Eisenhower death camps
A million Germans captured by the armies of Eisenhower died in captivity after surrender.
In the spring of 1945, the third Reich of Adolf Hitler was on the brink of death, crushed by the Red Army, advancing westward towards Berlin and the American, British and Canadian armies under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower, advancing eastward along the Rhine. From the date of the landing in Normandy last June, the Western allies won over France and small European countries, and some Wehrmacht commanders were ready for local capitulation. Other units, however, continued to obey Hitler's orders to fight to the last. Most of the infrastructure, including transportation, was destroyed, and the population roamed in fear of the Russians coming.
"Hungry and frightened, lying in the fields fifty feet away, ready to throw up their hands to fly away" - So the captain of the Second Anti-Tank Regiment of the Second Canadian Division H. F. McCullough describes the chaos of Germany’s surrender at the end of the Second World War.For a day and a half, according to statements by Field Marshal Montgomery, 500,000 Germans surrendered to his 21st Army Group in northern Germany.
Shortly after Victory Day - May 8, British-Canadian troops captured more than 2 million. Virtually nothing about the treatment of them has been preserved in the archives of London and Ottawa, but some meager evidence from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the relevant military personnel and the prisoners themselves indicate that the prisoners felt excellent. In any case, many were quickly released and sent home, or transferred to France for post-war reconstruction work. The French army itself captured about 300,000 Germans.
Like the British and Canadians, the Americans unexpectedly met with a huge number of encircled German forces: the total number of prisoners of war among the Americans alone reached 2.5 million without Italy and northern Africa. But the attitude of the Americans was very different.
Among the first US prisoners of war was Corporal Helmut Liebig, who served in the anti-aircraft experimental group at Peenemunde in the Baltic. Liebig was captured by the Americans on April 17 near Gotha in central Germany.Forty-two years later, he distinctly recalled that in the camp of Goth there were not even awnings, only a barbed wire fence around the field, which soon turned into a swamp.
The prisoners received a small portion of food on the first day, but on the second and subsequent days it was cut by half. To get it, they were forced to run through the line. Hunched up, they fled between the rows of American guards, who beat them with sticks as they approached food. On April 27, they were transferred to the American camp Heidesheim, where for several days there was no food at all, and then only slightly.
In the open air, starved, thirsty, people began to die. Liebig consisted daily from 10 to 30 bodies, which were pulled out of his section B, which contained about 5,200 people. He saw one prisoner beat another to death because of a small piece of bread.
One night, when it was raining, Liebig noticed that the walls of the hole dug in the sandy ground for shelter had fallen upon people who were too weak to get out from under them. They suffocated before their comrades came to the rescue ...
The German newspaper, Rhein-Zeitung, so called this photograph that had survived from the Americans, placed on its own strip: Camp at Sinzig-Remagen, spring 1945
Liebig sat down and wept. "I could not believe that people were so cruel to each other."
Typhus broke into Heidesheim in early May. Five days after the surrender of Germany, on May 13, Liebig was transferred to another American POW camp, Bingem-Rudesheim in Rhineland, near Bad Kreusnach. There were 200-400 thousand prisoners there, without a roof over their heads, practically without food, water, medicines, in terrible cramping.
Soon he fell ill with typhus and dysentery at the same time. He, half-conscious and delirious, was taken with sixty prisoners in an open carriage to the north-west down the Rhine on a tour of Holland, where the Dutch stood on bridges and spat on their heads. Occasionally, American guards fired warning shots to ward off the Dutch. Sometimes not.
Three days later, the comrades helped him to reach the large camp in Rheinberg, near the border with Holland, again without shelter and practically without food. When some food was delivered, it turned out to be rotten. In none of the four camps did Liebig see any shelters for prisoners — they were all located under the open sky.
Mortality in American camps for German prisoners of war in the Rhineland, according to the remaining testimony of the medical service, was about 30% in 1945. The average mortality rate among the civilian population of Germany was at that time 1-2%.
One day in June, through hallucinations, Liebig saw "Tommy" entering the camp. The British took the camp under their guard, and this saved Liebig's life. Then he, with a height of 5 feet 10 inches, weighed 96.8 pounds.
EISENHOWER CAM HAS SIGNED AN ORDER ON THE CREATION OF A CATEGORY OF CONCLUDED, NOT SUBJECT TO THE GENEVA CONVENTION.
According to the stories of ex-prisoners of Reinberg, the last action of the Americans before the arrival of the British was to level one section of the camp with a bulldozer, and many of the weakened prisoners could not leave their burrows ...
According to the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war were guaranteed three important rights: that they should be fed and placed according to the same standards. as the winners, that they should be able to receive and send mail and that they are obliged to visit delegations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which should compile secret reports on the conditions of detention to the Protecting Party.
(In the case of Germany, since its government was dissolved in the latter stages of the war, Switzerland was appointed the Protecting Party).
In fact, the German prisoner army of the United States was denied these and most other rights by a series of special decisions and directives adopted by its command at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force - the Allied Expeditionary Forces Headquarters.
General Dwight Eisenhower was both the supreme commander of the SHAEF - all the allied armies in northwestern Europe, and the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces at the European theater of operations.
He submitted to the Joint Command of the United States and Britain (CCS), the United Command of the United States (JCS), as well as the policy of the US Government, but due to the lack of relevant directives, all responsibility for the treatment of German prisoners lies entirely on him.
"God, I hate the Germans," he wrote to his wife, Mamie, in September 1944. He had previously told the British ambassador in Washington that all 3,500 officers of the German General Staff must be "destroyed." In March 1945, the letter CCS, signed by Eisenhower, recommended the creation of a new class of prisoners - Disarmed Enemy Forces - DEF - the Disarmed Forces of the Adversary, which, unlike prisoners of war, did not fall under the Geneva Convention.Therefore, they should not have been supplied by the victorious army after the surrender of Germany.
It was a direct violation of the Geneva Convention. In a letter dated March 10, in particular. argued: "The additional load on the supply of troops, caused by the recognition of the German Armed Forces as prisoners of war, requiring their provision at the level of the basic military ration, lies far beyond the limits of the Allies, even with all the resources of Germany." The letter ended: "Your approval is required. Plans will be made on this basis."
On April 26, 1945, the Joint Command approved DEF status only for prisoners of war in the hands of the US Army: the British command refused to accept the American plan for its prisoners of war. CCS decided to keep the status of the disarmed German troops in secret.
At the same time, the Chief Quartermaster of Eisenhower at SAEF, General Robert Littlejohn, already halved the ration for prisoners and the letter from SAEF addressed to General George Marshall, Commander-in-Chief of the US Army, signed by Eisenhower, said that there would not be a roof to the prisoners camps other amenities ... ".
However, the reason was not the supply.In Europe, there were plenty of materials in warehouses to build acceptable camps for prisoners of war. Eisenhower's adjutant on special issues, General Everett Hughes, visited the huge warehouses in Naples and Marseilles and reported: "More supplies than we can ever use. Extend within sight." That is, the food was not the cause either. The stocks of wheat and corn in the United States were as great as ever, the potato harvest was also a record.
There was such a supply of food in the army reserves that when a whole warehouse center in England stopped supplying an accident, it was not noticed for three months. In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross in warehouses in Switzerland had more than 100,000 tons of food. When he tried to send two echelons of food to the American sector of Germany, the American command deployed them back saying that the warehouses were so full that they would never be devastated.
Thus, the cause of the deprivation policy of German prisoners of war could in no case be a shortage of supplies. Water, food, tents, squares, medical care — everything necessary for prisoners of war was provided in fatal scarcity.
In the camp of Rheinberg, from where Corporal Liebig escaped in mid-May, dying from dysentery and typhoid, there was no food for the prisoners at the time of the opening on April 17. As in the other camps of the "Floods of the Rhine", opened by the Americans in mid-April, there were no watchtowers, no tents, no barracks, no kitchens, no water, no toilets, no food ...
Georg Weiss, a tank repairman now living in Toronto, speaks about his camp on the Rhine: "All night we had to sit huddled together. But the lack of water was the worst. For three and a half days we did not have water at all. We drank their urine ... "
Private Hans T. (his surname was hidden at his request), who was only eighteen, was in the hospital when the Americans arrived on April 18. He and the other patients were taken to the Bad Kreuznach camp in the Rhineland, which by that time already had several hundred prisoners of war. Hans had only a pair of shorts, shirts and boots.
Hans was not the youngest in the camp - there were thousands of displaced German civilians. There were children of six years old, pregnant women, and old people after 60. In the beginning, when there were still trees in the camp, some began to tear off branches and make fire. The guards ordered the fire to be put out.At many sites it was forbidden to dig holes in the ground for shelter. "We were forced to eat grass," recalls Hans.
Charles von Luttichau was on his way home when he decided to resist the arbitrariness of the US military. He was sent to Camp Cripp, on the Rhine near Remagen.
“We were kept extremely crowded in open-air fenced cells with virtually no food,” he now recalls.
More than half of the days we did not receive any food at all. And on other days - a poor diet "K". I saw that the Americans gave us one tenth of the diet they received themselves ... I complained to the head of the American camp that they were violating the Geneva Convention, to which he replied: "Forget the Convention. You have no rights here." “The toilets were just logs, thrown over the ditches dug from barbed wire fences. But due to weakness, people could not reach them and walk to the ground. Soon many of us were so weak that we could not even take off our pants. WORKING teams identification tags from the corpses, stripped them and folded them in layers, pouring out quicklime.So all our clothes became crap, and the space on which we walked, sat and lay. In such conditions, people soon began to die.A few days later, many people who got into the camp healthy were dead. I saw a lot of people dragging corpses to the camp gate where they piled them on top of each other in the truck bodies that took them out of the camp. "Von Luttichau stayed at the Cripp camp for about three months. His mother was German and he later emigrated to Washington where he became a military historian describing the history of the US Army. Wolfgang Iff, a former Reinberg prisoner and now living in Germany, describes how from about 10,000 prisoners were dragged from 30 to 50 corpses every day. and of their sector to the gates of the camp, where they were transported by wheelbarrow to several large steel garages. forming piles up to a meter in height, and then folding the fragments of tags into bags for Americans, and so time after time ... Part of the dead was dead from gangrene after frostbite (spring was unusually cold).Some were too weak to hold on to logs thrown through ditches that served as toilets, falling and drowning. The conditions in the American camps along the Rhine at the end of April were checked by two colonels of the US Army Medical Corps James Mason and Charles Bisley, who described them in a newspaper published in 1950: "Huddled behind a barbed wire for heat, they were a terrifying sight: 100,000 sluggish, apathetic, dirty, emaciated people with empty eyes, dressed in a dirty gray field uniform, stood ankle-deep in the mud ... The commander of the German Division reported that people did not eat for at least two days emoy - at 200 yards flowed affluent Rhine. " May 4, 1945 the first German prisoners of war at the disposal of the Americans, were transferred to the status of DEF - the Disarmed Forces of the Enemy. On the same day, the US Department of State prohibited prisoners from sending and receiving letters. (When the International Committee of the Red Cross proposed a plan to restore the mail in July, it was rejected). On May 8, on Victory Day, the German government was abolished and at the same time the US Department shifted Switzerland as a defending party for German prisoners.(Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King appealed in the London Foreign Office for the simultaneous dismissal of Switzerland as a defending party in the British-Canadian camps, but received a scathing response for his sympathy). After that, the State Department notified the International Committee of the Red Cross. that since the defending party to which reports can be sent is absent, there is also no need to visit the camps. From that moment on, prisoners in the US camps officially lost the opportunity to visit independent observers, as well as the possibility of receiving food packages, clothes or medicines from any humanitarian organization, as well as any mail. The Third Army of General Patton was the only army in the whole European theater of military operations, which freed the prisoners of war and thus saved many German soldiers from inevitable death during May. Omar Bradley and General J.S.H. Lee, Commander of the European Communication Zone, ordered the release of prisoners within a week of the war,but by order of the SHAEF - Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force - by the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, it was canceled on 15 May. On the same day, at a meeting, Eisenhower and Churchill agreed to reduce the diet of prisoners. From Churchill demanded an agreement on the level of rations of prisoners because he had to declare a decrease in the meat ration of the British and wanted to make sure that "prisoners as much as possible ... should have been supplied with those supplies that we saved." Eisenhower replied that he had already "given the question the necessary attention," but he was going to double-check everything to see if "further reduction is possible." He told Churchill that POW - prisoners of war receive 2,000 calories per day (2,150 calories were taken by the US Army Medical Corps as the absolute minimum minimum for adults living in a warm and sedentary lifestyle. US troops received 4,000 calories per day) . However, he did not say that the American army practically does not feed DEF at all - the Disarmed Forces of the Enemy or feed them much less than those who still enjoy the status of prisoners of war. The rations were then trimmed again - direct cuts were recorded in the Quartermaster Report. However, there were indirect cuts.They turned out to be possible due to the discrepancy between the list and the actual number of prisoners in the camps. The meticulous General Lee was so furious with these inconsistencies that he literally ignited the telephone cable from his headquarters in Paris to the SHAEF headquarters in Frankfurt: In response to a request from the Command ... SAEF provided completely contradictory information about the number of prisoners held in the theater of operations. "
The policy of the US Army was not to provide "neither shelter nor other amenities." In the prisoner's disposition: people lived in holes dug by them in the ground
He then quotes the latest statements of the SAEF: "In a telegram ... of May 31, it is stated that there are 1,890,000 prisoners of war and 1,200,000 unarmed Germans. But independent command data shows prisoners of war in the communication zone 910,980 422, and in the Twelfth Army the GP is 965,135, giving a total of 2,878,537 and in addition 1,000,000 Disarmed German Forces from the Germans and Austrians. "
The situation was amazing: Lee reported on more than a million people in US camps in Europe, which resulted in SHAEF in her data. But he fought windmills: he was forced to rely on the supply of food to the German prisoners based on the number of prisoners determined by the SHAEF G-3 (operational) data. Given the general confusion, the data fluctuations are excusable, but more than 1 million prisoners clearly disappeared between two reports of the Head of the Military Police of the Theater of Military Operations, published on the same day, June 2:
The last of the daily series of TRM reports was estimated by 2,870,000 prisoners, and the first by 1,836,000. Once in mid-June, the number of prisoners on the ration list was 1,421,559, while data from Lee and not only indicate the real number, almost tripled superior official!
Allocating an obviously completely inadequate diet was one way to create hunger. Another was significantly underreporting data on the number of prisoners. In addition, a million prisoners who received at least some food due to their status as prisoners of war lost their rights and their food by secret transfer to DEF status.The translation was carried out rigorously for many weeks with special attention to the balance in the weekly SHAEF reports between POW and DEF - prisoners of war and disarmed enemies.
The difference between those removed from POW status and those who received DEF status was 0.43% during the period from June 2 to July 28.
The transfer to the DEF did not require any transfer of a person to other camps or the involvement of any new organizations to attract German civilian supplies. People stayed where they were. All that happened after a few clicks of a typewriter was that the person stopped receiving a meager piece of food from the US Army.
The condition of the policy implemented by recalculation and supported by winking and nodding - without the execution of orders, was to discredit, isolate and expel mid-level officers responsible for POW.
The colonel of the quartermaster service of the advanced US military units wrote a personal appeal to the general of the same service, Robert Little John, on April 27: "In addition to the 750 tons received from the 15th Army, there were no revenues and are not expected. Supplied Classes II & IV (rations) that we got,are intended entirely for consumption by troops on a personal request and are absolutely not relevant to the requirements imposed on us in connection with the influx of prisoners of war. "
Rumors about conditions in the camps circulated in the American army. "Boys, these camps are bad news," said Benedict K. Zobrist, technical sergeant of the Medical Corps. "We were warned to stay away from them as far as possible."
In May and early June 1945, a medical team from the Medical Corps of the United States Army inspected some of the camps in the Rhine Valley, where about 80,000 German prisoners of war were held. Their report was withdrawn from the National Archives of the United States in Washington, but two secondary sources provide some information from the report.
The three main killers were: diarrhea or dysentery (considered one category), heart disease and pneumonia. However, with the stress of medical terminology, doctors also recorded deaths from "exhaustion" and "exhaustion." Their data revealed a death rate eight times higher than the highest levels of peacetime.
But only 9.7 to 15% of prisoners died for reasons purely associated with malnutrition, such as exhaustion and dehydration.Prevailing other diseases directly related to unbearable conditions of detention. Overcrowding, dirt, lack of any sanitary conditions were undoubtedly aggravated by hunger.
The report noted: "Content, crowding in pens, lack of food and lack of sanitary conditions all contribute to such a high mortality rate." It should be remembered that the data were obtained in the POW camps - prisoners of war, and not DEF - of the disarmed forces of the enemy.
At the end of May 1945 more people died in the American camps than in the flame of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima.
On June 4, 1945, a telegram signed by Eisenhower reported to Washington that "there is an urgent need to reduce the number of prisoners at the first opportunity by re-sorting all classes of prisoners in a different way than the Allies require." It is difficult to understand the meaning of this telegram.
There are no grounds for its understanding in the large volume of telegrams preserved in the archives of London, Washington and Abilene, Kansas. And regardless of the orders of Eisenhower to accept or transfer prisoners of war, the order of the Joint Command of April 26 forced him not to take more prisoners of war after Victory Day, even for work.However, about 2 million DEF were brought in after May 8th.
During June, Germany was divided into occupation zones and in July 1945 the SHAEF - Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force - was disbanded from the Allied Expeditionary Forces Headquarters. Eisenhower became the military governor of the United States. He continued to restrain representatives of the Red Cross and the US Army notified US humanitarian groups that the zone was closed to them.
It turned out to be completely closed for any humanitarian supplies - until December 1945, when some relief came into effect.
Also, starting in April, the Americans transferred from 600,000 to 700,000 German prisoners of war to France to restore its infrastructure damaged during the war. Many of the transfer companies were from five American camps located around Dietersheim, near Mainz, in a part of Germany that came under the control of France. (The rest were taken from American camps in France).
On July 10, a unit of the French Army entered Dietersheim and after 17 days, Captain Julien arrived to take command. His report has been preserved as part of an army investigation in the discussion of Captain Julien and his predecessor. In the first campin which he entered, he witnessed the presence of a dirty land "inhabited by living skeletons", some of which were dying before his eyes.
Others piled under pieces of cardboard, although July was not too hot. Women lying in holes dug in the ground, looked at him, edematous from hunger, with bellies parodying pregnancy; old men with long gray hair looked at him hunched over; children of six or seven years old with hungry circles of raccoons around their eyes looked at him with lifeless eyes.
Two German doctors in the "hospital" tried to help the dying on the ground under the open sky, between the tracks from the tent, which the Americans took with them. Julien, a member of the Resistance, caught himself thinking: "This is reminiscent of the photos of Dachau and Buchenwald .." transl.)
In the five camps around Dietersheim there were about 103,500 people and among them officers Julien counted 32,640 people who were not able to work at all. They were immediately released. In total, two thirds of the prisoners taken by the French this summer from Americans from camps in Germany and in France were useless for reconstruction work.
In the camp of Saint-Marti, 615 out of 700 prisoners were unable to work. In Erbisel, near Mons, in Belgium, twenty-five percent of men adopted by the French were “dechets,” or ballast.
In July and August, Quartermaster US Littlejohn reported to Eisenhower that the Army’s food reserves in Europe grew by 39%.
On August 4, the Eisenhower order, consisting of a single sentence, condemned all prisoners of war in the hands of Americans to the DEF provision: “Immediately count all members of the German troops held under US protection in the US occupation zone of GERMANY as disarmed by the forces of the enemy, but not as prisoners of war . "
The reason was not given. The surviving results of weekly calculations indicate a preserved double classification, but for POW, which was now treated as DEF, the diet began to decline at a rate of 2% per week to 8%.
The mortality rate among the DEF over the entire period exceeded by five the percentages mentioned above. The official "Weekly PW & DEF Report" for September 8, 1945 is still stored in Washington. It states that, in the aggregate, 1,056,482 prisoners were held by the US Army at the European Theater, of which about two thirds were identified as POW. The remaining third - 363,587 - DEF. During the week, 13,051 people died.
In November 1945, General Eisenhower was replaced by George Marshall, and Eisenhower departed for the United States. In January 1946, the camps still contained a significant number of prisoners, but by the end of 1946, the United States almost nullified the number of its prisoners. The French continued to hold hundreds of thousands of prisoners in 1946, but by 1949 almost everyone had been released.
During the 1950s, most of the materials relating to American prisoner of war camps were destroyed by the US Army.
Eisenhower regretted the useless German defense of the Reich in the last months of the war due to the useless losses on the German side. At least 10 times more Germans - at least 800,000, very likely more than 900,000, and quite possibly more than 1 million, have died in American and French camps than were killed in northwestern Europe since America’s entry in the war in 1941 to April 1945.
An excerpt from the memoirs of Johann Baumberger, a German prisoner of war
On this aerial photograph, each black dot means a German prisoner of war sitting in a snowy field for a month.
We came to the POW camp in Brilon near Sauerland. It was winter and we settled on a snowy pasture.At night, we lay on 7-8 people, huddled close to each other. After midnight, those lying inside were changing places with those lying outside, so that they would not freeze to death.
The next camp was Remagen on the Rhine. 400,000 people in one camp. The conditions were terrible. We were not given food for 2-3 days, and we drank water from the Rhine. We lined up in the morning to get 1/2 liter of water ("brown soup") by evening. The one who did not boil water, fell ill with diarrhea and died, in most cases in the moat. There were beautiful orchards here, but after a few weeks nothing was left of them.
We tore off the branches, made a fire, boiled water and cooked one potato for two. 40 people received 1 kg of bread. I did not have a chair for a month. Under such conditions, 1,000 people died a week. We were so weak that we could not get up and walk - that memory forever bumped into my memory.
The fever broke into the camp in May 1945. We were transferred to another camp in Koblenz. When we arrived, the clover was 15cm tall. We pressed and ate it. Wheat reached half a meter and we were glad that we could not lie on bare ground. The camp submitted to the French, and most of the prisoners were transferred to France. I had the good fortune to be released on medical advice.
In "Eisenhower" s Death Camps ": A U.S.Prison Guard "s Story
In the "Eisenhower death camps": The story of the American guard
In late March - early April 1945, I was sent to guard a prisoner of war camp near Andernach on the Rhine. I had four German courses and could talk to prisoners, although it was forbidden. But over time, I became a translator and was assigned to identify members of the SS. (I have not identified any).
In Andernach, about 50,000 prisoners were kept in an open field enclosed with barbed wire. The women were kept in a separate pen. The prisoners had no shelters, no blankets, many did not have a coat. They slept in the mud, in the rain and in the cold, among incredibly long ditches for excrement. The spring was cold and windy and their terrible weather was terrible.
It was even more terrible to watch prisoners cooked in cans a semblance of liquid grass and weed soup. Very soon the prisoners were exhausted. Dysentery raged, and very soon they slept in their own excrement, too weak and crowded to get to the trench-toilets.
Many begged for food, weakened and died before our eyes. We had plenty of food and other food, but we could not help them, including medical care.
Enraged, I protested to my officers, but was received with hostility or mild indifference. Under pressure, they replied that they were following the strictest instructions "from the very top".
Turning to the kitchen, I heard that the kitchen master is strictly forbidden to share provisions with the prisoners, but more than ever, they don’t know what to do with it. I promised to allocate a little.
When I threw food to the prisoners over the barbed wire, I was caught by the guards. I repeated the "offense" and the officer viciously threatened to shoot me. I thought it was a bluff, until I saw on the hill near the camp an officer who was shooting a group of German civil women with a 45 caliber pistol.
He answered my question: “Target shooting” and continued firing to the last cartridge in the store. I saw the women fleeing to the shelter, but because of the distance I could not determine whether the officer had wounded anyone.
Then I realized that I was dealing with cold-blooded killers, full of moral hatred. They considered the Germans subhuman, worthy of destruction: another round of the downward spiral of racism. The entire press of the end of the war was full of photographs of German concentration camps with depleted prisoners.