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Former Berlin Gestapo Leader Describes Buchenwald Tortures

The sufferings of Jews detained in the Buchenwald concentration camp are described by Hans Juergen Koehler, former vice-president of the Gestapo (German secret police) in Berlin, in a book “Inside Gestapo,” just published by the Pallas Publishing Company here.

Jews working in a quarry, Koehler states, had to carry great blocks of stone to a road one mile distant which had also been built by Jewish prisoners. Some of the blocks were so heavy that several prisoners had to lift them to the shoulders of the man assigned to carry them.

The road along which the stones were being carried rose steeply for the last 500 yards. The Jews were driven mercilessly by S. S. men, members of Hitler’s elite guards, who forced them to run with their loads. The Jews, Koehler asserts, were not permitted to drink or to rest for a moment. On the afternoon of the first day of the labor project, 30 of 100 prisoners collapsed and two died during the night.

One of the worst aspects of the situation, according to the former Gestapo leader, was the system of placing six habitual criminals in each stable where 500 Jews were packed. These men were permitted to maltreat the Jews as much as they liked.

Reveille for the Jews was 3.30 a.m. From 4.30 to 5.30 was “morning parade.” Work started before six o’clock. At noon there was a half-hour rest period, with lunch consisting of a cup of thin coffee without milk or sugar. Work was resumed and continued until 3.45 p.m. and at four there was another “parade” lasting until 5.30. Then there was another brief interval for dinner, work again until eight o’clock, then supper and taps were sounded at nine.

In the first four weeks, Koehler writes, 80 of 2,000 Jews in the Buchenwald camp died. Thirty others died in one week. These figures, he asserts, were carefully suppressed.

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