Friday, December 16, 2011

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 4

MASS MURDER 1941-1943
  "Wohin haben Sie Geschossen?"
  "Auf den Hinterkopf."
  SS-Mann Horst Dittrich


During the summer of 1941 until the summer of 1942 a detailed preparation of mass murder of Soviet prisoners of war, a perpetrated act of crime was carried out. Months before the attack on the Soviet Union, in March 1941, Hitler made his intentions known before NSDAP officials and the heads of the army, the coming war against the Soviet Union would be led as an ideological war (Weltanschauungskrieg),  and in due course "the Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia the previous oppressors of the people" must be destroyed. By order dated 6th Juni1941, the so-called Commissar Order, demanded by the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) not to take political commissars as prisoner of war, but to shoot them immediately. In addition, details of the security police were in the POW camps and an extensive manhunt for discarding "politically intolerable elements"  was taken place.
According to the guidelines of the Chief of Security Police and SD of the 17th July 1941"Einsatzbefehl Nr.8" ( command No.8) focused the investigation on state and party officials, political commissars, leaders of middle management,  and central authorities, leading authorities, leading persons of the economy, members of the intelligence and Jews, also to all who are suspected of resistance to the Regime .With the deployment and implementation of Befehl (order) No. 9 the Gestapo received this one, for the segregation within the prison camps to their competence to carry out and shoot the separated prisoners of war in the next concentration camps.
Beginning of August 1941 the Sachsenhausen concentration camp began with the construction of a barrack for an execution facility. This was a special place and consisted of adifferent areas as registration, examination and a bathing room where the shooting took place from a fissure in the wall, to enable to shot the victim in the neck. The existence of a horse stable which could be operated with minimal human effort a smooth execution mechanism, that had emanated from a prolonged duration of previous  actions was envisioned,  which gave at the same time  Buchenwald the opportunity to build a murder site where the shootings took place through a gap in the yardstick of the study area, which received  the terminology  "Genickschußanlage"(shot in the neck facility)."
These "facilities were specific to Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald, while in the concentration camps of Dachau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Neuengamme and Auschwitz, the killing took place in a different way. Also in Buchenwald, where in September 1941, the first group of POWs arrived, the executions took place on the shooting range east of the German Ausrüstungswerke (Armament Factory), this took place prior to  "the shooting in the neck method" in a former Pferdestall (Horse Stable)  and was completed outside the prison area.

 [Camp Commandant Pister did give a comprehensive detailed summary of events that took place during his interrogation as follows sic]
"The horse stable, it's designation was 99, after the phone number that had the apparatus in the building. This building was no longer used for the stabling of horses and was divided into two parts. In the right room the captives had to undress. The left room was established as a medical examination room. In this room there were panels on the wall with letters on them(large and small)  to give the impression of an upcoming eye examination. In another room there was a measuring rod,(Meßstange) as they were used for Musters permanently attached to the wall.
All none-commissioned officers, about eight to ten were dressed in doctors white coats, so thad the prisoner had the impression, he was sent for a medical examination. Induvidually they entered the first room, where a dental examination took place. After the dental examination a second (Unterführer) NCO examined  the heart and lung. Then the prisoner  would enter the second room and stand in front of the measuring rod. At this moment the NCO would knock with his boot onto the partition that separated it from a small cabin which held another NCO waiting for the knock who would fire a shot into the neck of the prisoner. The measuring device was provided with a long slit through the wall, so that a precise aim could be obtained. Next, two other NCO's would drag the body into the next room. Then the blood-covered floor was washed away with a water hose."

Plan of the Execution Facilities inside the Horse Stable 21.4.1945. The Name Carolus who drew the plan is a Pseudonym of Karl Feuerer  a German Political Inmate 1939-1945. He added to the caption "Every minute one death".(Jede Minute eine Leiche)
The mass murder in these facilities was on a roster basis of the Headquarters Company establishment as a specialized command, the "Command 99", which was -99 the telephone number of the horse stable-always remained accessible. A member of Headquarters Company, Horst Dittrich, described during a hearing before the Military Court at Dachau in November 1947 the process:
"Having been the first time in the examination room, what happened?"
> The Russian war prisoners were then asked in this room to stand with their backs to the wall. This wall was about 2 meters high, and left and right, was provided with numbers, you could have the impression that this was a measuring (tape) scale. In the middle of the wall was a slit, about 8-10 cm wide. Behind the wall stood a man with de gun. The man who put the prisoner on the wall, gave a foot  knock for the man behind it, so that he had the pistol ready  to shoot.<
"Were you there the first time in this room to shoot?"
> The first time, yes. I finally gave 8 rounds>
"You mean you gave off 8 shots, 8 on various Russian prisoners of war?"
>Yes< (Jawohl)
"Where did you shoot?"
> On the back of the head.<

NOTE: The present execution facilities at Buchenwald Memorial Site are a reconstruction and not the Originals sic.

German issued Identification Tag for a Russian POW which was found within the grounds of the Memorial Site
Carrying container, sheet metal lined to carry the dead after execution from the Horse Stable to the crematorium during 1942
The shootings, according to the crematorium manager sometimes amounted to 400 per night, which were held during audible martial music. Unlike other camps, which stopped the shootings in the summer of 1942 the exception was Buchenwald, as it was close to the POW camp at Senne where prisoners were still selected and continued as a murder site until at least 1943. After the discontinuation of the overall execution action in the summer of 1942, the Buchenwald SS abandoned theirs in the face of the decline in numbers and the irregularity of transport in the continuation of the Genickschuss facilities (shot in the neck) from about 1943. Prisoners of war were, however murdered by hanging on wall hooks in the basement of the crematorium since then. Both the total number and the names of the victims could not be clarified because no entries were made in camp records and the dead anonymously cremated. Estimates amount to at least 7,000 victims. An inmate who could follow the receipt of the execution orders and add the figures up, remembers a total of 8475.

Among the inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp right from the beginning, there were a number of mentally and physically handicapped. Even the records of the year 1938 depicts them in camp jargon as the "stupid company" a titled group of mentally handicapped people. There were some isolated blind and deaf-mutes among the prisoners. After the static tables surveys of the SS as of July 15th 1940, for example show  there were 67 "full disability", 48 which had disabilities and 19 seriously ill patients and 147 old ones in the  camp. That was 5 percent of 7203 prisoners. The new labor service leader Grimm, who saw in this an "enormous burden" urged strongly in early 1941, that those prisoners unable to work should be deported into the Dachau concentration camp.
The killing of Jewish prisoners and the disabled unable to work, became the content of an action that began in 1941 under reference 14f13 .SS-Doctor Waldemar Hoven gave detailed accounts about these activities during his trial.
The exact date of the official meeting with the commander has not been documented. This must have been in the first half, probably in April, May 1941. At the 16th or 17th June 1941   the first group of "euthanasia" experts arrived in the concentration camp at Buchenwald. They separated and assessed prisoners who were taken in mid-July 1941 in the "euthanasia" killing center (Tötungsanstalt) Sonnenstein and there suffocated with gas. A second Selection Commission (Gutachterkommission) arrived in November 1941 and  sorted especially inmates after sifting through the filing system. In March 1942, the first transport was assembled for the euthanasia killing center at Bernburg, exclusively with Jewish prisoners.

Following Extermination Transports went during 1941/42 from Buchenwald into Euthanasia Killing Centers: (Tötungsanstalten)
13.7.1941                  94 Inmates to:
                                    Sonnenstein (Pirna)
14.7.1941                   93 Inmates to:
                                     Sonnenstein (Pirna)
2.3.1942                     90 Jewish Inmates to:
11.3.1942                    90 Jewish Inmates to:
12.31942                     105 Jewish Inmates to:
14.3.1942                     99 Jewish Inmates to:

Under the total of 571 selected and condemned were 468 Jews.[Both facilities were officially designated "Healing an Nursing Homes".sic]

 With the introduction of "Special Treatment 14f13" took the form of murder and was systematically set into motion also on sick patients by injection them with Phenol, Evipan or Air, it was latent in the camp since 1940 anyway. Dr. Eisele testified at the Dachau Buchenwald process, that commander Koch had instructed him in early July 1941, to identify all TB patients. Two weeks later, his chef came to him and showed him a letter from Berlin which stated as "special treatment" -that was the expression of SS and Gestapo for executions without legal formalities- for Koch ordered him to arrange all suffering from tuberculosis, anti-social and professional criminals to proceed accordingly. The first murder action in this regard began with the delivery of two shipments mostly sick, some men also invalids from Dachau on July 6th, 1941 (1,000 people) and on 12th July (1008 people).
Letter of Camp Doctor Waldemar Hoven to Dr. Joachim Gauger dated 27.7.1941 regarding the death of his brother.
                        The fictitious case histories Dr.Hoven ordered a male nurse to write.
On January 19, 1942  an order by the Inspector of  Concentration Camps was issued to all camps within Germany to detain, hold and transport able bodied "labor" and create an"operational" Jewish work force for the KZ-camp Lublin. In an epilogue, it was said:
"It is emphasized again as a reminder to provide warm clothing, because everything must be done to maintain the work ability of the Jews"
This command was invoked prior to the  arrangement in December 1941, indirectly relating to the November assessment of the "Euthanasia Operation" resulting in a list of "able-bodied"Jews. Even at the beginning of 1942  rumors had been floating in the camp of the impending evacuation of Jewish prisoners. In the second week of January, the SS ordered the Jewish inmate Oswald Alexander to be publicly flogged for it. He died five months later.
But the rumors had a real background. Since the beginning of the war until the end of 1941 the NS regime, the transition was of the forced expulsion policy to exterminate the Jews within  its sphere of influence. As planned the SS-state proceeded with the labeling and ghettoization of the Jewish population. Since 1941, Jews in Germany had to wear a yellow star on their clothes. In the same year the deportation to camps and ghettos, on forced annexation in Polish territories began. Throughout Eastern Europe, where foreign territories fell directly under German rule, massacres took place towards the Jewish population. In December 1941, at Chelmno (Kulmhof), the first extermination facility in which they drew on experiences of the "euthanasia" killing centers was implemented.
After the invasion of the Soviet Union, the crimes in the concentration camps had reached a new level. Characteristic of both the "Action 14f13" as well as for the mass executions of Soviet prisoners of war it was the regularity with which the SS was going on, the preparation of the technical processes and the use of a specialized staff was precise and well organized .This particular approach was determined by the "Wannsee Conference" which emphasized the deportation and the destruction of the Jewish population located in the countries under German rule.
As far as the concentration camp was concerned  the conference held in January 1942 at villa near the Wannsee in Berlin, resulted in as much  that the SS postponed the deportation of Jewish prisoners after a certain time limit. Regardless of this decision the camp doctor Hoven had  a "personal conversation" with the head of "Euthanasia" (Tötungsanstalt)  killing center Bernburg to make  preparations for the murder of Jewish prisoners. On the 2nd February 1942 he sent in duplicate a compilation of the Buchenwald concentration camp inmates of those that are unable to work and sick Jews for further action to Bernburg.The SS prepared  four transports of Jewish prisoners to be suffocated with gas at those facilities.  On the 16th of March 1942 a total of 836 Jewish prisoners were thus exterminated out of a total inmate capacity at Buchenwald at that time of 8,117.
Letter of camp doctor Waldemar Hoven  to the "Healing and Nursing Home" Bernburg dated 2.2.1942 confirming their personal conversation, with 2 Attachments
For the SS, who anticipated apparently imminent deportations, it was now immaterial whether a Jewish prisoner was a "political", convict, homosexual or "work-shy", they knew by statistics of the camp only one, by national origin a main group  as "Jews", whether they were from  the "German Reich", Czech or stateless Jews. Since the newly created SS Economic and Administrative Main Office in the fall of 1942, there was a shift in policy that the Jewish prisoners at Armament Production within Germany could no longer relied upon. In line with Hitler's perception the German Reich had to 'be free of Jews ".
On October 5, 1942, SS Obersturmmbannführer Maurer, head of the Office D II, wrote to all the camp commanders:

"The Reichsführer (Himmler sic)  wants, that all within the Reich territory lying KL  be made ​​free of Jews. It should therefore be necessary for Jews that are interned in local KL's  to be shipped to Auschwitz or Lublin. I ask you to report to me the number of local KL imprisoned Jews by the  9th of the month and  to note, especially those detainees that are used there in places that do not allow for their immediate transportation."

Letter dated 12.101942 from Department D to commanders of Buchenwald and Auschwitz regarding the Deportation of Jewish Inmates.
On the 8th October, the Kommandantur of the Buchenwald concentration camp reported 405 Jewish prisoners ready to be transported to Auschwitz. On the Friday, October 16th 1942  commandant Pister ordered ten freight cars from the Deutsche Reichsbahn and made the Transportation Leader personally responsible that "the cars are boarded up and sealed properly."  The remaining 234 Jewish camp prisoners whose deportation had been postponed because they were part of of the "Construction Detail Jews" that were still needed in the building of the gun factory ,"Gustloff-Werk II. For most of those that worked at  the IG Farben construction site and  brought to Auschwitz-Monowitz , Auschwitz meant death. Only a few came back with the evacuation trains in January 1945.

Resistance in the camp began with the assertion of the individual. Any attempt to log a report or to rebel, the SS usually answered immediately with brutal violence or homicide. Even the suspicion led to the cells of the "bunker". At the death of an Austrian Jew Edmund Hamber to report an SS murderer, there is the following statement by Emil Carlebach.:
"In autumn 1940,  the first test case of open resistance against the SS murders took place. The SS-Sergeant Abraham, drowned the Jewish prisoner Hamber  in a puddle of water. His brother was an eyewitness to the cause of the death and when questioned, he told the truth .. Then the whole command was called to the gate, but understandably, none of the rest dared to say that anyone had seen something. The foreman had to write down the names of his 28 men .... The brother of the murdered man told me: "I know that I must die for my statement, but maybe this will keep these criminals back in future, if they to fear a reported murder. Then I have not died  for nothing."
Also escape attempts proved under the conditions during the first camp period in which the prisoners were nearly all concentrated in one place as hopeless, the German population willingly supported all search measures and half of Europe was occupied by German troops. All escapees were returned, publicly punished, put on show, and usually killed, their escape attempts in fact intensified the terror for the entire camp and withholding of privileges. To "mutiny" resulted in the a death penalty.
Nevertheless, it was during the first camp period under the conscious enemies of National Socialism, who formed a minority in the camp, some outstanding examples of personal courage in standing up against the SS, which remained preserved over the years in the memory of the prisoners. This included the Protestant Pastor Paul Schneider, who refused in April 1938, to salute the swastika flag and then he endured the continued and unabated  abuses in the "Bunker" for months until his death in July 1939. Especially his sermons from the "Bunker cell" at assembly on the parade ground in the morning and evening, which left a deep impression on the detainees.

Among the Jewish prisoners there was a block leader, from Berlin, Rudolf Arndt, 1939/40 he stood out for his exemplary personality and behavior under his fellow prisoners and  possessed great authority among them. During the fight with "green" block elders, he was denounced and brought into the quarry. The SS, called Arndt  the Emperor-Jew and shot him there on 3rd May 1940.
From a religious point of view and their belief the Jehovah's Witnesses refused on the 6th September 1939 on the parade ground in front of the machine guns of the SS, despite the death threat, to sign up for the armed forces. Even sticking to familiar rituals such as celebrations of illegal holidays strengthened the desire for self-assertion, even though this meant always a risk for the entire camp, such as fasting on Jom  Kippur by Viennese Jews 1938, which was a lack of understanding by fellow inmates.

The camp regime disintegrated the permanent basis for human solidarity and fostered a wolf society, it only acknowledged the stronger ones a chance, "First The Political!" was the cry among the political conscious, though torn by old enemies and battles of idealogical  views, this was an unwritten law.
On this basis, during the first period, you did not have any non-Jewish "Politicals" in the camp, there again, especially former members of leftist parties would get into lighter work details. The downside could always include that power would serve in the fight against discrimination as well as against uncomfortable political opponents, and that the assignments of positions could come into the calculations of political cliques. The temptation to do this was to create a special  conditions in the camp. But the years of Stalinist doctrine practiced within the Communist Party,  expelling dissenters within the left and oppose them politically and economically to rid the system played a part. Balanced in the early years through the influence of a prominent member of the Communist Party was Dr. Theodor Neubauer and Walter Stoekker, this aspect of their presence played an increasing role after the beginning  of the war. Generally in Concentration Camps, the communist attempted to annihilate their closest rivals by taking advantage of hierarchies that existed there. Marcel Beaufrere , leader of the Breton regional section of the Internationalist Workers Party, was arrested in Oktober1943 and deported to Buchenwald in January1944. The inter-block chief (who himself a Communist) suspected him of being a Trotskyite. Ten days after after Beaufrere's arrival, a friend informed him that the communist cell in Block 39-his block-had condemned him to death and was sending him as guinea pig to be injected with typhus. Beaufrere was saved at the last minute through the intervention of German militants. The Communists often used the concentration-camp system to get rid of their political enemies, deliberately sending them to the hardest sections, even though they themselves were victims of the same Gestapo officers and the same SS divisions. Marcel Hic and Roland Filiatre, who were deported to Buchenwald, were sent to the terrible camp Dora "with the assent of KPD cadres who had high administrative functions in the camp," according to Rodolpe Prager. He died there; Filiatre survived another attempt on his life in 1948.
Other liquidations of militant Trotskyites took place during the liberation. Matieu Buchholz, a young Paris worker from the "Class War" group, disappeared on 11 September 1947 his group claimed that this had been the work of Stalinist.

During the first camp period, there were also examples of organized solidarity on the part of the "Politicals" without prejudice.  It is reported, the fact that political prisoners together helped after the Jewish pogrom those that arrived.. In one case they organized, and tolerated by the SS and at times the "Polish School" 1939-42 were a Polish inmate,  Henryk Sokolak taught Polish youths.[Only the German language had to be spoken and learned, once the code "fifteen" was mentioned (which in military jargon meant rest) they spoke Polish, if danger approached the code was "achtzehn"(eighteen) which meant danger and they reverted back to German sic].
Among the more serious examples of political and human solidarity in the camp was the spontaneous assistance that includes the 2000 Soviet prisoners of war who arrived starved and in a ragged condition during  October 1941 at Buchenwald, because this took place against the express orders of the SS and despite the threatened severe penalties, Josef Schubauer, Kurt Leonhardt and Kurt Wabbel took actions. Three prominent political block elder, whom the SS had ordered to refrain from any contact with prisoners of war were then publicly punished with 25 lashes to their naked buttocks, and subsequently transferred and assigned to the work commando at the quarry. The political prisoners lost their position as camp elders and the SS appointed a communist and convict Joseph Ohles.

To be published  end December-January 2012
as Part 5

Herbert Stolpmann

New Zealand
December 2011

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