Right across the camp, separated only by a road, was a large area where agricultural
experiments were grown, named the “Plantation”.
From the camp this did not appear to be such a bad work detail. Grow plants, weed,
near the camp, close to nature. That this was a major misconception is clear from
the diary of the Czech Physician Karel Kasak, who was in charge of the Plantation.
He managed that, because he had the opportunity to write, something that was not
possible for the average prisoner.
The plantation was originally a barren marsh, which was dried out and supplied with
a layer of clay by the labor of prisoners. Most of them were not used to the heavy
labor and it was impossible for them to fulfil the extreme and capricious demands
of the SS. Therefore the percentage of punishments was a lot higher during that time
than in most other work details.
The SS guards formed a cordon around the working prisoners. Anyone who dared set
even one foot over an imaginary line was indisputably and immediately shot to death.
A task the SS-ers relished.
The Jews, and later the mostly Polish clergy, who worked there, were so terribly
terrorized and starved that almost daily someone broke through this “Postenkette”
(Posting chain), which was equivalent to a sure death. Sometimes forced, but mostly
from pure desperation, to escape the relentless pain and hopelessness, they chose
death of their own free will.
Two examples: on April 28, 1941, as a lark, two young SS-ers chased a Jewish prisoners
into the danger zone of the Postenkette, but each time, they pulled him back in the
nick of time. After half an hour, the gentlemen had enough of their game and let
the man walk on. After fifty paces, they shot him down. He was hit in the lower body
and in his hand. Like a buzzard, the nurse, “professor” Heiden swoops down on him
and takes him to the sick barracks. There he removed the hand without anesthesia.
The victim, a famous concert pianist, did not live trough the evening.
Another case: One of the older and most sickly prisoners, in his sixties, laboriously
walked up to an SS-er who is barely twenty, takes his cap off and says: “ “Herr Wachmeister”
(Mister Guard, Sir), I am announcing that I am going through the Postenkette”. The
guard cannot and is not allowed to stop him, so he lets him go. After fifteen paces,
he shoots, but he misses. The second shot is also off; the third one hits the target.
The man is hit in the hand and collapses. Another guard drags him back inside the
Postenkette. There, two Kapo's descend on the poor man and hit him with their heavy
cudgels wherever they can hit him. The old man falls and with his bloody hands he
tries as best he can, to fend off the rain of blows. The Kapo's roar, cuss him and
order him to stand, but continue to hit him. There is nothing left for the man to
do but go through the doomed line again. While the clubs hammer down on his emaciated
carcass, he crawls, bit by bit, to the feared borderline where eternal rest is waiting
for him. At the last moment, a brutal blow lays his entire face open, and then comes
the end he has been wanting. Eight shots ring out and then nothing. Peace. God.
It is interesting what Kasak reports about the way the numerous executions were handled
in Dachau, particularly - and on a large scale - the Russian prisoners of war. “Schützenfeste”
is what the SS called them - Shooting parties.
If a large truck came by the kitchen, the inhabitants of the plantation knew what
time it was. Large vats with hot water were loaded up, rubber sheets were taken from
the sick barracks, and there were blue aprons, rubber gloves and a lot of clean towels.
An SS-er does not like dirty hands.
They did not always work very neatly. Some sat in the trucks on the way back, covered
in blood from head to toe. The SS-men usually did not feel like cleaning up the mess
themselves and the detail of cleaning the trucks was given to the prisoners.
The dead were cremated; the personnel of the crematorium, which consisted of three
Jews - pesky witnesses - were also killed after a number of executions.