NSDAP Gardelegen

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researching
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NSDAP Gardelegen

Post by researching » 07 Mar 2004 20:41

Hi All,

I'm doing research into the massacre of Gardelegen. Around 1050 prisoners from several forced labour camps (Mittelbau-Dora, Neuengamme and Hannover-Stöcken) ended up in Gardelegen after their evacuations (death marches) ended because either the trains couldn't go further or because they became surrounded by advancing American forces. During these transports and marches many prisoners escaped. 1016 of the prisoners that were gathered at Gardelegen were killed in a barn outside the town. The atrocity took place on April 13th 1945 and continued into the night. The clearing of the murdersite was interrupted because on April 14th around 17.00 hours the garrison of Gardelegen surrendered to the US 102nd Infantry Division. The next day the massacre was discovered. Most victims were political prisoners and came from many different countries like Russia, Poland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Chechoslavakia and Germany. If you want to know more go to http://www.102ndinfantrydivision.homestead.com, there you will find the story (and photos) that prompted my research.

Kreisleiter of Gardelegen was Gerhard Thiele. Gauleiter of Magdeburg-Anhalt was Rudolph Jordan. Thiele is considered to be the one that gave the order that the prisoners were to be executed in the barn. Several (German) eyewitnesses state this. Although the Ninth Army War Crimes Branch investigated the massacre and they also consider Thiele to be responsible, no investigation has been made into the role of Gauleiter Jordan.

I'm on the verge of visiting archives in Holland. Germany and America but I still can use some good tips for my research. Maybe someone can help me with some questions I have:

1. Could a Kreisleiter have ordered the execution without the Gauleiter knowing about it?
2. The extent of prisoner transports and death marches was not restricted to only a Kreis. The Gau surely must have known about it. Is it conceivable that directions on how to control prisoners or escaped prisoners came from the Gauleitung? If so, any idea on where to look for them in archives?
3. The population in for instance Luneburg (120 kilometers from Gardelegen) was warned (in newspapers) for "looting and stealing" escaped prisoners. Civilians were ordered to report them to civilian authorities. Which role could a Gau- Kreis- or Ortsgruppenleiting have in this?
4. The American files talk about the Kreisleiting staff. Which authorities could have been in such a staff (Arbeitsdienst, Volkssturm, Police, Fire brigade, burgomaster?)
5. What authority does a Kreisleiter hold over military personnel (Gardelegen was a garrison with fallschirmjäger, luftwaffe airfield and a wehrmacht remount school) and over SS that guard the prisoners?

Hope someone can help me with this...

Thanks, Francis

Phil Nix
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Re: NSDAP Gardelegen

Post by Phil Nix » 08 Mar 2004 14:30

researching wrote:Hi All,

I'm doing research into the massacre of Gardelegen. Around 1050 prisoners from several forced labour camps (Mittelbau-Dora, Neuengamme and Hannover-Stöcken) ended up in Gardelegen after their evacuations (death marches) ended because either the trains couldn't go further or because they became surrounded by advancing American forces. During these transports and marches many prisoners escaped. 1016 of the prisoners that were gathered at Gardelegen were killed in a barn outside the town. The atrocity took place on April 13th 1945 and continued into the night. The clearing of the murdersite was interrupted because on April 14th around 17.00 hours the garrison of Gardelegen surrendered to the US 102nd Infantry Division. The next day the massacre was discovered. Most victims were political prisoners and came from many different countries like Russia, Poland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Chechoslavakia and Germany. If you want to know more go to http://www.102ndinfantrydivision.homestead.com, there you will find the story (and photos) that prompted my research.

Kreisleiter of Gardelegen was Gerhard Thiele. Gauleiter of Magdeburg-Anhalt was Rudolph Jordan. Thiele is considered to be the one that gave the order that the prisoners were to be executed in the barn. Several (German) eyewitnesses state this. Although the Ninth Army War Crimes Branch investigated the massacre and they also consider Thiele to be responsible, no investigation has been made into the role of Gauleiter Jordan.

I'm on the verge of visiting archives in Holland. Germany and America but I still can use some good tips for my research. Maybe someone can help me with some questions I have:

1. Could a Kreisleiter have ordered the execution without the Gauleiter knowing about it?
2. The extent of prisoner transports and death marches was not restricted to only a Kreis. The Gau surely must have known about it. Is it conceivable that directions on how to control prisoners or escaped prisoners came from the Gauleitung? If so, any idea on where to look for them in archives?
3. The population in for instance Luneburg (120 kilometers from Gardelegen) was warned (in newspapers) for "looting and stealing" escaped prisoners. Civilians were ordered to report them to civilian authorities. Which role could a Gau- Kreis- or Ortsgruppenleiting have in this?
4. The American files talk about the Kreisleiting staff. Which authorities could have been in such a staff (Arbeitsdienst, Volkssturm, Police, Fire brigade, burgomaster?)
5. What authority does a Kreisleiter hold over military personnel (Gardelegen was a garrison with fallschirmjäger, luftwaffe airfield and a wehrmacht remount school) and over SS that guard the prisoners?

Hope someone can help me with this...

Thanks, Francis

If the Kreisleiter was the senior man in the area and he had the manpower he could do what he liked. Remember the date everything was in chaos and local strong men did what they liked without refereing to higher authority which by this time did not really exist
Philmil

Andreas Schulz
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003 02:35
Location: Berlin, Germany

Gardelegen

Post by Andreas Schulz » 09 Mar 2004 05:40

Kreisleiter Gerhard Thiele lived after the war under other name in Düsseldorf. He died on 30.06.1994 in Düsseldorf. He was never punished for the massacre of Gardelegen.

AnDie

researching
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Posts: 6
Joined: 06 Mar 2004 09:40
Location: the Netherlands

Post by researching » 09 Mar 2004 22:34

Thanks guys,

BTW AnDie. research by the "landeskriminalamt" Sachsen-Anhalt has learned that Thiele was in American captivity from April 30 1945 until january 30 1946 and was released for reasons unknown. His names is in some papers (haven't seen them yet) from a camp (probably US Army Detention camp 92 at Ziegenhain). His description matched the one on the CROWCASS list and he was detained under his own rank and name. Signatures matched completely... at least that's what the police officer (Kriminalhaupkommissar Pagel) claims who located Thiele in Düsseldorf. I intend to visit Gardelegen in a couple of months and make an appointment with Pagel.

One of the most important questions about the massacre of Gardelegen is about the motive. The American file only says that the prisoners could have known about V2-assembly in Dora Mittelbau and that the Germans didn't want them and the secrets to fall into enemy hands. The file also states that Germans looked upon the prisoners as second rate people and had no problem with killing them. But the facts are that the prisoners came from various subcamps of Mittelbau-Dora and from other camps where they weren't involved in the manifatury of weapons. The "second rate" reasoning also is a little out of place, because almost all of the prisoners were political prisoners and wore red triangles. The confusion is somehow understandable (Ohrdruf, Buchenwald, Bergen Belsen were discovered at about the same time), but on the other hand it is clear that the prisoners only ended up, pure by coincedence, in Gardelegen; it wasn't the destination of the transports.

So there we are: 1050 prisoners gathered in military barracks in Gardelegen, hundreds more roaming the countryside because they were able to escape, hunders more killed in the woods and fields surrounding the town and the villages (Estedt, Letzlingen, Mieste etc.) while trying to escape or because they were exhausted. American troops advancing (the fighting could be heard in the town). The Kreisleiter suddenly decides to kill the ones they hold captive, to do nothing about the escaped prisoners, and SS, armed kapo's, fallschirmjäger, Luftwaffe, some members of Volkssturm and Arbeitddienst (around 110 Germans) escort the prisoners to a barn and kill them. After the massacre companies of the Volkssturm (one battalion) start clearing the site.

What could have been a NSDAP inspired motive for Thiele to order the massacre?

And: Does someone know about more of these atrocities ordered by Kreisleiters?

Interesting stuff ain't it...

Thanks, Francis

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