Wide variety of Nazi Atrocities took place during the World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Good Germans, Japanese Atrocities, Allied Dark Side, Katyn, Auschwitz, Nazi Archives, Holocaust Books, WWII Aftermath, Hitler & Jews, Holocaust Children.
War Crimes report: Nazis carried out 165 murders per day in Italy in World War II
165 murders a day. That is the conclusion reached by an historical commission assigned the task of exploring the full extent of Nazi war crimes committed in Italy in the Second World War. The more difficult the situation for German troops in Italy became, the more brutal their murderous behavior. The identity of many of the murderers has long been known, but to this day little has been done to bring them to justice. In Germany not a single, legally binding verdict related to the war crimes committed in Italy has ever been handed down.
How Britain tortured German POWs until they signed sign a confession for use in war crimes prosecutions
The German SS officer was fighting to save himself from the gallows for a war crime and might say anything to escape the noose. But Fritz Knöchlein was not lying in 1946 when he claimed that, in captivity in London, he had been tortured by British soldiers to force a confession out of him. It was in 2005 during my work as a reporter that I came across a mention of a WWII detention centre known as the London Cage. It took a number of Freedom Of Information requests before government files were handed over. From these, a sinister world unfolded — of a torture centre that the British military operated throughout the Forties, in complete secrecy, in the heart of one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the capital.
8 worst human experiments carried out by the Nazis
(4) Phosgene Gas. Nazis subjected 52 concentration camp inmates to Phosgene gas - used as a biological weapon during WWI - in an attempt to find an antidote to the compound.
(5) Transplant Experiments. The Nazis wanted to know if a person's joints and limbs could be removed and transplanted into someone else. Scores of concentration camp prisoners had limbs needlessly amputated. Every attempt was a failure.
(8) Artificial Insemination. Nazi doctor Dr. Carl Clauberg artificially inseminated 300 women in the concentration camps though various experimental methods.
Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe no better than SS: Secretly taped conversations reveal how troops killed innocent civilians for fun
Confessions of PoWs captured by the British have laid bare the brutality of "ordinary" German soldiers, showing how the honour of the Wehrmacht was lost amid the frenzy to be "perfect, pitiless Nazis". In the interrogation transcripts, the German soldiers speak of the "fun" and "pure enjoyment" of killing civilians. Historians Soenke Neitzel and Harald Welzer have used the interrogations of 13,000 German military POWs as the basis of "Soldiers: Diaries Of Fighting, Killing and Dying". The 150,000 sides of transcripts, from 1940 to 1945, reveal how the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe were little better than the S.S., the book concludes.
One Luftwaffe pilot: "When we were in low-altitude flight over the roads, if [civilian] cars came to meet us, we kept the headlight on. That made the drivers think that there was oncoming traffic. Then we let rip with the cannon. It was a great success, beautiful, enormous, fantastic fun!"
Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II by Michael Burleigh (book review)
There's no such thing as a "good war," but World War II was a necessary one, states British historian Michael Burleigh in his 650-page tome "Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II." Burleigh - historian behind the authoritative "The Third Reich: A New History" - claims that the grotesque atrocities planned and carried out by the Axis are in no way comparable to the things Allies sometimes did. For example: No serious person can compare the hard-fought bombing campaign with the industrial scale slaughter of innocents by the Nazis.
Anonymously sent WWII photographs of killings in the Soviet Union spark an investigation
There is the first time for everything. In recent decades Nazi war crimes investigations usually have begun after locating and extraditing a suspect on-the-run or after victims and their relatives launch a court case. But that was not the case this time.
Germany's central Nazi war crimes body has set up an investigation after it anonymously received an envelope which included some 50 WWII photos of killings in the Soviet Union. Some of the pictures show very drastic deaths, like hangings, as well as corpses piled into German army trucks.
German civilians massacred those who managed to escape from concentration camp death marches in 1944, 1945
The more you learn about the World War II, the more ridiculous the German civilians' claim "we didn't know about the Nazi atrocities" becomes. 250,000 concentration camp prisoners perished in death marches, and shockingly, many of those who managed to escape were killed by local German residents. A new book - "The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide" by historian Daniel Blatman - comes to a disturbing conclusion: "The more the war approached its end, and the more obvious the prisoners' presence in the midst of the German population became, the more regularly German civilians participated."
Greek victims of Nazi massacre file claim in Italy after their own government won't proceed with Greek court ruling
On June 10, 1944 German troops killed 214 civilians in the village of Distomo, in one of the worst WW2 atrocities in Nazi-occupied Greece. Now the residents have won a court battle - strangely in Italy - to seek compensation from Germany, joining Italian plaintiffs seeking similar damages. The residents were forced to take their case to Italy after winning a compensation claim in Greek courts - only to learn that the Greek government refused to carry out the court decision. Germany claims it settled these type of cases in postwar agreements.
German nurse on Eastern Front: Everyone knew about killing the Jews
Annette Schücking-Homeyer - a nurse on the Eastern Front, recalls the atrocities against the Jews, and how everyone knew about it. (Q) When did you discover that Jews were being murdered? (A) In the train on the way to the front. Two soldiers joined us... one of them told us how he had been ordered to shoot a woman... the woman had begged for mercy, pleading that she had to take care of her handicapped sister. He had someone get the sister, and then he shot them both. (Q) In Zwiahel, the city's Jewish community was wiped out. When did you learn of this? (A) On the day we got there... at the dinner table.
British World War II POWs forced to extract gold from corpses of Jews
British WW2 POWs were forced to dig up the corpses of Jews and take the gold from their bodies, reveals a new first-hand account. In spite of objecting to the practice, Nazi guards forced POWs to comply, said James Wicketts, who was held in Stalag XXIB in Schubin. "Prisoners were initially made to sleep in the open... Later ... on wooden bunks in barracks infested with rats. The only thing we had to eat were dirty boiled potatoes. One of the tasks... was the digging up of graves in a Jewish cemetery and taking the gold from the corpses." The task echoes that given to the Sonderkommando: extracting gold fillings from the bodies of Jews killed in the gas chambers.
List of nazi camps and ghettos, expected to be around 5,000, exceeds 20,000
A decade ago the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum decided to create an encyclopedia of Nazi camps, expecting the list would have 5,000-7,000 camps and ghettos. The final count of over 20,000 is far more than most scholars had known existed. "Instead of thinking of main death camps, people are going to understand that this was a continent-wide phenomenon," said Steven Katz. The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos: 1933-1945 "is the first major reference work for Holocaust studies since... the fall of the USSR" and the opening of many European archives, explained Paul Shapiro. Volume 1 will be released June 12 2009.
Patrick Desbois interviews Adolf Hitler's willing executioners in Ukraine
The story of a pogrom by local villagers against Jews in a town south of Ternopil in Ukraine in 1941 is finally revealed. 5 witnesses told how they hurried to a Wehrmacht camp, borrowed weapons and gunned down 500 Jews. One of them beheaded bodies in front of the church. Patrick Desbois has been investigating WW2 mass executions in the Soviet Union for years. Oral testimonies are just a part of his research: Using metal detectors, his team uncovers bullets and jewelry from mass graves. One of the surprising finds is institutionalized sexual slavery: In several witnesses say German soldiers set up houses in ghettos where they raped Jewish women.
The forgotten black victims of Nazi Germany
Only in recent times have academics studied the fate of black people who were living in Nazi Germany and captured black POWs. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: "The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation... and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination." After Germany's defeat in the WW1, the Treaty of Versailles stripped the nation of its African colonies and many of the Germans traveled back to Fatherland with racist attitudes.
Author: Nazis developed Thalidomide and tested it on concentration camp prisoners
Was Thalidomide developed by the Nazis and tested at Nazi Death camps? The drug, prescribed to expectant mothers 1957-1961 for morning sickness led to thousands of babies being born deformed. It was believed to be invented in the 1950s by German firm Chemie Grunenthal. But documents located by Dr Martin Johnson, director of the Thalidomide Trust, suggest it was created as a antidote to nerve toxins by Otto Ambros, a Third Reich scientist. Grunenthal's 1954 patent indicated it had already been tested on humans - before official tests started. Another file, discovered by Carlos De Napoli, seems to show the drug was tested in the death camps.
Female Perpetrators: Women under National Socialism by Kathrin Kompisch
In Nazi art and films women were portrayed as the fairer sex, fighting on the homefront. Adolf Hitler presented them gold crosses for raising kids - an image that was not questioned after the war. Historian Kathrin Kompisch reveals a very different reality: "Women typed the statistics of the murdered victims of the SS Action Squads in the east, operated the radios which called up for more bullets, were invariably the secretaries in all the Gestapo posts." The all-male hierarchy of the Nazi regime blocked out women from top posts, but the regime promoted female involvement in the Nazi terror at grassroots levels. 3,200 women served in the concentration camps.
A Waffen-SS batallion identified as perpetrator of the 1944 massacre in Maille
On August 25, 1944 German soldiers killed 124 people in the village of Maille in France - Now the culprits have been finally id'ed. A German Waffen-SS batallion posted in Chatellerault was responsible for the slaughter, Le Figaro reported, citing prosecutor Ulrich Maass, wgi has been digging into the case for several months, using Gestapo archives and other World War II -era records. "I received the translation of the testimonies in the archives... I am practically sure that the SS battalion based at Chatellerault, as has already been suspected, was responsible for the massacre."
Italian survivor Gino Massetti recalls World War II massacre
Gino Massetti was 15 when he was rounded up by German troops near the village of Falzano di Cortona and forced with 10 other civilians into a barn. Massetti told a Munich state court, at the trial of a former army officer accused of murder, that he was certain he was going to die when he was captured. The Germans exploded the barn, killing everyone inside except Massetti. Though heart-wrenching his testimony did little to help prove the case against Wehrmacht Lt. Josef Scheungraber, whose attorneys said that another unit could have carried out the slaughter. When questioned by the judge, Massetti had only obscure memories about the markings on the German uniforms.
Germany holds rare war crimes trial over 1944 Nazi massacre in Italy
Prosecutors will accuse Josef Scheungraber of ordering the killings of 14 civilians in Falzano in Italy. He denies the charges, but he will have to face testimony from a survivor. Gino W. was a 15yo boy on June 27 1944, when German soldiers from Mountain Infantry Battalion 818 set out on a retaliation operation after two soldiers were killed by partisans. "The Germans pushed us into the ground floor... Through the door frame I saw the Germans bringing up heavy boxes and heard someone running down the stairs. After the explosion I remember nothing." Later, Gino was pulled from the ruins by villagers. He was the only survivor.
In depth: The village of Maillé: Did 17th panzer division wipe out an entire village?
In all 124 persons (the oldest 89, the youngest 3 months) were killed in the village of Maillé. In 1952 Lieutenant Gustav Schlueter, a Wehrmacht supplies officer, was tried in absentia for the killings. Now the case of Maille is being re-opened, by the Germans. Military historian Jean-Luc Leleu, an expert on the Waffen SS, says the men of 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen are good suspects. They were a vicious bunch, named after a medieval German knight, mostly recruits from Romania, retreating from Normandy. But there is an issue over the uniforms: Survivors recalled khaki combat uniforms, not the black uniforms associated with the Waffen SS.
Germany probes World War II massacre in the French village of Maille
The village of Maille in France is about to welcome a team of German investigators who could help shed light on a World War II massacre and possibly find the culprits. German forces killed 124 residents (42 women and 44 children) in Maille on August 25, 1944, the day Paris was liberated, before leaving the village in ruins after a bombing campaign. The killings were revenge for a guerilla attack by a group of resistance fighters on German troops north of the village. The team will hear witness accounts and try to id the German units and the individuals that took part in the massacre.
Nazi Atrocities, Committed by Ordinary People
From doctors to opera singers, teachers to schoolkids, the liquidation of Jews was the work of 200,000 ordinary Germans and their helpers. Years of research, not yet complete, disclose how sane members of a modern society committed murder for an evil regime. The researchers found that the perpetrators were both committed Nazis and people who had nothing to do with the Nazis. Most were never punished. Americans did a poll in occupation zone in Oct. 1945: 20% "agreed with Hitler's treatment of the Jews." 19% felt that his policies toward Jews were exaggerated, but fundamentally correct.
The Unknown Black Book: Nazi genocide in the Soviet territories
The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories by Joshua Rubenstein and Ilya Altman. -- In 1941, Rasha Shuster and her two sisters ran away from their hometown just before the Germans massacred the 12,000 Jews who lived there. A peasant protected the girls for 3 weeks. Then his neighbor betrayed them. The local police killed Rasha's sisters, but she heard the gunfires and ran for her life. After weeks in the forests, she was taken in by a poor peasant living alone in a shack. She hid there for over 2 years. "When I asked him why he was doing this and risking his life... he answered that it was because I was not guilty of anything."
Did the Nazis really make lampshades out of human skin?
I have a hard time believing that Nazis made lampshades from human skin: what would they do with a lampshade? Bring it back home to the hausfrau? Is this an urban legend born out of Allied propaganda? --- Even by Nazi standards, Buchenwald was out of control - until in 1942 SS ordered personnel to quit making "gifts." After liberation, Billy Wilder made a film, showing a table covered with remains, including shrunken heads, pieces of tattooed skin; and an ordinary-looking table lamp. The film's narration says that among the items found was "a lampshade, made of human skin, made at the request of an SS officer's wife." The lampshade became emblematic of Nazi barbarism.
Picture of death marches emerges from Nazi archive
The Nazi empire is crumbling from its edges inward as Soviet and Allied forces advance. The final nightmare, death marches, is about to begin. "A handover is out of the question. The camp must be evacuated immediately. No prisoner must be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy alive," says a note, signed by Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler and dated April 14, 1945. Among the rarely seen papers are questionnaires to mayors asking whether marchers passed through and how many prisoners died. "A prisoner stuck out a cup and begged with his eyes for water," said one woman. When she brought him a drink, "a guard took it from me and threw it in my face."
Imperial that order could not be disobeyed: Dissect them alive
For 62 years Akira Makino spoke not a word of what he had done. But he was a man with a tortured conscience. Why else would he have travelled back so often to Philippines where he saw such misery during WWII? "My wife didn`t like me going back... she called me war crazy... I never told her. But over time I think she realised." In 1944, as a medical auxiliary in the Imperial Navy, he was on the island of Mindanao - Taking part to the one of the most poorly chronicled cruelties of WWII: the dissection of living PoWs. There have been other accounts of this, like by Unit 731 in Manchuria. But his testimony is the first from the Philippines, and from the Navy.
My life as a dog for SS major
At 6, Roman Halter was taught to swim, it was a mildly traumatic experience, but it stood him in good stead when the SS entered Chodecz 6 years later. He and some friends were requisitioned by the SS major to take part in a duck hunt as retrievers (dog being spared the trouble). Splashing out into the reedy lake, Roman would seize the ducks by their wings in his teeth and paddle back to shore. His mates were less fortunate; unable to swim, they were deemed superfluous. No matter how many memoirs have emerged, there is always room for more to cast new light on the insane gauntlet of life in the Third Reich.
WWII massacre by the 16th SS Reichsfuhrer panzer division (Article no longer available from the original source)
Italian prosecutors called for life sentences for 15 Germans accused of the country's worst civilian massacre during WWII. 17 men, all in their 80s, are being tried in absentia by a military court for the killing of 955 civilians near the Bologna on Sept 29 and 30, 1944. All were members of the 16th SS Reichsfuhrer panzer (tank) division, ordered to carry out a scorched earth policy following the Allied landings in Salerno in 1943. The convictions of the former Nazis remain largely symbolic. Those convicted are unlikely ever to go to jail, given their age and the length of time needed for extradition.
Holocaust infrastructure much larger than previously thought
Within weeks of Adolf Hitler's 1933 rise to power, the iron gates slammed shut on inmates of the first Nazi concentration camps. It was the start of an unparalleled experiment in persecution that expanded over the next 12 years into a ghettos, Gestapo prisons, slave labor camps and extermination factories. Historians are only now piecing together the scattered research to understand the vast scope of the camps, prisons and centers that scarred German-ruled Europe. Researchers say they have pinpointed some 20,000 places of detention and persecution - three times more than they estimated six years ago.
Belgrade 1941: Gestapo and SS in German-Occupied Serbia
Following the Axis bombardment of Belgrade on April 6, 1941, the Nazi occupation of Serbia began. The Gestapo introduced measures only days after entering Belgrade. SS Gruppenfuehrer Harald Turner, described as "a fanatical National-Socialist and anti-Semite", was the head of the German Military Occupation Administration in Serbia. He encountered opposition from the Wehrmacht occupation forces, and a conflict developed between the SS and the Wehrmacht. Resistance by the Serbian resistance movements allowed the German military forces to execute not only Serbian guerrillas, but also unwanted groups.
Recalling a Shock of the First Order
Before he actually went there, Pfc. Harold Porter read about Nazi Germany in Jan Valtin's Out of the Night. The book's account of the Gestapo seemed to him "preposterous." Then in 1945 he travelled to Nazi Germany with the U.S. Army and changed his mind. The U.S. Army's 116th evac. hospital, was one of the first units of it's kind to enter the Dachau camp. He wrote about what he saw: "By this time I have recovered from my first shock and am able to write without seeming like a hysterical idiot... I even find myself trying to deny what I am looking at with my own eyes... It is easy to read about atrocities, but they must be seen before they can be believed..."
What was Nazis' ultimate motivation for committing the atrocities (Article no longer available from the original source)
The question that every student of the Holocaust wants answered — the deceivingly simple "Why?" Even after 60 years of research and a library of more than 20,000 volumes, we still grope for the explanation. Actions have been well documented, but we have yet to reach any consensus on the Nazis' motivation for committing them. "The Jewish Enemy" by Jeffrey Herf poses the question: "Why did European, especially German, anti-semitism, which had never led to an effort to murder all before, do so between 1941 and 1945 in the midst of WWII? What changed to make it a rationale for mass murder rather than for a continuation of centuries-old persecution?"
64 years ago Nazis pillaged the town of Lidice (Article no longer available from the original source)
On June 10, 1942, Nazi troops descended on the town of Lidice, machine-gunned 173 men in town, sent 203 women to concentration camps and 83 children to live with German families to be "Germanized." The pillaging of Lidice was reported to be retaliation for the killing of Reinhard Heydrich. After the Nazi troops killed or removed all of Lidice's residents, they burned and bulldozed the town to the ground. Hitler then removed all references to the town from maps of the time.
On behalf of Third Reich: Shooting the first truckload of women
Walter Mattner wrote account of his activities as a policeman on behalf of the Third Reich. "When the first truckload arrived, my hand was slightly trembling when shooting. When the 10th load arrived, I was already aiming more calmly and shot securely at the many women, children and infants." Ferguson's book "The War of the World" is not limited to horrors of the Third Reich and the Second World War, but that provides the bulk of the book. Tour of mayhem: Trenches of the WWI, the Turkish massacres: the first true genocide, a half of the Armenians were slaughtered, purges and gulags of the Soviet Union, and the cruelties of the Japanese empire.
A Bystander's Account of a Mass Murder
Ponary Diary: 1941-1943, A Bystander's Account of a Mass Murder. The diary is the work of Kazimierz Sakowicz, who was an eyewitness to the murder of Jews from the surrounding area, carried out by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators. The diary was discovered and pieced together by Dr. Rachel Margolis, an inmate of the Vilna ghetto who escaped and fought as a partisan. She speculates that historians were not allowed to study it for decades because it provides evidence of the extent of Lithuanian collaboration in the deaths of 50,000 Jews.
Genocide at the Jews concentration camps - Red Cross factual appraisal
A three-volume Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross during the WW2 includes a survey of the Jewish question in Europe and the conditions of Germany's concentration camps. According to the report authors, the ICRC successfully applied the 1929 Geneva military convention in order to gain access to civilian internees held in Central and Western Europe by the Germany authorities. But they were denied access to the Soviet Union, which had failed to ratify the Convention. But what makes the Red Cross Report unique is that it is the first to confirm the legitimate circumstances under which Jews were detained in concentration camps.
France unveils memorial to victims of Nazi doctor (Article no longer available from the original source)
A memorial to the victims of a Nazi doctor who collected the skeletons of Jews killed in World War II gas chambers was unveiled at a cemetery in eastern France. The memorial near Strasbourg in the Alsace region, is an austere dark stone engraved with the names of 86 victims of Dr. August Hirt. The Nazi anatomy professor, based in Strasbourg during the war, preserved his victims' bodies in formalin and used them for experiments.
The failure of the Red Cross to uncover the horrors of the Nazi camp
Production that helped young Jews cope with horrors of concentration camp is performed on the big stage. The musical was used by the Nazis in 1943 to present Theresienstadt as a model camp, "paradise ghetto", to international inspectors. Red Cross officials were persuaded after visits to the camp that living conditions there were comfortable and that the inmates were happy. A performance of the musical featured in the Nazi propaganda film The Führer Gives the Jews a Town. The cast was murdered after the film's release.
Average German civilians: Slaughtering women and children day after day
Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men was uniquely horrifying book. He described how a group of average German civilians formed Reserve Police Battalion 101 and proceeded in village after village, day after day, to slaughter the Jewish men, women and children they found there. At least Browning went some way to open up one of the two great questions left by the Holocaust: 'How could they have?' The other question is whether the Nazis always meant to kill the Jews, or whether they drifted into murder when other 'final solutions' became impossible. Browning shows how the decision for total extermination was crystallised by changing circumstances.