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Excerpts From Behind the Wire – Page 2

by Arnold A. Wright

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THE FOLLOWING PERSONAL OF THE USAAF WERE RETAINED AT BUCKENWALD OCTOBER. 19, 1944.

1LT BECK, P49 PILOT; BECK HAD CONTACTED PNEUMONIA FROM SLEEPING OUTSIDE HIS BARRACKS ON ROCKS UPON ARRIVAL, AUGUST 20, 1944.

1LT E. L. VINCENT, CAPTURED FRANCE 8/5/44. SHOT DOWN ON SCHWEINFURT RAID, OCTOBER 14, 1943

2LT WARD, NAVIGATOR

S/SGT McLANRHAN

1LT ROY ALLEN

3 OTHERS WHOSE NAMES ARE UNKNOWN

F/LT HARRY BASTOPEL, RLAF AND H. MALCOMB, RAFF, WERE ALSO RETAINED. ALL THESE MEN WERE SUFFERING FROM COLDS OR PNEUMONIA, CONTACTED WHILE SLEEPING OUTSIDE UPON ARRIVAL. THEY WERE ALL GIVEN HOSPITALIZATION. TWO HAD BEEN DISCHARGED WHEN THE SGTS. LEFT. ALL WERE CAPTURED BY THE GESTAPO IN PARIS, FRANCE, AUGUST 5, 1944, WEARING CIVILIAN CLOTHES. AT LEAST ONE OR TWO OF THESE OFFICERS WERE WEARING PART OF THEIR UNIFORMS.

A NATURALIZED CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF CHINESE ORIGIN WORKS AS A HOSPITAL ATTENDANT.

A POLE, WHO IS NATURALIZED CITIZEN OF THE U. S. WAS INTERNED IN 1942.

KOLCHAT SALAZAR, A PERSON OF MEXICAN ORIGIN, CLAIMS UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP, HE FURTHER CLAIMS TO BE A CAPTAIN OF THE USAAF WHO WAS SERVING WITH MEXICAN VOLUNTEERS, SHOT DOWN OVER ST. NAZIRE, FRANCE IN JANUARY OF 1943. HE CLAIMS A HOME IN SAN DIEGO, CAL. WITH SOME OF THE SGTS. HE APPROACHED, HE SPOKE EXCELLENT ENGLISH; WITH OTHERS, HE SPOKE ONLY SPANISH.

A NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENT, CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, INTERNED AT THE OUTBREAK OF WAR, WORKS IN THE CLOTHING DEPARTMENT.

THE STAFF OF THE CAMP DOCTORS IS COMPOSED ALMOST ENTIRELY WITH COMMUNIST SUSPECT DOCTORS. THE EIGHT BARRACKS ARE KEPT AS SANITARY AS POSSIBLE, HOWEVER, VERY LITTLE CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED FOR THE GERMANS SUPPLY, VERY LITTLE MEDICINE AND DRUGS. AMPUTATIONS ARE CARRIED OUT WITHOUT ANESTHETIC. INOCULATIONS ARE ADMINISTERED WITH A NEEDLE SO DULL IT IS THRUST UNDER THE SKIN ONLY WITH DIFFICULTY. DISINFECTANTS ARE NOT USED FOR THE GERMANS DO NOT SUPPLY ANY. POLITICAL PRISONERS SAY THAT IT IS VERY HARD TO GET INTO THE HOSPITAL AND EQUALLY HARD TO GET OUT.

AN EXPERIMENTAL HOSPITAL IS MAINTAINED. PRISONERS WHO ARE UNDESIRABLES AND WHO ARE MARKED FOR EXECUTION ARE HOUSED IN THESE HOSPITAL BARRACKS, ISOLATED FROM THE OTHERS, AND ARE INOCULATED WITH VARIOUS SERUMS, THOUGHT TO BE ANTI-TOXINS FOR VARIOUS DISEASE. IF THE PRISONERS DIE, THE CORPSE ARE BURNED IN THE CAMP’S CREMATORIA.. IN OCTOBER, 1944, GERMAN DOCTORS WERE EXPERIMENTING FOR CURES FOR CERTAIN RUSSIAN FEVERS. DURING THE WINTER OF 1943, MANY POLITICAL PRISONERS OF CLASS THREE VOLUNTEERED FOR SERVICE IN THESE LABORATORIES; BEING SO HUNGRY THEY WOULD RISK DANGEROUS INOCULATIONS FOR A FEW DAYS RATION OF FOOD, BELIEVING THAT THEY WOULD DIE ANYWAY, EVEN IF THEIR SERVICES WERE REFUSED. THERE IS NO RELEASE FROM THIS SUICIDE ONCE A PRISONER IS CHOSEN; HE REMAINS IN THE ISOLATION BARRACKS UNTIL DEATH, OR UNTIL UNFIT FOR FURTHER USE, AFTER WHICH HE IS PUT TO DEATH AND CREMATED.

JULY 26, 1944, TWENTY-SIX BRITISH SPIES WERE DROPPED OUTSIDE OF PARIS BY CHUTES. THEY WERE ALL CAUGHT THE FOLLOWING MORNING IN CIVILIANS CLOTHES, CARRYING RAF UNIFORMS IN SATCHELS. THEY WERE INTERNED AND QUESTIONED BY THE GESTAPO IN FRENNES PRISON, PARIS, FRANCE. A FEW DAYS LATER THEY WERE SHIPPED TO BUCKENWALD. TWENTY-TWO OF THESE MEN WERE EXECUTED; FOUR ARE LEFT ALIVE. F/LT DOBSON, ONE OF THE REMAINING FOUR, BELIEVES AN ORDER CAME THROUGH FROM THE MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR, STAYING THE EXECUTION OF THOSE REMAINING.

IN EARLY OCTOBER, 1944, 1300 POLISH PATRIOTS ARRIVED FROM THE WARSAW AREA; THESE POLES REVOLTED AGAINST THE GERMANS WHEN THE RUSSIANS DREW NEAR THE CITY AND FOUGHT CONSTANTLY MANY DAYS. AT ONE TIME THE CITY WAS PRACTICALLY IN THEIR HANDS. THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THE RUSSIANS STOPPED JUST SHORT OF THE CITY WHEN THEY CAPITULATED TO THE GERMANS, THOSE WHO VOLUNTEERED TO GO TO GERMANY WERE PROMISED AMNESTY, AND WORK IN GERMAN FACTORIES. THEY HAD GIVEN UP THEIR ARMS FOR LACK OF AMMUNITION AND WITH A FEELING OF DESPAIR, CAME TO GERMANY. THEY WERE SENT DIRECTLY TO BUCKENWALD, GIVEN THE SECOND CLASSIFICATION, WITH NO LENIENCY RECOMMENDED. AT THE TIME THE SGTS. WERE AT BUCKENWALD, THEY WERE BEING MADE UP INTO WORK PARTIES, TO BE SENT TO WORK IN ARMAMENT FACTORIES THROUGHOUT GERMANY.

A POLE, WHO HAD RECENTLY BEEN AT , REPORTS THAT UPON HIS ARRIVAL AT THAT CAMP, HE, WITH MANY POLISH JEWS, WAS GIVEN AN EXAMINATION BY A GERMAN DOCTOR. HE WAS TOLD TO STEP OUT OF LINE. THE OTHERS WERE GIVEN EACH A TOWEL AND A SMALL PIECE OF SOAP AND ORDERED TO REPORT TO CERTAIN BUILDINGS FOR SHOWERS. THE WOMEN, STRIPPED NAKED, WERE SENT TO ONE BUILDING; THE MEN, ALSO STRIPPED, TO ANOTHER. WHEN THEY ALL WERE INSIDE, THE DOORS WERE SECURELY FASTENED, AND INSTEAD OF WATER, GAS WAS TURNED ON. WHEN ALL THE PRISONERS HAD COLLAPSED, THE FLOORS WERE TILTED AND ALL THE BODIES DUMPED INTO A BLAZING CREMATORY. THIS POLE WAS SENT TO OTHER BARRACKS WHERE HE LEARNED FROM OTHER PRISONERS THAT HE HAD BEEN CONSIDERED FIT FOR WORK AND HE COULD BE EXPECTED TO TRANSFER OUT OF THAT CAMP IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

ANOTHER POLE SAID THAT THERE WERE FOURTEEN CREMATORIES IN THIS CAMP, THREE OF WHICH OPERATED TWENTY-FOURS HOURS PER DAY. THE TOTAL CAPACITY OF THESE FOURTEEN CREMATORIES IS 2800 BODIES PER DAY.

ANOTHER POLE PRISONER SINCE 1938s ESTIMATED THAT 3,500,000 JEWS HAVE BEEN EXTERMINATED THERE SINCE 1937.

OCTOBER 5, 1944, THREE HUNDRED JEWS ARRIVED THERE FROM SALT MINES. THEY HAD BEEN SHIPPED IN BOX-CARS, PACKED SO CLOSELY TOGETHER That’ THEY COULD NOT SIT DOWN. THEY WERE HOUSED IN TWO ISOLATED BARRACKS IN THE TRANSITION LARGER. MANY WERE SO WEAK THEY HAD TO BE CARRIED FROM THE TRAIN. IT WAS LEARNED THEY HAD BEEN IN TRANSIT THREE DAYS, ALL WERE SUFFERING FROM COLDS; THEY HAD PNEUMONIA. THEIR AGES RANGE FROM 15 TO 65 YEARS. MANY HAD TUBERCULOSES. IT APPEARS THAT THEY HAD BEEN SLEEPING ON THE GROUND NEAR THE MINES WHERE THEY WORKED. THEY REMAINED IN THE ISOLATED BARRACKS FOR THREE DAYS. IT APPEARS THAT A DECISION WAS MADE IN THIS TIME TO SHIP THEM TO . IT IS BELIEVED THAT MOST OF THESE JEWS KNEW WHAT FATE AWAITED THEM.

SGT. RITTER OBSERVED THEM WHEN THEY LEFT. HE SAYS THAT THEY APPEARED UTTERLY DEVOID OF HOPE. THEIR FACES BORE SIGNS OF THE DEEPEST SORROW. MANY HAD TEARS IN THEIR EYES. THEY WERE PACKED INTO THE SAME BOX-CARS, IN WHICH THEY HAD ARRIVED, SO MANY IN EACH BOX-CAR, THEY MUST STAND FOR THE DURATION OF THEIR TRIP, PROBABLE THEIR LAST.

OCTOBER 10, 1944, FOUR HUNDRED GYPSY CHILDREN, RANGING IN AGES FROM THREE TO TWENTY YEARS, WERE SENT TO . A GREAT MANY OF THESE CHILDREN WERE TAKEN IN HUNGARY; THE REST HAD BEEN COLLECTED IN OCCUPIED COUNTRIES IN EUROPE. THEIR PARENTS HAD BEEN KILLED IN THE WAR, AND THEY HAD NO BLOOD RELATIONS TO TAKE CARE OF THEM.

OCTOBER 12, 1944, ONE HUNDRED HUNGARIANS JEWS ARRIVED AND OCCUPIED THE TWO ISOLATED BARRACKS VACATED BY THE THREE HUNDRED JEWS ON OCTOBER 8, 1944. THEY WERE GIVEN THIRD CLASSIFICATION AND SENT TO TO BE EXTERMINATED IN 1943, A GROUP OF EIGHTY RUSSIANS ARRIVED, BUT ONLY THIRTY-FIVE REACHED THE BARRACKS. IT IS BELIEVED THE OTHER FIFTY WERE SHOT AND CREMATED.

UNTIL QUITE RECENTLY, DOGS WERE RELEASED ON NEW ARRIVALS; STUBEWITS HENRY REPORTS THAT WHEN HE ARRIVED AT BUCKENWALD IN 1942; FIFTEEN OF HIS GROUP WERE KILLED BY DOGS.

A FAVORITE TRICK OF THE SS IS TO BRING A PACKAGE OF CIGARETTES INTO THE CAMP, APPROACH A GROUP OF PRISONERS, HAND ONE OF THEM THE CIGARETTES AND STAND OFF AND SAY ” GOOD WORK”, AND WATCH THE OLDER PRISONERS STOMP THE RECEIVER OF THE CIGARETTES TO DEATH. AT THE PRESENT TIME, HOWEVER, NO ONE OPENLY ACCEPTS ANYTHING FROM THE SS, IN FACT, MOST PRISONERS ARE POSSESSED WITH MORBID FEAR AT THEIR APPROACHED.

A POLE, WHO, IN THE WINTER OF 1943, WAS REFUSED PERMISSION TO GO FROM THE APPEL GROUND TO THE ABORT, DEFECATED IN HIS TROUSERS; THE SS BLOCK LEADER FORCED HIM TO EAT HIS FECES. NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE APPEL GROUND FOR SICKNESS OR ANY OTHER REASON DURING APPEL.

A POLE WHO WAS OUTSIDE ON A JEW WORK PARTY IN THE COUNTRY OF TURONN, GERMANY SAW TWO U. S. FIGHTER AIRCRAFT CRASH IN JULY, 1944. THE BODIES WERE LEFT IN THE PLANES TWO DAYS. ON THE MORNING OF THE FIRST DAY, GERMANY CIVILIANS CAME OUT TO THE FIELD AND STONED THE DEAD BODIES.

THERE IS A LAMP SHADE IN THE KOMMONDANT’S OFFICE MADE OUT OF PORTIONS OF TATTOOED HUMAN SKIN. MANY PRISONERS HAVE SEEN THIS LAMP SHADE AND BELIEVED BY MANY THAT A BEAUTIFUL TATTOO THAT MIGHT ADD TO THE SHADE IS SUFFICIENT CAUSE FOR DEATH.

DOWN THROUGH THE YEARS THE PRISONERS HAVE DEVISED THEIR OWN METHODS OF DEALING JUSTICE TO THOSE PERSONS WHO ACT AS INFORMERS.

ONE SUCH CASE OF PRISON JUSTICE IS TOLD BY A POLE.
A GROUP OF ONE HUNDRED RUSSIANS HAD ARRIVED FROM ANOTHER CAMP. UPON ARRIVAL THESE RUSSIANS SET UPON ONE OF THEIR FELLOWS AND BEAT HIM . HE HAD MURDERED ON OF THEIR FELLOWS IN ANOTHER CAMP AND WAS PROTECTED BY THE SS.

ANOTHER RUSSIAN, ARRIVING IN ANOTHER GROUP WAS BEATEN AND THROWN IN THE ABORT FOR HAVING INFORMED ON TWENTY-FIVE MEN WHO WERE HIDING FROM WORK; THE TWENTY-FIVE MEN, FOUND, WERE GIVEN TWENTY-FIVE LATCHES EACH.

IF PRISONERS ARE ABSENT FROM APPEL, OR DO NOT LEAVE THEIR BARRACK QUICKLY, THE ARTESTERS GO AROUND WITH BLOCK FUHRERS.AND BEAT PEOPLE OUT WITH CLUBS.

A POLISH CIVILIAN WAS KICKED TO DEATH FOR INFORMING. ONE PARTICULAR BAD INFORMER WAS TORTURED TO DEATH BY BEING BEATEN AND KICKED FOR FOUR CONSECUTIVE DAYS.

BELGIANS, RUSSIANS AND FRENCHMEN ARE CONTINUALLY BEATEN BY LAGER ALTESTERS FOR NOT BEING IN LINE DURING APPEL.

A FRENCH BOY WAS BEATEN ON THE HEAD FOR BEING IN THE ABORT DURING APPEL.

AN ENGLISH OFFICER WAS SLAPPED FOR HAVING STOOD AT ATTENTION WITH FIST CLOSED, ENGLISH FASHION, AND TOLD TO STAND ATTENTION AS A GERMAN SOLDIER.

A RUSSIAN WAS BEATEN FOR STEALING JAM.

A GROUP ARRIVING FROM BEAT A GERMAN COMMUNIST UPON ARRIVAL, FOR HAVING CAUSED ELEVEN MEN TO BE KILLED FOR HIDING OUT FROM WORK. THE ELEVEN, WHEN FOUND WERE SENT TO THE GAS CHAMBER. IT APPEARS THAT IN LARGE CAMS SUCH AS AND BUCKENWALD, IT IS RELATIVELY EASY TO HIDE OUT FROM WORK AS LONG AS THEY HAVE THE REQUIRED NUMBER, AND IF NO ONE INFORMS THE SS, IT IS QUITE EASY TO KEEP HIDDEN FOR SOMETIME. THE INFORMERS IN 1943 WERE DROWN IN THE ABORT.

WHILE AT BUCKENWALD, F/O HEMMING, RAF, DIED OF RHEUMATIC FEVER. A FUNERAL WAS CONDUCTED BY THE DANISH MINSTER; THE SS HAD NO OBJECTIONS; HIS BODY WAS CREMATED.

OCTOBER 16, 1944, A POLE WAS HUNG PUBLICLY DURING APPEL IN THE MAIN LAGER. HE HAD BEEN GONE MORE THAN FIVE DAYS AFTER ESCAPING. HE WAS LIFTED TO THE NOOSE AND LEFT TO STRANGLE. THE EXECUTION WAS BROADCAST TO ALL LAGERS BY A PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM.

ONE HUNDRED NORWEGIAN STUDENTS, FROM SEVENTEEN TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF AGE CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS TO THE GERMANY CAUSE WERE INTERNED IN 1942.

A POLISH JEW WHO HAD BEEN INTERNED AT RIGA, LITHUANIA, TELLS OF CONDITIONS IN THAT CAMP. SS GUARDS OFTEN CAME INTO THE CAMP AND MACHINE-GUNNED THE JEWS WITHOUT PROVOCATION. THIS JEW SAID HE OFTEN SLEPT ON THE FLOOR, WET WITH THE BLOOD OF HIS FRIENDS. MANY OF HIS FRIENDS COMMITTED SUICIDE BY HANGING FROM TREES ON THE CAMP. SEVEN HUNDRED JEWS FROM THIS CAMP WERE SENT TO BUCKENWALD, DRESSED IN RAGS. IT IS USUALLY THE POLICY OF THE GERMANS TO ISSUE CLOTHING TO NEW ARRIVALS, HOWEVER, THESE JEWS WERE GIVEN NOTHING; SOME HAD ONLY A BLANKET TO PUT AROUND THEMSELVES.

A RUSSIAN CIVILIAN GAVE THE FOLLOWING STORY OF A CAMP HE HAD BEEN IN, WHICH CONTAINED THREE THOUSAND PRISONERS. ONE DAY THE SS CAME IN AND ORDERED THE PRISONERS TO CLEAN UP THE CAMP, THEN WITH-DREW OUTSIDE THE CAMP TO WATCH THE CAMP WORK. SEVERAL HOURS LATER, WHEN THE WORK WAS FINISHED, THE SS RETURNED; CLAIMING THAT THE CAMP WAS NOT CLEAN, THEY MACHINE GUNNED AND KILLED ABOUT 2500 MEN. FLAME THROWERS FROM A NEARBY WHREMACH CAMP WERE BROUGHT IN AND THE BODIES BURNED ON THE GROUND WHERE THEY HAD FALLEN.

ONE OF THE SGTS. ESTIMATES THAT TEN PERCENT OF BUCKENWALD POPULATION CONSISTS OF RELIGIOUS PRISONERS OF GERMAN NATIONALITY. ONE HUNDRED OF THESE RELIGIOUS INTERNEES, OF GERMAN AND CZECHOSLOVAKIA NATIONALITY, WERE IN THE TRANSITION LAGER. TWO CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF FRENCH NATIONALITY WERE ALSO LOCATED THERE. THEY ARE NOT REQUIRED TO WORK.

THE CAMP FACTORIES WERE BOMBED BY THE USAAF, OCTOBER 17, 1944. THE BOMBERS APPROACHED THE TARGET SO RAPIDLY, NO WARNING WAS GIVEN. THE AMMUNITION, AUTOMATIC RIFLE AND GYRO FACTORIES WERE COMPLETELY DESTROYED. THE SCREW FACTORY WAS UNTOUCHED. IN THE RUSH TO GET OUT OF THE BUILDINGS AS THE BOMBS BEGAN EXPLODING, MANY WERE TRAMPLED TO DEATH. WHEN THE MAJORITY GOT OUTSIDE THE BUILDINGS, THEY RUSHED THE GATES TO SEEK SAFETY IN THE FOREST; SS GUARDS MACHINE-GUNNED AND KILLED ABOUT THREE HUNDRED. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 150 SS GUARDS AND 500 PRISONERS WERE KILLED IN THIS RAID. THE BOMBING WAS SO ACCURATE, ONLY ONE BOMB FELL INSIDE THE CAMP. FORTUNATELY THIS BOMB, A DUD, DID NOT EXPLODE. ONLY ONE BARRACKS WAS AFFECTED BY THE BOMBARDMENT, THE ROOF BEING BLOWN OFF BY CONCUSSION. MANY PRISONERS INSIDE THE CAMP, TERRIFIED BY THE EXPLOSIONS, JUMPED INTO THE OPEN ABORT FOR SAFETY.

MANY OF THE LONG TERM PRISONERS IN THE CAMP ARE KNOWN ONLY BY THEIR NUMBERS. IT IS NOT KNOWN WHY THEY PREFER TO KEEP THEIR NAMES SECRET; WHETHER IT IS SHAME OF THEIR EXISTENCE THERE, THE UNDESIRABLES OF CONTACTS WITH THEIR FELLOW AFTER THE WAR, OR A DESIRE TO HIDE THEIR CONNECTION WITH ANY ATROCIOUS CRIME.

RECENTLY AN ORDER CAME THROUGH MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR, HEINRICH HIMMLER, MITIGATING THEIR FATE SOMEWHAT. DOGS ARE NO LONGER TURNED LOOSE ON NEW ARRIVALS. THE PURPOSE OF THIS ORDER WAS TO ESTABLISH MORE HUMAN TREATMENT FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS; THE PRISONERS THINK THIS IS THE BEST CAMP IN GERMANY.

SINCE THE DANES ARRIVED, A NEW HOPE HAS ARISEN IN THE HEARTS OF THE OLDER PRISONERS, HOWEVER, A NEW KOMMONDANT HAS ARRIVED FROM , A TRANSFER, AND MANY TAKE THIS AS AN INDICATION THAT THEY WILL SOON BE EXTERMINATED. MANY OF THE COMMUNIST PRISONERS BELIEVE ALL WILL BE KILLED AT WARS END.

PRIOR TO THE INVASION OF NORMANDY, POLITICAL PRISONERS WERE ALLOWED TO GO ON PAROLE WALKS WITHOUT GUARDS; HOWEVER, THIS PRACTICE HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED SINCE INVASION DAY.

GERMAN FILMS ARE SHOWN IN THE CAMPS ONE THEATER EVERY TWO WEEKS. RUSSIANS OFFICERS BUILT BASKET-BALL AND VOLLEY- BALL COURTS IN 1943, BUT THE SS DO NOT ALLOW THEIR USE AT PRESENT