Our Crimes against Humanity
COMPARED WITH THE RAPE AND MURDER AND LOOTING ENGAGED IN by the Russian armies at the war’s end, the terror and slavery and hunger and robbery in the Eastern zone today, and the genocide practiced by the Poles and Czechs, the war crimes nd crimes against humanity committed by the Germans condemned at Nu- remberg to death or lifelong imprisonment appeared as minor in extent if not in degree.
It was impossible to travel through the devastated towns of the Western zones without it seeming strange and horrible that we should sit in judgment on the Germans who had never succeeded in killing nearly so many civilians as we did, or in perpetrating worse atrocities than our obliteration bombing of whole cities.
Were the German gas chambers really greater crime against hu- a manity than our attacks on such nonmilitary objectives as Dresden, where we inflicted the most horrible death imaginable on a quarter of a million people in one night, by dropping phosphorus bombs on this undefended cultural center crowded with refugees fleeing west before the Russian advance? This atrocity was among our greatest war crimes, since we demonstrated that our objective was the murder of civilians. We even machine-gunned from the air the women and children fleeing into the countryside from the burning city.
Nor was Dresden the only example of horrible death inflicted on the people of towns which had neither war industries nor any “mil - itary importance.”
The story of Hiroshima has been written up in American maga- zines and books, but who has told the story of Dresden, or that of
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 183
Cologne, where the cathedral stands in the midst of acres of rubble, demonstrating the fact that we knew how to avoid destruction of nonmilitary objectives if we wanted to?
As the British Major General J. F. C. Fuller wrote in his book, The Second World War: “For fifty or a hundred years, and pos - sibly more, the ruined cities of Germany will stand as monuments to the barbarism of their conquerors. The slaughtered will be for- gotten, the horrors of the concentration camps and gas chambers will dim with the passing of the years; but the ruins will remain to beckon generation after generation of Germans to revenge.”*
A thoughtful American professor, whom I met in Heidelberg, expressed the opinion that the United States military authorities on entering Germany and seeing the ghastly destruction wrought by our obliteration bombing were fearful that knowledge of it would cause a revulsion of opinion in America, and might prevent the carrying out of Washington’s policy for Germany by awaken - ing sympathy for the defeated, and realization of our war crimes. This, he believes, is the reason why a whole fleet of aircraft was used by General Eisenhower to bring journalists, Congressmen, and churchmen to see the concentration camps; the idea being that the sight of Hitler’s starved victims would obliterate consciousness of our own guilt. Certainly it worked out that way. No American newspaper of large circulation in those days wrote up the horror of our bombing, or described the ghastly conditions in which the survivors were living in the corpse-filled ruins. American readers sipped their fill only of German atrocities.
Whether most Americans in Germany have developed a mental defense mechanism, or really believe that an atrocity ceases to be one when committed in a “good cause,” that is, our own, I do not know. But I found many Military Government officials who con- sidered it bad taste, if not almost treasonable, so much as to refer to our war crimes and those of our allies.
In Berlin, for instance, I found myself in disgrace after having remarked, at a cocktail party in Harnack House, that I thought it was high time we stopped talking about German guilt, since there was no crime the Nazis had committed, which we or our allies had not also committed. I had referred to our obliteration bombing, the mass expropriation and expulsion from their homes of twelve mil- lion Germans on account of their race; the starving of the Germans
* New York, Duell, Sloan & Pearce, Inc., 1949.
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during the first years of the occupation; the use of prisoners as slave laborers; the Russian concentration camps, and the looting perpetrated by Americans as well as Russians.
The effect of my remarks, which seemed to me only a plain state- ment of fact, produced first a shocked silence, and then a stream of rather silly remarks, such as that of a Captain Spear, of Military Intelligence, who said: “Do you mean you wish we had not won the war?” Next morning came the pay -off. A certain Mrs. Van Delden, in charge of the libraries which the Information Division of Military Government has established in America Houses in various cities as part of the program of teaching the Germans de- mocracy, had been particularly incensed at my remarks. So I was hardly surprised to find that she had got in touch with Mr. Panuch, one of General Clay’s special advisors and a very decent and intelli - gent fellow, to urge the cancellation of the lecture I was scheduled to give on Russia at Berlin’s Amerika Haus. The following day was informed that the automobile placed at my disposal by Mili- tary Government on my arrival in Berlin, was now needed by some- one else; and asked to please leave Harnack House where I had originally been invited to stay “as the guest of General Clay.” To make it quite clear that I not only was no longer a VIP, but that there had been a mistake made about me from the beginning, was presented with a bill charging me $2.50 a day for my room for the time of my stay in Harnack House as “the guest of General Clay.”
I certainly had no claim to VIP status and it was in most ways an advantage to move over to the Press Camp, where I was free of social or other obligations; and my fear that Mrs. Van Delden,
Captain Spear, and others of their kind would prevent my getting my military permit extended proved groundless. General Clay, whom I met and had a long conversation with a few days later, wel- comed me warmly and recommended the extension of my military permit originally granted to me only for hree weeks. Either Gen- eral Clay did not know what “dangerous thoughts” I had expressed, or did not share the narrow-minded sentiments of lower officials in Military Government.
My experience in Berlin was only one among many in which learned that referring to our “crimes against humanity” is simply “not done.” Yet it seems to me that if the Germans are ever to be “taught democracy” we must start judging our own actions by the same standards as we apply to them. Otherwise we must appear as
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 185
hypocrites and convince the German people that Hitler was justi- fied in his belief that “might makes right,” and that democracy is a delusion and a sham.
The terrible consequences of the different ethical standards pre- scribed for victors and vanquished, and of the uremberg dictum that we have the right to do anything we please in Germany be- cause ours is a “nonbelligerent” occupation, were displayed at the “Dachau trials.”
These were the trials conducted by the United States Army Tri- bunals (as distinct from the ivilian and ostensibly international c trials at Nuremberg) of the privates, corporals, sergeants, and junior commissioned officers involved in the Malmédy case: of civilians accused of having lynched Allied airmen shot down during the bombing raids; and of the Germans held responsible for the atro- cities committed in the Nazi concentration camps.
The methods employed by the investigators and prosecutors in these cases were worthy of the GPU, the Gestapo, and the SS. The accused were subjected to every kind of physical and mental torture to force them to write dictated statements; witnesses were tortured and bribed, and the procedures of these American courts bear un- favorable comparison even with those of the Hungarian and Bul- garian ones which are today entencing the Catholic and Protestants clergymen who have defied the Communist terror.
On the other hand, the fact that America is still a democracy has resulted in the exposure of the horrible methods employed by United States Army representatives to secure the “confessions” of the hundreds of men already executed, or now being executed, at Landsberg.
Lieutenant Colonel Willis N. Everett, Jr., an American lawyer who had served as defense counsel for the seventy-four Germans accused in the Malmédy case, petitioned the United States Su- preme Court, after his return to America, charging that the Ger- mans had not had a fair trial.
The Supreme Court refused his petition, saying it lacked juris- diction over the acts committed by the United States Army in Ger- many, a statement which means that the United States Military Government is above the law, and the “sovereignty” we claim in Germany is that of a lawless despot.
Colonel Everett’s action, nevertheless, forced the Army to take notice, and Secretary Royall appointed a commission to investigate his charges. This commission, sent to Germany in 1948, consisted
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of Judge Edward Leroy van Roden, of Delaware County, Pennsyl- vania, and Justice Gordon Simpson, of the Texas Supreme Court.
The report made by these two American judges following their investigation, like so many other reports pertaining to Germany, has been kept secret from the American public. But Judge van Roden, after his return to the United States, gave a series of lec- tures and after-dinner speeches in which he stated that such third- degree methods as the following were used to obtain the conviction of the Germans condemned to death, many of whom have already been hung:
Beatings and brutal kickings; knocking-out of teeth and breaking of jaws; mock trials; solitary confinement; torture with burning splinters; the use of investigators pretending to be priests; starva- tion; and promises of acquittal. Speaking to the Chester Pike Ro- tary Club on December 14, 1948, Judge van Roden said: “All but two of the Germans in the 139 cases we investigated had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was standard operating procedure with our American investigators.”
He told of one German who had had lighted matchsticks forced under his fingernails by the American investigators to extort a con- fession, and had appeared at his trial with his fingers still bandaged from the atrocity.
Another case mentioned by this American judge in his speech was that of an eighteen-year-old boy who, after a series of beatings, agreed to write a statement dictated to him by the American in- vestigators. After they finished sixteen pages, the boy was locked up for the night. During the night the prisoners in the adjoining cells heard him saying, “I will not utter another lie,” and when his jailers came in the morning, he had hung himself from the cell bar. Nevertheless, the statement he had begun to write, and had killed himself rather than sign, was offered in evidence at the trial of other accused.
“Sometimes,” continued van Roden, “a prisoner who refused to sign was led into a dimly lit room, where a group of civilian in- vestigators, wearing United States Army uniforms, were seated around a black table with a crucifix in the center and two candles burning, one on each side. ‘You will now have your American trial,’ the defendant was told.
“The sham court passed a sham sentence of death. Then the ac - cused was told, ‘You will hang in a few days, as soon as the general
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 187
approves this sentence; but in the meantime sign this confession and we can get you acquitted.’ Some still wouldn’t sign.
“We were shocked by the crucifix being used so mockingly.
“In another case, a bogus Catholic priest [actually an investi - gator] entered the cell of one of the defendants, heard his confes- sion, gave him absolution, and then gave him a little friendly tip: ‘Sign whatever the investigators ask you to sign. It will get you your freedom. Even though it’s false. I can give you absolution now in advance for the lie you’d tell.’”
In some cases solitary confinement or the threat of reprisals on the prisoner or witness’s family were sufficient to persuade him to sign a prepared statement involving others. In others, “the investi - gators would put a black hood over the accused’s head and then punch him n the face with brass knuckles, kick him and beat himi with a rubber hose.”
Judge van Roden also told his audience that Lieutenant Colonel Ellis and Lieutenant Perl, of the American prosecution, pleaded, in extenuation of the atrocities they were responsible for, that it was difficult to obtain evidence by fair means. Perl said: “We had a tough nut to crack and we had to use persuasive (sic) methods.” Lieutenant Perl admitted that the “persuasive methods” included “some violence and mock trials,” and that th e Malmédy cases rested on statements obtained by such methods.
“There was no jury,” concluded van Roden. “The court con - sisted of ten officers sitting as judge and jury, and one law-member, the only person with legal training, whose rulings as to the admis- sibility of evidence were final.
“The statements which were admitted as evidence were obtained from men who had first been kept in solitary confinement for three, four, and five months. They were confined between four walls, with no windows, and no opportunity of exercise. Two meals a day were shoved in to them through a slot in the door. They were not al- lowed to talk to anyone. They had no communication with their families or any minister or priest during that time.”
“The tragedy,” said van Roden, “is that so many of us Ameri- cans, having fought the war with so much sweat and blood, and having defeated the enemy, now say ‘All Germans should be hung!’ We won the war, but some of us want to go on killing. That’s not fighting. That’s wicked. . . The fact that there. were atrocities by the Germans during the war against Americans, or by Americans
188 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
against Germans, would not in the least lessen the disgrace to this country of ours, if such peacetime atrocities were to go unchal- lenged . . they. would be a blot on the American conscience for eternity.”
Unfortunately the investigation made by Judges van Roden and Simpson, and their exposure of the whole sorry business, did not stop the hangings of the Germans condemned on “evidence” ob - tained by torture. eneral Clay had G previously commuted the sen- tences of a few of the condemned, but it seemed as if the outcry in the American press forced him to continue the executions in- stead of having the cases of all the condemned men re-examined.
In November 1948 ifteen men were beingf hung every Friday, instead of seven hung each previous week, presumably on the the- ory that the more victims of the miscarriage of justice who could be done away with, the less evidence of injustice would remain. Among the first batch hanged following the van Roden-Simpson investigation five were among those whom they had stated had been convicted on questionable evidence.
Betty Knox, whom I have already mentioned, and “Jose” of the United Press, had attended the previous week’s hangi ngs just after I first met them in Nuremberg. Neither of them were ever likely to forget their terrible experience. The Protestant and Catholic chap- lains at the Landsberg prison where the executions take place were both convinced of the innocence of several of the men hung. They were in despair at their inability to do anything to stop the crime of killing men, several of whom had convinced the priests or pas- tors that they were innocent, and all of whom had been condemned by confessions extorted by torture or on the testimony of witnesses proved to have perjured themselves.
One of the men Betty Knox saw had been told on the preceding Wednesday that he was reprieved pending a reinvestigation of his case, and then dragged out of his cell on the Friday to be hung.
Another had been promised he should see his wife before dying, after not being allowed to see her for three years. But when she ar- rived at the prison at the appointed time she was told, “Sorry, he’s already dead; he was hung first instead of last by mistake.”
These are the last words of three of the men Betty Knox saw executed :
“No, I have nothing to say. Only my relatives I should have liked
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 189
to see. I am sorry that I could not see my relatives one last time.”
“ I protest against this execution of my sentence. According to official information given by American officials the time for filing petitions expires tonight at 2400 hours. On account of postal serv- ice delays, my petition, filed on September 20, cannot have been taken into consideration when they approved my sentence and or- dered my execution. As an officer I did my duty for my people and my country when I obeyed my orders to execute those terror flyers who had shot down women and children on open roads. Interna- tional law was also violated by my sentence.* I call upon Germany to witness. I call Lucia, Renate, you murderers!”
“I do not want to accuse, nor do I want to pay back what I have received. I want to say that I am innocent. The one really guilty in my case hanged himself when he was taken prisoner. Because was involved I was condemned. I am dying as a free German man. My last greetings go to my dear family, my dear wife, my dearly loved boy, my daughter-in-law, my little grandchildren and once more I greet all my dear relatives and friends. I forgive everybody who was unjust to me and I also forgive those who have rendered false oaths upon which such a sentence could only have been said. May God be a merciful judge for them. My last reetings also go to my beloved sport which is the basis for interior and exterior re- covery of our youth. May in the next years the best men of the world meet in a fight, not to win but to be together no matter what nation and what race.”
How many of the men America has hung, and is hanging now week by week, were innocent, will never be known. Only one thing is certain: they never had a fair trial and their interrogation, con- demnation, and execution are a disgrace to democratic justice.
Some readers will be inclined to turn away and say all this does not concern them, not realizing that the honor and dignity of the United States are involved. Others may say that, after all, it doesn’t much matter because the men hung were all Nazis or only Ger- mans. But how can the kind of world Americans have died to pre- serve be saved, if we ourselves destroy belief in the justice which is the foundation of democracy?
* This man had been subjected to a mock trial “under the black hood.”
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Judge van Roden’s testimony car ries weight because he is an American— nowadays we refuse to hear the voice of Germans, how- ever unimpeachable their record. But the Dachau trials have aroused such widespread horror and protest in Germany that Amer- ica should not ignore the appeal of the twenty-five German Cath- olic bishops who wrote: “Will not the tortures at the preliminary inquests at Schwäbische Hall and Oberwesel, and the mass execu- tions at Landsberg, later on do more harm to victorious America than a lost battle?”
In their so far unheeded appeal to America, these representatives of twenty million German Catholics say:
“When the survivors who were in the martyrlike heat cells of Oberwesel are released, they will be able to tell the world in detail what inhuman treatment they received. Until now only a few of them have been able to reveal anything from their prison.”
The Catholic appeal then quotes the following from an affidavit signed by Hans Schmidt on June 25, 1948, concerning his treat- ment in the period September 17 to October 3, 1945:
Seven of us were transported from the camp at Bad Aibling to Ober- wesel, where we were thrown into small cells stark naked. The cells in which three or four persons were incarcerated were six and a half by ten feet in size and had no windows or ventilation. The walls, ceiling, and door were covered with tight asbestos plates. On one wall there was an electric stove with a four-grade switch (type-plate 2,000 watts) which was switched on from outside.
When we went to the lavatory we had to run through a lane of Americans who struck us with straps, brooms, cudgels, buckets, belts, and pistol holders to make us fall down. Our head, eyes, body, belly, and genitals were violently injured. A man stood inside the lavatory to beat us and spit on us. We returned to our cells through the same or- deal. The temperature in the cells was 140° Fahrenheit or more. Dur- ing the first three days we were given only one cup of water and a small slice of bread. During the first days we perspired all the time, then per- spiration stopped. We were kept standing chained back to back for hours. We suffered terribly from thirst, blood stagnation and mortifica- tion of the hands. From time to time water was poured on the almost- red-hot radiators, filling the cells with steam, so that we could hardly breathe.
During all this time the cells were in darkness, except when the American soldiers entered and switched on electric bulbs of several hun- dred candle power which forced us to close our eyes.
Our thirst became more and more cruel, so that our lips cracked, our
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 191
tongues were stiff, and we eventually became apathetic, or raved, or collapsed.
After enduring this torture for several days, we were given a small blanket to cover our nakedness, and driven to the courtyard outside. The uneven soil was covered with pebbles and slag and we were again beaten and finally driven back on our smashed and bleeding feet. While out of breath, burning cigarettes were pushed into our mouths, and each of us was forced to eat three or four of them. Meanwhile the American soldiers continued to hit us on eyes, head, and ears. Back in our cells we were pushed against the burning radiators, so that our skin was blistered.
For thirteen days and nights we received the same treatment, tor- tured by heat and thirst. When we begged for water, our guards mocked us. When we fainted we were revived by being drenched with cold water.
There was dirt everywhere and we were never allowed to wash, our inflamed eyes gave us terrible pain, we fainted continuously.
Every twenty minutes or so our cell doors were opened and the sol- diers insulted and hit us. Whenever the doors were opened we had to stand still with our backs to the door. Two plates of food, spiced with salt, pepper, and mustard to make us thirstier, were given us daily. We ate in the dark on the floor. The thirst was the most terrible of all our tortures and we could not sleep.
In this condition I was brought to trial. I fainted and was brought back to my cell. A sergeant with dirty fingernails tore my kin around the nipple, and I developed blood poisoning. The doctor treated me brutally and did not even disinfect the wound.
This is only one of many accounts of the Gestapo-like tortures inflicted on German prisoners by Americans, before their guilt had been proved. I forbear to inflict on my readers the full tale of horror I heard in Germany, knowing that “atrocity stories” constitute popular reading only when the torturers, instead of the victims, are Germans.
It is, nevertheless, essential that the American public should have the opportunity to learn the facts so long withheld from them by the Administration and the press. For if we hold the German peo- ple accountable for Nazi crimes, then we are responsible for those committed by the United States Government or its agencies. The fact that Americans are free, and that no one here can be sent to prison for protesting against injustice, increases our responsibility.
Baron von Schlabrendorff, the man “who almost killed Hitler” by placing a bomb in his plane, supplied me in Wiesbaden with copies of the affidavits made in the case of Willi Schäfer, a non-
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commissioned officer sentenced to death at Dachau for the shoot- ing of American prisoners at Malmédy during the Battle of the Bulge. Schäfer’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment but Baron von Schlabrendorff, who is acting as his counsel, has ap- pealed, so far in vain, for his case to be retried.
Schäfer was charged with having “watched and not to have taken action against shootings of U.S. prisoners of war at crossroad Engelsdorf, south of Malmédy, on the 17th December 1944,” and to have “forwarded an order” to have five American prisoners shot.
According to the evidence in the possession of von Schlabrendorff and Colonel Everett, Schäfer is innocent of both charges and was not even present when the shooting of American prisoners took place. The chief witnesses against him have all sworn that their evidence was false and was given only under duress, and Schäfer himself “confessed” to the crimes he cou ld not have committed only after prolonged torture.
Below I reproduce part of Sergeant Schäfer’s affidavit:
On April 7, 1946, Mr. Harry W. Thon asked me at Schwäbisch Hall to write out an affidavit accusing myself, and showed me an affidavit signed by Sepp Dietrich admitting that there had been an order to mur- der the American prisoners. Mr. Thon said that what was wanted was the heads of the generals and that we little men had nothing to fear. I told him that I was prepared to write a report of my experiences in the Eiffel offensive, but that I was not aware of any offenses committed against the laws of war. Thereupon Mr. Thon gave me paper and pen- cil, told me I had a respite of one night and that, should I fail to make a statement admitting my guilt, my family would be deprived of their ration cards. He then had me shut up in the death cell.
That night I wrote a report of my experiences but it did not include any self-accusations.
Next morning Mr. Thon appeared in my cell, read my report, tore it up, swore at me and hit me. After threatening to have me killed unless I wrote what he wanted, he left. A few minutes later the door of my cell opened, a black hood incrusted with blood was put over my head and face and I was led to another room. In view of Mr. hon’s threats the black cap had a crushing effect on my spirits. . . Four men of my company: Sprenger, Jaenckel, Neve, and Hoffmann accused me, al- though later they admitted to having borne false testimony. Neverthe- less I still refused to incriminate myself. Thereupon Mr. Thon said that if I continued to refuse this would be taken as proof of my Nazi opin- ions, and he would have me charged together with the generals, in which event my death was certain. He said I would have no chance against four witnesses, and advised me for my own good to make a state-
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 193
ment after which I would be set free. . . I still refused. I told Mr. Thon that although my memory was good, I was unable to recall any of the occurrences he wished me to write about and which to the best of my knowledge had never occurred.
Mr. Thon left but returned in a little while with Lieutenant Perl who abused me, and told Mr. Thon that, should I not write what was required within half an hour, I should be left to my fate. Lieutenant Perl made it clear to me that I had the alternative of writing and going free or not writing and dying. I decided for life and said I would sign anything they wanted. Mr. Thon then dictated a statement to tally with Sprenger’s and ruled out all objections I raised.
On the 8th or 9th of April after I had apparently not replied in the manner the investigators desired, I was kicked in the hollow of the knee and on my backside and beaten with a stick across my shoulders and the back of my head. A black hood was again placed over my head and face so I cannot testify as to who inflicted this punishment.
I hereby testify that I never took part in any shootings of Prisoners of War, nor issued any such orders, nor watched any shootings. I stated this to the Military Court at Dachau.
The methods employed to obtain the false evidence used against Schäfer are described in an affidavit, dated January 20, 1948, at Landsberg prison, signed by Joachim Hoffmann, who states that:
For 3½ months I was kept in solitary confinement without either writing or bathing allowed. Even when taken for a hearing a black hood was placed over my head. The guards who took me to my hearing often struck or kicked me. I was twice thrown down the stairs and was hurt so much that blood ran out of my mouth and nose. At the hearing, when I told the officers about the ill treatment I had suffered, they only laughed. I was beaten and the black cap pulled over my face when- ever I could not answer the questions put to me, or gave answers not pleasing to the officers.
In March, 1946, I was taken before a Summary Court. Prior to this I was beaten and several times kicked in the genitals. At my trial I was sentenced to death and then locked up in a cell which contained noth- ing but a wooden chest and one blanket. Here I remained three weeks, after which the investigating officers came to my cell and promised me I should be released within two months, if I would write what they dictated. I was unable to resist the pressure. I often witnessed the ill treatment suffered by my comrades. Finally I agreed to write the false statement required. I believed that if I wrote it I would be set free, but this was an illusion.
Another of the witnesses against Schäfer, Siegfried Jaenckel, made a similar sworn statement concerning the methods used to
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force him to bear false testimony. He too had been placed in soli- tary confinement while a prisoner of war and tortured until he agreed to sign a dictated statement. He was also one of those given a mock trial with a black hood over his face lifted to show him the crucifix, black cloth, and candles. The prosecutor, as usual, was Mr. Henry Thon and Jaenckel’s “trial” lasted some twelve hours, after which he was told he would be “taken for a ride” in a jeep and hung from a tree since he was “not worth a bullet.” Two days later he was again taken before a court and told by Lieutenant Perl that “in consideration of his youth” and the fact that he had acted in obedience to an order, he would be pardoned if he would “tell the truth.” At this sec ond “trial,” according to Jaenckel’s affi - davit, Lieutenant Perl told him, “So you still don’t want to con - fess? You have no money to pay for your defense so you will hang. Look at your comrades, they are to be released because they spoke the truth.”
In his affidavit, signed two years later, Jaenckel says he can no longer remember how often he was questioned but he thinks dozen times. And always he was told: “If you confess you will go free; you need only to say you had an order from your superiors. But if you won’t speak you will be hung.”
I was beaten and I heard the cries of the men being tortured in ad- joining cells, [writes Jaenckel] and whenever I was taken for a hearing I trembled with fear. I was then only nineteen years old and had never had anything to do with courts or the law. Subjected to such duress eventually gave in, and signed the long statement dictated to me, and copied the sketch maps as ordered. I could never have done it other- wise, as I have insufficient education. Captain Schumacher said to me: “The streets are to be the same as in the statement of the other wit - nesses, but the other details should be different because otherwise it will look too much like a copy.”
Jaenckel concludes his affidavit as follows: “My charges against my comrades according to the statement dictated to me at Schwäbisch Hall which I was forced to sign are not true.”
In the Malmédy trials the objective of the investigators seems to have been to force the young German prisoners of war to in- criminate their commanders, failing which they were themselves to be hung. The concentration-camp trials were worse because in these cases it seemed that the American Prosecution acted on the Nazi-Communist principle that the aim was to bring a sufficiently
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 195
large number of people to the gallows, rather than to apprehend the real criminals. For the chief witnesses for prosecution were the former criminals and the Communists in the concentration camps who had been used as Kapos (trusties) by the Gestapo after most SS men had been withdrawn from supervision of the camps to fight at the front. Thus the Dachau trials of those accused of being responsible for the atrocities in Nazi concentration camps offered the horrible spectacle of former political prisoners being accused and condemned on the “evidence” of the criminals who had hated them, or on that of Communists given the opportunity to con- demn their political enemies to the gallows.
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that some of the men condemned to death or lifelong imprisonment at these trials were innocent of any crime or atrocity and were sentenced because while inmates of Hitler’s prisons they had incurred the enmity of the criminal or Communist inmates.
The innocent could have little hope of acquittal since the Ameri- can investigators promised immunity to the most guilty if they would incriminate others, and threatened witnesses with reprisals on their families if they refused to sign dictated statements. The cycle of horror and injustice started by the Nazis was completed when their victims were forced by Americans to perjure themselves to escape death, or condemned on the evidence supplied by tor- tured witnesses.
The names of the American investigators in these cases. Kirsch- baum, Metzger, Enders (alias ndrews), Colombeck, and Egger, A like those of Lieutenant Perl and W. Harry Thon, will be remem- bered in Germany as long, and with as much loathing, as the names of Himmler, Bormann and other Nazi bullies and criminals are remembered in America.
In one famous instance Kirschbaum brought forward a certain Einstein to prove that the accused Menzel had murdered Ein- stein’s brother, but the prisoner pointed to the said brother sitting in the witness box. Kirschbaum, deeply embarrassed, turned to Einstein and hissed, “How can we bring this pig to the gallows, if you are so stupid as to bring your brother into the court.”
Sebastian Schmidt, a former farmer, states the following in an affidavit:
I was questioned by Mr. Metzger if I knew the most ill famed and bru- tal beater, the greatest sadist of Dachau, the former prisoner Karl Mayer.
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Thereupon Mr. Metzger submitted to me a ready-made statement of several pages, to be signed by me at once, without reading it, since Mr. Metzger was in a great hurry. Nevertheless I began to read and saw that the statement said: “Mayer being Kapo for the building of a gar - age at the camp of Dachau, daily killed with a cudgel about 100 pris- oners, to be pressed by a steamroller into a new road that was under construction.”
I did not continue to read further on and refused my signature, since a thing like that never happened. I called Mr. Metzger’s attention to the impossibility, whereupon Mr. Metzger said to me: “It is all the same, since Mayer has already been hanged for a long time and is lying 5 feet under the earth.” But nevertheless I refused my signature.
Mr. Metzger grew furious, stripped up his sleeves and approached me threateningly saying he would kill me unless I signed. Seeing that his threats were lost on me, he added: Well, surely I shall find an accusa- “ tion against you. I shall succeed in bringing you before an American military court; and if you are hanged you owe it to me as surely as am called Metzger.”
According to the well-known methods of Metzger and his compan- ions this also happened.
I am thankful to God that I remained firm against Metzger’s threats, for by such a perjury I might have plunged into distress an innocent man and his family. I have known Karl Mayer only as a quiet, honest man, whose behavior in the KZ must be called unobjectionable. Karl Mayer was a political prisoner at Dachau.
Martin Humm, another prisoner at Landsberg, reveals in his affidavit, signed on May 30, 1948, why Mr. Metzger was so deter- mined to get evidence against the unfortunate Karl Mayer. Mr. Metzger asked Humm in July 1947, whether he had ever heard Mayer say that he, Metzger, had formerly been a leader of the Hit- ler Youth who had been prosecuted for moral delinquency and had afterwards escaped to America. Humm replied that he had heard such talk about Metzger at Dachau. Metzger then started asking Humm for evidence against Mayer, assuring him that he did not want it for Mayer’s trial but because he, Metzger, “had a personal quarrel with Mayer.” When Humm said he had already made a statement at Dachau a year earlier saying he knew nothing against Mayer, Metzger rose and said “Oh, Humm, how beautiful life is and yet you will be hanged, although you are so young.”
Humm being an epileptic and a consumptive lacked the stamina of ebastian Schmidt. He finally broke down and promised to writeS what was required of him. He was then taken back to the hospital
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 197
in an exhausted condition and a pneumatic compress put on his lungs. Since Metzger insisted on getting the statement by the next day Humm got a fellow prisoner to write it for him as he was too ill to write it himself.
In his May 1948, affidavit Humm repudiates the false evidence extorted from him by Metzger, saying that he had never seen
Mayer hang a prisoner, or steal food from ed Cross parcels, or do R anything “unnatural or unchaste” in the camp.
The use of duress in obtaining “evidence” has been explicitly admitted by American Army authorities. Colonel A. H. Rosenfeld, on quitting his post as chief of the Dachau War Crimes Adminis- tration Branch in 1948, was asked at a press interview whether there was any truth in the story about the mock trials at Dachau.
He replied: “Yes, of course. We couldn’t have made those birds talk otherwise.”
Colonel Rosenfeld did not consider such measures as duress since the victims were Germans. He was quite proud of his cleverness and said: “It was a trick, and it worked like a charm.”
Such methods as torture, mock trials, blackmail, false evidence, and the rest may indeed have “worked like a charm, ” but the odor with which they have surrounded American “justice” in Germany is anything but charming. The net result is to have convinced most Germans that there is little to choose between “democratic” and Nazi or Communist “justice.”
The majority of the accused in the Dachau trials were not only tortured; when finally brought to trial in the weakened state in- duced by beatings and starvation, they were usually denied any possibility of defending themselves. They were not informed of the charges against them until a few hours, or at best a few days, before their trials and had no possibility of calling witnesses in their de- fense. With rare exceptions they had no German lawyer to defend them, either because they could not pay for one, or because the American authorities would not permit it. When a German lawyer was admitted, he had to act under the orders of the American officer detailed for the defense, and was not even allowed to confer with his client except during the short recesses during the trial.
In the concentration-camp cases, the indictments failed even to indicate the specific crime of which the prisoner was accused, or the time and place where it had been committed.
According to the appeal sent to General Clay on July 30, 1948, by the German lawyer, Dr. Georg Fröschmann, in these cases:
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In the predominant number of concentration camp trials, the prose- cution contented themselves with enumerating in a single sentence of twenty-four typewritten lines, the war crimes and crimes against hu- manity, that is, “killings, beatings, torturings, starvings, violent infringe - ments and humiliations,” in general, which the defendants were sup- posed to have been guilty of as perpetrators, accomplices, abettors, ac- cessories or otherwise “participants,” on nationals of fifteen different countries.
The date of the crimes was left similarly vague, being given as any time between January 1942 and May 5, 1945.
The American officers who acted as defense counsel usually had no legal training, could not speak German, and did not trouble to discuss the case with the defendants. The accused were unable to question the witnesses against them because the proceedings of the court were conducted in a language they did not understand and no competent interpreters were provided.
The whole proceedings resembled those of a staged Moscow trial. According to Dr. Fröschmann:
Many defendants could not avoid the impression that the advice given them by the defense counsel was the result of his wish to comply with the desires of the Tribunal to hurry up the proceedings.
Some of the American defense counsel maintained a close contact with the prosecution. They consented to peculiar compromises with the prose- cution. They failed to make necessary applications for an adjournment of the trial for the preparation of the defense . . their pleas seemed to be drawn up in accordance with the prosecution, and in some cases they appeared to be prosecutors themselves.
Whereas the prosecution had ample time and opportunity to call for witnesses from the whole of Europe, and to torture Ger- man witnesses into giving the evidence required, the accused, in- carcerated in their dark cells and denied any contact with the out- side world, were, of course, unable to summon anyone to their defense. Moreover, the “Association of Persons Persecuted by the Nazis” through the press and radio forbade any former concentra - tion camp inmate to appear for the defense.
In spite of the free travel, good food, handsome daily allowance, and ample supplies of cigarettes to sell on the black market prom- ised by the prosecution to former political prisoners, few of them came to testify against the accused at Dachau. The fact that the prosecution relied in the main on those who had been sent to the
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 199
concentration camps for criminal acts in itself suggests that some at least of the men condemned to death at Dachau were innocent. The use of “professional witnesses” who appeared in dozens of trials and whose affidavits unsupported by other evidence were suffi- cient to secure a sentence of death, have invested these American trials with an odor repugnant to the most elementary sense of justice.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the prosecution was not in the least interested in convicting those actually guilty of atro- cities, but wanted only to secure a maximum number of convic- tions in order to demonstrate the mass guilt of the German people. The natural result is that many Germans, knowing how the trials were conducted and on what kind of “evidence” guilt was prove d, now say that there never were any atrocities, and that the whole story of the concentration camps is an American invention. Thus the use of Nazi methods to establish Nazi guilt has resulted in ob- scuring the reality of Nazi crimes.
This was notably the effect of the Ilse Koch case. The Germans know that no evidence was produced by the American prosecution to prove the existence of “human lampshades” popularly believed in America to have been found in Ilse Koch’s home. Ilse Koch was exactly what General Clay described her as, when he com- muted her sentence, a prostitute and a pervert of a low type, but not a war criminal.
The atrocities committed by the Nazis were horrible enough without the need to invent stories about human lampshades. By attempting to prove lies, we have obscured the reality of the gas chambers, and it is probable that within a few years the truth will be dismissed as an atrocity story spread by the victors to justify the inhuman treatment of the conquered.
The damage done is irreparable, but the reputation of the United States could still be cleared if the executions were stopped, a full and independent investigation ordered, and the Americans re- sponsible for the torture of prisoners and miscarriage of justice brought to trial themselves in Germany on the charge of having committed “crimes against humanity.”
Although the Supreme Court of the United States professes it- self disinterested in the crimes committed by American citizens in Germany, the Senate in March 1949 showed its concern by voting for an investigation. It is to be hoped that the Administration and the Department of the Army will not stop the Congressional action
200 THE HIGH COST OF VENGEANCE
which alone can reestablish the reputation of the United States for justice. Since the investigators who adopted Nazi-Communist methods at Dachau were not Regular Army officers, but civilians with temporary military rank, it would seem that the American Army itself has an interest in punishing those who have disgraced it. This must also have been the view of Lieutenant Colonel Everett, the brave man who first drew America’s attention to the shameful acts committed in her name.
It may be easier to expunge the horrible record of the Dachau trials than to make the German people forget the brutal and un- just treatment they received in the first years of our occupation. Young men and women who had obeyed Hitler from a mistaken but sincere conviction that no patriotic German could fail to fol- low his lead; workers who had joined the Nazi party believing it would give them “bread and work”; the defeated men of the Ger - man army who bore no responsibility for the atrocities committed by the SS and the Gestapo, but who had fought bravely to the last to save their country from Communist terror; even the victims of the Nazis emerging from hiding or released from concentration camps, were all punished by the victorious democracies. Some were held in prison for years without trial; others had all their own and their family’s property confiscated; others were denied their right s as prisoners of war and used as slave labor. Even today, four years after the war’s end, there is a Control Council ordinance (No. 3) in force under which any German can be recruited for forced labor — a plain infringement of the United States Constitution which forbids slave labor in all territories under United States jurisdiction.
Nor were the prisoners of war and civilians tried at Dachau the only Germans subjected to physical torture. At the war’s end we arrested generals, SS men, government officials, and Nazi leaders en masse and subjected them to varying degrees of ill treatment without waiting to find out who was guilty and who innocent.
One German of my acquaintance connected with the Reich For- eign Office told me how he had been pushed into a freight car so crammed that no one could sit down, and transported without food and water for thirty-six hours. One man in the car, he said, was general eighty-two years old who had retired long before the war but had been arrested because of his rank. The mixed company of officers and civilians subjected by the Americans to the same treat- ment as Soviet Russia metes out to its enemies, had managed to squeeze themselves even tighter to enable this old man to sit down.
OUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY 201
Many of the prisoners were ill and some were wounded and they were not allowed out of the car during the whole journey. Subse- quently, in prison, the German generals were forced to polish the boots of their guards, set to cleaning latrines with their bare hands, and in general treated like he inmates of Nazi or