I stumbled across this bit of history accidentally! The inhuman torture that was meted out to German prisoners by American soldiers and authorities after the country lost the war in 1945.
The truth at times is very unpalatable....The Nazis were evil but what the American interrogators did was hardly holy.
We always knew America could be cruel inhuman and ruthless. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay showed it clearly. But not many of us know the vicious manner in which America dealt with German prisoners at the end of WW2. One feels a churning in the stomach; a little nausea as one reads about it (the same feeling one gets when reading about the holocaust). As an old saying goes, "All crows are black".
All practices of medieval torture methods were used. As an example, because of alleged involvement in the shooting of Allied airmen the sergeant accused Schmitz who vigorously denied what the interrogators wanted. "Fisher began to rage ... He put the gun to Schmitz's temporal and called again for another statement. Schmitz said nothing. And then the blows rained down with the gun over his head, the lieutenant hit him several times on the face. With a bloody nose and burst scalp Schmitz was returned to his solitary confinement. Pointner, Witzke and Albrecht had previously been treated with the same methods for many weeks They signed what was presented to them the next day.
(KW Hammerstein, "Landsberg - executioner of the law", Wuppertal, 1952, page 104)
One of the most notorious was the infamous Major Abraham Levine.Most found that the interrogations took place only in the evening or at night. Fisher and Levine tortured the prisoners. About the methods in Landsberg reported KW Hammerstein. 'Sometimes the condemned in Schwitzzellen were kept in rooms with 80 degrees temperature in order to 'burn'.
Only rarely do these atrocities became public. By mistake a 60 year old man, Heinrich Heine Heinemann Leo, was accused and shackled in heavy chains, and brought in for questioning. A loaded gun was put to his head and the interrogators tried to force him to sign a confession. When he refused, he was beaten so badly that he was unconscious for a long time. When the mistake was realised six weeks later it was found that the father Leo Heinemann had been apprehended and not his son Henry. The father was ill and returned home with a broken nose .
Both during and after the war, the Allies tortured German prisoners. In one British center in England, called “the London Cage,” German prisoners were subjected to systematic ill-treatment, including starvation and beatings. The brutality continued for several years after the end of the war. Treatment of German prisoners by the British was even more harsh in the British occupation zone of Germany. At the US internment center at Schwäbisch Hall in southwest Germany, prisoners awaiting trial by American military courts were subjected to severe and systematic torture, including long stretches in solitary confinement, extremes of heat and cold, deprivation of sleep and food, and severe beatings, including kicks to the groin.
A POW SPEAKS....
( http://www.whale.to/b/bacque1.html )
READ: MALMEDY MASSACRE TRIALS AT WIKIPEDIA
This ex-guard described how other guards amused themselves by baiting starving prisoners. "They could be shot on sight if they ventured close to the perimeter fence. It was a common trick to throw a cigarette just inside the fence and shoot any prisoner who tried to reach it." . "When Press representatives ask to examine the prison camps, the British loudly refuse with the excuse that the Geneva Convention bars such visits to prisoner-of-war camps." complained press correspondent Arthur Veysey from London on May 28th 1946.
MacDonogh discusses the treatment of German POWs in some detail, and this is an especially painful chapter for Americans. After Germany's unconditional surrender the status of the millions of German POWs changed to DEP (Disarmed Enemy Persons), which meant they were no longer subject to the Geneva Conventions. Food rations were immediately reduced and starvation became commonplace.
The most notorious American camps were the Rheinwiesenlager - the Rhine Meadow Camps - where more than 400,000 prisoners were left to starve out in open in the mud. 10% of them died from hunger, disease and exposure.
The "lucky" ones were herded into former Nazi concentration camps - such as Dachau - where they were treated horribly and many died. I had read about some of this abuse in Ernst von Salomon 's autobiographical book Der Fragebogen (The Questionnaire), where he describes in detail his treatment as a prisoner of the Americans, and MacDonogh also draws on von Salomon's account. Former Wehrmacht and SS officers were subjected to brutal "interrogations".
At Schwaebisch Hall, a particularly infamous prison near Stuttgart for officials suspected of major war crimes, MacDonogh writes:
The Americans had used methods similar to those employed by the SS in Dachau. … Worse still were the mock executions, where the men were led off in hoods, while their guards told them they were approaching the gallows. Prisoners were actually lifted bodily off the ground to convince them they were about to swing. More conventional methods of torture included kicks to the groin, deprivation of sleep and food and savage beatings. When the Americans set up a commission of inquiry into the methods used by their investigators, they found that, of the 139 cases examined, 137 had “had their testicles permanently destroyed by kicks received from the American War Crimes Investigation team.”Dialoginternational
Seward L. van Roden, was so shaken by the terrible injustices meted out to Germans that he was quoted as sayin in the "Chicago Tribune" 12 March 1949 issue, "If justice is to take place, then one would have to attribute the entire American army to the United States, where they sit in judgment order".
READ: ALLIED ATROCITIES IN GERMANY BY JUDGE EDWARD L. VAN RODEN
The British naval officer, Kriegsgeschichtler and publicist Captain Russell Grenfell dealt with the van Roden's investigation results. In his published in 1954 in New York book "Unconditional Hatred" (German: "Unconditional Hatred," Tübingen 1954?) He wrote: The judge found that captured German had faced various forms of mistreatment - in the words of the magazine "Sunday Pictorial "-" strong men to broken wrecks ready to mumble any admission demanded of them by their accusers. "
From Unconditional hatred by Russell Grenfell (Page 190)
On January 23, 1949, the SUNDAY PICTORIAL published, under the headline: "AMERICANS
TORTURE GERMANS TO EXTORT 'CONFESSIONS' " what it called "an ugly story of
barbarous tortures inflicted in the name of allied justice," taken from the report of the Ameri-can Judge Edward L. van Roden, who had investigated allegations to this effect as a member
of an official Commission of Enquiry.
The Judge found that German prisoners were subjected to various forms of maltreatment till, as the Pictorial said, "strong men were reduced to broken wrecks ready to mumble any admission demanded by their prosecutors."
Some of the actual methods of persuasion revealed by the Judge included forcing lighted matches under prisoners' fingernails, kicking in the testicles beyond repair (in all but 2 of the 139 cases investigated), putting a black hood over a prisoner's head and then bashing him in the face with knuckle-dusters, and the use of bogus priests, complete with crucifix and candles, to hear confessions in the hope of gaining incriminating information
"Concealed documents," the second volume brings the following report of a Flayed of Schwäbisch Hall, Heinz Rehagel: "by blows and kicks, I was driven to the admission in a cell. High fever and kidney pain made me immediately call for a doctor. A doctor came not to help me, but the interrogators.. Even my request for two extra blankets he refused. So I was left with two thin blankets in a cold cell, with leaky windows. Repeated calls and pleas were ignored. Just before Christmas, I asked an American interpreter. My question was, why were we actually there? He responded with vicious insults. The request to be allowed to receive a message from my wife, (she must have given birth in late November) he met with general insults against his wife.When I forbade that, he hit me repeatedly with his fist in the face. As I was led to the first hearing, I received blows with a cudgel on the chest, abdomen and genitals. At my first interrogation I met Perl and Lieutenant Harry Thon, a German emigrant. Thon posed as a Major and senior public prosecutor. Thon:. - (. Thon hits me in the face) "You are Rehagel" "Yes" "You are a stupid piece of shit," That was the welcome by the representatives of the subsequent prosecution.. In many other cases, I answered their questions. But not to the satisfaction of the gentlemen. Not the truth they wanted. I was made most magnificent promises, but I had to implicate my company boss, the regimental commander, and Lieutenant Christian. When promises had no effect threats followed like: "Well, we have the resources to get you to talk," or: "You can simply disappear; quick executions carried out here," every day.
When news leaked about sadistic methods in the terrorist tribunals in America, voices were raised in protest. On 20 May 1949, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (cited in Ulrich Stern, the real culprits "in the Second World War," Munich, 1990). Know, "As a lawyer and as judge of the circuit court in Wisconsin and I respect the American system of justice I think, the world was expecting a demonstration of American justice, which should be self-applied to our defeated enemies. Instead Gestapo and GPU methods have been applied. I have heard testimony and seen documentary evidence to the effect that accused persons subjected to beatings and physical abuse were in forms as they could only be invented by sick minds. They were exposed to mock trials and executions, they threatened to deprive their families of the ration cards, which justified all the accusers as necessary to create the right psychological atmosphere "for obtaining confessions ". I am firmly convinced that innocent people as well as guilty in this way in the" right psychological atmosphere added, "make confessions or anything and will confirm each. I do not want that murderous Nazis are released. I only wish that innocents are protected.
Adding to international outrage, Cyril Connolly, one of England’s most acclaimed writers reported: "British guards imprisoned German troops and tortured them." He described how "they were so possessed by propaganda about German 'Huns' that they obviously enjoyed demonstrating their atrocities to visiting journalists. A British reporter named Moorehead who was present at these ‘torture fests’ observed that 'a young British medical officer and a captain of engineers managed the Bergen-Belsen camp. "The captain was in the best of moods," he said. "When we approached the cells of gaoled guards, the sergeant lost his temper." The captain explained. 'This morning we had an interrogation. I'm afraid the prisoners don't look exactly nice.' The cells were opened for the visiting journalists. "The German prisoners lay there, crumpled, moaning, covered with gore. The man next to me made vain attempts to get to his feet and finally managed to stand up. He stood there trembling, and tried to stretch out his arms as if fending off blows. "Up!" yelled the sergeant. "Come off the wall." "They pushed themselves off from the wall and stood there, swaying. In another cell the medical officer had just finished an interrogation. "Up." yelled the officer. "Get up." The man lay in his blood on the floor. He propped two arms on a chair and tried to pull himself up. A second demand and he succeeded in getting to his feet. He stretched his arms towards us. "Why don't you kill me off?" he moaned. "The dirty bastard is jabbering this all morning." the sergeant stated.
Mr. Ken Jones was then a private with the fifth Royal Horse Artillery stationed at Heid[e) in Schleswig-Holstein. "They brought him to us when he refused to cooperate over questioning about his activities during the war. He came in the winter of 1945/6 and was put in a small jail cell in the barracks," recalls Mr. Jones. Two other soldiers were detailed with Mr. Jones to join Höss in his cell to help break him down for interrogation. "We sat in the cell with him, night and day, armed with axe handles. Our job was to prod him every time he fell asleep to help break down his resistance," said Mr. Jones. When Höss was taken out for exercise he was made to wear only jeans and a thin cotton shirt in the bitter cold. After three days and nights without sleep, Höss finally broke down and made a full confession to the authorities.
United States 140,000 (US Occupation Zone of which 100,000 were held in France,
30,000 in Italy, 14,000 in Belgium.
Great Britain 460,000 German slaves.
The Soviet Union 4,000,000 - 5,000,000 estimated.
France had 680,000 German slaves by August 1946.
Luxembourg 4,000, Holland 1,300.
Source: International Red Cross
Waffen SS soldiers surrender to the Americans
After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
In a sobering and courageous book, After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, British historian Giles MacDonogh details how the ruined and prostrate Reich (including Austria) was systematically raped and robbed, and how many Germans who survived the war were either killed in cold blood or deliberately left to die of disease, cold, malnutrition or starvation.
The Russians were still the worst, but who was the second worst? The Yugoslavs killed as many as 80,000 prisoners of war, which, given the numbers they started with, must put them in second place. About 2.5 per cent of all the Germans in French custody died, a figure that is proportionally far higher than the American tally.
One such notorious field was located at Bad Kreuznach where the German prisoners were herded into open spaces with no toilets, tents, or shelters. They had to burrow sleeping spaces into the ground with their bare hands and in some, there was barely enough room to lay down. In the Bad Kreuznach cage, up to 560,000 men were interned in a congested area and denied adequate food, water, shelter, or sanitary facilities and they died like flies of disease, exposure, and illness after surviving on less than 700 calories a day. There are 1,000 official graves in Bad Kreuznach, but it is claimed there are mass graves which have remained off limits to investigation. There were no impartial observers to witness the treatment of POWs held by the U.S. Army.
From the date Germany unconditionally surrendered, May 8, 1945, Switzerland was dismissed as the official Protecting Power for German prisoners, and the International Red Cross was informed that, with no Protecting Power to report to, there was no need for them to send delegates to the camps. In 1945, thousands of German POWs were jammed into US Army vehicles going through towns such as Nürnberg and Emskirchen (below). They often traveled for hundreds of miles without being able to sit and with no food, rest, or relief stops. Hundreds of German prisoners were confined in makeshift US camps in Emskirchen and elsewhere. Some were sent to fields, mudholes, quarries, and hell holes elsewhere. It is very tricky giving numbers since most records are absent or inaccurate. Only by the autumn of 1945, after most camps had closed or were in the process of closing, was the Red Cross granted permission to send delegations to visit camps in the French and UK occupation zones and to finally provide minuscule amounts of relief, and it was not until February 4, 1946, that the Red Cross was allowed to send even token relief to others in the U.S. run occupation zone.
The death rate for prisoners in these U.S. camps was at that point 30 per cent per year, according to a U.S. medical survey. Nearly all the surviving records of the Rhineland death camps were destroyed. But these men were lucky. Large numbers of captured soldiers were taken away to be enslaved.
If captured in smaller groups, even the US Army policy was to slaughter the prisoners where they stood, especially if they were SS. The largest (currently acknowledged) massacres at the hands of the Americans were the murder of 700 troops of the surrendered 8th SS Mountain Division, atrocities carried out against the surrendered SS Westphalia Brigade where most of the German captives were shot through the back of the head, and the machine gunning of three hundred surrendered camp guards at Dachau.
There was also an alleged mass murder of as many as 48 surrendered German prisoners who were captured on April 15, 1945 at Jungholzhausen. An eyewitness stated: "The Americans forced the Germans to walk in front of them with raised hands in groups of four. Then they shot the prisoners in their heads from behind." The bodies were loaded onto a truck and taken away. The matter is still under investigation.
At the end of June, 1945 the first camps in Remagen, Böhl-Ingelheim and Büderich were dissolved. SHAEF offered the camps to the French, who wanted 1.75 million prisoners of war for use as slave labor. In July, Sinzig, Andernach, Siershahn, Bretzenheim, Dietersheim, Koblenz, Hechtzheim, and Dietz, all containing thousands of prisoners, were given to France.
In the British Zone, prisoners of war who were able to work were transferred to France and the rest were released. At the end of September, 1945 all the initial camps were dissolved. At one point, 80,000 prisoners of war a month were supposed to have to been returned from USA captivity and discharged into the Allied zones of Germany as part of the 1.3 million allotted to France for "rehabilitation work" (slave labor), but after the Red Cross reported that 200,000 of the prisoners already in French hands were so undernourished they were unfit for labor and likely to die over the winter, the USA stopped all transfers of prisoners to French custody until the French would maintain them in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
About 250,000 Germans (including most of the Afrika Korps) and Italians surrendered in Tunis in May 1943, and were taken as prisoners of war where they sweltered in large pens in the desert heat. Many survivors were later sent to Egypt and camps in the US and elsewhere.
By the winter of 1947, it was estimated that 4,160,000 German POWs were still held in 'work camps' outside Germany: 750,000 in France, 30,000 in Italy, 460,000 in Britain, 14,000 in Belgium (at one point, 48,000), 4,000 in Luxembourg and 1,300 in Holland (as discussed later, the Soviet Union started with 4,000,000-5,000,000, Yugoslavia had 80,000 and Czechoslovakia 45,000) as well as the USA's 140,000 in the US Occupation Zone with 100,000 more later also held in France. It is estimated that 700,000 to a million men may have died within the period they spent incarcerated in American and French camps alone from 1945 to 1948.
There are much higher estimates, however, and attempts to uncover the truth regarding these camps in modern times, as well as excavation of reported mass grave sites, have been vigilantly thwarted by, among others, the German government. It is unknown how many perished under British captors but recently declassified documents indicate widespread torture and abuse. Under all of them, many of the prisoners were used to do dangerous work such as working with hazardous materials and mine sweeping in complete disregard of the law. Nearly all the surviving records of the Rhineland death camps were destroyed. Although it was always strongly denied, Morgenthau himself said his plan was implemented. In the New York Post for November 24, 1947, he wrote, "The Morgenthau Plan for Germany... became part of the Potsdam Agreement, a solemn declaration of policy and undertaking for action.... signed by the United States of America, Great Britain, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."
After the German capitulation in Norway on May 8,1945, over 5,000 German prisoners of war were forced by the British, under the command of General Sir Andrew Thorn, to undertake clearance of land mines in clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1928. The POWs had to walk arm in arm through mine fields already cleared of mines in hopes of triggering off land mines that were not found previously. This act of cruelty led to the deaths of 184 German Soldiers and the injuring of another 252 POWs. Neither Thorn nor anyone else was ever held accountable for war crimes. It happened in Denmark as well, and a Danish historian documented the killing of German POWs during such clearance of land mines. It is assumed that about 250 German POWs met their deaths in this way in Denmark when forced to perform this diabolical task. On the morning of July 22, 1945, seven Germans were blown into the air as 450 land mines detonated. The other German POWs had to then collect the body parts of their friends without using gloves or other protection.
The gulag's daily food ration was padded with 400 to 800 grams of bread, more than half of the prisoner's daily 1200-1300 calories. The most productive workers received a modest food bonus (ironically, the Morgenthau Plan for occupied Germany suggested the same allotment of 1300 calories a day per German, while the suggested minimum requirements for heavy labor are from 3100-4000 calories per day). In the gulags, the prisoner's food ration was linked to his production. Realizing that the most productive work done by prisoners is in the first three months of captivity, after which they were too debilitated to perform well, the exhausted prisoners were simply killed off and replaced with fresh blood, ensuring a constant flow of new labor.
Because the German POWs had been conveniently redefined as "disarmed enemy forces," Allied captors did whatever they wanted with their German captives, even bartering them away to others for use as slaves. In fact, in a "Re-education" bulletin distributed by the "Special Service Division, Army Service Forces" of the U.S. Army in 1945, tacit approval is given for the intentional transfer of German POWs from Allied hands to the genocidal Red Army: "Many German prisoners will remain in Russia after the end of war, not voluntarily, but because the Russians need them as workers. That is not only perfectly legal, but also prevents the danger of the returning prisoners of war becoming the core of a new national movement. If we ourselves do not want to keep the German prisoners after the war, we should send them nonetheless to Russia." Again, shades of Morgenthau.
Long columns of German prisoners were marched on foot hundreds of tortuous miles toward their doom in Stalingrad, Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow, and Minsk where most were starved and worked to death. Very few ever saw home again. When approximately 6,000 German Army officers were released by the Western Allies in the first half of 1945, they were then re-arrested by the Soviets and held in Zone II at Sachsenhausen Prison Camp which had formerly held the Communist political prisoners of the Nazis. Later, Special Camp No. 7 was filled with German prisoners who had been sentenced by a Soviet military tribunal to 15 years of hard labor. By the end of 1945, it held 12,000 to 16,000 prisoners, among them 2,000 female prisoners, but the population grew. There was inadequate food and deplorable sanitary conditions. Prisoners could have no clothing other than what they were wearing when arrested. Disease and epidemics ran through the barracks where the prisoners had to sleep on the bare wood frames with only a block of wood for a pillow for two years until blankets and bags of straw were finally distributed in 1947. They were not allowed any activities, and even singing was prohibited. The windows of the overcrowded barracks were blacked out and the prisoners were kept in almost total darkness. A total of approximately 60,000 German prisoners were held in Special Camp No. 7 after World War II ended, and 12,000 were buried in unmarked mass graves. None were released by the Soviets until 1948, and most prisoners remained there until 1950, and some were sent on to the Soviet gulags or handed over to the East German Communist government for even more punishment.
The fates of thousands upon thousands of German soldiers, many just kids, surrendered to both the Allies and especially the Soviets have never been accounted for and any attempts to uncover the truth of their disappearance have been halted. Between 1941 and 1952, millions of German POWs died in the Gulag. The last surviving 10,000 of them were not released from the Soviet Union until 1955, after a decade of forced labor. About 1.5 million German soldiers are still listed as missing in action and join the ranks of those who vanished while under Soviet captivity. In total, 5,025 German men and women were convicted of war crimes between 1945 and 1949 in the American, British, and French zones by Allied War Crimes Trials. Over 500 were sentenced to death and the majority were executed, among them 21 women.
The Red Terror was let loose on surrendered German POWs in eastern Europe from Czechoslovakia to Poland and beyond. Many were simply shot and thrown into mass graves, others were tortured and mutilated first, and these retributions extended even to young boys. German POWs who fell into the hands of the Yugoslav hordes suffered horrible fates. After 1986, a report appeared showing that out of about 194,000 prisoners, up to 100,000 died from gruesome torture, murder, horrible conditions, disease, and intentional starvation. Around 93,000 ethnic Germans who lived in the Danube basin from 1939 to 1941 served in Hungarian, Croatian, and Romanian armies, and they remained citizens of those countries during the war (many of these ethnic Germans served in the "Prinz Eugen" Waffen SS division of about 10,000, which automatically gave them German citizenship). 26,000 of these soldiers died, over half after the end of the war in Yugoslav camps.
When most of the "Prinz Eugen" division surrendered after May 8, 1945, over 1,700 of them were murdered in a village near the Croat-Slovenian border and the other half was worked to death in Yugoslav zinc mines near the town of Bor, in Serbia. Aside from these Danube German soldiers, over 70,000 Germans who had served in regular Wehrmacht died in Yugoslav captivity from revenge murders or as slave laborers in dangerous work. These were mostly troops of "Army Group E" who surrendered to British forces in southern Austria on May 8, 1945 only to have the British turn about 150,000 of them over to vengeance fueled Communist Yugoslav partisans who dealt with them as brutally as they could. Mob surrounds POW, left. Location unknown. The fates of the remaining captured German troops in Yugoslavia was murder, both fast and slow. First, up to 10,000 died in Communist-organized "atonement marches" (Suhnemärsche) which stretched 800 miles from the southern border of Austria to the northern border of Greece. In most instances, the prisoners were all tied together and forced to walk barefoot with no food or water. As some dropped off one by one on these death marches, others were executed or tied together in smaller groups and thrown into rivers where they were all shot for sport and drowned.
On November 1, 1944, the Council for the Liberation of Yugoslavia declared all Germans "open prey" and less than half of the German POWs and ethnic German civilians survived the partisans' genocide during this time. Then, later in the summer of 1945, many more German POWs were murdered in mass executions or thrown alive into large karst pits along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. For the next 10 years, from 1945 to 1955, as was the case in the Soviet Union and other communist countries, 50,000 more German prisoners died from being worked to death as slaves and from the results of disease, starvation, or exhaustion. Thousands of German and Croat soldiers captured in the final days of the war were coldly executed and buried in mass graves found in western Croatia. A site recently uncovered at Harmica, 50 kilometres northwest of Zagreb, holds the bodies of 4,500 soldiers, including 450 German officers, executed by communist partisans. The bones at Harmica were found in six separate caves and laid in trenches upon discovery. The officers were buried in a separate grave, presumably because they were separated from the soldiers and executed last. The victims were troops of the 392 Infantry Division, set up by the German command in Croatia in August 1943 and placed under the leadership of Lt. General Hans Mickl.
The fates of thousands upon thousands of German soldiers, many just kids, surrendered to both the Allies and especially the Soviets have never been accounted for and any attempts to uncover the truth of their disappearance have been halted.
An interesting footnote: After the war, many German combat veterans joined the French Foreign Legion. Some were surviving SS members recruited directly from prisoner of war camps. Others were men from lost German lands who had nowhere to go home to. Highly regarded by the French for their discipline and bravery, an estimated 35,000 Germans took part in France's war in Vietnam. Germans made up over half the Foreign Legion units in Vietnam that bore much of the heaviest fighting against the communist Viet Minh forces of Ho Chi Minh. In this brutal conflict, more than 10,000 Legionnaires were killed out of about
70,000 who fought.
THE BRITISH WERE NO ANGELS TOO
Despite the six years of bitter fighting which lay behind him, James Morgan-Jones, a major in the Royal Artillery, could not have been more specific about the spectacle in front of him. "It was," he reported, "one of the most disgusting sights of my life."
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