By J. Bellinger
A treaty had been arranged between the German Government and the Allies, after a typhus epidemic had broken out at a Workers Convalescent Camp at Bergen-Belsen, in 1945.
The Commandant of the camp was Josef Kramer, former Commandant of Birkenau, who remained behind in accordance with the conditions of the truce. The camp staff, which had mainly served with Kramer, had volunteered to stay behind to administer the camp.
The Allies broke the truce, and after an "trial", killed, hung, or imprisoned the SS personnel and their auxiliaries.
One of the women hanged with Irma Grese was Juana Bormann. Miss Bormann was a petite, almost fragile woman, who was 53 years old at the time of her trial.
After a careful examination of the trial records, it is clear that only two witnesses might have saved Miss Bormann from the death penalty: her own dog, and a certain Sturmbannfuehrer Hartjenstein. Needless to say, the authorities made no attempt to locate Hartjenstein, and while the dog was in custody, he apparently decided to take the fifth amendment.
In fact, it wasn't so long ago when animals were actually sworn in as witnesses in murder trials. Considering the biased nature of the trials conducted by the allies against the Germans, the reimposition of this procedure would have been an improvement in the proceedings.
Miss Bormann was clearly convicted solely on the basis of alleged eyewitness testimony. I write "alleged" because none of the accusations were ever proven to be facts by independent evidence. No two witnesses ever witnessed the same incidents. The primary accusations preferred against Miss Bormann consisted of the following:
a. That she participated in selections for the "gas chambers".
b. That she set her dog upon hapless inmates
c. That she struck recalcitrant inmates
All of her accusers were Jewish.
"a" is easily dispensed with as it has been demonstrated in the literature of the period that only doctors were allowed to make "selections".
"b" could have been settled simply by calling either other Aufseherinnen who worked with her at the time or Sturmbannfuehrer Hartjenstein as witnesses. This, however, was never done.
"c" There is no doubt that this frail little woman slapped prisoners whenever they committed infractions, such as stealing, malingering, and so on.
So how is it that Miss Bormann received the death penalty? The single major factor which led to her conviction and execution was the eyewitness testimony of inmates.
History provides many examples of injustice brought about by false testimony. As in the Salem witch trials as well as cases of alleged Jewish ritual murder, the testimony of "survivors" and "eyewitnesses" often smacks of hysteria and what the Germans call "Rache", or revenge.
In the witchcraft trials, the chief motivation for giving false testimony seemed to be a mixture of superstition, fear, hysteria, and jealousy. In the cases of Jewish ritual murder, the motivation seemed to be prompted by jealousy, superstition, fear, and hysteria. Sometimes envy played a role, but not always. After all, how envious could one be of junk peddlers, and so on, as frequently these were the very sort of persons accused.
In the case of accused Germans, the chief motivation seemed to be revenge, hatred, and hysteria.
Indeed, according to Freud in his book entitled Dora, Jewish women are particularly prone to afflictions of hysteria, which might explain why so many of the witnesses at the Belsen trial were women..
Thus, if we accept Freud's theories, woman in general, and Jewish women in particular, seem to be more affected by afflictions of hysteria than men. Not only is this idea borne out by an examination of the witchcraft trials, but this seems to also be self-evident in the "Satanic ritual" accusations so frequently voiced in our own era over the past three decades.
In regard to the case of Miss Bormann, she was accused of setting a large black dog upon recalcitrant inmates. It was said that these dog bites often led to fatalities.
However, one obvious flaw in this story is that, according to not only Miss Bormann, but other witnesses as well, such behaviour was strictly prohibited by concentration camp regulations and would have resulted in not only an investigation of the incident, but in disciplinary action against the offender. It is repeatedly been shown that, while corporal punishment WAS permitted, permission had to be authorized by a central office in Berlin.
Thus, Bormann's explanation would appear to be credible. Also, Bormann did not own a black wolf-hound, as one of the witnesses maintained. Surely the prosecution and the Judges were aware of this fact, as the dog ended up in British custody upon the liberation of Belsen.
Major Munro: "Did you have your dog in Belsen when the British troops arrived?"
Munro: "Was it taken from you?"
Juana: "No, I did not even know I was going to be arrested. I left the dog in my room."
It should also be noted that Miss Bormann was frequently confused with another Aufseherin who was also stationed at Auschwitz. It appears that no attempt was made by either the defence or prosecution to locate this woman, as both defence and prosecution both worked for the same team: The allies.
Aside from all this, Miss Bormann specifically stated that at Auschwitz she never had the dog. This could have been verified by an examination of fellow Aufseherinnen, but not surprisingly, this was never done.
Miss Bormann was also accused of selecting inmates for the ubiquitous "gas chambers". However, since the court never established by forensic evidence that there ever WAS a gas chamber at Auschwitz or anywhere else, this charge is hardly worth addressing.
One witness, Helena Kopper, accused Bormann of being in charge of the clothing stores, and this was disproved. Thus, her allegations of abuse were false.
Another witness, Lydia Sunschein, stated that Miss Bormann struck other women so hard in the face that their teeth were knocked out. I have already dealt with Sunschein's hysterical imaginings in an another article and need not recount them again here.
The one item worth mentioning is that one may see that Sunschein was exaggerating simply by noting that Juana Bormann was a rather frail woman.
Curiously, Miss Bormann was accused of beating women with a rubber truncheon, an item which was never used in the German police system.
As Miss Bormann wryly noted on the stand, the first time she ever saw a rubber truncheon was in the hands of a British MP.
Major Munro: "It has been said that you administered savage and brutal treatment to half-starved internees and that you used to beat women with a rubber truncheon. Is that true?"
Juana: "No, I did not even know what a rubber truncheon was until [I was] in prison in Celle, when I saw one in the hands of a British Soldier."
Finally, the petty thief and liar Herta Ehlert makes an appearance once again, this time to state her irrelevant opinion of Miss Bormann for the benefit of the British Kangaroo Court.
For the benefit of the prosecution, Miss Ehlert said in a statement presented to the court that although she never personally witnessed it herself, it was her opinion that Miss Bormann was just the type who would have been brutal to inmates and set her vicious dog upon them.
Take the comments for what they are worth---nothing--coming from the likes of Herta Ehlert.
In conclusion, if ever there was a modern case of phony witch hysteria, that case would be Juana Bormann, who, instead of being burned at the stake, was hanged at the scaffold.
References: The Belsen Trial
Dora, by Sigmund Freud
Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, Robbins
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