Debunking the Genocide Myth
Chapter Six: Shipwreck
What happened next is of not great interest.
In December 1944 Dora was a large camp. It was no longer a satellite
of Buchenwald, but, rather Ellrich, Osterrod, Harzungen, and Illfed, all
in the construction stage, were dependents of it (1). Convoys of prisoners
arrived there directly, just as they had earlier at Buchenwald, where they
were disinfected, numbered, and divided up among the satellite camps. The
numbers that the new prisoners wore now were beyond the 100,000's...
Every night, trucks brought back corpses from the satellite camps to
be burned in the crematorium.
Block 172 was finished; there was a movie theater, as well as a library,
functioning for the people of the H-Fuhrung and their proteges; the women
who had been installed for several months in the brothel also served their
needs. The Blocks were comfortable; there was running water; and there were
even radios! The beds were set up, without sheets but with straw mattresses
and with blankets. The period of great hurry was over; the S.S. were less
exacting; their object, which was to get the camp set up, had been accomplished.
But, on the other hand, they paid more attention to the political life,
got excited about all sorts of imaginary conspiracies, and hunted out acts
of sabotage, which, indeed, were real and numerous.
All of these material betterments, nevertheless, did not bring the general
mass of prisoners the welfare that might have been expected. The mentality
of the H-Fuhrung had not changed. It was as though the prisoner bureaucracy
tried to make us live the life of savages, but in buildings instead of caves,
so hard did they try to retain the atmosphere of the Straflager along with
its hardships and cruelties.
During the night of December 23-24, some Kommando, motivated by cudgels,
set up on the grounds a gigantic Christmas fir tree, the erection of which
was completed by five thirty the next morning in time for the roll-call
before leaving for work and which was resplendent with multi-colored lights.
>From that day on and until Epiphany we had to listen every night at
roll-call to O Tannenbaum, played by the Musikkommando, before breaking
ranks ... One was obliged to listen with evident enjoyment or one risked
Concerning the matter of prisoner welfare, two unexpected elements had
to be considered: the joint advance of the Russians and of the English and
Americans forced the evacuation of the camps in the East and the West and
the transfer of prisoners to Dora and the more and more intensive bombing
from the air that interrupted the normal flow of supplies into the camp.
After January 1945 there was no end to the convoys that arrived; often
the prisoners were in an indescribable state. The camp which was planned
to hold about 15,000 persons sometimes had 50,000 and more. They were bunked
two or three to a bed. There was no more bread since flour was no longer
delivered. Instead, one got two or three tiny potatoes. The ration of margarine
and sausage was cut in half. As the storehouses were emptied as a consequence
of the increased population and of the bombings, only a pint of soup instead
of a quart, was distributed. There was no more clothing to replace what
could no longer be used; Berlin was unable to send more. No more shoes;
one made the best of the old ones. And, the same shortages existed with
On the work level, the whole camp became riddled with sabotage. Raw materials
no longer arrived at the Tunnel, and the work was slowed. It was winter.
It was useless to ask for window glass to replace what was broken because
there was not any to be had: but any prisoner could secretly steal a pane
at the Tunnel. There wasn't any paint, either. The Block Chief who needed
some had it stolen from a Zawatsky warehouse by one of his proteges. One
day there was no electric wire for the V1 and V2 rockets; all of the prisoners
who were working in the Tunnel had stolen a yard each to use for shoelaces.
Another time, a supplementary stretch of railroad track was to be laid down.
For at least a year, the necessary wooden ties had been there, piled up
around the station. The S.S.-Fuhrung supposed they were still there and
gave the order to build the line since they had no choice. It was noticed
then that the ties had disappeared, and an investigation revealed that at
the beginning of winter the civilian workers had had them sawed up one by
one by the prisoners and had taken them away little by little in their Rucksacks
to supplement the shortage in their fuel rations. A few persons were punished,
more ties were requested, and a few days later some gyroscopes were received.
In the Tunnel the acts of sabotage were beyond counting. It took the
S.S. months to catch on to the fact that the Russians were making a large
number of V1 and V2 rockets perfectly useless by urinating over the wireless
equipment. The Russians were master pillagers, and master saboteurs, and
they were stubborn; nothing stopped them. They also made up the largest
contingent of those hanged. But this was for another reason: they thought
they had worked out a plan of escape ...
Very few prisoners had any idea of escaping from Dora, and those who
tried it were all recovered by the dogs. Once back in camp they were usually
hanged, not for the attempted escape, but for a war crime, since it was
rare indeed that they could not be charged with some theft or other crime
in one of the places that they had gone through...
Sabotage seems to have extended into even very high circles: the V1 and
V2 rockets, before being used, had to be tested, and those that were not
right were sent to Harzungen to be dismantled and checked. At Harzungen,
they were dismantled, and the various defective parts were put into special
packing cases which were then sent back again to Dora where they were assembled
again in the same improper way. As a consequence, there were always about
thirty V1 and V2 rockets that were being shuttled back and forth between
Harzungen, Dora and the testing place.
Even the administration at Dora was snowed under in confusion. At the
entrance to the Tunnel, there was a sort of stockroom where all the parts
that could not be used were collected: nuts, bolts, pieces of sheet-metal,
screws of all kinds! etc. A special Kommando, detailed for light work, was
in charge of sorting all these pieces: into one box went the bolts, into
another the screws, in a third the odds and ends of sheet-metal. When all
of the boxes were full, the Kapo would give the order to empty them all
together into a rail car. When the car was full, it was attached to a train
which went off to an unknown destination; then, two days later it ended
up at the entrance at Ellrich where it had been sent to be unloaded and
sorted. The Kommando in charge of this work at Ellrich sent to the storeroom
at Dora all of the pieces that they had sorted out and had dumped in a heap.
Thus was a whole Iot of scraps being endlessly sorted at the opposite ends
of the Tunnel. And so, from incident to incident, from bombings to diminishing
food supplies, from virtual conspiracies to sabotage and hangings, we reached
During all this period I lived as batman to the Oberscharfuhrer in command
of the company of dogs; it was easy work which included the polishing of
his boots, the brushing of his uniforms, the making of his bed, the keeping
of his room and his office meticulously clean, and the fetching of his meals
from the S.S. canteen. Every morning at about eight my stint was done. I
spent the rest of the time talking here and there, warming myself near the
fire, reading newspapers, and listening to the T.S.F. When the S.S. cook
gave me food for my Oberscharfuhrer at each meal, he surreptitiously gave
me just as much for myself. In addition, the thirty S.S. men who lived in
the Block gave me various jobs from time to time; they had me wash their
mess kits, wax their boots, sweep out their rooms, etc... In return, they
gave me their left-overs, which every night I took to friends. It was the
This direct contact with the S.S. personnel made me see them in quite a different light than that in which they were universally seen in the camp. There was no possible comparison: in public they were brutes; taken individually, they were lambs. They looked at me with curiosity, they asked questions; then spoke on familiar terms with me; they wanted to know how I thought the war would turn out and took my opinion seriously. They were all men -- former miners, factory workers, plasterers -- who had been unemployed in 1933 and who the regime had taken out of their misery by giving them what they thought of as a bridge of gold. They were simple, and their intellectual level was extremely low. In exchange for the well-being that the regime had brought them, they carried out its more ignoble deeds and were at peace with their consciences, with morality, with the German fatherland, and with humanity. Although they were very sensitive to the bad luck that had befallen me when I was sent to Dora, they nevertheless, went among the prisoners in their charge with their heads high, haughty, unbending and without pity. Not once did the idea occur to them that the other prisoners were people like themselves, or even ... like me!
The anomalies in the administration were not generally obvious to them, and when by chance they did notice them, they quite sincerely attributed them to the H-Fuhrung (2) or to the general prisoner population. They did not understand how we could be so thin, so weak, so dirty, and so badly clothed. The Third Reich, after all, had furnished us with everything we needed: food, everything necessary to keep us perfectly clean, comfortable lodging in a camp as modern as possible, health recreations, music, lectures, sports, a Christmas tree, and so forth. And we did not know how to take advantage of it. That was proof that Hitler was right and that, with very rare exceptions, we belonged to a physically and morally inferior part of humanity! The idea never occurred to them that they might be responsible as individuals for the wrongs that were done under their eyes, or with their cooperation, unconscious or active. They were victims of the environment -- of that special environment -- in which, while breaking collectively with the restraints of tradition, all peoples, without distinction as to regime or nationality, founder periodically.
On March 10th, a group of female Bibelforscher (Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and conscientious objectors) arrived at Dora, followed by an order from Berlin stipulating that these women -- there were twenty-four of them -- were to be put to light work. Henceforth, the Schwung work was turned over to them. I was removed and sent back to camp. To escape a bad H-FuhrungKommando, I thought it wiser to take advantage of my state of health and to get hospitalized in the Revier; from the hospital windows I watched the bombardment of Nordhausen on April 3 and 5, 1945, two days before being taken in the evacuation transport, the account of which is included in the Prologue.
- The Haftlingsfuhrung of these satellite camps was in the hands of the
"greens" which the " red" H-Fuhrung of Dora sent there
to get rid of them and to prevent their return to power.
- The majority of the prisoners also felt that the H-Fuhrung was much
more to blame than was the S.S. for the kind of life that they were forced
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