Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Minsk: A Preliminary Partial List of German Witness Statements

This article is an alphabetical list of witnesses to events that occurred in Minsk between 1941 and 1944. I have only included witnesses whose full surname I was able to ascertain from the sources. There are far more witnesses in trial judgments whose names are censored to just two letters. These are listed at the end of the blog article.

Wilhelm Dadischek - admitted killing Jews but claimed superior orders [source]

Karl Dalheimer - Heuser co-defendant, described mass shooting actions [source]

Sabine Dick - Heuser's secretary, wrote up his orders for Jewish actions [Heuser judgment, 552-129, and Wendy Lower, Hitler's Furies, pp.110-113]

Dittrich - gan vans sent from Minsk to Baranovici [source]

Otto Edel - atrocities against Jewish prisoners [source]

Adolf Eichmann - visit to Minsk [source]

Johannes Feder - Heuser co-defendant. Witnessed gas van killings during Grossaktion of 28-29/7/42 [Heuser trial judgment pp.247-48 and this source]

Willi Foge - extraction of gold teeth in Minsk prison [source]

Karl Gebl - gas van killings [source]

Erich Gnewuch - gas van driver. "I was detailed with the gas van to about twelve convoys of arriving Jews. It was in 1942. There were about a thousand Jews in each convoy. With each arrival I made five or six trips with my van. Some of the Jews were shot. I myself never shot a single Jew; I only gassed them...a ghetto operation took place in the autumn of 1943. I was put into action only once with the gas van. I made three trips with it to the execution site. I gassed about 150 to 180 people. Adolf Rübe and someone called Göbel also drove gas vans. We had been assigned to this operation with three vehicles. Whenever I was gassing Jews, Göbel and Rübe were gassing Jews, too." [source].

Günther - prison executions [Heuser judgment 552-39]. This is the same Günther who authored the Nuremberg document R-135.

Artur Harder, described to the court how a woman and two men were cremated alive with a method of incineration which, he confessed, he had developed. [source]

Johann Hassler - gas van killings [source] and [source]

Georg Heuser - admitted being present when three Russians were executed by being burned alive [source]. He also testified that he he "saw family men line up at the mass graves and shoot Jews" [source].

Konrad Kosnopfl - execution of a Jewish woman by Heuser [source]

Johannes Kunz - attended a shooting as Heuser's guest on 26/5/42 [Heuser trial Judgment, 552-47]

Max Luchner - said that he saw Jews beaten to death by men under Heuser’s command [source]. Luchner also wrote postwar letters quoted here, originally published here.

A. Merbach - transported 10,000 Jews to execution site [source].

Arthur Much - testified to the public hanging of a Jewess [source].

Dr. Adalbert Reiff - shooting of Jewish children in Minsk [source]

Hans Remmers - details of planning of mass executions by Zenner [source]

Albert Renndorfer - admitted killing Jews but claimed superior orders [source]

Adolf Ruebe - testified in both 1947 and 1962 that Russians had been burned to death [source and source]. Also stated that "One day, at the beginning of October 1943, he [Herder] had a hundred Russian Jews taken in the two Minsk KdS gas vans to the first ditch southeast of Minsk and gassed." [source].

Josef Ruis - protocol for USSR interrogators describing use of gas vans in Minsk, 30/4/45 [source]

Rudolf Schlegel - cited a large excavation where victims were forced to lie down for execution and said “I was stationed at the ditch and I also shot” [source].

Eva Marie Schmidt - witnessed shootings in Courtyard [Wendy Lower, Hitler's Furies, p.251n.174]

F. Stark - active participation in mass executions of Jews on two occasions [source]. Stark was the only Heuser co-defendant to receive a life sentence, on the grounds of his sadism and his commitment to Nazi antisemitic goals.

Karl Strohhammer - described shooting action that occurred during Himmler's visit to Minsk [source]

Friedrich Karl Vialon - denied having wartime knowledge of the extermination of Jews, but admitted that the documents supplied by the USSR concerning property plunder were genuine [source]

A. Wedekind - beatings of Jewish prisoners [source].

Josef Wendl - gas van driver [source] and [source]

Ernst Werzholz - Heuser co-defendant, admitted killing 60 Jews: "I did not approve of the brutal method of killing. But, under nonsensical pressure, I participated in the horrible outrages." [source]

Albert Widmann - claimed killing of mentally ill was legal [source]

Artur Wilke - Heuser co-defendant, stated that Heuser told him in the summer of 1943 that reports had reached a figure of "70,000 executed Jews" [cited in Matthaeus, p.195]

Karl Wolff - described shooting action that occurred during Himmler's visit to Minsk [source]

To put this list into context, the Heuser judgment lists the following censored names and other sources:

Grundlagen der Feststellungen
Die folgenden Feststellungen beruhen auf:
den Angaben und Geständnissen der Angeklagten, soweit ihnen
gefolgt werden konnte; den beeidigten Aussagen der Zeugen A.,
Dr. B., von Be., Ba., Bl., Bi., Bü., D., Dr., E., F., Dr. Fo.,
Franz Fr., G., Gi., Gr., Gü., Gün., Gu., H., Ho., Hof., Dr.
Hom., Hor., Hoss., von Hu., X, K., Ku., L., Lo., Lu., M., Me.,
Dr. Met., Mol., Mü., N., O., P., R., Dr. Re., Rei., Reit.,
Reu., von Ro., de Sa., S., Sc., Dr. Sch., St., Sto., Th., Ti.,
Dr. V., Vo., W., Wi. und von Z.;
den Bekundungen der gemäss §60 Nr.3 StPO unvereidigt
gebliebenen Zeugen Al., An., von dem B., Bä., Bar., Ben.,
Boh., Br., Bre., Brö., Bur., C., Jakob Di., Sabine Di., Ed.,
Eh., En., Fe., Josef Fi., Hermann Fri., Ge., Geh., Gei., Gen.,
Get., Graf von der Go., Gra., Hass., Hei., Hen., Her., Hö.,
Hör., J., Ju., Hermann Ka., Keh., Kos., Kr., Kra., Krö., Kru.,
Dr. Kun., La., Li., May., Dr. Mei., Mey., Mi., Mül., Mu.,
Poc., Ren., Rex., Rü., Rum., Str., Sche., Richard Schm., Willy
Schm., Schi., Schr., Schu., Schw., Sk., Tr., We., Wel., Wie.
#552-3, Ze., Zi., Zu. und Zw.;
den Aussagen der nach §61 Nr.2 StPO unvereidigt gebliebenen
Zeugen Fra., Grü., Mah., Men. und Sp.;
den uneidlichen Gutachten der Sachverständigen Dr.med. Jä.,
Dr.med. Kle. und Dr.med. Hans Fi., sowie den teils beeidigten,
teils uneidlichen Gutachten des Sachverständigen Dr.med. Leu.;
den nach Massgabe des Sitzungsprotokolls verlesenen
Niederschriften über die kommissarischen Vernehmungen der
vereidigten Zeugen Lydia Fi., Grei., Grüb., Har., Jü., Karola
Ka., Kur., Dr. Loes., Ja., Schei., Dr. Stro. und The. sowie
der nach §60 Nr.3 StPO unvereidigt gebliebenen Zeugen Ulrich
Fr., Gei., Gru., Mi., Mus. und Schl., ferner die
Niederschriften über die kommissarischen Vernehmungen der
Zeugen Herz. und Zeg., deren eidliche Aussagen nach §60 Nr.3
StPO als uneidliche gewertet worden sind;
der verlesenen Niederschrift über die kommissarische
Vernehmung des Sachverständigen und vereidigten
sachverständigen Zeugen Professor Dr. Ritter von Bae.;
der nach Massgabe des Sitzungsprotokolls verlesenen
Niederschrift über die kommissarische Augenscheinseinnahme der
bei dem Internationalen Suchdienst des Internationalen Roten
Kreuzes in Arolsen aufbewahrten Transportlisten betr.
Deportationen von Juden nach Minsk;
den verlesenen, in dem Sitzungsprotokoll näher angegebenen
Niederschriften über die Vernehmungen der verstorbenen Zeugen
Gn., Gram. und Dr. See., der unerreichbaren Zeugin Seb. sowie
des vernehmungsunfähig gewordenen früheren Mitbeschuldigten
Mad.; den nach Massgabe des Sitzungsprotokolls verlesenen
schriftlichen Äusserungen der verstorbenen Zeugen Bloss.,
Buch., Hex., Hx., Höss, Gol., Mitt., Ohlendorf, Schellenberg,
Strauch und Tro. sowie der unerreichbaren Zeugen Tusnelda
Trau., Ferdinand Trau. und Melanie Kump. geb. Trau.;
den in der Hauptverhandlung verlesenen oder in Augenschein
genommenen, in der Sitzungsniederschrift näher bezeichneten
Urkunden, Schriftstücken, Akten, Karten sowie Fotos.

Clearly there is much German testimony about Minsk still to be analyzed, yet already we can see, just from the names fully identified, that there are multiple German admissions concerning numerous atrocities, especially gas vans and mass shootings, but also the burning alive of two prisoners and various other monstrosities for which Heuser and others received lenient punishments due to the ways in which German law was weighted (intentionally or otherwise) in favour of the war criminal.

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