Military Tribunal II
Palace of Justice
8 April 1948
The United States of America
- vs -
OTTO OHLENDORF, HEINZ JOST, ERICH NAUMANN,
OTTO RASCH, ERWIN SCHULTZ, FRANZ SIX, PAUL
BLOBEL, WALTER BLUME, MARTIN SANDBERGER,
WILLY SEIBERT, EUGEN STEIMLE, ERNST BIBER-
STEIN, WERNER BRAUNE, WALTER HAENSCH,
GUSTAV NOSSKE, ADOLF OTT, EDUARD STRAUCH,
EMIL HAUSSMAN, WOLDEMAR KLINGHOFFER,
LOTHAR FENDLER, WALDEMAR VON RADETZKY,
FELIX RUEHL, HEINZ SCHUBERT, and MATTHIAS
OPINION AND JUDGEMENT OF THE TRIBUNAL
Captain Michael A. Musmanno, U.S.N.R., Presiding Judge
John J. Speight, Judge
Richard D. Dixon, Judge
The indictment filed in this case on July 25, 1947, charged the twenty-four defendants enumerated therein with crimes against humanity, war crimes and membership in criminal organizations. The twenty-four defendants were made up of six-SS-Generals, five SS-Colonels, six SS-Lieutenant Colonels, four SS-Majors and three SS-junior officers. Since the filing of the indictment the number of the defendants has been reduced to twenty-two. Defendant SS-Major Emil Hausmann committed suicide on July 31, 1947, and defendant SS-Brigade General Rasch was severed from the case on February 5, 1948 because of his inability to testify. Although it is assumed that Rasch's disease (paralysis agitans or Parkinsonism) will become progressively worse, his severance from these proceedings is not to be regarded as any adjudication on the question of guilt or innocence.
The acts charged in Counts I and II of the Indictment are identical
in character, but the indictment draws the distinction between acts consisting
of offenses against civilian populations including German nationals and
nationals of other countries, and the same acts committed as violations
of the laws and customs of war involving murder and ill-treatment of prisoners
of war and civilian populations of countries under the occupation of Germany.
Count II charges the defendants with membership in the SS, SD, and Gestapo,
organizations declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal
and Paragraph I(d) of Article II of Control
Council law No. 10.
Although the indictment accuses the defendants of the commission of atrocities, persecutions, exterminations, imprisonment and other inhumane acts, the principal charge in this case is murder. However, as unequivocal as this charge is, questions have arisen which must be definitively resolved so that this decision may add its voice in the present solemn re-affirmation and sound development of international precepts binding upon nations and individuals alike, to the end that never again will humanity witness the sad and miserable spectacle it has beheld and suffered during these last years.
At the outset it must be acknowledged that the facts with which the Tribunal must deal in this Opinion are so beyond the experience of normal man and the range of man-made phenomena that only the most complete judicial inquiry, and the most exhaustive trial, could verify and confirm them. Although the principal accusation is murder and, unhappily, man has been killing man ever since the days of Cain, the charge of purposeful homicide in this case reaches such fantastic proportions and surpasses such credible limits that believability must be bolstered with assurance a hundred times repeated.
The books have shown through the ages why man has slaughtered his brother. He has always had an excuse, criminal and ungodly though it may have been. He has killed to take his brother's property, his wife, his throne, his position; he has slain out of jealousy, revenge, passion, lust, cannibalism. He has murdered as a monarch, a slaveowner, a madman, a robber. But it was left to the twentieth century to produce so extraordinary a killing that even a new word had to be created to define it.
One of counsel has characterized this trial as the biggest murder trial
in history. Certainly never before have twenty-three men been brought into
court to answer to the charge of destroying over one million of their fellow-human
beings. There have been other trials imputing to administrators and officials
responsibility for mass murder, but in this case the defendants are not
accused of planning or directing wholesale killings through channels. They are not charged with sitting in an office hundreds and thousands of miles away from the slaughter. It is asserted with particularity that these men were in the field actively superintending, controlling, directing, and taking an active part in the bloody harvest.
If what the Prosecution maintains is true, we have here participation in a crime of such unprecedented brutality and of such inconceivable savagery that the mind rebels against its own thought image and the imagination staggers in the contemplation of a human degradation beyond the power of language to adequately portray. The crime did not exclude the immolation of women and children, heretofor regarded the special object of solicitude even on the part of an implacable and primitive foe.
The International Military Tribunal in its decision of October 1, 1946
declared that the Einsatzgruppen and the Security Police, to which the
defendants belonged, were responsible for the murder of two million defenseless
human beings, and the evidence presented in this case has in no way shaken
this finding. No human mind can grasp the enormity of two million deaths
because life, the supreme essence of consciousness and being, does not
lend itself to material or even spiritual appraisement. It is so beyond
finite comprehension that only its destruction offers an infinitesimal
suggestion on its worth. The loss of any one person can only begin to be
measures in the realization of his survivors that he is gone forever. The
extermination, therefore, of two million human beings cannot be felt. Two
million is but a figure. The number of deaths resulting from the activities
with which these defendants have been connected and which the Prosecution
has set at one million, is but an abstract number. One
cannot grasp the full cumulative terror of murder one million times repeated.
It is only when this grotesque total is broken down into units capable
of mental assimilation that one can understand the monstrousness of the
things we are in this trial contemplating. One must visualize not one million
people but only ten persons -
men, women and children, perhaps all of one family - falling before the executioners guns. If one million is divided by ten, this scene must happen one hundred thousand times, and as one visualizes the repetitious horror, one begins to understand the meaning of the Prosecution's words: "It is with sorrow and with hope that we here disclose the deliberate slaughter of more than a million innocent and defenseless men, women, and children."
All mankind can share that sorrow in the painful realization that such things could happen in an age supposedly civilized and mankind may also well cherish the hope that civilization will actually redeem itself, so that, by reflection, cleansing and a real sanctification of the holiness of life, nothing even faintly resembling such a thing may happen again.
Judicial opinions are often primarily prepared for the information and guidance of the legal profession, but the Nuremberg judgments are of interest to a much larger segment of the earth's population. It would not be too much to say that the entire world itself is concerned with the adjudications being handed down in Nuremberg. Thus it is not enough in these pronouncements to cite specific laws, sections and paragraphs. The decisions must be understood in the light of the circumstances which brought them about. What is the exact nature of the facts on which the judgments are based? A Tribunal may not avert its head from the ghastly deeds whose legal import it is called upon to adjudicate. What type of reasoning or lack of reasoning was it that brought about the events which are to be here related? What type of morality or lack of it was it that for years bathed the world in blood and tears? Why is it that Germany, whose rulers thought to make it the wealthiest and the most powerful nation of all time, an empire which would overshadow the Rome of Caesar -- why is it that this Germany is now a shattered shell? Why is it that Europe, the cradle of modern civilization, is devastated and the whole world out of joint?
These Nuremberg trials answer the question, and the Einsatzgruppen trial
in particular makes no little contribution to that enlightenment.
When the German Armies, without and declaration of war, crossed the Polish frontier and smashed into Russia, there moved with and behind them a unique organization known as the Einsatzgruppen. As an instrument of terror in the museum of horror, it would be difficult to find an entry to surpass the Einsatzgruppen in its blood-freezing potentialities. No writer of murder fiction, no dramatist steeped in macbre lore, can ever expect to conjure up from his imagination a plot which will shock sensibilities as much as will the stark drama of these sinister bands.
They came into being through an agreement between the RSHA (Reich Security
Main Office), the OKW (Armed Forces High Command), and the OKH (Army High
Command). The agreement specified that a representative of the Chief of
the Security Police and Security Service would be assigned to the respective
army groups or armies, and that this official would have at his disposal
mobile units in the form of an Einsatzgruppe, sub-divided into Einsatzkommandos
and Sonderkommandos. The
Kommandos in turn were divided into smaller groups known as Teilkommandos. Only for the purpose of comparison as to size and organization, an Einsatzgruppe could roughly be compared to an Infantry Battalion, an Einsatz- or Sonderkommando to an Infantry Company and a Teilkommando to a platoon.
These Einsatzgruppen of which there were four, (lettered A to D) were formed, equipped and fully ready to march before the attack on Russia began. Einsatzgruppe A which was led by Stahlecker and later the defendant Jost, operated from central Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia towards the East. Einsatzgruppe B, whose chief was Nebe, succeeded by the defendant Naumann, operated in the direction of Moscow in the area adjoining Einsatzgruppe A to the South. Einsatzgruppe C, led by Rasch and later Thomas, operated in the Ukraine, except for the part occupied by Einsatzgruppe D, which last organization, first under the defendant Ohlendorf and then Bierkamp, controlled the Ukraine south of a certain line, which area also included the Crimean peninsula. Later, Einsatzgruppe D took over the Caucasus area.
These Einsatzgruppen, each comprising roughly from 800 to 1,200 men,
were formed under the leadership of Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Security
Police and SD. The officers were generally drawn from the Gestapo, SD,
SS, and the Criminal Police. The men were recruited from the Waffen-SS,
the Gestapo, the Order Police and locally recruited police. In the field,
the Einsatzgruppen were authorized to ask for personnel assistance from
the Wehrmacht which, upon request, invariably
supplied the needed men.
At top-secret meetings held in Pretzech and Dueben, Saxony, in May,
1941, the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommando leaders were instructed by
Heydrich, Chief of Security Police and SD, and Streckenbach, Chief of Personnel
of RSHA, as to their mission, and they were introduced to the notorious
Fuehrer-Order around which this extraordinary case has arisen.Under the
guise of ensuring the political security of the conquered territories,
both in the occupational and rear areas of theWehrmacht, the Einsatzgruppen
were to liquidate ruthlessly all opposition to National Socialism -- not
only the opposition of the present, but that of the past and future as
well. Whole categories of people were to be killed without trace, without
investigation, without pity, tears or remorse. Women were to be slain with
the men, and the children also were to be executed because, otherwise,
they would grow up to oppose National Socialism and might even nurture
a desire to avenge themselves on the slayers of
their parents. Later, in Berlin, Heydrich re-emphasized this point to some of the Einsatz leaders.
One of the principal categories was "Jews." No precise definition was furnished the Einsatz leaders as to those who fell within this fatal designation. Thus, when one of the Einsatzgruppen reached the Crimean, its leaders did not know what standards to apply in determining whether the Krimtschaks they found there should be killed or not. Very little was known of these people, except that they had migrated into the Crimea from a southern Mediterranean country, and it was noted they spoke the Turkish language. It was rumored, however, that somewhere along the arterial line which ran back into the dim past some Jewish blood had entered the strain of these strange Krimtschaks. If this were so, should they be regarded as Jews and should they be shot? An inquiry went off to Berlin. In due time the reply came back that the Krimtschaks were Jews and should be shot. They were shot.
The Einsatzgruppen were, in addition, instructed to shoot Gypsies. No explanation was offered as to why these unoffending people who through the centuries have contributed their share of music and song, were to be hunted down like wild game. Colorful in garb and habit, they have amused, diverted and baffled society with their wanderings, and occasionally annoyed with their indolence, but no one has condemned them as a mortal menace to organized society. That is, no one but National Socialism which, through Hitler, Himmler, and Heydrich ordered their liquidation. Accordingly, these simple, innocuous people were taken in trucks, perhaps in their own wagons, to the anti-tank ditches and there slaughtered with the Jews and the Krimtschaks.
The insane also were to be killed. Not because they were a threat to the Reich, nor because someone may have believed they were formidable rivals of the Nazi chieftains. No more excuse was offered for sentencing the insane than was advanced for condemning the Gypsies and the Krimtschaks. However, there was an historical basis for the decrees against the insane. That is, a history going back two years. On September 1, 1939, Hitler has issued his Euthansia decree which ordered the killing of all insane and incurably ill people. It was demonstrated in other trials that this decree was made a convenient excuse for killing off those who were racially undesirable to the Nazis, and who were unable to work. These victims were grouped together under the title of "useless eaters." Since all invaded territories were expected to become Reich territory, the same policies which controlled in Germany itself were apparently introduced and put into effect in the occupied lands. But a very extensive interpretation was given to even this heartless decree. Insane asylums were often emptied and the inmates liquidated because the invaders desired to use the asylum buildings.
"Asiatic inferiors" was another category destined for liquidation. This
kind of designation allowed a wide discretion in homicide. Einsatzgruppen
and Einsatzkommando leaders were authorized to take executive measures
on their own responsibility. There was no one to dispute with them as to
the people they branded "Asiatic inferiors". And even less was there a
curb on homicidal operations when they were authorized to shoot " Asocial
people, politically tainted persons, and racially and mentally inferior
And then, all Communist functionaries wee to be shot. Again it was never made quite clear how broad was this classification. Thus, in recapitulation, the Fuehrer-Order, and throughout this Opinion it will be so referred to, called for the summary killing of Jews, Gypsies, insane people, Asiatic inferiors, Communist functionaries, and asocials.
Authenticity of Reports
The story of the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos is not something pieced together years after their crimson deeds were accomplished. The story was written as the events it narrates occurred, and it was authored by the doers of the deeds. It was written in the terse, exact language which military discipline requires, and which precision of reporting dictates.
The maintenance of an army in invaded territory and the planning of
future operations demands cold factuality in reports, which requirement
was rudimentary knowledge to all members of the German Armed Forces. Thus,
every subkommando leader was instructed to inform his kommando leader of
developments and activities in his field of operations, every kommando
turn accounted to the Einsatzgruppe leader, and the Einsatzgrupp leader by wireless and by mail reported to the RSHA in Berlin. These accounts were veiled in secrecy but they were not so covert that they did not come to the attention of the top ranking military and political officials of the regime. In fact, at the capital, they were compiled, clasified, mimeographed and distrubuted to a selected list. These are the reports which have been submitted in evidence.
The case of the Prosecution is founded entirely on these official accounts prepared by the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommando leaders. The Tribunal will quote rather copiously from these reports because only by the very language of the actual performers can a shocked world believe that these things could come to pass in the twentieth century. A few brief excerpts at the outset will reveal graphically the business of the Einsatzgruppen. A report on Einsatzgruppe B, dated December 19, 1941, speaks of an action in Mogilew and points out:
"During the controls of the roads radiating from Mogilew, carried out with the aid of the constabulary,135 persons, mostly Jews, were apprehended.....127 persons were shot."The report also declares:
"In agreement with the commander, the transient
camp in Mogilew was searched for Jews and
officials. 126 persons were found and shot."
The same report advises that in Paritschi near Bobruisk,
"A special action was executed, during which 1,013 Jews and Jewesses were shot."
"835 Jews of both sexes were shot."
Sonderkommando 4a, operating in the town of Tschernigow, reported that
on October 23, 1941, 116 Jews were
shot; on the following day 144 were shot. (NO-2832)
A teilkommando of Sonderkommando 4a, operating in Poltawa, reported as of 23 November 1941:
"Altogether 1,538 Jews were shot." (NO-3405)
Einsatzgruppe D operating near Simferopol communicated:
"During the period covered by the report 2,010 people were shot." (NO-3235)
An Einsatz unit, operating in the Ukraine, communicated that in Rakow:
"1,500 Jews were shot." (3876-PS)
A report on activities in Minsk in March 1942 reads:
"In the course of the greater action against Jews, 3,412 Jews were shot." (NO-2662)
Einsatzkommando 6, operating in Dnjepropetrwsk, reported that on October 13, 1941:
"Of the remaining 30,000 approximately 10,000 were shot." (NO-2832)
A report dated 16 January 1942, accounting for the activities of Einsatzkommando 2. stated that in Riga on 30 November 1941:
"10,600 Jews were shot." (NO3405)
In time the authors of the reports apparently tired of the word shot, so, within the narrow compass of expression allowed in a military report, some variety was added. A report originating in Latvia read:
"The Higher SS and Police leader in Riga, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Jeckeln, has meanwhile embarked on a shooting action (Erschiessungsaktion) and on Sunday, the 30 November 1941, about 4,000 Jews from the Riga Ghetto and an evacuation transport from the Reich were disposed of." (NO-3257)And so that no one could be in doubt as to what was meant by "'disposed of", the word "killed" was added in parentheses.
"In the Crimea 1,000 Jews and Gypsies were executed." (NO-2662)
A report of Einsatzgruppe B, in July 1941, relates that the Jews in Lithuania were placed in concentration camps for special treatment, and then the report explains:
"This work was now begun and thus about 500 Jews, saboteurs amongst them, are liquidated daily." (NO-2937)
A kommando, operating in Lachoisk, reported:
"A large-scale anti-Jewish action was carried out in the village of Lachoisk. In the course of this action 920 Jews were executed with the support of a kommando of the SS Division 'Reich'. The village may now be described as 'free of Jews'." (NO-3143)Einsatzgruppe B, operating out of headquarters Smolensk, reported on one of its operations in October:
"In Mogilew the Jews tried also to sabotage their removal into the Ghetto by migrating in masses. The Einsatzkommando No. 8, with the help of the Ordinary Police, blocked the roads leading out of the town liquidated 113 Jews." (NO-3160)The same organization also reported:
"Two large-scale actions were carried out by the platoon in Krupka and Sholopanitsche, 912 Jews being liquidated in the former and 822 in the latter place." (NO-3160)The advance kommando of Sonderkommando 4a, chronicling its activities of October 4, 1941, reported:
"Altogether, 537 Jews (men, women, and adolescents) were apprehended and liquidated." (NO-3404)
Eventually even the expressions liquidate and execute became monotonous, so the report-writers broke another bond of literary restraint and began describing the murder of Jews with varying verbiage. One particularly favored phrase announced that so many Jews were "rendered harmless". Still another declared that so many Jews had been "got rid of". One more pronounced that a given number of Jews had been "done away with". However, it really mattered little what praseology was employed. Once the word "Jew" appeared in a report, it was known that this invariable meant that he had been killed. Thus, when one particularly original report-writer wrote, "At prsent, the Jewish problem is being solved at Nikolajew and Cherson. About 5,000 Jews were processed at either place", it required no lucubration on the part of the RSHA officials in Berlin to comprehend that 5,000 Jews had been killed at Nikolajew and 5,000 had been killed at Cherson. (NO-3148)
Death was simple routine with these earthy organizations. In the Reich Security Main Office, Einsatzgruppen could well be synonmous with homocide. One report, after stating that certain towns were freed of Jews, ends up with the abundantly clear remark that "the remaining officials were appropriately treated". (NO-3137)
Kommando leaders also frequently informed headquarters that certain groups had been "taken care of". (NO-3151) When an Einsatzkommando "took care" of anybody only one person could be of service to the person taken care of, and that was the grave digger. "Special treatment" was still one more contemptuous characterization of the solemn act of death when, of course, it applied to others.
Then some report-writers airily recorded that certain areas "had been purged of Jews".
Finally, there was one term which was gentle and polie, discreet and definitive. It in no way called up the grim things connected with shooting defenseless human beings in the back of the neck, and then burying them, sometimes partially alive, into shallow graves. This piece of rhetoric proclaimed that in certain areas "the Jewish question was solved". And when that wording was used one knew finally and completely that the Jews in that particular territory had been removed from the land of the living.
Einsatzgruppe C, reporting on more than 51,000 executions declared:
"These were the motives for the executions carried out by the kommandos: Political officials, looters and saboteurs, active Communists and political representatives, Jews who gained their release from prison camps by false statements, agents and informers of the NKVD, persons who, by false depositions and influencing witnesses, were instrumental in the deportation of ethnic Germans, Jewish sadism and revengefulness, undesireable elements, partisans, politrucks, dangers of plague and epidemics, members of Russian bands, armed insurgents - provisioning of Russian bands, rebels and agitators, drifting juveniles."
and then came the all inclusive phrase: "Jews in general." (NO-3155)
The summary cutting down of such groups as "drifting jeveniles" as such vague generaliztions as "undesirable elements" shows that there was no limit whatsoever to the sweep of the executioner's scythe. And the reference to individual categories of Jews is only macbre window dressing because under the phrase &Jews in general", all Jews were killed regardless of antecedents.
There were some kommando leaders, however, who were a little more conscientious than the others. They refused to kill a Jew simply because he was a Jew. They demanded a reason before ordering out the firing squad. Thus, in White Ruthtnia, a kommando leader reported: "There has been frequent evidence of Jewish women displaying a particularly disobiedient attitude." The kommando leader's conscience now having been satisfied, he went on in his report:
"For this reason, 28 Jewesses had to be shot at Krugloje and 337 in Mogilew." (NO-2656)
At Tatarsk the Jews left the Ghetto in which they had been collected and returned to their homes. The scrupulous kommando leader here reported the serious offense committed by the Jews in taking up living in their own domiciles. He accordingly executed all the male Jews in the town as well as three Jewesses. (NO-2656
"At Mogilew, too, the Jews tried to prevent their removal to a ghetto, 113 Jews were liquidated." (NO-2656)
Operation Report No. 88, dated September 19, 1941, states that, on September 1 and 2, leaflets and pamphlets were distributed by Jews, but that "the perpetrators could not be found." With this declaration that the guilty ones could not be located, the leader of the execution unit involved tranquilized his moral scruples and, accordingly, as his report factually declares, he executed 1,303 Jews, among them 875 Jewesses over 12 years of age. (NO-3149) Always very sensitive, the occupation forces found that the Jews in Monastyrschtschina and Choslawitschi displayed an "impudent and provocative attitude" The kommando accordingly shot the existing Jewish Council and 20 other Jews. (NO-3143)
In the vicinity of Ostrowo, the resident Jews, according to Report No. 124 dated October 25, 1941, had repeatedly shown hostile conduct and disobedience to "the German authorities". Thus, the current kommando went into Ostrowo and shot 169 Jews. (NO-3160)
In Marina-Gorka, the labor assigned to Jews as done, according to Report No. 124, dated October 25, 1941, "very reluctantly". Thus 996 Jews and Jewesses were given "special treatment." (NO-3160)
Report No. 108, dated October 9, 1941, advises that for the death of 21 German soldiers near Topola, 2,100 Jews and Gypsies were to be executed, thus a ratio of 100 to one. There is no pretense in the report that any of the 2,100 slain were in the slightest way connected with the shooting of Germans. (NO-3156)
An item in Operation Report No. 108, October 9, 1941, points out that "19 Jews who were under suspicion of having either been communists or of having committed arson" were executed. (NO-3156)
In Mogilew, the Jewish women were "extremely resistive" and not wearing the prescribed badge, so 28 of them were liquidated. (NO-3156)
Report No. 73, dated September 4, 1941, acquaints the world with the fact that 773 civilians were exterminated in Minsk, the reason being that they "were absolutely inferior elements with a predominate mixture of Asiatic blood". The method of determining the inferiority of character and predominance of Asiatic blood is not indicated. (NO-2844)
The executioners were, however, not always without thought for the Jews. Sometimes apparently the liquidation took place for the benifit of the Jews themselves. Thus, Einsatzgruppe B reported in December 1941:
"In Gorodok, the Ghetto had to be evacuated because of the danger of an epidemic. 394 Jews were shot." (NO-2833)Einsatzgruppe C, reporting on conditions in Radomyschl, declared:
"A supply of food for the Jews as well as for the children was impracticable. In consequence, there was an ever increasing danger of epidemics." (NO-3149)The situation was met bravely and chivalrously:
"To put an end to these conditions 1,107 Jewish adults were shot by the kommando and 561 juveniles by the Ukrainian militia. Thereby, the Sonderkommando has taken care of a total of 11,328 Jews till 6 September 1941." (NO-3149)Operational Report No. 92, dated September 23, 1941, related how scabies had broken out in the ghetto of Newl. "In order to prevent further contagion, 640 Jews were liquidated and the houses burnt down." This treatment undoubtedly overcame the scabies. (NO-3143)
The same report proclaims further that, in the town of Janowitschi, a contagious disease, accompanied by fever, broke out. It was feared that the disease might spread to the city and the rural population. To prevent this from happening, 1,025 Jews were shot. The report closes proudly with the statement" "This operation was carried out solely by a commander and 12 men." (NO-3143)
As the kommandos became more and more familiar with the therapeutic capabilities of their rifles, they turned to the field of preventive medicine. In October of 1941, the kommando leader in Witebsk came to the conclusion that there was an "imminent danger of epidemics" in the town, and to forestall that this should come to pass, he shot 3,000 Jews. (NO-3160)
Mention has been made of the execution of the insane. The reports are dotted with references to the liquidation of inmates of mental institutions. It seems that the kommandos, in addition to the executions carried out under their own orders, were ready to perform other killings on request. Einsatzgruppe C reports that a teilkommando of Sonderkommando 4a, passing through Tschernigow, was asked by the director of the mental asylum to liquidate 270 incurables. The teilkommando obliged. (NO-2832)
In Poltawa, Sonderkommando 4b found that the insane asylum located there maintained a farm for the inmates. Since there was not enough full cream milk in the town to supply the three large German military hispitals there, the milk shortage was met by executing a part of the insane. The report on the subject explains:
"A way out of this difficulty was found by deciding that the execution of 565 incurables should be carried out in the course of the next few days under the pretext that these patients were being removed to a better asylun in Charkow." (NO-2832)It was also stated:
"The underwear, clothing and other wearing aparel collected on this occasions have also been handed over to the hospitals." (NO-2827)The grim casualness with which these executions were conducted comes to light in an item taken from a report made by the Russian Government (USSR-41) which reads:
"On 22 August 1941, mental patients from the Psychiatric Hospital in Dunapilsk -- approximately 700 adults and 60 children -- were shot in the small town of Aglon. Among them were 20 healthy children who had been temporarily transferred to the building of the hospital from a Children's Home." (USSR-41)Report No. 47, dated August 9, 1941, after generally discussing conditions in the Ukraine, stated of the operations of Einsatzgruppe C: "Last but not least, systematic reprisals against marauders and Jews were carried out." Under their meticulous taskmasters, the Jews were bound to be wrong no matter what they did. If they wore their badges they could expect maltreatment, since they were recognized as Jews; if they left them off, they were punished for not wearing them. If they remained in the wretched and overcrowded ghettos they suffered from hunger, if they left in order to obtain food they were "marauding."
Operation Report No. 132, describing the activities of Einsatzkommando 5, declared that, between October 13 and October 19, 1941, it had among others executed 21 people guilty of sabotage and looting, and 1,847 Jews. It also reported the shooting of 300 insane Jews, which achievement, according to the report, "represented a particularly heavy burden for the members of Einsatzkommando 5 who were in charge of this operation." (NO-2830)
Operation Report No. 194, detailing the activities of Einsatzgruppe 8, states that, from March 6 to March 30, 1942, this kommando executed:
"20 Russians for subversive Communist activities, sabotage, and membership of the NKVD,5 Russians because of theft, burglary and embezzlements,33 Gypsies, 1,551 Jews." (NO-3276)Einsatzkommando 5, for the period between November 2 and November 8, 1941, killed, as Report No. 143 succinctly states:
"15 political officials, 21 saboteurs and looters, 414 hostages, 10,650 Jews." (NO-2827)Report No. 150, dated January 2, 1942, speaking of actions in theWestern Crimea, stated:
"From 16 November thru 15 December 1941, 17,645 Jews, 2,504 Krimtscaks, 824 Gypsies, and 212 Communists and partisans have been shot." (NO-2834)The report also states, as if talking of cleaning out swamps:
"Simferopol, Jewpatoria, Aluschta, Karasubasar, Kertsch and Fedosia and other districts of the Western Crimea have been cleaned of Jews."One report complains that the Wehrmacht had failed to plan the executions and, consequently, many many Jews escaped. This irritated the report-writer considerably. He stated:
"Naturally, the systematic action of Einsatzkommando 5 suffered extremely by these planless excesses against the Jewsin Ulman. In particular, a large number of the Jews were now forewarned and escaped from the city. Besides the numereous Jews, many of the Ukrainian officials and activists still living in Ulman, were warned by the excesses, and only two co-workers of the NKVD were found and liquidated. The results of these excesses were cleaned up immediately by Einsatzkommando 5, after its arrival." (NO-3404)It will be noted that the word "excesses" is here used in its opposite sense, that is dediciency. Not as many persons were killed as should have been.
It also objected that people talked about these executions:
"Rumors about executions in other areas rendered action at Simferopol very difficult. Reports about actions against Jews gradually filter through from fleeing Jews, Russians, and also from unguarded talks of German soldiers." (NO-2834)In spite of these difficulties the operations were not entirely unsuccessful because this particular report sums up with: "Altogether, 75,881 persons have been executed."
Einsatzgruppe D, giving an account of its activities from October 1 to October 15, 1941, stated in Report No. 117:
"The districts occupied by the kommandos were cleaned out of Jews. 4,091 Jews and 46 Communists were executed in the time the report covers, bringing the total up to 40,699." (NO-3406)Coming back to Simferopol, in Report No. 153, dated January 9, 1942, we find:
"The operational areas of the teilkommandos, particularly in smaller villages, were purged of Jews. During the period covered by the report, 3,176 Jews, 85 partisans, 12 looters, and 122 Communist officials were shot. Sum Total: 79,276. In Simferopol, apart from Jews also the Krimtschak and Gypsy question was solved." (NO-3258)An entry from Operational Situation Report No. 3, on the period August 15 to August 31, 1941 states:
"During a scrutiny of the civilian prison camp in Minsk, 615 persons were liquidated. All those executed were racially inferior elements."(NO-2653)Many more examples could be given from the reports but the above will suffice to indicate their tenor and scope and the attitude of those who participated in the events described therein. How did the action groups operate? As kommando leaders entered a town they immediately assembled what they called a Jewish Council of Elders made up from 10 to 25 Jews, according to the size of the town. These Jews, usually the more prominent ones, and always including a Rabbi, were instructed to register the Jewish population of the community for the purpose of resettlement. The registration completed, the Jews were ordered to appear at a given place, or vehicles went to their homes to collect them. Then they were transported into the woods and shot. The last step of the kommando in closing the books in the whole transaction was to call on the Council of Elders, express appreciation for their cooperation, invite them to mount the truck standing outside, drive them to the same spot in the woods, and shoot them, too. One report illustrates the procedure described:
"The Jews of the city were ordered to present themselves at a certain place and time for the purpose of numerical registration and housing in a camp. About 34,000 reported, including women and children. After they had been made to give up their clothing and valuables, all were killed; this took several days." (NOKW-2129)Another report lauded the leader of Einsatzkommando 4b for his resourcefulness and skill in rounding up the intelligentsia of Winnica:
"He called for the most prominent Rabbi of the town ordering him to collect within 24 hours the whole of the Jewish intelligentsia and told him they would be required for certain registration work. When the first collection was insufficent in numbers, the intellectual Jews assembled were sent away again with the order to collect themselves more of the intellectual Jews and to appear with these the following day." (NO-2947)And then the report ends triumphantly on the note:
"This method was repeated for a third time so that in this manner nearly the entire intelligentsia was got hold of and liquidated."In Kiev a clever stratagem was employed to ensnare the Jews. The word "clever" is taken from the report covering the action.
"The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action -- in particular concerning the seizure -- were overcome in Kiev by requesting the Jewish population through wall posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30,000 Jews arrived who, until the very moment of their execution, still believed in their resettlement, thanks to extremely clever organization." (NO-3157)Practically every page of these reports runs with blood and is edged with a black border of misery and desolation. In every paragraph one feels the steel and flinty pen with which the report-writer cuts through the carnage described therin. Report No. 94 tells of Jews who, driven from their homes, were compelled to seek primitive existence in caves and abandoned huts. The rigors of the elements, lack of food and adequate clothing inevitably produced serious illnesses. The report-writer chronicles:
"The danger of epidemics has thus increased considerably, so that, for that reason alone, a thorough clean-up of the respective places became necessary." (NO-3146)and then, he adds:
"The insolence of the Jews has not yet diminished even now."
Thus, after evicting, starving and shooting their victims the evictors still complained: The Jews were not even courteous to their executioners!
One of the defendants denied that there were any Jews in his territory. In this connection the prosecution intriduced an interesting letter from one Jacob, Master of Field Police to his Commanding General. The letter, dated June 21, 1942, is very chatty andcompaionable, the writer sends his birthday greetings to the addressee, talks about his horses, his girl-friend, and then casually about the Jews:
"I don't know if you, General, have also seen in Poland such horrible figures of Jews. I thank the fate I saw this mongrel race like the man in the youngest days.....
Now, of the 24,000 Jews living here in Kamenets Podolsk we have only a disappearing percentage left. The little Jews (Juedein) living in the districts (Rayons) also belonged to our costumers. We surge ahead without pinges of conscience, and then.....the waves close and the world is at peace." (NO-5655)
And then he became serious and determined to be hard with himself for the sake of his country:
"I thank you for your reprimand. You are right. We men of the new Germany have to be hard with ourselves. Even if it means a longer seperation from our family. Now is the time to clean up with war criminals, once and forever, to create for our decendants a more beautiful and eternal Germany. We don't sleep here. Every week 3-4 actions, one time Gypsies, the other time Jews, partisans and other rabble. It is very nice that we have now a SD unit (SD Aussenkommando) with which I can work excellently." (NO-5655)In another letter this officer became very sentimental and is sorry for himself that he is far away from home and thinks of his children. "One could weep sometimes. It is not good to be such a friend of children as I was." However, this does not prevent him from taking up lodging in a former Children's Asylum.
"I have a cosy apartment in a former children's asylum. One bedroom and a living-room with all the accessories."
The Magnitude of the Enterprise
One million human corpses is a concept to bizarre and too fantastical for normal mental comprehension. As suggested before, the mention of one million deaths produces no shock at all commensurate with its enormity because to the average brain one million is more a symbol than a quantitive measure. However, if one reads through the reports of the Einsatzgruppen and observes the small numbers getting larger, climbing into ten thousand, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand and beyond, then one can at last believe that this actually happened -- the cold-blooded, premeditated killing of one million human beings.
Operation Report 88, reporting on the activities of only one kommando, states that up to September 6, 1941, this Kommando 4a "has taken care of a total of 11,328 Jews." (NO-3149)
Einsatzgruppe A, reporting its activities up to October 15, 1941, very casually declares: "In Latvia, up to now, 30,000 Jews were executed in all." (L-180)
Einsatzgruppe D, reporting on an operation near Kikerino, announces that the operational area has been "cleared of Jews. From 19 August to 25 September 1941, 8,890 Jews and communists were executed. Total number 13,315." (NO-3148)
This same Einsatzgruppe communicated from Nikolajew as of November 5, 1941, that total executions had reached the figure of 31,767. (NO-3159)
Reporting on one month's activities (October 1941), Einsatzgruppe B advised that "during the period of the report, the liquidations of 37,180 people took place." (NO-2656)
Einsatzgruppe C, reporting on its operations in Kiew as of October 12, 1941, declared that Sonderkommando 4a had now reached the total number of more than 51,000 executions. (NO-3155)
The Commissioner General for White Ruthenia reported with self-approbation on October 10, 1942: "During detailed consultations with the SS-Brigadefuehrer Zenner and the extremely capable Chief of the SD, SS Obersturbannfuefrer Dr. jur. Strauch, we found that we had liquidated approximately 55,000 Jews in White Ruthenia during the last 10 weeks."(3148-PS)
Speaking of another place, the Commissioner General proclaimed: "In the Minsk-Land area the Jewry was completely exterminated." Then he complained that the Army had been encroaching on the Einsatz prerogatives:
"The preparations for the liquidation of the Jews in the Glebokie area were completely disrupted by an arbitrary action by the Rear Army Area, which has already been reported to your office. In the Rear Army Area -- I was not contacted, 10,000 Jews were liquidated who were scheduled for extermination by us anyway." (3428-PS)However, the Commissioner General quickly got over his resentment and went on with his narrative:
"In the city of Minsk, about 10,000 Jews were liquidated on 28 and 29 July, 6,500 of whom were Russian Jews -- mainly old people, women and children -- the remainder consisted of Jews unfit for work, most of whom had been sent to Minsk from Vienna, Bruenn, Bremen and Berlin in November of the previous year, at the Fuehrer's orders. The Sluzk area was also ridded of several thousand Jews. The same applies to Nowogrodek and Wilejka."In Baranowitschi and Hanzewitschi he found that the killings had not been going as well as he desired: "Radical measures still remain to be taken." He explained: " In Baranowitschi, about 10,000 Jews are still living in the town alone." However, he would attend to that situation at once. He promised that 9,000 of them would be "liquidated next month." (3428-PS)
As of October 15, 1941 Einsatzgruppe A declared that the sum total of Jews executed in Lithuania was 71,105. (L-180)
As an appendix to the report, Einsatzgruppe A submitted the inventory of the people killed as a business house might submit a list of stock on hand:
Lithuania 80,311 860 81,171
Latvia 30,025 1,845 31,868
Esthonia 474 684 1,158
White Ruthenia 7,620 --- 7,620
118,430 3,387 121,817
to be added to these figures:
In Lithuania and Latvia Jews annihilated by pogroms: 5,500
Jews, Communists and partisans executed in old-Russia area: 2,000
Lunatics executed: 748
[correct total 130,065]
Communists and Jews liquidated by State Pol. and Security Service Tilsit during search actions: 5,502
Total: 135,567 (L-180)
It would not take, and it did not take, many reapings of this character to reach a figure of one million.
Operation Report No. 190, speaking of the activities of Einsatzgruppe D, announces quite matter-of-factly that, in the second half of March 1942, a total of 1,501 people were executed, and then adds, perhaps boredly: "Total number shot up to date, 91,678." (NO-3359)
Descanting on the activities of Einsatzgruppe A, around Leningrad, Operation Report No. 150 declares: " There is no longer any Jewish civil population." (NO-2834)
Activity and Situation Report No. 9, covering the period of January 1942, apprised Berlin:
"In White Ruthenia the purge of Jews is in full swing. The number of Jews in the Territory handed over to the Civil authorities up to now, amounts to 139,000. 32,210 Jews were shot meanwhile by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD." (3876-PS)A special report prepared by Einsatzgruppe A, committed to the Eastern Territories, left nothing to conjecture as to the purpose of their organization.
"The systematic mopping up of the Eastern Territories embraced, in accordance with the basic orders, the complete removal, if possible, of Jewry. This goal has been substantially attained -- with the exception of White Russia -- as a result of the execution up to the present time, of 229,052 Jews." (2273-PS)Referring specifically to Lithuania, the report carried the observation that many of the Jews used force against the officials and Lithuanian auxiliaries who performed these executions and that, before they were shot, they even abused Germany! (2273-PS)
Describing the operations in White Ruthenia, Einsatzgruppe A complained
that it did not take over this area until a heavy frost
set in. The report points out this "made mass executions much more difficult." And then another difficulty, the report-writer emphasizes, is that the Jews "live widely scattered over the who;whole country. In view of the enormous distances, the bad condition of the roads, the shortage of vehicles and petrol, and the small forces of Security Police and SD, it needs the utmost effort in order to be able to carry out shootings."
The report-writer almost wistfully complains that the Jews were unreasonable in not coming themselves over these long distances to present themselves for shooting. In spite of all the difficulties, however, the report ends up with: "Nevertheless, 41,000 Jews have been shot up to now." (NO-2934)
So inured had the executioners become to the business of death that in one report, where the question of setting up a ghetto was concerned, the report-writer communicated that in getting things started there would be "executions of a minor nature of 50 to 100 persons only". (NO-2934)
Report No. 155, dated January 14, 1942, disclosed that in Audrini --
"On 2 January, at the order of Einsatzgruppe A of the Security Police and the Security Service, the village was completely burned down after removal of foodstuffs, etc., and all the villagers shot. 301 men were publicly shot in the market square of the neighboring town, Rossitten."The report ends on the very casual note: "All these actions were carried out without incident." (NO-3279)
A town had been pillaged and destroyed and all its inhabitants massacred. In another village 301 people were herded into the public square and shot down mercilessly. But for the report-writer this mass violence did not even constitute an incident!
On two days alone (September 29 and September 30, 1941) Sonderkommando 4a, with the help of the Gruppenstaff and two Police Units, slaughtered in Kiew 33,771 Jews. The money, valuables, underwear and clothing of the murdered victims were turned over to the racial Germans and to the Nazi administration of the city. The report-writer who narrates the harrowing details of this appalling massacre ends up with the phrase: "The transaction was carried out without friction -"and then adds, as he is about to put away the typewriter: "No incidents occurred." (NO-3140)
The shooting of Jews eventually became a routine job and at times kommandos sought to avoid executions, not out of charity or sympathy, but because it meant just that much more work. The defendant Nosske testified to a caravan of from 6,000 to 7,000 Jews who had been driven across the Dnjester River by the Roumanians into territory occupied by the German forces, and whom he guided back across the river. When asked why these Jews had been expelled from Roumania, Nosske replied:
"I have no idea. I assume that the Roumanians wanted to get rid of them and sent then into the German territory so that we would have to shoot them, and we would have the trouble of shooting them. We didn't want to do that. We didn't want to do the work for the Roumanians, and we never did, nor at all other places where something similar happened. We refused it and, therefore, we sent them back."One or two Defense Counsel have asserted that the number of deaths resulting from acts of the organizations to which the defendants belonged did not reach the total of one million. As a matter of fact, it went far beyond one million. As already indicated, the International Military Tribunal, after a trial lasting ten months, studying and analyzing figures and reports, declared:
"The RSHA played a leading part in the 'final solution' of the Jewish question by the extermination of the Jews. A special section, under the AMT IV of the RSHA was established to supervise this program. Under its direction, approximately six million Jews were murdered of which two million were killed by Einsatzgruppen and other units of the Security Police."Ohlendorf, in testifying before the International Military Tribunal, declared that, according to the reports, his Einsatzgruppe killed 90,000 people. He also told of the methods he employed to prevent the exaggeration of figures. He did say that other Einsatzgruppen were not as careful as he was in presenting totals, but he presented no evidence to attack numbers presented by other Einsatzgruppen. Reference must also be made to the statement of the defendant Heinz Schubert who not only served as adjutant to Ohlendorf in the field from October 1941 to June 1942, but who continued in the same capacity of adjutant in the RSHA, Office Amt II B, for both Ohlendorf and Dr. Hams Emlich, until the end of 1944. If there was any question about the correctness of the figures, this is where the question would have been raised, but Schubert expressed no doubt nor did he say that these individuals who were momently informed in the statistics entertained the slightest doubt about them in any way.
Schubert showed very specifically the care which was taken to prepare the reports and to avoid errors:
"The Einsatzgruppe reported in two ways to the Reich Security Head Office. Once through radio, then in writing. The radio reports were kept strictly secret and, apart from Ohlendorf, his deputy Standartenfuefrer Willi Seibert and the head telegraphist Fritsche, nobody, with the exception of the radio personnel, was allowed to enter the radio station. This is the reason why only the above-mentioned persons had knowledge of the exact contents of these radio reports. The reports were dictated directly to Fritsche by Ohlendorf or Seibert. After the report had been sent off by Fritsche I received it for filing. In cases in which numbers of executions were reported a space was left open, so that I never knew the total amount of persons killed. The written reports were sent to Berlin by courier. These reports contained exact details and descriptions of the places, the course of the operations, losses, number of places destroyed and persons killed, arrest of agents, reports on interrogations, reports on the civilian sector, etc." (NO-2716)The defendant Blume testified that he completely dismissed the thought of ever filing a false report because he regarded that as unworthy of himself.
Then, the actual figures mentioned in the reports, staggering though they are, do by no means tell the entire story. Since the objective of the Einsatzgruppen was to exterminate all people falling in the categories announced in the Fuehrer-Order, the completion of the job in any given geographical area was often simply announced with the phrase: "There is no longer any Jewish population." Cities, towns and villages were combed by the kommandos and when all Jews in that particular community were killed, the report-writer laconically telegraphed or wrote to Berlin that the section in question was "freed of Jews." Sometimes the extermination area covered a whole country like Esthonia or a large territory like the Crimea. In determining the numbers killed in a designation of this character one needs merely to study the atlas and the census of the period in question. Sometimes the area set aside for an execution operation was arbitrarily set according to kommandos. Thus one finds in the reports such entries as: "The fields of activity of the kommandos is freed of all Jews."
And then there were the uncounted thousands who died a death premeditated by the Einsatz units without their having to do the killing. When Jews were herded into a few miserable houses which were fenced off and called a "ghetto", this was incarceration - but incarceration without a prison warden to bring them food. The reports made it abundantly clear that in these ghettos death was rampant, even before the Einsatz units began the killing off of the survivors. When, in a given instance, all male Jews and Jewesses over the age of 12 were executed, there remained, of course, all the children under 12. They were doomed to perish. Then there were those who were worked to death. All these fatalities are unmistakably chronicled in the Einsatz Reports, but do not show up in their statistics.
In addition, it must be noted that there were other vast numbers of victims of the Einsatzgruppen who did not fall under the executing rifles. In many cities, towns and provinces hundreds and thousands of fellow-citizens of those slain fled in order to avoid a similar fate. Through malnutrition, exposure, lack of medical attention and particularly, if one thinks of the aged and the very young, of exhaustion, most if not all of these refugees perished. These figures, of course, do not appear in the Einsatzgruppen Reports, but the criminal responsibility for their deaths falls upon the Fuehrer-Order program as much as the actual shooting deaths.
Employment as Labor Before Execution
At times, part of the Jewish population in a given community was temporarily spared, not for humanitarian reasons, but for economic purposes. Thus, a report from Esthonia specifies:
"The arrest of all male Jews of over 16 years of age has been nearly finished. With the exception of the doctors and the Elders of the Jews who were appointed by the Special Kommandos, they were executed by the Self-Protection Units under the control of the Special Detachment 1 a. Jewesses in Pernau and Reval of the age groups from 16 to 60 who are fit for work were arrested and put to peat-cutting or other labor." (L-180)In Lithuania, however, the executions went so fast that there was a great shortage of doctors for the non-Jewish population:
"More than 60% of the dentists were Jews; more than 50% of the other doctors as well. The disappearence of these brings about an extreme shortage of doctors which cannot be overcome from the Reich." (L-180)A report from the Ukraine in September 1941 recommends that the Jews be killed by working and not shooting:
"There is only one possibility which the German administration is the Generalgouvernement has neglected for a long time: Solution of the Jewish problem by extensive labor utilization of the Jews. This will result in a gradual liquidation of the Jewry -- a development, which corresponds to the economic conditions of the country." (NO-3151)In the cities of Latvia, German agencies used Jews as forced unpaid manpower, but there was always the danger that, despite these economic advantages to the Germans, the security police would shoot the working Jews. (NO-3146)
Einsatzgruppe C reports in September 1941:
"Difficulties have arisen, in so far as Jews are often the only skilled workers in certain trades. Thus, the only harness-makers and the only good tailors at Nowo-Ukrainka are Jews. At other places also only Jews can be employed for carpentry and locksmith work.In a certain part of the Ukraine, described as between Krivoi-Rog and Dnepropeteovsk, collective farms, known as Colchoses, were found to be operated by Jews. They were described in the report as being of low intelligence but since they were good workers the einsatz commander did not liquidate them. However, the report goes on to say that the einsatz commander was satisified with merely shooting the Jewish managers. (NO-3153)
In order not to endanger reconstruction and the repair work also for the benifit of transient troop units, it has become necessary to exclude provisionally especially the older Jewish skilled workers from the executions." (NO-3146)
The Nazi Commissioner-General for White Ruthenia, reporting in July 1942, expressed quite frankly his desire to strike down all Jews in one murderous stroke. However, he was willing to stay his arm temporarily until the requirements of the Wehrmacht should be satisfied:
"I myself and the SD would certainly much prefer that the Jewish population in the District General of White Ruthenia should be eliminated once and for all when the economic requirements of theWehrmacht have fallen off. For the time being, the necessary requirements of the Wehrmacht who is the main employer of the Jewish population are still being considered." (3428-PS)Operation Report No. 11, dated July 3, 1941, also explains that in the Baltic region the Wehrmacht is not "for the time being" in a position to dispense with the manpower of the Jews still available and fit for work. (NO-4537)
It must not be assumed, however, that once being assigned to work the Jews were free from molestation. Einsatzgruppen B, reporting on affairs in Witebsk, declared:
"By appointed Jewish Council, so far about 3,000 Jews registered. Badges are being introduced. At present they are being employed with clearing rubble. For deterrent, 27 Jews, who had not come to work, were publicly shot in the streets." (NO-2954)One report-writer, describing conditions in Esthonia, complained that as the Germans advanced, the Esthonians arrested Jews but did not kill them. He shows the superior method of the Einsatzgruppe:
"Only by the Security Police and the SD were the Jews gradually executed as they became no longer required for work." (2273-PS)He then adds as an obvious deduction: "Today there are no longer any Jews in Esthonia."
Just as a heartless tradesman may work a superannuated horse until he has drained from its body the last ounce of utility, so did the action unit in Minsk dispose of the Jews:
"In Minsk itself -- exclusive of Reich Germans -- there are about 1,800 Jews living, whose shooting must be postponed in consideration of their being used as labor." (2273-PS)In White Ruthenia the kommando leaders were instructed on orders of Heydrich to suspend the killing of Jews until after they had brought in the harvest.
Instigation to Pogroms
Certain Einsatzkommandos committed a crime which, from a moral point of view, was perhaps even worse than their own directly committed murders, that is, their inciting of the population to abuse, maltreat and slay their fellow citizens. To invade a foreign country, seize innocent inhabitants and shoot them is a crime, the mere statement of which is its own condemnation. But to stir up passion, hate, violence and destruction among the people themselves, aims at breaking the moral backbone, even of those the invader intends to spare. It sows seeds of crime which the invader intends to bear continuous fruit, even after he is driven out.
On the question of criminal knowledge it is significant that some of those responsible for these shameless crimes endeavored to keep them secret. SS-Brigadier General Stahlecker, head of Einsatzgruppe A, reporting on activities of Einsatzgruppe A, stated in October 1941 that it was the duty of his security Police to set in motion the passion of the population against the Jews. "It was not less important", the report continued,
"In view of the future to establish the unshakable and provable fact that the liberated population themselves took the most severe measures against the Bolshevist and Jewish enemy quite on their own, so that the directions by German authorities could not be found out." (L-180)In Riga, this same Stahlecker reported:
"Similarly, native anti-Semitic forces were induced to start pogroms against Jews during the first hours after capture, though this inducement proved to be very difficult. Following out orders, the Security Police was determined to solve the Jewish question with all possible means and most decisively. But it was desirable that the Security Police should not put in an immediate appearance, at least in the beginning, since the extraordinarily harsh measures were apt to stir even German circles. It had to beStahlecker was surprised and disappointed that in Lithuania it was not so easy to start pogroms against the Jews. However, after certain prodding and assistance, results were attained. He reports:
shown to the world that the native population itself took the first action by way of natural reaction against the suppression by Jews during several decades and against the terror exercised by the Communists during the preceding period." (L-180)
"Klimatis, the leader of the partisan unit, mentioned above, who was used for this purpose primarily, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of advice given to him by a small advanced detachment acting in Kowno, and in such a way that no German order or German instigation was noticed from the outside. During the first pogrom in the night from 25 to 26 June the Lithuanian partisans did away with more than 1,500 Jews, set fire to several synagogues or destroyed then by other means and burned down a Jewish dwelling district consisting of about 60 houses. During the following nights about 2,300 Jews were made harmless in a similar way. In other parts of Lithuania similar actions followed the example of Kowno, though smaller and extending to the Communists who had been left behind." (L-180)In working up special squads to initiate and carry through pogroms in Lithuania and Latvia, Stahlecker made it a point to select men who for personal reasons had a grudge against the Russians. Somehow these guards were then made to believe that by killing Jews they were avenging themselves on the Russians for their own griefs. (L-180)
Activity and Situation Report No. 6, prepared in October 1941, complained that Einsatz units operating in Esthonia could not provoke "spontaneous, anti-Jewish demonstrations with ensuing pogroms" because "adequate enlightenment was lacking." However, as stated before, not everything was lost because under the direction of the Einsatzgruppe of the Security Police and Security Service, all male Jews over the age of 16, with the exception of doctors and Jewish Elders, were arrested and killed. The report then states" "At the conclusion of the operation there will be only 500 Jewesses and children left in the Ostland." (NO-2656)
Herman Friedrich Graebe, manager and engineer in charge of a German building firm in Sdolbunow, Ukraine, has described in graphic language just how a pogrom operates. When he heard that a pogrom was being incubated he called on the commanding officer of the town, SS-Sturbannfuehrer Putz, to ascertain if the story had any basis in fact since he, Graebe, employed some Jewish workers who he wished to protect. Sturbannfuehrer Putz denied the rumors. Later, however, Graebe learned from the Area Commissioner's deputy, Stabsleiter Beck, that a pogrom was actually in the making but he extracted from Graebe the promise not to disclose the secret. He even gave Graebe a certificate to protect his workers from the pogrom. This amazing document reads:
"Messrs. JUNGThat evening the pogrom broke. At ten o'clock SS-men and Ukrainian militia surged into the Ghetto, forcing doors with beams and crossbars. Let Graebe tell the story in his own words:
The Jewish workers employed by your firm are not affected by the pogrom (Aktion).You must transfer them to their new place of work by Wednesday, 15 July 1942, at the latest.
From the Area Commissioner Beck" (2992-PS)
"The people living there were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or in bed. Since the Jews in most cases refused to leave their houses and resisted, the SS and militia applied force. They finally succeeded, with strokes of the whip, kicks and blows, with rifle butts in clearing the houses. The people were driven out of their houses in such haste that small children in bed had been left behind in several instances. In the street women cried out for their children and children for their parents. That did not prevent the SS from driving the people along the road, at running pace, and hitting them, until they reached a waiting freight train.Despite the immunity guaranteed his Jewish workers by Commissioner Beck, seven of them were seized and taken to the collecting point. Graebe's narrative continues:
Car after car was filled, and the screaming of women and children, and the cracking of whips and rifle shots resounded unceasingly. Since several families or groups had barricaded themselves in especially strong buildings, and the doors could not be forced with crowbars or beams, these houses were now blown open with handgrenades. Since the Ghetto was near the railroad tracks in Rowno, the younger people tried to get across the tracks and over a small river to get away from the Ghetto area. As this stretch of country was beyond the range of the electric lights, it was illuminated by signal rockets.
All through the night these beaten, hounded and wounded people moved along the lighted streets. Women carried their dead children in their arms, children pulled and dragged their dead parents by their arms and legs down the road toward the train. Again and again the cries 'Open the door! Open the door!' echoed through the Ghetto." (2992-PS)
"I went to the collecting point to save these seven men. I saw dozens of corpses of all ages and both sexes in the streets I had to walk along. The doors of the houses stood open, windows were smashed. Pieces of clothing, shoes, stockings, jackets, caps, hats, coats, etc. were lying in the street. At the corner of the house lay a baby, less than a year old with his skull crushed. Blood and brains were spattered over the house wall and covered the area immediately around the child. The child was5,000 Jews were massacred in this pogrom.
dressed only in a little shirt.
The commander, SS Major Puetz, was walking up and down a row of about 80 - 100 male Jews who were crouching on the ground. He had a heavy dog whip in his hand. I walked up to him, showed him the written permit of Stabsleiter Beck and demanded the seven men whom I recognized among those who were crouching on the ground. Dr. Puetz was very furious about Beck's concession and nothing could persuade him to release the seven men. He made a motion with his hand encircling the square and said that anyone who was once here would not get away. Although he was very angry with Beck, he ordered
me to take the people from 5 Bahnofstrasse out of Rowno by 8 o'clock at the latest.
When I left Dr. Puetz, I noticed a Ukrainian farm cart, with two horses. Dead people with stiff limbs were lying on the cart, legs and arms projected over the side boards. The cart was making for the freight train. I took the remaining 74 Jews who had been locked in the house to Sdolbunow."(2992-PS)
Special Kommando 7 which, as heretofore indicated, had shot the 27 Jews on the streets of Witebsk, announced in its report:
"As a result of the pogroms carried out by the Lithuanians, who were nevertheless substantially assisted by Sipo and SD, 3,800 Jews in Kauen and 1,200 in the smaller town were eliminated." (2273-PS)In some areas special groups were set up:
"In addition to this auxiliary police force, 2 more independent groups have been set up for the purpose of carrying out pogroms. All synagogues have been destroyed; 400 Jews have already been liquidated." (NO-2935)
Appropriation of Personal Effects and Valuables
While no explanation was ever given as to why the Nazi's condemned the Jews to extermination, the public record shows that they counted on substantial material advantage. The levying of enormous indemnities against persons considered by the Nazi's as Jew or half-Jews and the expropriation of their property in Germany as well as in the countries occupied by it, brought huge returns to the coffers of the Reich. And even in the dread and grim business of mass slaughter, a definite profit was rung up on the Nazi cash register. For example, Situation Report No. 73, dated 4 September 1941 reporting on the executions carried out by a single unit, Einsatzkommando 8, makes the cold commercial statement:
"On the occasion of a purge at Tscherwon 125,880 rubels were found on 139 liquidated Jews and were confiscated. This brings the total of the money confiscated by Einsatzkommando 8 to 1,510,399 rubels up to the present day." (NO-2844)Situation Report No. 133, dated 14 November 1941, shows the progress made by this unit in a little over two months:
"During the period covered by this report, Einsatzkommando 8 confiscated a further 491,705 rubles as well as 15 gold rubels. They were entered into the ledgers and passed to the Administration of Einsatzkommando 8. The total amount of rubels so far secured by Einsatzkommando 8 now amounts to 2,511,226 rubels."(NO-2825)On 26 October 1941, Situation Report No. 125 gave Einsatzkommando 7b credit for 46,700 rubels taken from liquidated Jews, Einsatzkommando 9 credit for 43,825 rubels and "various valuables in gold and silver", and recorded that Einsatzkommando 8 had increased the amount of its loot to the sum of 2,019,521 rubels. (NO-3403)
Operation and Situation Report No. 31, dated July 1941 rendering an account of operations in Lithuania, recorded the taking of "460,000 rubels in cash as well as a large number of valuables" from liquidated Jews. The report stated further:
"The former Trade Union building in Wilna was secured for the German Labor Front (DAF) at their request, likewise the money in the trade union accounts in banks, totalling 1.5 million rubles." (NO-2937)Although engaged in an ideological enterprise, supposedly undertaken on the highest ethnic and cultural level, executants of the program were not above the most petty and loathsome thievery. In the liquidation of Jews in Zhitomir and Kiev the reporting Einsatzkommando collected 137 trucksful of clothing. The report does not say whether the clothing was torn from the victims while they were still alive or after they had been killed. This stolen raiment was turned over to the National Socialist People's Welfare Orginization.
On of the defendants related how during the winter of 1941 he was ordered to obtain fur coats for his men, and that since the Jews had so much winter clothing, it would not matter much to them if they gave up a few fur coats. In describing an execution which he attended, the defendant was asked whether the victims were undressed before the execution, He replied: "No, the clothing wasn't taken -- this was a fur coat procurement operation."
A document issuing from Einsatzgruppe D headquarters (February 1942) speaks of the confiscation of watches in the course of anti-Jewish activities. The term "confiscate" does not change the legal or moral character of the operation. It was plain banditry and highway robbery. The gold and silver watches were sent to Berlin, others handed over to the Wehrmacht (rank and file) and to members of the Einsatzgruppe itself "for a nominal price" or even gratuitously if the circumstances warranted that kind of liberality with these blood-stained articles. This report also states that money seized was transmitted to the Reich Bank, except "for a small amount required for routine purposes (wages, etc.)" In other words, the executioners paid themselves with money taken from their victims.(NOKW-631)
The same Einsatzgruppe, reporting on the hard conditions under which
some Ethnic German families were living in southern
Russia, showed that it helped by placing Jewish homes, furniture, children beds, and other equipment at the disposition of the Ethnic Germans. These houses and equipment were taken from liquidated Jews.
Einsatzgruppe C, proudly reporting on its accomplishments in Korowo (September 1941), stated that it organized a regular police force to clear the country of Jews as well as for other purposes. The men enlisted for this purpose, the report goes on to say, received "their pay from the municipality from funds seized from Jews." (NO-154)
Whole villages were condemned, the cattle and supplies seized, (that is, stolen), the population shot and then the villages themselves destroyed.
Villages were razed to the ground because of the fact, or under the shallow pretense, that some of the inhabitants had been aiding or lodging partisans.
The reports abound with itemization of underwear, clothing, shoewear, cooking-utensils, etc., taken from the murdered Jews.
In Poltawa, 1,538 Jews were shot and their clothing was handed over to the mayor who, according to the report covering this action, "gave special priority to the Ethnic Germans when distributing it." (NO-3405)
Even those who were detained for death through the gas-vans had to give up their money and valuables and sometimes their clothes before breathing in the carbon monoxide.
Money and valuables taken from victims were sent to Berlin to the Reich Ministry of Finance. When a Jewish Council of Elders was appointed to register the Jews for the ostensible purpose of resettlement, the Council was also requested to submit the financial situation of the Jews. This facilitated the despoliation of their possessions which went hand in hand with their execution.
Prisoners of War
The extermination program on racial and political grounds also extended to prisoners of war. Even in the first weeks of Germany's war against Russia, large numbers of civilians from the invaded areas were indiscriminantly thrown into prisoner of war camps, run by the P.O.W. department of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. On 17 July 1941, Heydrich issued Operational Order No. 8, which contained "directives" for the Einsatz units "detailed to permanent P.W. camps (Stalags) and Transit camps (Dulags)". These directives not only grossly violated the provisions of the Hague Regulations on prisoners of war and civilians in belligerently occupied territories and of century-old rules and customs of warfare, but outraged every principle of humanity. They provided for nothing less than the cold-blooded mass-murder of prisoners of war, and of civilians held in P.W. camps. The directives state as their "purpose":
"The Wehrmacht must immediately free itself of all those elements among the prisoners of war who must be regarded as Bolshevist influence. The special situation of the campaign in the east, therefore, demands special measures (Italics original) which have to be carried out in a spirit free from bureaucratic and administrative influences, and with an eagerness to assume responsibility." (NO-3414)The directives instruct Einsatz units as to which categories of persons to seek out "above all". This list mentions in detail all categories and types of Russian Government officials, all influential communist party officials, "the leading personalities of the economy", "the Soviet Russian intellectuals", and as a separate category -- the category which was again to yield the largest number of victims of this "action" -- "All Jews"
It, in fact, emphasized that in --"taking any decisions, the racial origin has to be taken into consideration." (NO-3414)
Concerning executions, the directives specified:
"The executions must not be carried out in the camp itself or in its immediate neighborhood. They are not public and are to be carried out as inconspicuously as possible." (NO-3414)Further:
"In order to facilitate the execution of the purge, a liason-officer is to be sent to Generalmajor von Hindenburg, Commander-in-Chief of the P.W. camps in the Army Corps Area, East Prussia, in Koenigsberg, Prussia, and to Generalleutnant Herrgott, Commander-in-Chief of the P.W. camps in the General Gouvernment in Kieloe."Under this program doctors, if found in the POW camps were doomed either because they were "Russian intellectuals" or because they were Jews. However, by 29 October 1941, Heydrich found it necessary to rule:
"Because of the existing shortage of physicians and medical corps personnel in the camps, such persons, even if Jews, are to be excluded from the segregation and to be left in the P.W. camps, except in particularly well-founded cases." (NO3422)Another passage in this order of Heydrich vividly demonstrates to what extent the Reich went officially in flouting the most basic rules of international law and the principles of humanity: "The chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen decide on the suggestions for execution on their own responsibility and give the Sonderkommandos the corresponding orders."
It is apparent that all those involved in this program were aware of its illegality:
"This order must not be passed on in writing -- not even in the form of an excerpt. District commanders for Prisoners of war and commanders of Transit camps must be notified verbally." (NO-3422)It is to the credit of an occasional army officer that he objected to this shameful and degrading repudiation of the rules of war. In one report we find:
"As a particularly clear example the conduct of a camp commander in Winniza is to be mentioned who strongly objected to the transfer of 362 Jewish prisoners of war carried out by his deputy and even started court martial proceedings against the deputy and two other officers." (NO-3157)General Fieldmarshal von Reichenau, commanding the Sixth Army, however, was not so chivalrous as the officer indicated. The report states further:
"Generalfeldmarschall von Reichenau has, on 10 October 1941, issued an order which states clearly that the Russian soldier has to be considered on principle a representative of Bolshevism and has also to be treated accordingly by the Wehrmacht."Perhaps the nadir in heartlessness and cowardice was reached by these murder groups when on of the kommandos brutally killed helpless, wounded prisoners of war. Einsatzgruppe C, reporting (November 1941) on an execution performed by Sonderkommando 4a, stated:
".....the larger part were again Jews, and a considerable part of these were again Jewish prisoners of war who had been handed over by the Wehrmacht. At Borispol, at the request of the commander of the Borispol POW-Camp, a platoon of Sonderkommando 4a shot 752 Jewish prisoners of war on 14 October 1941 and 357 Jewish prisoners of war on 10 October 1941, amongst them some commissioners and 78 wounded Jews, handed over by the camp physician," (NO-2830)
How were the executions conducted? What was the modus operandi? On this subject history need not remain in the dark. Several of the executioners have themselves cleared away all mystery as to just how they accomplished their extraordinary deeds. Defendant Paul Blobel, who stated that his sonderkommando killed between 10,000 and 15,000 people, described in some detail one performance he personally directed. Specifying that from 700 to 1,000 persons were involved in this execution, he related how he divided his unit into shooting squads of 30 men each. Then, the mass graves were prepared --
"Out of the total number of the persons designated for the execution, 15 men were led in each case to the brink of the mass grave where they had to kneel down, their faces turned toward the grave. At that time, clothes and valuables were not yet collected. Later on this was changed.....In some instances, the slain persons did not fall into the graves, and the executioners were then compelled to exert themselves to complete the job of interment. A method, however, was found to avoid this additional exertion by simply having the victims enter the ditch or grave while still alive. An SS eye-witness explained the procedure:
When the men were ready for the execution on of my leaders who was in charge of this execution squad gave the order to shoot. Since they were kneeling on the brink of the mass grave, the victims fell, as a rule, at once into the mass grave.
I have always used rather large execution squads, since I declined to use men who were specialists for shots in the neck (Genickschusspezialisten). Each squad shot for about one hour and was then replaced. The persons which still had to be shot were assembled near the place of execution, and were guarded by members of those squads, which at that moment did not take part in the executions." (NO-3824)
"The people were executed by a shot in the neck. The corpses were buried in a large tank ditch. The candidates for execution were already standing or kneeling in the ditch. One group had scarcely been shot before the next came and laid themselves on the corpses there." (NO-5384)The defendant Biberstein also verified this with his statement: "The shootings took place in a sand pit, in which the bodies afterwards were buried."
The defendant Ott, who stated his kommando conducted 80 to 100 executions, told of one winter execution where the corpses were temporarily buried in the snow.
The business of executions was apparently a very efficient business-like procedure, illustrated by Report No. 24, dated 16 July 1941, which succinctly stated: "The arrested Jewish men are shot without ceremony and interred in already prepared graves, the EK1b having shot 1,150 Jews at Duenaburg up to now." (NO-2938)
Some of the kommando leaders, however, were a little more ceremonious. These executioners called off the names of the victims before they were loaded on to the truck which was to take them to their death. This was their whole judicial trial -- the indictment, the evidence, and the sentence -- a roll call of death.
There were different techniques in execution. There were Einsatz commanders who lined up their victims kneeling or standing on the edge of the grave, facing the grave, others who had the executees stand with their backs to the grave, and still others, as indicated, who had their victims stand in the grave itself. One defendant described how the victims lined up at the edge of the ditch and, as they fell, another row stepped into position so that, file after file, the bodies dropped into the pit on to the bleeding corpses beneath.
Hardly ever was a doctor present at the executions. The responsibility
of the squad leader to make certain the victims were dead before burying
them was simply discharged by a glance to determine whether the bullet-ridden
bodies moved or not. Since in most cases the huddled and contorted bodies
were strewn and piled in a trench at least six feet deep, only one
more horror is added in contemplating the inadequacy of an inspection made from the rim of a ditch as to whether life in the dark ground below was extinct or not.
In fact, one defendant did not exclude the possibility that an executee could only seem to be dead because of shock or temporary unconsciousness. In such case it was inevitable he would be buried alive.
The defendant Blobel testified that his firing squad always aimed at the heads of the victims. If, he explains, the victim was not hit, then one member of the firing squad approached with his rifle to a distance of three paces and shot again. The scene of the victim watching the head-hunter approaching with his rifle and shooting at him at three paces represents a horror for which there is no language.
Some kommando leaders, as we have seen, made their victims lie down on the ground, and they were shot in the back of the neck. But, whatever the method, it was always considered honorable, as it was always done in a humane and military manner. Defendant after defendant emphasized before the Tribunal that the requirements of militariness and humaneness were meticulously met in all executions. Of course, occasionally, as one defendant described it, "the manner in which the executions were carried out caused excitement and disobedience among the victims, so that the kommandos were forced to restore order by means of violence", that is to say, the victims were beaten. Undoubtedly always, of course, in a humane and military manner.
Only rarely, however, did the victims react to their fate. Commenting on this phase of the executions, one defendant related how some victims, destined to be shot in the back, turned around and bravely faced their executioners but said nothing. Almost invariably they went to their end silently, and some of the defendants commented on this. The silence of the doomed was mysterious, it was frightening. What did the executioners expect the victims to say? Who could find the words to speak to this unspeakable assault on humanity, this monstrous violence upon the dignity of life and being? They were silent. There was nothing to say.
It was apparently a standing order that executions should not be performed publicly, but should always take place far removed from the centers of population. A wooded area was usually selected for this grim business. Sometimes these rules were not observed. Document NOKW-641 relates an execution which took place near houses whose occupants became unwilling witnesses to the macabre scene. The narrative states: "A heavy supply traffic for the soldiers was also going on in the main street, as well as traffic of evacuated civilians. All events could be followed from the window of the battalion's office, the moaning of the people to be shot could be heard too. The following morning, a lot of clothing was lying about the place concerned [and] surrounded by inquisitive civilians and soldiers. An order to destroy the clothing was given immediately."
The business man, Friedrich Graebe, already quoted before, has left
a moving account of a mass execution witnessed by him in October 1942 near
Dubno, an account which because of its authoritative description deserves
recording in its entirety in this Opinion:
"Moennikos and I went direct to the pits. Nobody bothered us. Now I heard rifle shots in quick succession, from behind one of the earth mounds. The people who had got off the trucks -- men, women and children of all ages -- had to undress upon the orders of an SS-man, who carried a riding or dog whip.The tragedy of this scene is lost entirely on the executioner. He does his job as a job. So many persons are to be killed, just as a carpenter contemplates the construction of a shed. He must consider the material he has on hand, the possibilities of rain, etc. Only by psychologically adjusting oneself to such a state of affairs can one avoid a shock when one comes to a statement in a report very casually written, namely: "Until now, it was very difficult to carry out executions because of whether conditions." (NO-2828)
They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing and underclothing. I saw a heap of shoes of about 800 to 1,000 pairs, great piles of underlinen and clothing. Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells and waited for a sign from another SS-man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand.
During the 15 minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy. I watched a family of about 8 persons, a man and woman, both about 50 with their children of about 1, 8 and 10, and two grown up daughters of about 20 to 24. An old woman with snow-white hair was holding the one year old child in her arms and singing to it, tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The couple were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about ten years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head, and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the SS-man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound. Among them was the family which I have mentioned.
I well remember a girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said '23'. I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was already 2/3 full. I estimate that it already contained about 1,000 people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS-man who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people, completely naked, went down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of the pit and clambered over the heads of the people lying there, to the place to which the SS-men directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or injured people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I
heard a series of shots.
I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of the bodies that lay before them. Blood was running from their necks. I was surprised that I was not ordered away, but I saw that there were two or three postmen in uniform nearby. The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot. When I walked back, round the mound, I noticed another truckload of people which had just arrived. This time it included sick and infirm persons. An old, very thin woman with terribly thin legs was undressed by others who were already naked, while two people held her up. The woman appeared to be paralyzed. The naked people carried the woman around the mound. I left with Moennikes and drove my car back to Dubno.
On the morning of the next day, when I again visited the site, I saw about 30 naked people lying near the pit -- about 30 to 50 meters away from it. Some of them were still alive; they looked straight in front of them with a fixed stare and seemed to notice neither the chilliness of the morning nor the workers of my firm who stood around. A girl of about 20 spoke to me and asked me to give her clothes and help her escape. At that moment we heard a fast car approach, and I noticed that it was an SS detail. I moved away to my site. Ten minutes later we heard shots from the vicinity of the pit. The Jews still alive had been ordered to throw the corpses into the pit; -- then they had themselves to lie down in this to be shot in the neck." (2922-PS)
A report from Einsatzgruppe A, discussing events which occurred in the winter of 1941 - 1942, remarks:
"The Commander in White Russia is instructed to liquidate the Jewish question as soon as possible, despite the difficult situation. However, a period of about 2 months is still required -- according to the weather." (2273-PS)It is all this same type of studied indifference that causes another report-writer to chronicle simply: "Hostages are taken in each new place, and they are executed on the slightest reason." (NO-2948)
One of the Einsatzgruppen leaders complains that only 96 Jews were executed
at Grodno and Lida during the first days. He
manifests his displeasure and declares: "I gave orders that considerable intensification was to take place there." (NO-2937)
Adolf Ruebe, a former SS-Hauptscharfuehrer, declared in an affidavit that now and then there were executioners who devised original methods for killing their victims:
"On the occasion of an exhumation in Minsk, in November 1943, Obersturmfuehrer Heuser arrived with a kommando of Latvians. They brought eight Jews, men and women, with them. The Latvians guarded the Jews, while Harter and Heuser erected a funeral pyre with their own hands. The Jews were bound, put on the pile alive, drenched with gasoline and burnt." (NO-5498)It was stated in the early part of this Opinion that women and children were to be executed with the men so that Jews, Gypsies and so-called asocials would be exterminated for all time. In this respect, the Einsatzgruppen leaders encountered a difficulty they had not anticipated. Many of the enlisted men were husbands and fathers, and they winced as they pulled their triggers on those helpless creatures who reminded them of their own wives and off-spring at home. In this emotional disturbance they often aimed badly and it was necessary for the kommando leaders to go about with a revolver or carbine, firing into the moaning and writhing forms. This was hard on the executioner, personnel experts reported to the RHSA in Berlin, and to relieve their emotional sensitivity, gas vans were sent to the rescue.
These strange vehicles carried spurious windows and curtains and otherwise externally resembled family trailers. Women and children were lured into them with the announcement that they were to be resettled and that they would meet their husbands and fathers in the new place. Once inside the truck, the doors automatically and hermetically closed, the driver stepped on the accelerator, and monoxide gas from the engine streamed in. By the time the van reached its destination, which was an anti-tank ditch outside the town, the occupants were dead.
And here they joined their husbands and fathers who had been killed by rifles and carbines in the hands of the Einsatzgruppen.
As distressing as may be to the average person the mere thought image of these murder wagons, they were simply articles of equipment so far as the Einsatzgruppen were concerned. Communications went back and forth, correspondence was written about these gas vans with the casualness which might accompany a discussion on coal trucks. For instance, on May 16, 1942, SS-Untersturmfuehrer Dr. Becker, wrote SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Rauff, pointing out that vans could not be driven in rainy weather because of the danger of skidding. He, therefore, posed he question as to whether executions could not be accomplished with the vans in a stationary position. However, this suggestion offered a problem all its own. If the van was not actually set for mobility the victims would realize what was about to happen to them, and this, Becker said, must be avoided so far as possible. He thus recommended: "There is only one way left. To load them at the collecting point and to drive them to the spot."
Becker then complained that members of the kommando should not be required to unload the corpses:
"I brought to the attention of the commanders of those S.K. concerned, the immense psychological injuries and damages to their health which that work can have for those men, even if not immediately, at least later on. The men complained to me about headaches which appeared after each unloading."The with regard to the operation of the lethal device itself, Becker says:
"The application of gas usually is not undertaken correctly. In order to come to an end as fast as possible, the driver presses the accelerator to the fullest possible extent. By doing that the persons to be executed suffer death from suffocation and not death by dozing off as was planned. My directions have now proved that by correct adjustment of the levers death comes faster and the prisoners fall asleep peacefully." (501-PS)On June 15, 1942, the commandant of the Security Police and Security Service Ostland wrote the RSHA in Berlin as follows:
"Subject: S-VansEver efficient in discharging their homicidal duties, it appears that the Einsatz authorities now even set up a school in this new development of the fine art of genocide. The defendant Biberstein, describing one of these ultra-modern executions, spoke of the driver Sackenreuter of Nuremberg "who had been most carefully instructed about the handling of the gas truck, having been through special training courses." (NO-4314) Biberstein was satisfied that this method of killing was very efficient because the faces of the dead people were "in no way distorted"; death having come "without any outward signs of spasms." He added that no physician was present to certify that the people were dead because "this type of gas execution guaranteed certain death." Who it was that guaranteed this was not vouchsafed to history.
A transport of Jews, which has to be treated in a special way, arrives weekly at the office of the commandant of the Security Police and the Security Service of White Ruthenia.
The three S-vans which are there are not sufficient for that purpose. I request assignment of another S-van (5 tons). At the same time I request the shipment of 20 gas hoses for the three S-vans on hand (2 Daimond, 1 Saurer), since the ones on hand are leaky already."
The murder-vans were constructed in Berlin and then, under their own power, driven to the field of action. The reports tell of two vans which travelled from Berlin to the Crimea, It would be interesting to know the thoughts of the drivers of these murder-vans as they rolled over half of Europe, through city and country, climbing mountains and penetrating plains, travelling 2,000 kilometers with their gaseous guillotines to kill helpless women and children. On of the drivers was none other than the chauffeur of the arch-murder Reinhardt Heydrich.
One reads and reads these accounts of which here we can given only a few excerpts and yet there remains the instinct to disbelieve, to question, to doubt. There is less of a mental barrier in accepting the weirdest stories of supernatural phenomena, as, for instance, water running up hill and trees with roots reaching toward the sky, than in taking at face value these narratives which go beyond the frontiers of human cruelty and savagery. Only the fact the the reports from which we have quoted came from the pens of men within the accused organizations can the human mind be assured that all this actually happened. The reports and the statements of the defendants themselves verify what otherwise would be dismissed as the product of a disordered imagination. The record reveals that investigators and evidence analysts have checked and rechecked, Being human they sometimes doubted the correctness of the startling figures appearing in the reports. Thus, when one of them came across the statement of Stahlecker that Einsatzgruppe A, of which he was chief, had killed 135,000 human beings in four months, the investigator questioned Otto Ohlendorf if this were possible. Ohlendorf read the statement in question and announced:
"I have read the report of Stahlecker (Document L-180) concerning Einsatzgruppe A, in which Stahlecker asserts that his group killed 135,000 Jews and Communists in the first four months of the program. I know Stahlecker personally, and I am of the opinion that the document is authentic." (2620-PS)How can all this be explained? Even when Germany was retreating on all fronts, many troops sorely needed on the battlefield were diverted on this insane mission of extermination. In defiance of military and economic logic incalculable manpower was killed of, property of every description was destroyed -- all remained unconsidered as against this insanity of genocide.
Here and there a protest was raised. The SS-Commissioner General for
White Ruthenia objected to the executions in his
district -- not on the grounds of humanity, but because he believed the unbridled murder program was lowering the prestige of Germany.
"Above all, any act lowering the prestige of the German Reich and its organization in the eyes of the White Ruthenian population should be avoided.....I am submitting this report in duplicate so that one copy may be forwarded to the Reich Minister. Peace and order cannot be maintained in White Ruthenia with methods of that sort. To bury seriously wounded people alive who work their way out of their graves again, is such a base and filthy act that this incident as such should be reported to theThe report referred to gave a graphic description of the extermination action. It told of the arrival of a Police Battalion with instructions to liquidate all Jews in the town of Sluzk within two days. The Commissioner for the Territory of Sluzk protested that the liquidation of all Jews, which naturally included the tradesmen, would shut down the economic life of the area. He asked, at least, for postponement of the executions. The Lieutenant in charge of the battalion refused to wait. The report continues:
Fuehrer and Reich Marshal. The civil administration of White Ruthenia makes very strenuous efforts to win the population over to Germany in accordance with the instructions of the Fuehrer. These efforts cannot be brought in harmony with the methods described herein." (1104-PS)
"For the rest, as regards the executions of the action, I must point out to my deepest regret that the latter bordered already on sadism. The town itself offered a picture of horror during the action. With indescribable brutality on the part of both the German police officers and particularly the Lithuanian partisans, the Jewish people, but also among them White Ruthenians, were taken out of their dwellings and herded together. Everywhere in the town shots were heard, and in different streets the corpses ofFor a nation at war nothing can be more important than that ammunition reach the soldiers holding the fighting frontiers. Yet, many vehicles loaded with ammunition for the armed forces were left standing in the streets of Sluzk because the Jewish drivers, already illegally forced into this service, had been liquidated by the Execution Battalion. Although the very life of the nation depended on the continued operation of every type of food-producing establishment, 15 of the 26 specialists at a cannery were shot.
shot Jews accumulated.....In conclusion I find myself obliged to point out that the police battalion has looted in an unheard of manner during the action, and that not only in Jewish houses but just the same in those of the White Ruthenians. Anything of use such as boots, leather, cloth, gold and other valuables, has been taken away.
On the basis of statements of the members of the Armed Forces, watches were torn off the arms of Jews in public, on the street, and rings were pulled of the fingers in the most brutal manner. A major of the Finance Department reported that a Jewish girl was asked by the police to obtain immediately 5,000 rubles to have her father released. This girl is said to have actually gone everywhere to obtain the money." (1104-PS)
The blood bath of Sluzk brought about some interesting correspondence. The Commissioner General inquired of the Reich Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories if the liquidation of Jews in the East was to take place without regard to the economic interests of the Wehrmacht and specialists in the armament industry. The Reich Minister replied:
"Clarification of the Jewish question has most likely been achieved by now through verbal discussions. Economic considerations should fundamentally remain unconsidered in the settlement of the problem." (3666-PS)A German inspector of armament in the Ukraine, after a thorough investigation into the Jewish Liquidation Program, reported to General of the Infantry, Thomas, Chief of the Industrial Armament Department, that the project was a big mistake from the German point of view. In the Ukraine he found that the Jews represented almost the entire trade and even a substantial part of the manpower.
"The elimination, therefore, necessarily had far-reaching economic consequences and even direct consequences FOR THE ARMAMENT INDUSTRY. (Production for supplying the troops)."The report goes on:
"The attitude of the Jewish population was anxious-obliging from the beginning. They tried to avoid everything that might displease the German administration. That they hated the German administration and army inwardly goes without saying and cannot be surprising. However, there is no proof that Jewry as a whole or even to a greater part was implicated in acts of sabotage. Surely, there were some terrorists or saboteurs among them just as among the Ukrainians. But it cannot be said that the Jews as such represented a danger to the German armed forces. The output produced by Jews who, of course, were prompted by nothing but the feeling of fear, was satisfactory to the troops and the German administration."(3257-PS)What made the program of extermination particularly satanic was that the executions invariably took place not during the stress and turmoil of fighting or defensive action, but after the fighting had ceased:
"The Jewish population remained temporarily unmolested shortly after the fighting. Only weeks sometimes months later, specially detached formations of the police (Ordnungspolizei) executed a planned shooting of Jews.....The way these actions which included men and old men, women and children of all ages were carried out was horrible. The great masses executed make this action more gigantic than any similar measure taken so far in the Soviet Union. So far about 150,000 to 200,000 Jews may have been executed in the part of the Ukraine belonging to the Reichkommissariat (RK); no consideration was given to the interests of economy."In a final appeal to reason this German inspector cries out:
"If we shoot the Jews, let the prisoners of war perish, condemn considerable parts of the urban population to death by starvation and also lose a part of the farming population by hunger during the next year, the question remains unanswered: WHO IN ALL THE WORLD IS THEN SUPPOSED TO PRODUCE ECONOMIC VALUES HERE?"(3257-PS)No one answered the question of the German inspector. Nor did any one answer the question of Humanity as to why these