Dr. Værnet – British Military Collusion?

What rôle did the British military authorities play in the escape from justice after WWII of Nazi war criminal Dr. Carl Peter Værnet, perpetrator of gruesome experiments on gay prisoners in the Buchenwald and Neuengamme concentration camps?

John Harding
Historical Records Branch
London SW1

19 August 1999

Dear John Harding,

I am writing to request your help to discover how and why the Danish Nazi doctor, Carl Peter Værnet, was released from the jurisdiction of the British military authorities after the end of the Second World War, and the reason the British military authorities never sought to put him on trial for war crimes.

Dr. Værnet was a Danish citizen, born on 28 April 1893. He served in SS, with the rank of Sturmbannführer (variously listed as SS-Runen – SS 1792 and SS 1809). He is recorded as having worked under the personal directions of the head of Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, conducting barbaric medical experiments -including castration and forced hormonal implants- on gay concentration camp prisoners at Buchenwald and Neuengamme.

Dr. Værnet’s role in the medical abuse and deaths of gay prisoners is documented in the archives at the International Tracing Service at Arolsen (example: ITS Arolsen, book 36, folder 405), and at the Berlin Document Centre.

Mention of his experiments is made in a report written soon after the liberation of Buchenwald by Eugen Kogon for the US Army Psychological Warfare Division.

His medical malpractices involving gay inmates are also cited in the books The Pink Triangle by Richard Plant (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1987) and Hidden Holocaust? by Dr. Günter Grau (Cassell, London 1995).

Dr. Værnet’s gruesome experiments on gay internees are further reported in the German documentary film Wir hatten ein grosses ‘A’ am Bein (We Were Marked With A Big ‘A’), directed by Elke Jeonrond and Joseph Weishaupt, and made for NDR. in 1991 by Mediengruppe Schwabing Filmproduktion.

According to my information, at the end of the war Dr. Værnet was captured by the British Army and interned in the British-run Alsgade Skole prisoner-of-war camp in Copenhagen.

On 29 May 1945, the chairman of the Danish Medical Association sent the Danish Ministry of Justice an affidavit signed by a Danish police officer who had been incarcerated in Buchenwald. This affidavit identified Værnet as having been a serving SS officer involved in war crimes. Were the British military authorities aware of this affidavit and other allegations of war crimes against Dr. Værnet?

In the autumn of 1945, the British military authorities handed over Dr. Værnet to the Danish authorities. Precisely what these authorities did with him is uncertain. Why was he handed over?

It is known that Dr. Værnet was eventually transferred to a hospital, on the grounds that he was allegedly suffering from a heart complaint (which may have been fictional in order to facilitate his release from detention). When did this transfer take place? Did the British military authorities agree the transfer?

Dr. Værnet is said to have told fellow doctors that his heart trouble could only be treated in Sweden. Astonishingly, despite being accused of war crimes, Dr. Værnet was allowed by the Danish (and British?) authorities to travel to Sweden.

In Sweden, he contacted the Nazi escape network, which spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947.

On 19 November 1947, the Copenhagen newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, carried a letter from a Danish exile living in Argentina which reported that Dr. Værnet was working in the Buenos Aires health department. He remained living there openly until his death in 1965.

Could you please investigate:

  1. Why the British military authorities fail to put Dr. Værnet on trial on charges of war crimes, alongside other Nazi doctors?
  2. For what reason did the British military authorities release Dr. Værnet -a wanted war criminal- from their jurisdiction?
  3. Into whose custody, and under what conditions, did the British military authorities release Dr. Værnet?
  4. Did the British military authorities play any rôle in authorising Dr. Værnet’s transfer to a Danish hospital and his trip to Sweden?

Your help in answering these questions would be very much appreciated.

Yours with thanks,

Peter Tatchell