MFDJ 04/06/24: Forsaking Fellow Humans

Today’s Indescribable Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On March 16, 1945, the Nazis liquidated the death camp at Spaichingen, located in southwestern Germany, about twenty miles north of the Swiss border. Joseph Freeman and thousands of other inmates began a six-week death march ordeal that ended in the city of Fussen in southern Germany. Joseph’s story is documented in the book The Road To Hell: Recollections of the Nazi Death March. The following is a brief excerpt from the book, discussing more than one month into the march.

More than one thousand five hundred inmates, counting the sick, started on the death march. The nurses told me that on the first evening the SS separated the casualties from the main group. They were ordered to take the sick and wounded down from the carriages and put them in one place. As the nurses left the area they heard machine guns and the screams of the slaughtered. When the march began I could not see the end of our procession. Now, after four weeks on the road, I could see the end of the column which had been getting shorter each day. Two hundred or maybe four hundred emaciated wretches were crawling on the road. We looked hideous, our unshaven faces covered with filth, our hair breeding grounds for lice. The stench from our unwashed bodies was indescribable. The stinking odor was overwhelming, making it almost impossible for us to breathe.

Nazi death march

In a single day we would walk three, maybe four miles. At times we passed small villages, where townspeople gazed at us from the sidewalks. As we passed through one small town, apples began to rain upon us. Never will I forget that moment. Like animals, we fell on one another, grabbing apples and devouring them in seconds. The SS responded by smashing us with the butt ends of their weapons. But the drive to satisfy our hunger was stronger than the punishment inflicted by the officers. Residents on both sides of the street were horrified and started to cry. These German civilians could not bear to witness this harrowing, dreadful scene. They too knew despair. They could not stand to watch the misery of living skeletons fighting to catch something to eat. These burghers could still feel human compassion, unlike the SS who were “Satans” in human form.

We marched through other towns where people tried to help us by throwing pieces of food toward us. Not all German civilians could feel the suffering of other human beings. In some places the residents were openly hostile to us. They laughed at us when the SS prevented us from catching the little morsels of apple or bread. They teased us and cursed us, calling us schmutzige Hunde (filthy dogs). Maybe because they had been indoctrinated with the philosophy of the super race, they could no longer feel compassion for the pain and suffering of others. These were the future leaders of the so-called “Nazi Empire.” It is hard to understand how people can change so quickly from builders to destroyers. This was the reality of the Nazi Weltanschauung philosophy, a paradise built on the misery of so called Untermenschen, the lower class of humanity. We did not think about these things at the time of our suffering. We were dying of hunger and sickness; there was no time to ponder. But now, so many years later, looking back, I can understand why the majority of Germans failed to face the challenge. They took the easy way out, forsaking any code of ethics and morality toward their fellow humans.

Culled from: The Road To Hell

Arcane Excerpts!

Here’s another bizarre excerpt from the fabulous Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle (1896):

Maternal Impressions—Another curious fact associated with pregnancy is the apparent influence of the emotions of the mother on the child in utero. Every one knows of the popular explanation of many birth-marks, their supposed resemblance to some animal or object seen by the mother during pregnancy, etc. The truth of maternal impressions, however, seems to be more firmly established by facts of a substantial nature.  There is a natural desire to explain any abnormality or anomaly of the child as due to some incident during the period of the mother’s pregnancy, and the truth is often distorted and the imagination heavily drawn upon to furnish the satisfactory explanation. It is the customary speech of the dime-museum lecturer to attribute the existence of some “freak” to an episode in the mother’s pregnancy. The poor “Elephant-man” firmly believed his peculiarity was due tot he fact that his mother while carrying him in utero was knocked down at the circus by an elephant. In some countries the exhibition of monstrosities is forbidden because of the supposed danger of maternal impression. The celebrated “Siamese Twins” for this reason were forbidden to exhibit themselves for quite a period in France.

We shall cite only a few of the most interesting cases from medical literature. Hippocrates saved the honor of a princess, accused of adultery with a negro because she bore a black child, by citing it as a case of maternal impression, the husband of the princess having placed in her room a painting of a negro, to the view of which she was subjected during the whole of her pregnancy. [Quick thinking! – DeSpair] …

According to Paré, Damascene saw a girl with long hair like a bear, whose mother had constantly before her a picture of the hairy St. John… Jonston quotes a case of Heliodorus; it was an Ethiopian, who by the effect of the imagination produced a white child. … Van Helmont cites the case of a tailor’s wife at Mechlin, who during a conflict outside her house, on seeing a soldier lose his hand at her door, gave birth to a daughter with one hand, the other hand being a bleeding stump; he also speaks of the case of the wife of a merchant at Antwerp, who after seeing a soldier’s arm shot off at the siege of Ostend gave birth to a daughter with one arm. Plot speaks of a child bearing the figure of a mouse; when pregnant, the mother had been much frightened by one of these animals. Gassendus describes a fetus with the traces of a wound in the same location as one received by the mother. The Lancet speaks of several cases—one of a child with a face resembling a dog whose mother had been bitten; one of a child with one eye blue and the other black, whose mother during confinement had seen a person so marked; of an infant with fins as upper and lower extremities, the mother having seen such a monster; and another, a child born with its feet covered with scalds and burns, whose mother had been badly frightened by fireworks and a descending rocket. There is the history of a woman who while pregnant at seven months with her fifth child was bitten on the right calf by a dog. Ten weeks after, she bore a child with three marks corresponding in seize and appearance to those caused by the dog’s teeth on her leg. Kerr reports the case of a woman in her seventh month whose daughter fell on a cooking stove, shocking the mother, who suspected fatal burns. The woman was delivered two months later of an infant blistered about the mouth and extremities in a manner similar to the burns of her sister. This infant died on the third day, but another was born fourteen months later with the same blisters. Inflammation set in and nearly all the fingers and toes sloughed off. In a subsequent confinement, long after the mental agitation, a health unmarked infant was born.

Hunt describes a case which has since become almost classic of a woman fatally burned, when pregnant eight months, by her clothes catching fire at the kitchen grate. The day after the burns labor began and was terminated by the birth of a well-formed dead female child, apparently blistered and burned in extent and in places corresponding almost exactly to the locations of the mother’s injuries. The mother died on the fourth day.

Webb reports the history of a negress who during a convulsions while pregnant fell into a fire, burning the whole front of the abdomen, the front and inside of the thighs to the knees, the external genitals, and the left arm. Artificial delivery was deemed necessary, and a dead child, seemingly burned much like its mother, except less intensely, was delivered. There was also one large blister near the inner canthus of the eye and some large blisters about the neck and throat which the mother did not show. There was no history of syphilis nor of any eruptive fever in the mother, who died on the tenth day with tetanus.

Graham describes a woman of thirty-five, the mother of seven children, who while pregnant was feeding some rabbits, when one of the animals jumped at her with its eyes “glaring” upon her, causing a sudden fright. Her child was born hydrocephalic. Its mouth and face were small and rabbit-shaped. Instead of a nose, it had a fleshy growth 3/4 inch long by 1/4 inch broad, directed upward at an angle of 45°. The space between this and the mouth was occupied by a body resembling an adult eye. Within this were two small, imperfect eyes which moved freely while life lasted (ten minutes). The child’s integument was covered with dark, downy, short hair. The woman recovered and afterward bore two normal children.

I mean, I don’t know – seems pretty convincing to me!  -DeSpair


Andersonville Prisoner Diary Entry Du Jour!

This is the continuation of the 1864 diary of Andersonville prisoner Private George A. Hitchcock (see the archived version for all entries up until now).

Here’s today’s entry:

December 2d. Six months a prisoner.

Culled from: Andersonville: Giving Up the Ghost

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