Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Galicia

Our understanding of the Holocaust in Galicia is indebted to the work of Dieter Pohl, especially his Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944 (Munich, 1996). In 1998, Pohl published a study for Yad Vashem entitled Hans Krueger and the Murder of the Jews in the Stanislawow Region (Galicia), which is now available on-line in English here. Pohl's research, combined with the well-known report from Katzmann to Krueger (Nuremberg doc L-18), enables us to identify conclusive sources that demonstrate the co-ordinated genocide carried out by the Nazis in the region.

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The first genocidal action that the Nazis carried out in Galicia was the murder of the Lvov professors in the first week of July 1941. This is described by Polish historian Zygmunt Albert here. The murders were initiated by SS Brigadenführer Dr. Eberhard Schöngarth, who brought his EK unit to Lwow from Krakow. SS Captain Hans Krueger was part of that unit. According to Pohl, later in July:
Schöngarth instructed his subordinate Krueger to set up a branch office of the KdS(Kommandateur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD)— the Regional Command of the Sipo and SD (Sicherheitsdienst, the intelligence branch of the SS) in Stanislawow. The Sipo consisted of the Gestapo and Criminal Police (KriminalPolizei, Kripo).
Stanislawow was in south-east Galicia and had been occupied by the Hungarians before the Nazis' arrival. The first killing action in the city was overseen by Krueger on August 2nd, and resulted in the murder of approximately 500 male Jews and 99 Poles in the forest near Pawelce. This was documented at Krueger's trial, a summary of which can be found here.

However, these killings still came within the scope of the so-called 'Intelligenz-Aktion', killing the intelligentsia. An escalation of killing to include normal civilian men, women and children occurred in September, and was prompted by the decision of the new Lvov chief, Tanzmann, to set up a ghetto in Stanslawow that was too small to hold all the Jews. Krueger gave a candid account of this process in his pre-trial interrogation of June 26, 1962:
When the heads of the various branch offices were installed by the new commander in Lvov, Sturmbannfuehrer Tanzmann, specific areas were assigned, and then the guidelines for work were set down...Jews not suitable for deployment as laborers were to be shot. Since they realized that such shootings could not be organized overnight, the plan was that the residential area set aside for the Jews should be progressively reduced. The result was that a certain number of Jews had to be shot on a regular basis, because space was no longer available
The result of this shooting policy was a number of massacres, the largest of which was "Bloody Sunday" on October 12th, 1941, during which at least 10,000 Jews were murdered. A crucial feature of these killings was the diverse number of police units that Krueger was able to co-opt from surrounding areas, including the railway police (Bahnpolizei). As Pohl notes:
Subsequent to the September discussions in Lvov, Krueger began to
make preparations for the large-scale massacre of Jews in Stanislawow. In order to condition his security police for the task awaiting them, he first organized a mass murder on October 6, 1941, in the nearby town of Nadworna as a kind of "dress rehearsal." He also brought in reinforcements to Nadworna from the Border Police station in Tatarow. All Jews were ordered to assemble in the town marketplace. Members of the town's Judenrat and their families were separated from the rest. The police herded off all the others to a nearby wooded area and shot them there. This massacre in Nadworna, which claimed the lives of 2,000 men, women, and children, marked the actual beginning of the "Final Solution" in the Generalgouvernement.

Immediately thereafter, Krueger began preparations for "Bloody Sunday" in Stanislawow. By an order from the Orpo commander in Lvov the Schupo special duty contingent and Reserve Police Battalion 133 were ordered to provide "cooperative assistance" to the Sipo. On October 11, Krueger's deputy Brandt conferred with the RPB 133 commander Gustav Englisch, who initially placed one detachment of his men at their disposal. That same day Krueger himself contacted the municipal commissioner Emil Beau, who then issued directives on the revised and reduced dimensions of the ghetto perimeter. Not until the next morning, October 12, were all the various
authorities involved, including the new Schupo chief Walter Streege, summoned to a meeting. Krueger had also managed to obtain a detachment of the railroad police (Bahnpolizei) to join in the blood-letting.
This has clear implications for our understanding of the willingness of 'ordinary Germans' to carry out these killings. Krueger could bring in, not just specialist execution squads, but also humble railway police and order them to kill Jews as if it were part of their regular duties.

Equally, however, it is clear that there was a consensus between the SS and the different departments of the local administration about the mission to kill Jews. This is documented in the statements of SS men such as Krueger and Katzmann but also in the eager compliance of civilian officials. Pohl gives two examples:
Kreishauptmann Heinz Albrecht, an official of the internal-affairs administration who had previously held a similar post in Konskie...was a committed National Socialist and dedicated antisemite, as reflected in his inaugural speech delivered in the town of Rohatyn on September 28, 1941, and reconfirmed in testimony given in 1962: "As a National Socialist, I believed then that the Jews were the cause of all our misfortune."

Emil Beau, the municipal commissioner responsible for the Stanislawow urban area, was cut from the same cloth as Albrecht in character and conviction.
Nick Terry has kindly posted another statement made by Albrecht, cited by Pohl in Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944:
Jewry in Europa has been largely destroyed this year, in the course of defending the life of the Aryan peoples. The last remains will also disappear in a near future (DAIFO R-36-1-17, pp.24-32, Rede Albrechts an die Arbeitseinsatzstaebe im Kreis Stanislau, 2.11.42).
In addition to Pohl's narrative, we have the account given by the senior SS officer in the region, SS and Police Leader, Katzmann. This makes clear that even the forced labour program had strong genocidal components:
Owing to the peculiarity that almost 90 percent of the artisans in Galicia consisted of Jews, the problem to be solved could only be carried out gradually, as an immediate removal of the Jews would not have been in the interest of the war economy. Not that one could observe that those Jews who were working made any special contribution by their work. Their place of work was often only a means to an end for them: firstly, to escape the sharper measures taken against the Jews; and, secondly, to be able to carry out their black-market dealings without interruption. Only continuous police intervention could prevent these activities. Draconic measures had to be introduced by us after it was noted in increasing numbers of cases that the Jews had succeeded in making themselves indispensable to their employers by provided goods in short supply, etc. It is very sad to have to note that the wildest black-market deals with the Jews were made by Germans who were brought here, and in particular those in the so-called "operating firms" (Einsatszfirmen) or the "ill-reputed trustees" (beruchtigte Treuhander), both of which operated Jewish firms taken from their owners. Cases were known where Jews seeking to obtain some kind of working certificate not only did not ask for pay from their employers but paid regularly themselves. In addition, Jewish "organizing"2* on behalf of their "employers" reached such catastrophic dimensions that energetic action had to be taken in the interest of the reputation of the German people.

As the Administration was not in the position to overcome this chaos, and proved weak, the whole issue of Jewish labor simply taken over by the SS and Police Leader. The existing Jewish Labor Offices, which were staffed by hundreds of Jews, were dissolved. All work certificates issued by firms and official employers were declared invalid, and the cards given to Jews by the Labor Offices revalidated by the Police.

In the course of this Aktion thousands of Jews were again caught in possession of forged certificates or labor certificates obtained fraudulently by means of all kinds of excuses. These Jews were also sent for special treatment (Sonderbehandlungii). The Wehrmacht authorities in particular aided the Jewish parasites by issuing special certificates without proper control... There were cases where Jews were caught with from 10 to 20 such certificates. When Jews were arrested in the course of further checks, most of the employers felt obliged to attempt to intervene in favor of the Jews. This was often done in a manner that can only be described as deeply shameful....

Despite all these measures for the regulation of Jewish labor, a start was made in April 1942 on the evacuation of Jews3* from the District of Galicia, and this was carried out steadily.

When the Higher SS and Police Leader again intervened in the Jewish question in general on November 10, 1942, and a Police Order was issued for the formation of Jewish quarters, 254,989 Jews had already been evacuated or resettled. Since the Higher SS and Police Leader gave further instructions to accelerate the total evacuation of the Jews, further considerable work was necessary in order to catch those Jews who were, for the time being, to be left in the armaments factories. These remaining Jews were declared labor prisoners of the Higher SS and Police Leader and held either in the factories themselves or in camps erected for this purpose. For Lvov itself a large camp4* was erected on the outskirts, which holds 8,000 Jewish labor prisoners at the present time. The agreement made with the Wehrmacht concerning employment and treatment of the labor prisoners was set down in writing...

In the meantime further evacuation was carried out vigorously, with the result that by June 23, 1943, all Jewish quarters could be dissolved. Apart from the Jews in camps under the control of the SS and Police Leader, the District of Galicia is thus free of Jews (judenfrei).

Individual Jews occasionally picked uby the Order Police or the Gendarmerie were sent for special treatment. Altogether, 434,329 Jews had been evacuated up to June 27, 1943.... [This is followed by a list of 21 camps in which there were still 21,156 Jews.]
Katzmann's report is a vital piece of evidence on several levels. It uses the terms 'special treatment' and 'resettlement' in a context where it is undeniable that the terms meant killing. It lists the belongings of dead Jews and connects their fate specifically with Aktion Reinhard. It demonstrates beyond question that forced labourers were not intended to remain alive after their labour had been completed (nor were the SS reluctant to shoot even those who were desperately needed for such labour). It also confirms that the SS were willing to over-ride civilian authorities and employers in their ideological determination to make Galicia 'judenfrei'.

Katzmann also indicates that the SS saw its mission in Galicia as entailing the eventual extermination of Jewry, and that ghettoization and forced labour were interim measures until that extermination could be achieved. Unlike Warsaw and Lodz, there was never a battle between 'productionists' and 'attritionists'. The latter were in control from the beginning. Nor was there ever any evidence that these SS men were aware of a plan to resettle Galician Jews further east.

3 comments:

Tovarisch - Web Team said...

I thank Jonathan for this helpful post. My feature documentary film, Tovarisch: I Am Not Dead contains dorect testimony of the massacres of Stanislawow's Jewish community, including bullet holes in the cemetery's gravestones. This is where many of my father's family died.
See www.tovarisch.net
The film is available on DVD via Amazon or for download at iTunes

Tovarisch - Web Team said...

Sorry: re above comment, I am Stuart Urban, writer/director of the film. My father was Garri S Urban, survivor of Holocaust and Gulag, author of the book of the same title

Jonathan Harrison said...

Hi Stuart,

Many thanks for your comments. I will look for more sources on Stanislawow and update this work in due course.