Back in the 1930’s-40’s, the Germans kept Jews, Polish, and other enemies of the government in horrible concentration camps. As many of you know, some of the prisoners in these camps were subject to inhumane experiments, many of which will never be known about due to the Germans destroying most of their records. I wish the one that I saw would of been among those destroyed.
In 2018, my grandfather passed away, so my family flew out to Germany to attend his funeral, as well as to keep/sell his belongings. I was in charge of clearing out his bedroom, which seemed to be an easy task. The only furniture in the room was a bed, carpet, and a small dresser with a TV on it. When I moved the rug, I noticed that one of the floorboards under it seemed to be loose, like someone tried to hide something under the floor. I lifted it up, hoping for hidden money, expecting a hidden gun, but finding an old reel of film. On it was a note written in German, which I didn’t fully know how to read.
The note said:
ihre Verbrechen müssen bekannt sein
My father moved to the US when he was in his mid 20’s, and I had been born in America, so English was my primary language. My father had taught me some German, but I was in no way fluent in it. The two words I could make out were ihre, which meant “their”, and sein, which meant “known”. I found it strange that my grandfather would have old film reels, but as far as I knew, he didn’t own a projector for them. And why hide these reels under the floor? I took the reels and note to my father, who translated it for me.
“Their crimes must be known.”
He was as curious as I was, and since this was by far the most interesting thing we had come across while cleaning out the house, we decided to find out what was on that reel. I looked up any places nearby that would have an old film projector and once I found a one, my father and I went over to the little shop. After paying a small fee, the woman running the antique store took us to a back room, where she had the film projector. We gave her the tape and she turned off the lights as the film began.
The video, in poor black and white quality, opened with a piece of paper that had German words written on it, being held in front of the camera. Then the video suddenly cut to a large room. In the room there were 7 men, all naked and malnourished. One of them was strapped to a bed in the middle of the room. There was only one light in the room, over the bed in the middle, so the ends of the room were covered in darkness. A voice spoke from a speaker of some sorts, giving the men in the room instructions. I didn’t fully understand what the voice said, partially due to the poor audio quality. Whatever the voice said to them made the man on the bed scream as loud as he could. The scream was blared because of the low quality of the audio and the six men around him started covering their ears. The man screamed for about 10 more seconds before the video cut to black.
After about 2 seconds, it cut to another piece of paper with the words “day 4” written on it in German. The six men were groaning, moving in and out of the dark corners of the room. The man on the bed was quiet now, and seemed to be asleep. Suddenly the voice on the speaker spoke to the men in the room again, this time with an angrier tone. Soldiers came into the room and beat the six men, but left the one on the bed unharmed. The woman next to us gasped, and asked us something in German, but we were too fixated on the film to even acknowledge her.
The men in the room were bloodied from their beating, and cried out in pain before the video cut to black again. It returned with frantic German talking as the camera seemed to slightly shake as if it had to be unexpectedly turned on. The light in the room was off, as a hand quickly put a piece of paper in front of the camera with the words “day 9” written in German. The light in the room was turned on, as one of the men was standing over the man in the bed. The other men must of been hiding in the darkness, as they were no where in sight. The man in the bed was screaming again, shouting at the man standing next him. He gave no response, as he continued to stare down at him with no emotion. The voice on the speaker said something in German, and then the standing man bent down and aggressively bit the stomach of the man on the bed. The other men in the room ran up to the bed, and soon all six of the malnourished men started biting into the man on the bed, some ripping out chunks of flesh. Somehow, the man on the bed screamed even louder, as the six naked men took their pieces of flesh and stumbled into the darkness to eat it.
The woman watching with us cried out and left the room at that point, but my father and I stayed to watch the rest, unable to believe what we were seeing. The man on the bed continued to scream until one of the starving men bit his throat and ripped out a piece, causing the man on the bed to suffocate. I looked away and gagged, before returning my eyes to the screen. The six men started cheering, exclaiming that they finally had food and some started laughing uncontrollably, losing their minds. The man on the bed seemed to have died at that point, as the other men continued to come out of the darkness and tear off another piece to consume. My father had seen enough, and took the reel out of the projector. He threw it on the ground and stomped on it, destroying it for good.
My father and I didn’t tell the rest of my family what was on that reel, and neither of us spoke much for the rest of our stay in Germany. When we were on the plane back to the US, I finally asked my father what had been said in German on the film reel. He told me that the first piece of paper said Dachau: Experiment #21 and that the man on the speaker keep telling the men in the room that they couldn’t leave or be fed until they ate the man on the bed. My father told me that the point of the experiment, according to the voice on the speaker, was to see the lengths people are willing to go to survive. We didn’t speak the rest of the plane ride back, and have never talked about it since.
I still don’t know how my grandpa got a hold of that film reel, or why he hid it. It’s really disturbing to think about all the horrible experiments that people in those concentration camps had to go through, and how we’ll never even know about the majority of them. Who knows how many more of those types of reels are out there, and what kind of disturbing experiments are on them.