The Holocaust Revisited
The one piece of info that was new to me was that the prisoners themselves inflicted much of the worst treatment.
U.S. Army investigators, working at Buchenwald and other camps, quickly ascertained what was common knowledge among veteran inmates: that the worst offenders, the cruelest denizens of the camps were not the guards but the prisoners themselves. Common criminals of the same stripe as those who populate U.S. prisons today committed many villainies, particularly when they held positions of authority, and fanatical Communists, highly organized to combat their many political enemies among the inmates, eliminated their foes with Stalinist ruthlessness.
Two U.S. Army investigators at Buchenwald, Egon W. Fleck and Edward A. Tenenbaum, carefully investigated circumstances in the camp before its liberation. In a detailed report submitted to their superiors, they revealed, in the words of Alfred Toambs, their commander, who wrote a preface to the report, “how the prisoners themselves organized a deadly terror within the Nazi terror.”(12)
Fleck and Tenenbaum described the power exercised by criminals and Communists as follows:
“. . . The trusties, who in time became almost exclusively Communist Germans, had the power of life and death over all other inmates. They could sentence a man or a group to almost certain death . . . The Communist trusties were directly responsible for a large part of the brutalities at Buchenwald.”