Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This should put to rest the claim by most Nazi era Germans that they were unaware of the Holocaust.

By Allan Hall

Mail Online
January 17, 2011

A new book about the closing days of WW2 chronicles how German civilians murdered many concentration camp survivors as they moved through their towns and villages on infamous 'death marches' back into the shrinking Reich.

The violence shows how even with their nation in ruins, the Allies advancing on all fronts and the war hopeless, ordinary people were so indoctrinated with Nazi hate they were prepared to kill defenceless people in cold blood.

'The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide,' by Daniel Blatman, is the first book to research what drove these civilians to acts of savage murder.

Some 500,000 prisoners from the concentration camp gulag both within and without Germany were on the move in the first months of 1945.

As the Allies advanced, the shocking fate of approximately half of them became all too apparent.

'..as was the case in Gardelegen, a town in east-central Germany, where US soldiers found hundreds of charred and mangled bodies in a barn in mid-April 1945.

They were the bodies of prisoners from various camps who had been forced inside' writes Blatman, an Israeli, whose book is published this week and goes on sale in Germany.

'It was later discovered that people had volunteered to guard the prisoners, including ordinary civilians, some of them armed with hunting rifles, who mutated into prison guards of their own volition.

'We're going hunting, to shoot down the zebras!'' cries youths, in reference to the striped uniforms of the inmates.

'Men from the Volkssturm militia, police officers, soldiers from a paratrooper division barracked nearby, guards and civilians helped drive the doomed prisoners into the barn.

'Then they locked the doors, lit gasoline-soaked straw on the ground and tossed hand grenades into the building. Anyone who attempted to escape the inferno ran into a hail of bullets.

'Some 25 prisoners survived, while about 1,000 died.'

'Some will say that the Nazis were responsible for this crime,' said Colonel George P. Lynch, of the 102nd US Infantry Division.

'Others will point to the Gestapo. The responsibility rests with neither. It is the responsibility of the entire German people.'

The same thing happened in Celle, not far from the terrible, disease riddled concentration camp of Belsen.

Prisoners were 'killed like animals' in a forest according to a British military report. Some 300 died in April 1945 massacre, a Hitler Youth leader aged just 17 accounting for 20 alone.

Blatman, a historian at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said; 'The more the war approached its end, and the more obvious the prisoners' presence in the midst of the German population became, the more regularly German civilians participated.'

In Palmnicken near the former East Prussian city of Königsberg some 3,000 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp were herded by civilians on to beach of the frozen Baltic Sea to be mowed down by S.S. men.

Along the country roads of a huge swathe of Germany can be found the little memorials to terrible acts where people were killed in ones and twos and sometimes tens and hundreds.

Blatman believes tens of thousands of 'ordinary Germans' became killers despite no documentary evidence whatsoever that any of the S.S. or Nazi party hierarchy had ever ordered them to behave in such a fashion.

A decade of indoctrination, a genocidal mentality that had systematically dehumanized the Jews and the Slavs, led to the collective hunt,' he said.

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