The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/ussr/ukraine/belaya_tserkov/belaya_tse.001

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Children exterminated in Ukraine
Summary: Ninety Jewish women and children ordered exterminated in
         Belaya Tserkov, a village near Kiev, after investigation
         and protests by Sixth Army chaplains. 
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Kiev,Belaya Tserkov,Reichenau,Blobel,Groscurth
Lines: 140

Archive/File: holocaust/ussr/ukraine belaya_tse.001
Last-Modified: 1994/04/13

   "Even in August 1941, the killers had not solved their problem. A
   city in which their difficulties surfaced conspicuously was Belaya
   Tserkov, about fifty miles south of Kiev. Belaya Tserkov had been
   captured in a rapid push by the Sixth Army. At the time, the
   commander of this army was Field Marshall Walter von Reichenau. The
   295th Infantry Division, subordinated directly to Army Group South
   as a reserve, was located in the city during mid-August. A military
   government had been set up: a regional Feldkommandantur and a local
   Ortkommandantur. In the city were also small elements of
   Sonderkommando 4a, which was commanded by Standartenfu"hrer
   (Colonel) Paul Blobel, an architect. Bloebel's local deputy was
   Obersturmfu"hrer (First Lieutenant) August Ha"fner. As observed by
   an army officer candidate, the Kommando was shooting eight hundred
   to nine hundred Jewish adults in small groups of nine. Two men
   would aim at each victim from a distance of about twenty feet.
   Sometimes the top of a skull flew off and the men were covered with

   On the morning of August 2, several soldiers alerted two military
   chaplains in the field hospital to a building in which some ninety
   Jewish children, ranging from small infants to age five, six, or
   seven, were kept with a few Jewish adults in two or three rooms,
   guarded by a Ukrainian. The children, who had been crying at night
   and had nothing to eat or drink for at least a day, were lying in
   their own filth. Some were licking the walls. The smallest looked
   comatose. The two clergymen, who suspected that Ukrainians had
   acted without German orders, called the attention of the divisional
   Catholic and Protestant chaplains to the discovery, and these
   officers in turn lost no time in approaching the 1st General Staff
   Officer of the division, Lieutenant Colonel Helmuth Groscurth.

   Groscurth was a tall forty-two-year-old professional officer, who
   was the son of a Lutheran minister. Before his assignment to the
   295th Division, he had served in the Armed Forces High Command
   under Intelligence Chief Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. A veteran of the
   First World War, in which he had been wounded and captured,
   Groscurth was profoundly pessimistic. Critical of ranking generals,
   suspicious of the Nazi regime, and disdainful of the SS, he wrote
   prolifically in diaries, letters, and memoranda. Within a half hour
   after the visit of the two divisional chaplains in Belaya Tserkov,
   Groscurth went to the house where the children were imprisoned and
   inspected the rooms himself. The very next day, he summarized what
   he had seen and done in a lucid, lengthy report.

   The smell was insufferable. A member of the Sonderkommando told him
   that the families of the children had already been shot and that
   the children were also going to be eliminated. Groscurth demanded
   and explanation from the Ortskommandant, who declared himself
   incompetent and who suggested that Groscurth talk to the
   Feldkommandant, Lieutenant Colonel Riedl. This officer pointed out
   that the action was in the hands of an SS lieutenant who had orders
   from the highest authorities. The correctness and necessity of the
   orders, said Riedl, could not be doubted. Groscurth demanded that a
   continuation of the action be disallowed until a decision of Army
   Group South had been obtained. The General Staff Officer of the
   army group referred Groscurth to the Sixth Army. By 8:00 P.M.,
   Groscurth succeeded in obtaining a delay from Field Marshal
   Reichenau, and the Feldkommandantur shipped water and bread to the

   On the following morning at 11:00 A.M., Groscurth, accompanied by a
   subordinate, met with Riedl, the army's counter-intelligence
   officer Captain Luley, Obersturmfu"hrer Ha"fner, and Blobel. As
   summarized in Groscurth's report, Luley declared that, even though
   he was an Evangelical (Lutheran) Christian himself, he would have
   preferred the clergy to have confined themselves to the care of the
   souls of the soldiers. riedl became philosophical and said that the
   'extermination' of the Jewish women and children was urgently
   required, regardless of the form in which it was going to ensu, and
   that the division had unnecessarily delayed the elimination of the
   children for twenty-four hours. Blobel agreed, explaining that
   Reichenau understood the necessity of the action and suggesting
   that soldiers who snooped carry out the shootings themselves.

   Groscurth was outnumbered. He had already been informed by the
   division intelligence officer that Blobel's description of
   Reichenau's attitude was accurate. Groscurth, falling back, said
   that the clergy had to suppose an inappropriate initiative by
   Ukraininan militia. As for the division, it had intervened solely
   because of the manner of implementation of the action. Concluding
   his report, Groscurth did not refrain from stating his position
   that 'measures against women and children were involved, which were
   distinguished in no way from the atrocities of the enemy.' He added
   that the entire action appeared to have been instigated by
   Lieutenant Colonel Riedl. The Feldkommandant had declared
   repeatedly that the Jewish herd had to be exterminated and that,
   once the adults had been shot, the children, especially infants,
   had to be eliminated as a matter of course.

   Field Marshal von Reichenau had the last word. On August 28, 1941,
   he blamed the division for the 'interruption' of the action and
   specifically rejected the contention that the measure was
   comparable to atrocities of the enemy. Such incorrect assertions
   did not belong in a report passing through many hands. The report
   as a whole, he stated, should not have been made in the first

   The children were now shot, not by German personnel of the
   Sonderkommando, but by Ukrainian militia borrowed from the army.
   The Ukrainians, said Obersturmfu"hrer Ha"fner after the war, had
   stood around trembling. Ha"fner himself was not spared some
   torment. A little girl took him by the hand before she was killed.*"
   (Hilberg, 58-61) 

   * The documents, originally in the possession of the Groscurth
   family, were handed to Helmut Krausnick, the director of the
   Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, and were first
   published by Krausnick and Harold Deutsch, eds., in 'Helmuth
   Groscurth: Tagebuch eines Abwehroffiziers,' (Stuttgart, 1970), pp.
   88-91, 534-42. Some of the documents, as well as the testimony of
   the officer candidate and August Ha"fner, were printed in Ernst
   Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess, eds., 'Scho"ne Zeiten"
   (Frankfurt am Main, 1988), pp. 131-45. On Groscurth's life, see the
   introduction in Krausnick, Groscurth, pp. 1-95. Groscurth long
   smarted from Reichenau's rebuke. See his correspondence with
   Lieutenant Colonel Kleikamp (intelligence officer of Army Group
   South) and the letter to his brother Reinhard: Groscurth, pp.
   541-42, and 526. Groscurth was captured with the Sixth Army in
   Stlingrad and died in captivity: Groscurth, p. 95.
                            Work Cited

   Hilberg, Raul.  Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish
   Catastrophe 1933-1945.  New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc.

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