, Riga, who were in charge of Jewish affairs during the German occupation, and I know that he definitely accomplished his mission and ruthlessly liquidated European Jewry.

I was present one day in 1942, in the yard of Motor Pool in Reimerstrasse, when “Untersturmfuehrer Reese, Nickel, Seck, Tekemeyer and Mohr searched the home-going (to the Ghetto) “Reichsjuden” column, after a transport of foodstuff including delicacies had arrived from Paris (stolen by the Riga Gestapo from the Wehrmacht). It consisted of tinned fruit, best chocolates, etc. Hardly anything was found on the unfortunate victims; some had a few potatoes or a piece of bread. 15 people were brought into one of the newly finished garages (they were Jews from either Germany, Austria, or Czechoslovakia); I had to run away when I saw the above-mentioned SD-men lead these men into the garage. To our great surprise, a Jew by the name of Heppy, who, together with Otto Mohr was working in the kitchen of Gestapo headquarters and was responsible for supplies of provisions, and who was respected for his work and organising ability, initiative and personality by all who had contact with him, was also locked up with the above mentioned 15 unfortunate victims. Heppy was a Latvian Jew and had been a sailor for many years; he was an example of cool thinking and open resistance against the Nazi beasts. He must have saved thousands of people by the many favours he bestowed on them.

These 16 people were kept at Reimerstrasse for one night, and the next day the whole Gestapo in Riga turned out to watch them being taken away to Salaspils in a Renault lorry. I still remember the numberplate of the lorry, which was Pol. 91088. They were liquidated in Salaspils in front of all the inmates of that camp. The personalities of the Gestapo headquarters in Riga that day, smiling and in very high spirits, followed the procession to Salaspils; 1 saw them later return to Reimerstrasse. Whenever people were being shot or hung, the same 20 or 30 high ranking officers of the Riga Gestapo had to have their transportation ready in a matter of a few minutes.

I was often maltreated by Rudolf Seck, and whenever he came to Reimerstrasse or to any other place where I was present, he used to kick everybody around.

I saw him many times with an automatic pistol (some of theirs were the small type used by airborne troops), and I saw him carrying an extra large pistol, whenever he went out on one of his criminal expeditions.

(signed) JOSEPH BERMAN

London, 16 February 1949.

I herewith certify that the above is a true copy of the English original.

(signed) H. MICHELSON

London, 16 February 1949.

sources

https://www.testifyingtothetruth.co.uk/viewer/image/106498/2/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/latvia

https://www.dodax.com/en-us/books-audiobooks/lexica-reference-work/betascript-publishing-rudolf-joachim-seck-dpCH6QFIS3006/

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Fritz Sauckel’s Letter-Hiding evil in words.

Ernst Friedrich Christoph “Fritz” Sauckel was a Nazi politician, Gauleiter of Gau Thuringia from 1927 and the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (Arbeitseinsatz) from March 1942 until the end of World War 2. He was one the 24 persons accused in the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentenced to death, and executed by hanging on October 16,1946, 11 days before his 52nd birthday.

At the Nuremberg trials, Sauckel was accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes and crimes against humanity. He defended the Arbeitseinsatz as “nothing to do with exploitation.

It is an economic process for supplying labour”. He denied that it was slave labour or that it was common to deliberately work people to death or to mistreat them. However this is not what he said in a letter he had sent to Alfred Rosenberg, 20 April 1942, Report on Labor Mobilization Program.

When you read the letter it looks like an ordinary business operation letter, even a supply chain demand report. But if you read it carefully you will see it is all but that, Below is an English translation of the letter, and I appreciate it that you may not have the time tp read it in one go. This is one key line from the letter.

“All the men [prisoners of war and foreign civilian workers] must be fed, sheltered, and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.”

It also explains that all German women should be spared hard labour, but as the picture above shows that was not the case for Non German women.

The letter:

Very esteemed and dear Party-member Rosenberg!
Enclosed please find my program for the mobilization of labor. Please excuse the fact that this copy still contains a few corrections.
Heil Hitler!
Yours
[signed] Fritz Sauckel

To The “Reichminister”
for the Occupied Territories of the East
Party-Member Rosenberg
Berlin

[From] The Deputy for the Four-Year Plan
The Plenipotentiary for Labor Mobilization

20 April 1942

The Labor Mobilization Program.

The aim of this new, gigantic labor mobilization is to use all the rich and tremendous sources, conquered and secured for us by our fighting Armed Forces under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, for the armament of the Armed Forces and also for the nutrition of the Homeland. The raw materials as well as the fertility of the conquered territories and their manpower are to be used completely and conscientiously to the profit of Germany and her allies.

In spite of the fact that most of the German people capable of doing so have already made a most commendable effort for the war economy, more considerable reserves must be found and made available under any circumstances.

The decisive measure to realize this is the uniformly regulated and directed labor mobilization of the nation at the war.

To reach the goal determined by the Fuehrer the simultaneous and quickest use of numerous different measures of unified purpose are absolutely necessary. As any one of those must not interfere with the others, but rather complement them, it is also absolutely necessary that all the offices [Dienststellen] in the Reich, its territories and communities, in party, state, and economy, participating in this decisive task act according to coordinated, synchronized directives.

Thus, the labor-mobilization of the nation contributes extraordinarily to the quickest and victorious termination of the war. It requires every effort of the German people on the Home front. It is for that German people, for their preservation, their freedom, happiness and amelioration of their nutrition and standards of living that this war is being fought.

The Task and its Solution

(No figures are mentioned because of security reasons. I can assure you, nevertheless, that we are concerned with the greatest labor-problem of all times, especially with regard to figures.)

A. The Task:

  1. The conscription of new soldiers to the gigantic extent for all branches and services of the Armed Forces has been rendered necessary by the present war situation.

This means:

a. The removal of workers from all professional enterprises, especially of a great number of trained personnel from armament producing war industries.

b. Also the removal of especially non-essential personnel from the war nutrition industry.

  1. The war situation necessitates the continuation of the tremendously increased and improved armament programs as ordered by the Fuehrer.
  2. The most essential commodities for the German people must continue to be produced for minimum requirements.
  3. The German housewife’s health, particularly the health of those on farms, must not be endangered in their quality as mothers by the war. On the contrary, they must be relieved in every possible way.

B. The Solution

All prisoners of war, from the territories of the West as well as of the East, who are already situated in Germany, must be completely incorporated into the German armament and nutrition industries. Their production must be brought to the highest possible level.

It must be emphasized, however, that an additional tremendous quantity of foreign labor has to be found for the Reich. The greatest pool for that purpose are the occupied territories of the East.

Jewish children making boxes in the Glubokoye ghetto. ——US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Karl Katz

Consequently, it is an immediate necessity to use the human resources of the conquered Soviet territory to the fullest extent. Should we not succeed in obtaining the necessary amount of labor on a voluntary basis, we must immediately institute conscription or forced labor.

Apart from the prisoners of war still in the occupied territories, we must, therefore, requisition skilled or unskilled male and female labor from the Soviet territory from the age of 15 up for the labor mobilization.

On the other hand, one quarter of the total need of foreign labor can be procured in Europe’s occupied territories West of Germany, according to existing possibilities.

The procurement of labor from friendly and also neutral countries can only cover a small part of the total need. It can be applied mostly to skilled workers and specialists.

  1. order to provide considerable relief to the German housewife, especially the mother with many children and the extremely busy farm-woman and in order to avoid any further danger to their health, the Fuehrer also charged me with the procurement of 400,000 – 500,000 selected, healthy and strong girls from the territories of the East for Germany.

6. labor mobilization of the German women is of very great importance.

Examining their very difficult problem and after getting thoroughly acquainted with the fundamental opinion of the Fuehrer as well as of the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich and my own most careful inquiries and their results, I must absolutely reject the possibility of having an obligatory service decreed by the State for all German women and girls for the German War and Nutrition industry.

Although, at the beginning, I myself, and probably the majority of the leading personalities of the party and of the womanhood with me, believed that for certain reasons an obligatory service for women should be decreed, I am of the opinion that all responsible men and women in party, state and economy should accept with the greatest veneration and gratitude the judgment of our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, whose greatest concern has always been the health of the German women and girls; in other words, the present and future mothers of our nation.

I cannot enumerate all the reasons which made me come to that decision. I only ask for confidence in me as an old fanatical district chief of the National Socialist party and to believe that this could be the only possible decision.

We all agree that this decision might appear unjust towards millions of women who are engaged in defense and nutrition industries under the most strenuous conditions but we also realize that an evil cannot be remedied by spreading it to the utmost.

The only possible way to eliminate the existing injustices and hardships consists in winning the war in order to enable us to remove all women and girls engaged from jobs unsuitable for women, namely endangering their health, the birth-rate of our nation, and family and national life.

We must also consider the difference, whether a woman or girl has been used to work in the field or in a factory because of her young age, and whether already she has proved to be able to stand this kind of work.

Aside from physical harm, the German women and girls under any circumstances must be protected from moral and mental harm according to the wish of the Fuehrer.

Foreign workers from Stadelheim Prison work in a factory owned by the AGFA camera company

It is doubtful that these conditions could be fulfilled in the case of mass-conscription and employment. It is impossible to compare the German Woman with the German soldier in this case, because of the existing fundamental natural and racial differences between man and woman.

We cannot accept the responsibility for the dangers threatening the life of the nation resulting from such a measure in the field of women labor mobilization, in view of the countless men on the fighting front—our dead soldiers.

The many millions of women, however, faithfully and industriously engaged in the German economy, and especially now, in war time, rendering valuable services, deserve the best possible care and consideration. They, as well as the soldiers and work-men, deserve the greatest gratitude of our nation. [ . . . ]

The severest measures must be used against loafers, as we can not allow those parasites to shunt their duties in this decisive struggle of our people at the cost of the others.

Prisoners of War and Foreign Workers.

The complete employment of all prisoners of war as well as the use of a gigantic number of new foreign civilian workers, men and women, has become an indisputable necessity for the solution of the mobilization of labor program in this war.

All the men must be fed, sheltered and treated in such a way as to exploit them to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of expenditure.

It has always been natural for us Germans to refrain from cruelty and mean chicaneries towards the beaten enemy, even if he had proven himself the most bestial and most implacable adversary, and to treat him correctly and humanly, even when we expect useful work of him.

As long as the German defense industry did not make it absolutely necessary, we refrained under any circumstances from the use of Soviet prisoners of war as well as of civilian workers, men or women, from the Soviet territories. This has now become impossible and the labor power of these people must now be exploited to the greatest possible extent.

Consequently, I arranged my first measures concerning the food, shelter and treatment of these foreign laborers with the highest competent Reich authorities and with the consent of the Fuehrer and the Reichsmarshal of the Greater German Reich in such a way that a top performance will be demanded and will be obtained.

It must be remembered, though, that even the effort of a machine is conditioned by the amount of fuel, skill and care given to it. How many more conditions must be considered in the case of men, even of low kind and race, than in the case of a machine!

I could not accept the responsibility towards the German people, if after having brought such a tremendous number of men to Germany these men would one day become a burden for the German people or even endanger their health, instead of doing very necessary and useful work, because of mistakes made in their nutrition, shelter and treatment.

The principles of German cleanliness, order and hygiene must therefore also be carefully applied to Russian camps.

Only in such a way will it be possible to exploit that labor to the highest benefit of arms production for the fighting front and for the war nutrition program, without any trace of false sentimentalism.

[ . . . ]

All action making the stay and work in Germany more difficult and unnecessarily unbearable for the foreign workers and exceeding the restrictions and hardships imposed by the war must be avoided. We depend to a large extent upon their good will and their production.

It is therefore only logical to make their stay and work in Germany as bearable as possible—without denying anything to ourselves.

[ . . . ] Therefore, I want to cordially yet insistently commit all German men and women whose labor during war time will be decisive to comply with all those necessities, decisions and measures, according to the old National Socialist principle:

Nothing for us, everything for the Fuehrer and his work, that is, for the future of our Nation!

[signed]: Fritz Sauckel”

Source of English translation: United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume III: Documents 001-PS through 1406-PS. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1946, Document 016-PS, pp. 46-59.

What strikes me in this letter is the repeated references to “Foreign Workers” most of them were Jewish, and many of them were German citizens and possibly more German than some of the Nazi leadership.

sources

https://ghdi.ghi-dc.org/docpage.cfm?docpage_id=2415

http://www.camps.bbk.ac.uk/themes/slave-labour.html

https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/forced-labor

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Heinrich Bütefisch- virtually unpunished.

Heinrich

Heinrich Bütefisch- is not a well known name in the context of WWII and the Holocaust, yet he was responsible for the deaths of thousands, In addition to that he also worked for a company who had helped to develop Zyklon b, the gas used to kill millions.

The company that produced Zyklon B was Degesch -Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung(German Corporation for Pest control) which was owned for 42.5 per cent by IG Farben.

Heinrich Bütefisch was a leading manager at IG Farben, and an Obersturmbannführer in the SS.

zyklon b

He was placed as the head of the gasoline synthesis program to be established at the I.G. Auschwitz plant.He was places in charge  of production at the Buna werke facitory at Monowitz, sometimes referred to as Auschwitz III.

3

When the factory was being built Jews in the surrounding areas were removed from their homes, and the homes were given to Germans employd at the factory, Some Polish residents were also moved.

The life expectancy for Jews working at Monoiwtz were 3 to 4 months, and for those working in the nearby supply mines it was only 1 month.

An estimate 10,000 died at Monowitz/Buna Werke . Bütefisch claimed he was never actually present at the Monowitz concentration camp, and he only  knew the construction site only from a few visits. I doubt this was true, and even if it was he was the man in charge and ultimately was responsible for everything that happened there.

He was arrested  by the U.S. Army in 1945, and was indicted at the Nuremberg IG Farben trial in 1948. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison ,including time already served.

After his early release from prison in 1951, heh became a member of several supervisory boards, including Deutsche Gasolin AG, Feldmühle, and Papier- und Zellstoffwerke AG, the following year.

He also was hired as a  consultant for Ruhrchemie AG Oberhausen, and becamed a member ofits supervisory board in 1952.

Of the 24 defendants at the IG Farben Trial, 10 were acquitted . One was removed due to medical reasons. The remaining 13 men received sentences varying form 1 to 8 years, none of them served the full term.

trial

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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sources

http://www.wollheim-memorial.de/en/heinrich_buetefisch_18941969

https://www.chemie.de/lexikon/Heinrich_B%C3%BCtefisch.html

https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/nuremberg_photos/63/

The conditions at Bergen Belsen.

Bergen Belsen

I was in two minds on how to do this blog. Initially I was considering adding graphic pictures to accompany the text , but then I thought that the pictures may just be too horrific and it would turn people away from reading the text. Additionally there would be a chance that this blog would be deleted on social media outlet, and there would be a chance that I’d get banned again.

Therefore on this occasion I believe the text will be more then sufficient to give an understanding how the conditions were in Bergen Belsen.

It was originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1940. However in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. The camp was liberated on April 15,1945.

liberated sign

Below are 2 testimonies of witnesses, describing the horrors of the camp. The first account is a part of a description of conditions at the camp on 16 April, 1945, taken from file WO 235/19/76008 at the National Archives UK. The author’s name is not mentioned.

The second account is from  survivor Dora Almaleh, prepared for British War Crimes Tribunal, 13 June 1945 .

compound

Men’s Compounds.

No.1.

Typhus was on the wane and reached its peak in March. It is understood that it commenced early in February.

No. 2

This was the largest men’s compound and contained approx 8,000. Typhus had commenced here at a later date than in Compound 1 and had now reached its peak. There were 266 cases and new cases were still occurring, but the medical members considered the worst was over. It was in this Compound that the story of cannibalism was reported to me by one of the doctors. There had been none for the last 2 days but before that there had been many cases.

account

Transcript

IN THE MATTER OF WAR CRIMES

AND

ATTROCITIES AT BELSEN

DEPOSITION OF DORA ALMALEH (Female) late of 19B Othos Peve Ganna, Salonika, Greece, sworn before Major SAVILE GEOFFREY CHAMPION, Royal Artillery, Legal Staff, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.

1. I am 21 years of age and because I am a Jewess I was arrested on 1st April 1942 and taken to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where I remained until I was transferred to Belsen in November 1944.

2. I recognize No. 2 on photograph 22 as an S.S. woman at Belsen. I knew here by the name of HILDE and I have now been told that her full name is HILDE LISIEWITZ. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was one of a working party detailed to carry vegetables from the store to the kitchen by means of a hand card. In charge of this working party was LISIEWITZ. Whilst I was on this job I allowed two male prisoners, whose names I do not know, to take two turnips off the cart. LISIEWITZ saw me do this and she pushed the men, who were very weak to the ground and then beat them on their heads with a thick stick which she always carried. She then stamped on their chests in the region of the heart with her jack-boots. The men lay still clutching the turnips. LISIEWITZ then got hold of me and shook me until I started to cry. She the said ‘Don’t cry or I’ll kill you too’.

(In the picture below)Hilde Lisiewitz is second from the left)

guards

She then went away and after 15 minutes I went up to the men and touched them to see if they were still alive. I formed the opinion that they were dead. I felt their hearts and could feel nothing. They were cold to the touch like dead men. I then went away leaving the bodies lying there and I do not know what happened to them.

3. I recognize No. 1 on photograph No. 5 as an S.S. man at Belsen who was in charge of the bread store. I have now been told that his name is KARL EGERSDORF. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was working in the vegetable store when I saw a Hungarian girl, whose name I do not know, come out of the bread store nearby carrying a loaf of bread. At this moment EGERSDORF appeared in the street and at a distance of about 6 meters from the girl shouted ‘What are you doing here?’. The girl replied ‘I am hungry’ and then started to run away. EGERSDORF immediately pulled out his pistol and shot the girl. She fell down and lay still bleeding from the back of the head where the bullet had penetrated. EGERSDORF then went away and a few minutes later I went and looked at the girl. I am sure she was dead and men who were passing by looked at her and were of the same opinion. The bullet had entered in the centre of the back of the head.

(In the picture below,Karl Egersdorf is first on the left. )

male gurads

I do not know what happened to her body.

SWORN BY THE SAID DEPONENT DORA ALMALEH AT BELSEN THIS 13TH DAY OF JUNE 1945, BEFORE ME

S.G. Champion [Signed]

Major R.A.

I HEREBY CERTIFY that, the said Deponent not understanding English, this Affidavit was translated in my presence to the said Deponent before swearing and I am satisfied that its contents were fully understood by the said Deponent.

Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. S.G.Champion[signed] Major R.A. I HEREBY CERTIFY that I have accurately translated this Affidavit to the said Deponent. Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. [signed] It appears to be a matter for medical evidence as to whether it is possible for a human body to have lost its warmth by death within 15 minutes, even where the man was in a weak state and had been savagely assaulted.

S.G.Champion

Major R.A.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

The National Archives UK Government.

 

Martin Sommer-Too evil for Nazi standards.

Sommer

+++++CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES++++++++

The bizarre thing about the Nazi regime was that they had so many contradictions.They had no issues with committing mass murder and genocide or evil and cruel medical experiments, but they had issues with cruelty which was not conform with their policies.

It was okay to murder and torture but it had to be done the Nazi way.

Walter Gerhard Martin Sommer was an SS Hauptscharführer who served as a guard in 2 concentration camps First he served in Sachsenhausen  later in  Buchenwald. Where he got the nickname  “Hangman of Buchenwald”

SS

 

He was born in Schkölen, to a farming family  in Thuringia in 1915. In 1931 at age sixteen, Sommer joined the Nazi Party and 2 years later became a member of the SS.He was also a  a depraved sadist.

After he left Sachsenhausen he was assigned to Buchenwald where he was put in charge of a cell block where he reigned over his prisoners with impunity. Later he promoted to head the punishment bunker and was promoted once more to Chief Penal Officer.

In both camps Somner served under Karl Koch.

Koch

Sommer was quick to utilize his  position to fulfill  his natural sadistic desires.

His favorite manner of torture was tying prisoners’ wrists together behind their backs and then hang them a few inches off the ground from cell bars, stanchions, or branches of trees until their arms became dislocated. This  earned him the nickname “the Hangman of Buchenwald.”

HangmanWhen this special form of torture was conducted on prisoners in the woods around the camp, the screams of the victims were so intense that the other inmates soon gave the area a name, the “singing forest.”

Sommer had a special dislike for clergy men. One time he ordered two Austrian priests, Otto Neururer and Mathias Spannlang, to be crucified upside-down.Another time he beat a Catholic priest to death for performing the Sacrament of Penance for a fellow inmate.

At one stage he beat  a German pastor, then hanged him naked outside in the winter and threw buckets of water over him and let him freeze to death.

Sommer also had a secret compartment underneath the floor under his desk.  Where he kept his private instruments of torture concealed.Instruments  such as the needles he used to kill his victims after he finished torturing them, he would inject them with carbolic acid, or inject air into their veins causing his victims to die by embolism. Sometimes, after ‘private’ late night torture sessions he would hide the bodies of his victims under his bed until he could dispose of them the following morning.

He sometimes would  rubbed prisoner’s backs with steel brushes and then pour acid on the wounds

In 1943 ,Heinrich Himmler appointed SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen to investigate allegations of cruelty and corruption at the Buchenwald camp.

Morgen

Morgen found the allegations to be true and Sommer was put on trial.

After the  trial Sommer was sentenced to  a reduction in rank and was sent to a penal battalion fighting on the Eastern Front where he was wounded in a tank explosion, losing his left arm and right leg. He was arrested by the Soviet army and was detained as P.O.W. until 1950 when his prisoner status was changed from Prisoner of War to war criminal. In 1955 as part of the negotiations conducted on behalf of Soviet held German prisoners by Konrad Adenauer, Sommer was released.

After his release he returned to West Germany where he married his Nurse, and they had a child ,Sommer filed for and received a pension for his service related disabilities. sommer newsHe received a pension of 280 marks a month and over 10,500 marks in back payments.

He escaped punishment for his crimes until 1957, when he was indicted for complicity in the death in 101 concentration camp inmates.In 1958, the German government deemed  Sommer healthy enough for trial.

He was convicted of 25 deaths and received a life sentence. The sentence was appealed but  the case was upheld in May 1959 by the German  Federal Court. In 1971 he was released from jail because there was no facility to continue his treatment of his war injuries. he was transferred to a hospital and in 1973 to a nursing home where he remained until his death in 1988.

 

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Sources

Der Spiegel

German Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

When should we stop pursuing justice? NEVER!

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The pursuit for truth and justice for the victims of the Holocaust should never ever stop.Even when perpetrators are brought to justice it is still just a hollow one, because what punishment can possibly cover the vile and sickening crimes committed.

However it is important that these people are pursuit regardless what age they are, or in what health condition they are.

Earlier this month US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents removed Jakiw Palij from his home in Queens, N.Y.  in order to send him back to Germany.

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Jakiw Palij is a former Nazi guard, who had worked as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp.He immigrated to the United States in 1949, he had lied  on his immigration documentation that he claimed he  had been a simple farm-worker on his father’s land during the war. Palij entered the U.S. via Boston and became a US citizen in 1957. He bought a  home in Queens, New York in 1966.

He was Born in a part of Poland that is now modern-day Ukraine. He lived a quiet life as a draftsman in the US. In 2001 an investigator from the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations  showed up at his home  to question him about his wartime activities. Palij  admitted to federal officials  that he had been trained as a Nazi guard in spring 1943.

On November 3, 1943, more than 6,000 men, women and children imprisoned at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust.

 

By ensuring that no one was able to escape, Jakiw Palij was instrumental in the massacre of the 6000 innocent men,women and children.

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Nearly three decades ago  investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was “living somewhere in America.” It would take until 2001 before he was found. In 2003 he citizenship was revoked,based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses and immigration fraud. An immigration judge ordered him to be deported in 2004.

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But that turned out to be more complicated as was envisaged for neither the Ukraine nor Germany, nor any other country wanted him. he therefore remained in the US until August 21 when he was finally deported to Germany.

His  case will now be part of an investigation at a Nazi crimes investigation unit in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

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Sources

NBC News

CNN

Journal.ie

Business Insider

 

Eduard Krebsbach- Just doing a Job

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Primum non nocere is the Latin phrase for “First do no harm” It is part of the Hippocratic Oath including the promise “to abstain from doing harm” .

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. The Oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. Although the ancient text is only of historic and symbolic value, swearing a modified form of the Oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries.

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Eduard Krebsbach (b. 8 August 1894, d. 28 May 1947) received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Bonn. He worked for many years as a pediatrician, before applying for membership in the SS in 1937. The following year he was inducted into the SS as Untersturmführer (SS Captain). Between the fall of 1941 and the fall of 1943 Krebsbach served as SS Sturmbannführer (Major) and Standortarzt (Chief Physician) of the SS and the Police at the Linz, Steyr, Wels and Gusen satellite camps of the main Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) commonly referred to as KL Mauthausen-Gusen.

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In this period Krebsbach initiated the practice of mass execution of prisoners that he judged unworthy to live or unable to work. This was performed by lethal injections (Spritzen) of phenol directly into the heart, thus he killed or supervised the murder of at least 900 prisoners, for which he earned the nickname among inmates “Dr. Spritzbach”. Lethal heart injections continued to be administered at the Gusen camp twice a week even until April 1945.

Following the end of World War II he was arrested and given the death penalty during the Dachau trials conducted by the US military on 13 May 1946 and was executed by hanging on 28 May 1947 at Landsberg Prison in Landsberg am Lech.

The following is from the court record of the Dachau trials (quoted in Hans Maršálek, “Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen”, p. 174):

“Krebsbach: When I started work I was ordered by the head of Office III D to kill or have killed all those who were unable to work, and the incurably sick.

Prosecutor: And how did you carry out this order?

Krebsbach: Incurably sick inmates who were absolutely incapable of work were generally gassed. Some were also killed by gasoline injection.

Prosecutor: To your knowledge, how many persons were killed in this way in your presence?

Krebsbach: (no answer)

Prosecutor: You were ordered to kill those unfit to live?

Krebsbach: Yes. I was ordered to have persons killed if I was of the opinion that they were a burden on the state.

Prosecutor: Did it never occur to you that these were human beings, people who had the misfortune to be inmates or who had been neglected?

Krebsbach: No. People are like animals. Animals that are born deformed or incapable of living are put down at birth. This should be done for humanitarian reasons with people as well. This would prevent a lot of misery and unhappiness.

Prosecutor: That is your opinion. The world does not agree with you. Did it never occur to you that killing a human being is a terrible crime?

Krebsbach: No. Every state is entitled to protect itself against asocial persons including those unfit to live.

Prosecutor: In other words, it never occurred to you that what you were doing was a crime?

Krebsbach: No. I carried out my work to the best of my knowledge and belief because I had to.”

KZ Mauthausen, Ewald Krebsbach

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Mengele’s volatility

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I had really wanted to do a blog on Menegele’s experiments on children and especially on twins, but I can’t. I am physically not able to do it. I started some research but I had to stop, the eyes of the children haunt me.

Something that is even more disturbing, and this is a point I made before, Mengele looked like a ‘normal’ human being, a charming man even. The picture above is off him with family and friends taken sometime in the 1970’s in South America, He doesn’t look like an evil man, he looks like a friendly grandfather.

The fact is Evil often doesn’t have an evil face which makes it more disturbing.

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For all of his methodical work habits, Mengele could be impulsive. During one selection — between work and death — on the arrival platform, a middle-aged woman who had been selected for work refused to be separated from her 14-year-old daughter, who had been assigned death.

A guard who tried to pry them apart got a nasty scratch on the face and had to fall back. Mengele stepped in to resolve the matter by shooting both the girl and her mother, and then he cut short the selection and sent everybody to the gas chamber.

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On another occasion, the Birkenau doctors argued over whether a boy they had all grown fond of had tuberculosis. Mengele left the room and came back an hour or two later, apologizing for the argument and admitting he had been wrong. During his absence, he had shot the boy and dissected him for signs of the disease, which he hadn’t found.

In 1944, Mengele’s zest and enthusiasm for his work earned him a management position at the camp. In this capacity, he was responsible for public health measures at the camp in addition to his own research at Birkenau. Again, his impulsive streak surfaced when he made decisions for the tens of thousands of inmates.

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.When Typhus broke out among the women’s barracks, for example, Mengele solved the problem in his characteristic way: he ordered one block of 600 women gassed and their barracks fumigated, then he moved the next block of women over and fumigated their barracks. This was repeated for each women’s block until the last one was clean and ready for a new shipment of workers. He did it again a few months later during a scarlet fever outbreak.

Mengele was never caught and didn’t stand trial.

In 1959, Mengele allegedly traveled to Paraguay to treat the former Secretary to the Fuhrer, Martin Bormann, who had been sentenced to death in absentia at Nuremberg and who was now dying of stomach cancer.

One day in 1979, the 68-year-old Dr. Josef Mengele went out for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. He suffered a sudden stroke in the water and drowned. After his death, friends and family gradually admitted that they had known all along where he had been hiding, and that they had sheltered him from justice all his life.

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Crimes by the “regular” German soldiers.

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There are still many who think that the Nazi atrocities were only carried out by the SS, SS-Totenkopfverbände, Einsatzgruppen and Waffen-SS but not by the regular German Wehrmacht soldiers or Luftwaffe. However in recent years evidence has emerged that especially ‘das Heer’ were also responsible for atrocities and some even worse then the SS.

Below are some accounts from Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe soldiers given during interviews some of these were used in the book “Soldaten”

Eye witness account of Willy Peter Reese ,a young Wehrmacht soldier.

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Willy Peter Reese, an infantryman who fought on the Russian front and died in 1944 aged 23, kept a diary of how German soldiers killed scores of prisoners of war, committed rape, threw pregnant women and children out of their homes and stole food..
”We were without feeling for the suffering of others,We bragged about what we had conquered and about the effect a pistol could have on a defenseless woman.”

”We danced in the railway carriages and fired into the air, made a captured Russian woman dance naked for us and smeared her breasts with boot polish, we made her as drunk as we were,”

Luftwaffe accounts

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Fighter pilot Budde and Corporal Bartels were captured by the British early 1943.
Budde: “I flew two spoiling attacks. In other words, we shelled buildings.”
 
Bartels: “But not destructive attacks with a specific target, like what we did?”
 
Budde: “No, just spoiling attacks. We encountered some of the nicest targets, like mansions on a mountain. When you flew at them from below and fired into them, you could see the windows rattling and then the roof going up in the air. There was the time we hit Ashford. There was an event on the market square, crowds of people, speeches being given. We really sprayed them! That was fun!”
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Two other pilots, Bäumer and Greim, also had their share of “amusing” experiences, which they described in a conversation with other soldiers.

Bäumer: “We had a 2-centimeter gun installed on the front (of the aircraft). Then we flew down low over the streets, and when we saw cars coming from the other direction, we put on our headlights so that they would think another car was approaching them. Then we shot them with the gun. We had a lot of successes that way. It was great, and it was a lot of fun. We attacked trains and other stuff the same way.”
 
Greim: “We once flew a low-altitude attack near Eastbourne. When we got there we saw a big castle where there was apparently a ball or something like that being held. In any case, there were lots of women in nice clothes and a band. We flew past the first time, but then we attacked and really stuck it to them. Now that, my dear friend, was a lot of fun.”

Major General Walter Bruns

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In April 1945, Major General Walter Bruns described what happened during a typical “Jew operation” he witnessed.

Bruns: “The trenches were 24 meters long and about 3 meters wide. They had to lie down like sardines in a can, with their heads toward the middle. At the top, there were six marksmen with submachine guns who then shot them in the back of the neck. It was already full when I arrived, so the ones who were still alive had to lie on top, and then they got shot. They had to lie there in neat layers so that it wouldn’t take up too much space. Before this happened, they had to turn in their valuables at another station.

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The edge of the forest was here, and in here there were the three trenches on that Sunday, and here there was a line that stretched for one-and-a-half kilometers, and it was moving very slowly. They were standing in line to be killed. When they got closer, they could see what was going on inside. Roughly at this spot, they had to hand over their jewelry and their suitcases. A little farther along, they had to take off their clothes, all except their shirts and underpants. It was just women and little children, like two-year-olds.”

The Vinkt massacre

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Was a war crime which occurred in the Belgian villages of Vinkt and Meighem, near Ghent, between 26–28 May 1940 during the Battle of the Lys. During the massacre, between 86 and 140 civilians were deliberately killed by German Wehrmacht troops from the 337th Infantry Regiment, apparently as retaliation for the Belgian army’s resistance in the village.

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Arriving near the bridge on May 25, the German 225th Division, consisting mostly of badly trained soldiers from Itzehoe in the North of the Hamburg area, found it impossible to cross. They then took 140 civilians hostage and used them as human shields.

Boasting

The story Lance Corporal Sommer tells about a lieutenant whom he served under on the Italian front shows how common it was to terrorize the civilian population:after the collapse of the Mussolini government

 Sommer: “Even in Italy , whenever we arrived in a new place, he would always say: ‘Let’s kill a couple of people first!’ I could speak Italian, so I always got special tasks. He would say: ‘Okay, let’s kill 20 men so we can have some peace and quiet here. We don’t want them getting any ideas!’ (laughter) Then we staged a little attack, with the motto: ‘Anyone gives us the slightest trouble and we’ll kill another 50.'”

Bender: “What criteria did he use to select them? Did he just pull them out at random?”

Sommer: “Yeah, 20 men, just like that. ‘Come here,’ he’d say. Then he’d line them up on the market square, pick up three MGs — rat-a-tat-tat — and there they were, dead. That was how it happened. Then he would say: ‘Great! Pigs!’ He hated the Italians so much, you wouldn’t believe it.”

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In another case, a senior German army officer voiced his disgust at a junior lieutenant’s giggling account of how he and his men raped a so-called woman “spy” in Russia and then threw hand grenades at her. “She didn’t half scream when they exploded near her,” the lieutenant jeered.

Even the German navy was involved.

In March 1943, Solm, a seaman on a submarine, tells a cellmate how he “knocked off a children’s transport” in which more than 50 children drowned. The transport he mentions was most likely the British passenger ship City of Benares, which was sunk in the north Atlantic on Sept. 17, 1940.

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“Did they all drown?’

“Yes, they’re all dead.”

“How big was it?”

“6,000 tons.”

“How did you know that?”

“Via the radio.

 

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Confronted with the crimes of their leaders.

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It would of course be unfair to say that all Germans and Austrians were guilty of the atrocities carried out by their leaders. But it is also unfair to believe that no one of the ordinary citizenship knew what was happening. The excuse of “we didn’t know” should not always have been taken for granted.

Especially those who lived near the concentration camps must have had at least an inkling of what was going on.

The fact is that the crimes were carried out by those who they had elected as their leaders, therefore the crimes were committed in their names.

Below are pictures of the local population and SS officers being made facing the atrocities

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SS officer Eichelsdoerfer, the commandant of the Kaufering IV concentration camp, stands among the corpses of prisoners killed in his camp.

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German civilians under U.S. military escort are forced to see a wagon loaded with corpses in Buchenwald.

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Under orders from the U.S. Army, Austrian civilians dig mass graves for corpses found in Gusen

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On orders from the U.S. Army, Austrian citizens remove corpses from the “Russian camp” section of Mauthausen for burial in a mass grave.

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Civilians from nearby Weimar are forced by American soldiers to see the remains of prisoners in the crematorium ovens of Buchenwald during their tour of the concentration camp.

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Under the direction of an American soldier, German civilians from Gardelegen carry wooden crosses to the site where they were ordered to bury the bodies of concentration camp prisoners killed by the SS in a barn just outside the town.

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German civilians from the town of Nordhausen bury the corpses of prisoners found in the Nordhausen concentration camp in mass graves.Only one man looks at the corpses.

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Pictures courtesy if NARA and USHMM.