American Atrocities in Germany — the Torture of Accused “War Criminals” in the Dachau Trials

Further Glory
August 8, 2013

German General Anton Dostler's body slumps toward the ground after being executed by a firing squad at Aversa, Italy. The general was convicted and sentenced to death by an American Military Tribunal.
German General Anton Dostler’s body slumps toward the ground after being executed by a firing squad at Aversa, Italy. The general was convicted and sentenced to death by an American Military Tribunal.

A reader of my blog made a comment in which he wrote that 137 of 139 German “war criminals,” who were put on trial by the American Military Tribunal in Dachau after World War II, were tortured by having their testicles crushed.  That didn’t sound right to me, so I asked for a source.  The source for this statement was the book entitled American Atrocities in Germany by Judge Edward L. Van Roden.

I looked up the author of the book American Atrocities in Germany and found the following quote on the website of David Irving:

American Atrocities in Germany


AMERICAN investigators at the U. S. Court in Dachau, Germany, used the following methods to obtain confessions: Beatings and brutal kickings. Knocking out teeth and breaking jaws. Mock trials. Solitary confinement. Posturing as priests. Very limited rations. Spiritual deprivation. Promises of acquittal. Complaints concerning these third degree methods were received by Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall last Spring [1948]. Royall appointed Justice Gordon Simpson of the Texas Supreme Court and me to go to Germany and check up on the reports. Accompanied by Lt. Col. Charles Lawrence, Jr., we went to Munich, Germany, set up offices there, and heard a stream of testimony about the way in which American atrocities were committed.


The statements which were admitted as evidence [in the Malmedy Massacre case] were obtained from men who had first been kept in solitary confinement for three, four, and, five months. They were confined between four walls, with no windows, and no opportunity of exercise. Two meals a day were shoved in to them through a slot in the door. They were not allowed to talk to anyone. They had no communication with their families or any minister or priest during that time.

This solitary confinement proved sufficient in itself in some cases to persuade the Germans to sign prepared statements. These statements not only involved the signer, but often would involve other defendants.

Our investigators would put a black hood over the accused’s head and then punch him in the face with brass knuckles, kick him, and beat him with rubber hose. Many of the German defendants had teeth knocked out. Some had their jaws broken.

All but two of the Germans, in the 139 cases we investigated, had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was Standard Operating Procedure with American investigators.

The 139 cases, that were investigated by Van Roden, were only a small part of the “Dachau trials” conducted by the American Military Tribunal at the former Dachau concentration camp. I have a whole section on the Dachau trials on my website, which you can read here.  This quote is from my website:

Between November 1945 and December 31, 1947, there were 489 cases brought before the American Military Tribunal at Dachau. There was a total of 1,672 persons who were tried; 1,416 of them were convicted and then sent to War Criminals Prison #1 at Landsberg am Lech for execution or incarceration. There were 297 death sentences, and 279 sentences to life in prison. Between 1946 and 1951 there were 284 death sentences carried out at Landsberg, which included the death sentences at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.

The 1,672 accused war criminals who faced the American Military Tribunal at Dachau had been selected from a group of 3,887 people who were initially accused. The last of those who were not put on trial were finally released from their imprisonment in War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 at Dachau in August 1948. By 1958, the last of the German war criminals, convicted at Dachau, had been released from the War Criminals Prison #1 in Landsberg.

The 139 cases, in which extreme torture was used, were the men in the Malmedy Massacre trial. This is not to say that the only “war criminals” who were tortured were the men accused in the Malmedy Massacre case.  Other defendants in the other cases also claimed that they were tortured in order to force confessions out of them.

This quote is a continuation of the quote from David Irving’s website:

[Lt. William] Perl admitted use of mock trials and persuasive methods including violence and said the court was free to decide the weight to be attached to evidence thus received. But it all went in.

One 18 year old defendant, after a series of beatings, was writing a statement being dictated to him. When they reached the 16th page, the boy was locked up for the night. In the early morning, Germans in nearby cells heard him muttering. “I will not utter another lie.” When the jailer came in later to get him to finish his false statement, he found the German hanging from a cell bar, dead. However the statement that the German had hanged himself to escape signing was offered and received in evidence in the trial of the others.

This quote is from my own website,

Lt. William Perl was an Austrian Jew who had emigrated to America in 1940.  He was the chief interrogator of the Malmedy Massacre accused. Perl was an active Zionist who had worked to get European Jews into Palestine illegally before he came to America. His wife was a survivor of Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women, where she was sent in 1943. Perl was assisted by other Jews on the interrogation staff, including Josef Kirschbaum, Harry Thon and Morris Ellowitz. […]

In the Malmedy Massacre case, Lt. Col. Peiper presented a summary of allegations of abuse made to him by his soldiers. The German soldiers claimed that they were beaten by the interrogators and that one of the original 75 accused men, 18-year-old Arvid Freimuth, had hanged himself in his cell after being repeatedly beaten. A statement, supposedly written by Freimuth, although portions of it were not signed by him, was introduced during the proceedings as evidence against the other accused. As in the Nuremberg IMT and the other Dachau proceedings, the accused were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, as well as with specific incidents of murder, so Freimuth’s statement was relevant to the case, even after he was no longer among the accused himself.  […]

None of the convicted SS soldiers [in the Malmedy Massacre case] were ever executed and by 1956, all of them had been released from prison. All of the death sentences had been commuted to life in prison. As it turned out, the Malmedy Massacre proceedings at Dachau, which were intended to show the world that the Waffen-SS soldiers were a bunch of heartless killers, became instead a controversial case which dragged on for over ten years and resulted in criticism of the American Occupation, the war crimes military tribunals, the Jewish prosecutors at Dachau and the whole American system of justice.

Before the last man convicted in the Dachau proceedings walked out of Landsberg prison as a free man, the aftermath of the case had involved the US Supreme Court, the International Court at the Hague, the US Congress, Dr. Johann Neuhäusler, a Bishop from Munich, who was a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp, and the government of the new Federal Republic of Germany. All of this was due to the efforts of the defense attorney, Lt. Col. Willis M. Everett.

James J. Weingartner, the author of A Peculiar Crusade: Willis M. Everett and the Malmedy Massacre, wrote the story of the Dachau proceedings from information provided by Everett’s family and gleaned from his letters and diary. According to Weingartner, shortly before the proceedings were to begin, defense attorney Lt. Col. Everett interviewed a few of the 73 accused with the help of an interpreter. Although the accused were being held in solitary confinement and had not had the opportunity to consult with each other, most of them told identical stories of misconduct by their Jewish interrogators.