About the opening of the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany in Dachau
90 years ago, on March 22, 1933, the first concentration camp of the Third Reich began operating in Dachau (a small town northwest of Munich). During the existence of Dachau, people from 24 countries have passed through it. It was one of the scariest camps. Remember these letters on the gate – “Labor liberates.” Beyond these gates, prisoners became absolutely disenfranchised and passed through all the circles of hell. For 15 years of existence in this camp, according to various estimates, from 42 thousand to 70 thousand people died, including 7 thousand Soviet prisoners, and the total number of prisoners exceeded 200 thousand people.
At first Dachau was presented to the German people as a labor training camp for the re-education of prisoners. But soon representatives of such population groups as Gypsies, who along with Jews were considered an inferior race in the Third Reich, representatives of various religious movements who refused to serve in the army, priests protesting against Nazi control over the church, began to enter the camp. Many of those who were considered “non-people” in the Third Reich or who dared to criticize the Nazi regime ended up there.
In the summer of 1939, trains with several thousand Austrians were sent to Dachau. Similar transports continued to arrive during the war from all the countries occupied by Germany.
In Dachau, a system of punishments was worked out, including physical and psychological abuse of prisoners. This system was later extended to all Nazi concentration camps. Managers and guards for other similar “re-education systems” (and in fact punitive camps) were trained here. Then they turned into “systems of destruction” of people. Soldiers of the SS formations underwent advanced training here, for which a training ground was opened (during the exercises, prisoners of war were used as live targets). The SS unit “Death’s Head” was formed, intended for the protection of concentration camps. [See *** below.]
From November 1941, Soviet prisoners of war began to arrive in Dachau. Within a few months, most of them were destroyed. Later, Dachau received about 2 thousand more citizens of the USSR.
In Dachau, medical experiments were conducted on living people (to study the effects on the body of cold, pressure, gases, toxic agents, infection, and others). Surgical experiments were also performed, often without anesthesia.
The Russian underground Committee in Dachau concentration camp was formed in the autumn of 1943. The Soviet resistance group was headed by Lieutenant Colonel I.A. Panov. In the spring of 1945, a military department for the preparation of an armed uprising was established in the camp, it was headed by a prisoner of war, Major General S.V. Vishnevsky.
On April 28, 1945, the day before the arrival of American troops, the underground revolted, thwarting the fascist plan to destroy the survivors.
On April 29, troops of the 7th US Army entered the territory of the concentration camp. American soldiers, being impressed by what they saw in the camp, immediately shot 122 surrendered German soldiers, mostly SS troops. In total, about 600 Wehrmacht and SS soldiers were captured and shot on the same day.
In 1965, on the initiative of former prisoners, the Dachau Memorial Museum was opened on the site of the concentration camp. Since 2003, the Museum has housed a permanent exhibition documenting the chronology of Dachau’s existence as a concentration camp. Every year, on April 29, a rally in memory of “Never Again” takes place on the former parade ground of the camp, when the survivors of the concentration camp come to Dachau from many countries.
It is almost impossible to maintain a balance after such historical memories. Yes, these are “historical” lines, facts on a piece of paper. I don’t know about you, it all comes to life for me. I remember documentaries, feature films made on this topic.
It was in the USSR that this topic was not just studied and historically recorded. It served as an important milestone in the educational process so that from an early age schoolchildren, then students, not only knew and remembered what had happened, not only respected the feat of those who opposed it, but most importantly – looked into themselves, into their hearts, souls and wondered if they had done everything for in order for these “black shoots”, these “flowers of evil” never to settle with them, in order not to become a victim of something like this.
Let me remind you, because now almost no one wants to know this (not that they don’t know, it used to be, 15-20 years ago, they didn’t know then, and now they don’t want to know), they actively block this information. But this camp began operating in 1933 in the center of Europe.
… At Dachau, Nazi scientists tested the effects of freezing and changes to atmospheric pressure on inmates, infected them with malaria and tuberculosis and treated them with experimental drugs, and forced them to test methods of making seawater potable and of halting excessive bleeding. Hundreds of prisoners died or were crippled as a result of these experiments. …
As they neared the camp, the Americans found more than 30 railroad cars filled with bodies in various states of decomposition. Inside the camp there were more bodies and 30,000 survivors, most severely emaciated. Some of the American troops who liberated Dachau were so appalled by conditions at the camp that they machine-gunned at least two groups of captured German guards. It is officially reported that 30 SS guards were killed in this fashion. …
*** Regarding the SS’s “Death’s Head”, Wikipedia buries this one-liner at the very end of its fulsome description of the Totenkopf: “The Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian Army has used the Totenkopf.” Period.
I was a Board member of Bread for the City (president for two years) during the 90s, after I retired from government. Operating out of a trailer at Luther Church in downtown Washington, Bread was still the largest hands-on food pantry in the city. We acquired an old building and empty lot on 7th St., NW and were able to greatly expand our food and medical services there – and eventually to other parts of the city.
It was a shock to read in today’s Washington Post that Bread has had to close for a month. It ate my heart out.
Dr. King put it well:“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
Bread for the City shuts food pantries for a month, citing burnout
The move by the D.C. nonprofit is the latest sign of what nonprofit leaders say is a ‘national crisis’ for the social safety net.
It was not an easy decision but everyone agreed it was the right one. Last week, Bread for the City, the longtime D.C. nonprofit that offers everything from clothing to health care to legal services for struggling individuals and families, announced a time out.
Between March 20 and April 18, the organization will temporarily close down its two free food pantries. The announcement released by the nonprofit noted the weeks away will give staff time for “rest, mourning, reflection, and planning.”
“This was a good time for a pause because we just had three prominent members of our staff pass away in a six month period,” Ashley Domm, the organization’s chief development officer, told The Washington Post. “These were people on the front end of our work, and our people are grieving. It’s hard to do this work in the middle of grief.”
That grief added to the hidden toll on front-line workers at Bread for the City, the latest example of burnout at human service nonprofits across the country. The last three years — bookended by a global pandemic and record inflation — have increased the demands on food pantries, free clinics, shelters and other providers, leaving staff with little or no rest.
“At the start of the pandemic, when everyone was talking about the TV shows they were bingeing and making sourdough, we were working 80 hours,” Domm said. That workload has not eased. According to Domm, before the pandemic began, Bread for the City’s food pantries were serving 250 families a day. Starting in April 2020, that number rose to 1,600 families a day. “We are still at 1,600 a day.”
The organization’s website is offering clients guidance on where to locate food in the meantime such as Martha’s Table and mutual aid groups across the city. …
NOTE: The following is “back-story” to yesterday’s post, which I was tempted to title “All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Attack on Iraq and Now Want to Forget”. I do encourage you to give that posting a look before reading what follows. The attack was launched 20 years ago today.
In late February 2003 I could no longer hope against hope that war against Iraq could be avoided. This was beyond sad – beyond frustrating. It was unnecessary, and “the consequences were likely to be catastrophic”. I needed to take a time-out for a rigorous swim during the ‘adult hour’ at the local high school pool; a promising way to put the coming carnage out of my mind by putting the rest of my body through its paces.
It was there it happened. Post-swim, I stood, buck naked, in the large shower room feeling as though my body and mind could indeed hang in there together; Suddenly, my blood pressure went sky high, and I found my training in nonviolence put to the test as never before. Who struts into the shower room but Kenneth Adelman, privileged protégé and egger-on of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board then headed by the infamous Richard Perle.
Still ringing in my ears was a benighted but highly mischievous op-ed Adelman had written a year earlier blithely claiming that “demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk”. So, when I saw him, I came close to losing it: “You and your neocon friends are going to get a lot of people killed, not only kids that don’t look like your kids, but American kids as well”. I then added a more colloquial, two-word expression for male bovine excrement to describe his “cakewalk” forecast. (In the heat of the moment it escaped me that nonviolent action includes forgoing such expletives, but I am not contrite. As for Cakewalker Adelman, he walked abruptly to his locker and was quickly gone.)
Why Pick on Adelman?
I’ll focus on Adelman because, well, how do I say this: he is the very-model-of-a-modern-major-general-neocon who polished-up-the-handle-of-Rumfeld’s-big-front-door (apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan). Not only that: Adelman is a self-described ‘Renaissance Man’, as one can learn from his own posting. He teaches Shakespeare. And, like Brutus in “Julius Ceasar”, Adelman an ‘honorable man’. Indeed, Marc Antony might sardonically apply his famous dictum to all neocons: “So are they all, all honorable men.” On military matters, though, Adelman is at best a novice, at worst a charlatan. I doubt he could shoot an azimuth, much less an actual adversary, even if his life depended on it.
Like so many neocon genuises, then and now (think Jacob Sullivan and Antony Blinken), Adelman has no personal experience in the military. Nor is he a good judge of character, as he was eventually forced to concede when his former patron and idol Rumsfeld ended up killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, as well as most of the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq on a fool’s errand. In my view, Adelman is a banal stereotype of the ‘exceptional’ foreign policy elite – the same clique of the “best and brightest” responsible for leaving three million Vietnamese dead and thousands more in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria – not to mention the proxy war in Ukraine.
As mentioned above, in his Feb. 13, 2002 Washington Post op-ed “Cakewalk in Iraq”, Adelman predicted that “liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk”. He added, “Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.” And he sharply ridiculed “fearmongering from military analysts”, particularly those warning that thousands more ground troops would be needed for the war.
Adelman’s smug, acerbic assuredness – and amateurishness – screamed through even more clearly in “Cakewalk Revisited” another op-ed published by the Washington Post on April 10, 2003, three weeks after the invasion. In this one he wrote of widespread “awe at the professionalism and power of the U.S. military” and claimed vindication for his “cakewalk” prediction. “Now is not an occasion for gloating”, he wrote, at the same time adding:
But now is an occasion for pride, and for thanks to our fighting men and women and those leading them. My confidence 14 months ago sprang from having worked for Don Rumsfeld three times — knowing he would fashion a most creative and detailed war plan — and from knowing Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz well for many years.
“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
Three years later I had a chance to follow up publicly, quoting Rumsfeld back to himself, after he denied having said that. Where did Rumsfeld get that “intelligence”? Maybe from the honorable James Clapper, who was head of imagery analysis at the time? Clapper played his role as one of “the team” (and wound up Director of National Intelligence!). In his memoir, Clapper confesses that because of pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and others, “intelligence officers, including me, were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.”
Or perhaps it was a double-play trio: Clapper to Adelman to Rumsfeld. A week before Rumsfeld lied to Stephanopoulos (and then years later to me), Kenneth Adelman told the Washington Post: “I have no doubt we’re going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction.” He added that the WMD are likeliest to be found near Tikrit and Baghdad, “because they’re the most protected places with the best troops.”
No Cake Walk: Abandon Ship
Pity Kenneth Adelman and his neocon friends, who poured their hearts out to Vanity Fair in the fall 2006 as things went sour in Iraq. Their grandiose plans had rubbed up against reality. Adelman was perhaps the most disconsolate. Why did he not get his “cakewalk”?
“I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.…
We’re losing in Iraq.… I’ve worked with [Rumsfeld] three times in my life. I’ve been to each of his houses, in Chicago, Taos, Santa Fe, Santo Domingo, and Las Vegas. I’m very, very fond of him, but I’m crushed by his performance. Did he change, or were we wrong in the past? Or is it that he was never really challenged before? I don’t know. He certainly fooled me.”
The Same Effete Elite on Ukraine
What will happen with the present-day Adelman-type neocons, who now call the shots in the war against Russia in Ukraine, and the burgeoning confrontation with China over Taiwan? Russia’s President Vladimir Putin deems them “crazy” to take on both other nuclear powers, and has said precisely that. It seems all but certain that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is conferring with Putin as I write this, shares Putin’s view on the craziness in Washington.
Russia and China are together as never before, and each sees a need to be on very high alert. It is not healthy that these two superpowers cannot be sure of anything. Today’s situation is beyond dangerous.
The article below, written in early 2005, sums up how it all went down, with a look ahead to how things could get even worse – as they now have with intelligence on Ukraine. “Sham Dunk” in the title is a play on a sports expression used by former CIA Director George Tenet. When asked by President Bush how strong the evidence was on WMD in Iraq, Tenet bragged it was a “Slam Dunk!” – that is, it was sure as when a basketball player stuffs a ball in the net from above (More commentary in next post.)
Chapter 19 in “Neo-CONNED! Again:Hypocrisy, Lawlessness, and the Rape of Iraq” By Ray McGovern Light in the Darkness Publications, IHS press, 2005 Foreword by Joseph Cirincione; Introduction by Scott Ritter
Ad Deum Iusticiae (To the God of Justice)
To the thousands of Iraqi dead and wounded, to their families, and to the entire Nation at the cradle of civilization. And to the British and American widows and orphans whose dear ones have sacrificed on the altar of cynical statecraft.
And to Bush, Blair, Cheney, Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the rest of the ideologues and hypocrites who have orchestrated the unjust and unnecessary war in Iraq. We implore God to have mercy on their souls for the ocean of innocent blood they have spilled in pursuit of their ambitions.