Shoot Jews, Save Food, Chief of Nazi Prison Camp Tells Men
Menu JTA Search

Shoot Jews, Save Food, Chief of Nazi Prison Camp Tells Men

Download PDF for this date

Torture and degradation of Jews and political prisoners in a German concentration camp are exposed in an anonymous article in the current New Republic. The periodical vouches for its authenticity and for the fact that conditions described still exist. The article reads, in part:

“The prisoners are kept occupied at hard labor, building roads and laying out drilling and shooting grounds. Some of the prisoners were harnessed for weeks to a heavy roller which they had to tow nine hours a day without a rest period. Others were compelled to stand the whole day in cold water excavating quagmire to lay the foundation for a swimming pool for the guards. The work was continually speeded up by lashing and kicking the prisoners, and many times men collapsed and had to be carried back to the camp for a short rest.


“The night rest of the inmates is often disturbed by gangs of intoxicated guards rushing through the rooms with guns in their hands, tearing prisoners out of their beds and beating them up. In many cases, under this terrible strain, the hair of prisoners has turned white.

“The prisoners are divided into three classifications, each treated differently…. The third class is composed of leading Communists and all the Jews. This class performs the hardest work on the smallest rations. They receive no sheets to cover their straw sacks. For a long time they were confined to dilapidated barracks where on rainy days the water would stand six inches on the floor. They were beaten more than the other prisoners, and nearly all the murders are prepetrated on members of this class. Even within the last-mentioned class, the Jews are segregated, because no ‘Aryan’ is allowed to share sleeping accommodations with a Jew. The Jews are refused cigarettes, and the other prisoners are forbidden to converse with them.


“The leader (of the police guard in the camp) made a speech to his followers, of which the following quotations are of interest: ‘Always remember that no human beings are here, only swine.’ ‘Whoever does not wish to see blood may go home immediately.’ ‘No one who does harm to a prisoner may fear reprimand.’ ‘The more you shoot, the fewer we must feed.’

“A favorite stunt of the Nazis is to order newly arrived prisoners into a dark room and make them stand with their faces to the wall while volleys are fired into the air. On April 12 a transport from Nuremberg arrived with three Jewish prisoners. These, and another Jew who had been imprisoned for some time, were led out of the camp one evening. A few minutes later a volley of shots were heard. All were killed by bullets fired through their temples at close range. These men were Arthur Kahn, Dr. Benario, a man named Goldman from Nuremberg and Edwin Kahn from Munich. The last did not die immediately and was able to make a statement that no attempt to escape had been made…. Second in Command Erpsmueller boasted about the deed before the prisoners and remarked, I am opposed to torture for the Jews. Bugs are not exterminated by tearing out their legs, but are trampled upon.’


“Twelve Jews were picked out and brought to the guard room. They were stripped of their clothing and their heads were wrapped in blankets to smother their cries and they were beaten barbarously. Later, after kicks on the testicles and further beating, they were driven to the barracks. The body of each, from the waist to the knee, was one complete wound.

“The Jews were forced to clean especially befouled toilets with their bare hands. A lawyer, Rosenfelder, was made to dab his face with the excrement. Two other prisoners were forced to clean some barbed-wire entanglements placed in the bed of a brook. They were forced to work without shoes or gloves, so that they both came back to the camp benumbed with cold and with their hands and feet severely lacerated.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund