The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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   Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One, Chapter 11

                                                  [Page 962]

The deterrent effect of the concentration camps was based on
the promise of savage brutality. This promise was fulfilled,
to an extent which defies description. Once in the custody
of the SS guards, the victim was beaten, tortured, starved,
and often murdered through the so-called "extermination
through work" program, or through mass execution gas
chambers and furnaces of the camps (which were portrayed in
the motion picture evidence). The reports of official
government investigations furnish additional evidence of
conditions within the concentration camps. The official
report concerning the concentration camp Flossenberg,
prefaced by the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the
United States Army, dated 21 June 1945, and supported by
attached affidavits and testimony, contains this

     "The work at these camps mainly consisted of
     underground labor, the purpose being the construction
     of large under-
                                                  [Page 963]
     ground factories, storage rooms, etc. This labor was
     performed completely underground and as a result of the
     brutal treatment, working and living conditions, a
     daily average of 100 prisoners died. To the one camp
     Oberstaubling, 700 prisoners were transported in
     February 1945 and on 15 April 1945 only 405 of these
     men were living. During the 12 months preceding the
     liberation, Flossenburg and the branch camps under its
     control accounted for the death of 14,739 male inmates
     and 1,300 women. These figures represent the deaths as
     were obtained from the available records in the camp,
     however, they are in no way complete as many secret
     mass executions and deaths took place. In 1941 an
     additional stockade was added at the Flossenburg camp,
     to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000
     prisoners only 102 survived.

     "Flossenburg Concentration Camp can best be described
     as a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had
     in view the primary object of putting to work the mass
     slave labor, another of its primary objectives was the
     elimination of human lives by the methods employed in
     handling the prisoners. Hunger and starvation rations,
     sadism, housing facilities, inadequate clothing,
     medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing,
     hand hanging, forced suicides, shooting, all played a
     major role in obtaining their objective. Prisoners were
     murdered at random; spite killings against Jews were
     common. Injections of poison and shooting in the neck
     were everyday occurrences. Epidemics of typhus and
     spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means
     of eliminating prisoners. Life in this camp meant
     nothing. Killing became a common thing, so common that
     a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones."
     "On Christmas 1944 a number of prisoners were hung at
     one time. The prisoners were forced to view this
     hanging. By the side of the gallows was a decorated
     Christmas tree and as expressed by one prisoner 'it was
     a terrible sight, that combination of prisoners hanging
     in the air and the glistening Christmas tree'.
     "In March or April, 13 American or British parachutists
     were hung. They had been delivered to this camp
     sometime before and had been captured while trying to
     blow up bridges."
     "On 20 April 1945, approximately 1,000 prisoners were
                                                   Page 964]
     sembled to make a forced march in the direction of
     Concentration Camp Dachau. The evacuation of these
     prisoners was caused by the impending capture of the
     camp by the Allies. These 1,000 prisoners were lined up
     in three groups and started on this march. Only those
     prisoners who could walk were taken and before leaving
     Flossenburg, many were executed, as also were those who
     collapsed in rank awaiting the movement to start the
     trek. No provision was made for the feeding of these
     prisoners or sleeping on this trip. They marched in
     long columns guarded by SS Guards.
     "Thousands were killed on the way and the paths which
     they took were littered with the dead. Groups of from 5
     to 50 were taken out and forced to dig pits and then
     were shot. Many graves were not even covered. As the
     already starved and weakened prisoners fell from
     exhaustion, a group of SS guards bringing up the rear
     would kill them by a shot in the back of the head. All
     who fell out of line were immediately executed in this
     manner. Death was also caused by beatings or bashings
     in the skulls.
     "The prisoners marched from Friday till Monday during
     which time they received only 100 grams of bread. They
     marched in the rain and slept in the fields in the mud
     and water. Many died from exhaustion. On the 23rd day
     of April 1945, between the towns of Cham and Roding,
     they were liberated by the American troops." (2309-PS)

Conditions at Mauthausen, one of the most notorious
extermination centers, are thus described in an official
report of the office of the Judge Advocate General of the
Third United States Army, dated 17 June 1945:

     "V. Conclusions. There is no doubt that Mauthausen was
     the basis for long term planning. It was constructed as
     a gigantic stone fortress on top of a mountain flanked
     by small barracks.
     "Mauthausen, in addition to its permanency of
     construction had facilities for a large garrison of
     officers and men, and had large dining rooms and toilet
     facilities for the staff. It was conducted with the
     sole purpose in mind of exterminating any so-called
     prisoner who entered within its walls. The so-called
     branches of Mauthausen were under direct command of the
     SS officials located there. All records, orders, and
     administrative facilities were handled for these
     branches through Mauthausen. The other camps, including
     Gusen and Ebensee, its two most notorious and largest
     branches, were not exclusively used for extermination
                                                  [Page 965]
     prisoners were used as tools in construction and
     production until they were beaten or starved into
     uselessness, whereupon they were customarily sent to
     Mauthausen for final disposal." (2176-PS)

It is clear from both the motion picture and these reports,
which could be supplemented by many similar ones, that the
brutal conditions in all concentration camps followed the
same general pattern. The widespread incidence of these
conditions makes it clear that they were not the result of
sporadic excesses on the part of individual jailers, but
were the result of policies deliberately imposed from above.

The crimes committed by the Nazis in the concentration camp
were on so vast a scale that individual atrocities pale into
insignificance. But there are two exhibits in the possession
of the prosecution which illustrate the contempt in which
the Nazis held human values. The first is a frame showing
sections of human skin, taken from human bodies in
Buchenwald Concentration Camp and preserved as ornaments.
(This was offered by the prosecution as a physical exhibit.)
They were selected because of the tattooing which appeared
on the skin. Attached to this exhibit is an extract of an
official US Army report describing the circumstances under
which this exhibit was obtained (3420-PS):

     "Mobile Field Interrogation Unit No. 2
     "no. 2/20                                    19
     February 1944 "
     Address Briefs and Requests to HQ, FID, MIS, APO 887
     "13. Concentration Camp, Buchenwald.
     'Preamble. The author of this account is PW Andreas
     Pfaffenberger, 1 Coy, 9 Landesschuetzen Bn. 43 years
     old and of limited education, he is a butcher by trade.
     The substantial agreement of the details of his story
     with these found in PWIS (H)/LF/736 establishes the
     validity of his testimony.
     "PW has not been questioned on statements which, in the
     light of what is known, are apparently erroneous in
     certain details, nor has any effort been made to alter
     the subjective character of PW's account, which he
     wrote without being told anything of the intelligence
     already known. Results of interrogation on
     personalities at Buchenwald have already been published
     (PWIB No 2/12 Item 31)."
     "In 1939, all prisoners with tattooing on them were
                                                  [Page 966]
     to report to the dispensary. No one knew what the
     purpose was. But after the tattooed prisoners had been
     examined, the ones with the best and most artistic
     specimens were kept in the dispensary, and then killed
     by injections, administered by Karl Beigs, a criminal
     prisoner. The corpses were then turned over to the
     pathological department, where the desired pieces of
     tattooed skin were detached from. the bodies and
     treated. The finished products were turned over to SS
     Standartenfuehrer Koch's wife, who had them fashioned
     into lampshades and other ornamental household
     articles. I myself saw such tattooed skins with various
     designs and legends on them, such as "Hans'l und
     Gret'l", which one prisoner had had on his knee, and
     ships from prisoners' chests. This work was done by a
     prisoner named Wernerbach." (420-PS) The following
     certificate is also attached to the exhibit:
     "I, George C. Demas, Lieut., USNR., associated with the
     United States Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of
     Axis Criminality, hereby certify that the attached
     exhibit, consisting of parchment, was delivered by the
     War Crimes Section, Judge Advocate General, US Army, to
     me in my above capacity, in the usual course of
     official business, as an exhibit found in Buchenwald
     Camp and captured by military forces under the command
     of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces."

This is the conclusion reached in an official US Army report
attached to the exhibit:

     "Based on the findings in paragraph 2, all three
     specimens are tattooed human skin". (423-PS)

One more example of this pathological phase of Nazi culture,
another Nazi trophy, is a human head with the skull bone
removed, shrunken, stuffed, and preserved. (This was offered
by the prosecution as a physical exhibit.) This head
probably belonged to a foreign worker, kidnapped by Sauckel
to work in Speer's armament industry. The Nazis had one of
their many victims decapitated after having had him hanged
for fraternizing with a German woman; they fashioned this
ornament from his head. This represents the end product of
the Nazi system, representing both the degradation of the
Nazi "master" and the anguish of his victim. The official US
Army report attached to this exhibit deals with the manner
in which this exhibit was acquired. It reads in part:

     "There I also saw the shrunken heads of two young Poles
     who had been hanged for having relations with German

                                                  [Page 967]
The heads were the size of a fist, and the hair and the
marks of the rope were still there:" (3423-PS)

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