Sunday, 20 July 2014

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Alfred Rosenberg didn't believe in gas vans

Alfred Rosenberg, and genuine Nazi gas van (according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre at least)

On November 5, 1945, just over a fortnight before the International Military Tribunal commenced, Alfred Rosenberg was interrogated at Nuremberg by the Soviet Major General Alexandrov. They had the following exchange:

ALEXANDROV: How about the mass extermination of thousands of innocent people, for instance, Jews in the Ghettoes of Warsaw and other cities. Did you hear about such things; did you hear about the gas vans? 
ROSENBERG: I have heard about them but I don't believe it. 
ALEXANDROV: But it is a fact. We have documents which prove that all this was done. We also have people that are still alive who witnessed these atrocities. There is no question but that these things are true. How do you feel about them? 
ROSENBERG: I would assume that in such a gigantic struggle there would be many victims but I still don't believe this part where you allege to prove that deliberate mass extermination was practiced in this manner. I did, of course, know that in connection with our struggle there were many executions. I did not know anything about mass extermination to the extent and in the manner as you say. 
ALEXANDROV: We could prove all this to you. 
ROSENBERG: When we marched into Riga I was told that there had been a torture chamber of your MKVD. 
ALEXANDROV: That is not true, but we have at our disposal documents of the German Police which show that the most bestial measures were applied against the people in the East. 
ROSENBERG: Did you, General, ever see a report on Winnitza? It deals with a great number of executions. This matter was investigated by experts from neutral countries; thousands of dead Ukranians [sic] were found and many of those were identified by their relatives. 
ALEXANDROV: Who killed them? 
ROSENBERG: The Soviet Police. 
ALEXANDROV:  The German authorities always tried to make the German crimes appear as though they were Soviet crimes. I have here another order in which the Fuehrer gave the following instructions. In this directive the Fuehrer approves of the most cruel methods, including the killing of children if used to cover the partisans. In such cases German officers and non—commissioned officers should be permitted to open fire against such women and children and should not have to be afraid of subsequent punishment. Such instructions were issued by the Fuehrer. I am going to tell you now what Jodl's reply was in that conference. "There is no question that our troops may do whatever they wish; if necessary, they may hang people by their feet or cut them in four." What do you think of these things? 
ROSENBERG: I must say that setting afire houses with women and children in them--that was what partisans did many times in their fight against us--it is nothing extraordinary. 
ALEXANDROV: We are not talking about partisans; the partisans were active in the German rear--but here you were in control--the German Government was controlling these territorities? 
ROSENBERG: Where we were in control no such incidents happened, but such things did happen where the partisans were active.

In an earlier interrogation, on September 22, 1945, future Nuremberg prosecutor Colonel John Amen had asked Rosenberg whether Germans who had worked in the concentration camps were justified in claiming they were merely following orders when carrying-out Hitler's inhumane orders, when they had known his orders were unlawful. Rosenberg replied:  

I think that such orders for inhuman conduct in concentration camps could not ever have been given, [...] My personal opinion is that such inhuman things ought not and could not have been ordered.

Later the same day, Rosenberg claimed that he'd heard that "some Jews" had been shot by the German police in the occupied territories; that he knew nothing nor had put no effort into discovering what went on in Himmler's concentration camps, and had the following exchange with American Colonel Thomas S. Hinkel: 

HINKEL: You knew it was Himmler's policy to exterminate the Jews, didn't you? 
ROSENBERG: In this shape or manner, I did not believe it until the end.
HINKEL: You had been informed of that, had you not? 
ROSENBERG: No; I was not. 
HINKEL: Everybody else seems to have known it. Why didn't you know about it? 
ROSENBERG: I learned about it the first time by the radio which mentioned and cited speeches of Jews abroad. 
HINKEL: Didn't you receive the Hitler order, wherein Himmler was appointed the person in charge of Jewish affairs? 
ROSENBERG: No; I haven't seen it, but I have been told of it. 
HINKEL: And when were you told about it?
ROSENBERG: In the '30s. 
HINKEL: You knew what Himmler's policy was towards the Jews? 
ROSENBERG: Well, those things must hove become rather acute during the war because before the war such things didn't happen. Himmler only mentioned once that he had to drive away the Jews from Dusseldorf, and that they were in a camp where in about a fortnight they set up a cabaret. 

Rosenberg denied he'd had knowledge of the alleged plan to kill all of Europe's Jews throughout the Nuremberg trial:

DR. HAENSEL: Do you know that the SS, as far as the Jews were concerned, followed secret aims and objectives, others than those that were published officially?
ROSENBERG: That I learned here.
DR. HAENSEL: You do not know that from your own knowledge?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The one-man Natzweiler gas chamber

This photograph was taken at Natzweiler concentration camp, very probably in 1945, and shows four members of the French Resistance next to a steam disinfestation chamber similar to those in Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Mauthausen. A stretcher is being balanced on the entrance to the chamber purely to create the impression that the Germans stretchered people into this hygiene facility and killed them with poison gas.

Below is the reverse of the photograph, which shows that it was approved for propaganda purposes by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, although, interestingly, not in the U.S. or Britain.

This is Dutch political historian Dr. Hinke Piersma of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, and her 2006 book Doodstraf op termijn. Nederlandse Nacht und Nebel-gevangenen in kamp Natzweiler (Death in Instalments: Dutch Night & Fog Prisoners in Camp Natzweiler). I haven't looked at the book, so I don't know whether it features details of the one-man Natzweiler gas chamber, but I do know that on the website of her institution, on a page which promotes her book, the photograph does appear along with the caption: "French soldiers in front of an experimental gass [sic] chamber in Camp Natzweiler."

Monday, 14 July 2014

"the gas chambers operated constantly at Buchenwald"

Art Zander was a United States Air Force navigator whose Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber was shot down over France in June 1944. Zander parachuted to safety and after a few weeks on the run he was arrested and soon sent to Buchenwald (Furtherglory of scrapbookpages.com writes about the USAF members who were sent to Buchenwald for collaborating with the French Resistance). 
In 1999 Zander received $46,874.00 from the German taxpayer for the four months he spent in Buchenwald, following which, he spoke to a journalist in his home town of Rockford, Illinois, about the Buchenwald gas chamber: 

"We figured we'd had it if we were going to Buchenwald," Zander said. "We knew they gassed prisoners in the showers. We figured when they put us in there, we were gone. But they just cleaned us up and gave us clothes from people they had just executed."
Zander said the gas chambers operated constantly at Buchenwald. He remembers the stench from the ovens, where victims' bodies were burned.
- Rockford Register Star, Monday, September 13, 1999.

That wasn't the first occasion Zander has spoken of the Buchenwald gas chambers to a journalist from the Register Star, in another interview two years earlier he'd claimed:

"The gas chambers were working all the time," he said. "You could tell when the ovens were burning. I haven't smelled anything like it since."
- Rockford Register Star, Tuesday, April 22, 1997.

Rockford Register Star (Rockford, IL), Tuesday, April 22, 1997, pp. 1A & 4A (enlarged)

Rockford Register Star (Rockford, IL), Monday, September 13, 1999, pp. 7A & 8A (enlarged).

Friday, 11 July 2014

1964: More Belsen gas chamber victims discovered

Remarkable story. A gas chamber at Belsen, over 1,000,000 died at the camp, and 250 Nazi death factories.

The Oregonian (Portland, OR), Friday, August 14, 1964, p. 7.  

Christian crosses defile the Holy of Holies

"Rabbi Joscowicz said he thought the bishops would have understood the 
pain caused to Jews who were forbidden to pray in the presence of a cross."

A Christian Cross adorns the watchtower of the "Gate of Death" at Auschwitz II (Birkenau). 

A Christian Cross erected in front of Crematorium III (alleged to have contained a homicidal gas chamber) at Auschwitz II (Birkenau).

A Christian Cross adorns Crematorium I (alleged to have contained a  homicidal gas chamber) at Auschwitz I. 

The above gifs feature some pretty amazing footage of Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau) that was supposedly shot in 1945 by the Russian-born American Jewish tycoon and Zionist leader, Fred Monosson. However, the film includes footage of someone—probably Monosson himself—standing upon the gallows on which Rudolf Hoess was hanged. That proves this footage must have been shot after April 16, 1947. Although fairly soon after, as Crematorium I still has two doors on the Westerly-end, one of which the Soviets half-bricked-up and converted to a window.

Photos of Richard Baer after his capture

(L - R) Richard Baer, Josef Mengele, Josef Kramer, Rudolf Hoess, and Anton Thumann, at the SS retreat Solahütte in 1944.

Below is a photograph of a 49-year-old Richard Baer following his capture near Hamburg in December 1943.

A photo of the cabin in which he'd lived since the end of the war.

German judge Wilhelm Stäglich wrote in his 1979 study Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence:
Particularly noteworthy is the fate of the most prominent of the defendants, Richard Baer, the last commandant of Auschwitz. He did not live to see the beginning of the [Frankfurt-Auschwitz] trial. In December of 1960, Baer was arrested in the vicinity of Hamburg, where he was employed as a lumberjack. He died in June of 1963 under mysterious circumstances while being held in pre-trial custody.
According to various sources, which, in turn, rely on reports that appeared in the French press, Baer adamantly refused to confirm the existence of "gas chambers" at the camp he once administered.* Although it has been alleged that he was eliminated by poisoning on account of this refusal, the cause of his death has never been established. His wife claimed that he was in excellent health.
While Langbein merely states that an autopsy revealed that he died of "natural causes," Naumann specifies a "circulatory ailment" as the cause of death. Of course, a circulatory ailment is only a symptom of preexisting disease that has causes of its own. It is quite possible, however, that the physical condition of this strong and healthy outdoor labourer deteriorated as a result of his treatment in prison. That would be damning enough to those suspicious of the whole affair when one reads the report on the autopsy performed at the Frankfurt-Main University School of Medicine: "The ingestion of an odourless, non-corrosive poison... cannot be ruled out." Nevertheless, there was no further probe into the cause of Baer's death, and Chief Public Prosecutor Bauer ordered his body cremated. One may dismiss the possibility that Baer committed suicide, since, according to his wife, he was counting on an acquittal. Moreover, shortly before his death Baer complained to the guards that he was feeling ill and asked for a physician. That is hardly the action of someone who intends to take his own life.
This very mysterious event hardly attracted public attention, and presumably the affair was systematically hushed up. When one considers the reaction the death of an inmate in a German prison usually calls forth among officials, legislators, and the mass media, it seems astounding that this case was kept so quiet, all the more so because Baer was no ordinary prisoner, but a man whose testimony could have had the greatest impact in the upcoming trial. 

* The aforementioned [Herman] Langbein—an Auschwitz survivor, communist, and prominent Holocaust writer; who testified at the Frankfurt-Auschwitz trial—was one of the editors of the supposedly authoritative volume Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas: Eine Dokumentation, first published in 1983 (i.e. 4 years after Stäglich published the above). The following is taken from the 1993 English translation (p. 142):
Richard Baer, the last commandant of Auschiwtz I, who died in Frankfurt during the hearings that preceded the Auschwitz trial there, stated on 22 December 1960: "I commanded only Camp I at Auschwitz. I had nothing to do with the camps where gassings took place. I had no influence over them. It was in Camp II, at Birkenau, that the gassings took place. That camp was not under my authority."
The cited source is: 
StA Frankfurt a/Main AZ: 4 Js 444/59, vol. 42, p. 7409 (ZSL: AZ: 402 AR-Z 37/58).