JTNY logo


For Immediate Release

Contact: The Jewish Theater of New York • TheJTNY@aol.comwww.JewishTheater.org

The Jewish Theater Exposes:

Director of Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial Believes Jews Should Settle in Uganda


The Jewish Theater Demands the Immediate Dismissal of Buchenwald Camp Memorial Director & His Associate


Upon the release of I Sleep in Hitler's Room in its German version, Allein unter Deutschen, Volkhard Knigge, director of Buchenwald Memorial Foundation, refuses to allow publication of the interview Tuvia Tenenbom made with him.

He writes:

"On account of the random and distorting depiction and interpretation of the conversation I can’t give my consent to printing."

What bothers him is the following passage about him in I Sleep in Hitler's Room:

Volkhard goes on and on . . . He even recommends a bar in Jerusalem, one he really likes: Uganda. Free-minded people are there, he tells me. Uganda? Why Uganda? "That’s an allusion to that old idea." He refers to the idea that Jews should have settled in Uganda instead of Palestine. Uganda, the bar, made a name for itself as a place that 'sympathizes with the Palestinian plight.' Why the director of Buchenwald Memorial gets his hands wet in the Israeli– Palestinian mess is beyond my understanding.

Indeed, the founders/owners of Uganda openly declare this to be their intention, in an interview with TimeOut:




Obviously, Knigge doesn't wish readers to know of his Uganda dream. He claims that Tenenbom is a liar and that he never said what Tenenbom claims that he said. Is he right? Let's take a look at Knigge, the way he shows up at work in Buchenwald:




Yes. This is an Uganda t-shirt. As you can see at the screen shot below, just taken of their site:




Knigge, in an interview with German media, goes on a crusade against Tenenbom. Of course, he doesn't even mention the Uganda story -- after all he forbids a publication of anything-Uganda. Instead, Knigge picks up another cutesy argument: "Buchenwald was not an extermination camp. There were no gas chambers here."

Does I Sleep in Hitler's Room assert that gas chambers were used in Buchenwald?

Here is a passage from the book about Buchenwald, and how Tenenbom describes Buchenwald as he tours the camp grounds with Daniel Gaede, head of education dept at Buchenwald:

We walk into what he calls the pathology room. This Buchenwald concentration camp is actually a theme park, in case you didn't get it by now. Disneyland in the Fatherland. No kidding. In the room I'm now in, you can see how this place operated. Here is a raised stone structure, with faucet and various cutting tools, where organs were taken out from the dead bodies before the bodies were sent to the crematorium. Sometimes a heart would be taken out for some kind of research, other times skulls were shrunk, to fist-size, and given to friends to serve as ornaments. If the dead had a nice tattoo, the skin and flesh would be cut, dried, and later be made into lampshades. What a life! Lampshades, brown bears, and little skulls as key chains. Good use of dead Jews. All prepared for you by folks with PhDs.

Don't cry when you read this, my dear, or you'll never stop.

Down under is the cellar. Here you can see hooks for hanging people. I stand here, imagine this happening, and find myself speechless. There's an elevator here that was used to "ship" the bodies straight into the ovens. No mention of "gad chambers" here. But in Knigge's defense, perhaps his problem is with this part of Tuvia's description of his Buchenwald visit in the book: I get to see what the average visitor usually doesn't get to see. I am on an official visit, and I get an intimate look into a place of horror. And entertainment. Yes, entertainment. What kind of entertainment? A zoo. Yes, there was a zoo next to the crematorium. I would never have known that on my own, but Daniel shows it to me. He actually showed me the crematorium, but I ask him to explain to me a funny-looking structure across a narrow road from the crematorium. "That’s for the brown bears," he tells me. Brown bears? What do brown bears do in a crematorium? Well, it turns out that the SS had a zoo, right next to the place where humans were turned to ashes, for its soldiers to enjoy. Gassed people on the left, brown bears on the right. Together, they made for one great entertainment center.


Buchenwald Zoo


Knigge, it seems, has an issue with the word "gassed" in the last line. He might prefer this line: "People made into lampshade on the left, brown bears on the right." Would this satisfy him, would he then stop kvetching? Well, truth is Tenenbom is not the only one using the word "gassed" when speaking about Buchenwald. Here is what President Barack Obama, in his Cairo Speech, says about Buchenwald prior to his visitIng the camp in June of 2009:

"Tomorrow I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich."

Knigge, being Buchenwald's director, served as Obama's guide in the camp. Did Knigge kvetch about Obama? No. At no point did Knigge 'correct' Obama. On the contrary: Knigge posted his own pictures next to Obama, ever prideful, and went for interviews with major German media, ever praising Obama. He would look like a fool if he even tried to correct Obama. And the reason is simple: Obama got it right. Buchenwald was not a camp unto itself. According to USHMM, Buchenwald administered at least 88 sub-camps, where many people got murdered. Not all for lampshade use. Some were shot, others were starved to death, and still others were gassed. In fact, when the 'workload' was too high, Buchenwald prisoners were sent to sub-camps to get gassed there.

Was Buchenwald an "extermination" camp? Here's what the Canadian Ambassador to France, Georges Vanier, wrote on 27 April, 1945:

"The death quota for the camp was 80 a day . . . The number who died at Buchenwald altogether will never be established - well over 50,000, it may be over 100,000." (Taken from Nizkor.)

Yes, Buchenwald might not have been 'technically' an extermination camp. Technically speaking, the way Knigge likes his facts, Buchenwald was just a lampshade factory.

Ending his interview, in which he goes on a crusade against Tuvia, Knigge comes up with this declaration: "Not everybody, who criticises the government of Israel for their politics with the Palestinians, is an anti-Semite. Also this Tuvia Tenenbom didn't understand."

Really? Criticize Israel? Advocating sending the Jews to Africa is not exactly "criticizing" Israel; this man is denying the very essence of Israel's right to exist.

No denying, the man is entitled to his political views. All racists equally are. But no man denying living Jews basic rights should be the gate keeper of the ashen remains of dead Jews.

The problem, sadly, is not just Knigge. As I Sleep in Hitler's Room demonstrates, Daniel Gaede is no better. This man spends his free time demonstrating against Israel and in support of Gaza's Palestinians.

Yes, he too has the right to think whatever he wishes, and if Hamas is to his liking so may it be. But, as the book states:

The story of Israel and Gaza is quite complicated, having many sides to it. But the fact, known to anybody who speaks or reads Arabic, remains this: Gaza has the world’s highest concentration of people who believe in driving the Jews into the sea. Why would anybody from Buchenwald join them?

Not surprisingly, Daniel Gaede also doesn't want his interview to be made public. He writes:

"On account of the random and distorting depiction and interpretation of the conversation I can’t give my consent to printing."

Exact same words as Knigge. Interesting. Having these two characters as guardians of the dead is a slap in the face of the few who have survived. It is a shame that these two individuals are in charge of Buchenwald.

The Jewish Theater of New York would very much appreciate if German journalists, including those from supposedly respected media such as Deutschlandfunk, would check up the facts before they allow people like Knigge to spread lies. Just a little check up, which is not much to ask of journalists, would show that Knigge keeps changing his story in each new interview. Verifying facts, we believe, is the first mission of journalists.

Please note: The German version of I Sleep in Hitler's Room has just come out in Germany under the title Allein unter Deutschen by Suhrkamp Verlag in Berlin.

# # #