So did the former commander of Sonderkommando (SK) 4a of Einsatzgruppe C, Paul Blobel, in regard to the largest of all massacres committed by the Einsatzgruppen, the one at Babiy Yar near Kiev on 29 and 30 September 1941.
In the Landgericht (LG) Darmstadt's judgment of 29.11.1968 at the trial of Kuno Cal. and others, some excerpts from which are transcribed and translated here [Broken link replaced on 04.03.2012 - RM], Blobel’s claims are mentioned as follows (my translation, also in the following quotes):
In his interrogation at the Nuremberg EinsatzgruppenTrial (so-called Case 9), unit leader Blobel disputed any responsibility and participation in the execution. The execution, he claimed, had been ordered by High Commander of SS and Police Jeckeln as retaliation for the “terror actions”, namely arson and demolitions, which had been blamed on the Jews. He himself had been sick and unfit for service due to a head injure. His detachment 4a had, after previous withdrawal of the Waffen-SS elements to the home unit, of the police platoon as guard detachment to the Einsatzgruppe, of the leaders from the ranks of the higher administrative service candidates, who had already departed on 26.9.1941, and finally of the Kharkov advance detachment, only taken part in the action with 15 members, according to orders received. He had not taken part in either the meetings prior to the action or the action itself or had anything to do with it. Also, the number of victims had been exaggerated, presumably estimated on hand of the dwellings left empty, whereby a part of the inhabitants had already fled before the taking of Kiev.
So Mattogno & Graf at least have a point in what concerns this particular massacre, right?
Not really, for Blobel was lying through his teeth, as the LG Darmstadt found out. His claim of not having taken part in the massacre was a load of self-protecting baloney:
Blobel’s claims are a typical protective stance also in this case. His entire deposition was aimed at denying any participation and responsibility. Thus also the defendant Häf., who at the Nuremberg trial had been in witness arrest for 5 months and, as a domestic worker, acted as illegal point of contact between the defendants at that trial, confirmed that the Nuremberg claims were manipulated and only partially true. Finally the witnesses Dr. He., Blobel’s defense attorney at Nuremberg, and K., assistant of the defense, also confirmed that the principle from the start had been to unload responsibility. The main blame was placed on Head of SS and Police Jeckeln, who had been executed in 1946.
On the other hand Operational Situation Reports nos. 101 of 2 October 1941, 106 of 7 October 1941 and 111 of 12 October 1941 show, to the jury court’s conviction, that SK 4a, in cooperation with the group staff and 2 battalions of Police Regiment Russia South, carried out the execution. The jury court has no doubt as to the accuracy of these reports, which the Reich Security Main Office could easily check and which were therefore prepared correctly. None of the defendants furthermore questioned this fact. It is also not correct, according to them, that the higher administrative service candidates had already been relieved on 26 September. The 4 candidates, the defendants Cal., Häf., Ha. and Jan, coincided in stating that their relief had occurred on the day after the execution, i.e. on 1 October 1941; Häf. added that Blobel’s claim to the contrary had been made back then in order to leave the candidates out of the issue. According to the depositions of all defendants accused on this charge, also parts of the 3rd company of the special purpose Waffen-SS battalion and the attached platoon of Police Reserve Battalion 9 had still been with the detachment at the time of the shooting, and SK 4a under Blobel’s command had taken part in the shooting.
So was Blobel’s attempt to play down the extent of the killing:
According to Operational Situation Report nº 97 of 28 September 1941 it was foreseen to execute 50,000 Jews. According to the coincident data in Activity and Situation Report nº 6, Operational Situation Report 101 of 2 October 1941 and Operational Situation Report nº 106 of 7 October 1941, 33,771 Jews were shot on both days. Operational Situation Report 128 of 3.11.1941 mentioned “over 30,000 Jews” within the scope of cursory data. These numbers were not estimated, but established during registration. The defendant Con., who kept the war diary, thus credibly recalled that on hand of this registration he was given numbers in the order of 22,000 for the 1st day and 10,000 for the 2nd day; these numbers he had considered accurate, based on his inquiries about the event for the purpose of correctly recording it in the war diary.[my emphasis – RM] The defendant Pfa. also credibly confirmed that a number of 33,000 had been mentioned. The defendant Häf., who after being relieved from the detachment had yet returned to Kiev from Rovno in the first days of October in order to get another vehicle for the trip back instead of the omnibus that had become defective, noticed at that time, when he was again in the execution area, that individual shootings were still going on, and upon question he was given a number around 35,000 victims. A number of 34,000 was also heard by the witness von Fro., who at that time had been military-administrative counsel with the 454th Security Division, had had service meetings in Kiev on 1 October 1941 and at that time been given this number by military interlocutors. Finally, unit leader Blobel, who within the scope of “Action 1005” had been in Kiev in 1942 or 1943, had shown the ravine to the witness Har., back then Sturmbannführer of Einsatzgruppe C, during a drive outside the city and explained “There lie my Jews”. Blobel gave Har. a number of either 30,000 or 33,000 victims.
Considering all the above the jury court is convinced that the exact figure of 33,771 victims stated in the mentioned reports regarding the execution on 29 and 30 September 1941 is accurate.
The magnitude of the Babiy Yar massacre was not only stated in four different contemporary reports (and further documentary sources mentioned here), but also confirmed by three defendants and two witnesses at the Darmstadt trial. The most interesting of these latter sources is the defendant Con., from whose deposition it becomes apparent that the executors actually counted their victims, and that the exact number stated in various reports thus resulted not from guessing and imagination, but from exact bookkeeping at the site of the crime. The procedure that made this bookkeeping possible is described as follows in the judgment:
The Jewish families followed the call unsuspectingly and almost without exception, as they believed in a resettlement. Already in the early morning of 29.9.1941 Jewish families, in uninterrupted and highly visible columns, moved through the streets of Kiev towards the gathering place in the Lukjanovka part of the city. Since the early morning the gathering place and the streets were guarded by sentries from police battalions 303 and 45, who stood at call distance. As the Jews believed in their resettlement, they carried larger hand luggage and took all they considered valuable with them in handcars and horse carriages.
At the gathering place there were barriers, in which besides members of SK 4a Ukrainian militia and members of SS and police took part. Here the non-Jewish accompanists were sent back. The Jews had to pass the barriers, through which no one was allowed back anymore. Behind the barriers there was now a tight cordon with heavily armed sentries, who drove the Jews on. First the Jews had to move on along the street in between two cemeteries to an alley in the direction of the Babi Yar area. During this the Jews were registered, had to hand over their passports and valuables, and leave their luggage a little further along the alley. [my emphasis – RM] Then they were driven on with blows by the cordon standing tightly on both sides of the way, to the free area at the end of the alley. Here at the latest the Jews realized their impending fate due to the now closely audible shots from machine pistols and the audible lamentations of their companions in suffering further ahead of them. They heard the screams and groans of victims not mortally wounded and had to watch how their companions in suffering before them, part of whom were family members, were beaten into taking off their clothing.
The evidence of mass killing perfectionism on which these findings of fact were based didn’t keep defense attorneys from challenging the accuracy of the pertinent reports, as had their predecessors (or their predecessors’ clients) at the Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen Trial and the Manstein Trial:
The defense of defendant Jan. submitted the auxiliary motion to read out Operational Situation Report nº 80 of 11 September 1941 page 13, 86 of 17 September 1941 page 17 and 88 of 19 September 1941 page 8. These are supposed to show that the documentary value of figures contained in the Operational Situation Reports is questionable.
The LG Darmstadt, however, made short shrift of this attempt:
The motion had to be denied according to Section 244 paragraph 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code, because the claimed content of the Operational Situation Reports may be treated as if it were true. It is correct that the executions figure of SK 4a up to 24.8.1941 is given in Operational Situation Report nº 80 of 11 September 1941 as 7,152 persons, in Operational Situation Report nº 86 of 17 September 1941 as 6,584 Bolsheviks, Jews and asocial elements and in Operational Situation Report nº 88 of 19 September 1941 as 11,328 Jews, and that these total numbers cannot be easily reconciled with each other. These discrepancies in the statement of total figures, however, do not, to the jury court’s conviction, affect the findings made for the present case, which are also confirmed by other evidence; in this it must also be taken into account that the stated total execution figures obviously resulted from an addition in putting together the Operational Situation Reports, in which discrepancies and mistakes may have crept in, whereas the stated numbers about individual executions were taken from the respective detachments’ direct reports without any modification.
The Einsatzgruppen reports are not a perfect source in what concerns the number of people killed by these murder squads and their auxiliaries; some of the reports may contain mistakes such as are bound to occur in any statistical compilation of various data. However, all judicial examinations of these reports we have looked at throughout this series suggest that a considerable effort was made, both by the Einsatzgruppen commanders and by the record-keepers at the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, to accurately report and record these units’ progress in ridding the conquered Soviet territories of undesirables, especially Jews, and that inaccuracies in these reports can therefore be assumed to have been the exception, not the rule.
Yet Mattogno & Graf say that the Einsatzgruppen reports are generally «questionable with respect to the number of Jews shot».
And Mattogno & Graf are … well, certainly not revisionists.
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