THIEF!

This time last year a Swedish woman, one Ann-Britt Axelsdotter, approached me via email about translating my book, Hellstorm, into Swedish. We talked about the book, agreed on the terms, and thereupon the woman began the translation.  Apparently all was going well, or so I thought, when suddenly this past spring I heard nothing from the woman for months.  Since she had mentioned that she was almost finished and wanted to pass the translation on to a friend as an extra set of eyes, I thought little of the time lapse.  In fact, I had already designed the cover for the Swedish translation (above) while waiting for the woman to send me the manuscript.Thus, one might well imagine my shock to learn that not only did this woman (right) translate the book, but she also stole the book and published it as her own.  I learned of this several weeks ago when I saw her website advertising “her” book for sale.  Fact is, Sweden is not a large market for books.  And fact is, my hope to publish this book in Swedish was never about making money.  It was about freeing the Swedish spirit that is today imprisoned by its worst enemies–the liberal elite clique than seemingly runs things in Stockholm but who are in fact themselves run by their Jewish masters who want to flood Sweden with Third World trash.  Hellstorm was to be the first historical book to open Swedish eyes to historical and racial reality.  As many readers of Hellstorm have said, they now not only view World War Two differently, but they view the world itself differently.  Clearly, Sweden must soon begin to “view the world differently” if it hopes to survive.

The good news is: I hope very soon to have the actual bona fide and legitimate translation available to Swedes in short order.  Those who wish will be able to access the book for free: those who prefer a paperback copy of the book will also have that option, and all in Swedish.  The bad news is that although I want to put Ann-Britt Axelsdotter in prison for the theft of my book–and for the clear Violation of International Copyright Law–but I lack the funds to do so now.  The fact is: This woman is not only a thief and a liar, but she is also working for the other side.  No comrade on our side would do to another comrade what she did to me and still call themselves one of us.  It’s that simple.

Thus, if any of my great friends can help me pursue this crime–this outright theft of a book that took me fifteen years to write and promote–either legally or financially, then they will indeed be friends I can, and will always, call “Great!”

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is:

mtgoodrich@aol.com

For those of you donating with cash, check or money order, my mailing address is:

Tom Goodrich

9011 Midnight Pass Rd.

# 527

Sarasota, FL

34242

Funding Historical Truth

 To my friends everywhere. . . .

Some of you are probably wondering why I am so lame lately with my written and audio blogs on this web site.  Well, the fact is that for the last few months I have finally turned my full attention to the follow-up book of Hellstorm–The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947.

The working title for this new book is Summer, 1945: Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate.  I don’t think I need to add—especially for those of you who have read Hellstorm yourselfthat this book will be a ground-breaking, gut-wrenching account. Much of the material in Summer, 1945 will be new to even the more serious students of the period.  Given the terrible crimes committed against both nations during that fateful last summer of the war I firmly believe that this book will have an even greater impact on the world than Hellstorm had.  And that is saying much.

Many of the comments I received from those who had finished Hellstorm mentioned that the book not only shattered the way they viewed WWII, but changed the way they viewed the world, that the book was “life-altering”, that there was the reader before the book, and there was now the reader after the book. This, I predict, will be the same reaction of those who read Summer, 1945.  As before, the book will be graphic, to the point, and will pull absolutely no punches.  For the first time in over 70 years, most of these dark secrets, long-hidden from the world, will finally be available.  What was done to Germany and Japan by the Allied forces during and after the war were crimes so vast and enormous that one is quite literally staggered by the utter and shameless evil.

In the past, many of you stepped to the plate with your donations to help. Although I never asked for funds back then most of you instinctively understood the financial limitations of a non-academic historian such as myself . . . and you replied in kind. For that, I thank you.

But now, I must do that which I never did in the past–I must ask up front for your financial support. As you might imagine, a book of this nature is expensive to research and write. Since I am working full-time on the book, there is very little extra income available . . . and like everyone else, I must pay bills.

And so, to those of you who like your history honest, accurate and politically incorrect, I ask that you give what you can.  To those of you who donate $50 or more, I will, upon publication, send a signed copy of the book.  Additionally, in the event a film is made based on the book, as was the case with Hellstorm, I will also see that you receive the DVD.

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is:

mtgoodrich@aol.com

For those of you donating with cash, check or money order, my mailing address is:

Tom Goodrich

9011 Midnight Pass Rd.

# 527

Sarasota, FL

34242

On behalf of  history—Truthful History-–thanks to everyone!

Tom

(Top, The fire-bombing of Tokyo, 200,000-400,000, mostly women and children, murdered by the US Air Force; above, left, a German rape victim, one of millions; above, right, US marines boiling the heads of  Japanese soldiers)

The Heathen Are Come

63_2_quantrill-raid

Long before the guns at Ft. Sumter ignited the American Civil War in 1861, another war was waged on the distant border of Kansas and Missouri. There, in 1854, the fight between pro-slavery Missourians and antislavery Kansans began. The anger and hatred of the two parties soon escalated from a war of words to a war of violence in which Americans finally got down to the bloody business of killing one another over this question: “Will slavery continue in the United States or will it not?” By the time the entire nation, North and South, finally joined in the fratricidal blood-letting in 1861, Kansans and Missourians had already been engaged in the hate and slaughter for seven years.

Soon, and little noticed by the nation at large due to the bloody contest at its own doorstep, the war in the west quickly descended into one of savagery; of arson, theft, torture, mutilation, murder, and massacre as “Jayhawkers” from Kansas raided Missouri and “Bushwhackers” from Missouri raided Kansas.

By the summer of 1863, the hatred along the Kansas-Missouri border had reached a flash point. Convinced that the federal occupation authorities had declared war on their women when five were killed in a prison collapse in Kansas City, the Missouri guerrillas lead by William Quantrill decided the time had come for a bloody revenge.

Since the onset of the troubles in 1854, Lawrence, Kansas, had been the epicenter of anti-slavery agitation and violence on the western frontier. It was here, along the banks of the Kansas, or Kaw, River, that many Jayhawking forays into Missouri had originated and it was here where much of the stolen loot had returned with the Unionist guerrillas known as Red Legs. Unlike the devastated Missouri border, the area around Lawrence, beyond the reach of rebel raiders, had hardly been touched by war. Thus, although it seemed suicidal, the 450 Missouri irregulars who rode west with Quantrill were determined to strike a blow at what they viewed as the heart of the problem.

At dawn of August 21, 1863, after a grueling all-night ride of fifty miles in which he had “dodged and baffled” his Yankee pursuers, Quantrill finally halted his force on a ridge just east of Lawrence.

(To recognize the 154th anniversary of this event, the following is from my first book, Bloody Dawn—The Story of the Lawrence Massacre)  

***

The day came clear and calm on Friday, August 21, 1863. Not a cloud in the pale morning sky, nor was there a trace of wind. Looking down from Mount Oread a few threads of white smoke were visible, curling straight up as early risers began preparing their breakfasts. Reaching to the heights came the faraway low of milk cows and the tiny, strained efforts of dueling roosters. Black, impassive, the Kaw turned the bend and silently slid east.

Although the land was yet dark, from the summit several figures could nevertheless be seen stirring in the twilight. There were the local hounds trotting their morning circuit, scouting leftovers from the evening past. But there was also Sallie Young, the Eldridge House seamstress, taking her customary ride from town. Two beaux were with her, and at the moment the showoffs were racing their horses south down the Fort Scott Road. Directly below, on Massachusetts Street, the boy recruits were just beginning to rise and dress. Charles Pease was close by, coming down the street from his slaughterhouse with a carcass of beef in the back of the wagon. His dog tripped along beside. Arthur Spicer had begun sweeping out the first of the day’s dust from his beer hall, and in the streets George Sargent was making the rounds, tinkling his bell, delivering milk door to door.

At the Eldridge all was silent save for the kitchen sounds of colored help beginning breakfast. Across the misty river, parked in the cottonwood grove, two teams loaded with salt for R & B’s waited on the ferry to start service for the day.  And winding his way up the face of Mount Oread was Charles Robinson. Leaving his wife at home by the riverside, the troubled former governor was taking advantage of the splendid new day.  Above the slumbering town he approached the stone barn where his first house had stood. Here he would hitch a carriage and take a jaunt over the countryside while the air was yet cool and fresh and where one could remain undisturbed and lost in thought. By his watch, it was five o’clock.

Songbirds began their morning ritual, and gradually, as it grew lighter, several more people emerged to stretch upon porches or visit a back building. In all, it was a tranquil scene—the dawn of a typical summer day in Lawrence.

The more he watched, however, the more George Bell realized there would be nothing typical about this day. He was the first to see them. From his home on Mount Oread the county clerk’s attention had for some time been focused toward the Wakarusa where he spied a huge column of riders slowly materializing from the murky valley.

Bell had naturally assumed they were Union troops. But then there had been the alarms and the “great scare” of three weeks past, and the longer he watched and the more he thought, the greater his suspicion grew. As the horsemen neared, there were mysterious starts and stops and then, when they halted on the rise and two men rode into town and back and two more split off to Sam Snyder’s farm, Bell became certain that this was not the federal cavalry. They didn’t even have a flag.

Grabbing his musket and cartridge box, the clerk ran for the door. His wife and children tried to stop him; if it were true, they begged, there was little one person could do, for the town was asleep. The man brushed their pleading aside. “If they take Lawrence,” he announced, “they must do it over my dead body.” Rushing down the slope, George Bell headed for the armory.

Sallie Young was next. Someone with her said that the column to the east was a Kansas outfit. But no one had mentioned anything about their arrival yesterday. They watched for a bit, but their curiosity was up and soon the friends rode back toward town. As it grew lighter, a few people in the south also saw them and turned to watch.

***

Finally, William Quantrill paused for the last time. The young guide was passed to the rear. A number of men quickly jumped down and loose saddle girths were hurriedly cinched. Blue jackets were stripped off, red sleeves rolled up. Revolvers were drawn, percussion caps checked. Some of the best stuck leather reins in their mouth and bit down hard, leaving both hands free. One final time Quantrill turned and reminded the Missourians why they had come. They knew. Then, at five past five, Quantrill’s horse broke away at a gallop. Behind, a wild, explosive shout went up and the entire command lunged forward at a run. A few shots rang out but most held their fire.

As the roar came nearer—an unearthly scream some thought, unlike anything ever heard in Lawrence—people in the south of town jumped startled from their beds and ran to windows, then to one another.

Those men . . . they have no flag!

There’s a regiment of them!

The rebels have come!

The bushwhackers are here!

Quantrill’s band as sure as you live!

Quantrill is here!

QUANTRILL!

At his barn Governor Robinson turned sharply to the east. He saw a number of tiny flashes followed by as many puffs of gray smoke and these in turn followed by the faint rattle of small arms fire. Unfamiliar as he was with actual warfare, Robinson nevertheless under stood. As he inched his way back into the barn the governor saw below a long, dark mass moving rapidly through the south of town striking for the center.

In East Lawrence, blacks were already pouring from their huts and dashing for the river. “The secesh have come,” they screamed. “The secesh have come.”

Across the ravine in West Lawrence, those who were awakened by the gunfire thought first of Independence Day and firecrackers . . . then the marshal’s dog killers . . . then the recruits acting up. But the Fourth of July was long past and most of the stray dogs had been killed. As for the recruits, they had no weapons. US Senator, James Lane, rose on an elbow and cocked an ear to the south window.

In the quiet surrounding his farm one mile west of Lawrence, Levi Gates also heard the strange sound. Without a second thought he reached for his long-range hunting rifle, and like George Bell and a good many others, Gates rushed straight for town.

At the south edge of Lawrence, Sallie and her friends stopped by the yard of the Reverend Snyder. The group could just make out the distant rumble in town, and here was Mrs. Snyder leaning over her husband Sam, sobbing uncontrollably. A milk pail was turned over, the cow was gone, and the front of the reverend’s shirt was covered with blood. But the woman wouldn’t say what had happened. The noise drew the riders further into town.

***

Charging across open lots, the raiders soon began to separate. With waves and nods, scores of men, mostly farmers and young recruits, split off to picket Mount Oread and the roads leading from town. A little further on, the main body itself broke into three columns, with Quantrill leading the larger to Massachusetts Street while two smaller groups turned down New Hampshire and Vermont. The shooting became more regular.

Ahead, as the roar approached, the boys in the recruit camp came falling from tents, struggling to get into their clothes. Across the street the black camp was already deserted.

When the main column spotted the tents and blue uniforms a moment later, it never slowed, but with shouts–Osceola! Kansas City! Remember the girls!–it rode right on through. As it did, there came a deafening explosion as hundreds of shots were fired up and down the ranks. In a few seconds, when they had passed, all that remained was settling dust, blood-spattered canvas, and a pile of twisted bodies, hands still clutching jackets and trousers. Seeing this, Charles Pease leaped from his meat wagon and flattened himself on the ground. Hard beside him, his dog shivered from paw to haunch.

Eldridge4516Hotel_t460With the cry “On to the hotel,” the main column stormed into the business district. Thundering down broad Massachusetts Street five and six abreast, shots were fired randomly at storefronts while on the adjoining streets others fired into the back doors. At last, in a huge cloud of dust, the three columns converged and washed against the Eldridge House (left). Here they pulled up. A few shots rang out, but soon all became still, and as the shouts and swearing died away only the horses, rearing and plunging, were heard. With hundreds of guns moving from window to window the guerrillas watched and waited. A cannon was parked across the street at the courthouse, but no one was there to use it.

Inside the hotel, there was no panic. Most guests were still in bed, for it had been too sudden. After looking out, some men thought fast enough to slip their money to women. An employee quickly tossed his life savings of $100 in gold through a trap door onto the roof, and someone shouted that “half-wit” Jo, the hotel owner’s brother, had been shot while scaling the courtyard fence. But most were simply too groggy to be frightened. Eastern guests were outraged at being roused at such an hour.

One look and Alexander Banks knew it was hopeless. From his third-floor window the state provost marshal gazed down on a sea of upturned faces, fantastic faces—unshaven, deeply tanned, distorted faces, streaked with sweat, dust, and powder, burning with red-rimmed eyes, and framed in long, greasy hair. There were probably no more than a dozen weapons, including his own, in the entire hotel, so Banks made a quick decision. Yanking a sheet from his bed, he hung it out the window.

Below, there was a thunderous cheer at the symbol, and when all had quieted the provost marshal asked for the leader to come forward. As soon as Quantrill appeared, Banks wisely began bargaining for the safety of the occupants; the hotel would be surrendered without a fight, but first, he insisted, the well-being of the guests must be guaranteed. Quantrill was about to answer when a loud clanging echoed throughout the hotel. Startled, the mass of riders whirled and sprang back, ready to open fire. Quickly Banks yelled out, begging the rebels not to shoot; it was a mistake—only the excited night clerk raising the guests with the dinner gong. For a moment, everything was “breathlessly still.” Shortly, Quantrill again spoke with Banks and soon agreed to the terms, much relieved that the hotel had not become a fortress as feared.

With wild shouts and cheers for Quantrill, many guerrillas then left for the stables and other parts of town while another group dismounted and, with brass spurs jingling, tramped into the plush hotel. Upstairs, fine ladies and gentlemen, scantily clad, had their rooms burst into by dirty, cursing men who with a splash of tobacco juice and wave of a pistol ordered them out and down to the lobby. Trunks and carpet sacks were ripped open, and jewelry, currency, and ladies’ apparel were crammed into pockets. The looting went from room to room as the stupefied boarders—a travelling bishop and priests included—fled down the staircase. Banks and his assurance of safety did little to calm nerves as the celebration above grew in fury. Downstairs, the trembling night clerk was forced to open the safe while other rebels passed quietly about the crowded lobby, tapping men on the shoulder and asking, “your money, if you please!” much as a railroad conductor might pause for tickets, thought one man. With some remaining humor another captive asked if he might keep just fifty cents for a drink or two. The bushwhacker stared at him for a deadly moment or two, gave a slow smile, and then handed back eighty.

Down Massachusetts Street, store doors were kicked in and food and liquor were located. Miniature US flags were also discovered, then with a laugh fastened to the rumps of horses. The offices of the Republican and State Journal were quickly put to the torch. Near the river, the rope on the liberty pole was cut and, amid loud cheers, the huge red, white, and blue banner came fluttering down.

Among the twelve soldiers across the Kaw there was no longer any doubt. First came the mad flight of blacks furiously paddling boats and logs or simply swimming the swollen river. Then the flag fell. Then the cheers. Taking aim, the troops opened fire. On the opposite shore, several raiders trying to cut the ferry cable went spinning up the bank again. When a horseman was spotted, more slugs whizzed up Massachusetts Street and between homes near the river.

***

Sallie Young and her two companions came into Lawrence quite some distance before they realized their mistake.  Warning her friends to stay calm, the three quietly turned and rode slowly from town. When the outskirts were reached and a rebel picket sighted them, the two boys set spurs and were off south. Sallie rode back into town.

***

Soon, Quantrill entered the hotel. Stepping into the packed lobby he met a number of old faces, whereupon he shook hands and spoke briefly. He assured them of their safety. The guerrilla chief then climbed a flight of stairs and strode to the landing where he looked over the crowd and watched while his men went about their work. Everyone below seemed stunned. Terrified, most expected the leader to be the essence of his men; wild, vulgar, and snarling. On this score, however, they were gratefully surprised. Although he gripped a big pistol, with another in his belt, there was a pleasant, calm, even benign look spread over his boyish face and clear blue eyes. His gray hunting shirt was open at the chest and he wore a low-crowned Spanish hat with gold neck cord and little tassels dangling around the brim.

“A fine-looking man,” mused a captive.

Some in the crowd attempted to humor and flatter, grinning sheepishly, reminding him of old times in the territory and congratulating him on his brilliant success in capturing Lawrence. Unmoved, Quantrill received the tribute with “marked complacency,” simply adding that yes, it was by far his greatest exploit. Another ventured to ask why he hadn’t come during the full moon as he had threatened.

“You were expecting me then,” he smiled.

Then, after once more vouching for their safety, Quantrill asked if Governor Carney was in town. He was not, someone answered.

Again, he queried if anyone knew where Senator Lane lived? Arthur Spicer “volunteered.” After ordering the captives across the street and assigning several men to guard them, Quantrill detailed a squad to follow Spicer to Lane’s house: if he misled them, the saloonkeeper was to be shot on the spot; otherwise Spicer was to be returned alive as there was an old score yet to settle.

9764039820aee137b79a732761bcb370As they were being herded across the street, a number of bushwhackers cast crude remarks and curses at the captives. Already some raiders were glutted with liquor. One angry guerrilla, clamoring to murder the hostages, rode up, called a man a Red Leg, then aimed and fired. Although the shot missed, a guard threatened to kill the drunk should he fire again. This was seconded by Quantrill (right), who came out after hearing the disturbance. Quickly, he ordered the prisoners to the City Hotel near the river where they would remain safe. At this, the terror-stricken men and women sprang headlong for the refuge, Quantrill escorting a short distance behind.

Reaching the hotel, the rebel warmly greeted Nathan Stone and his beautiful daughter, Lydia, and shouted to the raiders nearby that the Stones were his friends and that neither they, the hostages, nor the building was to be touched. He then turned to leave. Before he left, however, Quantrill once more reminded the captives that Stone’s hotel was their haven: “Stay in it. . . . Don’t attempt to go into the streets.”

***

Although no Red Legs were there this morning, the rebels didn’t know it, and thus the three-story Johnson House was quickly surrounded by a large band. Unlike the Eldridge, however, the score of people inside refused to come out. Consequently, the bushwhackers began sniping at the windows, mixing the gunfire with calls to surrender.  “All we want is for the men to give themselves up,” they yelled, “and we will spare them and burn the house.”

Two doors down, in a home of screaming children, Getta Dix was doing everything in her power to get her husband to move. Earlier, while Ralph was still in bed, Getta had looked up the street and watched in disbelief while “half-wit” Jo was shot off the Eldridge fence; now with more shooting at the Johnson House the street was full of men. Again she pleaded—the raiders were too busy at the hotel—there was still a chance. But Ralph, his brother Steve, and several employees seemed frozen, uncertain, feebly reassuring one another that it was only a matter of time before help arrived.

Again the woman begged. But nothing. Putting her children in the arms of the men, she then ran down the flight of stairs to the side of the house and struggled a heavy ladder up to a window. As she was coming back, however, Getta looked over toward the Johnson House, and there to her horror she saw several men leaping from windows only to be shot upon landing. Running back into the home, the woman barred the doors and told her husband what she had seen, warning the rest to stay inside. This and the fear of fire jolted the men. Together, despite his wife’s pleas, Dix and the others decided that their only hope now rested behind the stone walls of the Johnson House. Thus after climbing out a window and crawling over the roof of the adjoining barber shop, every man did eventually reach the hotel.

After seeing Ralph safely on the other side, and after taking her children to a coal shed out back, Getta desperately searched for her black nurse. The woman was finally discovered locked in a closet, refusing to come out. Grabbing a meat cleaver from the kitchen, the frantic mother hacked open the door and ordered the frightened nurse toward the shed to mind the children while she herself went to the Johnson House.

No sooner had Getta left than she saw her brother-in-law tumble down the steps at the rear of the hotel. Running to his side, she settled his head into her lap and sought to comfort him. But Steve was dead, and when Getta tried to move, his brain fell into her hands.

Then, as the blood-smeared woman staggered to the front, she could see that the hotel had surrendered. And there, standing among the rest, Getta saw through a rush of pain and tears her husband.

“Oh my God, Ralph,” she screamed. “Why did you do it? I know they will kill you.”

Another prisoner nearby had just handed a pistol to his captor. As soon as the weapon was given up a gun exploded behind the man, blowing out his stomach. Horrified, Dix and the other seven captives screamed for mercy.

“I have killed seven Red Legs,” laughed the head of the gang, “and I’ll kill eight more.”

Wildly pleading that it was a mistake, that they weren’t Red Legs, the white-eyed, sobbing men knelt and crawled on the ground, reaching up to the guerrillas for life. Although she too was pleading for his life, Dix begged his wife to try even harder. At length, the prisoners were kicked and punched to their feet and driven by three guards across the street toward the Methodist Church. With Getta clinging to Ralph’s arm, she begged the men at every step not to harm him. Two of the rebels bent, then broke, making her a promise. But the leader was firm.

“No, I won’t let you take your husband away,” he said. “I’m going to kill every damn one of them.”

Hanging desperately to Ralph, striking at the raider’s horse as it tried to nudge her away, the woman walked sideways, never taking her eyes from the leader. Up from the church, in the alley, Getta stumbled over a pile of rocks, breaking her hold, and before she could rise again the guns went off. Somewhere in the swirling blue smoke she saw Ralph go down. As in a dream, she stood while all around her the others fell away.  Racing down the alley, another group of riders spotted the pile of bodies; without slowing they trampled and mashed them into the ground.

Getta wandered along Massachusetts Street for some time—to a store where looting guerrillas chased her away, to a figure that was still breathing. But nothing, it seemed, could hold her attention. She continued to drift aimlessly until at last she found herself again in the alley. Noticing a straw hat laying nearby, Getta picked it up, quietly placed it over her husband’s face, then calmly walked back to her burning home.

***

bloodybillAlthough a number of raiders roamed Massachusetts Street, exploring one store after the other, most broke into squads and covered the town. Many, like the guerrilla leaders, George Todd and Bill Anderson (left), rode over the bridges spanning the ravine and paid a visit to affluent West Lawrence. From out of shirt pockets came the lists with the long row of names, and the firing that opened the morning so terrifically now settled into short, methodical bursts from every corner of town. The Missourians had finally gotten among those they hated most, and no power on earth could stop them now.

***

Panic gripped Mayor George Collamore. Springing from window to window, he, his wife Julia, and their Irish servant saw on all sides only nightmarish guerrillas, angry and shouting. There was no way out. Suddenly the desperate man thought of his well and quickly ran for the rear. There, in a wing of the house the tiny mayor dove down the dark hole followed closely by his servant.

At the front door the gang entered, met by Julia and her frightened children. Cursing and yelling, they demanded her husband. Receiving no reply from the terror-stricken wife, the men crashed through the home, up and down, from one room to the next, madly hunting their prey. Failing in this, it was decided simply to smoke the victim out. Setting the house on fire, the raiders fell back into the street to watch and wait for the mayor’s appearance.

Refusing to leave, Julia slipped to the well, and as the flames spread throughout the home, she spoke down to her husband.

***

By the time George Bell reached the center of town, Lawrence was surrounded. There had been no resistance. Nowhere could Bell hear the distinct crack of a militia rifle, and as far as he could see he was the only citizen shouldering a weapon. His courage dissolved. Bell looked for a way to escape, returning to home and family his sole desire. At last he ducked into the ravine. There, to his surprise, he met many others, just as confused and frightened as he.

“Where shall we meet?” he whispered. Aghast at such a notion, those nearby warned that it was pointless to think about a stand any longer; fighting would only get them all killed. A friend urged Bell to throw down his musket and perhaps draw less malice should he be taken. The sounds of gunfire and pounding hooves were more than enough to convince Bell of the wisdom in this. Dropping the rifle and cartridge box, the county clerk inched his way up the ravine toward home.

***

When Levi Gates reached West Lawrence from his farm he realized that it was too late. Across the ravine he could plainly see rebels in the center of town and more to the south, and it was obvious there was little he could do. All of Gates’ friends and neighbors who had come on the run had turned back home in dismay. He was about to do the same. But Levi Gates took pride in the fact that he was an excellent shot, and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to try his hand on a human target and bag a rebel proved irresistible.

Dismounting, the farmer steadied his hunting rifle on a fence, sighted his mark, then squeezed the trigger. Although it was a long shot, a guerrilla in the distance jumped in his saddle. Tempted further, Gates once more loaded and fired, then raced for the wooded ravine. He failed to notice the rider closing on his right, however, and after he was brought down and the rebel had finished with him, Levi Gates lay sprawled in the dust, his head flat and mashed “to a jelly.”

***

The first Jim Lane knew of anything was when a “flying Negro” passed his home and yelled that the bushwhackers were in town. Instantly the mansion became a bedlam, and while the wife and children flashed about in their night clothes trying to locate two guns stored somewhere, the senator peered out the window watching for the approach of the raiders. The guns could not be found. Grabbing a ceremonial sword as his only recourse, Lane quickly dropped it as the horsemen led by Arthur Spicer drew up at the front gate. Bolting through the house, the Jayhawker flew out the back window and ran for a small gully, bobbing and weaving, pausing just long enough to look for Rebel pickets. In a few moments Lane emerged from the gully and went streaking west through his cornfield, nightshirt flapping in the breeze.

Meeting them at the door, Mary Lane politely informed the guerrillas that the senator was not at home. Foiled at not coming face to face with the most famous Jayhawker in Kansas, the rebels settled for next best and proceeded to dismantle his home. Pianos, furniture, china—much of it ironically, stolen in Missouri—were broken up and strewn about, as were the senator’s private papers. The rings worn by Mary and her daughter were snatched from their fingers. Having finally located one of the shotguns, James, Ir., was warned to give it up. He refused. When a blast smashed into the wall nearby he at last did as he was told. The home was then set ablaze. But the mother and children hurried and put it out. Again a fire was lit in a different spot and again the family rushed and extinguished it. Finally the flames caught and spread in a third area and the frantic attempts to save the finest home in Lawrence at last ceased.

At that, the gang mounted and rode away. With them not only did they take Lane’s “magnificent banner” presented to his Indiana regiment for duty in the Mexican War, but the senator’s shining sword as well.

By now Lane himself was almost a mile away, crossing over the California Road, still running.

***

One block east of Lane’s, another group surrounded the stately home of Jerome Griswold. The swoop completely stunned the four families inside. With loud, ugly shouts the men were ordered to come out. Looking down from the second-floor bedrooms at the terrifying array below, Dr. Griswold, Jo Trask, Harlow Baker, Simeon Thorp, along with their wives turned and spoke excitedly about what they should do. Again the men were demanded; again there was no response. A moment or two passed and then, anxiously, someone in the house called out and asked why the men were wanted.

“The damned sons of bitches must come out of there,” yelled an impatient guerrilla. He was echoed by his companions. No one in the home moved at this awful demand.

Soon, another raider, wiser than the first, urged the Kansans to come out, that he would guarantee their safety once they did. No one would be harmed, he insisted, adding that they came only to rob Lawrence, and “if the citizens quietly surrender . . . it might save the town.” This last approach softened the four men in the home. And besides, there was nothing else they could do.

“If it will help to save the town,” Trask advised, “let us go.”

The men—balding State Senator Thorp, handsome newspaper­man Trask, and dark-bearded, husky Griswold—filed down the staircase and reluctantly walked out the door. While Baker was getting into his clothes, the bushwhackers quickly encircled the others. The captives were asked their names and occupations, then robbed, and when Baker at last came down, the raiders formed the four men into a line. As the wives watched, the husbands were ordered to march toward town, and with Baker in the lead and a guerrilla riding at the side of each, they walked off.

Just as they cleared the yard one of the rebels cursed the men for going too slowly. This caused the prisoners to quickly pick up the pace. Something exploded behind him, ripping through his neck, and before Baker hit the ground another shot shattered his wrist. The rest of the guns went off. Thorp fell down near Baker while Trask managed to run only a short distance before he too went down. Wounded several times, big Jerome Griswold stayed on his feet. He made it all the way back to the yard and was on the verge of escape, but just as he was scrambling over some cordwood a well-aimed ball tore the life from him once and for all.

As the women stood shrieking in horror the Missourians paused to scan their work. One man was dead outright, whereas the other three were still breathing. Screaming hysterically, the wives raced down the stairs and through the door toward the dying men. Before they could reach them, however, the raiders, cussing and shouting, drove them back again. Jo Trask, rolling and kicking in terrible pain, pleaded with a rebel to let his wife come to him. The guerrilla listened for a moment, thought the matter over, then agreed. Cocking his pistol, he aimed down and sent a chunk of lead whizzing through Trask’s heart.

“He’s dead,” shouted the killer to the wife. “You can come now.”

It was decided to leave the two yet alive to lay and suffer as they were, and while the gang moved down the street a mounted guard was stationed a little beyond. After the others had left, the women again tried to reach their husbands but were once more frightened back when the rebel rode down on them at a charge. There was nothing they could do. The mayor’s house was burning and others were starting to smoke, and there were the men lying all alone.

In great agony from a stomach wound, Senator Thorp writhed in the blood and dust. His friend Baker lay a few paces off, bleeding from the neck and hand. Harlow Baker had come close to drowning once in a swirling black river of his native Maine, so he understood death a little better than most. Although they were painful, the grocer knew that his wounds were not mortal. He remained still nonetheless. Beyond, no sound or movement came from Griswold or Trask.

***

Around the burning home of George Collamore all the guerrillas had gone. They left fully satisfied that Collamore had either escaped earlier or burned to death in the fire. But to them the most certain thing in the world was that the mayor of Lawrence could not be in the house and still alive. Even Julia, who had remained by the well talking down to her husband until the very last, was forced out by the murderous heat.

Standing back, she watched. The fire engulfed the house and spread to the wing, and then the orange flames crackled and licked over the mouth of the well.

***

Old Joseph Savage wasn’t in that great of a rush to leave town–at least not until he had hitched his buggy and safely loaded everything of value into the back, including his brand-new silver baritone, which he was eager to show off at the next band concert. But finally, he and his wife and a German friend did pull away from their home just south of Lawrence and drove up Cemetery Road. “Mine pipe, mine pipe,” cried the German, who wanted to go back and get it. But Savage wasn’t turning around just for a pipe, and the German and his smoke would simply have to wait.

After a short ride the group came to the home of Otis Longley; here they stopped. To their surprise they saw Otis suddenly bolt out his back door and run to the front, “making a frightened noise, unlike any other sound I ever heard,” thought Savage. Close behind came two men cursing him to halt. Otis kept going, however, and just as he was about to reach the fence along the road, a shot rang out. Otis went down. As the stunned people watched on, the moaning man struggled to climb the fence. But another explosion sounded behind him and another bullet blew open his jaw, knocking him back to the ground. When the two rebels walked up—one greedily chomping slices of cantaloupe—Otis was on his hands and knees, coughing streams of blood. Again he tried to rise. A loud blast at close range dropped him for good. The men then crossed the fence.

Joseph Savage, “some times crawling, and some times running and rolling,” had already made a break for cover. But trembling and pale, the German sat beside Mrs. Savage stiff with fear. The woman’s pleading and the sight of the horrified German was just too much, however, and the wagon was allowed to pass.

The two guerrillas strolled back to the house, the one still eating melon and the other merrily tooting his new silver horn.

***

“Now is your time to make your escape,” whispered one of the raiders behind Lemuel Fillmore. Earlier, Fillmore had taken his valuable horse to the ravine for safekeeping. Instead of staying there, however, he returned to his house for a pistol. That’s when they caught and disarmed him, and that’s why he was now being marched toward Massachusetts Street.

“Now is your time to run,” the captor whispered as they neared the ravine. At this, Fillmore decided to make his move. He got only a few paces, however, before he was shot in the back and killed.

In West Lawrence an old man stood by a fence, idly spectating. A rebel rode up. Water was demanded. The old man ambled off and soon returned. Taking the cup with his left hand, the bushwhacker shot the man dead with his right.

Like these victims, most common people were at first impervious to the peril around them. Many were still under the impression that as with Olathe, Shawnee, and the others, this raid was for plunder alone, where only “marked” men would suffer. Otis Longley had seen rebels on Mount Oread earlier, but he went right on with his chores. When finished, Otis drew buckets of water and sat patiently waiting, just in case his home was set on fire. The attorney, Sam Riggs, despite the warnings of his wife, Kate, continued to help neighbors along his street by removing furniture and dousing flames. Many others reacted similarly.

Looking down from his stone barn, however, Charles Robinson harbored no such illusions about this raid. Below, he watched the drama unfold. He saw the home of Mayor Collamore ablaze, as well as that of Ralph Dix. He saw Lane’s house burning. As the sun rose, Robinson also saw through the smoke the machine movements of the guerrillas, their door-to-door calls, the citizens breaking from their homes at a run, the pursuit by men on horseback. The governor also heard the muted pistol fire, the shrieks of wives, the shouts and laughter of killers.

Charles Robinson had founded Lawrence barely nine years before, and a kind fate had allowed him to be absent during the first sack in 1856. Now, to his utter misery and grief, he had a front-row seat to the second, but this, unlike the other, was a much more thorough, much more tragic affair.

***

Larkin Skaggs was accustomed to having things just his way. He had already laid claim to one of the finest horses taken in the Lawrence stables, a magnificent white, and few were the men to contest it. Skaggs was big and burly and strong, and his long hair and beard were grizzled because he was quite a bit older than the rest. But Larkin Skaggs was also exceedingly cruel. When drunk, the bushwhacker was even crueler than usual, and thus when Lydia Stone’s sparkling diamond ring caught his eye, it was wrenched from her finger in the same brutal way Skaggs took whatever else he wanted in life.

When Quantrill entered the hotel the attractive young woman made a tearful appeal. Still in the building, Skaggs was located terrorizing the Eldridge captives; after a few words from the leader, he was “obliged” to return the ring. On his way out, Skaggs paused just long enough to glare down at Lydia Stone.

“Miss,” he growled, “I’ll make you rue this.”

***

sallie2BeFunky_68_2_young_quantrill.jpgNot long after she arrived back in town, Sallie Young (left) was taken prisoner and robbed of her pony. But shortly afterward she was put back in the saddle and ordered to go with a squad of rebels to identify men and point out which homes were which. But Sallie wasn’t very helpful. Every other house it seemed was that of a brother, a cousin, or an uncle, and with tears rolling down her pretty cheeks she begged the raiders to spare the home and occupants. They did and they did and they did, but after this the girl was allowed to leave whenever she chose. Although she might have left at any time, Sallie tagged along instead and followed the squad wherever it went. Some of the people who caught a glimpse of her were confused: how odd she looked in her natty riding habit, they thought, alongside the rough and ugly men.

Arthur Spicer was also with a group of rebels. Unlike Sallie, however, the saloonkeeper was religiously pointing out men, homes, and businesses. And unlike the girl, Spicer couldn’t just pick up and leave anytime he wanted; and to have had so many relatives would have been his end. It was coming soon enough, he thought, when he was handed back to Quantrill.

***

The man with the salty little grin wasn’t grinning today; he was praying. As he lay on his back in the dark cellar, squeezed up between a dirt ledge and the kitchen floor, he knew it was only a matter of time before they came.

Like his old boss Jim Lane, Hugh Fisher entertained no rosy notions about tomorrow should he fall into rebel hands today. That morning at Sibley had proven how important he was to George Todd and the Missouri bushwhackers. Nor was he as ill as previously thought. At the initial shout, the Jayhawker jumped from his sickbed and “bounded” out the door. First, he turned his horses loose from the barn, and then with his two young sons, Willie and Charlie, he ran for Mount Oread. The illness had sapped the preacher, however, and the sight of rebel pickets on the crest made him think twice. Sending the boys on alone, Fisher fled back to his South Park home. Elizabeth, with a baby in her arms and a tot by her side, thought her husband was insane to return and said as much, but as he slipped into the tiny cellar the woman made up her mind to do everything she could to save her man.

His wait was not long and Fisher soon heard the sounds—horses to the gate, spurs on the porch, knocks at the door, boots on the kitchen floor.

“Is your husband about the house?”

He was not, lied Elizabeth.

“I know a damned sight better,” snapped the guerrilla. “He’s in the cellar; where is it?”

Startled, yet composed, taking the four men to the door, the woman pointed with a straight face: “The cellar is open; if you think he is there, go look for yourselves.”

Staring down into the black, a light was demanded. While the mother went upstairs to fetch a lamp, still keeping a grip on herself, the baby was placed in a bushwhacker’s arms. Waiting, the man made faces and cooed to keep the infant from crying.

Below, Fisher could hear everything. When he heard his wife returning with the lamp and the cocking of revolvers, his left foot began to tremble uncontrollably. He placed his right foot over it to keep it still. Then as the light entered the cellar and boots came slowly down the steps, Hugh Fisher’s heart and lungs slowed, then stopped, and his whole life flashed across his mind in an instant.

And Elizabeth, holding her baby tight to one ear and pressing her hand hard to the other, went quickly into the front room.

As the rebels reached the bottom, they were forced to stoop under the low ceiling. The man holding the lamp came to where the reverend was laying and stopped. In the glow of the lamp Fisher squinted upon the guerrilla’s face, less than two feet from his own. Because of the low ceiling the lamp too was held low; thus the preacher’s face remained in the shadow cast by the ledge he lay on. The men looked a bit longer but soon walked back up the stairs.

“The woman told the truth. The rascal has escaped.”

There was no time to listen to the echo in her ears. Elizabeth Fisher reached deep down, drew up every ounce of self-control she possessed, then let the words roll.

“You will believe me now, I hope. I told you my husband had gone.”

The rebels lingered awhile, robbed the house, torched it, then left one of their men behind to see that the fire spread. But it wasn’t in him to stop the woman as she raced from the well to the blaze and back again, and so the reluctant guard just left. When the last of the flames were doused, Elizabeth came to the cellar door and spoke softly to her husband.

“Pa,” she said, “Pray and trust in the Lord, and I’ll do all I can.”

***

After leaving their father, the two Fisher boys became separated somewhere in the hazel and sumac up the hill, and twelve-year-old Willie fell in with Robert Martin, a lad a little older and bigger than himself. Young Martin wore a blue shirt made from his father’s old uniform, and he also carried a musket with a cartridge box slung from his shoulder. So when a picket spotted them, he gave chase.

The two boys raced over the hill, side by side, as in a game where home base and blue sky are always just ahead and everything somehow ends as it should. But a blast sounded behind them, and as Robert tripped, Willie felt something wet and warm spray his face. Robert didn’t get up to finish the race because half his head was gone. And when Willie wiped his face he found his hand dripping blood, bone, and bits of brain.

Little Charlie Fisher also joined with another boy and together they hid in the cemetery. But a child’s superstition forced them to a nearby cotton patch instead.

***

As he crept along the ravine toward home, George Bell soon came to realize the futility of it all. He was cut off. Peering between the weeds and limbs, he could see no hope of reaching his family on the hill. In the streets, in the alleys, around burning homes and barns, only guerrillas were about. To climb the barren slopes of Mount Oread would be suicide. But his nerves cracked. Bell panicked.

Convinced it was just a matter of time before the raiders swarmed in and murdered them all, the county clerk and another man ran into the street. Once in the open and alone, the two abruptly returned to reality. But then, as fortune would have it, they spied a familiar sight—a partially completed brick home. The men dashed in, climbed to the second story, then crawled up among the joists. They could only keep quiet, count the seconds, and pray they hadn’t been seen.

But they had.

***

When a gang came to the home on South New Hampshire Street looking for Louis Carpenter, they didn’t have far to look. He was right there.

Absorbed with the more important things in life, the good judge had never given much thought to fear; and so, being unfamiliar with it, he could not fully express it. Thus when hate and the big black guns stood around him he didn’t react as most men might. He certainly didn’t run because running never entered his head. His hands didn’t tremble. His bodily functions didn’t betray him. His voice didn’t waver, and when lethal questions were posed the New Yorker replied straightly and honestly in a clear upstate accent. There was also a strange, kindly quality about him. Some rebels could not resist the temptation and stole a few items from the house, but no one was in a mood any longer to burn it. And certainly no one could bring himself to harm the judge. When the guerrillas left the yard, Carpenter was still standing there while behind him, his bride, Mary, and her sister, Abigail, began to breathe once more.

It was no act—the judge was always like that. A little later, another mob came and, seeing the pretty home, decided to burn it. But once again and as calm as ever, Carpenter met the raiders and sent them away disarmed. The pressure on the women, however, was almost unbearable.

***

It was a miracle! The bushwhacker had just started shooting at the men clinging to the beams when George Bell yelled out. The firing stopped, and everything became still.

It was true. The rebel was actually Bell’s old friend. In happier times the two had often broken bread together at the Kansan’s table, and each had greatly enjoyed one another’s company. Bell and his companion were told to come down, for from that moment on both men were home free. The old friend would talk to the Missourians and straighten things out. The county clerk jumped down followed by the other man, and together the three walked outside. That’s where the miracle ended. The crowd of guerrillas standing around them, wild and bitter, didn’t care a dime about old acquaintances.

“Shoot him! Shoot him!” was their cry, and not a word was uttered by the old friend. A religious man, Bell asked for a moment to pray. Granted. Finished, the clerk said amen, and in a burst of fire his companion fell down and George Bell dropped dead.

From there the gang scaled Mount Oread to complete the job. At home, Mrs. Bell met the raiders and recognized the former guest.

“We have killed your husband,” he blandly informed her, “and we have come to burn his house.”

***

When a group of bushwhackers broke into the home of Edward Fitch and shouted for him to come from hiding, he did. While Sarah and the three terrified children watched, the Massachusetts native walked down the stairs and into the circle of waiting men. As soon as Fitch hit the foot of the stairs he was dead. But just to make certain, the rebel who shot him grabbed another revolver and continued to pump slugs into the corpse until that gun too was emptied. The guerrillas then moved on to rob and torch the home.

As the smoke began to drift about, Sarah pleaded and tried three separate times to remove her husband’s body. But three separate times the murderer forbade it. She then ran to retrieve a small painting of Edward, but once more was denied. Finally the woman ceased all efforts and just wandered from room to room watching as her home was destroyed. At last, when the place was engulfed in flames, and with sparks and debris showering about her, a guerrilla forced her to leave.

Sarah walked with her screaming children across the road, sat on the grass, and watched while the home and everything she owned crackled and roared over the body of her husband. Above, on an adjoining shed, a small Union flag hung limp. The children, playing soldier a day or two before, had planted it high so that everyone in town could see they were loyal and proud to be Yankees.

***

Escape was the thing, escape by any means. Politicians, doctors, and merchants bellied toward safety side by side with local lay-abouts and town drunks, crawling in underclothes through flowerbeds and cabbage rows, along weedy lots and ditches until they finally reached what to them seemed a God-sent sanctuary—a cottonwood chicken coop or a tiny, stinking outhouse. Others simply hurled headlong into wells or shimmied beneath wooden walkways. An outdoor cellar in the center of town with a hidden entrance was a haven where many fled. But more found refuge in the ravine, along the tangled banks of the river, or in Jim Lane’s vast cornfield. Often chasing a victim right to the edge of these places, guerrillas always slammed to a halt and galloped away as if expecting a volley of shots to ring out. In the cornfield, scores of thirsty citizens were hidden. Several times the raiders rode along the perimeter, some were for going in. Uncertainty, however, always held them back. A woman living on the hem of the field who had carried water to the fugitives was asked by a group of rebels, who themselves had stopped for water, what was in the corn.

“Go in and see,” she replied, in a tone that left no doubts.

Had they gone in they wouldn’t have found Jim Lane; nor would they have found him anywhere near the field. Instead he was among the bluffs far to the southwest of Lawrence, “on his belly under some bushes.”

Escape was the thing; there were other ways. After somehow avoiding the slaughter, the lieutenant of the recruits eluded his pursuers and ran naked into an abandoned shanty. There he found clothes and quickly dressed. In a moment or two he left the hut and walked into the street unnoticed . . . wearing a dress and bonnet.

Another man burst into a home occupied by three women and begged for help. Soon a noisy gang stomped through the door. Searching the rooms without success, the guerrillas loudly entered the parlor. At this the indignant ladies scolded the rebels to please be quiet and more considerate, since “poor Aunt Betsie” was neither well nor accustomed to such excitement. Sitting in an invalid’s chair, “Aunt Betsie” was eyed suspiciously–an old woman’s cap, a shawl across her lap, medicine bottles and cups nearby, a “niece” fanning her. Finally, the raiders left and the grateful “Aunt Betsie” and three resourceful women breathed easily once again.

Some men without recourse simply put on the dirtiest, most ragged set of clothes they had and mixed with the Missourians. One dentist went even further. Besides finding money for the guerrillas and guiding them to the best stock of liquor in town, he also joined in and set several homes on fire.

When raiders knocked on their doors, women too employed almost any device in an attempt to save their homes—and very often the men hiding just above or just below.

Where in hell is Fred Read?

Gone east for goods.

Peter Ridenour?

Gone east to buy goods.

What are your politics?

Sound on the goose.

Has your old man ever stolen any niggers in Missouri?

Never been in Missouri.

But as often as not, no amount of pleading or lying would suffice, and a home was put to the torch anyhow. And as soon as the bushwhackers had done their work and moved on, behind them women and children rushed with quilts and slopping buckets of water in an attempt to smother the flames. But as was commonly the case, after gamely battling and subduing a blaze, the soot-smeared ladies looked up only to find another squad approaching with the same intent.

“Put that out if you can!” said an exasperated guerrilla to a woman who had just stopped one fire. When he had gone, she did just that.

***

Those at the home of John Thornton were more persistent. When the straw bed they ignited was put out, the rebels returned and started it again, but this time Nancy Thornton was forced to leave. In a short while, when the husband too appeared and raced out the back, the guerrillas were ready and waiting. A chunk of hot lead burned into Thornton’s hip. He didn’t go down, however, but turned and fled back into the house. Again the heat became unbearable, and when he reappeared another shot was fired, this time blowing his knee apart. Once more, and followed by his horrified wife, Thornton limped back into his blazing home.

Blinded by smoke, the wounded man soon came out again, leaning on Nancy for support. One of the raiders rode up, took aim, but just before he could jerk the trigger the Kansan lunged for his leg. Thornton was unable to reach the weapon, however, and a slug at point-blank smashed into his eye and exploded out the cheek. Another gun went off and a ball entered his back, ripped down the spine, and tore into a buttock. But still Thornton clung to his attacker. Frustrated and out of ammunition, the bushwhacker tried again.

“I can kill you,” he growled as he used the heavy revolver like a hammer to bash the head of the struggling man. At last John Thornton lost his grip and released the leg. But he wasn’t dead.

“Stand back and let me try,” yelled an impatient guerrilla nearby. “He is the hardest man to kill I ever saw.” With that, the enraged attacker let fly every ball in his weapon, striking the target one, two, three times. Thornton stumbled a few steps, then collapsed in a heap. Still doubtful, one of the rebels reared his horse back to stomp the body, then leveled his pistol to fire again.

“For God’s sake,” shrieked the hysterical wife as she grabbed the horse’s bridle, “let him alone, he’s killed now.”   Satisfied, though amazed at the time and energy needed to do it, the bushwhackers finally moved on.

To preserve it for burial, Nancy managed to drag the body away from the fire to an open space across the street. There, she saw that her dead husband had a wound for almost any given place and was literally soaked in blood from head to toe. Looking closer, however, the woman saw something else—John Thornton was still alive!

***

“Fred, one of them damned nigger-thieving abolitionists ain’t dead yet . . . go and kill him.” Neither Harlow Baker nor Simeon Thorp could be sure which of them had moved, but it was certain that one would soon find out.

Since being shot, the two had lain in the street feigning death as the guerrillas rode nearby. When it was clear, they had whispered back and forth to one another describing where they were hit. Baker still had the strength to get up, but dared not. Senator Thorp, hurt much the worse, could not.

The horse stopped beside them and they heard the rebel dismount. When he was kicked over onto his face, Baker knew he was the one. He heard the explosion, felt a sharp sting, and in a rush all the air left his right lung. He grew dizzy and almost fainted, but through the pain Baker was still around to hear “Fred” congratulate himself as he rode back to his pal.

***

GeorgeToddThis time George Todd (right) came in person. Only a twist of fate had kept him from meeting the preacher that morning near Sibley, and Todd today wanted no stone left unturned.

Despite this, Elizabeth Fisher, as unflappable as ever, insisted that her husband was not at home; that he had gone over the hill long ago and was by now probably well on his way to Topeka. And again the woman boldly invited the doubting rebels to search the house. To his great relief though, Hugh Fisher did not hear the cellar door open, nor did he hear the thud of boots down the steps. He did hear, however, the breaking of chairs and shutters for kindling and a guerrilla swearing to kill his wife if she tried to extinguish the fire.

Ignoring the threat, Elizabeth slammed the door in the raider’s face and raced to the well to fill buckets, pans, and tubs. This took time, however, and meanwhile more fires were being set. By the time she returned with the water, her two-story home was hopelessly ablaze. Running back to the front of the house, the desperate woman turned her energies toward saving the one-story kitchen and trying to keep her husband from being broiled alive. Climbing on the cook stove she doused the ceiling first. Then lugging two tables outside—setting one atop the other—Elizabeth scrambled up to the roof and threw more water on. But just as these flames were quenched much of the burning roof on the house crashed across the kitchen.

Dipping up more water the woman drenched her clothing, then once again waded into the flames. But it was hopeless. At length, as the rebels stood around the home watching her futile efforts, Elizabeth ran for more water and began flooding the kitchen floor under which her husband lay. A neighbor woman, as mystified as the bushwhackers, asked her why she was trying to save a piece of floor when her entire world was burning.

“A memento,” she yelled back above the roar.

But as the fire and debris fell into the kitchen even Elizabeth saw that it was only a matter of time. Slipping into the smoke-filled cellar, the frantic woman spoke to where her husband lay.

“You must come out of there or burn alive; I can’t keep the fire back any longer.”

“Almost roasted,” the preacher decided it was his last chance. As he crept out the cellar door Elizabeth quickly threw a dress over him. Then as she lifted a heavy carpet the husband ducked under and, crawling as low and as close to the woman as possible, the two went out of the burning home. While the guerrillas watched on, the carpet was slowly lugged across the yard until the weary wife at last dropped it down beside a small weeping willow. Running back to the house she grabbed chairs, bedding, and other items and stacked them over the rug. And finally, like candles on a cake, the mother sat her two children on top of the heap. After this, she could only wait and watch and pray the rebels didn’t suspect.

With guns in their grip, the bushwhackers glanced from the house to the pile and back again. They always looked from a distance, however, and much to the woman’s relief, none of them approached.

Sitting quietly by the baby, Elizabeth’s little boy was startled when he heard from far below a hoarse voice whisper for water.

“Pa is here somewhere; I heard him speak,” he said, looking up to his exhausted mother.

The child was quickly hushed and the father ordered from here on out to keep still.

***

Battle_of_LawrenceNot every raider had the stomach for it. Caught up in the pathetic efforts of a crying woman struggling to remove a divan, desk, or piano from her burning home, some could not hold back and soon found themselves wrestling over a piece of furniture just as frantically as the woman. And after setting a fire, not a few who imagined their hearts stone beyond hope caved in to tearful appeals and joined to save what they had intended to destroy.

After fleeing her home one woman returned to find it ablaze, yet curiously, neatly laid under a tree was a box containing her family photographs. Other Missourians stared like children at the beautiful parlors they entered, and many simply could not bring themselves to destroy the pretty cups, saucers, and heirlooms. Had it been left to them, some would have spared even “marked” homes. But harder sorts were always just around the corner.

“No, God damn the abolitionists,” shouted an angry guerrilla. “Why should this house be saved?”

And most were not cold killers. Rummaging through homes, searching for plunder, many obvious hiding places were avoided, and often a raider either winked or turned his back while a man escaped. But others were quick to remind that these same Kansans were the ones who had been in Missouri “killing our people.” Most were not cold killers—but enough were.

You have killed my husband; let me keep his ring. . . .

 No matter!

The Germans fared the worst. Their antislavery views were well known and, unlike other men, they couldn’t escape by lying; their tongues were judge and jury.

“Nicht versteh,” said one when the rebels popped him a question.

“God damn you, we will make you versteh!” they shouted as they shot him dead.

For some time the town’s German blacksmith had remained hidden with his little child amid a patch of corn in the Central Park. Later the baby grew restless in the heat and began to cry, prompting several passing guerrillas to venture in. When they left, the father was dead with the child still crying in his once-powerful arms.

At a German home, the people were ordered out while the Missourians sacked the contents and torched the place. Among the occupants, a man on his sickbed had to be carried from the house and placed upon a mattress in the yard. When the gang finished indoors they walked over to the invalid and pulled out their pistols. With guns staring down, the German strained on weakened arms to rise but was instantly blasted back upon his cot.

***

Again a squad came to the home of Judge Carpenter bent on burning and killing. But just as the others did before, the men left quieter than they came.

***

When they had finished with him, Arthur Spicer was brought back to Quantrill at the City Hotel. Despite his earlier threat, however, the guerrilla leader now seemed totally unconcerned at Spicer’s return, and after entering the building the saloonkeeper passed discreetly to the rear.

***

Activity picked up on Massachusetts Street as many of the raiders drifted back. Stores gone over lightly before were now cleaned out. Some merchants and clerks were compelled to wait on bushwhackers as if they were regular customers while liquor and food was served and boots, shirts, and hats were tried on. In the apartments above terrified families were forced out, but not until they had filed past the rebels and been robbed.

I’ll take that watch!

Give me those earrings!

Fork over them greenbacks!

Shell out, God damn it . . . and be quick about it!

As fewer rebels moved through the lesser streets some people came out and made their escape. With his wife, little daughter, and a friend, the Reverend Richard Cordley left his home and splendid library and quietly threaded his way through the streets. After some “exciting moments” the four entered the brush and walked to the riverbank. There, in a marvelous stroke of luck, an alert friend on the opposite shore recognized the Cordleys and, risking his own life, rowed a boat across and ferried the group to safety. One man and his wife stuffed a change of clothes into a pillow slip, sat their children in a play wagon, and simply walked away.

If one could muster the courage, getting through the streets and beyond the first line of pickets was to escape, for those patrolling further out—farmers and boys mostly—showed little inclination to stop or harm the refugees. Most citizens, though, remained fast in the same places they had throughout the morning–whether indoors or out.

One man holding an umbrella sat in the open undisturbed, shading his wife and child. Another, after being chased and shot at, fell and was immediately covered by his wife. Long after the assailants had left the woman continued to wail and shriek. Afraid she would draw even more attention his way, the husband at last whispered, “For God’s sake, wife, don’t take on so. I don’t know if I’m even hit.”

After helping the bushwhackers load pack horses, the two young clerks at R & B’s, still barefoot and half-clad, eased off to the bushes and raced to the river. The frightened New Yorker saw no point in stopping there, however, and after swimming the Kaw he sprinted up the Leavenworth Road.

At last, the Eldridge House, thus far spared though picked clean from “cellar to garret,” was put to the torch. As some raiders were busy spreading the fire on the ground floor, a woman ran up screaming that a black baby, left by its mother and forgotten in the excitement, still remained inside. After listening for a moment, the men went on with their work.

“Burn the God damn little brat,” was the grim reply.

The fires caught, then climbed rapidly to the fourth floor. In a very short time “the finest building in Kansas”—plush carpets, chandeliers, music, dancing, laughter, all—was enveloped in flames.

On the adjacent corner the courthouse went up. Across the street from that, Danver’s Ice Cream Saloon burned, and so on down the street until both sides were completely ablaze. And while the fires were set the rebels celebrated; walking or riding through the street in fancy new clothes and shiny black boots, wearing rings on their fingers and gold chains and crosses from their necks; gulping down canned lobster, oysters, and figs; smoking black cigars; guzzling beer, brandy, and French champagne; waving hats in the air as the huge liberty flag was dragged past them in the dust. From time to time there were small explosions as stocks of powder and sealed canisters heated, and the acrid smell of tar and oil mingled with the sweet scent of burning tea and molasses.

***

At the end of the business district, a large gang of drunks spotted Dan Palmer and a friend standing in the door of Palmer’s gun shop. Before they could duck back in both were shot and wounded.

While some of the bushwhackers set the building on fire, others stood the two men up and bound them together with rope. Then, when the flames caught and began to roar, the startled captives were pitched inside. Wild with fright, Palmer and his friend regained their footing and struggled out the door, pleading with the rebels for mercy. But amid hellish laughter and waving pistols the men were again hurled into the furnace. At last the rope broke, but there was nowhere to run. By this time only Palmer was able to rise. Standing in the flames, arms reaching for heaven, he screamed above the roar, “O God, save us!” This brought a new round of applause and laughter. Soon, the cries inside ceased and the drunken gang moved on.

***

Except for a number of pickets, by 9 AM most of the raiders had drifted back to the South Park and much of the residential area was left deserted. That’s when Mary, Abigail, and Louis Carpenter “began to breathe again.” But then there was another violent pound on the door. As they had done all morning, the family kept its composure, and while Mary went to the door the judge came down the stairs to deal with these rebels as he had the rest.

The door was opened. Stepping partway in, a stone-faced guerrilla stared at the judge, then asked him where he was from.

“New York,” came the even reply.

“It is you New York fellows that are doing the mischief in Missouri,” was the cold comment. The rebel raised his pistol and fired.

Breaking from the door, the wounded man bounded up the stairs and into a bedroom. Pushing Mary aside, the guerrilla gave chase. As his pursuer was searching the rooms above Carpenter slipped by and ran to the basement. But a rebel below saw this, and when his friend came down, the two found windows leading into the basement and opened fire. The judge was hit immediately. And because the room was unfinished there was nowhere to hide. Helplessly, Carpenter could only flatten himself against the walls and try to dodge the bullets. As the raiders paused to reload, the blood gathered in pools at the victim’s feet. Finally, with no other hope, Carpenter broke for the stairs leading outside. Once in the yard, however, he stumbled and fell and was unable to rise.

As the guerrillas approached, Mary ran screaming to her husband’s side and covered his head with her arms. Walking around them several paces, a bushwhacker at last bent down, jerked up one of Mary’s arms, jammed in his pistol, then fired. Within inches of her own, the judge’s head shuddered for an instant, then splashed apart.

***

A lone rebel walked to where Harlow Baker was lying and stopped. Partially turned on its side, he looked down at the dusty body for a moment, at the blood, black and caked on the hand, neck, and back.

“Poor devil,” he muttered.

Pulling out a sharp knife the bushwhacker knelt down and ripped open a pocket. Finding nothing he rolled the body over and slashed the other. Again nothing. Spotting Baker’s hat, the man mumbled that at least here was something, and a good one at that. Taking his prize, the man walked back into town.

***

At last the pickets rode in and the entire force of guerrillas converged on the South Park and began forming. Pack horses high with plunder were brought up, as was an ambulance. A large, fat ox was selected, killed, skinned, quartered, then quickly stored for travel. Amid the movement and general excitement, Quantrill found the young guide, and handing him a new suit of clothes and the reins to a fresh pony, the boy was pointed toward home. The rebel leader then said goodbye to his friend Nathan Stone, his wife and son and daughter Lydia, and hoped that someday, some place they might meet during happier times.

“The ladies of Lawrence were brave and plucky,” he confided to someone before he left, “but the men . . . were a pack of cowards.”

Quantrill then joined his command. And, at a little past nine, with the smoke from Massachusetts Street rolling up like the walls of some towering black canyon, the raiders moved south and the long, uncertain retreat to Missouri began.

Several minutes passed. Only the sounds of the inferno were heard in the deserted streets. Across the river, the squad of soldiers watched intently. Finally, with a few citizens they boarded the ferry and inched toward the town.

But one man was not quite finished. Although he had bragged about the streets that eleven Kansans had been sent to hell by his gun, for Larkin Skaggs this was still not enough. Skulking around until Quantrill left, Skaggs galloped back and pulled up beside the City Hotel.

“All you God damned sons of bitches come in front!” he shouted. “Come right out here!”

Foolishly, many did step out the door. But others, including Lydia Stone, either remained inside or, like her brother, dove out the back. As they filed down the steps, men and women were ordered into separate lines, and while waiting for the rest to appear, Skaggs, terribly drunk and teetering in his saddle, asked one of the captives where he was from.

“Central Ohio,” answered the man. He was instantly shot.

“That is worse than Kansas,” growled the bushwhacker.

Another round was fired into the hotel itself which brought an immediate plea from the owner, Nathan Stone. Without a word Skaggs turned and fired again, striking the innkeeper flush in the abdomen. While the screaming people fled the front of the hotel, more jumped out the back. Spying a boat, two men quickly pushed off from shore. In their haste, however, they failed to attach one oar properly and the two furiously paddled around and around in circles as the current carried them down the river.

Hearing the gunfire and seeing the renewed exodus, the men crossing on the ferry quickly returned to the north shore.

Growing impatient, Skaggs finally wheeled and rode back through town. After killing a man along the way and chasing another, the burly bushwhacker trotted leisurely from Lawrence down the California Road, confident that Quantrill had left the way he had come. He soon realized the mistake, however, when he saw farmers coming in his direction. Spurring cross-country toward Eudora, the drunken man weaved and wobbled in the saddle as the big white horse raced through fields leaping fences and ditches. But more men were riding from that way, and cornered, Skaggs was finally captured and taken toward Lawrence.

When the party reached the outskirts and learned what had taken place, the prisoner without further ado was slain on the spot.

***

Slowly, slowly the people began to come out—peering cautiously from the brushy ravine, parting carefully the stalks in the cornfield. The ferry started inching over again. Governor Robinson stepped out of his stone barn. The county sheriff crept up from under his floor. A man who had feigned death even though he lay near a building on fire rose with the clothes burned from his back. And Harlow Baker, too, on painfully weak legs pulled himself up and staggered to the house. Others emerged from the hidden cellar in the center of town, popped up from tomato patches, or, dripping wet, gazed over the mouth of a well. What they saw when they came out was overwhelming.

Everywhere one turned, the enormity of the raid attacked the senses. Those cut off, those who thought their experience an isolated case, were numbed to learn that similar acts had been going on all around the city. Like a twister it had come so swiftly, so tremendously, so utterly—yet like a twister it too had gone so quietly and completely that many were confused and still had no conception of time. And the bodies . . . no one had expected this.

“One saw the dead everywhere,” said the Reverend Cordley as he moved through the town, “on the sidewalks, in the streets, among the weeds in the gardens.”

And the day was actually darker than it had begun. Burning homes and barns sent spires of smoke upward until they converged to form a huge pall over the city, blotting out the sun and sky. Massachusetts Street was a raging wall of flame and churning black clouds. Crunching timber and toppling bricks fed the roar, and the heat was so intense that none dared enter the street. Even the sidewalks were burning. And everywhere was the suffocating dark fog. Women, some carrying babies in their arms, ran through the streets shielding their faces from the fire, crying and screaming for husbands and sons. Some, like Charles and Sara Robinson, found one another.

Then, down a side street, flaying the hide of a plow horse and shouting at the top of his lungs came Jim Lane trailed by several farmers. “Follow them boys,” cried the senator as he passed, “let us follow them.” Some did respond, and together they galloped south. But even had more felt the inclination, there simply were no horses left in town.

***

5BMBF00ZBy  noon a goodly number of citizens had straggled back to town as had curiosity-seekers from the countryside. And by this time even Hugh Fisher, sweltering all morning under the rug and furniture, felt safe enough to crawl from his torrid hiding place to get a drink of water.

Later, as the fires subsided, several men began the grisly task of trying to retrieve the dead and wounded. One of those thus engaged was George Deitzler. At first glance the victims nearest the fires were thought to be blacks. Coming closer, however, the old general was shocked to discover that the corpses were not Negroes, but white men “completely roasted. The bodies . . . crisped and nearly black.” Reluctantly, Deitzler bent down to pull a man up, but to his horror as he yanked he merely came away with two chunks of steaming dark flesh. Reeling backward, the general retched and had to leave. Most others, try as they may, could fare no better and turned away “crying like children.”

One corpse lay on a sidewalk near a fire. The body was normal in every respect except that the skin of the head had been burned away, leaving only a grinning skull. Another man was half body, half skeleton. Others had rendered down into a “shapeless mass.” And without a trace of wind the stench of cooked flesh weighed like a blanket in the hot fog. Relegated to stronger sorts, recovery did go on.

After the pews were moved out, many of the dead and wounded were taken to the Methodist Church. While two physicians probed an ugly hole in a man’s face, searching for a lodged ball, another, lacking both medicine and instruments, performed delicate surgery using only a sharp penknife. Lying in a corner, “half-wit” Jo Eldridge, also shot in the face, raved deliriously. Crying women, themselves on the verge of collapse, tried to help those waiting by bringing water, cleaning wounds, and fighting off the swarms of blowflies. The mangled bodies of Ralph and Steve Dix were brought in and laid out; Ben Johnson, some Germans, and others not recognizable were also carried up the steps. In his rush to get the wounded indoors, one minister keeled over from exhaustion. Elsewhere it was much the same as people waited for the few available doctors.

A young woman, just as confused and frightened as she had been all morning long, ran into the Griswold home for comfort. In the back parlor she first saw Mrs. Baker fanning her husband who lay on the bed, his clothes bathed in blood. Fleeing into the dining room, the girl suddenly froze at the sight of Doctor Griswold and Josiah Trask stiff, white, and stretched side by side on the dinner table. In the front parlor she glanced in to see Senator Thorp, twisted and rolling in terrible agony, his clothes black with blood and dust. He was struggling to speak to his wife but couldn’t. Bearing no more, the sickened young woman fled the house entirely.

Just up the street, surrounded by the smoldering ruins of her home, Julia Collamore could get no response from either her husband or the servant as she shouted into the well. When a close friend arrived, he volunteered to go down. Tying a cord around himself, and with the aid of two men to lower him, the friend entered the hole. About halfway down those above felt a sharp yank and frantically began to pull the man up. The strain was too great, however, and the cord snapped. But to the surprise of everyone above, there was no cry for help from below.

Despite everything, some paused a moment to behold the phenomenon. Flocks of killdeer, attracted for some reason, flew about carefree from yard to yard, calling their sprightly refrain.

***

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening the people continued to trickle back. Some returned wearing the same nightshirt they had awakened in, while not a few husbands came back in the dresses that had enabled their escape. Strong men, finding a dear friend whom they had presumed dead, fell into one another’s arms and wept. The devout knelt in circles and prayed.

Those who had fled Shantytown that morning also began appearing, coming across the river or out of the woods. One black, atop a white horse, rode bareback down Massachusetts Street singing with all his might “John Brown’s Body.”  Behind, with a rope around its neck, he dragged the naked corpse of Larkin Skaggs. With other former slaves, the rider hauled the body to the Central Park and tried to burn it.

As the fires cooled and gardens and weedy lots were combed, more dead were discovered. The floor of the Methodist Church filled until there was no room. Forty identification tags had already been provided, but for others only a number distinguished each from the next disfigured form. Robert Martin, killed by the side of young Willie Fisher, was found and carried down from Mount Oread in the arms of his crying father. Charlie and Willie Fisher also returned, and the grateful parents sped to heaven their thanks and bowed to pray. But both Elizabeth and Hugh couldn’t help noticing that there was something different about Willie; he was not the same Willie who had left that morning.

It wasn’t so easy for editor John Speer. Of his three sons, the youngest was alive and with his mother. Another son, Junior, was dead. Someone said he was murdered while running along a street, shot by a mounted rebel dragging the Union flag. But the other son, seventeen-year-old Robbie, was still missing. Speer refused to believe that Robbie too was gone. And so, covered with soot and ash, the father kept up his search, calling out as the night descended.

I want you to help me find my boy. They have killed one, and the other I cannot find.

***

“The fires were still glowing in the cellars,” noted the Reverend Cordley as he moved through the darkened streets. “The brick and stone walls were . . . standing bare and blackened. The cellars between looked like great caverns with furnaces glowing in the depths. . . . Here and there among the embers could be seen the bones of those who had perished.”

John Speer and others seeking a son, a brother, a husband were praying that the bones they saw down among the cinder and fire were not those of the loved ones they sought.

That night the dogs howled without ceasing, and for miles around a vast angry glow was seen throbbing in the skies over Lawrence.

***

Saturday, August 22, 1863. Hardly had glint of dawn reached Lawrence when the weary people, straining to gain a few minutes of sleep, were jolted by a long, piercing scream heard throughout the town. Followed to its source, a woman was discovered in a gutted building sitting among the rubble. Her husband, she feared, had been shot and burned there the day before, and after searching the wife had found his remains at last—a blackened skull that she hugged to her breast.

This chilling scene “added much to the . . . sadness and horror which filled every heart,” said a viewer, and stamped an accent on what was already becoming known as “Black Friday.”

There was no awakening from the nightmare. Massachusetts Street, normally a hive of activity on Saturday, was black and idle now, only a jagged gash through piles of ash and debris. Red coals still glowed in the basements. At the south end of the street, two stores remained standing, to the north, by the river, several more stood, including the armory with weapons intact. In between, all else was ruin. Vermont and New Hampshire streets were much the same—a barn, the ice house, the City Hotel, a home in which George Todd had taken breakfast and left his voucher of safety.

In the residential area the condition was somewhat better. Although close to one hundred homes were destroyed, many of these the beautiful structures of West Lawrence, anyone could see how much worse it might have been. Dozens of houses were torched and torched again only to be saved by the women. And for those not doused, the absence of wind prevented the flames from leaping to a neighboring home. Most brick and stone dwellings stood untouched, and because of the soldiers, all the houses along the river, including the Robinson mansion, went unscathed. Except for a Negro church, every other still stood. The county land records were somehow preserved. But all this in itself, as the citizens viewed things, was small cause for thanksgiving. The bushwhackers had been meticulous. The town was devastated.

“Lawrence,” wrote one, “is as much destroyed as though an earth quake had buried it in ruins.”

And even had there been anything left to buy, there simply was nothing left to buy it with, for very little money remained. Of the three banks in town, two were robbed of every cent and the third spared only because a stubborn vault could not be blown. Practically all the cash and merchandise in the stores and offices was stolen or burned, and among the citizenry as a whole, the gold, silver, jewels, notes, and watches that were not stolen outright were generally lost or destroyed in the confusion. Much of the furniture, clothing, shoes, and linen were also gone. Most people, young and old, wore the same grimy apparel in which they had come away twenty-four hours before. In addition, there was virtually no food in the town.

Although the suffering and privation were extreme, the material loss paled beside that of the human. At first glance even the most sanguinary estimate placed the toll of dead at no more than sixty, a staggering number considering that nearly all were unarmed civilians. But even this grim figure was soon surpassed as more victims were discovered hourly.

When workers finally entered the Collamore well they brought up three dripping bodies–the mayor, his servant, and the would-be rescuer, all dead. After filling the Griswold home with hideous screams and groans, Simeon Thorp, in terrible agony, at last succumbed. As for the photographer, William Laurie, his flight was ended. Kansas City . . . Shawnee . . . the war had overtaken him once and for all in faraway Lawrence. The charred bones of other victims were raked in from the embers or found sprawled among the weeds and gardens. The dead seemed to crowd the living as the toll grew to one hundred and  climbed.

The human loss was as unfathomable as the material loss was seemingly irreparable. There was little talk of rebuilding. Fear of a similar occurrence ran so high that it seemed foolish to do so, and some raiders had even warned that Lawrence must be entirely abandoned or they would return. The herculean task of trying to reconstruct their world also caused many to despair. But perhaps most disappointing and unbearable of all was the lack of anything tangible to strike at; the inability to reach out and smash the authors of so much misery and woe. For some, at least, this simple, savage act could not but help ease the pain and frustration.

Throughout the morning, travelers, emigrants, teamsters, and curiosity-seekers, jammed on the main roads for twenty-four hours, began to stream into town. One unsuspecting arrival quickly found himself surrounded by an angry mob. Identified as a proslavery man and active during the territorial struggle, he was led away to the barn by the river. There, despite pleas to the contrary, he was accused of being a spy for Quantrill, and being thus charged he was promptly convicted. A noose was thrown around his neck, and in a few moments the stunned man was drawn up and left kicking in the air. There was no hard evidence, as most admitted, but the victim was a Missourian, and that was close enough.

The body was then cut down and given to a black on horseback, who galloped through the streets followed by a snarling crowd. As the corpse was dragged along, the clothes tore away and the mob pelted it with rocks, sticks, and anything else available, each person dealing their share on the lonely trophy. Four other men blundered into town and were collared under the same pretext. Fortunately for them—and for consciences later on—they were only held, not hanged.

Sallie Young was next. Hooted and jeered viciously wherever she went, the young woman was arrested, accused of collaborating with the raiders, then confined to await transfer to Fort Leavenworth. The fury temporarily vented, Lawrence turned to more pressing matters.

As the morning wore on and the temperature rose, the stench from the corpses became insufferable. Already, many bodies had swollen so great that the clothing had burst, revealing grotesque wounds “full of flies & worms.” Frantically, the work began to identify the victims and get them under ground as rapidly as possible. There was little wood left and certainly no coffins. Many of the carpenters were either dead or wounded and nearly all the tools of the trade destroyed. Nevertheless, the citizens began. Oak and walnut logs were sawn and fashioned into rough boards. Most nails had melted in the kegs, but enough good ones were found and the planks were soon joined to form crude boxes. The dead were quickly deposited and the covers hammered down. For many, “it sounded rather harsh . . . to have the lid nailed over the bodies of their loved ones.” But there simply was no time for anything more elaborate, especially since the threat of epidemic increased with every hour.

When the Methodist Church was full, bodies were taken to other churches. Not all victims remained in town. After identification, three corpses, including that of the Irishman, Jim O’Neill, were loaded onto a wagon and returned to Lecompton for burial. Coming from the opposite direction, farmers brought fruit and vegetables and gave freely. And from Leavenworth the first real relief came when several wagons loaded with food, clothing, medical supplies, and caskets arrived.

Throughout the day and into the night the tempo increased and the sounds of the terrible work continued. At the cemetery atop Mount Oread, a ghostlike gathering moved in an arc of lamp­light, and some of the boxes were at last lowered down. Slowly the recovery began.

***

50235698_133263993699When he wasn’t helping out around town, Peter Ridenour (left) was at the bedside of his friend. “Well, Mr. Ridenour, I am gone up,” Harlow Baker had whispered when his partner rushed into the room on Friday. But though he wasn’t given much hope by others and could barely breathe, Baker surprised everyone, including himself, by continuing to hang on.

And so the old friend stayed by his side, waiting for the end­-fetching ice, tending the wounds, chatting.  Jokingly, Ridenour admitted that the only reason he was sitting around this moment was because of a few potato plants and a garden bed he’d hugged so dearly that a leaf might have covered him. His home was gone, he added, even though he had naively taken the precaution of locking the door. But the two young clerks had made it. After running so long and hard that his feet bled, the athletic New Yorker hadn’t stopped until he had reached Leavenworth. There, he went straight to a family friend, Governor Tom Carney, and borrowed money enough for clothes and a one-way ticket east. But after some rest and reflection he had hesitated. The boy had come back today on the Leavenworth stage. Although admittedly he had never been so scared in his life, not even at Gettysburg, the youth discovered that indeed he had survived the battlefield and now, although his feet were very tired and sore, he had survived Black Friday as well.

Ridenour didn’t mention to his partner that the business was wiped out. Five years of savings had vanished in a blink when the banks were looted. The store’s huge inventory was also gone and although their insurance covered most everything, including fire, a clause excluded “invading enemies.” There were also many out­standing debts and no way to meet them. Although he didn’t burden his friend with business matters, Peter Ridenour had already taken the first faint look down the long road back. He was yet young and strong and energetic and his name was respected by all. And if he lived long enough, every creditor would get his due. The store’s safe with the books and a modest sum of cash had somehow weathered the storm, and if one put stock in such things, there was a benign omen of sorts—the salt wagons from Leavenworth had arrived and were now parked outside the gutted store.

But while he sat and waited and watched his old friend suffer, the thought uppermost on Mr. Ridenour’s mind was not salt or creditors or even the store, but whether the partnership, the friendship would continue as always or if the “B” would yet be stricken from R & B.

***

Early Sunday morning at the usual time, work was set aside while a few citizens gathered to worship. They were women and children mostly at the Reverend Cordley’s church, dirty and disheveled and dressed in men’s work clothes. No one said much. For some, the press of the past two days had been a sore test of faith, and a moment’s respite to collect their thoughts and drift in meditation was a welcome balm. There were whispers and silent prayers and then a passage from Psalms, verse 79:

O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance. They have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven and the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of earth. Their blood have shed they like water round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.

After a moment more of silence, work was resumed.

Again, as the heat of the day approached, workers were made aware of their dilemma. The coffin building was not keeping pace with the decay of the bodies. The caskets that came from Leavenworth helped, but there simply weren’t enough coffins there, nor in all Kansas to meet the needs. And more victims were being found. At last, in desperation, it was decided to dispense with formalities altogether and inter the more advanced cases with as much haste as possible. Into a long, deep trench gouged from the cemetery ground, forty-seven black and bloating bodies were finally lowered down. Similar burials, like that of Judge Carpenter and Edward Fitch, took place in backyards. With this, some of the terrible trauma and urgency began mercifully to wear off.

More help came from the countryside and another large wagon train of food, clothing, and supplies arrived from Leavenworth. Visitors continued to enter the city, some to aid and some simply to gawk and assess the destruction. Early estimates placed the damage in the millions of dollars, with over $250,000 stolen in currency alone. Almost every businessman and merchant was totally cleaned out. Still, there were increasing murmurs of rebuilding and renewed investments.  Flagging spirits began to revive somewhat as a few took heart.

Included among the strangers in town were a number of correspondents and illustrators from large Eastern newspapers who began sketching scenes and taking down eyewitness accounts. A few unabashed individuals came forward with their stories. One black related that when the raiders had entered Lawrence on Friday morning, he had dashed over the meadows south of town and hid in a tree above the Wakarusa, out-legging his imagined pursuers and establishing some kind of record for the three-mile course. When asked about the feat, his simple reply: “The prairie just came to me.” Another man, a dentist, described his escape and return to Lawrence and his utter amazement to find that, though everything else was gone, the rebels had entirely overlooked his inventory of  gold and silver plate.

Others had similar tales to tell, though not always so jocose. They told of a morning replete with hairbreadth escapes and terror, of miracles, irony, and death. But as the journalists scribbled away, always from each new tale there surfaced the same consistent theme—the steely defiance and grit of the women. Almost all their acts, although carried out under fantastic duress, were marked by an uncanny degree of calmness and courage. Instances of their heroism, their “sand,” ran on. There was Lydia Stone: When the Eldridge prisoners became frightened of retaliation, the young woman, risking her own life, raced down the riverbank in the teeth of the soldiers’ bullets waving a hanky for them to stop. There was Kate Riggs: By grabbing the horse’s bridle and hanging on until she had been dragged around the house and over a woodpile, the tenacious woman succeeded in saving her husband Sam from the monster Skaggs. There were Elizabeth Fisher, Eliza Turner, and a score of other equally doughty heroines.

And never had female ingenuity been better displayed, from the “nieces” of “Aunt Betsie” to the woman who saved not only a feather bed to sleep on but a neighbor man as well whom she rolled up inside and carried to safety. Another woman fooled the rebels by burning oily rags in kettles, thereby making it appear that her home was engulfed in flames.

And even after their bravery and resourcefulness saved many a man and home, the women’s work had but begun. When the initial shock had passed, many, like the “ministering angel” Lydia Stone, carried on, moving with quiet grace among the crowds of victims, “attending to their wants and speaking words of comfort and cheer.”

As Sunday wore on, the women, arms scorched, hair singed, continued their labors with an air of increasing confidence. Some optimistically saw in their great trial a hidden treasure. Although they left little else in Lawrence, the guerrillas overlooked something very precious nonetheless, something that could not be burned with a torch or strapped on a pack horse: Courage . . . the only thing in life that really mattered. When all else was taken, this at least remained and gleamed more brilliantly than ever before. Then others took note and drew inspiration from a familiar sight at the river’s edge. Amid the ruin and devastation the old liberty pole stood straight and tall, defiantly holding its ground. Even the tortuous hot spell was at an end. Late in the day a refreshing north wind kicked up, clearing and cooling the air. If the truth be known, for many of these women, as well as the surviving men, there was within them the dawning of that warm and golden glow that shines only in the hearts of those who have faced off with the worst in life and come away victorious. For Lawrence, the worst had come. The trial had passed. There was nothing more from life to fear.

***

As the work progressed into the evening, a lookout on Mount Oread, watching the activity below, happened to glance south toward the Wakarusa. There to his horror he saw rising from the valley floor an all-too-familiar sight—smoke and flame. Without a second thought the rider flew down the hill and galloped into town, screaming with all the power in his lungs, “They are coming again, they are coming again! Run for your lives, run for your lives!”

With these startling words reserves cracked, then crumbled, and suddenly there was nothing left. In a moment, as if from one mind, panic seized all, and like a cannon shot the race from Lawrence instantly became a mad stampede. Someone rang the armory bell but no one was fool enough to rally. Men who had naively held to their homes at the onset of the first raid and who thus experienced the most terrifying hours of their lives didn’t wait around for the second, but broke from town at a run, hair streaming in the wind. Women, whose courage hadn’t wavered during the Friday attack and whose poise had been a comfort to all, now caved in completely and became “utterly unstrung.” Men, women, children—all raced blindly, filling the streets with a bedlam of sobs, shrieks, and shouts, expecting the slaughter to overtake them with every bound.

Run for your life . . . Quantrill is coming back and will kill all of us! 

Run to the country, Quantrill is coming!

Take your children and run . . . Quantrill is coming!

After a few short minutes the dust finally settled. The town was deserted. Except for a few wounded, not a soul, black or white, resident or visitor, was left in Lawrence. As time passed, men on the opposite shore anxiously watched for the attack to begin. But mysteriously, there was only silence. Shortly, one hundred citizens recovered sufficiently to cross back and pass out weapons from the armory. Their plans for a stand were for naught, however, for they soon learned the cause of the lookout’s alarm—imprudently, a farmer had chosen this moment to burn off a field of straw.

Knowledge of the error came too late to reach the majority of people, however. Some were far away and still running while others were even further along and had no intention of ever stopping, like the clerk at R & B’s, who this time would not pull up until he reached New York and absolute safety. But for the rest, many carrying footsore children, there was no run left, and they simply alit in fields and thickets fringing the town.

That night proved to be one of the coldest, cruelest summer nights in border memory. The temperature plunged, the rain and hail came in sheets, the lightning cracked, the thunder roared, and the wind blew with all the fury of a cyclone. But still—soaked, frozen, and huddled as they were—few ventured back, for the wind and cold and rain were far preferable to Lawrence, where it was firmly believed Quantrill was adding the final touches to the bloody work begun on Friday.

One of these miserable refugees, seeking an answer to it all, later questioned his aged father. “Why have we been so terribly punished? Why so infinitely worse than any other place in all the history of this war? Why beyond comparison and precedent?” After brief reflection on the territorial days of the fifties, the war on the border and the sagging fortunes of the South in the sixties, of the bloody days of rampage when Lane, Jennison, and their Jayhawkers had turned western Missouri inside out, the son found the answer to his own question.

“lt has come,” he finally admitted, “and they have had their revenge.”

But another, angrier than the first, and speaking for a great many more than the first, considered the scales once more uneven.

“Oh! God!” he implored heaven, “Who shall avenge?”

Update: Book Progress

First, I want to announce that I have for the most part finished the first draft of my next book, Summer, 1945.  As you may remember, this is the follow-up book to Hellstorm.  There is yet more research needed to fill in the story, but overall the rough draft is complete.  Since I’m trying to tell the story–a dual story, if you will–of what befell Germany and Japan in the Summer of 1945, it presents some difficulties that I have not faced in the past.  But the book is moving forward.

When I finish the next phase, the second draft, I will share that with you too.  After the second draft, a book gets easier for me and the time until publication becomes short.  My goal is still Christmas.

In case you’re wondering, that’s me in the photo.  No doubt where I’m at and no doubt what I’m doing.  I’m down at a photo studio near the old Missouri farm and I am reaching for my Grandmother to “please get me off this thing.”  Thank God for Grandmas.  If not for her in the first five years of my life I would have been in an orphanage, or worse.  She loved me more than any thing on earth.  And to this very day I still love her more than anyone else in my life.  For better or worse, I am what I am because of my Grandma.  She was there when I needed her most; when I had no one.

At this point I must also thank each and everyone of you who, like my Grandma, stepped up when I needed a hand and made this next book more and more likely.  Your kind generosity was the difference in the first draft and I am sure it will be the difference in the second draft.

As I mentioned earlier, a book of this nature is expensive to research and write. Since I am working full-time on the book, there is very little extra income available . . . and like everyone else, I have bills that must be paid.

And so, to those of you who like your history honest and accurate, I ask again that you give what you can.  To those of you who donate $50 or more, I will, upon publication, send a signed copy of the book.  Additionally, in the event a film is made based on the book–and it now looks very likely that indeed one will be–I will also see that you receive the DVD.

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is mtgoodrich@aol.com.  For those of you donating with cash, check or money order, my mailing address is:

Tom Goodrich

9011 Midnight Pass Rd.

# 527

Sarasota, FL, 34242

 

And once again, from me to you, thanks for Grandmas . . . and thanks for you, my Friends!

Tom

Volunteers Needed

  To my readers, listeners and friends everywhere. . . .

Most of you are probably wondering why I am so remiss lately with my written and audio blogs on this web site.  Well, the fact is that for the last few months I have finally turned my full attention to the follow-up book of Hellstorm–The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947.   The time spent on the research and writing–and rewriting–quite honestly eats up most of my waking moments.

The working title for this new book is Summer, 1945: Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate.  I don’t think I need to add–especially for those of you who have read Hellstorm yourselfthat this book will be a ground-breaking, gut-wrenching account. Much of the material in Summer, 1945 will be new to even the more serious students of the period.  Given the terrible crimes committed against both nations during that fateful last summer of the war I firmly believe that this book will have an even greater impact on the world than Hellstorm had.  And that is saying much.

Many of the comments I received from those who had finished Hellstorm mentioned that the book changed the way they viewed the world, that the book was “life-altering”, that there was the reader before the book, and there was now the reader after the book.  This, I predict, will be the same reaction of those who read Summer, 1945.  As before, the book will be graphic, to the point, and will pull absolutely no punches.  For the first time in over 70 years, most of these dark secrets, long-hidden from the world, will finally be available.  What was done to Germany and Japan by the Allied forces during and after the war were crimes so vast and hideous that one is quite literally staggered by the utter and shameless evil.

I am proud to say that in the past, many of you stepped to the front with your donations to help. Although I never asked for funds back then most of you instinctively understood the financial limitations of a non-academic historian such as myself . . . and you replied in kind.  For that, I thank you, one and all.

But now, I must do that which I never did in the past–I must ask up front for your financial support. As you might imagine, a book of this nature is expensive to research and write. Since I am working full-time on the book, there is very little extra income available . . . and like everyone else, I have bills that must be paid.

And so, to those of you who like your history honest, accurate and fearless, I ask that you give what you can.  To those of you who donate $50 or more, I will, upon publication, send a signed copy of the book.  Additionally, in the event a film is made based on the book, as was the case with Hellstorm, I will also see that you receive the DVD.

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is mtgoodrich@aol.com.  For those of you donating with cash, check or money order, my mailing address is: Tom Goodrich, 9011 Midnight Pass Rd., # 527, Sarasota, FL, 34242

On behalf of  history, Truthful History, thanks to everyone!

Tom

PS—Vicious propaganda like the above (left) got tens of thousands of children like the above (right) burned alive.

 

The “Greatest Generation”

Dachau, Germany, American soldiers posing in front of bodies of dead German сс

 
Every month, it seems, yet another movie is released based upon some real or some fanciful event of World War Two. Invariably, like some stylized Greek drama in which the actors all wear the same masks and all chant the same lines, the cast in these propagandistic morality plays are as predictable as the message. On one side are arrayed the Allies, the good guys; generally, these are the happy-go-lucky gum-chewing Americans who are heroically “fighting for freedom” and are striving to save the world and the folks back in Ohio from slavery; on the other side are the arrogant Germans, the evil Nazis; this is the dark force the world is being saved from, those over-bearing monsters who live only to murder, rape, torture, kill, and make lampshades and bars of soap out of poor, defenseless, harmless Jews.
It has now been over 70 years since the conclusion of the so-called “Good War.” Thousands of books, articles and movies have been devoted to this pivotal period and the supposedly heroic sacrifice of the so-called “Greatest Generation.” Despite the sheer tonnage of material dedicated to the victor’s version of WWII, there has yet to be an honest, accurate and straight-forward retelling of that cataclysmic event and what it really looked like, not merely from the victors’ perspective, but through the eyes of the vanquished, as well.

The following is from my book Hellstorm—The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947. To date, this book remains the only in-depth account of what the end of the war and the beginning of the so-called “peace” looked like from the German perspective.  To this day, what happened to Germany and her people, especially after the war, remains the darkest and best-kept secret in world history. And to this day, what happened to Germany and her people also remains, by far, the greatest and most sadistic crime ever committed in the history of mankind.

(above: Members of the “Greatest Generation” enjoying the “Good War” by defecating on the bodies of recently murdered German prisoners.)

***

Following its devastating defeat during the Ardennes offensive of December 1944, the Wehrmacht withdrew and regrouped behind the “West Wall,” a mostly imaginary line that roughly traced the Reich’s western border. There, as elsewhere, the German Army was a dim shadow of its former self, vastly outnumbered in men and materiel, but above all, totally overwhelmed in the air. While the end of Nazi Germany loomed in the east, the end also steadily advanced from the west. Unlike the howling savagery to the east, fraught with nightmarish ferocity, defeat in the west came methodically, inexorably and, judged by the standards of the east, almost silently.

“We felt powerless before the immeasurable material superiority of the Americans, without which the Russians and British would have capitulated long since… ,” revealed one German officer.

Nevertheless, the hard-pressed Landser was still more than a match for the American “GI” and the British “Tommy.” Whenever the two sides met on anything approaching equal numbers, the results were always the same. Defending its homeland reinvigorated the German Army, of course, but during the fighting in Italy and North Africa, the outcome was similar. Asked his opinion of American troops during the fighting in North Africa—a campaign where Germany’s ally, the Italian Army, had scattered and surrendered like sheep—one captive Landser told his US interrogators bluntly: “The Americans are to us what the Italians are to you.”

Though American commanders were understandably outraged by such sentiment, the panic created among Allied ranks during the Ardennes offensive only reinforced this assessment within the German Army. One reason for the Landser’s low opinion of his American adversary could simply be attributed to lack of experience. Sights and sounds that many German soldiers had long since become accustomed to were terrifying novelties to most GIs. Remembered a British sergeant:

The Americans will bunch, whereas we go up two sides of a road. . . . They were shouting at each other and firing at nothing…. It appeared that the American infantrymen were not trained in “battle noises.” They seemed to drop to the ground and fire, whenever shots were heard close by. When passing a burning farmhouse, there was a sound of what appeared to be a machine-gun; no one could have been in the house, because of the flames, and it was obviously ammunition burning; but it took some time to get the Americans up and on again. As we [proceeded] I saw a figure in a long German greatcoat rise to his feet from the center of a field, and walk towards us with his hands up. The man was Volkssturm [militia], about 50 or 60 years of age, a long, thin chap. Before we could do anything about it, three Americans let fly with their carbines and the figure fell. God, we were angry.

While small arms fire was frightening, green US troops found artillery barrages utterly horrifying.

“[S]hells would not only tear and rip the body,” said one frantic American, “they tortured one’s mind almost beyond the brink of sanity.”

“[T]he pure physical terror that savages you when loud and violent death is screaming down from the sky and pounding the earth around you, smashing and pulping everything in search for you” was, a comrade added, “emasculating.”  Recalled another American novice:

I asked [the sergeant] if he was hit and he sort of smiled and said no, he had just pissed his pants. He always pissed them, he said, when things started and then he was okay. He wasn’t making any apologies either, and then I realized something wasn’t quite right with me. … There was something warm down there and it seemed to be running down my leg….I told the sarge. I said, “Sarge, I’ve pissed too,” or something like that and he grinned and said, “Welcome to the war.”

Accustomed to the bloodless “clean” kills of Hollywood, sudden, hideous sights also worked to unman the average American newcomer. After taking direct hits, some saw their buddies vaporize in a spray of “red spots.” Others viewed comrades lying along roads, nothing more than “half a body, just naked buttocks and the legs.” With the war obviously nearing its end, and with sights like the above vivid in their minds, few GIs “went looking for a Purple Heart.” Also, and as was the case in 1917, many American soldiers suffered what some observers called “spiritual emptiness;” a seeming uncertainty as to what exactly they were fighting for … or fighting against.

Despite years of anti-Nazi propaganda and attempts to demonize the German soldier, front-line troops, as always, were first to discard hate. From released or escaped prisoners, it soon became apparent that Allied POWs were treated well and accorded all the rights of the Geneva Convention. Additionally, details that were seemingly trivial matters to politicians, propagandists and rear-echelon troops were all-important concerns to the actual fighters.

“One thing I’ll say for the Germans,” a British Tommy admitted, “they were better than we were with enemy dead; buried them properly and neatly with their equipment … over the crosses.”

Not surprisingly, “understandings” among the adversaries were quickly reached to make the war more tolerable to both parties. “We maintained very friendly communications with the Germans,” confessed an American major. “Before they shelled Homberg they would let us know in advance the exact time. Before we shelled Leverkusen we would let the Germans know in advance. So everybody took cover ahead and nobody got hurt.” On countless other occasions front-line troops met, mixed, traded trinkets, even socialized.

On more than one occasion, drunken American, British and German soldiers found themselves rioting together in the same bars and brothels and even standing in the same lines to use the same restrooms.

Such incidents as the above had a way of putting an all-too human face on the “evil Hun.” The same factors which worked on Allied attitudes of the German worked on German attitudes of the Allies. Unlike the East Front, German soldiers were well aware that their foe in the west was a signatory of the Geneva Convention. Under this agreement, Landsers were guaranteed by law the status of POW upon capture or surrender. And like their Allied counterparts, with the end of war in sight, many “Jerries” along the West Wall were unwilling to play hero. “I am neither looking for an Iron Cross,” a German soldier declared, “nor a wooden one.” Also, it was no secret that Landsers, high and low, considered the Western Allies the lesser of two evils. With the Red Army roaring across Germany from the east, many Germans were secretly hoping the Americans might occupy what remained of the Reich before the communists did.

Nevertheless, and although the war in the west was not characterized by the same “do or die” determination as it was in the east, thousands of patriotic German officers and men were committed to defend their homeland to the “last ditch.” As the Americans and British pressed the Wehrmacht back from the West Wall, then over the Rhine, a glimpse at the task faced is given by an English officer from the town of Rees:

They had been chased out of France, Belgium and Holland, into Germany, back over the Rhine, and now street by street across Rees into a corner. Yet they were still fighting it out…. The situation now was that the enemy were confined to the last hundred yards, at the very tip of the east end, but they were in a strong position with deep trenches and concrete and any attempts to get at it were met by heavy fire. I was going to make a last effort with C Company, when in came four or five prisoners, including a captain, who said he was in command. . . . He was marched in front of me as I sat at my table poring over the map, and he gave me a spectacular Hitler salute which I ignored…. He was a nasty piece of work, cocksure and good-looking in a flashy sort of way, but I had to admire the brave resistance which he had put up. The strain of battle was apparent in the dark black chasms under his eyes.

In spite of such fierce resistance, the massive weight of the Allied advance slowly ground all opposition into the mud. “[I]t must be stated that the morale of our men [in the west] is slowly sinking… ,” admitted propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. “[T]hey have now been fighting uninterruptedly for weeks and months. Somewhere the physical strength to resist runs out.”

***

If morale among troops was “slowly sinking,” that of many civilians in the west had long since sunk. After enduring years of air attacks and now invasion, some Germans were more than willing to accept defeat. Unlike the terrified trekkers to the east, relatively few Germans in the west abandoned their homes. Despite the best efforts of Nazi propaganda, the racial and cultural ties with the Western Allies, particularly the Americans, was simply too strong to arouse the same depth of fear as did the Soviets. Hardly was there a German family that did not have at least one close relative in America and most felt that there was an essential goodness in any people who could give to the world a Mickey Mouse, Shirley Temple or Laurel and Hardy. Far from fleeing the advancing Allies, many civilians actually ran to greet them. Remembered a young German:

[O]ne very sunny morning we saw across the fields a convoy of vehicles coming, and as they came closer we saw they were Americans, with little white stars on the side. There was a jeep up front and then tanks and troops carriers, and the bloke in the jeep had both his hands up, and in one hand he had a loaf of bread and in the other a lump of cheese. They came on very slowly . . . and as they came the Home Guard threw down their weapons and rushed toward the Americans, and my mother leapt up and started racing over the fields, with me about two hundred yards behind her, straight toward the American column. The man in the jeep turned out to be a very fat American sergeant, and my mother threw her arms around his neck and kissed him and hugged him in absolute joy and relief. It was all over.

“Wherever we drove through the Rhineland those first weeks in April the feelings of the German people were unmistakable,” reported war correspondent, Leonard Mosley.

The war was not yet over but they knew it was lost, and they were engaged in an instinctive effort to save something from the wreck. The mass of the people were casting off National Socialism like an old coat, almost without grief or regret, determined to forget it and to work to recreate, in cooperation with their conquerors, the things that had now been destroyed. . . . The men and women we stopped on the streets to ask the way were polite and helpful; they gathered round in bunches when they heard us speaking German, and bombarded us with questions: “How far had we advanced? When would the war be over? Where were the Russians?”

When reports from recaptured towns and villages stated that the Americans (or, “Amis”) had treated civilians well and had not even engaged in looting, the desire among other Germans to surrender became overwhelming. Home Guard units were disbanded, white flags sprouted from doors and windows and many communities refused to aid the German Army in any way.

“Twice,” recalled a British POW, “I watched an SS corporal go to a house and ask for water and each time the housewife, having seen his uniform, slammed the door in his face. He meekly retreated.”

In a desperate bid to shore up crumbling resistance, Dr. Goebbels’s propaganda office warned citizens that “these Americans were combat troops whose only function was to fight; but after them come the rearguard service troops and especially the Jews, who have in all other cases acted ruthlessly against the population.” Unfortunately, the truth in these words became apparent once the front-line troops pushed on.

***

Unlike the wild and almost unmanageable Red Army, US military commanders might have prevented much of the excesses committed by their men against helpless civilians had they so willed it. In most cases, however, they did not. On the contrary, the words of some high-ranking officers seemed designed to encourage atrocities.

“We are engaged in a total war, and every individual member of the German people has turned it into such,” US general Omar Bradley announced. “If it had not been Hitler leading the Germans, then it would have been someone else with the same ideas. The German people enjoy war and are determined to wage war until they rule the world and impose their way of life on us.”

“[T]he German is a beast,” echoed Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight David Eisenhower, a man whose hatred of all things German was well known. In much the same vein as Soviet premier Josef Stalin and American president Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower advocated the outright massacre of German army officers, Nazi Party members and others. In all, according to the American general, at least 100,000 Germans should be “exterminated.”

“In heart, body, and spirit . . . every German is Hitler!” faithfully trumpeted the US Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes. “Hitler is the single man who stands for the beliefs of Germans. Don’t make friends with Hitler. Don’t fraternize. If in a German town you bow to a pretty girl or pat a blond child … you bow to Hitler and his reign of blood.”

Not surprisingly, such sentiment from above quickly worked its way down. Soon after combat soldiers moved out of a community and rear echelon troops moved in, the reality of occupation became clear. Wrote one shocked reporter, William Stoneman of the Chicago Daily News:

Frontline troops are rough and ready about enemy property. They naturally take what they find if it looks interesting, and, because they are in the front lines, nobody says anything. . . . But what front-line troops take is nothing compared to the damage caused by wanton vandalism of some of the following troops. They seem to ruin everything, including the simplest personal belongings of the people in whose homes they are billeted. Today, we have had two more examples of this business, which would bring tears to the eyes of anybody who has appreciation of material values.

“We were crazy with happiness when the Americans came,” one woman said, “but what [they] did here was quite a disappointment that hit our family pretty hard.”

They broke everything and threw it all outside. Later, we found only piles of rubbish. . . . Those who came in the first few days were fighting troops and they had seen something of the war. But those who came later … hadn’t seen anything at all. And many of these very young soldiers wanted to experience something, like repeat a little of the war. . . . We had original watercolors and so forth on the walls, which weren’t framed, and they wrote all over them. In the cellar we had bottles of apple juice. When we wanted to get some later, after the Americans had left, they’d drunk it all up and filled the bottles with urine. Or, in our cooking pots was toilet paper, used toilet paper.

In many towns, the invaders unlocked jails, prisons and concentration camps and invited the inmates to join the revelry.  “They just opened up the camps and let them go,” noted Amy Schrott, a young German raised in New Jersey. “The Russians and Poles were looting the houses and killing the shopkeepers. Then they began raping the girls.”

When a prison camp at Salzwedel was thrown open, a mob of various nationalities literally tore the town to pieces. Locating the mayor, a gang of Russians dragged the man, his wife and daughter to the cemetery. After lashing the mayor to a tombstone, a line of laughing men began taking turns with his naked wife as she screamed on her hands and knees. When a Mongolian started to rape his daughter, the father, in a final fit of rage, tore the tombstone from the ground, then fell over dead.

A glimpse at the anarchy unleashed is given by Christabel Bielenberg (below) of Furtwangen as she pedaled a bicycle near the town:

chritabelIt was like a drunken circus along the road. There were hordes of liberated Russian forced laborers, all dressed in clothes they had looted from all the ransacked shops, roaring with laughter and falling all over the road. And there were soldiers in huge army trucks tearing past all over the road in a crazy kind of way—it was a fantastic scene….

When we got to Furtwangen it was in pandemonium. All the radios had been requisitioned from their German owners and put in the windows facing out-ward toward the street—and each radio was playing a different program at full blast. All the freed Russians and Poles were waltzing down the street—it was just like a carnival going through the town. The Germans were walking round in a daze wearing white armbands as a sign of surrender. As for the French . . . [t]he troops were not French but Moroccan…. These were the men who occupied our area.

That was when the raping started. [They] raped up and down our valley in the first few days. Two people were shot trying to protect their wives. Then they moved out and another lot of French colonial troops moved in—Goums from the Sahara, tall, black, strange people in uniforms like gray dressing-gowns. They were terrifying. First they came into Rohrbach and stole all the chickens and my children’s rabbits. A few days later they came at night and surrounded every house in the village and raped every female between 12 and 80…. What was so frightening about them was the silent way in which they moved…. [T]hey came up to the door and one of them asked: “Where’s your husband?” I said that he was away and as I was talking to them I suddenly realized that one of them was standing right behind me—he had climbed in through a window and crept right up to me through that creaking wooden . . . house without making the slightest sound.

While Moroccan and other French colonial troops had an especially bad reputation and raped on a massive scale in Germany and Italy, American and British soldiers were not above reproach. “Our own Army and the British Army . . . have done their share of looting and raping… ,” a US sergeant admitted. “[W]e too are considered an army of rapists.”

“Many a sane American family would recoil in horror if they knew how ‘Our Boys’ conduct themselves . . . over here,” added another GI.

“We expected Russian lawlessness… ,” said one German, “but we once believed the Americans were different.”

***

In part because of propaganda and the attitudes publicly espoused by western political and military leaders that “the only good German is a dead one,” in part because of unfounded rumors of massacres and rapes committed at captured US field hospitals, in part because of genuine German atrocities, such as at Malmedy, wherein scores of American POWs were mowed down by SS troops during the Ardennes campaign—because of these and other factors, large numbers of captured or surrendering Germans were simply slaughtered on the spot.

Among many American units, “take no prisoners” was the motto. For those members of the SS, Wehrmacht and Volkssturm lucky enough to survive capture, death often awaited behind the lines. In the transit from front to rear, hundreds of prisoners were allowed to suffocate, starve or freeze to death in railroad cars. Upon reaching the prison camps, thousands more perished. Wrote an eyewitness from Rheinberg in April:

One inmate at Rheinberg was over 80 years old, another was aged nine. . . . Nagging hunger and agonizing thirst were their companions, and they died of dysentery. A cruel heaven pelted them week after week with streams of rain…. [A]mputees slithered like amphibians through the mud, soaking and freezing. Naked to the skies day after day and night after night, they lay desperate in the sand … or slept exhaustedly into eternity in their collapsing holes.

With General Eisenhower turning a blind eye to the Geneva Convention, only the threat of retaliation against Allied POWs still held in Germany prevented a massacre of prodigious proportions.

***

While the British were mopping up huge areas to the north, Americans were doing the same further south. For the most part, US forces were also greeted with white flags, cheers and tears of relief from a war-weary populace. When the Americans did meet determined defenders, it was often small pockets of old men and little boys. Reflected a GI: “I could not understand it, this resistance, this pointless resistance to our advance. The war was all over—our columns were spreading across the whole of Germany and Austria. We were irresistible. We could conquer the world; that was our glowing conviction. And the enemy had nothing. Yet he resisted and in some places with an implacable fanaticism.”

Those defenders who survived to surrender were often mowed down where they stood. Gustav Schutz remembered stumbling upon one massacre site where a Labor Service unit had knocked out several American tanks.

“[M]ore than a hundred dead Labor Service men were lying in long rows—all with bloated stomachs and bluish faces,” said Schutz. “We had to throw up. Even though we hadn’t eaten for days, we vomited.”

Already murderous after years of anti-German propaganda in the Jewish media and Hollywood, when US forces entered the various concentration camps and discovered huge piles of naked and emaciated corpses, their rage became uncontrollable. As Gen. Eisenhower, along with his lieutenants, Patton and Bradley, toured the prison camp at Ohrdruf Nord, they were sickened by what they saw. In shallow graves or lying haphazardly in the streets were thousands of skeleton-like remains of German and Jewish prisoners, as well as gypsies, communists, and convicts.

“I want every American unit not actually in the front lines to see this place,” ordered Eisenhower. “We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against.”

“In one camp we paraded the townspeople through, to let them have a look,” a staff officer with Patton said. “The mayor and his wife went home and slashed their wrists.”

“Well, that’s the most encouraging thing I’ve heard,” growled Eisenhower, who immediately wired Washington and London, urging government and media representatives to come quickly and witness the horror for themselves.

Given the circumstances, the fate of those Germans living near this and other concentration camps was as tragic as it was perhaps predictable. After compelling the people to view the bodies, American and British officers forced men, women and children to dig up with their hands the rotting remains and haul them to burial pits. Wrote a witness at one camp:

[A]ll day long, always running, men and women alike, from the death pile to the death pit, with the stringy remains of their victims over their shoulders. When one of them dropped to the ground with exhaustion, he was beaten with a rifle butt. When another stopped for a break, she was kicked until she ran again, or prodded with a bayonet, to the accompaniment of lewd shouts and laughs. When one tried to escape or disobeyed an order, he was shot.

For those forced to handle the rotting corpses, death by disease often followed soon after.

Few victors, from Eisenhower down, seemed to notice, and fewer seemed to care, that conditions similar to the camps existed throughout much of Germany. Because of the almost total paralysis of the Reich’s roads and rails caused by around-the-clock air attacks, supplies of food, fuel, clothes, and medicine had thinned to a trickle in German towns and cities and dried up almost entirely at the concentration camps.  As a consequence, thousands of camp inmates swiftly succumbed in the final weeks of the war to typhus, dysentery, tuberculosis, starvation, and neglect. When pressed by a friend if there had indeed been a deliberate policy of starvation, one of the few guards lucky enough to escape another camp protested:

“It wasn’t like that, believe me; it wasn’t like that! I’m maybe the only survivor who can witness to how it really was, but who would believe me!”

“Is it all a lie?”

Yes and no,” he said. “I can only say what I know about our camp. The final weeks were horrible. No more rations came, no more medical supplies. The people got ill, they lost weight, and it kept getting more and more difficult to keep order. Even our own people lost their nerve in this extreme situation. But do you think we would have held out until the end to hand the camp over in an orderly fashion if we had been these murderers?”

As American forces swept through Bavaria toward Munich in late April, most German guards at the concentration camp near Dachau fled. To maintain order and arrange an orderly transfer of the 32,000 prisoners to the Allies, and despite signs at the gate warning, NO ENTRANCE—TYPHUS EPIDEMIC, several hundred German soldiers were ordered to the prison.

When American units under Lt. Col. Felix Sparks liberated Dachau the following day, the GIs were horrified by what they saw. Outside the prison were rail cars brim full with diseased and starved corpses. Inside the camp, Sparks found “a room piled high with naked and emaciated corpses. As I turned to look over the prison yard with unbelieving eyes, I saw a large number of dead inmates lying where they had fallen in the last few hours or days before our arrival. Since all the many bodies were in various stages of decomposition, the stench of death was overpowering.”

Unhinged by the nightmare surrounding him, Sparks turned his equally enraged troops loose on the hapless German soldiers. While one group of over three hundred were led away to an enclosure, other disarmed soldiers were murdered in the guard towers, the barracks, or chased through the streets. US Army chaplain, Captain Leland Loy:

[A] German guard came running toward us. We grabbed him and were standing there talking to him when . . . [a GI] came up with a tommy-gun. He grabbed the prisoner, whirled him around and said, “There you are you son-of-a-bitch!!” The man was only about three feet from us, but the soldier cut him down with his sub-machine gun. I shouted at him, “what did you do that for, he was a prisoner?” He looked at me and screamed “Gotta kill em, gotta kill em.” When I saw the look in his eyes and the machine gun waving in the air, I said to my men, “Let him go.”

“[T]he men were deliberately wounding guards,” recalled one US soldier. “A lot of guards were shot in the legs so they couldn’t move. They were then turned over to the inmates. One was beheaded with a bayonet. Others were ripped apart limb by limb.”

While the tortures were in progress, Lt. Jack Bushyhead forced nearly 350 prisoners up against a wall, planted two machine-guns, then ordered his men to open fire. Those still alive when the fusillade ended were forced to stand amid the carnage while the machine-gunners reloaded. A short time later, army surgeon Howard Buechner happened on the scene:

Lt. Bushyhead was standing on the flat roof of a low building…. Beside him one or more soldiers manned a .30 caliber machine gun. Opposite this building was a long, high cement and brick wall. At the base of the wall lay row on row of German soldiers, some dead, some dying, some possibly feigning death. Three or four inmates of the camp, dressed in striped clothing, each with a .45 caliber pistol in hand, were walking along the line. . . . As they passed down the line, they systematically fired a round into the head of each one.

“At the far end of the line of dead or dying soldiers,” Buechner continued, “a small miracle was taking place.”

The inmates who were delivering the coup de grace had not yet reached this point and a few guards who were still alive were being placed on litters by German medics. Under the direction of a German doctor, the litter bearers were carrying these few soldiers into a nearby hospital for treatment.

I approached this officer and attempted to offer my help. Perhaps he did not realize that I was a doctor since I did not wear red cross insignia. He obviously could not understand my words and probably thought that I wanted him to give up his patients for execution. In any event, he waved me away with his hand and said “Nein,” “Nein,” “Nein.”

Despite his heroics and the placing of his own life in mortal danger, the doctor’s efforts were for naught. The wounded men were soon seized and murdered, as was every other German in the camp.

“We shot everything that moved,” one GI bragged.

“We got all the bastards,” gloated another.

In all, over five hundred helpless German soldiers were slaughtered in cold blood. As a final touch, Lt. Col. Sparks forced the citizens of Dachau to bury the thousands of corpses in the camp, thereby assuring the death of many from disease.

The Dachau Massacre (Public Domain)

The Dachau Massacre

Though perhaps the worst, the incident at Dachau was merely one of many massacres committed by US troops. Unaware of the deep hatred the Allies harbored for them, when proud SS units surrendered they naively assumed that they would be respected as the unsurpassed fighters that they undoubtedly were. Lt. Hans Woltersdorf was recovering in a German military hospital when US forces arrived.

Those who were able stood at the window, and told those of us who were lying down what was going on. A motorcycle with sidecar, carrying an officer and two men from the Waffen-SS, had arrived. They surrendered their weapons and the vehicle. The two men were allowed to continue on foot, but the officer was led away by the Americans. They accompanied him part of the way, just fifty meters on. Then a salvo from submachine guns was heard. The three Americans returned, alone.

“Did you see that? They shot the lieutenant! Did you see that? They’re shooting all the Waffen-SS officers!” That had to be a mistake! Why? Why?

Our comrades from the Wehrmacht didn’t stand around thinking for long. They went down to the hospital’s administrative quarters, destroyed all files that showed that we belonged to the Waffen-SS, started new medical sheets for us with Wehrmacht ranks, got us Wehrmacht uniforms, and assigned us to new Wehrmacht units.

Such stratagems seldom succeeded, however, since SS soldiers had their blood-type tattooed under the left arm.

“Again and again,” continues Woltersdorf, “Americans invaded the place and gathered up groups of people who had to strip to the waist and raise their left arm. Then we saw some of them being shoved on to trucks with rifle butts.”

When French forces under Jacques-Philippe Leclerc captured a dozen French SS near Karlstein, the general sarcastically asked one of the prisoners why he was wearing a German uniform.

“You look very smart in your American uniform, General,” replied the boy.

In a rage, Leclerc ordered the twelve captives shot.

“All refused to have their eyes bandaged,” a priest on the scene noted, “and all bravely fell crying “Vive la France!”

Although SS troops were routinely slaughtered upon surrender, anyone wearing a German uniform was considered lucky if they were merely slapped, kicked, then marched to the rear. “Before they could be properly put in jail,” wrote a witness when a group of little boys were marched past, “American GIs . . . fell on them and beat them bloody, just because they had German uniforms.”

After relatively benign treatment by the British, Guy Sajer and other Landsers were transferred to the Americans. They were, said Sajer, “tall men with plump, rosy cheeks, who behaved like hooligans.”

Their bearing was casual…. Their uniforms were made of soft cloth, like golfing clothes, and they moved their jaws continuously, like ruminating animals. They seemed neither happy nor unhappy, but indifferent to their victory, like men who are performing their duties in a state of partial consent, without any real enthusiasm for them. From our filthy, mangy ranks, we watched them with curiosity…. They seemed rich in everything but joy….

The Americans also humiliated us as much as they could…. They put us in a camp with only a few large tents, which could shelter barely a tenth of us…. In the center of the camp, the Americans ripped open several large cases filled with canned food. They spread the cans onto the ground with a few kicks, and walked away. . . . The food was so delicious that we forgot about the driving rain, which had turned the ground into a sponge….

From their shelters, the Americans watched us and talked about us. They probably despised us for flinging ourselves so readily into such elementary concerns, and thought us cowards for accepting the circumstances of captivity. . . . We were not in the least like the German troops in the documentaries our charming captors had probably been shown before leaving their homeland. We provided them with no reasons for anger; we were not the arrogant, irascible Boches, but simply underfed men standing in the rain, ready to eat unseasoned canned food; living dead, with anxiety stamped on our faces, leaning against any support, half asleep on our feet; sick and wounded, who didn’t ask for treatment, but seemed content simply to sleep for long hours, undisturbed. It was clearly depressing for these crusading missionaries to find so much humility among the vanquished.

***

While the occupation of Germany was in progress during the spring of 1945, a horror unimaginable was transpiring in Czechoslovakia. On May 5, when rumors swept through Prague that US forces were only seven miles away, the citizens of the Czech capital rose up against the Nazi occupation. Before the day was out most of the German garrison had been isolated and surrounded.

Meanwhile, the roundup of prisoners, including many refugees, began. Years of pent hatred for the German minority in their midst now had a free hand among the population. Wrote Juergen Thorwald:

Crowds of Czechs awaited the transports of German prisoners in the streets to pelt them with stones, spit into their faces, and beat them with any object that came to hand. German women, children, and men ran the gauntlet, with arms over their heads, to reach the prison gates under a hail of blows and kicks. Women of every age were dragged from the groups, their heads were shaved, their faces smeared with paint, and swastikas were drawn on their bared backs and breasts. Many were violated, others forced to open their mouth to the spittle of their torturers.

On May 9, with the fighting ended, the mob turned its attention to the thousands of Germans locked in prisons.   “Several trucks loaded with German wounded and medical personnel drove into the [prison] court,” Thorwald continues. “The wounded, the nurses, the doctors had just climbed from their vehicles when suddenly a band of insurgents appeared from the street and pounced upon them. They tore away their crutches, canes, and bandages, knocked them to the ground, and with clubs, poles, and hammers hit them until the Germans lay still.”

“So began a day as evil as any known to history,” muttered Thorwald.

In the street, crowds were waiting for those who were marched out of their prisons…. [T]hey had come equipped with everything their aroused passions might desire, from hot pitch to garden shears…. They … grabbed Germans—and not only SS men—drenched them with gasoline, strung them up with their feet upper-most, set them on fire, and watched their agony, prolonged by the fact that in their position the rising heat and smoke did not suffocate them. They … tied German men and women together with barbed wire, shot into the bundles, and rolled them down into the Moldau River…. They beat every German until he lay still on the ground, forced naked women to remove the barricades, cut the tendons of their heels, and laughed at their writhing. Others they kicked to death. 

“At the corner opening onto Wasser Street,” said Czech, Ludek Pachmann, “hung three naked corpses, mutilated beyond recognition, their teeth entirely knocked out, their mouths nothing but bloody holes. Others had to drag their dead fellow-Germans into Stefans Street…. ‘Those are your brothers, kiss them!’ And so the still-living Germans, lips pressed tightly together, had to kiss their dead.”

As he tried to escape the city, Gert Rainer, a German soldier disguised as a priest, saw sights that seemed straight from hell:

[A] sobbing young woman was kneeling, showering kisses on a child in her arms. . . . The child’s eyes had been gouged out, and a knife still protruded from his abdomen. The woman’s torn clothing and disheveled hair indicated that she had fought like a fury. Lost in her sorrow, she had not noticed the approaching stranger. He bent down to her and put her in mind that she had better not stay here. She was in danger of being shot herself.

“But that’s what I want!” she suddenly cried. “I don’t want to go on living without my little Peter!”

 In their sadistic ecstasy, people turned public mass murder into a folk festival. … Five young women had been tied to an advertising pillar, the rope wrapped about them several times. Their seven children had been packed into a gutter of sorts at their feet…. [A] Czech woman, perhaps 50 years of age, was pouring gasoline over the tied-up mothers. Others were spitting in their faces, slapping them and tearing whole fistfuls of hair. Then the oldest of them, laughing frenetically, lit a newspaper and ran around the pillar holding the burning paper to the gasoline-soaked victims. Like a flash, the pillar and the five others disappeared in flames several meters high…. The spectators had not noticed that one of the burning Germans had torn through the charring rope and thrown herself into the flames that licked up through the grating. With strength borne of a courage beyond death, she lifted out the grating and, lying on her stomach, tried to reach down into the tangle of blazing children. Lifeless, she lay in the flames.

In the meantime, the other four women, on fire from their feet to their hair, had slumped down as the common support of the rope was gone. That was the cue for their murderers to begin dancing around the pillar, cheering and rejoicing. The howling of the butchers grew even louder.

On Wenzels Square there was not one lamp-post without a German soldier strung up from it. The majority of them had been war-injured. . . . A crowd literally jumping for joy surrounded an arena-like clearing, in the center of which two men held a stark-naked young German woman. Each of her breasts had been pierced with a large safety-pin, from which Iron Crosses were hung. A rod bearing a swastika flag at one end had been stabbed through her navel…. A naked German lay motionless beside her trampled child. She had been beaten to death. A gaping head wound revealed her brain, oozing out.

Several men had been dragged down from a Wehrmacht truck. Their hands were tied, the other end of the rope fastened to the hitch beneath the back end of the truck…. A young Czech climbed into the driver’s seat. When the truck started, the spectators fell into a frenzy of hatred…. The five captives were pulled along by ropes some 60 feet long. As yet they could keep up with the truck. But the more the driver picked up speed, the more it became impossible for them to keep on their feet. One after the other fell, jerked forward, and was dragged along at ever-increasing speed. After but a few rounds, the Germans were mangled beyond recognition. One single lump of blood, flesh and dirt comprised the pitiful haul of this chariot of bestiality.

At the huge sports stadium, thousands of Germans were herded onto the field to provide amusement for a laughing, howling audience. “Before our very eyes . . . [they] were tortured to death in every conceivable way,” remembered Josefine Waimann. “Most deeply branded on my memory is the pregnant woman whose belly . . . uniformed Czechs slashed open, ripped out the fetus and then, howling with glee, stuffed a dachshund into the torn womb of the woman, who was screaming dreadfully…. The slaughter happening in the arena before our very eyes was like that in ancient Rome.”

The horror born at Prague soon spread to the rest of Czechoslovakia, particularly the Sudentland, where Germans had lived for over seven centuries.

“Take everything from the Germans,” demanded Czech president, Edvard Benes, “leave them only a handkerchief to sob into!”

“You may kill Germans, it’s no sin,” cried a priest to a village mob. At Bilna, wrote a chronicler . . .

men and women were rounded up in the market square, had to strip naked and were made to walk single-file while being beaten by the population with whips and canes. Then . . . the men had to crawl on all fours, like dogs, one behind the other, during which they were beaten until they lost control of their bowels; each had to lick the excrement off the one in front of him. This torture continued until many of them had been beaten to death. . . . What was done to the women there simply cannot be described, the sadistic monstrousness of it is simply too great for words.

“When I passed through Czechoslovakia after the collapse,” one German soldier recalled, “I saw severed human heads lining window sills, and in one butcher’s shop naked corpses were hanging from the meat hooks.”

When the fury had finally spent itself in Czechoslovakia, over 200,000 people had been butchered. Similar purges of German minorities occurred in Rumania, Hungary and Yugoslavia where men, women and children, by the hundreds of thousands, were massacred in cold blood. The slaughter throughout Europe was not confined to ethnic Germans alone. Following the Allied occupation of France, over 100,000 French citizens were murdered by their countrymen because of collaboration with the Germans or anti-communist activities. Similar, though smaller, and less bestial, reckonings took place in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway.

***

“It just wasn’t human,” an American GI said simply of the forced repatriation to the Soviet Union of millions of anti-Communist Russians and Ukrainians after the war.

Well aware that some grim details from “Operation Keelhaul” were bound to surface, Allied leaders were quick to squash rumors and reassure the public. “[T]he United States Government has taken a firm stand against any forced repatriation and will continue to maintain this position… ,” solemnly assuaged a spokesman for the War Department long after most of the Russian returnees had been slaughtered or enslaved in Stalin’s USSR. “There is no intention that any refugee be returned home against his will.”

To do otherwise, General Eisenhower later chimed, “would … violate the fundamental humanitarian principles we espoused.”

Even as he was soothing public concern over Russian repatriation, Eisenhower’s “humanitarian principles” were hard at work in the numerous American death camps.

***

“God, I hate the Germans,” the Supreme Allied Commander had written his wife in 1944. As Mrs. Eisenhower and anyone else close to the general knew, Dwight David Eisenhower’s loathing of all things German was nothing short of pathological.

DwightD.Eisenhower(LibraryofCongress)BESTGOODWith the final capitulation on May 8, the allied chief found himself in control of over five million ragged, weary, but living, enemy soldiers. “It is a pity we could not have killed more,” muttered the general, dissatisfied with the body-count of the greatest blood-bath in human history. And so, Eisenhower (right) settled for next best: If he could not kill armed Germans in war, he would kill disarmed Germans in peace. Because the Geneva Convention guaranteed POWs of signer nations the same food, shelter and medical attention as their captors, and because these laws were to be enforced by the International Red Cross, the American leader simply circumvented the treaty by creating his own category for prisoners. Under the general’s reclassification, German soldiers were no longer considered POWs, but DEFs— Disarmed Enemy Forces. With this sleight-of-hand, and in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, Eisenhower could now deal in secret with those in his power, free from the prying eyes of the outside world.

Even before war’s end, thousands of German POWs had died in American captivity from starvation, neglect or, in many cases, out-right murder. Wrote a survivor from one camp in April 1945:

Each group of ten was given the outdoor space of a medium-sized living room. We had to live like this for three months, no roof over our heads. Even the badly wounded only got a bundle of straw. And it rained on the Rhine for days. And we were always in the open. People died like flies. Then we got our first rations…. [W]e got one slice of bread for ten men. Each man got a tiny strip of that one slice. . . . And this went on for three long months. I only weighed 90 pounds. The dead were carried out every day. Then a voice would come over the loudspeaker: “German soldiers, eat slowly. You haven’t had anything to eat in a long time. When you get your rations today from the best fed army in the world, you’ll die if you don’t eat slowly.”

When two members of the US Army Medical Corp stumbled upon one of Eisenhower’s death camps, they were horrified by what they saw:

Huddled close together for warmth, behind the barbed wire was a most awesome sight—nearly 100,000 haggard, apathetic, dirty, gaunt, blank-staring men clad in dirty field gray uniforms, and standing ankle-deep in mud. . . . The German Division Commander reported that the men had not eaten for at least two days, and the provision of water was a major problem—yet only 200 yards away was the River Rhine running bank full.

With German surrender and the threat of retaliation against Allied POWs entirely erased, deaths in the American camps accelerated dramatically. While tens of thousands died of starvation and thirst, hundreds of thousands more perished from overcrowding and disease. Said sixteen-year-old Hugo Stehkamper:

I only had a sweater to protect me from the pouring rain and the cold. There just wasn’t any shelter to be had. You stood there, wet through and through, in fields that couldn’t be called fields anymore—they were ruined. You had to make an effort when you walked to even pull your shoes out of the mud. . . .

[I]ts incomprehensible to me how we could stand for many, many days without sitting, without lying down, just standing there, totally soaked. During the day we marched around, huddled together to try to warm each other a bit. At night we stood because we couldn’t walk and tried to keep awake by singing or humming songs. Again and again someone got so tired his knees got weak and he collapsed.

Added a starving comrade from a camp near Remagen:

The latrines were just logs flung over ditches next to the barbed wire fences. To sleep, all we could do was to dig out a hole in the ground with our hands, then cling together in the hole…. Because of illness, the men had to defecate on the ground. Soon, many of us were too weak to take off our trousers first. So our clothing was infected, and so was the mud where we had to walk and sit and lie down. There was no water at all at first, except the rain….

We had to walk along between the holes of the soft earth thrown up by the digging, so it was easy to fall into a hole, but hard to climb out. The rain was almost constant along that part of the Rhine that spring. More than half the days we had rain. More than half the days we had no food at all. On the rest, we got a little K ration. I could see from the package that they were giving us one tenth of the rations that they issued to their own men….I complained to the American camp commander that he was breaking the Geneva Convention, but he just said, “Forget the Convention. You haven’t any rights.”

Within a few days, some of the men who had gone healthy into the camps were dead. I saw our men dragging many dead bodies to the gate of the camp, where they were thrown loose on top of each other onto trucks, which took them away.

“The Americans were really shitty to us,” a survivor at another camp recalled. “All we had to eat was grass.”

camps_1_en_0

 American Death Camp

At Hans Woltersdorf ’s prison, the inmates survived on a daily soup made of birdseed. NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION, read the words on the sacks. At another camp, a weeping seventeen-year-old stood day-in, day-out beside the barbed wire fence. In the distance, the youth could just view his own village. One morning, inmates awoke to find the boy dead, his body strung up by guards and left dangling on the wires. When outraged prisoners cried “Murderers! Murderers!” the camp commander withheld their meager rations for three days. “For us who were already starving and could hardly move because of weakness . . . it meant death,” said one of the men.

“Civilians from nearby villages and towns were prevented at gun-point from passing food through the fence to prisoners,” revealed another German from his camp near Ludwigshafen.

There was no lack of food or shelter among the victorious Allies. Indeed, American supply depots were bursting at the seams. “More stocks than we can ever use,” one general announced. “[They] stretch as far as [the] eye can see.” Instead of allowing even a trickle of this bounty to reach the compounds, the starvation diet was further reduced.

“Outside the camp the Americans were burning food which they could not eat themselves,” said a starving Werner Laska from his prison.

Horrified by the silent, secret massacre, the international Red Cross—which had over 100,000 tons of food stored in Switzerland—tried to intercede. When two trains loaded with supplies reached the camps, however, they were turned back by American officers.

“These Nazis are getting a dose of their own medicine,” a prison commandant reported proudly to one of Eisenhower’s “political” advisors.

“German soldiers were not common law convicts,” protested a Red Cross official, “they were drafted to fight in a national army on patriotic grounds and could not refuse military service any more than the Americans could.”

Like this individual, many others found no justification whatsoever in the massacre of helpless prisoners, especially since the German government had lived up to the Geneva Convention, as one American put it, “to a tee.”

“I have come up against few instances where Germans have not treated prisoners according to the rules, and respected the Red Cross,” wrote war correspondent Allan Wood of the London Express.

“The Germans even in their greatest moments of despair obeyed the Convention in most respects,” a US officer added. “True it is that there were front line atrocities—passions run high up there—but they were incidents, not practices; and maladministration of their American prison camps was very uncommon.”

Nevertheless, despite the Red Cross report that ninety-nine percent of American prisoners of war in Germany had survived and were on their way home, Eisenhower’s murderous program continued apace. One officer who refused to have a hand in the crime and who began releasing large numbers of prisoners soon after they were disarmed was George Patton. Explained the general:

I emphasized [to the troops] the necessity for the proper treatment of prisoners of war, both as to their lives and property. My usual statement was . . . “Kill all the Germans you can but do not put them up against a wall and kill them. Do your killing while they are still fighting. After a man has surrendered, he should be treated exactly in accordance with the Rules of Land Warfare, and just as you would hope to be treated if you were foolish enough to surrender. Americans do not kick people in the teeth after they are down.”

Although other upright generals such as Omar Bradley and J. C. H. Lee issued orders to release POWs, Eisenhower quickly overruled them. Mercifully, for the two million Germans under British control, Bernard Montgomery refused to participate in the massacre. Indeed, soon after war’s end, the field marshal released and sent home most of his prisoners.

After being shuttled from one enclosure to the next, Corporal Helmut Liebich had seen for himself all the horrors the American death camps had to give. At one compound, amused guards formed lines and beat starving prisoners with clubs and sticks as they ran the gauntlet for their paltry rations. At another camp of 5,200 men, Liebich watched as ten to thirty bodies were hauled away every day. At yet another prison, there were “35 days of starvation and 15 days of no food at all,” and what little the wretched inmates did receive was rotten. Finally, in June 1945, Liebich’s camp at Rheinberg passed to British control. Immediately, survivors were given food and shelter and for those like Liebich—who now weighed 97 pounds and was dying of dysentery—swift medical attention was provided.

“It was wonderful to be under a roof in a real bed,” the corporal reminisced. “We were treated like human beings again. The Tommies treated us like comrades.”

Before the British could take complete control of the camp, however, Liebich noted that American bulldozers leveled one section of the compound where skeletal—but breathing—men still lay in their holes.

If possible, Germans in French hands suffered even more than those held by Americans. When France requested slaves as part of its war booty, Eisenhower transferred over 600,000 Germans east.

“Gee! I hope we don’t ever lose a war,” muttered one GI as he stared at the broken, starving wrecks being selected for slavery.

“When we marched through Namur in a column seven abreast, there was also a Catholic procession going through the street,” remembered one slave as he moved through Belgium. “When the people saw the POWs, the procession dissolved, and they threw rocks and horse shit at us. From Namur, we went by train in open railroad cars. At one point we went under a bridge, and railroad ties were thrown from it into the cars filled with POWs, causing several deaths. Later we went under another overpass, and women lifted their skirts and relieved themselves on us.”

Once in France, the assaults intensified. “[W]e were cursed, spat upon and even physically attacked by the French population, especially the women,” Hans von der Heide wrote. “I bitterly recalled scenes from the spring of 1943, when we marched American POWs through the streets of Paris. They were threatened and insulted no differently by the French mob.”

Like the Americans, the French starved their prisoners. Unlike the Americans, the French drained the last ounce of labor from their victims before they dropped dead. “I have seen them beaten with rifle butts and kicked with feet in the streets of the town because they broke down of overwork,” remarked a witness from Langres. “Two or three of them die of exhaustion every week.”

“In another camp,” a horrified viewer added, “prisoners receive only one meal a day but are expected to continue working. Elsewhere so many have died recently that the cemetery space was exhausted and another had to be built.”

Revealed the French journal, Figaro: “In certain camps for German prisoners of war … living skeletons may be seen . . . and deaths from undernourishment are numerous. We learn that prisoners have been savagely and systematically beaten and that some have been employed in removing mines without protection equipment so that they have been condemned to die sooner or later.”

“Twenty-five percent of the men in [our] camp died in one month,” echoed a slave from Buglose.

The enslavement of German soldiers was not limited to France. Although fed and treated infinitely better, several hundred thousand POWs in Great Britain were transformed into virtual slaves. Wrote historian Ralph Franklin Keeling at the time:

The British Government nets over $250,000,000 annually from its slaves. The Government, which frankly calls itself the “owner” of the prisoners, hires the men out to any employer needing men, charging the going rates of pay for such work—usually $15 to $20 per week. It pays the slaves from 10 cents to 20 cents a day … plus such “amenities” as slaves customarily received in the former days of slavery in the form of clothing, food, and shelter.

When prisoners were put to work raising projects for Britain’s grand “Victory in Europe” celebration, one English foreman felt compelled to quip: “I guess the Jerries are preparing to celebrate their own down-fall. It does seem as though that is laying it on a bit thick.”

In vain did the International Red Cross protest:

The United States, Britain, and France … are violating International Red Cross agreements they solemnly signed in 1929. Investigation at Geneva headquarters today disclosed that the transfer of German war prisoners captured by the American army to French and British authorities for forced labor is nowhere permitted in the statues of the International Red Cross, which is the highest authority on the subject in the world.

***

Meanwhile, those Germans not consigned to bondage continued to perish in American prisons. Landsers who did not succumb to hunger or disease often died of thirst, even though streams sometimes ran just a few feet from the camps. “[T]he lack of water was the worst thing of all,” remembered George Weiss of his enclosure where the Rhine flowed just beyond the barbed wire. “For three and a half days we had no water at all. We would drink our own urine. It tasted terrible, but what could we do? Some men got down on the ground and licked the ground to get some moisture. I was so weak I was already on my knees.”

“[O]thers,” observed American guard, Martin Brech, “tried to escape in a demented or suicidal fashion, running through open fields in broad daylight towards the Rhine to quench their thirst. They were mowed down.”

As if their plight were not already hideous enough, prisoners occasionally became the targets of drunken and sadistic guards who sprayed the camps with machine-gun fire for sport. “I think . . ,” Private Brech continued, “[that] soldiers not exposed to combat were trying to prove how tough they were by taking it out on the prisoners and civilians.”

I encountered a captain on a hill above the Rhine shooting down at a group of German civilian women with his .45 caliber pistol. When I asked, “Why?” he mumbled, “Target practice,” and fired until his pistol was empty…. This is when I realized I was dealing with cold-blooded killers filled with moralistic hatred.

While continuing to deny the Red Cross and other relief agencies access to the camps, Eisenhower stressed among his lieutenants the need for secrecy. “Ike made the sensational statement that … now that hostilities were over, the important thing was to stay in with world public opinion—apparently whether it was right or wrong . . . ,” recorded George Patton. “After lunch [he] talked to us very confidentially on the necessity for solidarity in the event that any of us are called before a Congressional Committee.”

To prevent the gruesome details from reaching the outside world— and sidetrack those that did—counter-rumors were circulated stating that, far from mistreating and murdering prisoners, US camp commanders were actually turning back released Germans who tried to slip back in for food and shelter.

Ultimately, at least 800,000 German prisoners died in the American and French death camps. “Quite probably,” one expert later wrote, the figure of one million is closer to the mark. And thus, in “peace,” did ten times the number of Landsers die than were killed on the whole Western Front during the whole of the war.

***

Unlike their democratic counterparts, the Soviet Union made little effort to hide from the world the fate of German prisoners in its hands. Toiling by the hundreds of thousands in the forests and mines of Siberia, the captives were slaves pure and simple and no attempt was made to disguise the fact. For the enslaved Germans, male and female, the odds of surviving the Soviet gulags were even worse than escaping the American or French death camps and a trip to Siberia was tantamount to a death sentence. What little food the slaves received was intended merely to maintain their strength so that the last drop of energy could be drained from them.

And so, with the once mighty Wehrmacht now disarmed and enslaved, and with their leaders either dead or awaiting trial for so-called “war crimes,” the old men, women and children who remained in the dismembered Reich found themselves utterly at the mercy of the victors. Unfortunately for these survivors, never in the history of the world was mercy in shorter supply.

***

Soon after the Allied victory in Europe, the purge of Nazi Party members from government, business, industry, science, education, and all other walks of German life commenced. While a surprising number of Nazis were allowed—even compelled—to man their posts temporarily to enable a smooth transition, all party members, high and low, were sooner or later excised from German daily life. In theory, “de-Nazification” was a simple transplanting of Nazi officials with those of democratic, socialist or communist underpinnings. In practice, the purge became little more than a cloak for an orgy of rape, torture and death.

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De-Nazification

Because their knowledge of the language and culture was superb, most of the intelligence officers accompanying US and British forces into the Reich were Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi persecution in the late 1930s. Although their American and English “aides” were hardly better, the fact that many of these “39ers” became interrogators, examiners and screeners, with old scores to settle, insured that Nazis— or any German, for that matter—would be shown no mercy.

One man opposed to the vengeance-minded program was George Patton. “Evidently the virus started by Morgenthau and [Bernard] Baruch of a Semitic revenge against all Germans is still working … ,” wrote the general in private. “I am frankly opposed to this war-criminal stuff. It is not cricket and it is Semitic….I can’t see how Americans can sink so low.”

Soon after occupation, all adult Germans were compelled to register at the nearest Allied headquarters and complete a lengthy questionnaire on their past activities. While many nervous citizens were detained then and there, most returned home, convinced that at long last the terrible ordeal was over. For millions, however, the trial had but begun.

“Then it started,” remembered Anna Fest, a woman who had registered with the Americans six weeks earlier.

Such a feeling of helplessness, when three or four heavily armed military police stand in front of you. You just panic. I cried terribly. My mother was completely beside herself and said, “You can’t do this. She registered just as she was supposed to.” Then she said, “If only you’d gone somewhere else and had hidden.” But I consider that senseless, because I did not feel guilty. . . . That was the way it went with everyone, with no reason given.

Few German adults, Nazi or not, escaped the dreaded knock on the door. Far from being dangerous fascists, Freddy and Lali Horstmann were actually well-known anti-Nazis. Records Lali from the Russian Zone:

I am sorry to bother you,” he began, “but I am simply carrying out my orders. Until when did you work for the Foreign Office?”

Till 1933,” my husband answered.

Then you need fear nothing,” Androff said…. “We accuse you of nothing, but we want you to accompany us to the headquarters of the NKVD, the secret police, so that we can take down what you said in a protocol, and ask you a few questions about the working of the Foreign Office… .”

We were stunned for a moment; then I started forward, asking if I could come along with them. “Impossible,” the interpreter smiled. My heart raced. Would Freddy answer satisfactorily? Could he stand the excitement? What sort of accommodation would they give him?

“Dont worry, your husband has nothing to fear,” Androff continued. “He will have a heated room. Give him a blanket for the night, but quickly, we must leave. .. .”

There was a feeling of sharp tension, putting the soldier on his guard, as though he were expecting an attack from one of us. I took first the soldier, then the interpreter, by their hands and begged them to be kind to Freddy, repeating myself in the bustle and scraping of feet that drowned my words. There was a banging of doors. A cold wind blew in. I felt Freddy kiss me. I never saw him again.

“[W]e were wakened by the sound of tires screeching, engines stopping abruptly, orders yelled, general din, and a hammering on the window shutters. Then the intruders broke through the door, and we saw Americans with rifles who stood in front of our bed and shone lights at us. None of them spoke German, but their gestures said: ‘Get dressed, come with us immediately.’ This was my fourth arrest.”

a_riefenstahlSo wrote Leni Riefenstahl (left), a talented young woman who was perhaps the world’s greatest film-maker. Because her epic documentaries— Triumph of the Will and Olympia—seemed paeans to not only Germany, but National Socialism, and because of her close relationship with an admiring Adolf Hitler, Leni was of more than passing interest to the Allies. Though false, rumors also hinted that the attractive, sometimes-actress was also a “mistress of the devil”—that she and Hitler were lovers.

“Neither my husband nor my mother nor any of my three assistants had ever joined the Nazi Party, nor had any of us been politically active,” said the confused young woman. “No charges had ever been filed against us, yet we were at the mercy of the [Allies] and had no legal protection of any kind.”

Soon after Leni’s fourth arrest, came a fifth.

The jeep raced along the autobahns until, a few hours later …I was brought to the Salzburg Prison; there an elderly prison matron rudely pushed me into the cell, kicking me so hard that I fell to the ground; then the door was locked. There were two other women in the dark, barren room, and one of them, on her knees, slid about the floor, jabbering confusedly; then she began to scream, her limbs writhing hysterically. She seemed to have lost her mind. The other woman crouched on her bunk, weeping to herself.

As Leni and others quickly discovered, the “softening up” process began soon after arrival at an Allied prison. When Ernst von Salomon, his Jewish girl friend and fellow prisoners reached an American holding pen near Munich, the men were promptly led into a room and brutally beaten by military police. With his teeth knocked out and blood spurting from his mouth, von Salomon moaned to a gum-chewing officer, “You are no gentlemen.” The remark brought only a roar of laughter from the attackers. “No, no, no!” the GIs grinned. “We are Mississippi boys!” In another room, military policemen raped the women at will while leering soldiers watched from windows.

After such savage treatment, the feelings of despair only intensified once the captives were crammed into cells.

“The people had been standing there for three days, waiting to be interrogated,” remembered a German physician ordered to treat prisoners in the Soviet Zone. “At the sight of us a pandemonium broke out which left me helpless…. As far as I could gather, the usual senseless questions were being reiterated: Why were they there, and for how long? They had no water and hardly anything to eat. They wanted to be let out more often than once a day…. A great many of them have dysentery so badly that they can no longer get up.”

“Young Poles made fun of us,” said a woman from her cell in the same zone. “[They] threw bricks through the windows, paperbags with sand, and skins of hares filled with excrement. We did not dare to move or offer resistance, but huddled together in the farthest corner, in order not to be hit, which could not always be avoided. . . . [W]e were never free from torments.”

“For hours on end I rolled about on my bed, trying to forget my surroundings,” recalled Leni Riefenstahl, “but it was impossible.”

The mentally disturbed woman kept screaming—all through the night; but even worse were the yells and shrieks of men from the courtyard, men who were being beaten, screaming like animals. I subsequently found out that a company of SS men was being interrogated.

They came for me the next morning, and I was taken to a padded cell where I had to strip naked, and a woman examined every square inch of my body. Then I had to get dressed and go down to the courtyard, where many men were standing, apparently prisoners, and I was the only woman. We had to line up before an American guard who spoke German. The prisoners stood to attention, so I tried to do the same, and then an American came who spoke fluent German. He pushed a few people together, then halted at the first in our line.

Were you in the Party?”

The prisoner hesitated for a moment, then said: Yes.”     He was slugged in the face and spat blood.

The American went on to the next in line. 

Were you in the Party?”

The man hesitated.

“Yes or no?”

Yes.”

And he too got punched so hard in the face that the blood ran out of his mouth. However, like the first man, he didn’t dare resist. They didn’t even instinctively raise their hands to protect themselves. They did nothing. They put up with the blows like dogs.

The next man was asked: “Were you in the Party?”

Silence.

Well?”

No, he yelled, so no punch. From then on nobody admitted that he had been in the Party and I was not even asked.

As the above case illustrated, there often was no rhyme or reason to the examinations; all seemed designed to force from the victim what the inquisitor wanted to hear, whether true or false. Additionally, most such “interrogations” were structured to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Explained one prisoner:

The purpose of these interrogations is not to worm out of the people what they knew—which would be uninteresting anyway—but to extort from them special statements. The methods resorted to are extremely primitive; people are beaten up until they confess to having been members of the Nazi Party…. The authorities simply assume that, basically, everybody has belonged to the Party. Many people die during and after these interrogations, while others, who admit at once their party membership, are treated more leniently.

“A young commissar, who was a great hater of the Germans, cross-examined me… ,” said Gertrude Schulz. “When he put the question: ‘Frauenwerk [Women’s Labor Service]?’ I answered in the negative. Thereupon he became so enraged, that he beat me with a stick, until I was black and blue. I received about 15 blows … on my left upper arm, on my back and on my thigh. I collapsed and, as in the case of the first cross-examination, I had to sign the questionnaire.”

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American Torture Pen

“Both officers who took our testimony were former German Jews,” reminisced a member of the women’s SS, Anna Fest. While vicious dogs snarled nearby, one of the officers screamed questions and accusations at Anna. If the answers were not those desired, “he kicked me in the back and the other hit me.”

They kept saying we must have been armed, have had pistols or so. But we had no weapons, none of us….I had no pistol. I couldn’t say, just so they’d leave me in peace, yes, we had pistols. The same thing would happen to the next person to testify…. [T]he terrible thing was, the German men had to watch. That was a horrible, horrible experience…. That must have been terrible for them. When I went outside, several of them stood there with tears running down their cheeks. What could they have done? They could do nothing.

Not surprisingly, with beatings, rape, torture, and death facing them, few victims failed to “confess” and most gladly inked their name to any scrap of paper shown them. Some, like Anna, tried to resist. Such recalcitrance was almost always of short duration, however. Generally, after enduring blackened eyes, broken bones, electric shock to breasts—or, in the case of men, smashed testicles—only those who died during torture failed to sign confessions.

Alone, surrounded by sadistic hate, utterly bereft of law, many victims understandably escaped by taking their own lives. Like tiny islands in a vast sea of evil, however, miracles did occur. As he limped painfully back to his prison cell, one Wehrmacht officer reflected on the insults, beatings, and tortures he had endured and contemplated suicide.

I could not see properly in the semi-darkness and missed my open cell door. A kick in the back and I was sprawling on the floor. As I raised myself I said to myself I could not, should not accept this humiliation. I sat on my bunk. I had hidden a razor blade that would serve to open my veins. Then I looked at the New Testament and found these words in the Gospel of St. John: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Yes. You can mangle this poor body—I looked down at the running sores on my legs—but myself, my honor, God’s image that is in me, you cannot touch. This body is only a shell, not my real self. Without Him, without the Lord, my Lord, ye can do nothing. New strength seemed to rise in me.

I was pondering over what seemed to me a miracle when the heavy lock turned in the cell door. A very young American soldier came in, put his finger to his lips to warn me not to speak. “I saw it,” he said. “Here are baked potatoes.” He pulled the potatoes out of his pocket and gave them to me, and then went out, locking the door behind him.

***

Horrific as de-Nazification was in the British, French and, especially the American Zone, it was nothing compared to what took place in Poland, behind Soviet lines. In hundreds of concentration camps sponsored by an apparatus called the “Office of State Security,” thousands of Germans—male and female, old and young, high and low, Nazi and non–Nazi, SS, Wehrmacht, Volkssturm, Hitler Youth, all—were rounded up and imprisoned. Staffed and run by Jews, with help from Poles, Czechs, Russians, and other concentration camp survivors, the prisons were little better than torture chambers where dying was a thing to be prolonged, not hastened. While those with blond hair, blue eyes and handsome features were first to go, anyone who spoke German would do.

Moments after arrival, prisoners were made horrifyingly aware of their fate. John Sack, himself a Jew, reports on one camp run by twenty-six-year-old Shlomo Morel:

ShomoMorel(PublicDomain)BEST“I was at Auschwitz,” Shlomo (left) proclaimed, lying to the Germans but, even more, to himself, psyching himself like a fighter the night of the championship, filling himself with hate for the Germans around him. “I was at Auschwitz for six long years, and I swore that if I got out, I’d pay all you Nazis back.” His eyes sent spears, but the “Nazis” sent him a look of simple bewilderment…. “Now sing the Horst Wessel Song!” No one did, and Shlomo, who carried a hard rubber club, hit it against a bed like some judge’s gavel. “Sing it, I say!”

The flags held high …,” some Germans began.     

“Everyone!” Shlomo said.

The ranks closed tight….”

“I said everyone!”

“Blond!

Shlomo cried to the blondest, bluest-eyed person there. “I said sing!” He swung his rubber club at the man’s golden head and hit it. The man staggered back.

Our comrades, killed by the Reds and Reactionaries….”

Sonofabitch!” Shlomo cried, enraged that the man was defying him by not singing but staggering back. He hit him again, saying, “Sing!”

Are marching in spirit with us….”    

“Louder!”

Clear the street for the Brown Battalions….”

Still louder!” cried Shlomo, hitting another shouting man.

“Millions of hopeful people….”    

“Nazi pigs!”

 “Are looking to the swastika… .”

Schweine!Shlomo cried. He threw down his rubber club, grabbed a wooden stool, and, a leg in his fist, started beating a German’s head. Without thinking, the man raised his arms, and Shlomo, enraged that the man would try to evade his just punishment, cried, “Sonofawhore!” and slammed the stool against the man’s chest. The man dropped his arms, and Shlomo started hitting his now undefended head when snap! the leg of the stool split off, and, cursing the German birchwood, he grabbed another stool and hit the German with that. No one was singing now, but Shlomo, shouting, didn’t notice. The other guards called out, “Blond!” “Black!” “Short!” “Tall!” and as each of these terrified people came up, they wielded their clubs upon him. The brawl went on till eleven o’clock, when the sweat-drenched invaders cried, “Pigs! We will fix you up!” and left the Germans alone.

Some were quite fixed…. Shlomo and his subordinates had killed them.

The next night it was more of the same . . . and the next night and the next and the next. Those who survived the “welcoming committees” at this and other camps were flung back into their pens.

“I was put with 30 women into a cell, which was intended to accommodate one person,” Gerlinde Winkler recalled. “The narrow space, into which we were rammed, was unbearable and our legs were all entangled together. . . . The women, ill with dysentery, were only allowed to go out once a day, in order to relieve themselves. A bucket without a cover was pushed into the cell with the remark: ‘Here you have one, you German sows.’  The stink was insupportable, and we were not allowed to open the little window.”

“The air in the cells became dense, the smell of the excrement filled it, the heat was like in Calcutta, and the flies made the ceiling black,” wrote John Sack. “I’m choking, the Germans thought, and one even took the community razor blade and, in despair, cut his throat open with it.”

When the wretched inmates were at last pried from their hellish tombs, it was only for interrogation. Sack continues:

As many as eight interrogators, almost all Jews, stood around any one German saying, “Were you in the Nazi Party?” Sometimes a German said, “Yes,” and the boys shouted, “Du schwein! You pig!” and beat him and broke his arm, perhaps, before sending him to his cell. . . . But usually a German said, “No,” and the boys … told him, “You’re lying. You were a Nazi.”

“No, I never was.”

Youre lying! We know about you!”

“No, I really wasn’t—”

“Du lugst! You’re lying!” they cried, hitting the obstinate man. “You better admit it! Or you’ll get a longer sentence! Now! Were you in the Nazi Party?”

No! the German often said, and the boys had to beat him and beat him until he was really crying, “I was a Nazi! Yes!”

But sometimes a German wouldn’t confess. One such hard case was a fifty-year-old….

Were you in the Party?”

“No, I wasn’t in it.”

“How many people work for you?”

“In the high season, thirty-five.”

“You must have been in the Party,” the boy deduced.

He asked for the German’s wallet, where he found a fishing license with the stamp of the German Anglers Association. Studying it, he told the German, “It’s stamped by the Party.”

Its not,” said the German.

Hed lost his left arm in World War I and was using his right arm to gesture with, and, to the boy, he may have seemed to be Heiling Hitler. The boy became violent. He grabbed the man’s collar, hit the man’s head against the wall, hit it against it ten times more, threw the man’s body onto the floor, and, in his boots, jumped on the man’s cringing chest as though jumping rope. A half dozen other interrogators, almost all Jews, pushed the man onto a couch, pulled off his trousers, and hit him with hard rubber clubs and hard rubber hoses full of stones. The sweat started running down the Jews’ arms, and the blood down the man’s naked legs.

Warst du in der Partei?”

“Nein!”

“Warst du in der Partei?”

“Nein!” the German screamed—screamed, till the boys had to go to Shlomo’s kitchen for a wooden spoon and to use it to cram some rags in the German’s mouth. Then they resumed beating him. . . . The more the man contradicted them, the more they hated him for it.

After undergoing similar sessions on a regular basis, the victim was brought back for the eighth time.

By now, the man was half unconscious due to his many concussions, and he wasn’t thinking clearly. The boys worked on him with rubber and oak-wood clubs and said, “Do you still say you weren’t in the Party?”

“No! I didn’t say I wasn’t in the Party!”

You didnt?”

“No!” said the punch drunk man. “I never said it!”

You were in the Party?”

Yes!”

The boys stopped beating him. They practically sighed, as if their ordeal were over now. They lit up cigarettes….

Scram,one said to the German. The man stood up, and he had his hand on the doorknob when one of the boys impulsively hit the back of his head, and he fell to the floor, unconscious.  

Aufstehen, du Deutsches schwein. Stand up, you German pig,” the boys said, kicking him till he stood up and collapsed again. Two boys carried him to his cell and dropped him in a corner….

Of course, the boys would beat up the Germans for “Yes”es as well as “No”s. In Glatz, the Jewish commandant asked a German policeman, “Were you in the Party?”

Of course! I was obliged to be!”

“Lie down, the commandant said, and six weeks later the boys were still whipping the German’s feet.

Some torture sessions lacked even the pretense of an examination. Remembered Eva Reimann:

My cell door opened. The guard, who, because of the foul smell, held a handkerchief to his nose, cried, “Reimann Eva! Come!” I was led to a first-floor room.

He shouted at me, “Take off your shoes!” I took them off.  “Lie down!” I lay down. He took a thick bamboo stick, and he beat the soles of my feet. I screamed, since the pain was very great. . . . The stick whistled down on me. A blow on my mouth tore my lower lip, and my teeth started bleeding violently. He beat my feet again. The pain was unbearable….

The door opened suddenly, and, smiling obligingly, a cigarette in his mouth, in came the chief of the Office, named Sternnagel. In faultless German he asked me, “What’s wrong here? Why do you let yourself be beaten? You just have to sign this document. Or should we jam your fingers in the door, until the bones are broad. . . ?

A man picked me up by the ankles, raised me eight inches above the floor, and let me fall. My hands were tied, and my head hit hard. . . . I lay in a bloody puddle. Someone cried, “Stand up!” I tried to, and, with unspeakable pain, I succeeded. A man with a pistol came, held it to my left temple, and said, “Will you now confess?” I told him, “Please shoot me.” Yes, I hoped to be freed from all his tortures. I begged him, “Please pull the trigger.”

After barely surviving his “interrogation,” one fourteen-year-old was taken to the camp infirmary. “My body was green, but my legs were fire red,” the boy said. “My wounds were bound with toilet paper, and I had to change the toilet paper every day. I was in the perfect place to watch what went on…. All the patients were beaten people, and they died everywhere: at their beds, in the washroom, on the toilet. At night, I had to step over the dead as if that were normal to do.”

When the supply of victims ran low, it was a simple matter to find more. John Sack:

One day, a German in pitch-black pants, the SS’s color, showed up in Lola’s prison. He’d been spotted near the city square by a Pole who’d said, “Fascist! You’re wearing black!” At that, the German had bolted off, but the Pole chased him a mile to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, tackled him by a gold mosaic, hit him, kicked him, and took him to Lola’s prison. Some guards, all girls, then seized the incriminating evidence: the man’s black pants, pulling them off so aggressively that one of the tendons tore. The man screamed, but the girls said, “Shut up!” and they didn’t recognize that the pants were part of a boy scout uniform. The “man” was fourteen years old.

The girls decided to torture him [with]. . . . fire. They held down the German boy, put out their cigarettes on him, and, using gasoline, set his curly black hair afire.

At the larger prison camps, Germans died by the hundreds daily.

You pigs!” the commandant then cried, and he beat the Germans with their stools, often killing them. At dawn many days, a Jewish guard cried, “Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier!” and marched the Germans into the woods outside their camp. “Halt! Get your shovels! Dig!” the guard cried, and, when the Germans had dug a big grave, he put a picture of Hitler in. “Now cry!” the guard said. “And sing All the Dogs Are Barking!” and all the Germans moaned,

All the dogs are barking,

All the dogs are barking,

Just the little hot-dogs,

Arent barking at all.

The guard then cried, “Get undressed!” and, when the Germans were naked, he beat them, poured liquid manure on them, or, catching a toad, shoved the fat thing down a German’s throat, the German soon dying.

Utterly unhinged by years of persecution, by the loss of homes and loved ones, for the camp operators, no torture, no sadism, no bestiality, seemed too monstrous to inflict on those now in their power. Some Germans were forced to crawl on all fours and eat their own excrement as well as that of others. Many were drowned in open latrines. Hundreds were herded into buildings and burned to death or sealed in caskets and buried alive.

Near Lamsdorf, German women were forced to disinter bodies from a Polish burial site. According to John Sack:

The women did, and they started to suffer nausea as the bodies, black as the stuff in a gutter, appeared. The faces were rotten, the flesh was glue, but the guards—who had often seemed psychopathic, making a German woman drink urine, drink blood, and eat a man’s excrement, inserting an oily five-mark bill in a woman’s vagina, putting a match to it—shouted at the women . . . “Lie down with them!” The women did, and the guards shouted, “Hug them!” “Kiss them!” “Make love with them!” and, with their rifles, pushed on the backs of the women’s heads until their eyes, noses and mouths were deep in the Polish faces’ slime. The women who clamped their lips couldn’t scream, and the women who screamed had to taste something vile. Spitting, retching, the women at last stood up, the wet tendrils still on their chins, fingers, clothes, the wet seeping into the fibers, the stink like a mist around them as they marched back to Lamsdorf. There were no showers there, and the corpses had all had typhus, apparently, and sixty-four women . . . died.

Not surprisingly, the mortality rate at the concentration camps was staggering and relatively few survived. At one prison of eight thousand, a mere 1,500 lived to reach home. And of those “lucky” individuals who did leave with their lives, few could any longer be called human.

When a smattering of accounts began to leak from Poland of the unspeakable crimes being committed, many in the West were stunned. “One would expect that after the horrors in Nazi concentration camps, nothing like that could ever happen again,” muttered one US senator, who then reported on beatings, torture and “brains splashed on the ceiling.”

“Is this what our soldiers died for?” echoed a Briton in the House of Commons.

Added Winston Churchill: “Enormous numbers [of Germans] are utterly unaccounted for. It is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the Iron Curtain.”

While Churchill and others in the West were expressing shock and surprise over the sadistic slaughter taking place in the Soviet Zone, precious little was said about the “tragedy on a prodigious scale” that was transpiring in their own backyard.

***

Among the millions imprisoned by the Allies were thousands of Germans accused of having a direct or indirect hand in war crimes. Because the victorious powers demanded swift and severe punishment, Allied prosecutors were urged to get the most damning indictments in as little time as possible. Unfortunately for the accused, their captors seemed determined to inflict as much pain as possible in the process.

“[W]e were thrown into small cells stark naked,” Hans Schmidt later wrote. “The cells in which three or four persons were incarcerated were six and a half by ten feet in size and had no windows or ventilation.”

When we went to the lavatory we had to run through a lane of Americans who struck us with straps, brooms, cudgels, buckets, belts, and pistol holders to make us fall down. Our head, eyes, body, belly, and genitals were violently injured. A man stood inside the lavatory to beat us and spit on us. We returned to our cells through the same ordeal. The temperature in the cells was 140 Fahrenheit or more. During the first three days we were given only one cup of water and a small slice of bread. During the first days we perspired all the time, then perspiration stopped. We were kept standing chained back to back for hours. We suffered terribly from thirst, blood stagnation and mortification of the hands. From time to time water was poured on the almost red-hot radiators, filling the cells with steam, so that we could hardly breathe. During all this time the cells were in darkness, except when the American soldiers entered and switched on electric bulbs … which forced us to close our eyes.

Our thirst became more and more cruel, so that our lips cracked, our tongues were stiff, and we eventually became apathetic, or raved, or collapsed.

After enduring this torture for several days, we were given a small blanket to cover our nakedness, and driven to the courtyard outside. The uneven soil was covered with pebbles and slag and we were again beaten and finally driven back on our smashed and bleeding feet. While out of breath, burning cigarettes were pushed into our mouths, and each of us was forced to eat three or four of them. Meanwhile the American soldiers continued to hit us on eyes, head, and ears. Back in our cells we were pushed against burning radiators, so that our skin was blistered.

For thirteen days and nights we received the same treatment, tortured by heat and thirst. When we begged for water, our guards mocked us. When we fainted we were revived by being drenched with cold water. There was dirt everywhere and we were never allowed to wash, our inflamed eyes gave us terrible pain, we fainted continuously.

Every twenty minutes or so our cell doors were opened and the soldiers insulted and hit us. Whenever the doors were opened we had to stand still with our backs to the door. Two plates of food, spiced with salt, pepper, and mustard to make us thirstier, were given us daily. We ate in the dark on the floor. The thirst was the most terrible of all our tortures and we could not sleep.

In this condition I was brought to trial.

During the Nazi war crimes trials and hearings, almost any method that would obtain a “confession” was employed. Eager to implicate high-ranking German officers in the Malmedy Massacre, American investigator Harry Thon ordered Wehrmacht sergeant Willi Schafer to write out an incriminating affidavit:

Next morning Mr. Thon appeared in my cell, read my report, tore it up, swore at me and hit me. After threatening to have me killed unless I wrote what he wanted, he left. A few minutes later the door of my cell opened, a black hood encrusted with blood, was put over my head and face and I was led to another room. In view of Mr. Thon’s threat the black cap had a crushing effect on my spirits…. Four men of my company … accused me, although later they admitted to having borne false testimony. Nevertheless I still refused to incriminate myself. Thereupon Mr. Thon said that if I continued to refuse this would be taken as proof of my Nazi imagestyopinions, and . . . my death was certain. He said I would have no chance against four witnesses, and advised me for my own good to make a statement after which I would be set free. . . . I still refused. I told Mr. Thon that although my memory was good, I was unable to recall any of the occurrences he wished me to write about and which to the best of my knowledge had never occurred.

Mr. Thon left but returned in a little while with Lieutenant [William] Perl (above) who abused me, and told Mr. Thon that, should I not write what was required within half an hour, I should be left to my fate. Lieutenant Perl made it clear to me that I had the alternative of writing and going free or not writing and dying. I decided for life.

Another Landser unable to resist the pressure was Joachim Hoffman:

[W]hen taken for a hearing a black hood was placed over my head. The guards who took me to my hearing often struck or kicked me. I was twice thrown down the stairs and was hurt so much that blood ran out of my mouth and nose. At the hearing, when I told the officers about the ill treatment I had suffered, they only laughed. I was beaten and the black cap pulled over my face whenever I could not answer the questions put to me, or gave answers not pleasing to the officers….I was beaten and several times kicked in the genitals.

Understandably, after several such sessions, even the strongest submitted and signed papers incriminating themselves and others.

“If you confess you will go free,” nineteen-year-old Siegfried Jaenckel was told. “[Y]ou need only to say you had an order from your superiors. But if you won’t speak you will be hung.”

Despite the mental and physical abuse, young Jaenckel held out as long as he could: “I was beaten and I heard the cries of the men being tortured in adjoining cells, and whenever I was taken for a hearing I trembled with fear…. Subjected to such duress I eventually gave in, and signed the long statement dictated to me.”

Far from being isolated or extreme cases, such methods of extorting confessions were the rule rather than the exception. Wrote author Freda Utley, who learned of the horror after speaking with American jurist Edward van Roden:

Beatings and brutal kickings; knocking-out of teeth and breaking of jaws; mock trials; solitary confinement; torture with burning splinters; the use of investigators pretending to be priests; starvation; and promises of acquittal. . . . Judge van Roden said: “All but two of the Germans in the 139 cases we investigated had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was standard operating procedure with our American investigators.” He told of one German who had had lighted matchsticks forced under his fingernails by the American investigators to extort a confession, and had appeared at his trial with his fingers still bandaged from the atrocity.

In addition to testimony given under torture, those who might have spoken in defense of the accused were prevented. Moreover, hired “witnesses” were paid by the Americans to parrot the prosecution’s charges.

When criticism such as Utley’s and van Roden’s surfaced, and even as victims were being hung by the hundreds, those responsible defended their methods.

“We couldn’t have made those birds talk otherwise…,” laughed one Jewish “interrogator,” Colonel A. H. Rosenfeld. “It was a trick, and it worked like a charm.”

Volunteers Needed

To my readers, listeners and friends everywhere. . . .

Most of you are probably wondering why I am so remiss lately with my written and audio blogs on this web site.  Well, the fact is that for the last few months I have finally turned my full attention to the follow-up book of Hellstorm–The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947.   The time spent on the research and writing–and rewriting–quite honestly eats up most of my waking moments.

The working title for this new book is Summer, 1945: Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate.  I don’t think I need to add–especially for those of you who have read Hellstorm yourselfthat this book will be a ground-breaking, gut-wrenching account. Much of the material in Summer, 1945 will be new to even the more serious students of the period.  Given the terrible crimes committed against both nations during that fateful last summer of the war I firmly believe that this book will have an even greater impact on the world than Hellstorm had.  And that is saying much.

Many of the comments I received from those who had finished Hellstorm mentioned that the book changed the way they viewed the world, that the book was “life-altering”, that there was the reader before the book, and there was now the reader after the book.  This, I predict, will be the same reaction of those who read Summer, 1945.  As before, the book will be graphic, to the point, and will pull absolutely no punches.  For the first time in over 70 years, most of these dark secrets, long-hidden from the world, will finally be available.  What was done to Germany and Japan by the Allied forces during and after the war were crimes so vast and hideous that one is quite literally staggered by the utter and shameless evil.

I am proud to say that in the past, many of you stepped to the front with your donations to help. Although I never asked for funds back then most of you instinctively understood the financial limitations of a non-academic historian such as myself . . . and you replied in kind.  For that, I thank you, one and all.

But now, I must do that which I never did in the past–I must ask up front for your financial support. As you might imagine, a book of this nature is expensive to research and write. Since I am working full-time on the book, there is very little extra income available . . . and like everyone else, I have bills that must be paid.

And so, to those of you who like your history honest, accurate and fearless, I ask that you give what you can.  To those of you who donate $50 or more, I will, upon publication, send a signed copy of the book.  Additionally, in the event a film is made based on the book, as was the case with Hellstorm, I will also see that you receive the DVD.

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is mtgoodrich@aol.com.  For those of you donating with cash, check or money order, my mailing address is: Tom Goodrich, 9011 Midnight Pass Rd., # 527, Sarasota, FL, 34242

On behalf of  history, Truthful History, thanks to everyone!

Tom

(Above: The US firebombing of Tokyo, 1945.  An estimated 100,000-200,000, mostly women, children and the elderly were burned to death that night)

 

Dirty Japs

When I was a child, I vividly recall a scene from an old war movie. . . .

The US Marines are storming some Pacific island and driving the terrified “Jap” defenders before them, much as safari beaters drive prey. The wild chase increases in momentum until the enemy is finally flushed from the trees and onto the beach. Halting their tanks, situating their machine guns for maximum effect, the marines open fire. Scores of Japanese are mowed down mercilessly. With no hope, with no escape, the survivors leap into the surf and try to swim for it. In a matter of minutes, there is not a living “Nip” among them.

Another scene I vividly recall seeing—and this only once—was a war documentary. A Japanese sailor is struggling in the water amid a flotsam of oil and debris, desperately trying to save himself. Clearly, he is a survivor from a recently sunk ship. The sailor is so close to the American naval vessel that I can see the fear and confusion in his face. Suddenly, from a point beyond camera range, bullets spray the water around the man. In a panic, the sailor begins swimming around and around in circles. Finally, a well-aimed bullet blows the young man’s head apart and he sinks silently beneath the surface.

In those old documentary films that cover World War Two in the Pacific, there is a very good reason why one seldom sees a live Jap in any of them, much less a prison camp filled with live Japs. Just as they were doing in Europe, Americans in the Pacific were taking no prisoners.  The awful truth never mentioned in these films, or in any book, for that matter, is that the war with Japan from start to finish was a black flag no-quarter contest in which the rules of engagement were shockingly simple: If the Japanese won, they lived . . . if they lost, they died.

***

Millions raped, millions tortured, millions enslaved, millions murdered—truly the defeat of Nazi Germany was utter in its hate and hellish in its evil.  It was, by all standards, the most savage and sadistic such defeat in human history.

Savage and sadistic as the war and ensuing Jewish “peace” in Germany was, nowhere was the terrible price of propaganda more evident than in the war with Japan. Unlike the Germans who not only looked and acted much like the Americans, British, French, and Russians, and shared a similar religion and culture, the Japanese were outwardly, at least, very different from their opponents in World War Two. Most graphic, of course, was race and the fact that the Japanese were Asians.

Although racially and culturally the enemy nations differed, prior to hostilities each side had no difficulty at all interacting amicably with one another. Indeed, a great degree of mutual respect, even admiration, existed among the two peoples.

All that changed in a blink, of course, on December 7, 1941.  With the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor the American propaganda mill had no problem at all transforming those who had been universally acknowledged as a kind, courteous, and dignified people into a race of “dirty rats,” “yellow monkeys” and “sneaky Japs.” Thus, unlike the vilification campaign waged against Germans which took a great amount of time, effort and imagination, the job of demonizing the Japanese was simple. Once the US Government and the entertainment industry were up and rolling, the natural outrage and racial instincts of white Americans took over.

In the anti-Japanese furor that swept America following Pearl Harbor, in the hyper-heated madness to exact revenge for the attack, rare was that American who paused to consider that perhaps the impetus behind Pearl Harbor was the months of deliberate and humiliating aggression directed at Japan by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, including the embargo of vital raw materials without which Japan was doomed to collapse as an industrialized nation. Well before December 7, 1941, such sanctions were correctly viewed by the proud Japanese leadership, as well as the world, as a de facto declaration of war by the United States. Also, though few were aware at the time, it has long since been known that Roosevelt and others in the US government were well aware of the coming attack in the central Pacific.

Nevertheless, because of Japan’s military pact with Nazi Germany, Roosevelt and his Jewish “advisers” desperately hoped that backing the Japanese into a corner would provoke just such a response resulting in the United States entering the European war via the “back door.” In that case, the U.S. would then join with Britain and the Soviet Union to crush Hitler and Germany.

Thus, and almost on cue, the “sneak” attack at Pearl Harbor and the “date which will live in infamy” was used by the propagandists as a rallying cry to whip the American people—who had been decidedly against war—into a frenzy of anger, hatred and revenge.

If possible, the degree of American rage actually increased four months later when lurid details of the “Bataan Death March” reached the public. Bad enough in its own right, the chaotic 60-mile forced march of over 70,000 American and Filipino troops captured after the siege of Bataan was made infinitely worse by the fact that many of the prisoners were already near death from lack of food and medicine resulting from the long siege itself. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of prisoners, unable to provide transportation, the Japanese could do little else but watch as hundreds of prisoners dropped dead along the road during the long march.

De-Humanizing the EnemyDescribing them as “yellow vermin,” angry American artists created posters depicting the Japanese as everything and anything, save human—sneaking cockroaches, rampaging monkeys, large-fanged snakes, flapping vampire bats—an official U.S. Navy film described enemy soldiers as “living, snarling rats.”

Reinforcing this dehumanization process were US political and military leaders. While General Eisenhower was busily murdering as many as a 1.5 million disarmed German prisoners in his secret death camps, Admiral William Halsey, US commander of operations in the South Pacific, seemed determined that not a single Japanese in his sphere of operations would survive to even reach a death camp.

“Kill Japs! Kill Japs! Kill more Japs!” Halsey exhorted his men time and time again. “Remember Pearl Harbor—keep ‘em dying!”

Thus, in what was perhaps the worst-kept secret throughout all branches of the US military, it was this unofficial, yet understood, injunction to all American service men, high and low, that there was to be absolutely no mercy shown the enemy in combat.

“You will take no prisoners, you will kill every yellow son-of-a-bitch, and that’s it,” yelled a marine colonel to his men as their landing craft was about to touch shore on one Japanese-held island.

And thus it was, from the outset, from the initial island invasions of 1942, all the way down to 1945 and the nuclear holocausts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “no quarter” to Japan and the Japanese was the tacit understanding.

***

Despite the generally held belief that persists to this day, a belief which argues that all Japanese soldiers willingly, even eagerly, died for the emperor, relatively few young men embraced such an end if there was any hope of living. Like the American, British and Australian soldiers they were facing, most Japanese soldiers dreamed only of a day when the war was over; when they could return home in peace to family and friends; to marry a sweetheart; to raise a family; to tend a small garden; to enjoy life. Nevertheless, almost from the first, it soon became apparent to these young men that there would be, that there could be, no surrender. Wrote one American early in the war:

Japanese were known to come out of the jungle unarmed with their hands raised crying ‘”mercy, mercy,” only to be mowed down by machine-gun fire.

Time and again, on every contested island and every spit of sand, Japanese soldiers and sailors were slaughtered the instant they raised their hands and walked forward to surrender. After scores of such encounters in which breathless comrades in hiding watched, waited, then witnessed the massacre of their unarmed friends, fewer and fewer Japanese soldiers entertained even the slightest notion of giving up.

Ironically, though murdering a helpless enemy may have brought some sadistic satisfaction to Allied soldiers, the failure to take prisoners insured that thousands of comrades would also be killed by an enemy now forced to dig in and fight to the death. It is also a fact that as the war wore on and defeat became certain, more and more Japanese soldiers would have gladly surrendered if only they could.

“If men had been allowed to surrender honorably,” admitted one Japanese veteran late in the war, “everybody would have been doing it.”

OneoftheFew--ALiveCaptiveBEST

One of the Few: A Live Enemy

In addition to the murder of prisoners, numerous other atrocities occurred. When one marine battalion captured a Japanese field hospital containing over 400 unarmed men, including patients and medics, all were slaughtered on the spot. Other massacres occurred when hundreds, even thousands, of Japanese were driven onto beaches or small peninsulas where there was no hope of escape. Such wholesale “kill offs” reminded one Midwestern marine of nothing so much as the merciless massacre of jack rabbits driven into fenced enclosures back home.

“Nothing can describe the hate we feel for the Nips,” wrote an American lieutenant to his mother. “The destruction, the torture, burning & death of countless civilians, the savage fight without purpose—to us they are dogs and rats—we love to kill them—to me and all of us killing Nips is the greatest sport known—it causes no sensation of killing a human being but we really get a kick out of hearing the bastards scream.”

Remembered another witness:

When a Japanese soldier was “flushed” from his hiding place . . . the unit . . . was resting and joking. But they seized their rifles and began using him as a live target while he dashed frantically around the clearing in search   of safety. The soldiers found his movements uproariously funny. Finally . . . they succeeded in killing him. . . .  None of the American soldiers apparently ever considered that he may have had human feelings of fear and the wish to be spared.

Flame throwers were a particularly sadistic way to “roast rats.” Reported one observer:

I have asked fighting men, for instance, why they—or actually, why we—regulated flame-throwers in such a way that enemy soldiers were set afire, to die slowly and painfully, rather than killed outright with a full blast of burning oil. Was it because they hated the enemy so thoroughly? The answer was invariably, “No, we don’t hate those poor bastards particularly; we just hate the whole goddam mess and have to take it out on somebody.”

“We are drowning and burning them all over the Pacific, and it is just as much pleasure to burn them as to drown them,” bragged William Halsey. As the admiral was well aware, his men were doing much more than just burning and drowning the enemy. . . .

With discipline lax or non-existent, those who wanted to torture, kill and mutilate, did. Desecration of bodies first began with the first islands invaded. Along a wide stream dividing the two armies on Guadalcanal, fresh arriving troops noticed decapitated Japanese heads stuck on poles facing across the river. There on the “Canal” and elsewhere, U.S. Marines tossed the dead and dying into open latrines while others laughingly urinated into the open mouths of the wounded.

The collection of ears, noses, fingers, and other body parts was a pastime many marines proudly participated in. Some strung the trophies and wore them like necklaces.

“Our boys cut them off to show their friends in fun, or to dry and take back to the States when they go,” said one man matter-of-factly.

Cured Japnese SkullJapanese skulls were another popular trophy. Some were sent home to friends, family, even sweethearts. Most heads, however, after being “cured” by ravenous ants or boiled in kettles to remove flesh, were then sold to eager naval personnel.

Bones were also collected. Some were carved to form letter openers for folks back home. Even the White House received one such present.

“This is the sort of gift I like to get,” laughed President Roosevelt. “There’ll be plenty more such gifts.”

Understandably, when news reached Japan that the bodies of their sons and husbands were being wantonly abused and that the US president himself countenanced such atrocities, there was outrage. The Americans were portrayed in the Japanese press as “deranged, primitive, racist, and inhuman.” Explained one American, himself equally outraged:

The thought of a Japanese soldier’s skull becoming an American ashtray was as horrifying in Tokyo as the thought of an American prisoner used for bayonet practice was in New York.

Of all the trophies, however, none were more sought out than gold-capped teeth. After any battle or massacre, the mouths of the fallen were often the first stop for many Americans. Like South Sea prospectors, fights broke out when “claim-jumpers” attempted to steal the bodies claimed by others. One excited marine felt he had struck it rich after spotting a dead enemy. “But,” according to a witness . . .

. . . the Japanese wasn’t dead. He had been wounded severely in the back and couldn’t move his arms; otherwise he would have resisted to his last breath. The Japanese’s mouth glowed with huge gold-crowned teeth, and his captor wanted them. He put the point of his knife on the base of a tooth and hit the handle with the palm of his hand. Because the Japanese was kicking his feet and thrashing about, the knife point glanced off the tooth and sank deeply into the victim’s mouth. The Marine cursed him and with a slash cut his cheeks open to each ear. He put his foot on the sufferer’s lower jaw and tried again. Blood poured out of the soldier’s mouth. He made a gurgling noise and thrashed wildly. I shouted, “Put the man out of his misery.” All I got for an answer was a cussing out. Another Marine ran up, put a bullet in the enemy soldier’s brain, and ended his agony. The scavenger grumbled and continued extracting his prizes undisturbed.

Understandably, Japanese soldiers had no more desire to surrender and be tortured than did US soldiers fighting the Indians on the Plains of America a century earlier. Each fought to the finish, but each also saved the “last bullet” for them self. If a Japanese soldier found himself surrounded with no way to escape or kill himself, he committed “suicide” by walking calmly back and forth along the enemy lines until a bullet found its mark. Sometimes ten, even twenty, Japanese would thus kill themselves simultaneously.

Once the Americans reached Saipan, Okinawa and other Japanese islands with civilian populations, mass rape was added to the menu of war crimes. Small wonder that a Japanese soldier, or civilian, for that matter, would do whatever it took to keep from falling into Allied hands. As one American revealed:

The northern tip of Saipan is a cliff with a sheer drop into the sea. At high tide the sharp coral rocks are almost covered with swirling surf. The Japanese civilians and the surviving soldiers were all crowded into this area. Now one of the worst horrors of the war occurred. In spite of loud-speaker messages asking them to surrender, and assurances that they would be well-treated, they began killing themselves. Soldiers clutched hand grenades to their bellies and pulled the pins. Through our spotting scopes from our observation post I witnessed this sickening spectacle. One of the worst experiences of my life.

Not only were there virtually no survivors among the 30,000 men of the Japanese garrison on Saipan, but two out of every three civilians—some 22,000 in all—were either murdered or committed suicide.

“We just blew it all up,” admitted one marine. “We don’t know if there were women and children or whatever, we just blew them up.”

“Japanese are still being shot all over the place,” reported an Australian late in the war. “The necessity for capturing them has ceased to worry anyone. Nippo soldiers are just so much machine-gun practice.”

A handful of prisoners did manage to get captured, of course, by accident if nothing else. All were spared solely for the information they might provide. When the interrogation was through, the subjects were of no further use. Wrote one witness:

When they flew Japanese prisoners back for questioning on a C-47, they kept the freight door at the side of the plane open, and when the questioning of each man was concluded, he’d be kicked overboard before they reached their destination.

Of course, it was not just island-hopping marines who committed countless atrocities; virtually all American service men partook. A Japanese sailor whose ship or submarine was sunk stood no better chance of survival than his comrade on shore. US naval vessels routinely shelled all life boats and machine-gunned any survivors still in the water. Overhead, Japanese pilots who escaped from burning planes were themselves murdered by Allied airmen as they struggled in their parachute harnesses.

As late as October, 1944, it was announced that a mere 604 Japanese were being held in Allied POW camps.

***

Just as the Allied air forces were targeting cities and civilians in Germany, so too was the US air force incinerating the women and children of Japan.  As was the case with his peers in Europe, cigar-chewing, Jap-hating Gen. Curtis Lemay had no qualms whatsoever of targeting non-combatants. Once his air armada moved within striking distance of the Japanese home islands, the American air commander sent his B-29 bombers to attack Japan with high explosives and phosphorous bombs. Virtually all Japanese urban centers suffered utter destruction but it was the larger cities that were forced to endure the hell of “fire bombing.”

In one raid on Tokyo alone, in one night, an estimated 75,000 to 200,000 people, mostly women and children, were burned to death. Only the incineration of Dresden, Germany, with an estimated death toll of between 200,000-400,000, was greater.

In January, 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur forwarded to President Roosevelt a Japanese offer to surrender that he had just received. Roosevelt spurned the request. Seven months later, the new American president, Harry Truman, received virtually the same offer from the Japanese. This time, the Americans accepted. Had the Japanese surrender been accepted when first offered, well over one million people, American and Japanese, would not have died needlessly. Had peace been made in January, 1945, there would have been no battle blood-bathes as occurred at Iwo Jima, Saipan and Okinawa. There would have been no firebombing murder of hundreds of thousands of women and children in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and every other major Japanese city. And, perhaps most important of all, had the Japanese peace offer been accepted earlier there would have been no horrific use of atomic weapons against the women and children of Japan and no stigma or shame attached to we Americans forever for the use of such hideous and hellish weapons.

The fiery deaths of civilians in Tokyo and other cities and the vaporization of 200,000 mostly women and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains an evil black smear on the human soul for all time to come; they provide a clear and terrible testament to man’s inhumanity to man. The unbridled assaults against the helpless civilians of Japan were also a graphic comment on the powerful price of propaganda. From beginning to end, American political and military leaders hoped to punish the Japanese like no other people in history had been punished. Hence, the refusal to accept Japan’s surrender in January, 1945, and the refusal to accept the surrender several times later on. The argument made by President Truman and his apologists that the atomic bombs were used to “end the war sooner” and thereby save both American and Japanese lives, was a lie; it was a lie then and it is a lie to this very day. In fact, Truman deliberately prolonged the war until the bombs were tested, assembled, delivered, and ready for use against Japan.  When the first device exploded as planned at Hiroshima and vaporized an estimated 80,000-100,000 civilians, Truman was eager to use another such bomb against another civilian target, Nagasaki. Had Truman a hundred nuclear weapons in his arsenal—rather than the mere two that he used—it seems clear he would have happily dropped them all on the women and children of Japan.

“The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them,” argued the American president. “When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him like a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless necessary.”

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

Hiroshima: August 6, 1945

Another argument for the use of the atomic bombs when Japan was willing, even eager, to surrender, was an attempt to impress the Soviet Union with American might. If such a line of reasoning was indeed true, as many later pointed out, then the weapons could have just as easily been used against isolated military targets, and not urban areas filled with women and children.

Certainly, one strong reason for using the weapon, though never mentioned then, and seldom mentioned even now, was hate. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were merely a more dramatic and devastating continuation of the no-quarter policy that had been in effect since December 7, 1941. The bombs were used against a much-hated enemy simply because the Americans wanted to use them. Weapons that would kill tens of thousands in a flash, then kill tens of thousands more in the most hideous and painful ways imaginable, made perfectly good sense at the time; it certainly made sense to Truman and millions of Americans then, and sadly, it still makes perfectly good sense to millions of Americans even now, seventy years later.

“The Dirty Japs began the war,” as the reasoning ran then, and still runs now, “the Dirty Japs fought the war in the most inhumane and barbarous way possible, and so it is thus fitting that these dirty yellow rats should suffer like no other people ever suffered;” or, as one American historian phrased it more delicately: “[T]he widespread image of the Japanese as sub-human constituted an emotional context which provided another justification for decisions which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.”

Nevertheless, with the war clearly won, and with pangs of conscience beginning to reassert themselves among some, a few voices felt that the dropping of the terrible new weapon was a display of sadistic savagery, pure and simple.

“The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul,” former US president, Herbert Hoover, wrote shortly after the news reached him.

Added the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Leahy:

It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were almost defeated and ready to surrender. . . . [I]n being the first to use it, we . . . adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.

And even Dwight David Eisenhower—a man who himself knew more than a little about the mass murder of a helpless enemy—suddenly found a mote of pity when he registered his complaint against the use of the hideous new weapon. “The Japanese were ready to surrender. . . ,” the general wrote. “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

Mercifully, for everyone concerned, the Allied powers soon accepted the Japanese surrender seven months after it was originally offered and World War Two, the most savage and evil conflict in history, was over.

***

And while this was in progress, the “world’s worst peace” was claiming its European victims in their millions. None suffered more in war, none suffered more in “peace,” than German females.  Of all the numerous war crimes committed by the Allies during World War Two, the massive rapes committed against the helpless women and children were perhaps the most monstrous.  Of course, an untold number of German women and children did not survive the violent, nonstop assaults.  One million?  Two million?  Ten million?  Since no one in power cared, no one in power was counting.

And as this monstrous crime was enveloping the women of Europe, a similar spiritual slaughter was transpiring in Asia.

Because the great bulk of fighting in the war against Japan was fought on the water, in the air or across islands either uninhabited or sparsely populated, rape is a word seldom mentioned in American war diaries or official reports during the years 1941-1944.  When US forces invaded the Japanese island of Okinawa, however, this changed.  Almost immediately, and in spite of the bloody fighting, US soldiers began the sexual assault on the females of the island.  In one prefecture alone, during a ten-day period, over one thousand women reported being raped.  Since most victims would never come forward and voluntarily suffer such shame in a society where modesty and chastity were prized above all else, the number of rapes was undoubtedly much greater than reported.

Incidents like the following became common:

Marching south, men of the 4th Marines passed a group of some 10 American soldiers bunched together in a tight circle next to the road. They were “quite animated,” noted a corporal who assumed they were playing a game of craps. “Then as we passed them,” said the shocked marine, “I could see they were taking turns raping an oriental woman. I was furious, but our outfit kept marching by as though nothing unusual was going on.”

So pervasive was the crime, and so frightened were the people, that hundreds of Okinawa women committed suicide by swallowing poison or by leaping from the steep cliffs of the island.

With their nation’s surrender in August, 1945, Japanese officials were so concerned about the mass rape of their wives and daughters by the victors that they rounded up tens of thousands of girls from poorer families throughout the nation and all but forced them into prostitution at various brothels, or “comfort stations.”  Although such stop-gap measures did prevent wholesale rape on a German scale, this was small consolation to the women and children who had to endure the sanctioned sex attacks.  Earning anywhere from eight cents to a dollar a day, a girl working in the “rape stations,” as they more commonly were called, might be brutally raped and sodomized from 15 to 60 times a days.

“They took my clothes off,” remembered one little girl. “I was so small, they were so big, they raped me easily. I was bleeding, I was only 14. I can smell the men. I hate men.”

Despite hundreds of thousands of American and Australian occupation soldiers using the rape stations, thousands more preferred taking their sex violently.  In the days, weeks and months after the surrender, numerous atrocities were committed as the victors laid claim to the “spoils of war.”

In the Spring of 1946, American GI’s cut the phone lines in Nagoya and raped every women they could get their hands on, including children as young as ten.  At another city, US soldiers broke into a hospital and spent their time raping over 70 women, including one who had just given birth.  The mother’s infant was flung to the floor and killed.

Had Allied occupation commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, spent even half the time on stemming rape as he spent censoring news from Japan or running down real or imagined Japanese war criminals, the attacks would have been curtailed.  But, like his opposite in Europe, Gen. Eisenhower, he did not.

As American historian, John W. Dower, acknowledged:

Once you recognize that soldiers rape–including “our” guys, our fathers, uncles, grandfathers, sons, husbands, boyfriends, grandsons–then you understand the tremendous resistance [by authorities] to recognizing mass rapes during wartime as the atrocity it has always been and still is.

***

When it comes to propaganda, we suspected our enemies of it, but we never figured we were using propaganda. We felt like our country was too honest to use propaganda on us, and we honestly were not conscious that they were.

So wrote Katharine Phillips, an American Red Cross worker during World War Two.  Hardly concealed in Katherine’s words written long after the war, is the fear, the dread fear, that perhaps the inhuman evil that her generation was told to hate a thousand times over during four years of war may not have been so evil or so inhuman after all.  Just as with every other war known to man, World War Two had also been a war of words, a war of poisonous words; a war of deceit, treachery, hate, and lies in which trusting, unsuspecting people were lashed once again into a frenzy of murderous madness by outrageously vicious and vile propaganda. True, some angry words are perhaps needed in times of war to awaken and impassion the laggards among us to work and slave like ants to win such a contest; but equally true, some of that same propaganda, in the hands of evil men behind desks far removed from danger, contribute to outright murder of the most heartless and cold-blooded kind, encourage rape on a massive, historical scale, add to the agonizing death by fire of uncounted millions of women and children, and engender enough hate, misery and pain to make a planet groan.

For many, like Katherine, it took years before they came to realize that the very people they had been programmed to despise, dehumanize and ultimately exterminate like vermin were but after all, very frail, very frightened, very human, and finally . . . were very much like themselves. For a fortunate few, however, even in the midst of the terrible inferno itself, reality sometimes shattered the hate-filled propaganda unexpectedly.

The sudden re-humanization of the Japanese came as a shock to some. While sifting through a blackened, blown-out cave on Iwo Jima, one marine was “horrified” when he discovered some childish and brightly-colored paintings strewn among the wreckage. After poring over the art work, the soldier was stunned.

“The Japanese soldiers had children . . . who loved them and sent their art work to them,” the incredulous marine suddenly realized, just as American children would send pretty pictures to their equally proud fathers.

Rummaging through pockets of the fallen enemy, other Americans were startled when they found newspaper clippings of baseball teams back home in Japan, just as any normal American soldier would carry; or they discovered inside enemy helmets photos of beautiful Japanese movie stars just as many US marines folded pin-ups of Betty Grable or Rita Hayworth in theirs; or they unwrapped delicate letters from home with pictures of girl friends inside, or they stumbled upon a torn photo amid the debris of battle of a now-dead soldier laughing and rolling on the ground with puppies in his back yard back home. For some Americans, the abrupt realization that there were more similarities between them and their enemy than not was life-altering.

Occasionally, in even more startling ways, the realization of shared humanity came when a dead soldier’s diary was discovered:

Sept. 30 1942 (still on Guadalcanal) We took a short rest in the grove, when we found a figure of a man in a bush. Had he escaped from a crashing plane or infiltrated from the sea? Two or three soldiers chased and caught him after five min or so. He was a young American soldier.

He got a bayonet cut on his forehead and was bleeding. He sat down on the ground leaning on coconut trunks and had his hands tied behind his back. He looked thin, unshaven and wore a waterproofing overcoat.

He pleaded with me to help him, ‘General, Help me! ‘General, Help me!’ He thought I was senior and an officer of higher rank. In the rain, I stood hesitant about what to do with this American soldier. It was impossible for me to set him free. We couldn’t take him with my party. . . . We had not roughed him up after capturing him, but the moment I had deported him, the men of the HQ treated him violently. I thought later I should have released him.

I regretted what I had done to him. He didn’t make me feel any hatred as an enemy. It was a strange feeling for me. He looked quite young and mild-mannered, and didn’t look strong or ferocious at all. He was gentle but fully composed and never disgraced himself. I can’t say what befell this young soldier. I am sure he was not a soldier who would easily leak out a military secret. And I am afraid he never returned to his camp.

With the dawn of peace, men and women of good will finally found the strength and courage to revisit the awful crucible they had recently escaped from. Some, in shame, cast off the old prejudice and hate that they once had so eagerly embraced, and seek a reckoning, an new and honest understanding of the past that they had played a part in.

Such was the case of Edgar Jones. A veteran himself, first in Europe, then in the Pacific, Jones struggled mightily to make sense of the many senseless things he had seen, heard and perhaps even done. When he was through, when he truly understood what had occurred, the veteran exploded in anger . . . and honesty.

We Americans have the dangerous tendency in our international thinking to take a holier-than-thou attitude toward other nations. We consider ourselves to be more noble and decent than other peoples, and consequently in a better position to decide what is right and wrong in the world. What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought, anyway? We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers. .  .  . [W]e mutilated the bodies of enemy dead, cutting off their ears and kicking out their gold teeth for souvenirs, and buried them with their testicles in their mouths. . . . We topped off our saturation bombing and burning of enemy civilians by dropping atomic bombs on two nearly defenseless cities, thereby setting an all-time record for instantaneous mass slaughter.

As victors we are privileged to try our defeated opponents for their crimes against humanity; but we should be realistic enough to appreciate that if we were on trial for breaking international laws, we should be found guilty on a dozen counts. We fought a dishonorable war, because morality had a low priority in battle. The tougher the fighting, the less room for decency, and in Pacific contests we saw mankind reach the blackest depths of bestiality.

Fortunately, the passionate, heartfelt words of Edgar Jones now speak for millions more around the globe. Alas, if only such words as his could be emblazoned across the sky in fiery letters before each and every rush to war and before each and every “holy crusade” to slaughter an “inhuman” enemy, then certainly the world would be a better place because of it.

Truth Volunteers Needed

 

To my readers, listeners, friends, and comrades….

Most of you are probably wondering why I am so remiss lately with my written and audio blogs on this web site.  Well, the fact is that for the last few months I have finally turned my full attention to the follow-up book of Hellstorm–The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947.   The time spent on the research and writing–and rewriting–quite honestly eats up most of my waking moments.

The working title for this new book is Summer, 1945: Germany, Japan and the Harvest of Hate.  I don’t think I need to add–especially for those of you who have read Hellstorm yourselfthat this book will be a ground-breaking, gut-wrenching account. Much of the material in Summer, 1945 will be new to even the more serious students of the period.  Given the terrible crimes committed against both nations during that fateful last summer of the war I firmly believe that this book will have an even greater impact on the world than Hellstorm had.  And that is saying much.

Many of the comments I received from those who had finished Hellstorm mentioned that the book changed the way they viewed the world, that the book was “life-altering”, that there was the reader before the book, and there was now the reader after the book.  This, I predict, will be the same reaction of those who read Summer, 1945.  As before, the book will be graphic, to the point, and will pull absolutely no punches.  For the first time in over 70 years, most of these dark secrets, long-hidden from the world, will finally be available.  What was done to Germany and Japan by the Allied forces during and after the war were crimes so vast and hideous that one is quite literally staggered by the shameless evil.

I am proud to say that in the past, many of you stepped up to the plate with your donations to help. Although I never asked for funds back then most of you instinctively understood the financial limitations of a non-academic historian such as myself . . . and you replied in kind.  For that, I thank you, one and all. But now, I must do that which I never did in the past–I must ask up front for your financial support.  As you might imagine, a book of this nature is expensive to research and write. Since I am working full-time on the book, there is very little extra income available . . . and like everyone else, I have bills that must be paid.

And so, to those of you who like your history honest, accurate and fearless, I ask that you give what you can.  To those of you who donate $50 or more, I will, upon publication, send a signed copy of the book.  Additionally, in the event a film is made based on the book, as was the case with Hellstorm, I will also see that you receive the DVD.

For those of you who can contribute via paypal, my ID is mtgoodrich@aol.com.  For those of you donating with check or money order, my mailing address is: Tom Goodrich, 9011 Midnight Pass Rd., # 527, Sarasota, FL, 34242

On behalf of Truthful History, thanks to everyone!

Tom

(Above: The US firebombing of Tokyo, 1945.  An estimated 100,000-200,000, mostly women and children, were burned to death that night)

 

Hero

“When the sun is low in the sky, even dwarves cast long shadows.”

Just as U.S. flags seem perpetually at half staff for this person, that person, any person, “hero” too is a word, a thing, an idea, that has virtually lost its meaning.  Although it still has a positive ring, when an athlete with the IQ of an ice cube scores to win a game and is called a “hero” or when an entire 4th grade class at Orwell Elementary are proclaimed “heroes” because they successfully raised $500 to help feed poor “migrants” in their town, then somehow calling someone a hero who performs a truly heroic act loses lots of luster.  My quick definition of a hero would be someone who, without any hope of recognition, enrichment or advancement, nevertheless chooses to risk his skin in an attempt to perform a great deed of altruism.

Glen Greenwald was the journalist who reported the leaked NSA info given to him by the young whistle-blower, Ed Snowden. Here is what he said of Snowden:

“What I actually started to realize about all this is two things. Number one, courage is contagious. If you take a courageous step as an individual, you will literally change the world because you will affect all sorts of people in your immediate vicinity, who will then affect others and then affect others. You should never doubt your ability to change the world. The other thing that I realized is it doesn’t matter who you are as an individual or how formidable or powerful the institutions that you want to challenge are. Mr. Snowden is a high school dropout. His parents work for the federal government. He grew up in a lower middle class environment in a military community in Virginia. He ended up enlisting in the United States Army because he thought the Iraq War at first was noble. He then did the same with the NSA and the CIA because he thought those institutions were noble. He’s a person who has zero privilege, zero power, zero position and zero prestige and yet he by himself has literally changed the world.”

Hero?  This kid (33 years-old) fits my definition neatly.   Don’t want to split no hairs, either.  What is the point of protection when freedom is missing?  Rather than be a totally protected prisoner behind four gray walls, someone just  mercifully shoot me.

And yes, I’m positive that another false flag “terror” event like 9/11 is on tap to show American sports fans and Walmart shoppers just how much we need even more war, not less, and even more “protection,” not less . . . and our protectors will point and say, “Now, do you see why Edward Snowden was so bad?  Traitors like him allowed this to happen.”  And alas, polls will show that 96% of American sports fans and Walmart shoppers agree.

But just as power corrupts, so too does secrecy.  Unless we, each of us, seize the baton that this young, selfless man has extended to us we may expect more secrecy, not less, more surveillance, not less, less freedom, not more.  Any government that runs on secrecy, torture and war is not a government I want any part of.

“I don’t want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.”

Nor do I, Ed.

We need more heroes like Edward Snowden, not less.

War R Us

As these United States of Surveillance & Torture approach one of its highest, holiest days, Memorial Day, a few thoughts straight from the cocoanut to the keyboard. . . .

Why is it that we Americans must always witness soldiers, sailors and airmen marching in the flag at sporting events? Who gave these folks a corner on “patriotism?” Why must patriotism always be associated with wars, death, wars, lost limbs, wars, wheel chairs, wars, and other such brainless bull shit?  Why not allow firemen or farmers or brick layers or doctors or electricians or students or housewives or truck drivers to present the colors? After all, do we not count?  Do we not represent America too? Do we not slave and build and create and produce and pay taxes that allow Pentagon fat fucks to shower their mistresses with presents?  Do we not enable the military/industrial complex to shell out billions on aircraft that can’t fly?  Do we, the working men and women of America, do we not make $500 army toilet seats possible? In a word, does not our labor that purchases these bimbo gifts, these crashed jets, and these toilet seats, does not this also make a nation safe and strong?

The reason members of the armed forces must always represent us, of course, is that the old can-do America of hope and prosperity has been usurped utterly by the welfare/warfare state; we have been taken over not by the peace-makers, but by the war-makers; we have been hijacked by those with a vested interest in perpetuating war. Indeed, the average American sitcom-watcher is so busy waving flags, tying yellow ribbons, supporting troops, and honoring “heroes” that “peace” is a word hardly heard anymore.

American TV runs an endless list of old war movies reminding us how glorious war is; there is even a military channel showing all the up-to-date and fun, fun ways we might murder other people. One cannot watch a sporting event on TV without several military recruitment commercials trying to woo the young and the dumb to join “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” (Hmmmm.  A quarter million of anything—meatballs, monkeys, or marines—does not sound like a “few” to me) or to join the navy and be “a force for good around the world” (“good,” of course, depends on which side of the sidewinder missile you happen to be on), or “Get off your butt, you yellow-livered bed-wetter, and be strong . . . BE ARMY STRONG!”  Football and baseball teams now regularly sport camouflage uniforms to show their patriotism and military support.  Video games are all about combat and slaughter, past, present and future, and impressionable teens eagerly shed rivers of cyber blood and dream of the day when they can shed rivers of real blood. Our holidays—Christmas, included—have become little more than war commemoration days in which we give solemn thanks to all the “heroes” who keep us safe from all those lurking boogie men around the globe who hate our freedoms and who are trying to take them away. “Peace on earth, good will toward men” is now but a quaint slogan with about as much modern relevance as “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!”

“Support the Troops!” This phrase has become the universal cry. Why?  Why support the troops any more than we support the cops, the car salesmen, the garbage men, the school teachers, or the funnel cake makers?  “Support the Troops . . . They are fighting for our freedoms.” Ho, ho, ho, ha, ha, ha!  Sorry, but NO ONE seven thousand miles away killing with drones and missiles is fighting for my freedom. Last time I looked no one anywhere in the world was trying to filch my freedoms except my very own federal government.  And so, until we come to our senses—not likely–or suffer a defeat so deadly and devastating that no American will even whisper the word “War” for a thousand years—very likely—I expect to see so-called “heroes” in military uniform cranking out the flag before every sporting event.

***

Of course, the endless wars we witness today have absolutely nothing to do with “freedoms” here in America but they have everything to do with making the world safe for Israel to continue its crimes around the globe without fear of punishment.

I can think of no other nation on the planet—save Israel—that is more geared toward war, destruction, torture, assassination, and unmitigated evil than this one I live in, America!   And the sad fact is, this nation has been taken over so thoroughly by AIPAC and its horde of Jewish lobbyists that we are now little more than Israel’s personal ATM and private army, ready to go wherever we are told to go—and pay for it ourselves, mind you—whether it is to the hot sands of Sudan or to the green fields of Ukraine. The US military and its endless wars to defend Israel neither defines me nor speaks for me. Had I the power I would bring home tomorrow all American troops from around the globe, find them good civilian jobs or place them on our southern border with Mexico with orders of “shoot to kill.” Not only would this move save US taxpayers trillions and trillions and stop millions and millions from invading us, but it would help heal all the angry scars we have created around the world these past hundred years.

And “Neocons”?  I would bet that not one in fifty Americans could accurately define “neocon” if questioned on the street.  Those of us with similar carbon-dating well remember the greasy, vulgar hair-balls of the Sixties who led violent protests against the US wars waged against communism.  Well, these same “peace-loving” radical leftists who opposed the war and actually sided with the Marxists back then are now the flaming pro-war “conservatives,” or neocons, of today.  The difference?  When the wars were waged against communism, wars were bad; when wars are fought to further Israel’s goals, as all current American wars are, wars are good.  Remember Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman, Bela Abzug, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and other loud Jews of the Sixties who led the anti-war movement and who were supposedly so opposed to war and violence?  These same people–or their younger versions–are now the war-mongering Neocons of today, those who never met a Middle East war or an American body bag that they did not love.  Right now, war with and destruction of Israel’s greatest enemy, Iran, is their main mission, and Donald Trump is happy to oblige.  Neocons are hypocrisy personified and Donald Trump is the embodiment of lying treachery.

Final Thought—No government which sanctions torture, no government which spies on me, no government which works to limit my freedoms, no government which is clearly and patently anti-white, no government which encourages the invasion of my country by illegal “migrants,” no government which sends my child or grandchild off to fight for Israel in whatever their war de jur happens to be, no government who does all this will ever get my respect or loyalty. This warfare/welfare regime is utterly and terminally out of control and yet we have the spectacle at this time of year of these brain-dead hicks, urged on by the warbots of the Jewish media, getting all mushy-mouthed and misty-eyed about “fallen heroes,” about “fighting for our freedoms,” about “all their sacrifices,” and about all other such lame nonsense.   Muttering such platitudes beats the hell out of thinking, I suppose.  The simple fact is:  To honor anyone who fights to prop up evil is the same thing as honoring evil itself.

Final Thought #2We should work to make war such a shameful and ignominious pursuit that whenever some senile fossil like John McWar of Arizona, or the equally revolting and equally despicable Israel-Firster, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, when these or any other neocon war-monger suggest that what this nation needs is yet another nice quick war to help our gallant little ally, Israel, then all of our surviving 18-25 year-olds should yawn loudly, then respond in a unified voice. . . .

“You want war, you go for it.  But remember, Bucko: You break it, you buy it.  Any blowback, any jets flying into buildings killing thousands, any dirty bombs playing in Peoria, any American tourists losing their cabezas in Egypt, any of that will be crimes charged directly to you; to YOU, Bucko, not to the Muslim maniacs made maniacs by your endless wars against them.  TO YOU, BUCKO, TO YOU! Do not—repeat—Do NOT be dragging back to our porch any more dead skunks after your Israeli-instigated foreign adventures.  As we have learned so well, a dead skunk is a gift that keeps on giving . . . and giving . . . and giving.”

Final Thought #3–What about America and its lovely allied associate, ISIS?  If a nation creates evil, if a nation funds evil, if a nation arms evil, if a nation protects evil, and if a nation excuses evil . . . then that nation IS evil.  America is evil.  America is evil in the truest sense of the word.  And as long as we remain Israel’s dutiful attack dog around the globe, just so long will our nation remain evil.

The Great Evil

#5 The Good War (Public Domain) Sarah

To help celebrate the end of the “Good War” in 1945 and the beginning of the “Good Peace,” allow me to offer the following from my books, Hellstorm–The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947 and Rape Hate–Sex and Violence in War and Peace.

***

And so, with the once mighty German Army now disarmed and enslaved in May, 1945, and with their leaders either dead or awaiting trial for so-called “war crimes,” the old men, women and children who remained in the dismembered Reich found themselves utterly at the mercy of the victors. Unfortunately for these survivors, never in the history of the world was mercy in shorter supply.

Soon after the Allied victory in Europe, the purge of Nazi Party members from government, business, industry, science, education, and all other walks of German life commenced. While a surprising number of Nazis were allowed—even compelled—to man their posts temporarily to enable a smooth transition, all party members, high and low, were sooner or later excised from German daily life. In theory, “de-Nazification” was a simple transplanting of Nazi officials with those of democratic, socialist or communist underpinnings. In practice, the purge became little more than a cloak for an orgy of rape, torture and death.

denazification

De-Nazification

Because their knowledge of the language and culture was superb, most of the intelligence officers accompanying US and British forces into the Reich were Jewish refugees who had fled Germany in the late 1930s. Although their American and English “aides” were hardly better, the fact that many of these “39ers” became interrogators, examiners and screeners, with old scores to settle, insured that Nazis— or any German, for that matter—would be shown no mercy.

One man opposed to the vengeance-minded program was George Patton. “Evidently the virus started by Morgenthau and [Bernard] Baruch of a Semitic revenge against all Germans is still working … ,” wrote the general in private. “I am frankly opposed to this war-criminal stuff. It is not cricket and it is Semitic….I can’t see how Americans can sink so low.”

Soon after occupation, all adult Germans were compelled to register at the nearest Allied headquarters and complete a lengthy questionnaire on their past activities. While many nervous citizens were detained then and there, most returned home, convinced that at long last the terrible ordeal was over. For millions, however, the trial had but begun.

“Then it started,” remembered Anna Fest, a woman who had registered with the Americans six weeks earlier.

Such a feeling of helplessness, when three or four heavily armed military police stand in front of you. You just panic. I cried terribly. My mother was completely beside herself and said, “You can’t do this. She registered just as she was supposed to.” Then she said, “If only you’d gone somewhere else and had hidden.” But I consider that senseless, because I did not feel guilty. . . That was the way it went with everyone, with no reason given.

Few German adults, Nazi or not, escaped the dreaded knock on the door. Far from being dangerous fascists, Freddy and Lali Horstmann were actually well-known anti-Nazis. Records Lali from the Russian Zone:

“I am sorry to bother you,” he began, “but I am simply carrying out my orders. Until when did you work for the Foreign Office?”

“Till 1933,” my husband answered.

“Then you need fear nothing,” Androff said…. “We accuse you of nothing, but we want you to accompany us to the headquarters of the NKVD, the secret police, so that we can take down what you said in a protocol, and ask you a few questions about the working of the Foreign Office… .”

We were stunned for a moment; then I started forward, asking if I could come along with them. “Impossible,” the interpreter smiled. My heart raced. Would Freddy answer satisfactorily? Could he stand the excitement? What sort of accommodation would they give him?

“Don’t worry, your husband has nothing to fear,” Androff continued. “He will have a heated room. Give him a blanket for the night, but quickly, we must leave. .. .”

There was a feeling of sharp tension, putting the soldier on his guard, as though he were expecting an attack from one of us. I took first the soldier, then the interpreter, by their hands and begged them to be kind to Freddy, repeating myself in the bustle and scraping of feet that drowned my words. There was a banging of doors. A cold wind blew in. I felt Freddy kiss me. I never saw him again.

“[W]e were wakened by the sound of tires screeching, engines stopping abruptly, orders yelled, general din, and a hammering on the window shutters. Then the intruders broke through the door, and we saw Americans with rifles who stood in front of our bed and shone lights at us. None of them spoke German, but their gestures said: ‘Get dressed, come with us immediately.’ This was my fourth arrest.”

So wrote Leni Riefenstahl, a talented young woman who was perhaps the world’s greatest film-maker. Because her epic documentaries— Triumph of the Will and Olympia—seemed paeans to not only Germany, but National Socialism, and because of her close relationship with an admiring Adolf Hitler, Leni was of more than passing interest to the Allies. Though false, rumors also hinted that the attractive, sometimes-actress was also a “mistress of the devil”—that she and Hitler were lovers.

“Neither my husband nor my mother nor any of my three assistants had ever joined the Nazi Party, nor had any of us been politically active,” said the confused young woman. “No charges had ever been filed against us, yet we were at the mercy of the [Allies] and had no legal protection of any kind.”

leni

Leni Riefenstahl

Soon after Leni’s fourth arrest, came a fifth.

The jeep raced along the autobahns until, a few hours later …I was brought to the Salzburg Prison; there an elderly prison matron rudely pushed me into the cell, kicking me so hard that I fell to the ground; then the door was locked. There were two other women in the dark, barren room, and one of them, on her knees, slid about the floor, jabbering confusedly; then she began to scream, her limbs writhing hysterically. She seemed to have lost her mind. The other woman crouched on her bunk, weeping to herself.

As Leni and others quickly discovered, the “softening up” process began soon after arrival at an Allied prison. When Ernst von Salomon, his Jewish girl friend and fellow prisoners reached an American holding pen near Munich, the men were promptly led into a room and brutally beaten by military police. With his teeth knocked out and blood spurting from his mouth, von Salomon moaned to a gum-chewing officer, “You are no gentlemen.” The remark brought only a roar of laughter from the attackers. “No, no, no!” the GIs grinned. “We are Mississippi boys!” In another room, military policemen raped the women at will while leering soldiers watched from windows.

After such savage treatment, the feelings of despair only intensified once the captives were crammed into cells.

“The people had been standing there for three days, waiting to be interrogated,” remembered a German physician ordered to treat prisoners in the Soviet Zone. “At the sight of us a pandemonium broke out which left me helpless…. As far as I could gather, the usual senseless questions were being reiterated: Why were they there, and for how long? They had no water and hardly anything to eat. They wanted to be let out more often than once a day…. A great many of them have dysentery so badly that they can no longer get up.”

“Young Poles made fun of us,” said a woman from her cell in the same zone. “[They] threw bricks through the windows, paperbags with sand, and skins of hares filled with excrement. We did not dare to move or offer resistance, but huddled together in the farthest corner, in order not to be hit, which could not always be avoided. . . . [W]e were never free from torments.”

“For hours on end I rolled about on my bed, trying to forget my surroundings,” recalled Leni Riefenstahl, “but it was impossible.”

The mentally disturbed woman kept screaming—all through the night; but even worse were the yells and shrieks of men from the courtyard, men who were being beaten, screaming like animals. I subsequently found out that a company of SS men was being interrogated.

They came for me the next morning, and I was taken to a padded cell where I had to strip naked, and a woman examined every square inch of my body. Then I had to get dressed and go down to the courtyard, where many men were standing, apparently prisoners, and I was the only woman. We had to line up before an American guard who spoke German. The prisoners stood to attention, so I tried to do the same, and then an American came who spoke fluent German. He pushed a few people together, then halted at the first in our line.

“Were you in the Party?”

The prisoner hesitated for a moment, then said: Yes.” He was slugged in the face and spat blood.

The American went on to the next in line.

“Were you in the Party?”

The man hesitated.

“Yes or no?”

“Yes.”

And he too got punched so hard in the face that the blood ran out of his mouth. However, like the first man, he didn’t dare resist.

They didn’t even instinctively raise their hands to protect themselves. They did nothing. They put up with the blows like dogs.

The next man was asked: “Were you in the Party?”

Silence.

“Well?”

“No,” he yelled, so no punch. From then on nobody admitted that he had been in the Party and I was not even asked.

As the above case illustrated, there often was no rhyme or reason to the examinations; all seemed designed to force from the victim what the inquisitor wanted to hear, whether true or false. Additionally, most such “interrogations” were structured to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Explained one prisoner:

The purpose of these interrogations is not to worm out of the people what they knew—which would be uninteresting anyway—but to extort from them special statements. The methods resorted to are extremely primitive; people are beaten up until they confess to having been members of the Nazi Party…. The authorities simply assume that, basically, everybody has belonged to the Party. Many people die during and after these interrogations, while others, who admit at once their party membership, are treated more leniently.

“A young commissar, who was a great hater of the Germans, cross-examined me… ,” said Gertrude Schulz. “When he put the question: ‘Frauenwerk [Women’s Labor Service]?’ I answered in the negative. Thereupon he became so enraged, that he beat me with a stick, until I was black and blue. I received about 15 blows … on my left upper arm, on my back and on my thigh. I collapsed and, as in the case of the first cross-examination, I had to sign the questionnaire.”

American torture pen

American torture pen

“Both officers who took our testimony were former German Jews,” reminisced a member of the women’s SS, Anna Fest. While vicious dogs snarled nearby, one of the officers screamed questions and accusations at Anna. If the answers were not those desired, “he kicked me in the back and the other hit me.”

They kept saying we must have been armed, have had pistols or so. But we had no weapons, none of us….I had no pistol. I couldn’t say, just so they’d leave me in peace, yes, we had pistols. The same thing would happen to the next person to testify…. [T]he terrible thing was, the German men had to watch. That was a horrible, horrible experience…. That must have been terrible for them. When I went outside, several of them stood there with tears running down their cheeks. What could they have done? They could do nothing.

Not surprisingly, with beatings, rape, torture, and death facing them, few victims failed to “confess” and most gladly inked their name to any scrap of paper shown them. Some, like Anna, tried to resist. Such recalcitrance was almost always of short duration, however. Generally, after enduring blackened eyes, broken bones, electric shock to breasts—or, in the case of men, smashed testicles—only those who died during torture failed to sign confessions.

Alone, surrounded by sadistic hate, utterly bereft of law, many victims understandably escaped by taking their own lives. Like tiny islands in a vast sea of evil, however, miracles did occur. As he limped painfully back to his prison cell, one Wehrmacht officer reflected on the insults, beatings, and tortures he had endured and contemplated suicide.

I could not see properly in the semi-darkness and missed my open cell door. A kick in the back and I was sprawling on the floor. As I raised myself I said to myself I could not, should not accept this humiliation. I sat on my bunk. I had hidden a razor blade that would serve to open my veins. Then I looked at the New Testament and found these words in the Gospel of St. John: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

Yes. You can mangle this poor body—I looked down at the running sores on my legs—but myself, my honor, God’s image that is in me, you cannot touch. This body is only a shell, not my real self. Without Him, without the Lord, my Lord, ye can do nothing. New strength seemed to rise in me.

I was pondering over what seemed to me a miracle when the heavy lock turned in the cell door. A very young American soldier came in, put his finger to his lips to warn me not to speak. “I saw it,” he said. “Here are baked potatoes.” He pulled the potatoes out of his pocket and gave them to me, and then went out, locking the door behind him.

***

Horrific as de-Nazification was in the British, French and, especially the American Zone, it was nothing compared to what took place in Poland, behind Soviet lines. In hundreds of concentration camps sponsored by an apparatus called the “Office of State Security,” thousands of Germans—male and female, old and young, high and low, Nazi and non–Nazi, SS, Wehrmacht, Volkssturm, Hitler Youth, all—were rounded up and imprisoned. Staffed and run by Jews, with help from Poles, Czechs, Russians, and other concentration camp survivors, the prisons were little better than torture chambers where dying was a thing to be prolonged, not hastened. While those with blond hair, blue eyes and handsome features were first to go, anyone who spoke German would do.

Moments after arrival, prisoners were made horrifyingly aware of their fate. John Sack, himself a Jew, reports on one camp run by twenty-six-year-old Shlomo Morel:

“I was at Auschwitz,” Shlomo proclaimed, lying to the Germans but, even more, to himself, psyching himself like a fighter the night of the championship, filling himself with hate for the Germans around him. “I was at Auschwitz for six long years, and I swore that if I got out, I’d pay all you Nazis back.” His eyes sent spears, but the “Nazis” sent him a look of simple bewilderment. . .

“Now sing the Horst Wessel Song!” No one did, and Shlomo, who carried a hard rubber club, hit it against a bed like some judge’s gavel. “Sing it, I say!”

“The flags held high . . . ,” some Germans began.

“Everyone!” Shlomo said.

“The ranks closed tight. . . .”

“I said everyone!”

“Blond!”

Shlomo cried to the blondest, bluest-eyed person there. “I said sing!” He swung his rubber club at the man’s golden head and hit it. The man staggered back.

“Our comrades, killed by the Reds and Reactionaries… .”

“Sonofabitch!” Shlomo cried, enraged that the man was defying him by not singing but staggering back. He hit him again, saying,

“Sing!”

“Are marching in spirit with us…”

“Louder!”

“Clear the street for the Brown Battalions… .”

“Still louder!” cried Shlomo, hitting another shouting man…. “Millions of hopeful people…”

“Nazi pigs!”

“Are looking to the swastika… .”

“Schweine!” Shlomo cried. He threw down his rubber club, grabbed a wooden stool, and, a leg in his fist, started beating a German’s head. Without thinking, the man raised his arms, and Shlomo, enraged that the man would try to evade his just punishment, cried, “Sonofawhore!” and slammed the stool against the man’s chest. The man dropped his arms, and Shlomo started hitting his now undefended head when snap! the leg of the stool split off, and, cursing the German birchwood, he grabbed another stool and hit the German with that. No one was singing now, but Shlomo, shouting, didn’t notice. The other guards called out, “Blond!” “Black!” “Short!” “Tall!” and as each of these terrified people came up, they wielded their clubs upon him. The brawl went on till eleven o’clock, when the sweat-drenched invaders cried, “Pigs! We will fix you up!” and left the Germans alone.

Some were quite fixed…. Shlomo and his subordinates had killed them.

The next night it was more of the same . . . and the next night and the next and the next. Those who survived the “welcoming committees” at this and other camps were flung back into their pens.

“I was put with 30 women into a cell, which was intended to accommodate one person,” Gerlinde Winkler recalled. “The narrow space, into which we were rammed, was unbearable and our legs were all entangled together. . . . The women, ill with dysentery, were only allowed to go out once a day, in order to relieve themselves. A bucket without a cover was pushed into the cell with the remark: ‘Here you have one, you German sows.’ The stink was insupportable, and we were not allowed to open the little window.”

“The air in the cells became dense, the smell of the excrement filled it, the heat was like in Calcutta, and the flies made the ceiling black,” wrote John Sack. “I’m choking, the Germans thought, and one even took the community razor blade and, in despair, cut his throat open with it.”

When the wretched inmates were at last pried from their hellish tombs, it was only for interrogation. Sack continues:

As many as eight interrogators, almost all Jews, stood around any one German saying, “Were you in the Nazi Party?” Sometimes a German said, “Yes,” and the boys shouted, “Du schwein! You pig!” and beat him and broke his arm, perhaps, before sending him to his cell. . . . But usually a German said, “No,” and the boys … told him, “You’re lying. You were a Nazi.”

“No, I never was.”

“You’re lying! We know about you!”

“No, I really wasn’t—”

“Du lugst! You’re lying!” they cried, hitting the obstinate man. “You better admit it! Or you’ll get a longer sentence! Now! Were you in the Nazi Party?”

“No!” the German often said, and the boys had to beat him and beat him until he was really crying, “I was a Nazi! Yes!”
But sometimes a German wouldn’t confess. One such hard case was a fifty-year-old….

“Were you in the Party?”

“No, I wasn’t in it.”

“How many people work for you?”

“In the high season, thirty-five.”

“You must have been in the Party,” the boy deduced.

He asked for the German’s wallet, where he found a fishing license with the stamp of the German Anglers Association. Studying it, he told the German, “It’s stamped by the Party.”

“It’s not,” said the German.

He’d lost his left arm in World War I and was using his right arm to gesture with, and, to the boy, he may have seemed to be Heiling Hitler. The boy became violent. He grabbed the man’s collar, hit the man’s head against the wall, hit it against it ten times more, threw the man’s body onto the floor, and, in his boots, jumped on the man’s cringing chest as though jumping rope. A half dozen other interrogators, almost all Jews, pushed the man onto a couch, pulled off his trousers, and hit him with hard rubber clubs and hard rubber hoses full of stones. The sweat started running down the Jews’ arms, and the blood down the man’s naked legs.

“Warst du in der Partei?”

“Nein!”

“Warst du in der Partei?”

“Nein!” the German screamed—screamed, till the boys had to go to Shlomo’s kitchen for a wooden spoon and to use it to cram some rags in the German’s mouth. Then they resumed beating him. . . . The more the man contradicted them, the more they hated him for it.

shlomo merel

Shlomo Morel

After undergoing similar sessions on a regular basis, the victim was brought back for the eighth time.

By now, the man was half unconscious due to his many concussions, and he wasn’t thinking clearly. The boys worked on him with rubber and oak-wood clubs and said, “Do you still say you weren’t in the Party?”

“No! I didn’t say I wasn’t in the Party!”

“You didn’t?”

“No!” said the punch drunk man. “I never said it!”

“You were in the Party?”

“Yes!”

The boys stopped beating him. They practically sighed, as if their ordeal were over now. They lit up cigarettes….

“Scram,” one said to the German. The man stood up, and he had his hand on the doorknob when one of the boys impulsively hit the back of his head, and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

“Aufstehen, du Deutsches schwein. Stand up, you German pig,” the boys said, kicking him till he stood up and collapsed again. Two boys carried him to his cell and dropped him in a corner….

Of course, the boys would beat up the Germans for “Yes”es as well as “No”s. In Glatz, the Jewish commandant asked a German policeman, “Were you in the Party?”

“Of course! I was obliged to be!”

“Lie down,” the commandant said, and six weeks later the boys were still whipping the German’s feet.

Some torture sessions lacked even the pretense of an examination. Remembered Eva Reimann:

My cell door opened. The guard, who, because of the foul smell, held a handkerchief to his nose, cried, “Reimann Eva! Come!” I was led to a first-floor room.

He shouted at me, “Take off your shoes!” I took them off. “Lie down!” I lay down. He took a thick bamboo stick, and he beat the soles of my feet. I screamed, since the pain was very great. . . . The stick whistled down on me. A blow on my mouth tore my lower lip, and my teeth started bleeding violently. He beat my feet again. The pain was unbearable….

The door opened suddenly, and, smiling obligingly, a cigarette in his mouth, in came the chief of the Office, named Sternnagel. In faultless German he asked me, “What’s wrong here? Why do you let yourself be beaten? You just have to sign this document. Or should we jam your fingers in the door, until the bones are broad. . . ?

A man picked me up by the ankles, raised me eight inches above the floor, and let me fall. My hands were tied, and my head hit hard. . . . I lay in a bloody puddle. Someone cried, “Stand up!” I tried to, and, with unspeakable pain, I succeeded. A man with a pistol came, held it to my left temple, and said, “Will you now confess?” I told him, “Please shoot me.” Yes, I hoped to be freed from all his tortures. I begged him, “Please pull the trigger.”

After barely surviving his “interrogation,” one fourteen-year-old was taken to the camp infirmary. “My body was green, but my legs were fire red,” the boy said. “My wounds were bound with toilet paper, and I had to change the toilet paper every day. I was in the perfect place to watch what went on…. All the patients were beaten people, and they died everywhere: at their beds, in the washroom, on the toilet. At night, I had to step over the dead as if that were normal to do.”

When the supply of victims ran low, it was a simple matter to find more. John Sack:

One day, a German in pitch-black pants, the SS’s color, showed up in Lola’s prison. He’d been spotted near the city square by a Pole who’d said, “Fascist! You’re wearing black!” At that, the German had bolted off, but the Pole chased him a mile to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, tackled him by a gold mosaic, hit him, kicked him, and took him to Lola’s prison. Some guards, all girls, then seized the incriminating evidence: the man’s black pants, pulling them off so aggressively that one of the tendons tore. The man screamed, but the girls said, “Shut up!” and they didn’t recognize that the pants were part of a boy scout uniform. The “man” was fourteen years old.

The girls decided to torture him [with]. . . . fire. They held down the German boy, put out their cigarettes on him, and, using gasoline, set his curly black hair afire.

At the larger prison camps, Germans died by the hundreds daily.

“You pigs!” the commandant then cried, and he beat the Germans with their stools, often killing them. At dawn many days, a Jewish guard cried, “Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier!” and marched the Germans into the woods outside their camp. “Halt! Get your shovels! Dig!” the guard cried, and, when the Germans had dug a big grave, he put a picture of Hitler in. “Now cry!” the guard said. “And sing All the Dogs Are Barking!” and all the Germans moaned,

All the dogs are barking,
All the dogs are barking,
Just the little hot-dogs,
Aren’t barking at all.

The guard then cried, “Get undressed!” and, when the Germans were naked, he beat them, poured liquid manure on them, or, catching a toad, shoved the fat thing down a German’s throat, the German soon dying.

Utterly unhinged by years of persecution, by the loss of homes and loved ones, for the camp operators, no torture, no sadism, no bestiality, seemed too monstrous to inflict on those now in their power. Some Germans were forced to crawl on all fours and eat their own excrement as well as that of others. Many were drowned in open latrines. Hundreds were herded into buildings and burned to death or sealed in caskets and buried alive.

Near Lamsdorf, German women were forced to disinter bodies from a Polish burial site. According to John Sack:

The women did, and they started to suffer nausea as the bodies, black as the stuff in a gutter, appeared. The faces were rotten, the flesh was glue, but the guards—who had often seemed psychopathic, making a German woman drink urine, drink blood, and eat a man’s excrement, inserting an oily five-mark bill in a woman’s vagina, putting a match to it—shouted at the women . . . “Lie down with them!” The women did, and the guards shouted, “Hug them!” “Kiss them!” “Make love with them!” and, with their rifles, pushed on the backs of the women’s heads until their eyes, noses and mouths were deep in the Polish faces’ slime. The women who clamped their lips couldn’t scream, and the women who screamed had to taste something vile. Spitting, retching, the women at last stood up, the wet tendrils still on their chins, fingers, clothes, the wet seeping into the fibers, the stink like a mist around them as they marched back to Lamsdorf. There were no showers there, and the corpses had all had typhus, apparently, and sixty-four women . . . died.

Not surprisingly, the mortality rate at the concentration camps was staggering and relatively few survived. At one prison of eight thousand, a mere 1,500 lived to reach home. And of those “lucky” individuals who did leave with their lives, few could any longer be called human.

When a smattering of accounts began to leak from Poland of the unspeakable crimes being committed, many in the West were stunned. “One would expect that after the horrors in Nazi concentration camps, nothing like that could ever happen again,” muttered one US senator, who then reported on beatings, torture and “brains splashed on the ceiling.”

“Is this what our soldiers died for?” echoed a Briton in the House of Commons.

Added Winston Churchill: “Enormous numbers [of Germans] are utterly unaccounted for. It is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the Iron Curtain.”

While Churchill and others in the West were expressing shock and surprise over the sadistic slaughter taking place in the Soviet Zone, precious little was said about the “tragedy on a prodigious scale” that was transpiring in their own backyard.

***

Among the millions imprisoned by the Allies were thousands of Germans accused of having a direct or indirect hand in war crimes. Because the victorious powers demanded swift and severe punishment, Allied prosecutors were urged to get the most damning indictments in as little time as possible. Unfortunately for the accused, their captors seemed determined to inflict as much pain as possible in the process.
“[W]e were thrown into small cells stark naked,” Hans Schmidt later wrote. “The cells in which three or four persons were incarcerated were six and a half by ten feet in size and had no windows or ventilation.”

When we went to the lavatory we had to run through a lane of Americans who struck us with straps, brooms, cudgels, buckets, belts, and pistol holders to make us fall down. Our head, eyes, body, belly, and genitals were violently injured. A man stood inside the lavatory to beat us and spit on us. We returned to our cells through the same ordeal. The temperature in the cells was 140 Fahrenheit or more. During the first three days we were given only one cup of water and a small slice of bread. During the first days we perspired all the time, then perspiration stopped. We were kept standing chained back to back for hours. We suffered terribly from thirst, blood stagnation and mortification of the hands. From time to time water was poured on the almost red-hot radiators, filling the cells with steam, so that we could hardly breathe. During all this time the cells were in darkness, except when the American soldiers entered and switched on electric bulbs … which forced us to close our eyes.

Our thirst became more and more cruel, so that our lips cracked, our tongues were stiff, and we eventually became apathetic, or raved, or collapsed.

After enduring this torture for several days, we were given a small blanket to cover our nakedness, and driven to the courtyard outside. The uneven soil was covered with pebbles and slag and we were again beaten and finally driven back on our smashed and bleeding feet. While out of breath, burning cigarettes were pushed into our mouths, and each of us was forced to eat three or four of them. Meanwhile the American soldiers continued to hit us on eyes, head, and ears. Back in our cells we were pushed against burning radiators, so that our skin was blistered.

For thirteen days and nights we received the same treatment, tortured by heat and thirst. When we begged for water, our guards mocked us. When we fainted we were revived by being drenched with cold water. There was dirt everywhere and we were never allowed to wash, our inflamed eyes gave us terrible pain, we fainted continuously.

Every twenty minutes or so our cell doors were opened and the soldiers insulted and hit us. Whenever the doors were opened we had to stand still with our backs to the door. Two plates of food, spiced with salt, pepper, and mustard to make us thirstier, were given us daily. We ate in the dark on the floor. The thirst was the most terrible of all our tortures and we could not sleep.

In this condition I was brought to trial.

During the Nazi war crimes trials and hearings, almost any method that would obtain a “confession” was employed. Eager to implicate high-ranking German officers in the Malmedy Massacre, American investigator Harry Thon ordered Wehrmacht sergeant Willi Schafer to write out an incriminating affidavit:

Next morning Mr. Thon appeared in my cell, read my report, tore it up, swore at me and hit me. After threatening to have me killed unless I wrote what he wanted, he left. A few minutes later the door of my cell opened, a black hood encrusted with blood, was put over my head and face and I was led to another room. In view of Mr. Thon’s threat the black cap had a crushing effect on my spirits…. Four men of my company … accused me, although later they admitted to having borne false testimony. Nevertheless I still refused to incriminate myself. Thereupon Mr. Thon said that if I continued to refuse this would be taken as proof of my Nazi opinions, and . . . my death was certain. He said I would have no chance against four witnesses, and advised me for my own good to make a statement after which I would be set free. . . . I still refused. I told Mr. Thon that although my memory was good, I was unable to recall any of the occurrences he wished me to write about and which to the best of my knowledge had never occurred.

Mr. Thon left but returned in a little while with Lieutenant [William] Perl who abused me, and told Mr. Thon that, should I not write what was required within half an hour, I should be left to my fate. Lieutenant Perl made it clear to me that I had the alternative of writing and going free or not writing and dying. I decided for life.

Another Landser unable to resist the pressure was Joachim Hoffman:

[W]hen taken for a hearing a black hood was placed over my head. The guards who took me to my hearing often struck or kicked me. I was twice thrown down the stairs and was hurt so much that blood ran out of my mouth and nose. At the hearing, when I told the officers about the ill treatment I had suffered, they only laughed. I was beaten and the black cap pulled over my face whenever I could not answer the questions put to me, or gave answers not pleasing to the officers….I was beaten and several times kicked in the genitals.

Understandably, after several such sessions, even the strongest submitted and signed papers incriminating themselves and others.

“If you confess you will go free,” nineteen-year-old Siegfried Jaenckel was told. “[Y]ou need only to say you had an order from your superiors. But if you won’t speak you will be hung.”

Despite the mental and physical abuse, young Jaenckel held out as long as he could: “I was beaten and I heard the cries of the men being tortured in adjoining cells, and whenever I was taken for a hearing I trembled with fear…. Subjected to such duress I eventually gave in, and signed the long statement dictated to me.”

Far from being isolated or extreme cases, such methods of extorting confessions were the rule rather than the exception. Wrote author Freda Utley, who learned of the horror after speaking with American jurist Edward van Roden:

Beatings and brutal kickings; knocking-out of teeth and breaking of jaws; mock trials; solitary confinement; torture with burning splinters; the use of investigators pretending to be priests; starvation; and promises of acquittal. . . . Judge van Roden said: “All but two of the Germans in the 139 cases we investigated had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was standard operating procedure with our American investigators.” He told of one German who had had lighted matchsticks forced under his fingernails by the American investigators to extort a confession, and had appeared at his trial with his fingers still bandaged from the atrocity.

In addition to testimony given under torture, those who might have spoken in defense of the accused were prevented. Moreover, hired “witnesses” were paid by the Americans to parrot the prosecution’s charges.

When criticism such as Utley’s and van Roden’s surfaced, and even as victims were being hung by the hundreds, those responsible defended their methods.

“We couldn’t have made those birds talk otherwise… ,” laughed one Jewish “interrogator,” Colonel A. H. Rosenfeld. “It was a trick, and it worked like a charm.”