Towards the end of last year the Nazi, or Brown, Terror abated a little, although it never ceased to be severe. But during the present year, especially since the plebiscite in the Saar, it has again grown worse and is now as relentless as it was during the first few weeks of the dictatorship, if not more so.
The chief terrorists today are the Secret State Police, or “Gestapo” (they were originally known as the “Gestappa,” but this appellation has been dropped). The Blackshirts are also used as terrorists now and then, the Brownshirts more rarely. They were the chief terrorists in the beginning, but were reduced to general insignificance after the “purge” of last June.
OBJECT OF THE TERROR
The object of the Terror is the complete extermination of all dissidence, especially political dissidence, in the “Totalitarian State.”
Persons suspected of belonging to the political opposition, which leads a perilous underground existence, are habitually put to the torture when they are caught. In giving the following details it has been necessary to omit some names of persons or even of places that are known to your correspondent, for the Gestapo may take reprisals on the relatives of the victims if they suspect that it is through them that the outside world might have been informed.
HOW PRISONERS ARE TREATED
In a certain town of Northern Germany political prisoners are treated as follows:â€”
Those taken to the remand prison are habitually struck across the face so that blood flows from ears and mouth. The rooms and corridors are often bespattered with blood. A girl prisoner (most of the prisoners are young) was pushed and knocked from one end of a room to the other so that she kept on dashing against the walls. Her whole body was bruised and her head was so severely bumped that she lost consciousness. She was taken back to her cell and was left lying there for a whole day.
THE ‘SPECIAL CELL’
Another girl prisoner, eighteen years of age, was kicked in the abdomen and lost consciousness. She was carried to her cell. There she came to and was left lying in extreme pain for a day and a night. The next day the prison doctor came to see her. She told him how she had been treated. He said, “It couldn’t have been as bad as that,” and gave her an injection. Because she told the doctor she was again ill-treated, she was sentenced to a week’s detention in a special cell and to nine weeks’ solitary confinement.
The “special cell” is in a filthy condition. The stench is almost unbearable. The window can only be opened about an inch. There are only wooden planks to sleep on. There is a hot meal every third day, the other days there is only bread and water. There is no attendance. Particularly unbearable to prisoners who are nervous or uninured is the perpetual whimpering and groaning of those who have been beaten.
Some of the prisoners are only 16 or 17 years old. One prisoner, aged 20, has been in chains for two weeks. The bridge of his nose was broken by blows and his hands have been cut about with a knife. Another has been beaten about the face with a bunch of keys. Another has a broken ear-drum. Several women have been chained up at night.
In Berlin similar things occur. There is one prison where a workman who said “No” when asked whether he was a Communist was so beaten that even the officials who cross-examined him later on at the Alexanderplatz (the headquarters of the Berlin police) were horrified. Several prisoners have been beaten to death.
In the industrial and mining area round Zwickau (in Saxony) many hundreds of persons have been arrested during the last few weeks. The prisons are overcrowded, and the concentration camp at Osterstein is filling up again. Among the persons arrested are old men and women and cripples.
There have been terrible beatings of prisoners in Essen, Dortmund, and Crimmitschau. Many of the prisoners have permanent injuries. In one place the police wrap the heads of their prisoners in blankets when they beat them â€”presumably to stifle their cries.
In Dresden a certain Socialist was arrested. He was badly beaten by an official whose name is known to the correspondent. He was brought before this official a second time, whereupon, being a good boxer, he gave the official a knockout blow. Two other officials intervened but were also knocked down. Thereupon others arrived and beat the man to death.
CITIZENS STIRRED TO PROTEST
In Leipzig the beatings of prisoners became so notorious that a number of citizens made a joint protest (the cries of the injured could often be heard). An inquiry was made, but the result is not known.
In the early period of the dictatorship the prisons were a refugeâ€” an arrested man was fortunate if he was sent not to an “S.A. barracks” or a concentration camp but to prison, where the jailers still observed the decencies that existed under the Republic. But since then many of the jailers have been changed, others have been brutalized, although in some jails the treatment is as humane as possible under the new regulations. Almost all the prison reforms carried out under the Republic have been abolished and prison food has also grown much worse. These are things from which ordinary convicts as well as political prisoners suffer.