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The Beginning of World War II, 1939

London Goes to War, 1939

Blitzkrieg, 1940

Evacuation at Dunkirk, 1940

France Surrenders, 1940

Hitler Tours Paris, 1940

France in Defeat, 1940

Battle of Britain, 1940

The London Blitz, 1940

The Siege of Leningrad

Attack At Pearl Harbor

Attack At Pearl Harbor - the Japanese View

Attack At Pearl Harbor - The White House Reacts

The Bataan Death March 1942

The Doolittle Raid, 1942

The Battle of Midway 1942

Attack on an Arctic Convoy, 1942

Reconnaissance Patrol, 1943

Bombing Raid on Ploesti, 1943

The Bloody Battle of Tarawa, 1943

A GI's trip to London, 1944

The Nazi Occupation Of Poland

"Loose Lips Sink Ships"

Life and Death Aboard a B-17, 1944

Shot Down Over France, 1944

Sunk by Submarine, 1944

Normandy Invasion, 1944: On The Beach

Normandy Invasion, 1944: A Civilian's View

The Liberation of Paris, 1944

America's Front Line Soldier, 1944

Lindbergh in Combat, 1944

Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944

Rommel Commits Suicide, 1944

Patton Interrogates a SS General, 1944

Kamikaze Attack, 1944

Iwo Jima, 1945

Capturing the Bridge at Remagen, 1945

The Tokyo
Fire Raids, 1945

The Battle of Berlin, 1945

The War Ends in Europe, 1945

London Celebrates VE Day, 1945

Berlin in Defeat, 1945

Germany in Defeat, 1945

The 1st Atomic Blast, 1945

The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, 1945

Hiroshima, 1945

The Sentencing
and Execution of
Nazi War Criminals,


General George Patton Interrogates

a SS General, 1944

Located near the German border, the city of Metz had a population of about 100,000 in 1944 and was an important transportation, communication and administrative center. Metz had been overwhelmed by the German invasion of France in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. It was ceded back to the French following World War I and fell again to the Germans during their blitzkrieg of 1940.

Patton's progress
August - December, 1944
The Third Army had been fighting fiercely since early September to push the tenacious Germans out of the city, suffering casualties that approached 50%. Finally on November 19 the American forces were able to encircle the city and begin a systematic elimination of the enemy occupiers

On the evening of November 20, 1944 Sergeant Leonard O'Reilly, a former elevator operator from Brooklyn, entered a brewery near the city that had just been abandoned by SS troopers after a fierce defense. O'Reilly's assignment was to help clear the building of any remaining enemy soldiers. Prowling slowly through the darkness, O'Reilly glimpsed a figure cringing in a dusty corner. Approaching warily, O'Reilly discovered a well-dressed German officer who immediately declared that his high rank prevented him from surrendering to a mere Sergeant. The Sergeant shoved his pistol into his captive's ample belly and cocked it. This was enough to motivate his prisoner to meekly join the other enemy captives.

The prisoner was Major General Anton Dunckern the SS commander of the region. Dunckern had joined the SS in 1933 and had steadily gained promotion over the intervening years. He was a major catch of such importance that General Patton decided to interrogate him personally.

"He is a liar!"

Although Patton could speak German fluently, he opted to interrogate the SS officer through an interpreter because, as he noted, he would not give his prisoner the honor of talking to him directly:


You can tell this man that naturally in my position I can­not demean myself to question him, but I can say this, that I have captured a great many German generals, and this is the first one who has been wholly untrue to everything; because he has not only been a Nazi but he is untrue to the Nazis by surrendering. If he wants to say anything he can, and I will say that unless he talks pretty well, I will turn him over to the French. They know how to make people talk.


. . . I received orders to go in the Metz sector and defend a certain sector there, and the reason I did not perish was that I could not reach my weapons and fight back.


. . . He is a liar!


There was no possibility to continue fighting. The door was opened, and they put a gun on me.


If he wanted to be a good Nazi, he could have died then and there. It would have been a pleasanter death than what he will get now.


. . . It was useless to do anything about it under the circumstances. (He asked permission to ask a question; it was granted.) I was fighting against American troops and captured by them, and therefore am to be considered a prisoner of war of the American forces.


He will be a prisoner of war of the French forces soon. They have a lot they want to ask him.


I consider myself a prisoner of war of the American forces, and I have not been captured by the French forces.


When I am dealing with vipers, I do not have to be bothered by any foolish ideas any more than he has been.


I consider myself a prisoner of war since I fought as a soldier and should be treated as a soldier.


You also acted as a policeman - a low type of police.


I acted as an officer of the police in an honorable and practical manner, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.


This is a matter of opinion - no one who is a Nazi police­ man could act in an honorable manner.


I can only say that during every day of my life I have been honest, rightful, respectful, and humanitarian.


If this is the case, do you have anything you want to say by way of giving me information or by talking about the German people that will change my opinion?


No one will be able to stand up against me to testify that I did anything against the rules of humanity or human treatment.


I understand German very well, but I will not demean myself by speaking such a language. I think before I turn the Gen­eral over to the French, I will send him to the Army Group who may question him or have some special investigators question him, and they can do things I can't do.


I am not worried about having myself investigated. Of course, there may be some mistakes I have made, which is only human, but I am not worried about inhuman acts charged against me.


. . . I have great respect for the German soldiers; they are gallant men, but not for Nazis. Have the guards take him outside and have his picture taken and then we'll see what we will do with him. Also tell him that those bayonets on the guards' guns are very sharp."

   This eyewitness account appears in: Blumenson, Martin., The Patton Papers (1974); Allen, Robert Sharon, Lucky Forward, the History of Patton's Third Army (1947); Hanson, Victor Davis, The Soul of Battle (1999).

How To Cite This Article:
"General George Patton Interrogates a SS General, 1944," EyeWitness to History, (2008).

SS Major General Anton Dunckern escaped punishment and became a lawyer in Munich after the war. He died there in 1985 at age 80.
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