Martin Doutré of New Zealand sends, January 24, 2004, pictures of things taken from Joseph Kramer by British troops
I FINALLY gained access to a digital camera today, so that you can scrutinise the varied collection of German regimental badges, affixed to the belt, at reasonably high resolution. Commandant Josef Kramer's belt was taken from him by Acting Sgt. Arthur (Buck) Taylor, Serial number 998411, 22nd IND: Para: coy, attached to the British 6th Airborne Div.
We took many close-ups of the regimental badges and I'll sent you some in a couple of emails. Based upon where the clasp and buckle sit on Commandant Kramer's belt, we assume that his waist girth was about 45.5 inches. Mr Taylor stated that Josef Kramer was not a fat or out of shape man, but a strongly built, tall individual of very imposing presence and stature.
Sgt. Buck Taylor, who had ongoing contact with Commandant Kramer through his trial and up to his execution by hanging, found him to be a very intelligent and personable individual.
The "Beast of Belsen" title did not fit the imprisoned man himself, who was, apparently, very likeable and reasonable, according to Sgt. Taylor's memory of him.
I'll ship you the full CD of digital photos . . . a fairly large file. I'm given to understand that some of the regimental badges are quite rare. Best wishes and much success in your work,
Postscript: The German officer who surrendered this dagger to Sgt. Buck Taylor, immediately asked for it back. Sgt. Taylor complied after the officer assured him he was not going to harm either himself or anyone else with it. The German officer then broke the feet off the eagle emblem on the dagger and stated, 'now the eagle can never land'.
Sorry about the dust on Commandant Kramer's belt or lack of polish and appropriate Teutonic lustre on the German regimental badges. We simply took the items down off a wall where they hung, placed them on a saw horse in the garden and photographed them.