Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Many Perpetrators in the USSR? - Part Three: Galicia

Author: Jonathan Harrison
Inter-agency collusion in Galicia has already been discussed in this blog, which examined how the regional KdS in Stanislawow, Hans Krueger, was able to use Order Police, and even railway security police, in the "Bloody Sunday" massacre. Below I present evidence of further collusion in the neighbouring area of Kolomyja [German: Kolomea], which was part of the south-eastern Galician region, Stanislawow-Kolomyja-Horodenka.

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The formation of the killing forces in this region provides an interesting case study of how an Einsatzgruppe, upon leaving a region, left behind officers who were required to form the nuclei of local stationary Sipo units, which would then expand their available manpower, and liaise with Order Police (Schupo and Battalions) and native auxiliary police (Ukrainian Hilfpolizei).

In Kolomyja, the KdS was Peter Leideritz, who, like Hans Krueger, had been part of KdS units in the General Government until recruited by Schoengarth for the new detachment for special purposes (Einsatzkommando Z.B.V.- zu Besonderer Verwendung). As Pohl notes, this had:
arrived in Lvov on July 2, on the immediate heels of Einsatzgruppe C; its instructions were to continue the killing squad's work, especially mass executions.
When Schoengarth's squad moved on, Leideritz and Krueger became heads of two of the branch offices of the KdS Lwow, which was commanded by Tanzmann. The region also had an SSPF, Katzmann, who later authored this famous report to his superior, HSSPF Friedrich Krueger.

The role of the Order Police in assisting the KdS in rounding-up and killing Jews in Kolomyja can be pieced together from several sources. Kolomyja was the subject of West German JuNSV legal cases 657 and 743. Although these were Sipo trials (case 743 resulted in the conviction of Leideritz's deputy, Ernst Erwin Gay), they also gathered testimony concerning the roles of Schupo (city police) officers. The research of Robin O'Neil has determined that the Schupo were recruited from the Vienna Schutzpolizei, and were also the subjects of a Viennese investigation after the war:
Vienna doc: Schutzpolizei: Lt. Hertl [Haertl] (commander), Witmann (deputy), Wittich, Doppler, Gross and Kleinbauer. Sergeants: Layer, Pernek, Kneissl, Hofstetter, Steiner. Corporals: Gallhart, Straka. Constables, Gall, Harko, Kroegner, Layer, Mauritz, Reisenthaler, Ruprechtsofer, Stanka[,] Schipany, Uitz. Reinforcements of 7./police 24 detachment who had been engaged in Jewish resettlement in Skole, Stryj and Chodorow during the period 3 – 5 September, 1942, arrived in Kolomyja in time for the action of the 7.9.42.
O'Neil identifies 17 actions in Kolomyja district. Members of the Schutzpolizei were arrested after the war in relation to these actions and gradually issued confessions (ibid.):
Those arrested acted very much like the norm, i.e., when they knew their precarious situation, they implicated others to lessen their own actions, and so to speak, spread the blame as a barrier to a more severe justice. There was no honour among this selection of thieves and murderers, as they crumpled under interrogation and 'spilled the beans' to save their own necks.

Ex Schupo officers Stanka and Straka were the first to break under interrogation and detail the systematic weekly killing of Jews in Kolomyja – in the Scheparowce forest, the cemetery, ghetto and abattoir. Ex Schupo Uitz stated that his police detachment shot over 15000 Jews in Kolomyja.(18) Pernek tried to hang himself in the prison cell, but later he was so overcome with remorse, he requested pen and paper to record what had happened in Kolomyja and confirmed the forest liquidation's and the use of dogs to tear at Jewish throats.(19) An interesting fact emerged that has been discussed elsewhere, was that Lt. Gross refused to participate in killing actions and there had been a row with his commander (SD) Hertl. Gross was not included in further actions, and no disciplinary action was taken against him. (20) All admitted shooting of Jews and complicity in Belzec transports in the districts of Kuty, Kosow, Jablonow, Pistyn, Peczenizyn, Horodenka, Czernilicia, Gwozdiec, Sniatyn, Zablotow, and Zabie.
Police Battalions also played key roles in these actions. When Gay was ordered by Leideritz to carry out an action in Kossow starting on 16th October, 1941, he borrowed personnel from Reserve Battalion 133 in Stanislawow, which had already participated in Bloody Sunday just four days earlier. On the same date, 3rd company of the same battalion assisted border police (BPP) in a killing action in Tatarow under Krueger's subordinate, Ernst Varchim (for both these actions, see Browning and Matthaeus, p.350).

When the time came to deport many of the remaining Kolomyja Jews to Belzec, the KdS was able to recruit Company 6 and Company 7 of Reserve Battalion 24. The commander of Company 7, Lt. Westermann, wrote two reports on the deportation, one of which is reproduced here. Reports were also written by the commander of Company 6, Brenner, and by Schutzpolizei Zugwachtmeister Jacklein of Company 7. Jacklein's report is shown on the same link as Westermann's above. Archival references for all four reports are given by Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews, 3rd edition, p.518, footnote 63.

Ukrainian auxiliaries were a huge factor enabling these actions. Browning and Matthaeus, p.349, estimate that the Schupo in Kolomyja had 100 Ukrainians, a ratio of four Ukrainians to every Schupo German.

Finally, it should be noted that the civilian administration in Kolomyja, led by Kreishauptmann (Chief of District) Klaus Volkmann, was fully involved in ghettoization, seizure of Jewish property, and the liquidation of Jews. Significantly, Volkmann set up his own units of Sonderdienst (ethnic German auxiliary police).

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