In this article, Mr Wear tells us of the plight of the Clergy of several nations and religions who were imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp. It is surprisingly accurate for an article coming from the pen of Mr Wear. There is surprisingly little wrong with Mr Wear’s facts and information. There are, of course, some sneaky little additions to the facts which are not covered by his sources. These are what this article will focus on.
“This article will examine some of the mistreatment and crimes committed against the clergymen in Dachau. It will also examine the hardships suffered by Dachau clergymen after the war, as well as the positive benefits from their internment in Dachau.”
Actually Mr Wear’s article mentions very little of the hardships suffered by the clergy post war. Whilst many priests did see a positive side to their imprisonment, Dachau was no holiday camp.
“The malaria experimentation at Dachau was performed by Dr. Klaus Karl Schilling, who was an internationally famous parasitologist. Dr. Schilling was ordered by Heinrich Himmler in 1936 to conduct medical research at Dachau for the purpose of specifically immunizing individuals against malaria. The medical supervisor at Dachau would select the people to be inoculated and then send this list of people to Berlin to be approved by a higher authority. Those who were chosen were then turned over to Dr. Schilling to conduct the medical experimentation.”
Actually Dr Schilling started his experiments on humans in Italy in 1936. He returned to Germany and was given his own facilities at Dachau in 1942. According to Nikolaus Wachsmann in his book “KL”:
“In all, around 1,100 prisoners, some already too weak to walk, were infected through injections or mosquito bites, to allow Schilling and his men to test a range of drugs. The prisoners suffered swollen extremities, the loss of nails and hair, high fevers, paralysis and more. Numerous victims died through drug overdoses, while survivors often endured further experiments.
The tests were unsuccessful. Such draconian techniques earned Dr Schiller the hangman’s noose after the war.
Mr Wear cannot resist comparing the Nazi experimentation with tests carried out in a US prison:
“…Although Dr. Schilling’s malaria experiments were no more dangerous or illegal than the malaria experiments performed by U.S. doctors, Dr. Schilling had to pay for his malaria experiments by being hanged to death while his wife watched. The U.S. doctors who performed malaria experiments on humans were never charged with a crime.”
Except that there were few if any deaths in the US due to experimentation with Malaria drugs and those prisoners tested were all volunteers. There is no comparison between the techniques used by Dr Schilling and his team at Dachau and those used by US doctors at the Stateville Penitentiary.
Mr Wear goes on to point out the problems with typhus in the camps.
“Typhus was the primary reason for the huge piles of dead bodies at Dachau when U.S. troops entered the camp.”
Indeed it was Mr Wear. So what?
Where would Mr Wear be without bombing:
“Bombed out and nowhere to go. “160 German cities and towns were destroyed by British and American bombing raids. This was done to “terrorize” the German people. Destroying these cities served no military purpose and did not shorten the war by a single day. The purpose was to destroy Germany and kill as many Germans as possible.”
Except that the bombing of cities did have a military purpose. My source? Why…Mr Wear himself:
“The British bombing during this period was simple terror bombing designed to shatter the morale of the German civilian population and thereby generate an inclination to surrender.”
Mr Wear enjoys debunking himself.
“As the Allies closed in on the center of Germany toward the end of the war, large numbers of prisoners were evacuated from camps near the front and moved to the interior.”
Mr Wear means that thousands of prisoners were forced to March in the middle of winter to transportation points from where they were transported to Germany. These marches were called “death marches”. Anyone who could not keep up was shot by the roadside.
POLISH PRIEST DEATHS
The book The Priest Barracks Dachau, 1938-1945 states that National Socialist Germany was intent on killing the Polish elite. This book claims that 868 out of 1,780 Polish priests died during their internment in Dachau. This death rate of over 48% of the Polish priests in Dachau is supported by a book written by Johann Neuhäusler, who was interned in Dachau from July 1941 to April 1945.
Polish priests did not have the same privileges that German priests did.
Neuhäusler’s book used a table indicating that 868 out of 1,780 Polish priests and 166 out of 940 non-Polish clergymen died in Dachau. However, Neuhäusler’s book did not reference where the figures in his table were obtained. Moreover, Neuhäusler wrote that as a “special prisoner” separated from the general camp, he could not learn all that happened in Dachau. Neuhäusler’s statistics did not originate from his personal experience in Dachau.
The chart used in Zeller’s book can be found in the official Dachau book printed by the Dachau Museum. The numbers of priests and their deaths come from SS records.
The attempt by Mr Wear to downplay the numbers of Polish priests who died has not worked.
Neuhäusler’s statistics contradict what Jewish historian Harold Marcuse writes about the survival rate of Polish priests in Dachau:
“The 2,579 Catholic clergymen imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp had been a special group among the camp inmates. We recall that in 1940 all of the Christian clergymen being held in “protective custody” in the Reich—about 1,000 at that time—were consolidated in Dachau…About 450 of the final number were German or Austrian (the Poles with 1,780 were the largest national group), and they had a relatively high survival rate.”
Actually they don’t. The term “relatively high survival rate” refers to German and Austrian clergymen and not Polish priests. Out of approx 450 German and Austrian clergymen, “only” 94 died.
In his book Dachau, 1933-1945: The Official History, Paul Berben used Neuhäusler’s table indicating that 868 out of 1,780 Polish priests in Dachau died. Berben wrote that some 500 Polish clergy, most of them elderly, arrived in Dachau by train in deplorable condition on October 29, 1941. Berben said that this group was not issued adequate winter clothes, and that only 82 survived their internment in Dachau.
So what Mr Wear? Is there some sort of point here?
Berben also wrote that 304 members of the Polish clergy were exterminated in various ways, including “liquidated inside the camp, in the showers or in the Bunker.” Berben did not explain how Polish priests could have been exterminated in the showers in Dachau. Historians and former Dachau inmates generally agree that there were no functioning gas chambers inside Dachau. Berben in his own book even stated that “the Dachau gas-chamber was never operated.”
They could have been exterminated by lethal injection. Those chosen for death by gassing were not gassed at Dachau, but were sent instead to Hartsheim. Many prisoners were shot, especially Soviet POWs. By mentioning gas chambers, Mr Wear is attempting once again to build a straw man fallacy. The mass homicidal gassings took place outside Germany.
DACHAU CLERGY MISTREATED AFTER LIBERATION
The Dachau clergy were not mistreated by the Allies after liberation.
Some misunderstood allied policy as regards the danger of the spread of typhus. The prisoners were kept in the camps and cared for there by the allied medical staff as they tried to stem the numbers of deaths and get a control of the situation as regards the spread of typhus.
The German clergymen who left Dachau also discovered that Germans were facing severe deprivations and starvation after the war.
Indeed they were. The allies were now having to clear up a mess created by National Socialism. Europe and especially Germany was in ruins. Times were hard, but thanks to the allies there were no mass deaths due to disease or starvation.
The physical and emotional toll of hunger, cold and disillusionment made life in Germany intolerable for Niemöller.
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime had a lot to answer for.
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF DACHAU INTERNMENT
As I mentioned earlier, there were few positive aspects of Dachau.
Many clergymen in Dachau came to view their imprisonment in Dachau as a positive experience. Father Leo de Coninck summarized his stay in Dachau: “Three years of experiences that I would not have missed for anything in the world.” While Father de Coninck’s statement may be surprising, his statement recurs in the testimonies of many clergymen imprisoned in Dachau.
To many clergymen their experience of Dachau was a life changing one; their experience was a test to their faith, a test they overcame. They met other nationalities and were allowed by their guards a lot more freedom and privileges than other prisoners. These were the “positive” aspects of their imprisonment. Nothing more and nothing less.
Harold Marcuse states that the most reliable figures today set the total number of inmates in Dachau at 206,206, of whom at least 31,591 are documented to have died or been killed prior to liberation.
Correct, although Nikolaus Wachsmann gives a number of 39,000 for deaths there between 1933 and 1945.
Based on these statistics, less than 17% of the inmates died in Dachau before, during and after World War II. The vast majority of these deaths, including the deaths of European clergymen in Dachau, were from natural causes.
Mr Wear seems to believe that deliberately crowding men into a camp and depriving them of food and medical care thus creating the conditions for starvation and disease somehow makes the deaths of at least 31,000 “natural”.
Of course, Mr Wear fails to take account of those people murdered at Dachau who were never registered there:
The persons assigned there by the Gestapo for execution.
The Soviet POWs connected to the Commissar Order and who were shot at Dachau.
Those who died on the evacuation transports from Dachau and its subsidiary camps.