The origins of the role of the KdS in Ukraine are explained in this earlier blog. The KdS was subordinate to the HSSPF Russia South, Prützmann, who in turn reported directly to Himmler. However, the KdS had a high degree of personal authority and also worked closely with the civil administration, which had legal oversight over Jewish affairs in such matters as food policy, which became crucial in deciding the timing of killing Aktions. The HSSPF, it should be noted, had control over labour programs, most notably the DG IV road-building project that ran through Ukraine, from west to east, starting in Lvov. This would also create internal tensions, as discussed below.
Pütz's first appearance in Holocaust historiography is in the Nuremberg affadavit of Hermann Friedrich Graebe (2992-PS) concerning the mass executions at Rowno [Rivne] on 13 July, 1942 and at Dubno on 5 October, 1942. On the Rivne Aktion, Graebe claimed:
SS Major [SS-Sturmbannfuehrer] Puetz stated to me that no pogrom (Aktion) whatever was planned. Moreover such a pogrom would be stupid because the firms and the Reichsbahn would lose valuable workers.However, Graebe continued:
An hour later I received a summons to appear before the Area Commissioner of Rowno. His deputy, Stableiter and Cadet Officer [Ordensjunker] Beck, subjected me to the same questioning as I had undergone at the SD. My explanation that I had sent the Jews home for urgent delousing appeared plausible to him. He then told me -- making me promise to keep it a secret -- that a pogrom would in fact take place on the evening of Monday 13 July 1942. After lengthy negotiation I managed to persuade him to give me permission to take my Jewish workers to Sdolbunow but only after the pogrom had been carried out. During the night it would be up to me to protect the house in the Ghetto against the entry of Ukrainian militia and SS. As confirmation of the discussion he gave me a document, which stated that the Jewish employees of Messrs. Jung were not affected by the pogrom [Original attached.]For our purposes, Graebe is significant because he shows the close collusion of the SS and civil administration in the Aktion. Pütz had apparently taken Graebe's objections to the planned killings of his workers to the Area Commissioner, Georg Marschall, who had eventually granted an exemption, albeit temporary.
The following month, on August 28-31, Pütz and the civil administration held a meeting in Luzk during which the instruction to complete the liquidations of ghettos in Volhynia-Podolia "within the next five weeks" was given. There were two key background events, outlined below, that led to this meeting. Firstly, as noted above, the DG IV program was recruiting labour in the area to send to Vinnytsia, and there was a need to redraw political boundaries to determine whether DG IV would be allowed to interfere with the liquidations. Secondly, as Gerlach argues, Koch's administration was coming under massive pressure to supply far more food to the Reich, and this led to the conclusion that even previously essential workers were consuming food needed elsewhere so had to be killed.
On August 17, Hermann Ling sent the following telex [cited by Angrick, p.105]:
Through personal consultation with the SD outpost in Kamianets-Podilsky and the responsible county commissioners, [I] have secured 500 Jews from Kamianets-Podilsky, 600 Jews from Dunaivtsi, 800 Jews from Bar, 400 Jews from Iarmolyntsi for DG IV's purposes. The inspector for DG IV in Vinnytsia, SS Senior Colonel [Theobald] Thier, assumes transport and employment. I was forced to realize, however, that without my intervention these Jews would have been executed; for example, executions in Dunaivtsi County and Bar had already been prepared. I ask that [you] work toward seeing to it that in the future the counties bordering DG IV all Jews still fit for work are turned over to DG IV and no longer executed.This telex indicates that the civil administration and SS in some counties was already killing fit Jewish workers, presumably to meet food demands coming down from Koch, or because there were no longer any perceived constraints on their ideological mission to kill Jews locally. It also shows, however, that even the SS, which was in charge of DG IV, had other interests that required forced labour, and which therefore created tensions within the SS concerning the killing of that labour. Such tensions were also identified by Browning in the case of Brest:
Informed of the impending "overall resettlement of the Jews" (generelle Umsiedlung der Juden), the SS and Polizeistandortführer in Brest-Litovsk, Friedrich Wilhelm Rohde, pleaded: "Insofar as the Jewish question is solved in Brest, I foresee severe economic damage resulting from the lack of labor." He was supported by the local commissioner (Gebietskommissar) Franz Burat: "Although the total resettlement of the Jews from the Kreisgebiet is desirable from the political standpoint, from the standpoint of labor mobilization, I must plead unconditionally for leaving the most needed artisans and manpower."The role of Pütz, as KdS, may be inferred as being to quell such local questionings of policy and to achieve support for total extermination, either through building consensus or by imposing an order. On August 28-31 there was a meeting at Luzk headed by Koch's representative Paul Dargel and attended by Pütz, which ordered a "100% solution" to the Jewish Question in the region, to be implemented within five weeks, with just a two-month stay of execution for 'specialists' after each Aktion. This clearly, either by coincidence or design, killed off any attempts to retain or recruit Jewish labour. It may also have been anticipated already locally, as Ling had perceived in Dunaivtsi County and Bar.
However, as Gerlach claims in this collection, the event was also the result of much higher level meetings between Hitler, Himmler and Koch concerning the total extermination of working Jews. For example, Gerlach (p.226) cites the fact that:
Gerald Fleming has already established that Hitler, not Himmler, gave the order for their elimination to Erich Koch in July 1942 [whilst on] 9 July, Himmler took over the operation to "secure the harvest" in Reichskommissariat Ukraine.The final appearance of Karl Pütz in the chronology concerns the implementation of SK 1005; the digging up and burning of mass graves evidence by the SS to destroy the physical evidence. Pohl, p.54, shows that on August 3, 1943, Pütz issued a circular to the Gendarmerie in Volhynia-Podolia asking for lists of mass graves. "Some 200 sites were apparently reported."
In conclusion, therefore, this account of Pütz's term in office offers a window into how the SS and civil administration worked together in Volhynia-Podolia (and, by extension, the RKU); how needs for forced labour were expressed but then suppressed; and how the KdS ensured that the wishes of the centre were imposed locally even in the face of obvious contradictions between the centre's wishes and the region's needs.