1945

1945

► January. The Death marches. As a result of Allied fronts - mainly the Red Army - closing in Germans have evacuated prisoners of concentration camps deep into the III Reich, where they were supposed to serve as free labor. Extremely exhausted by living in the camps and deadly work, prisoners marched on in winter, dressed just in striped uniforms, hungry, usually sleeping under the open sky. Every step away from the column or falling down was punished by immediate execution. Most prisoners didn't survive the evacuation marches and therefore their name - Death Marches.

In abandoned camps Nazis left most exhausted and very sick people that couldn’t stand on their feet. First marches on Polish land took place by the end of 1944 from Majdanek. For 3200 prisoners the longest distance to walk was from Auschwitz sub camp in Jaworzno to KL Gross-Rosen in Lower Silesia. The route was 250 km long. The biggest Death March took place on the 63 km route from Oswiecim to Wodzislaw Slaski. Germans forced 56000 prisoners to evacuate. Because of the freezing cold, exhaustion and mass executions, 15000 people died during the march. In Rybnik Germans killed over 800 prisoners.

► January 15th. The end of so-called Battle of the Bulge in Ardens. It was the last major offensive operation of German military forces in the western front. The battle was a loss for the German army after which a lot of higher-ranking Wehrmacht officers and private rank soldiers thought that continuing to fight with Allied forces was pointless.

► January 17th. Liberation of Warsaw. Then another cities. The German military forces are retreating. On their way they rob and export deep into III Reich whatever they can – from museums, libraries and churches. In the World War II Poland suffered the greatest damage. There is no way to list them all its only possible to give a few numbers: big cities were destroyed in 80-90% (Warsaw 85% Jaslo 96%), Germans destroyed completely 25 museums, 35 theaters, 665 cinemas, 17 universities, 271 middle schools, 4880 primary schools, 325 hospitals, there were huge losses in agriculture and livestock farming (2 mln horses), in industry, road and rail infrastructure (5948 km of railroad tracks), irreversibly destructed were Polish cultural goods (22 mln books), German occupants (Not-Nazi-but-German), had robbed approximately 516 000 individual art works of the total estimated value of 11,14 mln dollars (by exchange rates from 2001).

► January 20th, 23rd, 26th. The last task of German malefactors was a destruction of the evidence of their own crimes. They were burning documents, prisoners’ letters, blowing up the concentration camps and gas chambers, plowing mass graves. On January 20th the crematoria of II and III KLAuschwitz were blown up, on January 26- The V Crematory, on January 23 the so-called Canada II was set ablaze. It was the storage complex for the property robbed from the victims.

Some evidence of these crimes was only found only the 70's. Now the British archeologists under the direction of court archeologist Dr. Caroline Sturdy Colls from Staffordshire University are conducting works in Treblinka death camps where the remains of brick gas chamber were found along with mass graves. "The Nazis did a fine job by hiding those crimes but they weren't able to sterilize this area. They weren't that farsighted" says Dr. Sturdy Colls in discussion with NBC News.

► January 27th. The Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Less than 7000 prisoners lived to see this day. The Auschwitz concentration camp was initially built for Poles and they were its first prisoners. As a result of constant supply of new transports the number of prisoners were systematically growing. In 1940 there were 8000 people in the camp - almost all of them Polish. In 1942 KL Auschwitz was included in the program of mass extermination of the Jews and then the number of camp deportees started rapidly growing. In 1942, 197 000 Jews were brought to the camp, in 1943 it was 270 000 and in 1944 over 600 000, 1.1 mln of prisoners in total.

Concentration camps and death camps created by the III Reich, on black number of people killed

Concentration camps and death camps created by the III Reich, on black number of people killed

According to estimated calculations 8 607 480 prisoners passed through all the death camps and 7 467 100 people have died there. 3 577 000 Poles lost their lives in the death camps.

Throughout the time of camps’ existence around 8 100 to 8 200 SS men along with 200 supervisors were hired. No more than 15% of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau crew were ever brought before tribunals or courts.

► February 4th. The start of the conference in Potocki Palace in Yalta on the Crimean Peninsula. The conference in Yalta and the Potsdam conference after it had a decisive influence on the shape of the post war Europe. The Big Three namely: Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt - without asking the Polish government decided to take Eastern Borderlands of Poland and give it to the Soviet Union. As a compensation newly formed People’s Republic of Poland got back formerly German lands: Lubusz Land, West Pomerania, East Prussia and Silesia. It meant a resettlement of the German population deep into the country and Polish population from the east regions of Second Polish Republic to the west of the country.

► February 12th. The last phase of the war. In the face of more and more severe Wehrmacht losses especially in the eastern front in July 1944 Hitler formed a military formation of mass mobilization called Volkssturm. 6 million people were to be initially called to Volkssturm that meant all German men born between 1894-1928 from ages 16 to 60. The Volkssturm formation was brought into existence by a decree signed by Adolf Hitler on 25th September 1944. It started by the appeal:

"Because all our European allies have failed us, after five years of the heaviest fights, our enemy stands near our borders. It is mobilizing its forces to conquer our Reich, to destroy the German nation and its society, and his final goal is extermination of German man. All German people will oppose the will of our Jewish enemies in total war. To strengthen the active forces of our Wehrmacht, and in particular for carrying relentless fight whenever the enemy wishes to stand on German soil, I call all men who are able to carry a weapon to stand up and fight."

On 12th February NSDAP has also called German woman and girls to join the fight in the name of Volkssturm.

► March 19th. The so-called Neron's order - on abandoned lands Hitler is enforcing a "rule of scorched earth."

► „Greatest theft in history” and „Greatest treasure hunt in history”. Starting in March the Allies were finding more and more places with hidden works of art, gold and jewellery robbed by Germans during the war. Just in Germany in 1945 over 1500 repositories were found. It started the "Greatest treasure hunt in story" and is lasting until today. Places where Germans have gathered the most treasures are the castle Neuschwanstein (21 000 masterpieces of art, furnitures and jewellry), salt mine in Altaussee in Austria (6500 paintings), Berchtesgaden (1000 paintings and sculptures), salt mine in Merkers (400 paintings, 200 tons of gold in bars and valuable items robbed from the victims), Bernterode (271 paintings), castle in Nuremberg (where the Altarpiece of Veit Stoss from St. Mary's Basilica was found).

Hitler was planning to build a great museum, so-called "Führermuseum" in his hometown of Linz in Austria with a collection the most precious art works from all over the world.

"I, think that every German citizen is benefiting from robbing the whole Europe till this day" - German historian Goetz Aly have said after 60 years.

In times of the II World War the National Bank of Switzerland have received 440 mln $ in gold from Nazi sources of which 316 mln $ were from theft - mainly gold and other valuable personal items of the victims such as rings, glasses, watches, cigarette cases, jewellery and gold teeth. Gold was melted into bars and sent to the false account in the name of Max-Heiliger.

The search for robbed artworks started in 1945 and continues until today. Unfortunately with little success. Well known is a story of the search for art masterpieces that belonged before the war to famous collector Paul Rosenberg. His son and granddaughter still haven't found many of their paintings among which were seventy works of Picasso, seven of Matisse's and a Portrait of Gabrielle Diot Degas.
To this day also the most precious work from Polish collections the "Portrait of a Young M an" by Rafael from Czartoryski Museum remains hidden.

► April 24th. Soviet army is closing the ring of encirclement around III Reich capital.

► April 25th. In Torgau on the Elbe Soviet and American armies are meeting for the first time.
► April 27th. There was no electricity, water and food but the "Armoured Bear" newspaper was still printed and read. The front page of the paper on this day said: "...Congratulations Berliners, Berlin stays German! Führer has declared this to the world".

► April 30th. Adolf Hitler committed suicide and afterwards his body was burned.

► May 2nd. Soviet Army captured Berlin.

► May 7th. The capitulation of Germany on the western front was signed in Reims before the representatives of the USA and the British Commonwealth.

► May 8th. On Stalin's demand another signing of the capitulation in Berlin before representatives of three powers: ZSRR, USA and Great Britain, unconditional surrendering of Wehrmacht and all armed forces of the III Reich. Second World War lasted 6 years. It was the biggest and bloodiest military conflict in the history of the world. It was started by Germany's attack on Poland - so-called September campaign and more specifically the assault on Wieluń on the 1st September 1939 at 4:43 and shortly afterwards the Battle of Westerplatte. According to different estimates, human casualties were from 50 to 70 million. Poland suffered the biggest human loses - 6 million and 28 thousands of citizens.

► July 17th. Start of the Potsdam conference. The Big Three had determined that Germany will be divided by four occupation zones and governed according to the "5d" rules - demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decartelization and decentralization.

► September. Transferring to the United States around 1600 leading Nazi scientists with their families. Operation named "Paperclip", also known as Operation Overcast, was carried out by the US special forces. Americans were interested in German specialists mainly from the fields of missile weapons, aerodynamics, chemical weapons and medicine. First group of seven scientist - war criminals arrived in Fort Strong on the Long Island in July. They were: Wernher von Braun, Erich W. Neubert, Theodor A. Poppel, August Schulze, Eberhard Rees, Wilhelm Jungert and Walter Schwidetzky. Till the end of the year three more groups of "War Department Special Employees" came to the USA - 127 Nazi engineers in total. In the next year the chemical plants of Fischer-Tropsch in Louisiana, Missouri drew seven German scholars from synthetic fuels department. At the beginning of the year 1950 another specialists were brought, this time from Latin America where Nazis fled en masse right after the war ended. The United States Army Signal Corps hired 24 of Hitler's experts. Among them were physicists: Georg Goubau, Gunter Guttwein, Georg Hass, Horst Kedesdy, Kurt Lehovec, chemists: Rudolf Brill, Ernst Baars, Eberhard Both, geophysicist Helmut Weickmann, optician Gerhard Schwesinger and engineers: Eduard Gerber, Richard Guenther and Hans Ziegler.

The next 86 flight engineers were brought to Wright Field where captured Luftwaffe planes were stationed. The conducted relocation was legal via the US consulate in Mexico. As part of Paperclip operation work in the United States was also given to the war criminals such as: Bernhard Tessmann, Arthur Rudolph, Kurt Blome, Walter Schreiber, Reinhard Gehlen, Alexander Lippisch, Hans von Ohain and Hubertus Strughold.

A group of 104 German scientists among them Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph - Fort Bliss, 1946

A group of 104 German scientists among them Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph - Fort Bliss, 1946

The scientific research successes in the USA such as Apollo Program were based on experience and knowledge from genocidal practices in German death camps. The fact was hidden for many years for the fear of public opinion. For example Hubertus Strughold who conducted pseudo medical experiments on people from Dachau camp, purpose of which was to test people's resistance to freezing and void, due to his contribution to development of american astronautics is called "the father of space medicine". It was only in 2006, that as a result of the protests his name was erased from the International Space Hall of Fame in Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

► October. A symbolic letter from former prisoners to Irma Grese the SS overseer in German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau:

"We your victims do not want you to die. We would rather that you live as we had to with billows of filthy black smoke from the chimneys of the crematoria. We want to see you dragging heavy stones, barefoot and in rags. We want to see you beaten, cruelly and mercilessly as you cruel and without mercy beat us. We want to watch you being jeered at as you jeered and mocked us in our despair. We want you to go so hungry that you cannot sleep at night as we could not. We want to see your blonde hair shaved off as you made us shave our heads. You too must be forced to look at those who are dear to you being burned to death. We want to see you the “handsome girl” degenerate into a “muselweib”, a bag of skin and bones through hunger and exhaustion like those of us who were jeered at and called by this name. You too should be turned over to the “Himmelskommando” who will show you as they showed us “the road to heaven” through the gas chambers. Let us push you alive into the furnace of the crematorium as they did with so many of us. Only then the justice will be done. You have made us go through hell. Now let it be our turn...".

► October. Few months after surrendering two new political parties are formed in Germany. In Gronau west of Münster the new right-wing party Deutsche Aufbaupartei (DAP) is formed. The Founding member of DAP was a nationalistic publicist Reinhold Smudge. DAP was a continuation of prewar racist Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP).

In the same month one more right-wing party is formed in Germany called Deutsche Konservative Partei (DKP), its traditions rooted in the pre war German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP). One of the founding members of the new party was an officer (later a colonel) of the supreme command of Wehrmacht Eldor Borck. Deutsche Konservative Partei has opposed denazification and decartelization and fought for German soldiers rights - former members of NSDAP.

► November 20th. The beginning of the first main Nuremberg trial against Nazi's criminals before the International Military Tribunal. In the following years until 1949 further sessions of the Tribunal were held, so-called subsequent trials - 13 Nuremberg trials in total. One of the most important evidence in Nuremberg trial was the journal of Hans Frank. The accused had meticulously described his activity in General Government on 11 367 pages. Another was a documentary about concentration camps (document nr 2430-PS). The film consisted of photos supported by testimonies of eyewitnesses of the events in German death camps immediately after their liberation by Allies. Individual scenes were assembled from the video footage made by the war correspondents from camps in Buchenwaldz, Dachau, Mauthausen, Bergen-Belsen and others. The camp facilities were shown: crematoria ovens, the barracks, instruments of torture, the bodies of murdered victims and moribund, exhausted prisoners. In the film the Allied soldiers who liberated specific camps described what they saw - the piles of naked bodies pushed down by bulldozers to holes dug up in the ground. The film shocked the courtroom and was a turning point in the process. When referring to crimes committed by the III Reich including his own Hans Frank said during the trial: "A thousand years will pass and still Germany's guilt will not be erased."

► December. The US senate develops a report nr S.Res.107/146 documenting the operations of IG Farben concern. In the summary of the report the prosecutor Telford Taylor proves that without financial and logistic support of IG Farben and its international connections the Rise of Nazism or warfare wouldn't be possible. (“Without I. G.'s immense productive facilities, its intense research, and vast international affiliations, Germany's prosecution of the war would have been unthinkable and impossible"). The report showed that the driving force of the II World War was the IG Farbens ambition to take control over the world's chemical and pharmaceutical market and striving to eliminate competitors completely. IG Farben had financed the rise of Nazi Party to power. Regarding the IG Farben management board the report notes that "Crimes of which those people were charged with were not committed in passion or as a result of a sudden impulse. Deliberate war machines are not constructed as a result of awakened passion and death factories in Oświęcim in fleeting attacks of cruelty. Their purpose was to turn the German nation into a military machine, so that it could impose its dominance on other neighboring countries and Europe. They were the beginning and the end of a dark age of Death that enveloped Europe." In 1943 IG Farben had satisfied almost completely the needs of German war economy making 100 percent of synthetic rubber, 95 percent of poison gas (including Zyklon B used for killing people in concentration camps), 90 percent of plastic materials, 88 percent of magnesium, 84 percent of explosives, 70 percent of gunpowder, 46 percent of high-octane gasoline (air fuel) and 33 percent of synthetic gasoline.

IG Farben's purpose in creating III Reich was noticed for the first time two years earlier by American senator Homer T. Bone who on the 4th June 1943 said in front of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services: "IG Farben was Hitler and Hitler was IG Farben".

Postwar fate of IG Farben's management and it's quick Persilscheinverfahren (quick and clean process) proves that even after the war Germany couldn't make it without them.