Massacre of SS guards at Dachau

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xcalibur
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Post by xcalibur » 10 Jan 2004 01:31

Rob - WSSOB wrote:
In the autumn of 1944, the guard companies at Dachau had been sent to the front. They had been replaced by Luftwaffe personnel no longer fit for active service at the front; these men had been transferred to the Waffen-SS for the purpose of serving as camp guards.
Please provide exact source to collorborate your statement, and please provide additional information definitely linking the transfer of Luftwaffe personnel specifically into the Dachau KL Guard detachment.

From summer 1944 onwards, the SS did transfer Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine personnel into SS units. This was due in part to Himmler?s gaining control over raising and distribution of replacements for the German armed forces after the July 20th bomb plot. It was also due to the SS increased efforts to utilize concentration camp slave labor as armaments workers. These replacement troops did enter the KZ system, often to guard inmates as they walked to and from, for example, their protective custody compound to their place of work. But you need to link the general phenomena of Luftwaffe transfers to the SS in 1944-45 to a specific, documented example at Dachau.
Whether any or all of those former Luftwaffe-men committed any crimes against the prisoners they were guarding is a moot point, and one that would need to be determined by further research.
As TH Albright pointed out, SS guard units in the last 2 months of the war drove Dachau KZ inmates on forced marches, during which many inmates were shot, beaten to death or died of exhaustion and exposure. These marches have already been well documented & I can provide examples if you need them.
One of the main things that had enraged the US soldiers who captured the camp was the discovery of a train full of the bodies of prisoners transferred to Dachau who had died in transit from hunger and exposure. It is doubtful whether the Dachau camp staff or guards could have reasonably been held responsible for those deaths, since most of them occurred before the arrival of the train at Dachau.
However, we do know that the second train (the one with the bodies) arrived the day before liberation ? April 28th, and that GI?s who liberated the camp on the 29th and who visited the camp in the days thereafter all describe some of the corpses both in the rail cars and alongside them as having suffered life-terminating gunshot wounds.
As Marcus has pointed out, among the German personnel captured at Dachau were persons stationed in a Waffen-SS camp located next to the concentration camp but not associated with it.
They are not separate but one single, combined, coherent SS installation. The only thing separating the protective custody compound (which is present-day "concentration camp" memorial) from the rest of the SS installation was a moat and a barbed wire fence. Inmates would work at the SS hospital and factories just outside the protective custody compound. The SS officer?s quarters are a 200-meter walk from the Jourhaus (protective custody compound main gate), as is the crematorium. The idea that the "W-SS" compound" was "separate" from the KZ" is incorrect. I can post several maps of the 1945 camp layout if you require.
Many of them were patients in the hospital at that camp. I do not know whether the persons machine-gunned by enraged US soldiers were members of the concentration camp guard companies, members of the camp staff itself, or persons from the Waffen-SS camp; probably a mixture.
This is discussed in Flint Whitlock?s history of the 45th Division, The Rock of Anzio . On pg. 364 he has an excerpt from Pvt. John Lee regarding the American troops entering SS main hospital at Dachau. Briefly summarized:

a) After encountering the death train, Walsh and I company enter the infirmary area. Everyone is ordered out of the building(s) ? doctors, nurses, medics, patients and inmates

b) Some individuals are clearly feigning injury. Several of the inmates (who Private Lee describes as "very helpful") point out SS men who are disguised wearing Wehrmacht uniforms

c) 2 inmates begin to beat a German medic with shovels. One of the inmates tells the GI?s (by dropping his pants and gesticulating) that the German was some how responsible for his castration (I guess you don?t forget the guy who did THAT to you!) The US troops stop the beating.

d) All SS personnel are separated from other personnel and herded into a coal yard, setting the stage for the coal yard shooting that Sparks stopped, but not before 17 SS men were killed.
The testimony of Robert Brill before the IMT is perhaps a useful general overview for the recruitment and posting of guards to concentration camps. Alas, it does not speak with any specificity to Dachau. If memory serves correctly the testimony is available online at the Nizkor site.

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Post by michael mills » 10 Jan 2004 01:31

Rob-WSSOB wrote:
Please provide exact source to collorborate your statement, and please provide additional information definitely linking the transfer of Luftwaffe personnel specifically into the Dachau KL Guard detachment.
As I have already indicated twice, my source was a statement in the book "Aspects of the Third Reich", edited by Professor H W Koch, then at the University of York, published by Macmillan, London. Hardly a pro-Nazi work!

I was quoting from memory, as I do not have the book immediately to hand. But my rendering of the statement in the book was certainly correct. If you insist, I will retrieve the book and look up the statement again. But I have no reason to believe that it was a false statement.

My intervention on this thread was to address the issue of who the men summarily executed by US soldiers actually were. It is often implied (and I thin that implication was also present, if only subliminally, in your post, that since men in SS uniform were found in or near the Dachau concentration camp, they must have been responsible for the conditions found in the camp, including evidence of killing, extreme brutality, starvation etc, and therefore deserved the arbitrary retribution handed out to them.

The issue of who the executed men were, what roles they had played in the camp, and how long they had been there, is directly relevant to the justice or injustice of their summary execution, and one that you and T H Albright ignore. For example, what evidence is there that the summarily executed men (whatever their true number was) had accompanied so-called death marches and had illegally killed anyone?


They are not separate but one single, combined, coherent SS installation. The only thing separating the protective custody compound (which is present-day "concentration camp" memorial) from the rest of the SS installation was a moat and a barbed wire fence. Inmates would work at the SS hospital and factories just outside the protective custody compound. The SS officer’s quarters are a 200-meter walk from the Jourhaus (protective custody compound main gate), as is the crematorium. The idea that the "W-SS" compound" was "separate" from the KZ" is incorrect. I can post several maps of the 1945 camp layout if you require.
The issue is not the walking distance between the SS compound and the actual Schutzhaftlager, and the fact that they were separated only by a moat and a barbed-wire fence.

The issue is whether all the SS-personnel in the SS compound were part of the concentration camp administrative staff, ie whether they had jurisdiction and control over the prisoners. The issue is whether there were SS personnel in the SS compound who had recently arrived there, eg patients in the hospital, who had no function in the Schutzhaftlager, and minimal contact with the prisoners,

It was the norm for prisoners from concentration camps to be sent to work outside the camp in factories and other installations, where they came into contact with the staff of those factories and installations. But it would be nonsense to suggest that the members of those staffs were therefore part of the concentration camp system and bore collective responsibility for the conditions in the concentration camps. Accordingly, it would be unreasonable to suggest that all the SS personnel in the Dachau compound were responsible for what happened inside the Schutzhaftlager, simpy because prisoners from the camp came to the compound to work.

It is entirely possible that prisoners working in the compound were mistreated by some of the SS personnel there, but that would have to be proved on an individual basis.

Your post shows that the SS men killed in the coal yard had come from the hospital. But who were they? Were they camp administration staff? Waffen-SS men who happened to be in the hospital but were not part of the camp administration staff? Those are the issues that need to be addressed.

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Post by Georg_S » 11 Jan 2004 21:38

I have to ad something to this matter.
IT was several Waffen-SS members who got killed in Dachau during the days of libiration. If they where from SS-Div. "Wiking" or "GvB" is uknown, but it´s a fact (photoevidence) that several of the bodies, both who where executed and alying around some towers who fought against the US troops are wearing camoflaugeuniforms of the SS, which grant some proof that it was Combat troops of the Waffen-SS who was stationed in KL Dachau, the regular SS-Staff and gueards in the KL system didn´t wear such Camoflaugeuniforms, the had the grey SS-Uniform with "Totenkopf" on the "Kragenspeigel" (don´t know the english word). On the bodies it´s very clear that you can see the SS runes on the uniform.

If you want I can post some of those photos here on the forum, one of them its a very famous photo when some former prisoners together with US GI´s are pulling a dead Wafen-SS soldiers from a pool (?) near one of the towers in KL Dachau and he is wearing full Combatuniform of the Waffen-SS, and on the website scrapbook there is several photos of the killing of the Waffen-SS soldiers and other as well, including the SS-Officer who surrendered the camp SS-Ustuf Heinrich Wicker (not proven that it is him, he is still registred as MIA).

So my point of view is that several Waffen-SS soldeiers was killed in KL Dachau at the days of libiration, and if someoen can provide me some other facts I would be greatful.

Best regards,

Georg

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 12 Jan 2004 07:44

Hi Georg,

I'd say that a) we don't really know what units the SS troops killed at Dachau on April 29th 1945 belonge to but that

b) most likely theycame from a variety of departments and units, many of which formed the KZ staff
S-Ustuf Heinrich Wicker (not proven that it is him, he is still registred as MIA
I think there is a discrepancy between the German Red Cross and the Graves Registration regarding him – he’s listed as MIA with one and KIA with the other.
IT was several Waffen-SS members who got killed in Dachau during the days of libiration
Yes – if you consider KZ guards as W-SS (which they technically were)

But if you think the Lost Zug of the Wiking Division, some how ended up from Vienna fighting the Commies with panzerfausts on Saturday to guarding Tower B on Sunday, April 29th, 1945, I say – prove it. And cammo fatigues aren’t proof –especially at a place that was a clothing manufacturing center for the W-SS!

Give me the name of at least one of the executed W-SS men.

What company/regiment/battalion/division did he/they come from?

When did they get to the Dachau KZ? How did they get there? Why were they there?

Why were they subordinated to a SS-WHVA Lt. Wicker – a officer who had never seen a day of combat – to guard a concentration camp while all the "real" guards escaped?

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 12 Jan 2004 07:51

Your post shows that the SS men killed in the coal yard had come from the hospital. But who were they? Were they camp administration staff? Waffen-SS men who happened to be in the hospital but were not part of the camp administration staff? Those are the issues that need to be addressed.
Probably Department V – Medical Detatchment of the KZ, which was infamous at Dachau for its experiments on inmates.


I just spent some time compiling a list of units stationed at the Dachau SS installation in addition to the 5 departments of the KZ staff. These units are compiled from Kurt Mehner’s Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-45

From the SS-FHA listing of SS units for Dachau
April 24, 1941 – (

KL mit SS-Totenkopfsturmbann (4 kp.)
(i.e. 4 companies of SS Death’s Head concentration camp guards)

Heimatverw. d. SS-T division
(Home Administration office, 3rd SS Division "Death’s Head" – commander is listed as SS-Oberstubaf. Hans Eichele - this is the unit mentioned in, for example, Syndor's Soldiers of Destruction)

SS-Verw Ers. Abt. i..e Ers. Abt. der SS-Verv D. Dachau
(SS Administrative Replacement Detachment – note in the June 1943 SS-FHA listing this unit is listed under "Economics Dept. –)

SS-Standort-Kdtr (SS Garrison HQ)

SS-Hauptzeugamt (Main office?)

Sanitätsschule der Waffen-SS, Dachau
(Armed-SS Medical School - note: similar schools in Berlin & Prague)

SS-Lazarettabteilung
(SS Field Hospital Detachment – note: similar unit at Buchenwald)

GuV Prüfstelle
(? Inspection Station – probably Audit/Accounting Office)

Bekleidungswerk der Waffen-SS (Waffen-SS Clothing Works)

Beschaffungsstelle der Waffen-SS - Waffen-SS Procurement Office

Wirtschaftsinspektion der W-SS "Süd"
(Waffen-SS Economics Inspection – note: located "Munich-Dachau")

SS-Standortverwaltung (SS-Garrison Administration office?)


SS-Verwaltungsschule
(SS Administrative School - 1941-42 commander SS-Staf. Johannes Baier)

June 1943 SS-FHA listing:

Waffentechnische Lehranstalt der SS (Technical Arms Demonstration Detatchment?)

I would suspect that this would need to be among the first units to research in order to find who the SS guards slain at Dachau were.

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 12 Jan 2004 07:53

Interesting Tom – Degelow’s W-SS service – especially in SS PzGd AuE Btl 5. – may be the source of the rumor that the Dachau KZ troops on April 29th were from "Viking"

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Post by Karl » 12 Jan 2004 07:57

This site (which has been posted here before I believe, at some time in space) may be of interest to some:

http://www.humanitas-international.org/ ... iberation/

[Warning: this site may have visual content that some people could consider offensive.]

Regards.

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dachau guards

Post by waffen » 12 Jan 2004 08:04

:) thanks marcus,and other forum site members for the very detailed response to one of the most controversial storys of the remnants of the ss after the war was all but lost. :wink:

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 12 Jan 2004 08:06

To summarise the preceding post by Rob-WSSOB, up to 100 SSA personnel were arbitrarily killed at Dachau concentration camp on the day of its surrender to units of the United States army, both by liberated inmates and by members of the US army units.


I don’t know if I would use the work "arbitrary" to describe all the incidents of SS personnel being killed on April 29, 1945. The inmates, especially, seem to have had a hand in specifically targeting certain SS men and KZ kapos.

Were the SS personnel killed that day all resonsible for what had happended in the camp?


I think the real question is: What evidence do we have that they were innocent?
The persons most resonsible for atrocities against inmates were the camp administration staff, members of the SS-Totenkopf. They had direct supervision of, and contact with, the prisoners, and were in a position to inflict brutality on them on a daily basis. They tended to remain in the camps, and were generally not rotated to and from the front or other duties.

The guard detachments, which comprised the majority of the men who served at concentration camps, have to be distinguished from the camp administration staff. They provided perimeter security, and often were not allowed to enter the camp itself; they did not normally come into close contact with the prisoners. Unlike the camp administration staff, members of the guard detachments were routinely rotated between guard duty at the camps and frontline duty (which is the reason why the great majority of persons who served at concentration camps belonged to the guard detachments).
Kinda-sorta. The "SS-Totenkopf" (abbreviated SS-TK) really was only around at Dachau from 1936 to 1939 when KZ Inspector "Papa" Eicke got to take his KZ guards and form what eventually became the 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" The SS-TK troops were replaced with "SS-Totenkopfwachsturmbanne" (SS-Death’s Head Guard Detatchments) which remained the official name for KZ guard units.

Although it’s often extremely difficult to sort out the convoluted SS organizational structure, I would say that it’s more accurate to call the post 1939 concentration camp personnel part of the Concentration Camps Inspectorate (IKL) rather than the SS-Totenkopf of SS-Totenkopfwachsturmbanne – as the latter 2 terms are more associated with the guard units. The IKL existed as an independent organization from May 1934 to Aug 1940. It was then incorporated as Dept. 4 of the SS-FHA until March 1942, when it was finally incorporated as Department D of the SS-WVHA.

The SS-IKL administration at Dachau was basically organized like this

Camp Commander:
Personal Staff (Department I)
Adjutant
Stabscharführer
Personnel Dept.
Transportation Dept.
Dungeon
Crematory
Radio Station
Internees Work
Welfare Dept
Ideology
Counterespoinage

Political (Department II) – this was essentially the camp representative of the Secret State Police (Gestapo)

Protective Custody Camp (Dept III) – this was the department that had perhaps the most direct effect on inmates lives and was the most overt example of the cruelty and the devious of the Nazi KZ system – for it essentially made the inmates complicit in their own oppression. Department III consisted of a hierarchy of SS men (Schutzhaftlagerführers, Rapportführers and Blockführers) who oversaw a similar heirarchy of inmates (kapos, block seniors, cell secretary, etc.) who bullied their fellow inmates into submission for small favors from their SS masters. This department also included the
Labor Allocation Office, staffed entirely by inmates, which organized the work details specificed by the SS commanders and processed the transfer of prisoners to and from the camp.

Camp Administration (Dept IV) – which handled clothing, food, building maintenance, etc. – these SS men didn’t kill inmates with guns but by providing inadequate food, clothing and shelter. It was a notoriously corrupt department.

Medical Services (Dept V) – Relatively independent, the SS medical services treated patients (or didn’t) controlled epidemics (or didn’t). It was also the department responsible for the horrific medical experiments conducted on inmates.

SS KZ Guard garrison (Totenkopfwachsturmbanne). These troops were technically part of the Waffen-SS (per Himmler’s April 1941 order), wearing W-SS uniforms and carrying W-SS soldbuchs. The extent to which "frontline" W-SS rotated into the KZ guard duty and "Allgemeine" KZ guards rotated into frontline W-SS units is a matter of contentious debate but is estimated by historians like Wolfgang Sofsky to be at least 10,000.

Mr. Mills is slightly incorrect on a couple of points. First, the SS camp administration attempted to limit their contact and supervision of KZ inmates through "self-policing" prisoner organizational structures like Department III with the notable exceptions of repressive, systematic punishments or either sadistic spontaneous actions. Second, I’ll quote from Chapter 9, footnote 21 (p. 307) of Wolfgang Sofshy’s The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp translated by William Templer and published by Princeton University Press in 1997:
The responsibility of the guard units should not be underestimated. The were indespensible to the existence of the camp. The sentries had to guard the work sites, where a policy of extermination by work" was being pursued, and they were responsible for the massacres on the death marches. In addition, the guard companies constituted a reserve pool of men for the commandant’s staff. Many block leaders came from their ranks
So contrary to Mr. Mill’s statement, the SS Totenkopfwachsturmbann troops were often in quite close proximity to inmates, guarding them at work sites, escorting to and from the protective custody camp. In addition, the SS KZ guards units provided the cadre for the Department III, in which SS men had the most close and sustained contact with inmates.
The bottom line is that members of the guard companies, who comprised by far the bulk of the personnel who served at concentration camps, bear overall far less responsibility for the criminal treatment of the prisoners.
This seems to be a reductionist argument, in a if-I-say-that-they’re-less-guilty-they’ll-almost-seem-innocent kinda way. And many of the SS KZ personnel were professionals in drapravity – heck, Josef Mengele makes Dachau Commander Marin Weiss practically a choirboy by comparison. But given Dachau from Jan-April 1945, the overcrowding, the breakdown of rations, the forced death marches, the continued executions, etc. it was a stituation of such a complete total and in part willful humanitarian disaster- I would say that all SS personnel captured or killed at Dachau on 29th April more than likely had participated in some sordid activities and possessed the paws of a Lady Macbeth.
The lack of definite answers to the above questions shows the injust nature of the sort of arbitrary reprisal taken at Dachau, which Rob-WSSOB seems to see as morally justified, as compared with a proper investigation that identifies individuals and determines what the did or did not do…
Actually, whether or not I see the actions are morally justified or unjustified is immaterial to my point, which is what is the historical significance of the events of Dachau on April 29th, 1945? – which is that US troops captured the oldest Nazi concentration camp, freed 30,000+ Third Reich helots and not only came face-to-face with the cruelty, unjustness and depravity of German National Socialism, but allowed such cruelties to be exposed to the world for all to see and recoil in horror.

Actually there was a proper investigation, which was the Dachau war crimes trials of 1945-46. There’s a new book out about the trials called Justice at Dachau by Joshua Greene - See

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 6?v=glance


You know, Mr. Mills – I have an idea! If you want to work on a project concerning arbitrary reprisals that does a proper investigation that identifies individuals and determines what the did or did not do to determine if their fate was morally justified, why don’t you research the names and personal histories of some of the 2,000 dead "muselmänner" found on the death train at Dachau? It’s sad to think that we know so little about these individuals, these humans - their names, their stories. They are nothing to us but heaps of bones, not people but part of the Dachau stage set, while we fret over the innocence of killed SS concentration camp guards.
A comparison with the surrender of Belsen might illustrate the point. The persons arrested and tried by the British were all camp staff, except for a couple of persons who had escorted arriving prisoners and had killed some of them on the way. The guard company at Belsen was provided by a Hungarian Volksdeutsche unit; even though some of them continued to shoot at prisoners after the arrival of the British troops, they were not arrested and put on trial, and in fact were retained under British command to maintain order in the camp after its surrender.
So the Waffen-SS troops killed Buchenwald KZ inmates even as the British forces were arriving, and the British not only didn’t stop the SS from killing unarmed, starving, inmates, but never brought up any charges against the SS men? Sound like a) the Tommies dropped the ball on that one & b) you have a very unusual perspective on matters of justice
As I have already indicated twice, my source was a statement in the book "Aspects of the Third Reich", edited by Professor H W Koch, then at the University of York, published by Macmillan, London. Hardly a pro-Nazi work!
Thanks for the title. BTW I Googled the book and the first URL that came up was an Institute for Historical Review review,

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v10/v10p241_Weber.html

Which, given your comment, I found to be rather ironic! ;)

The IHR review lists the essays, but I can’t see one on the liberation of Dachau, nor one that may discuss W-SS replacements from the Luftwaffe in general or at Dachau in particular.

Sorry to be so picky, but I’m interested in tracking down this bit of info to see if I can flesh it out. It’s kinda like the meme that troops of the 5th SS division were massacred at Dachau – people believe it, it’s in books like Buechner’s – but then when you ask – what company?, what batallion?, what regiment?, who was the commanding officer?, what where they doing 100+ miles away from the rest of their unit? And everybody draws a blank.


My intervention on this thread was to address the issue of who the men summarily executed by US soldiers actually were. It is often implied (and I thin that implication was also present, if only subliminally, in your post, that since men in SS uniform were found in or near the Dachau concentration camp, they must have been responsible for the conditions found in the camp, including evidence of killing, extreme brutality, starvation etc, and therefore deserved the arbitrary retribution handed out to them.
Why imply when one can assert? I agree with the GI’s of the 45th and 42nd division that the SS men at the camp almost certainly had a hand in the brutality there that continued literally until the moment Gen Linden and Lt. Col Sparks appeared at the jourhouse gate – particuarly with regard to the arbitrary execution of inmates. Fortunately many of the real bad SS eggs who attempted to escape into the surrounding countryside were eventually caught. What I do have a hard time understanding is that why did some SS men leave and why did some stay. What compelled Wicker to follow his orders to surrender the camp? Why didn’t he just attempt to run away like his commander Weiss? And what did he think the Americans were going to think when they saw Dachau?
The issue is not the walking distance between the SS compound and the actual Schutzhaftlager, and the fact that they were separated only by a moat and a barbed-wire fence.
The real issue is that you claimed they were separate (a common misconception, and one that reinforces the image of the "good" Waffen-SS and the "bad" KZ SS) and I pointed out that they weren’t. Now who’s really engaging in obfuscation here?

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Post by michael mills » 12 Jan 2004 13:06

Rob=-WSSOB wrote:
I just spent some time compiling a list of units stationed at the Dachau SS installation in addition to the 5 departments of the KZ staff. These units are compiled from Kurt Mehner’s Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-45
Well, thank you Rob.

You have just shown that there was a large number of SS units and offices situated in the SS base adjacent to the concentration camp.

The question is, what role did the personnel in those units and offices have in the running of the concentration camp? What role, if any, did they have in the treatment of the concentration camp prisoners? What personal responsibility did those personnel have for the atrocities committed in the concentration camp?

It is obvious from your own data that there was a large pool of SS personnel apart from those directly involved in the treatment of the concentration camp prisoners available for capture by US forces, to the extent that they had not fled. The question that I have been asking, and which you have been obfuscating, is whether some or all of the SS men who were dragged out into the coal yard and summarily shot were personnel from the units and offices you have listed, and hence quite possibly not involved in the atrocities perpetrated on the concentration camp prisoners.

If the possibility exists that the men summarily executed were from the units and offices stationed in the SS base, then the sentiment expressed opnely by some on this thread and more surreptitiously by you, that the executed men deserved what they got, is unreasonable, since we cannot be sure that they were in any way responsible for the atrocious situation in the camp.

It may be that some or all of the executed men had been involved in the commission of atrocities against the concentration camp prisoners, but that is something that could only have been proved at a trial. As you wrote, there was a later trial of Dachau concentration camp administrative staff, but the summarily executed men were not the subject of that trial.

It is also entirely possible that among the tens of thousands of inmates of Dachau concentration camp who perished, or among those who died on the "death train", there were some who deserved severe punishment. After all, the concentration camp population included not only "good" political prisoners but also many criminals, including sexual offenders. But it would be nonsense to try to justify the deaths of all the prisoners who died because there were some among them who deserved to die for the crimes they had committed.

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Post by michael mills » 12 Jan 2004 13:16

Rob-WSSOB wrote:
Thanks for the title. BTW I Googled the book and the first URL that came up was an Institute for Historical Review review,

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v10/v10p241_Weber.html

Which, given your comment, I found to be rather ironic!

The IHR review lists the essays, but I can’t see one on the liberation of Dachau, nor one that may discuss W-SS replacements from the Luftwaffe in general or at Dachau in particular.
Rob,

You are engaged in some shabby work here, which may well be worthy of you.

It is immaterial whether the IHR has reviewed the book. No doubt that organisation will take from the book what it wants to, but that does not derogate from the worth of the book itself, as you seemingly want to imply.

The book did not contain an essay on Dachau per se. The comment about the replacement of the existing camp guards by Luftwaffe personnel transferred to the Waffen-SS was made either in the introduction to the book, or in the introduction to one of the essays. It is certainly there, and I have cited its essence correctly from memory.

I would trust a statement made by a historian of the calibre of those who contributed to that book over an unknown person on the internet any day.

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Post by TH Albright » 12 Jan 2004 13:48

[quote="Rob -
So contrary to Mr. Mill’s statement, the SS Totenkopfwachsturmbann troops were often in quite close proximity to inmates, guarding them at work sites, escorting to and from the protective custody camp. In addition, the SS KZ guards units provided the cadre for the Department III, in which SS men had the most close and sustained contact with inmates.

[[/quote]

Bravo to both Rob and Michael for this spirited discussion. Regarding the level of "contact" which the KL guard units had with inmates...The pre-war SS-TV units actually had little, since each company only spent one week a month on guard duty; the rest of their time was relegated for military and ideological training. And at least up to 1938, there were far fewer outside labor details requiring guard details. Early guard units at KL Dachau (1933-34) were required to witness floggings (Hoess), but this practice seems to have gone out of practice later for whatever reason. The SS-TV men were heavily indoctrinated into the "evil nature" of the inmates behind the wire; this obviously paid off in Poland in 1939. After the war started, Rob is correct that the prolifuration of outside details, sub camps and the exploding camp populations required much greater daily contact between the guard personnel and inmates. The guard units were no longer the steely eyed SS-TV "elite", and there was greater worry that this increased contact would lead to corruption and arbitary, as opposed to sanctioned terror. Both occured occasionally, despite the KL "standing orders" which attempted to limit the contact with prisoners to the KL staff and capos. The detoriation in "quality" of the guard personnel throughout the war probably coincided directly with accounts of corruption and passivity you read about (Kogon notes that most Buchenwald guards used there weapons only when ordered to do so). While personnel did transfer from the guard units into the camp staff, the most infamous camp SS seemed to have had a remarkably insulated life in the camp system. They were specialists in terror and murder whose skills made them indispensable to the expanding KL system. So many inmates, so few KL staff "specialists" enabled them to often avoid transfer to less desirable duties.i.e., the front.

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Post by michael mills » 12 Jan 2004 13:55

Rob-WSSOB wrote:
The real issue is that you claimed they were separate (a common misconception, and one that reinforces the image of the "good" Waffen-SS and the "bad" KZ SS) and I pointed out that they weren’t. Now who’s really engaging in obfuscation here?
Atta ha-ish, Rob!

You are the one engaging in obfuscation.

By stressing that the concentration camp was immediately adjacent to the SS complex containing all sorts of administrative offices, you are trying to imply that all the personnel of those offices had a hand in running the concentration camp and were guilty of the atrocities perpetrated there.

You are obfuscating the fact that those administrative offices were separate from the administration of the Schutzhaftlager, and were not involved in running it or in the treatment of the prisoners there.

What does the home administration office of the Totenkopf Division, a frontline unit, have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the SS Administrative Replacement Detachment have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the SS Garrison HQ have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the SS Equipment Main office have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the Waffen-SS Medical School have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the SS Field Hospital Detachment have to do with the administration of a concentration camp ? (If you tell me that it carried out medical experiments, I will ask for corroborating material; you have already said that it was Dept V (medical services) of the concentration camp administrative staff that did that).

What does the Audit/Accounting Office have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the Waffen-SS Clothing Works have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does a Waffen-SS Procurement Office have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does the Waffen-SS Economic Inspectorate "South" have to do with the administration of a concentration camp? (There may be some connection, since the Inspectorate was no doubt involved with the supervision of the projects on which the prisoners were employed; but its staff was not the ones beating up the prisoners).

What does the SS Garrison Administration Office have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does an SS Administrative School have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

What does a Technical Arms Demonstration Detachment have to do with the administration of a concentration camp?

It is entirely possible that individual members of some or all of the above detachments became involved in an unofficial way in the treatment of prisoners. But that was not their normal function, so it cannot be taken for granted that all the members of the above offices and units were guilty of atrocities.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 12 Jan 2004 23:59

H.W.Koch's contribed to German history,through his studies in Britain, as well as an historical consultant to the BBC.If anything he was viewed as the 'good German' historian for his anti Nazi responses and pro-Western ideals.

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Post by walterkaschner » 14 Jan 2004 01:04

Does the relative culpability of the SS men shot during the liberation of Dachau really have any bearing upon the culpability of the US troops who shot them? To my mind it does not. The issue of the justification for the shooting - if indeed any such can be found - surely lies elsewhere.

Clearly the American troops involved were in a state of high passion. The 45th Infantry Division of which they were a part had been in active combat for well over a year and had suffered an extremely high rate of casualties. They had just discovered a train load of emaciated corpses, which had clearly shocked even those combat-hardened veterans to the bottom of their souls. Some time ago I came across a recording on the internet (which I can no longer find!) of Lt. William Walsh, describing his action and reaction to the sight of the train. (Walsh was accused of shooting 4 surrendering German medics after showing them the contents of the train.) There can be no question but that Walsh was , decades later, still horrified and furious at what he had seen, and had no apologies for his reaction.

My point here is twofold. First, given the mental state of the US troops and the situation at hand, it is clearly unreasonable to expect them to have initiated a calm and studied judicial review of the individual responsibility of the SS guards for the conditions they found at Dachau. In their state of excitement, revulsion and hatred the US troops can, I think, be excused from assuming, without further inquiry, that the SS guards that they found were the ones responsible for the horrible conditions at the camp and in the train.

But second, although the mental state of the US troops guilty of the shootings may mitigate the severity of their crime (if indeed there was one) it certainly does not excuse it. Generally speaking, under US law and, I believe, in both "common law"and "civil law" jurisdictions a clear distinction is drawn between murder carried out in the heat of passion (2nd degree) and murder carried out with premeditation and "malice aforethought" (1st degree). Unless killed in the actual act of committing a crime himself, the culpability of the victim for his past acts generally has no bearing on the culpability of his murderer.

So to my mind the real issue is whether or not the existence of other circumstances absolved the US troops actually involved in the shootings. As to Lt. Walsh, it seems to me clear that he was guilty of 2nd degree murder, ie, carried out in the heat of passion. As to the others, it is not so clear. The young machine gunner in the coal yard claimed that he thought the SS lined up against the wall in the coal yard had started running in an attempt to escape. There is testimony to the same effect regarding the SS who surrendered at the watch tower. In either case, if true the killings would have been justified. The report of the initial investigation apparently thought otherwise, but as General Patton quashed the investigation, a courts martial was never held and I guess we will never know the truth of the matter.

But I do think the basic issue is the culpability of the US troops rather than the culpabitity of the SS guards.

Regards, Kaschner

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