The Third Reich at War: How the Nazis Led Germany from Conquest to Disaster by Richard J Evans review
Killing people in large numbers presents formidable logistical problems, as any mass murderer can testify. Richard J Evans remarks of Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews that no other genocide in history has been conducted by mechanical means – gassing – in purpose-built facilities. More recent amateurs in Bosnia and Zimbabwe have had to make up their massacres as they went along.
Nazis who found themselves obliged to dispose of some people without the aid of German industry’s gas experts were distressed by the difficulties. “I always shuddered at the prospect of carrying out exterminations by shooting, when I thought of the vast numbers concerned,” said SS officer Rudolf Höss. “Many [of the killers], unable to endure wading through blood any longer, had committed suicide. Some had even gone mad. Most … had to rely on alcohol.”
Even Germany’s civil prisons faced challenges, as executions for criminal offences soared during the war years. It proved necessary to abandon refinements such as the guillotine in favour of simple hangings. Death rows became overcrowded. New executioners were hired, most recruited from the butchery and slaughterhouse trade. One veteran later claimed that between 1924 and 1945 he had dispatched more than 2,800 alleged offenders.
Lord, how terrible it seems that some people work sooo much only to produce pain.