'The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide,' by Daniel Blatman

Discussion in 'The Holocaust' started by Oggie2620, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    A new book about the closing days of World War II chronicles how German civilians murdered many concentration camp survivors as they moved through their towns and villages on infamous 'death marches' back into the shrinking Reich.
    The violence shows how even with their nation in ruins, the Allies advancing on all fronts and the war hopeless, ordinary people were so indoctrinated with Nazi hate they were prepared to kill defenceless people in cold blood.

    'The Death Marches: The Final Phase Of Nazi Genocide,' by Daniel Blatman, is the first book to research what drove these civilians to acts of savage murder.
    Some 500,000 prisoners from the concentration camp gulag both within and without Germany were on the move in the first months of 1945.
    As the Allies advanced, the shocking fate of approximately half of them became all too apparent.
    Blatman says that in the town of Gardelegen, a town in east-central Germany, U.S. soldiers found hundreds of charred and mangled bodies in a barn in mid-April 1945.
    'They were the bodies of prisoners from various camps who had been forced inside,' says the Israeli whose book is published this week and goes on sale in Germany.
    'It was later discovered that people had volunteered to guard the prisoners, including ordinary civilians, some of them armed with hunting rifles, who mutated into prison guards of their own volition.


    Blatman says youths shouted at the prisoners 'We're going hunting, to shoot down the zebras!' (a reference to the striped uniforms).

    [​IMG] Concentration camp prisoners march through a village while on a death march from Dachau in April 1945. The photo was taken through the upstairs window of a private home along the death march route

    'Men from the Volkssturm militia, police officers, soldiers from a paratrooper division barracked nearby, guards and civilians helped drive the doomed prisoners into the barn,' adds the historian.
    'Then they locked the doors, lit gasoline-soaked straw on the ground and tossed hand grenades into the building. Anyone who attempted to escape the inferno ran into a hail of bullets.
    'Some 25 prisoners survived, while about 1,000 died.'
    Colonel George P. Lynch, of the 102nd U.S. Infantry Division said afterwards of these attacks: 'Some will say that the Nazis were responsible for this crime.
    'Others will point to the Gestapo. The responsibility rests with neither. It is the responsibility of the entire German people.'
    A similar attack happened in the town of Celle not far from the concentration camp of Belsen where prisoners were 'killed like animals' in a forest according to a British military report. Some 300 died in the massacre which took place in April 1945 with a 17-year-old Hitler Youth leader accounting for 20 alone.

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

    [​IMG] Photos of Auschwitz prisoners at the Imperial War Museum. According to a new book, German youths killed concentration camp survivors on 'death marches' which they referred to as 'zebra hunting', a reference to the striped uniforms worn by inmates

    In Palmnicken near the former East Prussian city of Königsberg some 3,000 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp were herded by civilians on to beach of the frozen Baltic Sea to be mowed down by SS soldiers.
    Along the country roads of a huge swathe of Germany can be found the little memorials to terrible acts where people were killed in ones and twos and sometimes tens and hundreds.
    Blatman believes tens of thousands of 'ordinary Germans' became killers despite no documentary evidence whatsoever that any of the SS or Nazi party hierarchy had ever ordered them to behave in such a fashion.
    Blatman says that the mntality of the prisoners' sadistic guards - that they were defending their homeland from 'subhumans' - somehow resonated with the civilian population as they saw this 'enemy' passing by their homes.
    'A decade of indoctrination, a genocidal mentality that had systematically dehumanized the Jews and the Slavs, led to the collective

    Read more: WW2 Holocaust: Even German civilians killed concentration camp survivors | Mail Online

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