Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Spanish prisoners of all ages numbering 4,693 are known to have died in Mauthausen. They had sought refuge in France from the civil war in Spain. Then, following the defeat of France by Germany, they were used as pawns in Hitler's efforts to draw Franco into the war on his side. General Franco did provide as a token Spanish soldiers "The Blue Division" , which fought on the German side on the eastern front, it is also noteworthy to mention that German War Medals were allowed to be worn by their veterans in public sic] For several months discussions between the Auswärtiges Amt (the German Foreign Office) and the high command of the Armed Forces (OKW) as to whether they should be granted prisoner-of-war status. In the end it was refused. Had it been granted, the wives and children would probably have enjoyed some form of freedom. Perhaps it was to prevent this that they were denied such protection.
The round-up of of Spaniards in France had began early as May 1940. Most of them were grouped together and worked in Puttalange, Lorraine. After the German Army had overrun France, all the Spaniards were moved from Puttalange and sent to Mauthausen, where they arrived on 25th November 1940. They were immediately despatched to work in the quarry. Some workers were drawn from this transport to work in Mauthausen's political section, others were chosen to be prisoner functionaries. [A distinction has to be made here, between civilian refugees and prisoners taken during the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 who came firstly to Dachau and later to Buchenwald and other camps like Mauthausen, they were mainly German and Austrian Nationals, which were termed as "Rot-Spanien-Kämpfer", part of the Red Brigade. The Civil War broke out with a military uprising in Morocco on July 17, triggered by events in Madrid. Within days, Spain was divided in two: a "Republican" or "Loyalist". Spain consisting of the Second Spanish Republic (which were pockets of revolutionary anarchism (Trotskyism) and a "Nationalist" Spain under the insurgent generals, and, eventually, under the leadership of General Francisco Franco. By the summer, important tendencies of the war become clear, both in terms of atrocities on both sides and in the contrast between the Soviet Union's intermittent help to the Republican government and the committed support of Fascist Italy and Germany for the Nationalists, sic].
One Spaniard, a Catalan who worked in the political section, was Casimir Climent, now resident in Paris. He copied and preserved material which is of incalculable value for any historical study. When orders arrived for the destruction of the records in this section, he managed to hide no less than fourteen kilos (nearly 31 lbs) of prisoners' files behind a cabinet which concealed a former window in the wall.

This 1939 press photo was headed, "Food and safety within the French border". The photograph was taken at Le Perthus, France. The caption read, "A Spanish refugee mother feeds her child from a bowl of food given them by French authorities shortly after their arrival in Le Perthus, a French border town. An estimated 150,000 refugees who fled before the advance of General Franco's victorious insurgent troops. Two, young girl refugees in the background smile happily at their new-found safety."
From the records of these early days at Mauthausen, it appears that the Spanish prisoners were among those with the highest survival rate. They were numerically small in comparison with other nationalities, but many of them were reasonable cultured and well educated and thus enabled them to get better, less physical strenuous, jobs in the camp. As front after front fell in 1941 and huge transports of prisoners began to arrive, these Spaniards became invaluable to the SS. Those who were good at, say, book-keeping or languages became efficient members of the prisoner staff. Thus they escaped the worst of the suffering endured by their less qualified compatriots. Those who reached such positions did their best to help the less fortunate Spaniards. When newly arrived transports were awaiting the preliminary showering, the Spanish prominenten would seek out any new fellow countrymen. With luck such men might be given as much as a whole loaf of bread. The greatest loss of Spanish lives occurred during the early months of the building of the camp. The main road to the front entrance was built by Spaniards at tremendous human cost. It was made of huge granite slabs, laid in cobble form, and was wide enough for three vehicles to be driven abreast.
The first transport of Czech prisoners arrived in October, 1941. They were divided into two groups, one for work in the quarry and one to build the camp for Russian prisoners. The site chosen for the 'Russenlager' was outside and to the west of the camp's confines. Here they dug foundations, levelled the ground and prepared the stone blocks for the building. The Czechs were housed in the camp proper, mainly in Blocks 10 and 13, while the sick were put in Block 16. There were few Czech Jews in Mauthausen because most of them were sent to the camp of Theresianstadt, north of Prag. [Unlike other Holocaust camps, Jews entered Theresianstadt willingly, even eagerly, because Nazi lies led them to believe it would be a peaceful retreat. The deception continued even after it was clear that Theresienstadt was a ghetto. The Nazis used the camp to film a pro-concentration camp propaganda film and fool Red Cross officials into believing the Jews were being well cared for. sic] Many Czechs were murdered as a direct acct of revenge after the shooting in Prague in 1942 of Himmlers Deputy, Reinhard Heydrich. Whole commands of Czech prisoners working on road building were machine-gunned and left by the way side until lorries were sent to take the bodies to the crematorium.
Dutch Jews
The mass deportation and elimination of Dutch Jews was on a immense scale, second only to that of Polish Jews. Early 1941, The Dutch people organised a general strike against the occupation authorities under Seyss-Inquart. In February, as a direct result of this, 389 Jews from Amsterdam and Rotterdam were sent to Buchenwald. Here many of them fell ill because of the severe climate and harsh conditions, but they were barred from the infirmary by the chief SS Dr Eysele (who escaped to Egypt after the war). Those who had been admitted before the ban were either given fatal injections or discharged. The remaining 340 were transported to Mauthausen. The following account of what happened to the Dutch Jews when they arrived there is given by two political prisoners, who were later transferred from Mauthausen to Buchenwald. One was a Pole, the other German.
"The shipment from Buchenwald arrived around midnight. In the morning the inmates of Mauthausen were not allowed to leave their barracks. Fifty of the newly-arrived Jews were chased from the bath-house naked and driven into the electrical fencing. All the others were herded into a barrack in which a German politcal prisoner from Bavaria was the 'clerk'. This latter was informed to 'supervise the decimation of Jews within six weeks'. 

Mauthausen dead prisoners lying along the barbed wire
He refused, was given twenty-five lashes on the wooden horse and transferred to the 'sock-mending detail', a favourite source for injection liquidations. The second day of their arrival, the Jews were shunted into the quarry. They were not allowed to use the steps to the bottom of the pit: they had to slide down the loose stones at the side and even here many died or were severely injured. The survives then had to shoulder hods, and two prisoners were compelled to load each Jew with an excessive heavy rock. The Jews had to run up the steps. In some instances the rocks immediately rolled downhill, crushing the feet of those behind. Many of the Jews were driven to despair the very first day and committed suicide by jumping into the pit. On the third day the SS opened the so-called 'Death Gate' and with a fearful barrage of blows drove the Jews across the guard line, the guards on the watchtowers shooting them down in heaps with their machine-guns. The next day the Jews no longer jumped into the pit individually. They joined hands and one man would pull nine or twelve of his comrades over the lip with him into a gruesome death. The barrack was cleared of Jews not in six, but barely three weeks. Every one of them perished by suicide or by shooting, beating and other forms of torture'. [PS 2176 (6), JAD, 3rd US Army, sic] 

Prisoners were forced to wear these carriers on their backs to haul stones from the quarry at Mauthausen
(It is unlikely hat an individual was able to carry this size of rock, sic)
  Civilian employees at the quarry put in a request to the camp authorities that these suicides by jumping be stopped, since the fragments of flesh and brains clinging to the rocks 'afforded too gruesome a sight'. The quarry was thereupon hosed down and prisoners were posted at various points to prevent Jews from jumping over the edge. This was the origin of the term 'parachute troops', which was used in Mauthausen. As time went on, the civilian employees became immune to such things and did not report further request. There was one survivor from the original 389 deported Dutch Jews. Before transfer from Buchenwald to Mauthausen took place a man named Max Nebig volunteered to undergo human guinea-pig treatment. Dr Eysele performed a stomach resection on him without anaesthetic of any kind. He did not even knock the patient unconscious with the famous shoe. Following this direct vivisection, Eysele gave the usual injection which was intended to be fatal, but a compassionate male nurse, managed to change the contents of the needle and Nebig somehow survived.
By October, 1941, there were 1,200 Jews from the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia in Mauthausen. They were mostly housed in Block 15. In the snow and bitter cold of that winter they wore only thin trousers and a shirt. They went barefoot because the wooden clogs with which they were issued were quickly lost or stolen. In one group of thirteen men who were selected for a work commando there was a blind man whose plight was pitiful.
As he groped and stumbled in the snow, he was showered with blows by the SS. They killed him in the end. Another man's cloths were set alight as he worked with the others carrying stones up the quarry steps. He was burned to death.
Those of this large intake of 1,200 Jews who managed to keep alive were becoming weaker by the day. Their meagre sup ration was placed in a tub winch could be reached only by crawling past a group of watching SS. These men amused themselves by overturning the tub just as the prisoners crawled up to it. In desperation they licked at the soil hungrily before they sank into the ground. One man who refused to take part in this final indignity was shot in the face at close range, in full view of those still going towards the tub. There were no survivors of this group. Some weeks after the admission of 340 Dutch Jews from Buchenwald the SS gave the Judenrat or Jewish Council in Amsterdam long lists of the dead so that the rabbis could inform the relatives. Death certificates were issued from the camp, headed 'Standesamt II Mauthausen'. In general the stated causes of death gave the impression that they were picked at random from a medical dictionary. Relatives were advised that he ashes of the dead could be sent to them of a fee of 75 gulden. In many cases when this was done they received at varying intervals not one casket, but several. The issue of mass death certificates was repeated with each new deportation. The Jewish Council collected them together and transmitted them to the Swedish Government, which according to the custom of war was entrusted with the protection of Dutch nationals in the Dutch colonies. It was the only means by which the Jewish Council could hope to draw the attention of the world to their plight, for the Swedish Government could not fail to see the validity of their fears and the duplicity of the Germans. The Swedish Minister in Berlin, Herr Richter, protested to the German Foreign Office legal expert, Herr Albrecht. He pointed out that the deaths were occurring regularly on certain days and that all the victims were rather young men. He therefore asked if he could visit Mauthausen in his official capacity. Albrecht could not flatly refuse the Swedish request because the Jews in question were Dutch nationals on German soil. However, he did manage to put off the unwelcome visit. Meanwhile, his colleague Luther wrote to the Gestapo Chief Müller to request that the SS be a little more careful in future. Had the Swedish visit taken place, it might have substantially checked the Nazi extermination policy. Bene ,the German Foreign Office representative in the Netherlands, saw a chance of circumventing the Swedish enquiries. On 17th July, 1942, he suggested divesting all Jews of their nationalities, but the proposal was rejected because of the obvious criticism that would arouse from neutral states. Undaunted, Albrecht settled the matter by saying: 'Should it be unavoidable to place the Dutch Jews outside Holland, it would be expedient if the police would not allow information to leak out with regard to their whereabouts, especially in possible cases of death'.
Star of David and a public sign' "Jews not allowed
The rounding up and deportation of Dutch Jews continued. Huge sums of money were offered for their betrayal of those hiding. The pick of the craftsmen, the engravers and diamond cutters went to Westerbrork, Vught and Hertogenbosch. Many of the engravers were destined to end their lives in the Mauthausen sub-camps of Reydl-Zipf and Ebensee. On 24th September 1942, the Gestapo Headquarters in Amsterdam sent a progress report to Himmler. It contained this sentence:
'Until now we have set into motion, together with the Jews shoved off for penal reasons to Mauthausen, altogether 20,000 to Auschwitz'. It is clear from the words 'penal reasons' in this report, and 'this and other punishments' in a Special Report, that the fate of the Jews was already sealed. There is also no doubt that the authorities, both in the Netherlands and in Germany, were fully aware of the meaning of the words. The threats contained in the Special Edition were simply another attempt to avoid the unpleasantness of mass round-ups. The plan was effective in the Netherlands and elsewhere, it worked disastrously well in the Warsaw ghetto.
Russian Prisoner-of-war
Apart from the Jews, the highest mortality rate under the German concentration camp system was undoubtedly among the Russia prisoner-of-war. And Mauthausen probably holds the record for any single camp. There were only 273 deaths recorded of numbered POW's admitted to Mauthausen between October and December 1941. Inasmuch as the activity Report speaks of 2,000 shared with Gusen, the figure seems in line with evidence to hand. According to the same evidence, only 458 Russian POW were admitted to the camp in 1942, yet statistics show that 1,908 died in that year. It is important to remember that these figures of entries and deaths are accurate representation of the deaths out of those particular numbers. That is, the combined incoming and outgoing (died) prisoner-of-war for 1941 and 1942 show almost total mortality. As there were very many more Russian POW than the statistics admit, this same rate of mortality was found with the unregistered prisoner-of-war as with those registered. As had been said, the Russian prisoners were housed outside the main camp on a separate site, originally two disused stables now augmented with prisoner Blocks, not far from the SS football field. The stables were cleaned out and roughly made wooden bunks, three tiers high, were installed. There were no heating or sanitation in any of the twelve Blocks which comprised the Russian camp. After a while the two stable blocks were divided from the newly constructed Blocks by a wire fence. They were then used as a factory for making belts and bandoleers, and for shoe repairs. The workers were either elderly prisoners, some aound twenty, or young children who had been rounded up during the campaigns. There are no records of them and there are no known survivors.
View of the Russian camp in one of the Linz sub-camps of Mauthausen
Within the first few weeks of the start of the Russian hostilities 2,000 officers, NCO's and men arrived at Mauthausen. They were extremely dirty, hungry and infected with lice. Hundreds of them had scabies and erupting boils, others were coughing with consumption. Many who had been wounded in battle received only the most rudimentary surgery at the hands of the SS and their untrained nurses. Three hundred and fifty of the 2,000 were quite obviously sick. This sort of sickness ration continued throughout the war. Only a handful survived. The death records of the Russian prisoner-of-war make pitiful reading. Page after page lists names, ages, numbers and rough addresses. Few were older than nineteen or twenty, and some were only seventeen years old. The way they died remain uncertain because the cause of death is always written in the records as: Auf Befehl R.F.SS, or 'by order of the Reichsführer SS'. The number of deaths taken at random records a total of 379 between September 25th 1944 and 21st of November of that year. Murder by drowning was another speciality. Hose-pipes were forced into the mouths of prisoners until their lungs bursts with water. Others were submerged in barrels of water, others in ditches. Another form of torture was to make the emaciated prisoners stand completely naked outside their blocks, where the ground had deliberately scattered with fiercely jiggered stones.
Naked Soviet POWs probably in the first stage of starvation" 
The Karbychev incident is in a class by itself. On the night of 15/16th February 1945, 1,700 prisoners out of a transport of an original transport of 2,500 arrived at Mauthausen from Sachsenhausen. Bachmayer was there to receive them and immediately picked out some 400 as being too sick to bother with. These men were made to strip and were then sent behind the walls of the laundry. Here, after standing four hours, they were sprayed alternatively with hot and cold water. First they had to re-enter the shower-room via the steep steps, then with their bodies still wet, they had to return to the open space between the kitchen and laundry. The temperature in winter was always below freezing. That night it dropped to minus 20 degree Celsius. As icicles formed over their bodies, the entire camp was assailed with the cries and screams of the dying. Among the group was a remarkable man, General Karbychev, who rose to the occasion with superb courage. As he walked among the dying, giving what comfort he could, he besought them not to be cowed by their persecutors. He promised to set an example of defiance by dying on his feet. At the next shower of water he leant against the wall and immediately thick ice formed a coffin around him. [PS 2176, JAD 3rd US Army, sic] The next day only eight men were still breathing. Blue-black bodies littered the area. One man had just enough strength to crawl about two yards to a piece of rag which in his last breath tried to pull under his body. A frenzied SS Sergeant quickly disposed of the rest by crushing their skulls with kicks and blows from a rifle butt. Such incidents occurred with horrifying frequency. The appalling sufferings of the Russian prisoner-of-war were second to none. The camp SS staff appeared to pick upon them deliberately.
Commandant Ziereis vented his personal spite especially on prisoner-of-war. It was almost as though by the murder of innocent prisoners he could compensate for the prowess which had eluded him on the field of battle. In his dying deposition, he admitted that he sometimes selected between twenty and forty prisoners for his own personal shooting practice. When the garage yard was packed with newly arrived transport, he enjoyed standind like a god high up on a stone vantage point which overlooked it. From here good targets presented themselves, as the wretched men huddled together like chicken in search for warmth, the outer ring moving grafdually towards the centre and vice versa. Ziereis' victims included not only prisoner-of-war in the usual sense, but also those who had lost their prisoner-of-war status by being discharged from the camps and handed over to the SD (Security Service).

Mauthausen Commandant Franz Ziereis". He was wounded by Allied soldiers and subsequently died some time later from his wounds
With the US Army closing in from the West, and the Soviet Army from the East, on the morning of 3 May 1945 Ziereis departed KL Mauthausen with his wife and three children. He was identified by former Polish inmates, and arrested on 23 May 1945 at his hunting lodge on the Pyhrn in Upper Austria. While trying to escape the Americans he was shot at and wounded at about 18:00 hrs (6 pm). He was shot once through the upper left arm, and suffered a mortal gunshot wound in the back and into a lung and through the stomach exiting the other side. Ziereis was given first aid, then transported to the US Army 131st Evac Hospital in Gusen, arriving there at 21:30 Hrs (9:30 pm). There Ziereis was questioned over six to eight hours that night with Colonel Richard R. Seibel of the 11th Armored Division then commanding Mauthausen, other US Army personnel and civilians. His statement was taken. He was one of about 2,893 patients being cared for there, but died shortly afterwards at 07:30 Hrs (7:30 am) on 24 May of his wounds. It seems that during th night of 23/4 May, a group of ex-Mauthausen prisoners told US soldiers in the Spital area that they had seen Ziereis. They were able to lead the soldiers to the place near a wood and identify him. Ziereis was obviously extremely frightened when he saw them and opened fire, he had retrieved his pistol which was hidden under a tree, [according to Austrian sources, sic] The Americans replied, and he was wounded , first in the upper arm and then again, as he twisted round, in the back.

Naked body of Franz Ziereis
Some history revisionists claim Ziereis made no statement and was dead when the photos were taken, or that he never was taken to a hospital, but these theories simply defy reason. The facts are corroborated not only by several photos taken of Ziereis at the hospital, showing several US Army personnel and officers alongside Ziereis, but also by numerous documents including the official log book of the US Army 131st Evac Hospital now in custody of the US National Archives. Yet in a photo album of Dr. Oscar Roth, which was bequeathed to Yale University, there is a second, shorter version of this confession that is consistent in most points, with the version of Maršáleks, which he wrote ten months after the event. However, there is a handwritten note in the same album, which differ again with the circumstances of his arrest. There, it states, Ziereis was not shot during the capture, but "taken prisoner and shot". During the final hours of the commander Franz Ziereis's death, the Americans, U.S. Col. Richard Seibel and Professor Premsyl J. Dobias were present, and have denied that the dying man had made such a confession. Furthermore on the 1st June 1989 and on the 1st August 1990 the Austrian country's Criminal Court, Vienna, states that the confession is a later forgery.
According to the official version Ziereis died on 25 May 1945 of his injuries and his body was exhibited for several days at the camp fence of Gusen I. It is claimed that Polish and Russian former inmates of the camp took Ziereis's body. Later his body was found (and photographed) placed onto the barbed wire fence at Mauthausen, naked except for the bandage on his left arm and with his back painted with Nazi graffiti "Heil Hitler" and a Swastika. [ they painted the swastika the wrong way around, they did not learn much, did they?, sic]This was certainly against US Army regulations, and was most likely done by angry former prisoners, but after what the American soldiers had seen they probably felt no need to interfere with the prisoners. There Ziereis remained for several days until the stench of decay prompted an Army officer to order the body removed, and then buried without identification and knowledge of his grave.
Franz Ziereis at Gusen, 24.5.1945
This photo of a display board in the Museum at the former Mauthausen concentration camp shows Commandant Franz Ziereis as he allegedly gave his deathbed confession at the Gusen sub-camp of Mauthausen on May 24, 1945. His confession was written up from memory, ten months later, by one of the prisoners, Hans Marsalrk, and entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as proof that Jews were killed in gas chambers at Mauthausen and at Hartheim Castle.
Note that Ziereis has been propped up for the photo, had a harness around his chest, with straps over his shoulders, which appears to be holding his body upright. An unidentified man wearing an American Army cap is sitting very close to Ziereis while the arm and hand of another man can be seen in the upper left hand corner. Everything has been carefully posed to show Ziereis as he allegedly makes his death-bed confession, but notice that the three elements of the photo do not match; it looks like three separate photos that have been put together. This is a flash photo but there is more light on the arm in the background than on the soldier in the foreground. Was Ziereis really still alive when this photo was taken? In the official version of the story, Ziereis died in an Army field hospital at the Gusen I sub-camp, 6 kilometers west of the Mauthausen main camp, but not before he talked for 6 to 8 hours, confessing to the deaths of millions of prisoners, including the killing of prisoners in the gas chamber at Mauthausen and the castle at Hartheim.
In a sworn affidavit, dated April 8, 1946, that was entered into the Nuremberg IMT as document 3870-PS, Hans Marsalek, a prisoner who worked as a clerk ( and acted as interpreter) at the Mauthausen concentration camp, wrote the confession ten months later, he never appeared as a witness to corroborate the events that took place. Marsalek gave the date of Ziereis's death as May 23, the morning after his interrogation. According to Marsalek, Ziereis freely confessed because he knew he was dying. The caption on the photo at the top of this page says that the photo on display was taken on May 24, 1945 at the Gusen camp. The soldier in the photo is not identified, but allegedly Col. Richard R. Seibel, the commander of the 11th Armored Division was present when Commandant Franz Ziereis was questioned by Hans Marsalek. Col. Seibel did not testify at the Nuremberg IMT, nor did he sign his name as a witness to the confession of Ziereis. In the upper left hand corner of the photo at the top of this page can be seen what looks like the sleeve of a striped prison uniform on the arm of a person who is taking notes, possibly Dr. Koszeinski, a prisoner whom Marsalek alleges was present, or Marsalek himself.
A display board in the former Mauthausen concentration camp , which allegedly shows the dying Ziereis during his confession. Who the writer is in the background is not known, since the only known document referring to Ziereis' last words, was written ten months later, from memory by Hans Maršáleks
The name of the photographer is not mentioned on the display, but Francois Boix, a prisoner who worked in the photography department at the main Mauthausen camp, was allegedly present when Ziereis made his confession. Boix worked in the darkroom at Mauthausen and had the means and the opportunity to put three photographs together to make a fake photo.
Boix testified at the Nuremberg IMT that Mauthausen was an extermination camp where the only way out was through the chimney, and that there were gas chambers there, but he was not asked about the confession of Franz Ziereis. U.S. Associate Trial Counsel Col. John Harlen Amen read parts of the Marsalek affidavit on April 12, 1946 at the Nuremberg IMT, including the part pertaining to an order allegedly given by Ernst Kaltenbrunner to blow up all the prisoners at the Gusen camp. Ernst Kaltenbrunner was on trial at Nuremberg, charged with Crimes against Humanity which included the gassing of prisoners, to which Ziereis had confessed, according to Marsalek's affidavit.
Kaltenbrunner objected to the reading of the affidavit and requested to confront the witness through his lawyer, this was denied.
An eye witness account of the last days of Commandant Franz Ziereis was Cpl. Donald Leakem then a 21-year-old soldier [in 2008 about 84 years old, sic] with the 11th Armored Division, 21AIB, of General Patton's Third Army; he was among the first soldiers that liberated Mauthausen on May 5, 1945. Along with other U.S. soldiers, Leake was assigned to live inside the Mauthausen concentration camp and guard the prisoners in order to prevent them from killing each other and to keep them inside until the typhus epidemic could be brought under control.
Following are some statements he made:
Leake saw Ziereis when he was brought into the Mauthausen main camp, and put into the room where the SS guards spent time when they were not on duty.
Donald Leake wrote the following regarding the last days of Ziereis's life:
I was told to stay in his room to guard him from the prisoners who would like to get hold of him. I heard no confession or any threats to him while I was on duty. About 2 or 3 days later the Doctor said to me "he is dying but I have many other patients to take care of. Call me if you see any change in him." After about 20 minutes he (Ziereis) began gasping and breathing heavy, so I sent a soldier to get the Dr. He came and said "since he's dying this is a last resort" and he gave him a shot directly into his heart [adrenaline?] but he died soon after.
According to Leake, the Doctor who took care of Ziereis was an American wearing civilian clothes who had only recently arrived; he was not a prisoner in the camp. [This is contrary to the official version thata prison doctor attended Ziereis, sic]
Donald Leake wrote that Commandant Franz Ziereis was unconscious when he was brought to Mauthausen and that he never recovered consciousness while Leake was on duty. Leake's job was to guard Ziereis to keep the prisoners from getting to him to exact revenge.
In answer to question about whether Hans Marsalek could have heard a confession from Ziereis, Donald Leake wrote the following on July 6, 2008:
He (Ziereis) was in a room the guards of the camp used for down time. No one questioned him while I was on duty. I would have seen anyone had they come into the room. I never saw him conscious or speak on my guard time. Anything could have happened on my off time but I doubt he could have conversed with anyone. My orders were "shoot to kill if any prisoner tried to get to him." I thought they just wanted to patch him up for a war trial. No one seemed excited that they had the commandant there. I thought it was very important. I also thought that 2 or 3 30 cal shots were excessive to bring a man down. One of the holes seemed to go into his armpit and possibly lodge in his lung. I certainly would have seen Marsalek if he had entered while I was on duty.
According to Donald Leake, Ziereis did not die immediately after he was shot, but lingered in an unconscious state for a couple of days before he died. Ziereis was never taken to a hospital, according to Leake. Leake believes that the photo of Franz Ziereis on his death bed was taken after he was already dead.
The official version of the death of Ziereis is that he died in a hospital in Gusen and his body was hung on the fence at Gusen by the prisoners and left there for a couple of weeks. However, Donald Leake saw the body of Ziereis hanging on a fence in the Mauthausen main camp after his death.
Regarding what happened after the death of Ziereis, Donald Leake wrote the following:
The Doctor said I could leave, and someone would take care of the body. I wasn't comfortable with this so I sent someone to my squad leader and he said to leave for other duties. I don't know how, but I later saw his body hanging on the fence with swastikas painted all over him. What else the prisoners did, I didn't see, but after a few days the odour was bad. I told an officer it was growing rank and he said he would take care of it which he did.


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