An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945 is a 1993 book by John Sack, in which Sack states that some Jews in Eastern Europe took revenge on their former captors while overseeing over 1,000 concentration camps in Poland for German civilians. Sack provides details of the imprisonment of 200,000 Germans “many of them starved, beaten and tortured” and estimates that “more than 60,000 died at the hands of a largely Jewish-run security organisation.” A professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, Antony Polonsky, said that his “research appears to be sound”, but he and other reviewers have questioned the “extent of Jewish persecution of Germans”, in Sack’s book.
Polish historians including Tadeusz Wolsza from the Polish Academy of Sciences and Krzysztof Szwagrzyk from the Institute of National Remembrance inform that in 1945–1950 there were between 206 and 500 internment camps set up mostly by the Soviet NKVD at the former Nazi slave-labor camps in Greater Poland and across Silesia, but the numbers reaching or ever exceeding 1,000 have no grounds in reality.
According to Holocaust writer Daniel Goldhagen‘s review of the book in The New Republic, most of the people working in these camps were not Jewish and Goldhagen argued Sack did his best to conceal this.Goldhagen cited a November 1945 report that only 1.7% of the members of the Office of State Security were Jews as refutation of Sack’s figure of 75%. Sack responded that he had stated his figure for officers in Kattowitz in February, not all members in November, and that he had also written that hundreds of Jews left OSS during the year. Sack said that he attempted to publish a response in a letter to the editor of The New Republic but the magazine refused it. Sack said that The New Republic agreed to publish his reply as an advertisement, but later reversed its position.
Sack has responded to American critics of the book who say that it is “sensational and its charges inadequately attributed to source” by replying that his extensive research left little doubt that Jews ran the Swietochlowice camp “from the bottom to the top”. He added “It pains me as a Jew to report this”.
Sack expressed surprise at criticisms denying the accuracy of his claims, asserting that the main points have been repeatedly confirmed by others, the TV programme 60 Minutes and The New York Times among them.
In 1995, the German publisher Piper Verlag pulled the book after printing it, apparently in response to a review by Eike Geisel that called it “antisemitic fodder”. According to Sack, Geisel claimed to quote a passage that doesn’t exist in the book. It was published by another German publisher instead.
- Crittenden, Jules (13 December 1993). Book claiming Jewish revenge vs. Germans creates dispute, Boston Herald
- Streitfeld, David. (15 February 1995). Book on Jewish-Run `Revenge’ Camps Is Pulled, The Washington Post (“A German publisher has abruptly canceled a book that investigates the Jewish role in running internment camps in Poland after World War II, saying the work otherwise could be “cause for some misunderstanding.””)
- Kevles, Bettyann (23 December 1993). A Post-Holocaust Search for Revenge, Los Angeles Times
- Streitfeld, David (7 February 1997). `Revenge’ Talk Scratched; Holocaust Museum Disinvites Author, The Washington Post (“Sack’s talk was an outgrowth of An Eye for an Eye, his controversial 1993 book about “a second atrocity” after the Holocaust.”)
- Wolsza, Tadeusz (2010). “Obozy i inne miejsca odosobnienia na ziemiach polskich w latach 1944–1958” [Internment camps on Polish soil in 1944–1958]. Klub Historyczny im. gen. Stefana Roweckiego. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Szwagrzyk, Krzysztof (2005). “Aparat Bezpieczenstwa w Polsce. Kadra kierownicza. Tom I: 1944–1956 (The Security Service in Poland. Directorate. Volume One: 1944–1956)” (PDF). Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Warsaw. pp. 25, 59, 62, 535. ISBN 83-89078-94-5. Archived from the original (PDF direct download: 3.63 MB) on January 4, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
A report written by the Soviet NKVD General Nikołaj Seliwanowski dated 20 October 1945 stated that 18,7% of the field operatives in the Ministry of Public Security (Poland) were Jewish, including 50% of its departmental directors. Notably, all directors of the critical Department One were Jewish with no exception. Szwagrzyk himself used the existing records declassified after the collapse of the Soviet empire to estimate that in 1944-54 the real percentage of Jewish directors was 37.1% decreasing to 34.5% in 1954-56, before the end of Stalinism in Poland. – Szwagrzyk, p. 59.
- Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah(27 December 1993). False Witness, The New Republic
- Sack, An Eye for an Eye, 4th edition 2000, pp. 174–175
- Whitney, Craig R. (1 November 1994). “Poles Review Postwar Treatment of Germans”. The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
- Stewart, James. John Sack Archived April 16, 2004, at the Wayback Machine., in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Retrieved May 7, 2012
- Sack, An Eye for an Eye, 4th edition 2000, pp. 175, 236.
- John Sack (1995). Auge um Auge. Die Geschichte von Juden, die Rache für den Holocaust suchten. Kabel Verlag. ISBN 978-3822503393.
|Subject||Treatment of German POWs by the western Allies|
Other Losses is a 1989 book by Canadian writer James Bacque, in which Bacque alleges that U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower intentionally caused the deaths by starvation or exposure of around a million Germanprisoners of war held in Western internment camps briefly after the Second World War. Other Losses charges that hundreds of thousands of German prisoners that had fled the Eastern front were designated as “Disarmed Enemy Forces” in order to avoid recognition under the third Geneva Convention, for the purpose of carrying out their deaths through disease or slow starvation. Other Losses cites documents in the U.S. National Archives and interviews with people who stated they witnessed the events. The book claims that there was a “method of genocide” in the banning of Red Cross inspectors, the returning of food aid, the policy regarding shelter building, and soldier ration policy.
Stephen Ambrose, a historian Eisenhower had enlisted in his efforts to preserve his legacy and counteract criticisms of his presidency, and seven other historians examined the book soon after its publication, and came to the conclusion that it was inaccurate and the product of conspiracy theory. Other historians, including the former senior historian of the United States Army Center of Military History, Colonel Ernest F. Fisher, who was involved in the 1945 investigations into the allegations of misconduct by U.S. troops in Germany and who wrote the book’s foreword, argues that the claims are accurate.
Claims of Other Losses
The title of Other Losses derives from a column of figures in weekly U.S. Army reports that Bacque states actually reflects a body count of German prisoners that died of slow starvation or diseases. The book states that Colonel Philip Lauben, chief of German Affairs Branch at SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force), confirmed that “other losses” meant deaths and escapes, with escapes being a minor part. This is supported by a US Army document lodged in the US National Archives which “plainly states” that the “Other Losses” category of prisoners was for deaths and escapes. Bacque dismisses claims from his opponents that “other losses” meant transfers or discharges, as these are accounted for in other columns in the same tables. Furthermore, there is no separate column in which deaths were recorded.
The book refers to the Army Chief Historians report that was published in 1947; in the 20 pages dealing with the capture, transfer and discharge of prisoners, the report makes no mention of releasing prisoners without formal discharge. Furthermore, Bacque cites Army orders from Eisenhower himself (Disbandment Directive No. 1) stating that every prisoner leaving captivity had to have discharge papers.
Disarmed Enemy Forces designation
Other Losses states that Eisenhower sought to sidestep the requirements of the Geneva Convention through the designation of these prisoners as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF), specifically stating that “in March, as Germany was being cracked … a message was being signed and initialed by Eisenhower proposed a startling departure from the Geneva Convention (GC)—the creation of a new class of prisoners who would not be fed by the Army after the surrender of Germany.”
The book states that, against the orders of his superiors, Eisenhower took 2 million additional prisoners after Germany’s surrender that fell under the DEF designation. Other Losses states that the million soldiers it alleges died had fled the Eastern front and most likely ended up in Rheinwiesenlager prisoner transit camps run by United States and French forces where many such prisoners died of disease or starvation under the cover of the DEF designation.
The book cites orders from Eisenhower which stipulated that the Germans would be solely responsible for feeding and maintaining the DEFs, however he then prevented any aid from reaching them.
Number of prisoners who died
Other Losses claims that nearly one million German prisoners died while being held by United States and French forces at the end of World War II. Specifically, it claims: “The victims undoubtedly number over 800,000, almost certainly over 900,000 and quite likely over a million. Their deaths were knowingly caused by army officers who had sufficient resources to keep the prisoners alive.”
Other Losses contains an analysis of a medical record that it states supports the conclusion of a prisoner death rate of 30%. Bacque also referred to a 1950 report from the German Red Cross which stated that 1.5 million former German POWs were still officially listed as missing, fate unknown.
The book claims that approximately 15% of the deaths in the U.S. camps were from starvation or dehydration and that most deaths were caused by dysentery, pneumonia, or septicaemia, as a result of the unsanitary conditions and lack of medicine. Other Losses further claims that officers from the U.S. Medical Corps reported death rates far higher than they had ever seen before.
The book further states that Eisenhower’s staff was complicit in the scheme. Other Losses also states that, in order to carry out his scheme, Eisenhower kept these prisoners in camps far longer than it was necessary It claims that, by the end of 1945, only 40% of prisoners had been released. Other Losses further characterizes the 22-volume German Maschke Commission report investigating the deaths of German prisoners as written by “client-academics” as part of a “cover up” of the deaths that Other Losses alleged occurred.
Treatment of prisoners
Other Losses claims that the U.S. dismantled the German welfare agencies, including the German Red Cross, then dismissed the Swiss Government from its role as Protecting Power. No agencies were allowed to visit the camps or provide any assistance to the prisoners, including delegates from ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), which was a violation of the Geneva Convention. It further states that the only notable protest against this was from William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada.
Bacque states that the press was also prevented from visiting the camps, and therefore was unable to report on the state of the camps and the condition of the prisoners.
The book states that many of the U.S. camps consisted of open fields surrounded by barbed wire, with no shelter or toilet facilities. In these camps prisoners were forced to sleep on the ground in the open, though it claims that the U.S. Army had plenty of surplus tents which could have been issued. No supplies such as blankets were supplied to the prisoners, even though these were in good supply at various locations such as the depot at Naples. In a letter General Everett Hughes stated that there were “more stocks than we can ever use; stretch as far as eye can see.”
The book quotes Dr. Konrad Adenauer (later Chancellor of Germany) stating that “The German prisoners have been penned up for weeks without any protection from the weather, without drinking water, without medical care. They are being held in a manner contrary to all humanitarian principles and flagrantly contrary to the Hague and Geneva Conventions.”
Both J. P. Pradervand (ICRC French Delegation) and Henry Dunning (American Red Cross) sent letters to the State Department condemning the poor treatment of the German prisoners. Colonel Philip Lauben stated that “The Vosges was just one big death camp.”
The book claims that the U.S. Army employed a number of methods to reduce the number of prisoners officially on hand. One method was to accuse the Russians of taking far more prisoners than they reported. Another was the “midnight shift”, whereby the opening balance of a given week was less than the closing balance of the previous week.
The book claims that a “Missing Million” prisoners exist in the difference in totals between two U.S. army reports (the last of the daily reports and the first of the weekly reports) issued on June 2, 1945. As a consequence of this, according to Quartermaster’s reports the number of rations issued to the camps was reduced by 900,000.
Other Losses states that after visiting many of the camps in August 1945, General Robert Littlejohn (Quartermaster of the ETO) concluded that the U.S. Army was reporting 3.7 million prisoners while it actually possessed 5.2 million, thereby corroborating the conclusions made in a report three months earlier from General J. Lee (in charge of logistics for the ETO), which he had sent to SHAEF headquarters. Other Losses states that Littlejohn subsequently wrote in a report to Washington that because requisitions for supplies were based on these faulty numbers, 1.5 million prisoners were getting no food.
Other Losses states that, three years later, in 1948 the ICRC formally requested documents confirming the total number of prisoners in the U.S. Zone and was eventually told that 3.5 million were there, which omitted approximately 1.7 million from the actual number of 5,224,000.
Other Losses explicates the 1944–1949 German food crisis to support the claims for a high mortality rate.
Other Losses concludes that the 1945 food crisis in Europe was contrived by Allied forces by the use of restrictive food import policy, including restrictions on Red Cross food deliveries, and other means. It claims that Eisenhower purposefully starved German prisoners given that “[t]here was a lot more wheat available in the combined areas of western Germany, France, Britain, Canada and the USA than there had been in the same year in 1939.” Other Losses states that, in May 1945, the ICRC had 100,000 tons of food in storage warehouses in Switzerland. The book claims that, when they tried to send train loads of this food into the U.S. Zone, the U.S. Army sent the trains back, saying their own warehouses were full. Other Losses states that this prompted Max Huber, head of the ICRC, to send a strong letter of protest to the State Department, in which he described the difficulties placed by SHAEF in the way of the ICRC efforts to provide aid. He said “Our responsibility for the proper use of relief supplies placed in our care is incompatible with a restriction to the fulfillment of orders which render us powerless to furnish relief which we ourselves judge necessary.”
U.S. Army warehouses had 13.5 million Red Cross food parcels taken from the ICRC, which were never distributed. The book also states that German civilians were prevented from bringing food to the camps, and that Red Cross food parcels were confiscated by SHAEF, and the War Department banned them from being given to the men in the camps. The book states that Bacque found no evidence of a drastic food shortage in the U.S. Army —
- “We had so much food we didn’t know what to do with it.” — Colonel Henry Settle, 106th division.
- “We are not in any desperate need of extra food.” — Lt Colonel Bailey, SHAEF.
- “There is in this Theater a substantial excess of subsistence … over 3,000,000 rations a day less than those requisitioned were issued.” — General Robert Littlejohn, Quartermaster of the ETO.