Friday, September 19, 2008

How Many Perpetrators in the USSR? - Part Four: Ukraine 1941

Author: Jonathan Harrison
I have already discussed Wehrmacht complicity in Ukraine in this blog. Below, I deal with the actions of forces under the ultimate control of HSSPF Jeckeln, including the 1st SS Infantry Brigade and Police Battalions 45, 303, 304, 314, 315 and 320. I also examine the role of non-German auxiliaries. My main sources are this collection of essays and Peter Longerich's report to the Irving-Lipstadt trial

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In August 1941, Jeckeln's forces shot "altogether 44,125 people, mostly Jews." By far the largest killing was at Kamianets-Podilsky by "Jeckeln's staff company, the Police Battalion 320 as well as by Ukrainian and Hungarian militia" (Longerich).

Longerich summarizes the killings committed by Battalions 45 and 314 during this period:
3.2.14- The Police Battalion 45, which belonged to the Police Regiment South, proceeded to murder Jews regardless of their age or sex at the end of July-beginning of August. The first victims were the entire Jewish population of the town of Schepetowka, where the Battalion had been based between 26 July and 1 August, 1941; according to the declaration of the Battalion Commander, Besser, made after the war, this involved 40 to 50 men and women, probably however even more. Besser declared on this point that he had been following an order of the Commander of the Police Regiment South, who in turn referred to a general order for liquidation issued by Himmler.

3.2.15 In the following weeks, the Battalion repeated this pattern in other Ukrainian villages: among others, it killed Jewish men and women in Slawuta (according to the declaration of the HSSPF Russia South this included 522 persons), in Sudylkow (471 dead) as well as in Berditschew (1000 victims). When Besser's successor, Rosenbauer, was being briefed on his tasks as Battalion Commander by the Higher SS and Police Leader of Russia South, Jeckeln, he was given very clear instructions, according to his own statements: "Jeckeln said that the order of Reichsführer SS Himmler was the basis for the solution of the Judenfrage: The Ukrainians should become a Helot (slave) people who work only for us. We had no interest, however, in having the Jews multiply: therefore the Jewish population had to be exterminated."

3.2.16 Also the Police Battalion 314, which belonged to the Police Regiment South as well, shot women and children as early as July. This can be documented for the first time in the case of a company of the Battalion on 22 July in a place in the area of Kovel: in the private diary of a member of the Battalion it is stated that on this day 217 people, among them entire families, had been shot.
In September, there were even higher numbers of killings, including four major massacres involving Battalions in Berdichev, Vinnytsia, Kirovohrad and Babiy Yar. The contributions of Pohl and Berkhoff to this collection of essays enable us to identify the assisting forces more precisely.

For Berdichev, Pohl (p.35) notes that Police Regiment South (Battalions 45, 303 and 314) reported the shooting of 4144 Jews on September 4th. Eleven days later, Jeckeln's forces and Battalion 45 murdered a further 12,000 at the airport. On September 19th-20th, Battalions 45 and 314 assisted Ek 6 in the murder of 15000 Jews in Vinnytsia. Ten days later, Battalion 304 - "presumably with Sk 4b" - shot 4,200 Jews in Kirovohrad (Pohl, p.37).

Babiy Yar has already been discussed extensively by Sergey in this series, during which he presented nine German war-time documents concerning the massacre. In addition, Roberto has cited Wette's study of the massacre:
According to German historian Wolfram Wette ("Babij Yar 1941", in: Wolfram Wette / Gerd R. Ueberschär (editors), Kriegsverbrechen im 20. Jahrhundert, pages 152-164), Sonderkommando 4a was made up of members of the Sicherheitsdienst and the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police), one company of a Waffen-SS battalion and one platoon of a police battalion, and reinforced by another two police battalions and units of Ukrainian auxiliary police; the task of supervising and guarding the march of Kiev’s Jews to the ravine in which they were killed was carried out by Wehrmacht troops under the orders of city commandant Eberhard.
Berkhoff's essay notes that the two German Battalions that took part in the round-ups and cordoning off the site were Battalions 45 and 303. Berkhoff identifies the non-German forces as follows (p.303):
It is appropriate to note here that new and newly found Ukrainian sources also name paramilitary and auxiliary police formations that were in Kiev at the time of the massacre: a squad of what was then simply called the "Ukrainian police" and the Bukovinian Battalion. Both were created or commanded by activists of the Melnick faction of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-M)
More information on the Bukovian Battalion can be found here and here and here.

The Ukrainian militia is mentioned twice in Operational Situation Report No. 106. For Babiy Yar, it notes that:
This order was publicized by posters all over the town by members of the newly organized Ukrainian militia.
For Zhytomyr it states:
The Militia headquarters, according to a suggestion of Sonderkommando 4a, arranged a temporary, local concentration of Jews in Zhitmmir [sic]...On September 19, 1941, from 4 o'clock [a.m.], the Jewish quarter was emptied after having been surrounded and closed the previous evening by 60 members of the Ukrainian militia.
Finally, Longerich notes the involvement of Jeckeln's forces in an October massacre:
Jeckeln also played a central role in the massacre of the Jews of Dnjepreprotowsk on 13 October, where according to the event reports, out of some 30.000 Jews in the city, "approximately 10.000 were shot by a commando of the Higher SS and Police Leaders on 13 October, 1941".
Longerich concludes:
In this series of massacres under Jeckeln's personal management up to October, 1941, more than 100.000 people were murdered.
Shortly after this point, Jeckeln was promoted and relocated to the Ostland region, where he oversaw murders primarily in the Baltic states. Moreover, regional anti-Jewish policy in Ukraine began to be influenced by the civilian administration, under the command of Koch, . The police became stationary and carried out killings under the remit of Sipo, Schupo and Gendarmerie, and (as in Galicia) actions were often organized by the KdS, which were formed from parts of Einsatzgruppe C. The next blog in this series examines that latter post-Jeckeln phase of the Holocaust in Ukraine.

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