Sunday, January 31, 2016

German POWs on Homicidal Gassing in Secretly Recorded Conversations

The British and the US secretely recorded private conversations of some of their German POWs during World War 2. Extracts of the transcripts were published in Tapping Hitler's Generals and Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying. In the following passages, the POWs talked about homicidal gassing carried out by the Germans.

Rudolf Müller on 22 March 1945:
MÜLLER: I was in front of the court martial because of refusal to obey an order in Russia. I was maintenance sergeant, because our maintenance sergeant was killed in action, and I was the second in the workshop. And I had to convert a truck 8, put on a rubber cover. I didn't know what it was about and did it. The vehicle was sent away and provided to the local commandant. The thing was over for us. The driver came back and he was white as chalk in the face. I asked him, what's wrong, and he said, he won't forget what happened to him today. He said, they loaded civilians on the vehicle. They stuck in the exhaust, the vehicle was closed and the exhaust was directed inside. Next to me sits a SS-Leutnant, pistol on his lap, and he gave me the order to drive! Well, he was 18 years old, what should he have done, he had to drive. He drove half an hour, then they came to a pit. There were corpses inside, chlorine in between. He had to drive to it with the back, then opened the tailgate and all fall out. Dead from the exhaust gas. The next day I receive the same order to provide the vehicle to the local commandant. I said, the vehicle will not be provided. I was sent to the court martial, refusal to obey an order. They deliberately loaded people on it and killed them with exhaust gases.
(Neitzel & Welzer, Soldaten, German edition, p. 183, my translation)

[?] Heimer in December 1942:
HEIMER: There was a large collection site, the Jews were taken out of the houses and sent to the train station. They could take food for two to three days with them and then they were brought into the train, the windows and doors were made tight. They were driven to Poland, shortly before the arrival they've blown in some odorless gas, you know, carbon or nitrogen gas. Then they were undressed and buried. They did this with thousands of Jews! (laughing)
(Neitzel & Welzer, Soldaten, German edition, p. 206-207, my translation)

Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma and Gerhard Bassenge in December 1943:
THOMA: In the paper today there are details of the mass poisonings, that gas business. I know it's true, because the people, who did it, told me about it.

BASSENGE: I don't know, but I presume it is ... 100 per cent correct.

THOMA: Yes, I heard of it from a man who had to do it. It was SS men and Gestapo youths who rounded up the Jews and so on, and as they had no technical experts amongst their own numbers, chemists who were in the gas department of the Ordnance Branch, had to work with them. One man told me himself with horror that that time in RUSSIA was the most appalling time of his life; I said I wouldn't have done it.
(Neitzel, Tapping Hitler's Generals, p. 179)

Hans Schäffer and Heinrich Kittel in December 1944:
KITTEL: In UPPER SILESIA they simply slaughtered the people systematically. They were gassed in a big hall.

SCHAEFER: When was that done?

KITTEL: Up till the spring, then it was stopped.
(Neitzel, Tapping Hitler's Generals, p. 211)

Edwin Graf von Rothkirch and Bernhard Ramcke in March 1945:
ROTHKIRCH: All the gassing institutions are in POLAND, near Lvov. I know that there are large gassing centres there but I don't know any more. Let me tell you though, the gassings are by no means the worst.

RAMCKE: I first heard about all those things here in this PW camp.

ROTHKIRCH: I'm an 'Administration General' and the people here have already interrogated me. It was near Lvov. Actually we washed our hands of it all because these atrocities took place in a military area. At Lvov in particular I was always receiving reports of those shootings and they were so bestial that I wouldn't care to tell you about them.

RAMCKE: What happened?

ROTHKIRCH: To start with the people dug their own graves, then ten Jews took up their position by them and then the firing squad arrived with tommy-guns and shot them down, and they fell into the grave. Then came the next lot and they, too, were paraded in front of them and then fell into the grave and the rest waited a bit until they were shot. Thousands of people were shot. Afterwards they gave that up and gassed them. Many of them weren't dead and a layer of earth was shovelled on in between. They had packers there who packed the bodies in, because they fell in too soon. The SS did that, they were the people who packed the corpses in.
(Neitzel, Tapping Hitler's Generals, p. 220)

Friedrich August Freiherr von Heydte and Eberhard Wildermuth in March 1945:
HEYDTE: There's another camp which is even worse than LUBLIN,- it's in CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Half-a-million people have been put to death there for certain. I know that all the Jews from BAVARIA were taken there. Yet the camp never became over-crowded.

WILDERMUTH: Yes, I've heard of that too.

HEYDTE: But I don't only know that all the Jews from BAVARIA were taken there, I know that all the Jews from AUSTRIA were taken there, and still the camp wasn't over-crowded.

WILDERMUTH: From all over GERMANY. It appears that most of the Jews from GERMANY were either sent to LUBLIN or to that place.

HEYDTE: I was also told that the Jews are simply gassed in a gas-chamber there. They gassed mental defectives too.

WILDERMUTH: Yes, I know. I got to know that for a fact in the case of NUREMBERG; my brother is doctor at an institution there. I've seen one of those transports myself. The people knew where they were being taken.

HEYDTE: Yes, and then they've also done it with old people.

WILDERMUTH: Not with old people!

HEYDTE: Homes for old people! Yes, that is so.
(Neitzel, Tapping Hitler's Generals, p. 222)

16 comments:

Nathan said...

Also from Nietzel and Welzer:

- In the surveillance protocols, the topic of crimes perpetrated upon Jews only occurs explicitly in .2 percent of the conversations (Neitzel & Welzer, Soldaten, English Edition, p. 101)-

- In any case, sex was one of the central aspects of soldiers' experience of war - all the more so since it can be safely assumed that the U.S. and British officers who made the protocols had no interest in recording the endless discussions on the topic of women. As neither the British nor the Americans likely thought the subject to be of much use in the war, the surveillance activities tended to concentrate on discussions more relevant to military strategy, questions about aircraft, bombs, machine guns, and miracle weapons(Neitzel & Welzer, Soldaten, English Edition, p. 171)-

We can safely dismiss any fantasies of the interrogation protocols being "influenced" in any way. The first paragraph tells us that the British and American interrogators didn't "torture" or "coerce" POWs into confessing about the Holocaust. If they did, the percentage of conversations on the subject would be much, much higher. The second paragraph tells us why - The interrogators were more interested in intelligence that would help them win the war. Sexual violence and the Holocaust didn't fall into that category, so they simply didn't care.

Jonathan Harrison said...

I posted some related information from a 2004 paper by Neitzel into this article:

http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/07/german-wartime-knowledge-of.html

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

And there was the "gas n' cremate" buses:


Unteroffizier Scheidel, Wachtmeister Preiss and Leutnant Wehn, August 30, 1944

?: They threw in tanks against the Jews at CRACOW.

SPEIDEL: I heard the Ghetto had been destroyed by the GAF.

WEHN: No; they flooded it. I happened to be there at the time. I saw some dreadful things at WARSAW and BREST LITOWSK [sic] - Jews were taken away in one night. There was a curfew; no-one was allowed out of doors, not even Germans. I believe that the SS bumped off twelve-thousand Jews in one night on that occasion.

PREISS: At WARSAW?

WEHN: No, at BREST-LITOVSK. I saw one of them get away and kill a German policeman. He broke away from the ranks; they knew exactly what was up. They had those 'cremation buses' there and put great numbers of people in them; they drove them for 20 km. and unloaded them: all that remained was dust and ashes.

PREISS: Did they actually have such a large number of buses?

WEHN: Yes; the people were killed by gas. They drove for 20 km., then dumped the remains and reloaded the next lot[.] There are few eye-witnesses, I think only the SS people who were present. They were mostly young boys who fired their tommy-guns amongst them. A great number of people were killed. Those Jews were very stolid. They knew very well they hadn't a chance of ever leaving prison alive. I shouldn't have liked to belong to those firing squads who ran the show; I should have loathed it. Nevertheless, they never had an [sic] difficulty in finding people to do it.


- UK NA: WO 208/4164, SRX 1988

Nathan said...

Black Dumbass is dumb. And desperate as usual.

The extermination happened. It doesn't follow that the interview subjects were direct witnesses, or that their recollections of the events were perfect. They might have seen things from a distance and had mistaken assumptions. Or they heard about things second hand and got things mixed up. Or they made mistakes. People do that, it happens.
None of these people were coerced, led, or anything. It's been decisively proven by the low number of occurences regarding this subject in the total number of conversations, and the actual intent of the recordings: to get military intelligence. These are nothing but irrelevant outliers.

Black Dumbass's cherry picking doesn't cast any doubts on the people who did get it right.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

For your information Mx jeff nathan, I've quoted the document verbatim and in its entirety.

Ask your care worker to explain to you with the aid of diagrams what those words mean.

J Kelly said...

Irrelevant.
I love the way deniers resort to pulling out the goofiest Holocaust story as a desperation move to disprove hard evidence.
Why don't you regale us about skin lampshades and soap made from dead Jews? Steam chambers? Giving Jews enough gas so the can stumble out and bury themselves? Moving gas chambers that deposit their victims right into the grave?
I'm sure if you contact Jim Rizoli he would happily send you a link. Or, you can save yourself the trouble and just watch his crappy YouTube videos.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

Jim Rizoli's a complete idiot, not unlike yourself, R Kelly.

J Kelly said...

I'm J. Kelly, fluffy.
I agree Rizoli is an idiot.
When confronted he likes to scream "Lies!!!!!"
But, then again, the denier community is full of idiots, isn't that right, fluffy?

Dass Prussian said...

The lettuce nibbler is getting you confused with his favourite singer- R Kelly. If only he knew he was a proper 'darkie' though, and not a member of the Black and White Minstrels !

J Kelly said...

I think the wascally wabbit is getting a little flustered by actual evidence of an event he denies, Dass Prussian.
Hopefully he will try and toss the old denier standard of 4 million Jews gassed at Auschwitz. I love that one because I enjoy pointing out that the original plaque at Auschwitz never said anything about Jews or gassing.

Hans said...

Thanks for this addition, tBRoI.

Here's a question for you.

Suppose killings with homicidal gas vans were secretly carried out by the German paramilitary forces. Would you then expect that every person who has heard something of these activities could provide an accurate description of it, or is not quite likely and expected that at least some would provide a description distorted by false rumors and assumptions?

Follow up question: If there had been no killings with homicidal gas vans carried out by the German paramilitary forces, how do you explain that Wehn and Müller spoke about it towards other German POWs?

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

Wehn claimed to have been present in Brest when 12,000 Jews were bumped off in one night, and that 'cremation buses' were used in this action; he is what HC call a 'direct witness', if not to the emptying of the 'cremation buses' at Bronna Góra. If he wasn't directly involved in operating the buses, it's understand why his knowledge might be somewhat scant, but, it's not as if he heard about them on the proverbial grapevine, he was there.

If 'cremation buses' featured in a survivor's testimony, and they didn't insist they saw them with their own eye, that could be given a pass. But they came from a perp. who was involved with clearing a ghetto, and he claimed the SS had special buses that turned humans to dust in a matter of minutes.

Follow up question: If there had been no killings with homicidal gas vans carried out by the German paramilitary forces, how do you explain that Wehn and Müller spoke about it towards other German POWs?

Perhaps they'd seen a copy of the The Daily Express, February 3, 1944 , or any non-German publication that had reported on the gruesome findings of the Krasnodar and Kharkov trials.


Can't be bothered to find it again now to give citations, but yesterday I was looking at my photos of a frequently cited recorded conversation in which gassings at Auschwitz are discussed. Not usually mentioned when this is held up as evidence, is the fact that at the beginning of the conversation the men were discussing the Lueneburg Belsen trial.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

The lettuce nibbler is getting you confused with his favourite singer- R Kelly. If only he knew he was a proper 'darkie' though, and not a member of the Black and White Minstrels !

And there's was me thinking he was Jewish, like Al Jolson.

J Kelly said...

WEHN: Yes; the people were killed by gas. They drove for 20 km., then dumped the remains and reloaded the next lot[.] There are few eye-witnesses, I think only the SS people who were present. They were mostly young boys who fired their tommy-guns amongst them. A great number of people were killed. Those Jews were very stolid. They knew very well they hadn't a chance of ever leaving prison alive. I shouldn't have liked to belong to those firing squads who ran the show; I should have loathed it. Nevertheless, they never had an [sic] difficulty in finding people to do it.
Notice how he says there were few eyewitnesses, that only SS men were present?
It sounds to me that he was there and maybe saw something, perhaps the Jews loaded up but he did not see the end where the SS dumped the bodies.
So sorry, your point failed, wabbit.

Nathan said...

- WEHN: No, at BREST-LITOVSK. I saw one of them get away and kill a German policeman. He broke away from the ranks; they knew exactly what was up. THEY had those 'cremation buses' there and put great numbers of people in them; THEY drove them for 20 km. and unloaded them: all that remained was dust and ashes.

PREISS: Did THEY actually have such a large number of buses?

WEHN: Yes; the people were killed by gas. THEY drove for 20 km., then dumped the remains and reloaded the next lot[.-

THEY, not "we"
To follow up on J Kelly's point, it doesn't sound like he's a direct witness. Based on his testimony, it
sounds more like he saw the vans and ,based on rumors, assumed they also cremated the victims.

- Perhaps they'd seen a copy of the The Daily Express, February 3, 1944 , or any non-German publication that had reported on the gruesome findings of the Krasnodar and Kharkov trials.-

Because 1944 is like 2016, where months old news articles are stored on websites and can quickly be accessed via google.

So, if we understand you correctly, witnesses who supposedly described bodies being reduced to ashes heard about them from the trials of Kharkov and Krasnodar, where partially decayed but relatively whole bodies were found. Perhaps you're desperate.

At the end of the day, black dumbass's spam is just an irrelevant outlier. He made a mistake, period. His mistaken testimony doesn't cast any doubts on the other statements that did get the details right. And given the very clear policy aims the British had, it doesn't cast any doubts on them. No one forced these people to say anything, which means that this mistake is due to the witness's human error.

Jeff said...

The fluffy bunny wabbit made no attemt whatsoever to adress any of the highly incriminating items above.

As for the Cremation buses nonsense: It is likely that Wehn was a fifth or sixth hand witness who was playing himself off as a direct observer. That's just my theory.