The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Murder And Ill-Treatment
Of Civilian Population
(Part 2 of 4)

[Page 50]

The murder and ill-treatment of civilian populations reached its height in the treatment of the citizens of the Soviet Union and Poland. Some four weeks before the invasion of Russia began, special task forces of the SIPO

[Page 51]

and SD, called Einsatz Groups, were formed on the orders of Himmler for the purpose of following the German Armies into Russia, combating partisans and members of Resistance Groups, and exterminating the Jews and communist leaders and other sections of the population. In the beginning, four such Einsatz Groups were formed, one operating in the Baltic States, one towards Moscow, one towards Kiev, and one operating in the south of Russia. Ohlendorf, former Chief of Amt III of the RSHA, who led the fourth group, stated in his affidavit:

"When the German army invaded Russia, I was leader of Einsatzgruppe D, in the southern sector, and in the course of the year during which I was leader of the Einsatzgruppe D it liquidated approximately 90,000 men, women, and children. The majority of those liquidated were Jews, but there were also among them some communist functionaries."

In an order issued by the defendant Keitel on the 23rd July, 1941, and drafted by the defendant Jodl, it was stated that:

"In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East, the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished, not by legal prosecution of the guilty, but by the spreading of such terror by the Armed Forces as is alone appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population .... Commanders must find the means of keeping order by applying suitable Draconian measures."

The evidence has shown that this order was ruthlessly carried out in the territory of the Soviet Union and in Poland. A significant illustration of the measures actually applied occurs in the document which was sent in 1943 to the defendant Rosenberg by the Reich Commissar for Eastern Territories, who wrote:

"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."

The Tribunal has before it an affidavit of one Hermann Graebe, dated 10th November, 1945, describing the immense mass murders which he witnessed. He was the manager and engineer in charge of the branch of the Solingen firm of Josef Jung in Spolbunow, Ukraine, from September,1941, to January, 1944. He first of all described the attack upon the Jewish ghetto at Rowno:

" Then the electric floodlights which had been erected all around the ghetto were switched on. SS and militia details of four to six members entered or at least tried to enter the houses. Where the doors and windows were closed, and the inhabitants did not open upon the knocking, the SS men and militia broke the windows, forced the doors with beams and crowbars, and entered the dwelling. The owners were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or whether they had been in bed.. Car after car was filled. Over it hung the screaming of women and children, the cracking of whips and rifle shots."

Graebe then described how a mass execution at Dubno, which he witnessed on the 5th October, 1942, was carried out:

[Page 52]

" Now we heard 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 .... Without screaming or crying, these people undressed, stood around by families, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for the command of another SS man, who stood near the excavation, also with a whip in his hand. .... At that moment the SS man at the excavation called something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons, and instructed them to walk behind the earth mound. ....I walked around the mound and stood in front of a tremendous grave; closely pressed together, the people were lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. The excavation was already two-thirds full; I estimated that it contained about a thousand people.. Now already the next group approached, descended into the excavation, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot."

The foregoing crimes against the civilian population are sufficiently appalling, and yet the evidence shows that at any rate in the East, the mass murders and cruelties were not committed solely for the purpose of stamping out opposition or resistance to the German occupying forces. In Poland and the Soviet Union these crimes were part of a plan to get rid of whole native populations by expulsion and annihilation, in order that their territory could be used for colonization by Germans. Hitler had written in Mein Kampf on these lines, and the plan was clearly stated by Himmler in July, 1942, when he wrote:

"It is not our task to Germanize the East in the old sense, that is to teach the people there the German language and the German law, but to see to it that only people of purely Germanic blood live in the East."

In August, 1942, the policy for the Eastern Territories as laid down by Bormann was summarized by a subordinate of Rosenberg as follows:

"The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Therefore, compulsory vaccination and Germanic health services are superfluous. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable."

It was Himmler again who stated in October, 1943:

"What happens to a Russian, a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take. If necessary, by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur, otherwise it is of no interest to me."

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.