Susan Silas
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Historical Documents

Documents from the National Archives

(see National Archive documents)

In August of 1999 I requested a set of seven images from the National Archives & Records Administration. I had asked for images of the forced march from Helmbrechts to Volary that took place at the close of the Second World War or any images they might have relating to the march. A list of these seven images was returned to me. The only records they were able to locate were photographs taken in Volary of the exhumation of a mass grave. Since these women were buried in the town I would assume that they died in Volary at the end of the march. The order for the seven images was filled by the Archives on 8.5" x 11" xerox paper. The images were taken by the Army Signal Corps in May of 1945. The photos are labeled as follows:

NAZI ATROCITY—GERMAN CIVILIANS, WORKING UNDER SUPERVISION OF MEDICS OF 5TH INFANTRY DIVISION, 3RD U.S. ARMY, EXHUME BODIES OF JEWISH WOMEN STARVED TO DEATH BY GERMAN SS TROOPS IN A 300 MILE MARCH ACROSS CZECHOSLOVAKIA. BODIES, WHICH WERE FOUND IN ROUGH MASS GRAVES IN VOLARY, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, WILL BE PLACED IN COFFINS AND REBURIED IN CEMETERY IN VOLARY.


The Trial Transcript of Alois Dörr (in German only)

(see the Trial Transcript of Alois Dörr)

Alois Dörr was brought to trial in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969. He was sentenced to life in prison but released after serving only ten years. In the aftermath of the spectacular arrest of Aldolf Eichmann in Argentina and his subsequent trial in Jerusalem in 1961 there was a small flurry of war crimes trials in the Federal Republic of Germany. Alois Dörr was brought to trial during that time. He, like many others, spent only a short portion of his sentence in prison. It was as though the country was stricken with a wave of conscience but at the same time didn't feel that the offenders needed to remain incarcerated, afterall, they had been living out in the open and as part of the postwar society for over twenty years by the time they were finally brought to trial.

The transcript of Alois Dörr's trial was a huge help to me in reconstructing the march route these women had been forced to take because it not only outlined the entire route but specified where the marchers began and ended each day. I began and ended each of my days walking in the same places, thus walking as far as they were marched on each day. Photographs were also entered in evidence showing places along the route (some of which I easily recognized as I walked along). The photographs have my English annotations on them. The transcript itself is entirely in German. In order to get the information I needed from it quickly and easily I convinced my friend Alfonso Rutigliano, who is fluent in German, to read portions of the transcript into a tape recorder for me in English. In addition to the images of the march route and the actual transcription of the proceedings, the transcript contains maps, documentary images of the corpses of the women who died, and images of survivors in the hospital in Volary in the days after the liberation. Some of these images are reproduced in the exhibition inside the small museum in Volary commemorating these women.

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©2012 by Susan Silas