Treatment of prisoners in German concentration camps reminiscent of “the darkest ages in the history of man” is charged in an official White Paper on treatment of German nationals in the Reich, which was made public today.
The attitude of the Nazis towards imprisoned Jews, according to the document, was that the biblical Pharaoh had not gone “half far enough” in treatment of the Jews, that a Jew was considered worth just the price of a 12-pfennig bullet, that Jews could not report sick because they could only be “well or dead” and that Chancellor Adolf Hitler himself had given an order permitting flogging up to 60 strokes for Jews.
The foreword to the White Paper declares that neither consolidation of the regime nor the passage of time have in any way mitigated the savagery.
The book contains the reports of British consuls in various German cities on the pogroms of last November and the reports of prisoners and others submitted to the Foreign Office between March, 1938, and February, 1939, including the statement of a former prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp confirming the worst reports of treatment of Jewish prisoners.
The information had hitherto been suppressed, the Government said, because it might engender hatred between Germany and Britain.
“Flogging and torture were the order of the day” when the Nazis first came into power, the White Paper said. “It was common knowledge that the National Socialist movement was taking a terrible revenge on those who had the temerity to oppose it. Foreigners were not spared. British subjects, including a member of the Embassy staff, were wantonly assailed in the streets by S.A. men (storm troopers).”
“Hitler himself gave the order that Jews might receive up to 60 strokes during flogging,” the document said. Floggings were very frequent in concentration camps for samll offenses, such as drinking water during work hours, it declared.
Jews were told that they were only being teated as the forefathers had been in Egypt and that Pharaoh had not gone “half far enough.” The White Paper commented: “Under the present regime it will be seen that conditions in Germany and the treatment accorded Germans are reminiscent of the darkest ages in the history of man.”
A certain Herr “Z” was quoted as saying that at the Buchenwald camp filth and mud were knee-deep, making it almost impossible to walk. His flesh was torn and his face so disfigured as to be almost unrecognizable after his stay there, he said.
There were about 10,000 men in the camp, according to Herr “Z” but only 100 straw sacks for them to sleep on. Lying on the back was forbidden under pain of blows. He charged that sentries were ordered to use their rifles without warning. Every bullet, the sentries would say, cost 12 pfennigs and a Jew was worth just that much.
Another former concentration camp prisoner was quoted as saying that no Jews were allowed to report sick at parade. A Jew, he observed, could only be “well or dead.” At roll call many who were unable to stand had to be held up so they could be seen from the front. Many, he said, ended their sufferings by pretending to escape in order to be shot down.
Sir George A.D. Ogilvie-Forbes, formerly Counselor of the British Embassy at Berlin, revealed in the White Paper that early in the Nazi regime storm troopers regularly beat Jews outside the American Consulate-General until American officials finally forced police to intervene.
M.R.T. Smallbones, former British Consul-General at Frankfort-am-Main, was quoted as having written in a report last December: “I am persuaded that if the Government of Germany depended on the suffrage of the people, those in power and responsible for these outrages would be swept away by strong indignation, if not put against a wall and shot.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.