Innocent at Dachau

No gas chamber at Dachau -Stephen F. Pinter U.S. War Department AttorneyThe effective work of the defense attorneys, which received no recognition in the official Nuremberg documents, was, nevertheless, confirmed by many prominent American officials who investigated the problem. A typical example of this is reflected in the comments of Stephen F. Pinter, who served as a lawyer for the War Department of the United States in the occupation forces in Germany and Austria for six years after the war. He made the following statement in the most widely read American Catholic magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, for June 14, 1959:

>>>”I was in Dachau for 17 months after the war, as a U.S. War Department Attorney, and can state that there was no gas chamber at Dachau. What was shown to visitors and sightseers there and erroneously described as a gas chamber was a crematory. Nor was there a gas chamber in any of the other concentration camps in Germany. We were told that there was a gas chamber at Auschwitz, but since that was in the Russian zone of occupation, we were not permitted to investigate since the Russians would not permit it. From what I was able to determine during six postwar years in Germany and Austria, there were a number of Jews killed, but the figure of a million was certainly never reached. I interviewed thousands of Jews, former inmates of concentration camps in Germany and Austria, and consider myself as well qualified as any man on this subject.”<<<<<

It is small wonder under such considerations that the Holy See has steadfastly and consistently refused to join those who charge that Germany practiced a deliberate policy of seeking to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. It was possible after Pinter departed from Germany for Americans to visit Auschwitz, but in the meantime many years had elapsed and there had been ample opportunity for the Communist authorities in Poland to set the stage for such visits.

By Dr. Martin Broszat

The  following letter appeared in the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit under  the headline “Keine Vergasung in Dachau.” It appeared in the German  edition of  August 19, 1960, and in the US edition of August 26,  1960 (p. 14). Dr. Broszat  writes in the name of the prestigious  Institute for Contemporary History  (Institut für Zeitgeschichte).

Neither in Dachau nor in Bergen-Belsen nor  in Buchenwald were Jews or other  prisoners gassed. The gas chamber  in Dachau was never entirely finished or put  “into operation.”  Hundreds of thousands of prisoners who perished in Dachau and  other  concentration camps in the Old Reich were victims, above all, of  the  catastrophic hygienic and provisioning conditions: according  to official SS  statistics, during the twelve months from July  1942 through June 1943 alone,  110,812 persons died of disease  and hunger in all of the concentration camps of  the Reich. The  mass extermination of the Jews by gassing began in 1941-1942 and  occurred exclusively in a few facilities selected and equipped  with appropriate  technical installations, above all in the occupied  Polish territory (but at no  place in the Old Reich) (aber nirgends  im Altreich) in  Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Sobibor on the Bug,  in Treblinka, Chelmno and Belzec.

It is at those places,  but not in Bergen-Belsen, Dachau or Buchenwald,  where the mass  extermination facilities, spoken of in your article, were built  and disguised as shower baths or disinfection rooms. This necessary  differentiation does not, of course, change anything regarding  the criminal  character of the facility that was the concentration  camp. However, it may  perhaps help eliminate the annoying confusion  that arises from the fact that  some ineducable people make use  of a few arguments that, while correct, are  polemically torn from  the context, and that, rushing to respond to them are  other people  who, although they have the correct overall view, rely upon false  or mistaken information.

Dr. M. Broszat

Institute for  Contemporary  History


 The Factual Appraisal of the Conditions  in

the German Wartime  Concentration Camps

by the International  Committee

of the Red  Cross

A  key role in relation to the Jewish question in Europe during  World  War H was played by the International Committee of the Red Cross,  which  consisted largely of relatively detached Swiss nationals,  although, as might be  expected, sentiment became more critical  of Germany when the German military  defeats continued to mount  following Stalingrad. At the 17th International Red  Cross Conference  at Stockholm in 1947 final arrangements were made for a  definitive  report to appear the next year: Report of the International  Committee  of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War (3  vols., Geneva, 1948). This comprehensive survey both supplemented  and  incorporated the findings from two previous key works: Documents  sur  L’activité du CICR en faveur des civils detenus dans les  camps de concentration  en Allemagne, 1939-1945 (Geneva, 1946),  and Inter Arma Caritas: the Work  of the ICRC during the Second  World War (Geneva, 1947). The team of authors,  headed by Frédéric  Siordet, explained in the opening pages of the first of the  1948  volumes that their motto had been strict political neutrality, and  service  to all. The ICRC was contrasted with the national societies  of the Red Cross  with their primary aims of aiding their own peoples.  The neutrality of the ICRC  was seen to he typified by its two  principal wartime leaders, Max Huber and Carl  J. Burckhardt. This  neutral source has been selected here to conclude the  testimony  on the genocide question.

The ICRC considered  that its greatest single wartime triumph  consisted in the successful  application of the 1929 Geneva military convention  to obtain access  to civilian internees in the various parts of Central and  Western  Europe. The ICRC, however, was unable to obtain any access to the  Soviet  Union, which had failed to ratify the 1929 convention.  The millions of civilian  and military internees in the USSR were  cut off from any international contact  or supervision whatever.  This was especially deplorable, since enough was known  to assert  that by far the worst conditions for internees of both types existed  in the USSR.

ICRC contacts with German internment  camps in wartime began on  September 23, 1939, with a visit to  Germany’s major PW camp for captured Polish  soldiers. The ICRC,  after March, 1942, and the first reports on German  mass-internment  policies directed toward the Jews, became concerned that  previously  satisfactory conditions in German civilian internment camps might  be  affected. The German Red Cross was requested to take action,  but they candidly  reported to the ICRC on April 29, 1942, that  the German Government was not being  sufficiently cooperative in  providing necessary information. The German  Government took the  position that its internment policy “related to the security  of  the detaining state” (Report, vol. 1, p. 613). The ICRC did  not accept  this position as a basis for excluding supervisory  authority, and finally, by  the latter part of 1942, it was able  to secure important concessions from  Germany.

The  German Government agreed to permit the ICRC to supervise  the shipment  of food parcels to the camps for all cases which did not involve  German nationals. The ICRC soon established contact with the commandants  and  personnel of the camps and launched their food relief program,  which functioned  until the last chaotic days of the war in 1945.  Letters of thanks for packages  were soon pouring in from Jewish  internees, and it was also possible to make  unlimited anonymous  food shipments to the camps.

As early as October  2, 1944, the ICRC warned the German Foreign  Office of the impending  collapse of the German transportation system due to the  Allied  bombing campaign. The ICRC considered that starvation conditions  for  people throughout Germany were becoming inevitable. At last,  on February 1,  1945, the German Government agreed to permit Canadian  PW’s to drive white supply  trucks to the various concentration  camps. The ICRC set up one special  distribution center at the  Berlin Jewish Hospital and another at Basel. However,  this improvised  food system did not work well, and many of the white food trucks  were destroyed by Allied aerial attacks. The ICRC role became  so important in  the last phase of the war that it was actually  the ICRC representatives who  hoisted the white flags of surrender  at Dachau and Mauthausen during the final  days of the war.

The ICRC had special praise for the liberal conditions  which  prevailed at Theresienstadt (Terezin) up to the time of  their last visits there  in April, 1945. This large Jewish community,  which had been concentrated under  German auspices, enjoyed complete  autonomy in communal life under a Jewish  administration. The Jewish  Council of Elders repeatedly informed the ICRC  representatives  that they were enjoying surprisingly favorable conditions when  one  considered that Germany was going down to defeat during a war in  which World  Jewry had been the first to call for her destruction.

The ICRC also had special praise for the Vittel camp  in  German-occupied France. This camp contained thousands of Polish  Jews whose only  claim to special consideration was that they had  received visas from American  consular authorities. They were treated  by the German authorities in every  respect as full-fledged American  citizens.

The ICRC had some guarded comments  to make about the situation  of Hungarian Jews, many of whom were  deported. to Poland by the Germans in 1944  after the German occupation  of Hungary. The ICRC believed, for instance, that  the “ardent”  demonstrations of Hungarian Jews against the German occupation were  unwise.

The ICRC had special praise for  the mild regime of Ion  Antonescu of Rumania toward the Jews, and  they were able to give special relief  help to 183,000 Rumanian  Jews until the moment of the Soviet occupation. This  enabled the  Rumanian Jews to enjoy far better conditions than average Rumanians  during the late months of the war. This aid ceased with the Soviet  occupation,  and the ICRC complained bitterly that it never succeeded  “in sending anything  whatsoever to Russia” (Report, vol.  2, p. 62).

It should be noted that the ICRC  received voluminous flow of  mail from Auschwitz until the period  of the Soviet occupation. By that time many  of the internees had  been evacuated westward by the Germans. The efforts of the  ICRC  to extend aid to the internees left at Auschwitz under the Soviet  occupation were futile. It was possible, however, at least to  a limited extent,  for ICRC representatives to supervise the evacuation  of Auschwitz by way of  Moravia and Bohemia. It was also possible  to continue sending food parcels for  former Auschwitz inmates  to such places as Buchenwald and Oranienburg.

The  ICRC complained bitterly that their vast relief operations  for  civilian Jewish internees in camps were hampered by the tight Allied  blockade of Fortress Europe. Most of their purchases of relief  food were made in  Rumania, Hungary, and Slovakia. It was also  in the interest of the interned Jews  that the ICRC on March 15,  1944, protested against “the barbarous aerial warfare  of the Allies”  (Inter Arma Caritas, p. 78). The period of the 1899 and  1907  Hague conventions could only be considered a golden age by comparison.

It is important to note in finishing with these detailed  and  comprehensive ICRC reports that none of the International  Red Cross  representatives at the camps or else where in Axis-occupied  Europe found any  evidence what ever that a deliberate policy of  extermination was being conducted  by Germany against the Jews.  The ICRC did emphasize that there was general chaos  in Germany  during the final months of the war at a time when most of the Jewish  doctors from the camps were being used to combat typhus on the  eastern front.  These doctors were far from the camp areas when  the dreaded typhus epidemics of  1945 struck (Report, vol.  1, pp. 204ff.).

The ICRC worked in close cooperation  throughout the war with  Vatican representatives, and, like the  Vatican, found itself unable, after the  event, to engage in the  irresponsible charges of genocide which had become the  order of  the day.

Nothing is more striking or important  relative to the work of  the International Red Cross in relation  to the concentration camps than the  statistics it presented on  the loss of life in the civil population during the  Second World  War:

Loss of German civil population  as a result of air raids and  forced repatriation2,050,000
Loss of German nationals  of other countries during the time of  their eviction1,000,000
Loss of victims of persecution  because of politics, race or  religion who died in prisons and  concentration camps between 1939 and 1945 (not  incl. USSR)300,000
Loss of civil population  of the countries of Eastern Europe,  without the Soviet Union8,100,000
Loss of civil population  of the Soviet Union6,700,000

These figures present the appalling estimate of 17,850,000  who  lost their lives for reasons other than persecution, while  only 300,000 of all  persecuted groups, many of whom were not Jews,  died from all causes during the war. This figure of 300,000  stands out in marked contrast with  the 5,012,000 Jews estimated  by the Jewish joint Distribution Committee to have  lost their  lives during the war, mainly through extermination by National  Socialists.

One of the most bewildered Germans after the war was  Legation  Counsellor Eberhard von Thadden, who had been delegated  the double  responsibility by the German Foreign Office of working  on the Jewish question  with the ICRC and with Adolf Eichmann.  In April, 1943, he discussed with  Eichmann the rumors circulating  abroad that Jews were being wantonly  exterminated by the German  authorities. Eichmann insisted that the very idea of  extermination  was absurd. Germany needed all possible labor in a struggle for  her very existence.

Thadden questioned the  wisdom of the internment policy.  Eichmann admitted that available  transportation facilities were needed to  furnish both the fronts  and the homeland, but he argued that it had become  necessary to  concentrate Jew from the occupied territories in the East and in  German camps to secure Jewish labor effectively and to avert unrest  and  subversion in the occupied countries. Any of the occupied  countries might become  a front-line area within a relatively short  period of time.

Eichmann insisted that the  family camps for the Jews in the  East, along the lines of Theresienstadt,  were far more acceptable to the Jews  than the separations which  the splitting up of families would entail. Eichmann  admitted a  case to Thaden in 1944 in which a Jew was killed in Slovakia while  on  transport from Hungary to Poland, but he insisted that such  an event was  extremely exceptional. He reminded Thadden again  that the Jews were solely in  camps so that their working power  could be utilized and espionage could be  prevented. He noted that  Germany had not employed these extreme measures in the  early years  of the war, but only when it became evident that her very existence  was at stake. Eichmann also reminded Thadden that foreign Jews  who were being  allowed to leave Europe directly from the camps  were not charging Germany with  the atrocities which were irresponsibly  rumored from abroad. In short, Thadden,  who had personally made  numerous visits to the various concentration camps, was  thoroughly  convinced that Eichmann was right and that the foreign rumors of  genocide in circulation were incorrect.

Eberhard  von Thadden’s only comment from his prison cell on  June 11, 1946,  after having heard the full scope of the Nuremberg Trial  propaganda,  was that, if Eichmann had lied, he would have to have been a “very  skillful” liar indeed. The world has not yet sufficiently pondered  the question  about who has lied and why. Yet it is a statistical  fact that, for every  fraudulent affidavit or statement claiming  a death camp or a gas chamber, there  are at least twenty which  deny the very existence of such camps and gas  chambers. It is  only the published evidence which has presented a  lop-sided  picture in support of the genocide myth.