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SS shot by US Army at Dachau


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Author: Alan Jacobs

Date: May 9, 2000

Russ Folsom wrote in part:

beatnik As for the incident at Dachau, one rather astute friend of mine observed that by raising the spectre of an Allied atrocity having taken place at Dachau in the very last days of the war, the 'revisionists' seek to ply the popular imagination with the cynical distortion that the only crime that ever happened at this particular KZ was the 'massacre of German soldiers' by their enemies, and thus rob the world of the true legacy of enslavement, brutality, and inhumanity which Dachau actually represents.

I used the example of GI's executing SS at Dachau a few weeks ago to reinforce my view that we were not morally clean ourselves. Some time soon after this message I offered as proof that more than one or two were killed a reference to a photo at the USHMM archive on their website. Just now I enlarged the photo and counted about forty bodies against the wall. One GI has BAR, another an .30 cal. carbine, usually, but not always, carried by officers.

In any case, I did not mean to assign moral equality to this act. In fact, if I had been there, I am fairly I would have participated in the killings as well. I would have been wrong, but if I were battle hardened, and had heard of the SS massacre of prisoners at Malmedy (the GI's had their hands tied behind their backs with wire), I have little doubt I would have shot them as well, the bastards.

And there is an additional troubling aspect to this. I was fortunate enough to know Erick Kulka, the co-author of The Death Factory (Birkenau). He told me that after liberation, I think from Belsen, some prisoners had found a gun and were going around killing SS. They told Kulka to do so and he refused. He told me he didn't want to be like the SS. Another time he mentioned that his SS Sergeant in the locksmith shop at Birkenau protrected his prisoners and was responsible for saving their lives.

This raises some troubling questions regarding assumptions of collective guilt. In any case similar SS men, were, if nothing else guilty of some type of complicity, though I don't think they should have been killed.

And one point should be addressed to the revisionists. Bear with a short story. On one of my early visits to Birkenau I took along a man who I had worked with when he was an inmate at the federal prison at Marion IL. This is the prison that replaced Alcatraz. This guy was very tough, and he was very intelligent and sensitive. The first sight of Birkenau can be very shocking. As you approach, it is exactly 1km. wide. It really a huge camp. Peter kept shaking his head. I asked him what was going on. He said: They didn't have it coming. By this he meant that the prisoners were innocent. The SS at Dachau, or any other camp for that matter, were not simply innocent. They had volunteered for this duty, and were, if not directly responsible for the murder, certainly complicitous. This is not to discount the possibility that some SS men at Dachau may have been innocent, or perhaps it would be correct to say not as guilty as some of their compatriots.

Alan Jacobs, Editor


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