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This is one of a series of excerpts from older articles put online by John Ray as a public service. The articles concerned are in general otherwise available only by special request to a University or other major library.

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Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Saturday, January 30th, 1971. p.14.

MURDER CORPS



By: Duncan Thompson

Book review of: HITLER'S SS, by Richard Grunberger.
Weidenfeld and Nicholson (London), $4.25.

WHY do we read books like Hitler's SS -- books focused on the atrocities of war and the sadistic minds of their perpetrators? Certainly not for pleasure, a quality completely absent from Mr. Grunberger's 116 pages of tightly packed horror. Again, not for new information. Everything Grunberger has to say, the pictures he has assembled, you have already seen: in reports from war crimes trials, in newspaper reports, in other books. And surely not from a ghoulish interest in the mass slaughter and torture of other people. Let's face it: all Grunberger has to offer is a concise, documented, illustrated account of the rise, the full-blown infamy, and the fall of the German prison camp system.

Gratis with all this goes a pen portrait of the SS chief. Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler. Himmler: the narrow-chested, weak-eyed master-butcher who couldn't quite make the grade as a fighting man in World War I. Who, at Munich in 1919, scraped an acquaintance with Adolf Hitler, where both of them were awaiting demobilisation. Who stood unrivalled as the most prodigious (and most economical) liquidator of Jews or anyone else who obstructed Hitler's progress to Aryanism. Himmler, the madman who believed that he was the reincarnation of King Arthur.

Writing to such a literary blueprint, Grunberger couldn't hope to produce a book of lights as well as shadows, nor does he try. His way - perhaps the only way - to make Himmler and his assassins bearable reading is to treat them with flashes of ironic humor.

It was in 1939 when, as good eugenics and economics, Hitler ordered the mercy killing of the feeble-minded and incurable, that the prison camp system became essential. There had to be more and more camps to hold the millions of condemned, pending liquidation and subsequent cremation.

Christian Wurth. O. C. euthanasia (under Himmler, of course) used to shoot his victims in the back of the neck. A messy form of execution, and expensive (as Hitler was to point out) with bullets costing the Reich three pfennigs each.

......

But what good can it do, this piling of atrocity upon atrocity?

It is encouraging (or is it?) to learn that on the battlefield the SS fought with fantastic courage. It is incredible that after one mass liquidation, the prison guards dared to express anger that their iron crosses had not came through, promised as a reward far all their hard work.




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