Friday, November 24, 2006

Aktion Erntefest in two recent OSI cases

50. Pursuant to Himmler’s orders in the fall of 1943 to liquidate the remaining Jews in Lublin District, 42,000 Jewish inmates at forced labor camps were shot on November 3-4, 1943 in what was called “Operation Harvest Festival” (Erntefest). On November 3, 7,000 Jews at Trawniki were shot by outside SS and police forces. They were forced to undress and were then machine-gunned in ditches they had been forced to dig a few weeks before. The prisoners at Dorohucza were marched to Trawniki on November 3, where they were also shot. The 14,000 prisoners at Poniatowa were shot on November 4.

51. Kuras stated that he was given a two-week leave (although he took three weeks) to visit his sick grandfather and was not at Trawniki during Erntefest. He said that when he returned from his leave to Trawniki the Jews had all been killed.

USA v. Andrew Kuras, 2004, Government's statement of material facts not in dispute in support of motion for summary judgement

In the ruling, the Seventh Circuit quoted sworn testimony by Kumpf in which he described his duties as a guard during the Nov. 3, 1943 massacre at the SS labor camp at Trawniki. As Kumpf explained, he “was watching them shoot some people.” Some of the victims were “still halfway alive,” he acknowledged, and if someone attempted escape, his assignment was “shoot them to kill, shoot them to kill.”
USDOJ press release, 24.02.2006.

The parties dispute whether Kumpf arrived before the massacre, but Kumpf admits that he guarded the pits after the executions to watch for escaping survivors. Although instructed to shoot any escaping victim, no attempts were made on his shifts. Soon after the massacre, a group of Jews were brought to Trawniki to sort the victims' clothing, recover the dental gold from the bodies, and burn the corpses. Kumpf recalled the stench of the burning bodies.
USA v. Kumpf, Josias, 2006.

Do you know of more US cases in which defendants told about Aktion Erntefest (Operation Harvest Festival)?

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