History politely informs us that the notorious Scottish grave robbers, Burke and Hare, of part Irish descent, plundered newly buried dead cadavers for financial gain. However, both German Nazi doctors, Messer’s Leonardo Conti and Robert Ley, were more despicable on their approach to life because they wickedly stole the lives of thousands of people, who were still alive and some only just.
The first examination for your perusal is of the case of doctor Conti, born in the splendid country of Switzerland, in 1900 but sadly he would possibly damage that countries distinction and reputation by his murderous medical experiments on the deformed and the defenceless. Dr Conti, “the Swiss sadist,” as he would be known, would in his quest to “purify the Nordic race of all blemishes,” wholeheartedly promoted the evil euthanasia experiments, and naturally like so many others in that dangerous decade, would believe unhesitatingly in the Nazi creed of dysfunction and death.
As a young medical student in Berlin he seems to have shown strong fascist tendencies and who knows maybe it was something to do with his mothers influence on him, because if you didn’t know, she would later be appointed the Reich’s midwifery supreme, a task I suspect she relished in performing for Hitler and the party.
“Apart from a few isolated articles, no comprehensive biographies exist of Leonardo Conti, the Reich Health Leader,” so writes Ulf Schmidt, the biographer of Karl Brandt. (I have also researched him and the other doctors of the Reich in this present series.) In fact, both Brandt and Conti were prepared to collude with the Nazi killings of innocent races, it seems without any compunction or shame. I would also tentatively suggest however that Conti and his co-conspirators would have been involved in the primitive practice of Cryogenics (icy cold) and that their selected experiments carried out at Dachau laboratories and elsewhere, involving Jews and others being subjected to freezing water experiments, was not only to see how long shot down Luftwaffe pilots would survive in freezing water, but also to unlock the secret of eternal life or cryogenics as it is known medically today. Perhaps to even gruesomely preserve the decaying body of Hitler after death. Historically such authors as early as the 20th century had been writing about this idea, and popular writers such as London, Lovecraft and of course Edgar Rice-Burroughs, a very familiar author in Germany, were exploring this notion that most critics then dismissed as silly science fiction.
However, the street fighting and thuggery of Ernst Rohm’s 1920s private army seems to have appealed to doctor Conti’s delight. He did, after all, become an early supporter of its aims and ambitions in promoting the fledgeling Nazi party in its early days. He would also prepare time to author Anti-Semitic articles, many of the worst kind it seems and all for public consumption, in a now openly racist Nazi Germany.
By the mid-1920s his appointment as the doctor in residence at the S.A. Sanatorium was confirmed and one such infamous stormtrooper who passed through the wards was Horst Wessel.
Colonel Burton C. Andrus, who was the adjutant of Nuremberg prison in 1945, mentioned in his memoirs his own impression of Conti: “Dr. Leonardo Conti, the Nazi mercy killer, who had decreed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of persons in his lust for the purity of race,” was by then occupying a cell in Nuremberg prison but not for long it seems (more on that later.)
As Germany struggled to survive after Hitler’s suicide the finger of justice now pointed to the trials to be held in this medieval town where the notorious Nazis race laws had been assembled against the Jews and others in 1935. An ideal location to present these trials all agreed with enthusiasm.
Leonardo Conti boasted an early party card number that of 7225 and an S.S. number of 3982 and he certainly was in the old guard of the party or as he was described himself with pride: “An old medical fighter.” He may not have been skilful with a Sten gun but he certainly knew how to handle and use a loaded syringe. Through him and the rest of the Nazi medical ilk, social Darwinism with eugenics and sterilization would be revved up to top gear in its use against the Jews, the deformed, both physical and mentally. They would now be alluded to as “another species” and much of their terrible fate would be handled through Xylon B gas much later. The tools of the Nazi medical trade were also performed on “idiots and epileptics” and between 1934-39 over 350,000+ suffered forced sterilizations performed upon them. It seems the devil’s divisions were everywhere dividing and dominating this fallen lost world that today we still live in.
Swept up in this nightmare net of murder would be Jews, Gypsies, Slavic slave labour, homosexuals, and Russian, Polish and other captured prisoners.
In the early days under the violent Nazi T4 medical policy, death when it arrived for the chosen patient, would be by the available needle or as one bureaucrat proclaimed: “The syringe belongs in the hand of the Physician.”
And sadly most of the doctors seemed to accept this empty honour. Much of their journals and memos on what was happening in the human experiments were committed to paper, which you can still read today. This, of course, would later be devastating as evidence used against them at the so-called: “doctors trial” held in 1946/7. These men of medicine will have their sins go before them into for eternity.
It is attributed to Frederick Nietzsche that who once remarked: “God is dead and we killed him.” Nietzsche apparently lost his faith at the theological seminary as a young man. Interestingly both his father and grandfather had been ordained, protestant pastors. He would after his seminary years wage a one-man war against God for the remainder of his life. Yet bizarrely he would claim that: “In truth there was only one Christian and he died on the cross.”
A confused claim from a rather confused man who would dream of a race of emerging “supermen.” Naturally the Nazi “spin doctors” would jump on this as propaganda for their bizarre beliefs. Of course, by applying this it allows little men to become their own little false gods. Now they will decide who lives, who dies, who will exist and who will become extinct. Just witness the provocation used against mental imbeciles and other innocents in hospitals and sanatoriums in those dark days when the Nazi flag flew over Germany and later far beyond that it was after all cruel homicide that was being practised and within the law.
Yet the Prophet Isaiah says accurately: “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (5:21).
As usual, the Holy Bible is accurate.
Yet by the wars final end and with his arrest Leonardo Conti was now on a one-way trip to Nuremberg, there to be eventually tried by the allies in the newly assembled courthouse and all under the strict security of Col. Burton C. Andrus, an American career officer since 1917, experienced it seems in prison confinements. But the Colonel could not have known that this devious doctor had other ideas about his own departure from this earth.
Looking back at the names Conti and Ley rather sounds like a music hall high wire acrobatic act dangerous but delightful to watch from the wings. But there was nothing funny in what these men practised and preached to others.
Today I have before me on my desk a photo of a rather confused and dazed Dr Robert Ley. He is now under arrest and once the supremo of the Nazi Labour Front, which had taken the place of the outlawed German Trade Union movement in the 1930s. But now he is a pitiful wreck of a man to behold. In the picture an American guard is seen handcuffing him in Nuremberg prison, 1945. And there he sits, overweight, unshaven and in his blue pyjamas, now much the worst for drink and shoeless as well. What a sad sight he now presents. Indeed would his old boss Hitler even recognize this old comrade in arms from the streets?
Dr Bob Ley was born in 1890 and his rather sad face always reminds me of the late English actor, Reginald Beckwith. Later during the First World War, he would suffer a head trauma and would for the rest of his life speak with a pronounced stammer. He would also endure erratic behaviour in his everyday decisions. Then after the War, he would later qualify as a chemist working for the infamous I.G. Farben of Auschwitz fame. (Amazingly, although now defunct since 1952, this organization still trades on the Deutsch Borse markets as a “Liquidated Corporation.” One American Senator remarked sarcastically of its dubious reputation that quite simply: “Farben was Hitler-Hitler was Farben.”) No doubt there it seems on who place the blame.
From his early days in the Nazi party (1924/5), he would proclaim, with annoying “Aryan” arrogance: “It is our destiny to belong to a superior race.”
Pure rubbish of course and this dangerous attitude would not bode well for Russia after 1941. The surprise attack on Russia codenamed “Operation Barbarossa” would be that country’s sad misfortunate, but the anguish that the people suffered from Stalin to Hitler, through the purges of pain in the 1930s, was and does remain tragic and even today. Indeed these were insane godless times for the land of Pasternak, Pushkin and Prokofiev known by its countless exiles as “Mother Russia.” A country today that is only finding its way back to God.
However, in the early days of the party infighting, Dr. Ley had been consistently loyal to Hitler, something Hitler would always appreciate. Even dictators need a buddy!
He would also later be responsible for founding the Adolph Hitler school’s and I suspect no one played truant from these schools!
He would later work closely with Dr. Porsche in manufacturing the popular V.W. He claimed he might have a future job one day working for Henry Ford!
And the Duke of Windsor would gushingly describe Ley to a friend as, “a Wonderful soul.” Yet I suppose his greatest personal achievement was in having a ship named after him “The Robert Ley cruise ship,” primarily for German workers, presumably for those who had towed the party line. A cruise ship for workers, it sounds rather good!
But for Ley and the others, it would all come crumbling down around at the wars final end, where near Berchtesgaden, searching American troops discovered him lurking in a mountain lair shaking with fear it seems and clad only in his nightwear. Very strange. The man who had once declared quite openly: “The Fuehrer is always right,” now sadly realized Hitler was dead and soon he was about to join him and perhaps at the end of a prepared heavy Hessian rope, administered by an American hangman.
But for now, the so-called “Reich drunkard” and the great exaggerator, as he was referred to, were finally finished but too sadly to add to his troubles his wife had committed suicide as well. But for now, he could do nothing but await the authorized court’s punishment. For Ley time was expiring and now he could only wait to see what would now happen.
By 1945 the threads of the allies military tribunals demanded that the 24 accused men stand trial in Nuremberg City. Oddly within months two of them would be dead and by their own hand. The third man, perhaps the icing on the Nazi cake, would also succeed successfully in bringing his own life to a conclusion: he, of course, was Hermann Goering.
The dead take their doubts and disobedience with them to a higher demanding court, that will administer a swift and spiritual judgment for all who mock and denigrate the name of Jesus Christ.
Then on the 6th October 1945, Leonardo Conti committed suicide in his cell by hanging himself over the stained toilet bowl. (I have to speculate did he take his own pulse and look at his own parlour in the mirror if indeed prisoners were allowed them before he took the final jump or did he pause to even pray-who knows.) Death in that Nuremberg cell must have had the impact of watching a silent film and just nineteen days later, Dr. Ley would also depart the prison by means of self-strangulation and in the same concealed toilet location. Both left servile suicide notes for Col. Andrus to read. Leys spoke in a lamentable way that: “We have forsaken God and therefore we were forsaken by God.” How true he was there.
Now and forever afterwards they would be referred to in the courts minutes as the “missing defendants.”
Yet one can only imagine the panic in the prison when both men succeeded in their planning and preparation of a decided death. Did both men perhaps confer with each other days and hours before their death? Were other methods perhaps discussed by them. Goering would later of course bribe a sympathetic American officer in his own successful suicide. Indeed there were surprisingly former Germans working in the prison kitchens and laundries, even former S.S. men were used in preparing the court documents for the prosecution and many had not even then denounced Nazism. I guess they would have been sympathetic to Conti and Ley, certainly Goering who was still viewed by many with secret admiration.
But both men were cowards viewing the court with utter contempt. Now death by their own hands must have seemed a swift way out of their diminishing chances to live after the verdicts were read out to them and the World. But doesn’t suicide need logic rather than luck to even succeed? “It seemed both men had made a noose from the edges of a towel and fastened it to the toilet pipe,” a swift death in a squalid manner.
Later I can only speculate what went through poor Andrus’ mind when two of his charges committed suicide and on his watch as well. But for him, there would be worse to come that would forever smear his military reputation.
Afterwards, both Conti and Ley would later be buried (together perhaps) in an unmarked grave in the prison grounds.
Both doctors had been openly complicit in terrible crimes and should have been punished accordingly and both men either through negligence or incompetence escaped the courts authorized justice. Maybe afterwards there was some kind of military cover-up concerning their deaths because Conti’s death was not made public until three months later. One has to wonder why for Conti was after all a minor player in this Nazi tableau.
But with Hermann Goering’s death in 1946 by a concealed poison capsule, I suspect the life of Col. Andrus and his career went into a slow meltdown after these tragic events in Nuremberg. As his son movingly wrote of his father much later: “I think that it haunted him his entire life. In his very last hours, he was still anguishing over what had happened…..Goering has committed suicide. I must report it to the Commission, he repeated to his son whilst in his deathbed at his home. Four hours later my Father died.” Today both Andrus and Goering will be forever joined together like twins whenever history examines that past event in October 1946 on a wet day in Nuremberg.
Naturally, Both Conti and Ley were guilty perpetrators who evaded the justice that would have been meted to them. They may indeed have avoided the hangman’s rope in Germany but a higher court will also demand Justice and from them and many others.
But I can’t help believing that Col. Burton C. Andrus was an innocent victim of the system he both served so faithfully and so long. (In fact a year after the deaths of those in his custody, he informed his family that this was one job where he could not win. In fact, it seems he didn’t want it in the first place.) And in a tragic kind of way, most of the events of that night would be his personal nightmare in the long years ahead of him until his death in 1977. Incidentally, he was by then a lay preacher in his local church.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
The Infamous of Nuremberg, Col Burton C. Andrus, Mystery of Hermann Goring’s Suicide, Ben E. Swearingen
Karl Brandt, Ulf Schmidt
Encyclopaedia of the Third Reich, Louis L. Snyder
The Nuremberg Trial, Ann Tusa and John Tusa
Goring a biography David Irving
30 May 2012
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