4000bce - 399
400 - 1399
1400 - 1499
1500 - 1599
1600 - 1699
1700 - 1799
1800 - 1899
1900 - 1999
1. This investigation was conducted in conformity with letter, Headquarters European Theater of Operations, file AG 000.5, OpJA.
Subject: Establishment of War Crimes Branches, 24 February 1945, by 2d Lt. John J. Reid, AUS, Investigator-Examiner, from 25 April 1945 to 2 May 1945 inclusive and pursuant to directive of Commanding General, Third United States Army, a copy of the order which is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
II. MATTERS INVESTIGATED-FLOSSENBURG CONC. CAMP (P-3338)
2. a. Killing of interned Allied National Civil population and Allied National PWs by various cruel and inhuman methods such as neck-shooting, hanging, poison injections, forced suicides, lack of medical treatment, starvation, beatings, and other numerous inhuman methods purposely inflicted to result in death, (Violation of Geneva Prisoners of War Convention, Rules of Land Warfare and the customary law as observed by Civilized Nations).
b. Living and working conditions of internees which were beyond physical endurance and resulted in a systematic elimination of prisoners.
c. Starvation rations of interness which resulted in death and permanent physical impairment of prisoners.
d. Cruel and inhuman treatment and methods used by members of the German Armed Forces and/or persons under their immediate command against Allied National Civilians and Allied National Prisoners of War. (Violation of Article 2 of the Geneva Convention. Paragraphs 73, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 102, 105, 119, 127, 129, 132, 172, FM 27-10 Rules of Land Warfare and in violation of the customary law observed by Civilized Nations).
e. Unlawful killing by shooting, hanging and other methods, of Allied National Civil population who had been interned and/or otherwise arrested by members of the German Armed Forces (Violation of the customary laws observed by civilized nations).
3. a. The testimony of all witnesses examined in the course of this investigation was secured through the use of an interpreter after the witness had been sworn under authority of Article of War 114, in the following form: "You swear that the evidence you shall give in this investigation now being conducted shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, So help you God." The examination of each such witness where practical was conducted in my presence.
In the case at hand, it being impractible to use a stenographic reporter, the witness after having first been duly sworn was questioned regarding his knowledge of the matters under investigation. The witness then propounded his testimony in a narrative statement in his own handwriting, where practicable, and in his own native language. The witnesses then after being sworn signed the statement. The interpreter was also sworn in the following form: "You swear that you will truly interpret in this investigation now being conducted. So help you God."
b. The transcribed sworn testimony of each such witness whose name is listed below is hereto attached as an exhibit, the number of which is indicated in the lower right-hand corner of the paper preceded by the letter "B."
SWORN STATEMENTS OF WITNESSES: See Appendix (1) for index and exhibits.
UNSWORN STATEMENTS, LETTERS, REPORTS, ETC.:
See Appendix (2) for index and exhibits.
1. Photographs of some of the SS personnel of Camp Flossenburg. See Appendix (3) for index and photographs.
2. Atrocity scenes. See Appendix (4) for index and photographs.
IV. SUMMARY OF FACTS
4. Concentration Camp Flossenburg (Coord. P-3338), was founded in 1938 as a camp for political prisoners. Construction was commenced on the camp in 1938 and it was not until April 1940 that the first transport of prisoners was received. From this time on the prisoners began to flow steadily into the camp (Exh. B-1). Flossenburg was the mother camp and under its direct control and jurisdiction were 47 satellite camps or outer-commandos for male prisoners and 27 camps for female workers. To these outer-commandos were supplied the necessary prisoners for the various work projects undertaken.
Of all these outer-commandos Hersbruck and Leitmeritz (in Czechoslovakia), Oberstaubling, Mulsen and Sall, located on the Danube, were considered to be the worst. The work at these camps mainly consisted of underground labor, the purpose being the construction of large underground factories, storage rooms, ect. This labor was performed completely underground and as a result of the brutal treatment, working and living conditions, a daily average of 100 prisoners died. To the one camp Oberstaubling, 700 prisoners were transported in February 1945 and on the 15th of April 1945 only 405 of these men were living (Exh. B-1). During the 12 months preceding the liberation, Flossenburg and the branch camps under its control accounted for the death of 14,739 male inmates and 1,300 women. These figures represent the deaths as they were obtained from the available records in the camp, however, they are in no way complete as many secret mass executions and deaths took place. In 1941 an additional stockade was added to the Flossenburg Camp, to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000 prisoners only 102 survived. (Exh. B-1)
Flossenburg Concentration Camp can best be described as a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had in view the primary object of putting to work the mass slave labor, another of its primary objectives was the elimination of human lives by the methods employed in handling the prisoners. (Exh. B-2)
Hunger and starvation rations, sadism, housing facilities, inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing, hand hanging, forced suicides, shooting, etc., all played a major role in obtaining their objective. Prisoners were murdered at random, spite killings against Jews were common. Injections of poison and shooting in the neck were everyday occurrences. Epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating prisoners. Life in this camp meant nothing. Killing became a common thing, so common that a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones.(See following List of Exhibits as References)
The system set up at this camp seemed to be one of mass elimination of the prisoners caused by devious means. Starvation diets wilfully designed to produce death within a few months played a major role. Typhus and spotted fever were encouraged as a means of disposing of many. There were innumerable executions, mistreatments, beatings, flogging to death, which continued up until the time this camp was overrun by our forces. Mass hanging took place. Generally, the persons hanged were stripped naked. Oftimes they were beaten before hanging till the unfortunate victims begged for immediate hanging to ease the pain. At first the SS men in charge of the hangings were given extra rations for each hanging. Later on the hangings became so numerous that the extra rations were stopped. Hanging a person by his wrists with a heavy barrel suspended from his ankles was another method of execution. This caused the person's insides to be torn up and he died. (Exh. B-11) On Christmas 1944 a number of prisoners were hung at one time. The prisoners were forced to view this hanging. By the side of the gallows was a decorated Christmas tree and as expressed by one prisoner "it was a terrible sight, that combination of prisoners hanging in the air with the glistening Christmas tree." (Exh. B-12)
In March or April, 13 American or British parachutists were hung. They had been delivered to this camp sometime before and had been captured while trying to blow up bridges. (Exh. B-7, B-8a&b)
Many thousands were tortured and killed by every known method. New methods of brutal punishment and torture killing were devised by certain members of the camp who became particularly known for their sadistic methods.
On April 20, 1945, approximately 15,000 prisoners were assembled to make a forced march in the direction of Concentration Camp Dachau. The evacuation of these prisoners was caused by the impending capture of the camp by the Allies. These 15,000 prisoners were lined up in three groups and started on this march. Only those prisoners who could walk were taken and before leaving Flossenburg, many were executed, as also were those who collapsed in rank awaiting the movement to start the trek. No provision was made for the feeding of these prisoners or sleeping on this trip. They marched in long columns guarded by SS guards. (Exh. C-2)
Thousands were killed on the way and the paths which they took were littered with the dead. Groups of from 5 to 50 were taken out and forced to dig pits and then were shot. (Exh. B-14, B-15, C-4, C-5). Many graves were not even covered. As the already starved and weakened prisoners fell from exhaustion, a group of SS GUARDS BRInging up the rear would kill them by a shot in the back of the head. All who fell out of line were immediately executed in this manner. Death was also caused by beatings or bashings in the skulls. (Exh. B-1, B-3, B-13, E-17)
The prisoners marched from Friday till Monday during which time they received only 100 grams of bread. They marched in the rain and slept in the fields in the mud and water. Many died from exhaustion. On the 23rd day of April 1945, between the towns of Cham (U-5850) and Roding (U-4868), they were liberated by the American Troops. (Exh. B-3, B-13) (Photographs taken near Wetterfield (U-5070) of one of the graves on this march.) (Exh. E-1 to E-17)
5. The victims of Flossenburg included among them, Russian, civilians and prisoners of war, German nationals, Italians, Belgians, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, British, and American prisoners of war. No practical means was available to complete a list of victims at this camp, however, since the foundation of the Camp in 1938 until the day of liberation it is estimated that more than 29,000 inmates died. (Exh. B-1)
This camp was controlled and run by one class of people, SS troops. The list of perpetrators includes a few civilian prisoners, who managed to gain favor with the SS by carrying out orders of execution and beatings upon their fellow inmates. These prisoners who obtained their immunity and privilege at the cost of other men's lives are deemed equally as guilty.
The citations referred to in the list of perpetrators is by no means complete nor is the list of guilty persons complete. (See Appendix (5) for index and exhibits.)
7. That the exploitation, killing and atrocities committed upon prisoners was a part of a well regulated scheme or plan of the Nazi SS Group, is clearly indicated by the evidence presented here and resulted in the death of thousands.
Flossenburg Concentration Camp, Germany, was the scene of every type and form of Nazi brutality and atrocity committed upon the unfortunate individuals who happened to be sent to this camp. Practically every nationality of Europe was at sometime or another represented in this camp. The majority of prisoners, however, were Russians and Poles. No line of demarkation was made between sexes. Men, women and children were executed in the most brutal fashions.
The responsibility for this camp must be placed upon all personnel who held an active part as a member of the organizational set-up. Whether these persons were ones who actually inflicted the mortal punishment is of little consequence. They all at the least failed to lift a restraining hand in the punishments and atrocities committed upon the inmates therein.JOHN J. REID
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946