The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/buchenwald/diplomatic/georges-vanier.042745

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Canadian Ambassador re: Buchenwald visit
Summary: Georges Vanier describes visit to Buchenwald, 
         mentions lampshades and death chambers, crematorium

After an inquiry some time back, I received a photocopy of the
following letter from the Canadian Ambassador to France,
Georges Vanier, written in April, 1945. It describes a
tattooed-skin lampshade, and the death chambers and
crematorium. The full Vanier Report, running some 50 pages, is
also on the way, although it may take a month or more for it
to reach me. When it does, I will provide it within the
Buchenwald diplomatic archive. knm.

Archive/File: pub/camps/buchenwald/diplomatic/georges-vanier.042745
Last-Modified: 1995/08/28
Transcribed: Ken McVay (
Source: National Archives of Canada, File 1426-P-40

     PARIS		[Seal]              PARIS

				27th April, 1945.

No. 548


Will you please refer to my telegram No. 299, dated 24th
April, which relates to my visit to Buchenwald camp.

2. In company with eight members of the United States
Congress, I left London for Weimar on Sunday morning, the
22nd. April. The names of the Congressmen, and of the States
for which they sit, follow:

	Marion T. BENNETT, Springfield, Illinois
	Gordon CANFIELD, Peterson, New Jersey
	Henry M. JACKSON, Everett, Washington
	Carter MANASCO, Jasper, Alabama
	Albert RAINS, 5th District Alabama, Gadsden, Alabama
	Francis E. WALTER, Easton, Pennsylvania
	Earl WILSON, Huron, Indiana
	Eugene WORLEY, Shannock, Texas

Half were Democrats, the others Republicans, but whatever
their political differences may have been, they were of one
mind and one will after the visit, about the necessity for
taking any measures, however drastic, which might be required
to prevent a recurrence of crimes against humanity.

3. My reasons for going to the camp were to enquire into and
to obtain all available information on Canadians who had been
interned there, and to make sure also that there were no
others among the remaining 20,000 ex-prisoners.

4. We had luncheon in the plane and on arrival at Weimar drove
direct to the camp where we spent some hours and were shown
over by the American officers in charge. The camp of
Buchenwald is situated near a former zoological garden, some
five miles from Weimar, where Goethe and Schiller lived and
died. The approach is by a road flanked on either side by
beautiful trees - pines and chestnuts. It is an idyllic drive
which makes the horrible contrast at the end of the journey
all the more revolting. The camp was built in 1937 by
political prisoners to accommodate themselves. In the first
place it was designed to hold 8,000 but when liberation came
on the 11th April there were almost 60,000 inhabitants.

5. The official figure given in the camp register of deaths
during the months of January, February, March and the first
ten days of April of this year, was 18,485. The condition of
the internees was such that an average of 60 deaths occurred
daily for a week or more following liberation. The number who
died at Buchenwald altogether will never be established - well
over 50,000, it may be over 100,000.	

6. We visited the death chambers and saw the quadruple
electric lifts on which bodies were raised to the ovens of the
crematorium above. In the ovens, blackened forms of bodies
still lay. We saw also the noise-making machine which drowned
the screams of the unfortunate victims. We were told that the
death quota for the camp was 80 a day. Facilities existed for
the easy, continuous cremation of that many. This quota was
often exceeded, however, which accounted apparently for the
naked bodies, piled like so much cord wood, and on which lime
was thrown. We saw some of these emaciated, bruised and
blood-stained bodies.

7. In the improvised hospitals were hundreds of men, some with
running sores, their bodies so devoid of flesh that they could
not lie for long in one position. Some who were able to stand
were little more than skin and bones. One marvelled how the
knee and ankle joints held together.

8. We say several hundred children, most of them Polish Jews;
some had been in prison camps for years. Those of ten and over
worked as slave labourers on munitions. Not one, so far as I
know, had any idea of where his parents were; in view of the
barbarous treatment inflicted on Poles and Jews by the
Germans, it is probable that all have been done to death.

9. A lampshade was found - and this I saw - made from tattooed
human skin.

10. There is a famous oak tree at Buchenwald, beneath which
Goethe wrote some of his poems. The German gaolers found
nothing better than to make of it a gibbet for hanging men by
the armpits with their hands tied behind their backs.

11. Shortly after liberation a memorial service was held to
honour the dead. This, in part, is the declaration made by the
living: "We are assembled here to honour our dead comrades -
shot, hanged, trampled down, slain, choked, starved, drowned,
poisoned, tortured. The thought that kept us alive, as we saw
with helpless rage our comrades fall, was that the day of
vengeance would come." Yes, indeed, the seeds of hate sown by
the Germans throughout the world, and more especially in
Europe, are such that generations must pass before the grim
harvest of revenge will be checked.

12. One is forced to the conviction that those who did these
horrible things saw nothing wrong in them; perhaps they were
actually proud of their efficiency in producing death. These
Germans are not as other humans, they are satanic. Though they
have a veneer of Christianity, deep down they must still be
barbarians - in saying this one is unfair to the barbarian
because there is a scientific refinement about these horrors
which barbarians, uncouth and wild, living in a primitve
state, could not invent.

13. After visiting the camp with the Congressmen I went to the
Records Office to obtain whatever information I could with
regard to the Canadians who were reported as having been
executed at the camp in September of last year. I was shown a
list of French, British and Canadian nationals, upon which
were the following names and information:-

	9636 JOHN MACALISTER. Date of birth 9-7-1914.
			      Guelph (Advocat)
	8738 GUY SABOURIN. Date of birth 1-1-1923
                           Montreal (Officer)
	9992 FRANK PICKERSGILL. Date of birth 28-5-1915

The list purported to be a record of the arrivals on the 27th
August, 1944. The names were of men who had been doing special
work, for example, the transmission of clandestine messages
after having been parachuted, etc. They were known as the
Robert Benoist group. I did not find any list which indicated
that these men had been executed but I was told that the "X"
opposite each of the above three names afforded proof of such
execution. As a matter of fact the records are most
incomplete, many of them were either taken away or destroyed
before the camp was liberated. I was assured, however, by a
Captain Simms, sent by S.O.E. to investigate, that there could
be no doubt that these men had been executed. There were a few
names (but not of Canadians) on the list, opposite which no
"X" appeared and about which there is some doubt.

14. I found an ex-prisoner who was able to give me some
information. His name is Richard Rendl, an Austrian, whose
permanent address is Sobieskigasse 9, Vienna IX: present
address - Buchenwald Camp. He saw the three Canadians arrive
at the camp. They were hand-cuffed and in civilian clothes.
They were given other civilian clothes later but not the usual
grey striped clothes of other prisoners. Rendl was quite sure
that the three had been executed. He did not remember the
exact date. They had been in Block No. 17 which was called the
Quarantine Block. It was normal for them to be housed there
because they were new arrivals and all newcomers were taken
there. He saw them quite often up to and including the evening
before they were executed. They were always in good humour,
apparently not suspecting for a moment that they would be

15. Rendl reported that allied bombs fell in the camp towards
the end of August (there was a factory nearby in which some of
the prisoners worked). A few days later he heard Frank
Pickersgill joking and wishing to wager a thousand pounds that
they would all be home by Christmas.

[Balance of letter deals with the names of persons who might
provide leads as to the fate of the Canadians, in sections 16
and 17. knm]

			I have the honour to be,
			Your obedient servant,
			[s/ Georges Vanier]

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