Lines: 209 Archive/File: holocaust/germany/nuremberg partisans.001 Last-Modified: 1994/03/10 Bach-Zelewski joined the Nazi party in 1930, and the SS when it was limited to a few hundred members. He became one of Himmler's favourites, and didn't hesitate to murder Communists and other 'enemies' before and during the Ro"hm purges. After the attack on the Soviet Union, he was appointed 'Ho"bere SS und Polizeifu"hrer' in Central Russia, where he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1942. "Tortured by guilt, he writhed and screamed, and was oppressed by horrible visions. `Don't you know what's happending in Russia?' he asked his doctor. `The entire Jewish people is being exterminated there.' Dr. Ernst Grawitz, the chief SS medical officer, reported to Himmler: `He is suffering particularly from hallucinations connected with the shooting of Jews, which he himself carried out, and with other grievous experiences in the East.' Within a few months Bach-Zelewski recovered sufficiently to be named chief of all antipartisan units. Throughout 1943 he flew from one headquarters to another organizing antipartisan task forces out of units of the Werhmacht, the SS, the SD, and the police. ... While, individually, many of the partisan groups were more a nuisance than a danger to the Germans, collectively, by their very numbers and the vast territory over which they spread, they posed a major threat. Attacks on trains averaged eight hundred to a thousand a month. In the northern Ukraine the series of `partisan republics' stretching from the battlefront all the way to the Romanian and Hungarian borders left only tenuous communications between the German Central and Souther Army Groups. In much of the Ukraine, including the district around Zhitomir, where Himmler had his headquarters, the Germans controlled only one-fifth of the forested and two-fifths of the cultivated areas. Of the greatly reduced harvest, not more than one-third to one-half went to the Germans. (NCA, 3711 PS, Statement of Wilhelm Scheidt, Nov. 25, 1945) By its very nature, the warfare was savage. The partisans had no facilities to keep prisoners or to treat wounded, so captured soldiers were shot as a matter of course. Hitler, conversly, reiterated that whoever was involved in antipartisan warfare had carte blanche: The enemy employs in partisan warfare Communist-trained fanatics who do not hesitate to commit any atrocity. It is more than ever a question of life and death. If the fight against the partisans in the East is not waged with the most brutal means we will shortly reach the point when the available forces are not sufficient to control this pest. It is therefore not only justified but it is the duty of the troops to use all means without restriction even against women and children as long as it insures success. No German employed against the partisans will be held accountable for the fighting against them or their followers either by disciplinary action or by court-martial. (Int. of Keitel by Maj. General Alexandrow, Nov. 9, 1945.) Every village from the vicinity of which resistance emanated was given the Lidice treatment -- the men and boys lined up on one side, the women and the children on the other, and the women informed that, unless they pointed out the perpetrators, the men would be shot and the village burned. (NCA, 886 PS, Fu"hrer Decree of May 13, 1941; D 729, Conversation between Goering and Mussolini, Oct. 23, 1942) More often than not, however, the guerrillas had no connection with the village, and seldom did anyone know the identity of the guilty, so that the inhabitants were helpless to avoid the slaughter. In mixed Polish-Ukrainian communities, where the Poles were usually numerically, educationally, and economically dominant, they frequently managed to maneuver the Germans into picking Ukrainians who had been favorably inclined toward the Germans. The leader of the Ukrainian minority lamented: `In the village of Nodosow eight pro-German Ukrainians who had been persecuted by the Poles because of their patriotic views were shot on 30 October 1942. Thus the purpose of exterminating anti-German elements quite to the contrary annihilates or weakens positively pro-German elements and creates bad feelings and bitterness. In the district of Lublin about four hundred such Ukrainians perished.' (NCA 1526-V PS - Letter from Ukrainian Main Committee to Frank, Feb. 1943) Frank routinely received reports like the following: `On 29 January 1943 in the village of Sumyn forty-five Ukrainians, including eighteen children between the ages of three and fifteen, were shot, and on 2 February 1943 in the villages of Pankos and Scharowola nineteen Ukrainians were shot, including eight children aged one to thirteen years.'(Ibid.) During the first two and one-half years of the occupation, the security police in the government-general shot seventeen thousand Poles, a figure that led Frank to comment: `We must not be squeamish when we learn that a total of seventeen thousand people have been shot; these persons who were shot were nothing more than war victims.'(NCA, 2233 AA PS, Frank Journal, Jan. 25, 1943) In 1943, executions in Poland and Russia excellerated, even though Kaltenbrunner directed that, `as a rule, no more children will be shot [and] special treatment is to be limited to a minimum.' So that this order would not be misunderstood, he explained that `if we limit our harsh measures for the time being, that is only done [because] the most important thing is the recruiting of workers. Whenever prisoners can be released, they should be put at the disposal of the labor commissioner. When it becomes necessary to burn down a village, the whole population will be put at the disposal of the commissioner by force.'(NCA, 3012 PS, To All Group Leaders of the Security Service-SD, Mar. 19, 1943.) But with hundreds of hostages shot each week and most of the adult males either in forced labor camps, employed in key positions, or gone undergound, the Germans - all directives to the contrary - relied increasingly on old people, women, and children to absorb the fire of the execution squads. Innumerable communities were eradicated without a trace by the Nazis. The SD had principle responsibility for anti-insurgency warfare. But since the SD consistend only of a cadre and, Goering pointed out, `generally speaking, soldiers are of no use in carrying out such measures,'(NCA, D 729, op. cit.) Bach-Zelewsky relied heavily on indigenous mercenaries to contest the partisans. Exploiting traditional antagonisms, the SD recruited Tartars to fight Ukrainians, Ukrainians and Lithuanians to combat White Russians and Poles, Cossacks to battle Communists, and some members of all groups to exterminate the Jews. In all of central Russia there were only two regiments of German security police. (Statement of Bach-Zelewski (X), Bach Interrogation File.) The remainder of the units consisted of Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, White Russians, and Ukrainians. In major operations against guerrilla-infested regions, the practice was to kill everybody, carry off everything movable, destroy what could not be taken away, and leave nothing but a wasteland behind - regardless of the fact that the great majority of those caught up in the sweeps were simply residents of the area and had played no active guerrilla role. Thus, in a typical action in the Pripet Marshes between February 8 and 26, 1943, the SD reported: `Losses of the enemy: 2,219 dead; 7,378 persons who received special treatment; 65 prisoners; 3,300 Jews. Our own losses: 2 Germans and 27 non-Germans dead; 12 Germans and 26 non-Germans wounded.' Eight machine guns, 172 rifles, 14 pistols, 150 hand grenades, and 8 land mines were captured. Ten villages, containing 1,900 houses, were burned; and 559 horses, 9,578 head of cattle, 844 pigs, 5,700 sheep, 223 tons of grain, and 3 church bells were carried off. (NCA 3943 PS, Report from the Eastern Occupied Territories, No. 46, Mar. 24, 1943.) Shortly afterward, Kube, Rosenberg's commissioner in White Russia, made the obvious comment when apprised of another operation: `If only 492 rifles are found on 4,500 enemy dead, that is, to my mind, proff that among those dead were numerous ordinary peasants.' Kube's superior, Lohse, added, `What is Katyn compared to this? Think of what would happen if the enemy found out about these things and made use of them! I suppose such propaganda would be ineffective because listeners and readers would simply refuse to believe such things.' (IMT, vol. 38, pp. 371-373) Under Hitler's directives, the only German reaction to resistance was to intensify terror. In Warsaw, the security police commenced in October 1943 to hold impromtu public executions. A block would suddenly be condoned off and hostages trucked in. On a street that a few minutes before had been a thoroughfare, the condemned were lined up against the walls of the houses and, as the residents watched from the windows, shot down. The names of the dead, together with a list of those to be executed the next time if further acts of resistance occurred, were posted on the walls. The bodies were then transported for burning into the ruins of the former ghetto, and the street was reopened to traffic. (IMT, vol. 7, 474) In the midsummer of 1944, as Soviet troops approached Warsaw, the pent-up hatred of the Poles exploded. Although Kaltenbrunner had received numerous reports that the Warsaw underground was about to rise, (NCA, L 37, Collective Responsibility, July 19, 1944) the Germans were unprepared when, on the first of August, 35,000 nationalist partisans -- including a thousand Jews who had fought in the ghetto the year before -- took over the city. All regular Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units, trying desperately to stem the Red Army's advance in the East and the Allied sweep through France in the West, were already committed. Himmler, who lacked the most basic knowledge for directing troops but had a passionate hatred for Warsaw, took personal command. Decreeing that no prisoners were to be taken, he threw a pair of notorious SS brigades into the fighting. One, led by a sex deviant and necrophiliac, Oskar Dirlewanger, was composed of habitual criminals recruited from concentration camps; the second, headed by a convicted White Russian criminal, Bronislav Kaminski, consisted of Russian and Cossack volunteers. (Its officers, however, came from the Werhmacht.) Drunk more often than sober, they conducted mass executions without regard to age and sex, plundered and raped at will, burned civilians alive, sexually abused and murdered children, dangled rows of women by the heels from balconies, and impaled babies on bayonets like spits of meat. (Int. of General Heinz Guiderian by George Sawicki, Jan. 29, 1946.)" (Conot, 276-278) Work Cited Conot, Robert E. Justice at Nuremberg. New York: Harper & Row, 1983 Abbreviations: IMT. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals; the published transcipts of the trial. NCA. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggession, the 10-volume compendium of the prosecution's agruments.
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