The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-07-59.02
Last-Modified: 1997/10/08

On 24th December, 1942, seventy-eight prisoners of war from
the Berdichev section of the "Educational Labor Camp" were
to be subjected to "special treatment." All the seventy-
eight prisoners were Soviet prisoners. There is, in the
correspondence, a report addressed to the authorities by
S.S. Obersturmfuehrer Kunze, of 27th December, 1942. You
will find it on Page 170 of your document book. At the end
of the first paragraph there is one sentence which, for
greater clarity, has been marked with a red pencil. It says:-

     "There is no proof that these prisoners of war
     had ever participated in any communistic
     activities during the time of the Soviet regime."
Kunze's next sentence fully elucidates the question of how
and why these prisoners of war entered the Educational Labor
Camp. He states:--

     "It seems that the Wehrmacht had, at the time,
     placed these prisoners of war at the disposal of
     our local authorities, for special treatment."
We became convinced that they had been directed to this
Stalag by the military authorities. The specialist -- in
this case undoubtedly Obersturmfuehrer Kunze -- states that
they were sent here especially to be subjected to the
treatment of the "special regime."

In an attempt to shorten, if ever so slightly, the very
abundant documentation which forms the correspondence, I
will tell you, in my own words, that the seventy-eight
people in question were all that remained of a far larger
group. Sturmbannfuehrer S.S. Friedrich Knopp reports (Page
163 of your document book):--

     "Some of the prisoners at that time were
     transported in a lorry, to some place in the
     neighbourhood. Later on, further transportations
     of prisoners of war were suspended, following
     objections raised by the Army."
A little later I will be more explicit when dealing with the
nature of these transfers and the objections raised by the

Please permit me now to pass over to a brief summary of the
gist of the matter. It appears to me more useful to describe
it in the words of one of the documents. I quote:--

     "Commander of the Security Police and S.D. in
                                        24th December, 1942.
     When summoned to appear, S.S. Sturmbannfuehrer
     and Chief Secretary of the Kripo, Friedrich
     Knopp, complied. He was born in January, 1897, at
     Neuklinz, in the district of Koeslin. Friedrich
     Knopp testified as follows:
     'As from the middle of August I was head of the
     Berdichev Office of the Commander of the Security
     Police and S.D. in the town of Djitomir. On 23rd
     December, 1942, the Deputy Commander,
     Hauptsturmfuehrer of the S.S., Kallbach,
     inspected the local office and also the
     Educational Labor Camp (Arbeitserziehungslager),
     supervised by my office. In this Educational
     Labor Camp, as from the end of October or the
     beginning of November, there were seventy-eight
     former prisoners of war who had been transferred
     from the permanent Stalag (Stalag) in Djitomir as
     being unfit for work. A considerable number of
     prisoners of war had, in the past, been handed
     over and placed at the disposal of the Commander
     of the Security Police and S.D.'"
                                              [Page 4]
I think there is no necessity to explain in detail that the
transfer of the prisoners of war and the placing of them at
the disposal of the Security Police had been provided for by
special directives of the S.S. and the S.D., especially
referring to persons condemned to physical extermination.

I quote further (on the same page of your document book --

     "In Djitomir a few of them, who up to a certain
     point were fit for work, had been set aside. The
     remaining seventy-eight persons were transferred
     to the local Educational Labor Camp."
Omitting two more extracts:--

     "The seventy-eight prisoners of war in the local
     Stalag were, one and all, severely wounded men.
     Some had lost both legs; others -- both arms;
     others again had lost one or the other of their
     limbs. Only a few of them had both arms and legs,
     although they were so mutilated by other kinds of
     wounds that they were totally unfit for work;
     they had to nurse the wounded. At the time he was
     inspecting the Educational Labor Camp on 23rd
     December, 1942, S.S. Hauptsturmfuehrer Kallbach
     issued an order to the effect that the surviving
     sixty-eight or seventy prisoners of war (the
     others having died in the meantime) should this
     very day be subjected to special treatment. For
     this purpose he assigned a motor truck, driven by
     S.S. Mann Schaefer from the command division, who
     arrived here to-day at 1130 hours. I entrusted
     the preparations for the execution early this
     morning, to my colleagues in the local
     administration, S.S. Unterscharfuehrer Paal, S.S.
     Rottenfuehrer Kesselbach, and S.S. Sturmmann
I will, with your permission, omit a further part of the
quotation which, in any case, already figures in your files.
I think I may safely do so in order to save time. It is a
description of the technical preparations for the execution.
One passage, however, does appear to me to be of interest;
and I quote:--

     "Usually the execution of the Jews was carried
     out in the precincts of the labour Stalag. For
     this particular execution I issued orders to
     choose a site outside the Stalag. Concerning the
     three above-mentioned persons whom I entrusted
     with the shooting of the prisoners of war, I knew
     that they had, in Kiev, participated in the mass
     executions of many thousands of persons and that
     they had previously, that is during my time of
     service, been entrusted by the local
     administration with the shooting of many hundreds
     of victims."
I should like to invite your attention to another instance
which again shows the meaning which the Hitlerites usually
attached to the words "execution" and "treatment by special
regime." Here, in one sentence alone, the words "mass
execution" and "shooting" are definitely used as synonymous
terms, while a little higher up it is made quite clear to us
what "transportation by trucks to some place in the
neighbourhood" and "treatment by special regime" mean.
Unquestionably, these four terms have an identical

After this digression I continue my quotation: Having made a
few more omissions from the passage already printed in your
document book, I proceed to the following paragraph (your
Page 156) if only to carry on the description:--

     "They (the German executioners) were armed with a
     German submachine gun, a Russian automatic rifle,
     an 0.8 pistol, and a carbine. I would point out
     that I had intended to give these three persons,
     as an assistant, S.S. Hauptscharfuehrer Wenzel,
     but S.S. Sturmmann Vollbrecht declined, remarking
     that three men were perfectly able to execute
     this order.
     Concerning the indictment -- it never entered my
     head to ensure the smooth procedure of an
     ordinary execution to send a larger detachment,
     since the execution ground was hidden from public
     view and the captives were..."
THE PRESIDENT: These words "Concerning the indictment," are
they in the original document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY:-- It is the text of the explanation, of
the evidence

                                                    [Page 5]
which the signatory of the document handed to his police
chief. I, with the permission of the Tribunal, will quote
the original German documents of the inquiry. The persons
responsible for carrying out the execution were accused of
provoking, by their indiscretion and carelessness, that
which they called an "incident" and they produced an
explanation of the cause of this incident.

     "Concerning the charge, it never entered my head,
     to ensure the smooth procedure of an ordinary
     execution, to send a larger detachment, since the
     execution ground was hidden from public view and
     the captives were unable to escape by reason of
     their physical infirmities.
     At about 1500 hours I received a telephone call
     from the Stalag to the effect that one of the co-
     workers in my department, in charge of this
     special task, had been wounded and that one man
     had run away. I promptly sent S.S.
     Hauptscharfuehrer Wenzel and S.S. Oberscharfuehrer
     Fritsch to the execution ground in a horse-cart.
     Some time later I received another telephone call
     from the Stalag, informing me that the co-workers
     of my Department had been killed."
I think it useless to read into the record details of a
purely technical nature. I shall omit, at this point, a
considerable part of those references which I had,
previously, intended to quote, and I will proceed to that
part of Knopp's evidence which he had handed to his police
chief. You will find the passage in question on Page 166.

     "I wish to point out that the `incident' I have
     described took place during the second execution.
     It had been preceded by the shooting of
     approximately twenty prisoners of war which had
     passed without any incident at all. As soon as I
     returned, I informed the command headquarters at
     Djitomir accordingly...
     I cannot give any further evidence. I declare that
     my evidence is absolutely true and I am aware that
     any false evidence on my part would result in
     punishment and in exclusion from the S.S.
       (signed) Friedrich Knopp, S.S. Oberscharfuehrer;
            certified:-- Kunze, S.S. Obersturmfuehrer."

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