Saturday, March 26, 2011

A new and different start

I had acquired another job in Allach in a Supply Depot after WOJG Milton F.Plier had fired some else and hired me. What he saw in me I don't know I can only guess, "a lonely boy who needed parental help".I was 18 years old and in many ways still naive. He took very little interest in me during my stay, but obviously had not forgotten our original discussion that I rather be working in a mess hall or a kitchen where I could get at least a meal as I did not want to get hungry again, but he saw it only from the American point of view and had only a smile on his face. I will come back to this back later on.
General Lucius Clay, the Deputy to General Eisenhower,stated: (who's myopic political vision regarding the threat of communism was just as bad as Eisenhower's)"I feel that the Germans should suffer from hunger and from cold as I believe such suffering is necessary to make them realize the consequences of war which they caused[1].
US occupation forces were under strict orders not to share their food with the German population, and this also applied to their wives when they arrived later in the occupation. The women were under strict orders not to allow their German maids to get hold of any leftovers," the food was to be destroyed or made inedible", although in view of the starving German population facing them many housewives chose to ignore these official orders[2]In August 1944 a Handbook for the Military Government in Germany was ready, after reading it President Roosevelt rejected it, a new document was drafted (JCS1067) on March 20 1945 Roosevelt was warned that this order was not workable it would stew the Germans in their own juice "Let them have soup kitchens! Let their economy sink!" Asked if he wanted the German people starve, he replied,"Why not?"[4]

My main function in Allach was to keep incoming material  stored and issued when required, this also included receiving the EM's  uniforms as well as bed sheets pillow slips etc taken to the QM Laundry in Dachau for dry cleaning and washing. On one of these trips, our driver James Walters wanted to show me what those God damn Germans did during the war just around the corner in a crematorium, this was mid 1946. I was fully aware of the activities of the SD and Einsatzgruppen in Russia as a youngster when my uncle told my parents(I pricked my ears to listen)  that Germans committed mass murder of people that were racially not pure. As the older generation never believed that Hitler could ever win this war, they always felt and said when no one else was there:"Die Rache der Sieger an das deutsche Volk wird unbeschreibar".(The retaliation of the victors towards the German people will be indescribably).

The Crematorium
Well my first impression to walk a tree lined gravel path towards the crematorium was almost serene, it was tree lined and curved slightly, and on that day no one was present, yet what I noticed first were dog kennel type of boxes, three on each side, stacked with flower pots which puzzled me and only very much later I was told these were used to hold the ashes of the cremated victims.
James and I entered the few steps towards the delousing chambers which had sculls and cross bones "Achtung" markings on steel doors with chalk markings indicating time durations"zu"=shut and "offen"=open written on them. One of the chambers still had a padded Jacket hanging on  a rail with a coat hanger still inside it. We wandered around into various rooms which showed nothing of interest to me.
Then he got excited and furious to show me the gas chamber with the description BRAUSEBAD written above it. First of all I had a good look at the steel door, why a steel door? It was of the type that is used on battleships to create watertight compartments, it had rubber type seals around it very similar you have on fridges and two large handle bars for locking, you could not unlock this door from the inside. I went inside but not very far as I had the feeling of claustrophobia when James locked the door from the outside and it was completely dark no light of any kind and momentarily I was scared.At that time I did not think much about its purpose and the expression Holocaust was not in use. My own opinion now is:That the chamber was intended to be used for homicidal purposes but the installation was never completed or considered impractical and some internal changes were made to be altered at a later stage.Perhaps as a shower. I was not horrified when I saw the ovens as such, for me it was and still is a matter of cremating the dead as quickly as possible to avoid spreading of diseases. How they died in the Camp is another matter. The last to use these facilities were the American Military to dispose of the 12 Nazi war criminals sentenced to death by hanging at Nuernberg. In fact a total of 14 boxes had been trucked to Dachau. As this was the last indignity in some way a symbolic act of the Americans, only Goering had been shown were he would eventually finish up, yet he cheated the hangman.[3]I doubt that any guide will tell you this.
We had a good look around the building but I can not remember anything like the controversial chutes or modification that are shown now in various publications. There was a sort of rack with mannequin inmates bent over it and a fierce looking SS-man beating them. Also a sign underneath an oak tree which was described as a Hanging Tree. At one place there was a covered ditch, which was described a "Drain for blood" after the shooting and executions of Russian political Commissars their blood would flow there. I have seen blood during my short fights during the war,but the blood of the dead never ran that much. What a story!
When I first saw the crematorium building in 1946 I can not recall seeing the so called chutes that would take Zyklon pellets into the chamber. There were always rumors that they had been added on at a later stage to make the function of a gas-chamber more plausible to visitors. As the building was constructed under SS supervision and their standards from my own experience were extremely high, they would never have accepted the shoddy workmanship that was performed on it. The whole thing does not fit in. During my stay in Dachau I met a number of ex-inmates as well as SS-POW's in 1948 and sometimes it came to heated debates as both parties knew more about the activities than any others but were even to this date reluctant to talk. What was almost a laughing matter to them(the SS-men) was the BRAUSEBAD wording above the chamber door. I was bluntly told:"If you don't believe it that it was put on when the Amis were there, just touch the letters and you will find they are almost fresh in comparison to the rest of the painted wall'. So I did. The impression I had that it was stenciled on and not done by a sign painter. These types of stencils are used during spray painting of US Army vehicles. One thing that strikes me odd is the letter E which has been done in revers i.e. the middle bar is normally in the center or in the upper part of the letter, not in the lower, but it can be used in both ways.

 During my stay at Allach,here again at the Supply Depot quite a lot of thieving was going on. The most desirable items were kept in three rooms and only myself and another elderly gent who had always been there as Germans had excess to them apart from the American personal plus two young women who did the cleaning, who were checked when they left the building, yet nothing was ever found how the missing items like shoes, soap and clothing, blankets etc went missing. What the Americans never looked at was the dirty water buckets of the two women. And I had been asked to look the other way!

Slowly but persistently the Cold War was heating up and attitudes as well as condition improved by 1948, the D-Mark was introduced and thanks to the Marshal-Plan  with the aim of cranking the German economy up, not only in Germany but war torn Europe as a whole except East Germany. This effected the Ordnance Field Maintenance Shop as well, as it was originally the property of the Dornier Werke who had manufactured compressors there during the war for their fighter planes. Non essential Units were I worked were the first to be closed or transferred to Dachau, the entire process took a number of months and I was made jobless. Mr.Plier had not forgotten my plea when I first met him that I did not want to get hungry again and I was employed for some time in the Mess Hall as waiter for the remaining officers until the shift to Dachau was completed. Here again he had been instrumental that I was employed in the Dachau Garrison Mess later on for a short period until I found other work in the Camp. At that time I was not aware that he had spoken for me, nor was I ever able to thank him.
I would like to relay here a typical example of how the attitude of Americans towards came to the surface:I was wearing GI fatigues (HBT's) had a crew cut,GI glasses (which a kind soldier had given me,his spare pair) and perhaps looked like a GI. I was sweeping my place in the mess hall,when the Provost  Sgt. approached me, and said:"Look soldier,you don't have to do that let those Krauts do the dirty work!" One of the cooks told him:"He is one".

Camp Dachau
It was here that I came in contact with American GI's that were kept in the original Jail Proper,which shows the sign "Arbeit macht frei".This was an Army stockade. These were short time Army Prisoners, accompanied by guards with shotguns when they arrived at the mess hall. I don't think this appears in any guide books. I knew one of them a Sgt.Bachman from way back who was caught taking food for his German girl friend and family, he had meant well for his adopted family but it was an offense  nether-the-less.
I finally found a more secure job to my liking as a clerk in a Ordnance Supply Depot at the end of 1948, where I worked with a young widow aged 23 by the name of Anita Haug. Only later on did I found out that her father had been a high ranking SS-Officer since 1933 in the Administration of the Concentration Camp, but was killed in action during the fighting in Hungary 1945. To avoid repercussion from inmates or the "Liberators" together with other families had been evacuated to Tyrol and returned to Dachau living in rather spartan condition at the Wuermuehle. She was a very attractive looking young women, men like to be seen with. I would have called her a "Good Time Girl". To come to the more serious matter that haunts me to this day, are her statements and that of her mother, that the  beloved heroic "Liberators" not only committed murder of 500 so called SS-Guards, but also dragged other SS-Personnel out of their villas that had been maintenance people mechanics and the like, put them against the wall opposite the main Louisiana Drive and shot them.
Mothers had given their small children cyanide capsules and told them to take them into their mouths and bite onto them like a lolly as soon as their Daddy is shot. Both, her mother and her, claimed that about twenty young children died this way before the Americans realized what was happening and the shooting was stopped.
I have searched in the vicinity close to the perimeter of the fenced off golf course for the graves, where a former inmate apparently have buried them, there was also a web page which  describes his own feelings. I did find three mounds close to the fence but did not take it any further. I did raise this question again if it took place and how, but was ignored.
Mrs. Anita Haug married an American Sargent lives in the States under a different name and I feel strongly about the incidence for some scholar to have her statement for historical purposes investigated. I am able to give more details of her life (but not on this blog) by contacting me via e-mail><

Living Conditions
For the first time I was happy with my accommodation in the old SS-Hospital located behind the infamous coal bunker with all the comforts of home. It was a close knit community of about 500 employees that worked for the various American Army Units, but there was a vast gulf despite the fact that fraternization had taken place, between those(The Germans)and us (The Americans). I worked as an Editor for the Ordnance Supply Office responsible for most Military Equipment for the Munich Sub Area. Our office was located in the abandoned War Crimes Tribunal Buildings, however we were still treated as second class citizens we were not allowed to use the toilet facilities next to my office but had to walk about 100meters to the main building to relieve ourselves. This and other little quirks the Americans insisted on, made us think of the segregation in States between Whites and Blacks, which we felt was applied to us as well. Admittedly conditions improved once the Koren War had started.
I met my future wife here, who was emigrating to New Zealand  and I followed her at the end of 1956, got married had a family and was trying to forget the past! Still, memories linger on.
PS<The Hospital site which was a Home from Home for a number of years was destroyed later on
Source[1] Richard Dominic Wiggers pg.278
             [2]Eugine Davidson"The Death and Life
                   of Germany"University Press Missouri
             [3]Kollektives Gedaechtnis:Willi Witte
             [4]M.R.Beschloss"The Conquerors pg196

Krefeld Hungerwinter Demonstration, sign reads: We want COAL we want BREAD
The average German civilian received 1,200 calories per day[1]
Displaced Persons were receiving       2,300 calories
Adult calorie in USA was 3,200-3,300, UK 2,900 and US Army 4,000[2]
source[1][2]R.D.Wiggers pgs 280,285

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