Barry the dog, part I: Barry in Sobibor

Barry the man eating dog is a prominent feature of Treblinka stories. But Barry (sometimes spelled Beri) also appears in accounts of Sobibor:

from the Eichmann trial

session 64, witness Dov Freiberg / Ber Freiberg

Q. Was it then that you met for the first time the SS Unterscharfuehrer Paul?

A. Yes. On that day, we were at work all day. We worked in groups. I was then working on removing from the courtyard the personal effects of the people who had undressed there. After they left the courtyard, we had to take away their belongings and arrange them in heaps. That was where I worked. Our people worked in all sorts of places, but in every place, after we returned, the maltreatment by the Germans was awful. Right from the first day, people were killed, shot, set on by a dog called Beri.

Q. Whose dog was it?

A. At first, the dog belonged to an SS man of Camp 3 who was called “Beider” (bathhouse attendant), because he was in charge of the bathhouses, the gas chambers. Afterwards, the dog was passed on to Unterscharfuehrer Paul, one of the greatest sadists in the camp. He used to call the dog and say: “Beri, my man, grab that dog – Beri, you are acting in my place.” Generally speaking, very few of the people who were mauled by the dog remained alive, since the Germans could not stand injured persons, sick persons. I was bitten twice by that dog – I still bear the marks on my body. By chance – and everything was a matter of chance – I remained alive.

There was one other dog, but he was less powerful. The dog “Beri” I am talking about was the size of a large calf, and if he got hold of a man, that man was helpless. The dog would attack him, and he had to submit to it. There were latrines there. After work, people were afraid to sit there. The dog was very well trained; if he came to any place, he would finish off anyone who was there.

[…]

Q. Did they also inflict terrible maltreatment on you, the team of workers?

A. It is simply difficult to describe. It can be said that it is hard for me to believe it today. I can talk about one of the many days that passed. We were then working in the sorting camp. We began sorting out the piles that had been heaped up in the course of time. We finished taking out personal belongings from one shed. Paul was then our commander. It so happened that, between the rafters and the roof, a torn umbrella had been left behind. He sent one of our boys to climb up and bring the umbrella down. It was at a height of seven to eight metres – these were large sheds. The lad climbed up through the rafters, moving along on his hands, he was not agile enough and fell down, breaking his limbs. Because he had fallen, he received twenty-five floggings, and Beri dealt with him.

This appealed to Paul, and he went and called other Germans. I remember Oberscharfuehrer Michel, Schteufel and others. He called out to them: “I have discovered parachutists amongst the Jews. Do you want to see? They burst out laughing, and he began sending up people, one after the other, to go on to the rafters. I went over it twice – I was fairly agile; and whoever fell – these were older people, or they fell out of fear – fell to the ground. When they fell to the ground, they were given murderous blows, and the dog bit them incessantly. In the midst of all this, Paul began running around, went into an ecstasy; when anyone was bitten, he put a bullet into him on the spot. All of those working there went through this “game”.

(Thomas Kues has more information about Freiberg and Barry here.)

session 65, witness Moshe Bahir

Q. What was it that you referred to as “Lazarette”?

A. It was a pit, not far from the camp – five hundred metres away from the camp and from where we were working. When we were running two hundred metres with the bundles, there was a pit, and when someone was injured or had his sexual organs bitten by the dog Beri, Unterscharfuehrer Paul Grott would say to him: “What happened to you, my poor man? You can’t carry on like that. Who did that to you? Come with me to the Lazarette.” And he went with him. A few minutes later, we would hear a shot.

http://www.zchor.org/testimonies/lichtman.htm

From Mielec to Sobibór
The Testimony of Eda Lichtman
This testimony was given at the legal proceedings in Hagen, West Germany and completed by Miriam Novitch at the Ghetto Fighters’ House in 1965.

Facing us are officers and soldiers, on their shoulders or in their hands machine guns ready to shoot. I make out a large St. Bernard dog.
[…]
My first night in the camp. A nightmare. Cries rend the air, jerking me out of my plank-bed. I run to the door and open it slightly. The crack of a whip in my face. A deafening voice yells at me, “If I see you here again, I’ll set my Barry on you!” It turns out that Oberwachmann Lachmann and his dog are out on an inspection patrol, but I only learn about this later.
[…]
Every SS man had his own way of killing people. When a new transport arrived, the whole company would come to the platform. Bredow would stride around among the deportees as if demented, looking for the girls and women and lashing out at them with his whip until the blood ran. Gomerski enjoyed hitting the deportees with a board studded with nails. Paul Groth and Kurt Bolender would take Barry with them. The dog would walk quietly by their side, but when his master turned to one of the people and asked, “So you don’t want to work?”, Barry would launch himself at the person, biting the flesh, tearing at it and pulling off chunks of it.

The camp supervisor wore a cape and white gloves. He made his rounds of the camp accompanied by Barry the dog.

The camp supervisor would be Franz Stangl (the book Escape from Sobibor by Richard Rashke also associates Stangl with white gloves (p. 12)).

Arad mentions Barry in Sobibor on June 10, 1942 (p. 78). Escape from Sobibor has Barry still in Sobibor through winter 42/43 (p. 94).

Moshe Shklarek
http://www.auschwitz.dk/sobibor/accounts.htm

Grot had a trusted assistant in this work: his dog, Barry, a wild beast the size of a pony, well trained and obedient to the short, brutal orders of his master. When he heard Grot cry ‘Jude’, the dog would attack his victim and bite him on his testicles. The bitten man was, of course, no longer able to continue his work, and then Grot would take him aside and ask him in a sympathetic voice,”Poor fellow, what happened to you? Who did such a thing to you? .. Come with me, I’ll go with you to the clinic!”

And, sure enough, Grot accompanied him, as he accompanied scores of workers every day, to the Lazaret, to the giant grave behind the worn-out hut, where armed Ukrainian bandagers greeted the sick and bitten men.

In most cases, these men would place buckets on the heads of the victims, after they made them get into the pit, and would practise shooting, along with Grot, who was, of course, always the most outstanding shot.

In summary, according to Sobibor testimonies Barry was in Sobibor at least until winter 42/43. He attacked on a command along the lines of “man get that dog.” His attacks were not associated with the presence of a single owner, but were instigated by several men, including Erich Bauer, Kurt Bolender, Paul Groth, and Lachmann. Freiberg’s statement “The dog was very well trained; if he came to any place, he would finish off anyone who was there” suggests that Barry may have attacked without human instigation. Escape from Sobibor includes a story of Barry being called off by Gustav Wagner (p. 94).

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One Response to Barry the dog, part I: Barry in Sobibor

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