The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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These actions were not only the work of the SS and Himmler.
They were carried out in co-operation with the army
commanders with the full knowledge of Keitel and Jodl and,
indeed, because every soldier fighting in the East must have
known about them, with the knowledge also of every member of
the Government and of the commanders of its armed forces.

  "Our task," so states the report of the task Force A,
  "was hurriedly to establish personal contact with the
  commanders of the armies and with the commander of the
  rear army. It must be stressed from the beginning that co-
  operation with the armed forces was generally good. In
  some cases, for instance, with Panzer Group A under Col.-
  Gen. Hoeppner, it was very close, almost cordial."

The German generals were "almost cordial " as they weltered
in the blood of hundreds of thousands of helpless, innocent
men, women and children. Perhaps they enjoyed this work - in
the same way as the members of the Einsatz Commandos
themselves apparently enjoyed it.

  "It should be mentioned," states the report, "that the
  leaders of the armed SS and of the uniformed police, who
  are reserves, have declared their wish to stay on with
  the Security Police and the SD."

Again and again in the reports of the Einsatz Commandos,
progress, co-operation with the army authorities is
emphasized. After describing how thousands of Lithuanian
Jews had been made harmless, during a particular pogrom in
June, it is stated:

  "These self-cleansing actions went smoothly because the
  army authorities who had been informed showed
  understanding for, this procedure."

Nor was it only cordiality and understanding that the army
authorities showed. In some cases they themselves took the
initiative. After describing the murder of inmates of
lunatic asylums that had fallen into their hands, the
Einsatz Commando Report continues:

  "Sometimes authorities of the armed forces asked us to
  clear out in a similar way other institutions which were
  wanted as billets. However, as the interests of the
  Security Police did not require any intervention, it was
  left to the authorities of the armed forces to take the
  necessary action with their own forces."

And again:

  "The advance of the forces of Action Group A which were
  intended to be used for Leningrad was effected in
  agreement with and on the express wish of Panzer Group

How can operations of this kind, extending for months and
years over vast territories, carried out with the co-
operation of the armed forces as they advanced, and in the
rear areas that they administered, have remained unknown to
the leaders in Germany? Even their own commissioners in the
occupied territories protested. In October, 1941, the
Commissioner for White Ruthenia was forwarding to the Reich
Commissioner for Eastern Territories at Riga a report on the
operations in his district. Some idea of the horror of those
operations can be seen from that report. I quote:

  "Regardless of the fact that the Jewish people, among
  whom were also, tradesmen, were maltreated in a terribly
  barbarous way in the face of the White Ruthenian people,
  the White Ruthenians themselves were also worked over
  with rubber clubs and rifle butts - the whole picture was
  generally more than ghastly - I was not present at the
  shooting before the town. Therefore: I cannot make a
  statement on its brutality. But it should suffice if I

                                                  [Page 455]

  out that persons shot have worked themselves out of their
  graves some time after they had been covered."

But protests of this kind were of no avail; the slaughter
continued with unabated ghastliness.

In February, 1942, in Heydrich's activity and situation
report on the Einsatz Commandos in the USSR, of which a copy
was addressed to Kaltenbrunner personally, it was stated:

  "We are aiming at cleansing the Eastern countries
  completely of Jews. Estonia has already been cleared of
  Jews. In Latvia the number of Jews in Riga, of whom there
  were 29,500, has now been reduced to 2,500."

By June, 1943, the Commissioner for White Ruthenia was again
protesting. After referring to 4,500 enemy dead, he says:

  "The political effect of this large-scale operation upon
  the peaceful population is simply dreadful in view of the
  many shootings of women and children."

The Reich Commissioner for Eastern Territories, forwarding
that protest to Rosenberg, the Reich Minister for Occupied
Eastern Territories in Berlin, added:

  "The fact that Jews receive special treatment requires no
  further discussion. However, it appears hardly believable
  that this is done in the way described in the report of
  the General Commissar. What is Katyn against this?
  Imagine only that these occurrences would become known to
  the-other side and exploited by them. Most likely such
  propaganda would have no effect if only because people
  who read and heard about it simply would not be ready to
  believe it."

How true that comment is! Are we ready even now to believe
it? Describing the difficulty of distinguishing between
friend and foe, he says:

  "Nevertheless, it should be possible to avoid atrocities
  and to bury those who have been liquidated. To lock men,
  women and children into barns and set fire to them does
  not appear to be a suitable method of combating bands,
  even if it is desired to exterminate the population. This
  method is not worthy of the German cause and hurts our
  reputation severely."

Of these Jews murdered in White Ruthenia, over 11,000 were
slaughtered in the district of Libau, and 7,000 of them had
been killed in the naval port itself.

How can any of these defendants plead ignorance of these
things? When Himmler was speaking of these actions openly
amongst his SS generals and all the officers of his SS
divisions in April, 1943, he told them:

  "Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting
  rid of lice is not a question of ideology: it is a matter
  of cleanliness. In just the same way, anti-Semitism for
  us has not been a question of ideology but a matter of
  cleanliness which now will soon have been dealt with. We
  shall soon be deloused. We have only 20,000 lice left,
  and then the matter is finished off within the whole of

And in October of that year:

  "Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are
  lying side by side, or 500, or 1,000."

Meanwhile, the mass murder of Jews at Auschwitz and the
other extermination centres was becoming a State industry
with by-products. Bales of hair, some of it, as you will
remember, still plaited as it had been shorn off the girls'
heads, tons of clothing, toys, spectacles and other articles
went back to the Reich to stuff the chairs and clothe the
people of the Nazi State. The gold from their victims'
teeth, seventy-two transports full, went to fill the coffers
of Funk's Reichsbank. On occasion, even the bodies of their
victims were used to make good the war-time shortage of

The victims came from all over Europe. Jews from Austria,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Holland, Soviet Russia,
France, Belgium, Poland and Greece

                                                  [Page 456]

were being herded together to be deported to the
extermination centres or to be slaughtered on the spot.

In April, 1943, Hitler and Ribbentrop were pressing the
Regent Horthy to take action against the Jews in Hungary.
Horthy asked:

  "What should he do with the Jews now that he had deprived
  them of almost all possibilities of livelihood; he could
  not kill them off. The Reich Foreign Minister declared
  that the Jews must be either exterminated or taken to
  concentration camps. There was no other possibility."

Hitler explained:

  "In Poland the state of affairs had been fundamentally
  cleared up. If the Jews there did not want to work they
  were shot. If they could not work they had to succumb.
  They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli. This
  was not cruel if one remembered that even innocent
  creatures of nature, such as hares and deer, have to be
  killed so that no harm is caused by them."

In September, 1942, Ribbentrop's State Secretary, Luther,
was writing:

  "The Reich Foreign Minister has instructed me today by
  telephone to hasten as much as possible the evacuation of
  the Jews from different countries ... After a short
  lecture on the evacuation now in progress in Slovenia,
  Croatia, Rumania and the occupied territories, the Reich
  Foreign Minister has ordered that we are to approach the
  Bulgarian, Hungarian and Danish Governments with the goal
  of getting evacuation started in those countries."

By the end of 1944, 400,000 Jews from Hungary alone had been
executed in Auschwitz. In the German Embassy in Bucharest,
the files contained a memorandum:

  "110,000 Jews are being evacuated from Bukovina and
  Bessarabia into two forests in the area of the river Bug
  .... The purpose of the action is the liquidation of
  these Jews."

Day by day, over years, women were holding their children in
their arms and pointing to the sky while they waited to take
their place in blood-soaked, communal graves. 12,000,000
men, women and children have died thus, murdered in cold
blood, millions upon millions more today mourn their fathers
and mothers, their husbands, their wives and their children.
What right has any man to mercy who has played a part -
however indirectly - in such a crime?

Let Graebe speak again of Dubno:

  "On 5th October, 1942, when I visited the building office
  at Dubno my foreman told me that in the vicinity of the
  site Jews from Dubno had been shot in three large pits,
  each about thirty metres long and three metres deep.
  About 1,500 persons had been killed daily. All of the
  5,000 Jews who had still been living in Dubno before the
  pogrom were to be liquidated. As the shooting had taken
  place in his presence, he was still much upset. Thereupon
  I drove to the site, accompanied by my foreman, and saw
  near it great mounds of earth, about thirty metres long
  and two metres high. Several trucks stood in front of the
  mounds. Armed Ukrainian militia drove the people off the
  trucks under the supervision of an SS man. The militia
  men acted as guards on the trucks and drove them to and
  from the pit. All these people had the regulation yellow
  patches on the front and back of their clothes and thus
  could be recognized as Jews. My foreman and I went
  directly 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. 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 under-linen and clothing.
  Without screaming or weeping these people undressed,
  stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said
  farewells, and waited for a

                                                  [Page 457]

  sign from another SS man, who stood near the pit, also
  with a whip in his hand. During the fifteen minutes that
  I stood near I heard no complaint or plea for mercy. I
  watched a family of about eight persons, a man and a
  woman, both about fifty, with their children aged about
  one, eight and ten, and two grown-up daughters of about
  twenty to twenty-four. An old woman with snow-white hair
  was holding the one-year-old child in her arms and
  singing to it and 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 about twenty 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, 'Twenty-three'. 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 two-thirds full. I estimated 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 man directed them. They laid
  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 motionless on top of the bodies which lay
  before them. Blood was running away from their necks. I
  was surprised that I was not ordered away but I saw that
  there were two or three postmen in uniform near by. 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 truck-load 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 paralysed.
  The naked people carried the woman around the mound. I
  left with my foreman and drove in my car back to Dubno.

  On the morning of the next day, when I again visited the
  site, I saw about thirty naked people lying near the pit
  - about thirty to fifty metres 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 twenty 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."

That no man in that dock can have remained ignorant of the
horrors perpetrated to support the Nazi war machine and the
policy of genocide becomes the more clear when you consider
the evidence with regard to another great crime little heard
of during the course, of this trial but which, as clearly as
any other, illustrates the wickedness of these men and of
their regime - the murder of some 275,000 persons by so-
called mercy killing. To what base uses that beautiful word
was put!

                                                  [Page 458]

Some time in the summer of 1940 Hitler secretly ordered the
murder of ill and aged people in Germany who were no longer
of productive value for the German war machine. Frick, more
than any other man in Germany, was responsible for what took
place as a result of that decree. Of his knowledge and of
the knowledge of a great many people in Germany there is
abundant evidence. In July, 1940, Bishop Wurm was writing to

  "For some months past, insane, feeble-minded and
  epileptic patients of State and private medical
  establishments have been transferred to another
  institution on the orders of the Reich Defence Council.
  Their relatives, even when the patient was kept at their
  cost, are not informed of the transfer until after it has
  taken place. Mostly they are informed a few weeks after
  that the patient concerned has died of an illness, and
  that owing to the danger of infection the body has had to
  be cremated. At a superficial estimate several hundred
  patients of an institution in Wurttemberg alone must have
  met their death in this way .... Owing to numerous
  inquiries from town and country and from the most varied
  circles, I consider it my duty to point out to the Reich
  Government that this fact is causing a particular stir in
  our small province. Transports of sick people who are
  unloaded at the small railway station of Marbach, the
  buses with opaque windows which bring sick persons from
  more distant railway stations or directly from the
  institutions, the smoke which rises from the crematorium
  and which can be noticed even from a considerable
  distance ... all this gives rise to speculation as no one
  is allowed into the Castle .... Everybody is convinced
  that the causes of death which are published officially
  are selected at random. When, to crown everything, regret
  is expressed in the obituary notice that all endeavours
  to preserve the patients' life were in vain, this is felt
  as a mockery. 

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