Thursday, April 21, 2016

Transnistria: how many Jews were shot by Germans?

In late 1941, the Romanians began to expel Jews from Odessa towards the Bug. Most of these Jews arrived at Bogdanovka, where they were were shot by a combination of German Selbstchutz (led by Hartung) and Romanian forces. A few weeks later, thousands of Jews from the environs around Odessa began to be sent to the Berezovka district, where they were shot in actions summarized here. What sources exist on the total number shot by the Germans?

Steinhart (p. 325-326, n. 940) cites the following sources on the German bodycount:
If, as the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission report indicates, Hartung mustered 60 militiamen and deployed them to the Bogdanovka camp for 14 days over the course of late December 1941 and early January 1942, then it is conceivable that the Selbstschutz murdered around 25,000 Jews. Alexander Jonus, one of the former militiamen, estimated that he and his compatriots murdered approximately 30,000 Jews at the Bogdanovka camp. Protokol doprosa / Ionusa Aleksandra, June 2, 1967, USHMM, RG-31.018M, Reel 17, 8537. The estimate that the Selbstschutz murdered between 25,000 and 30,000 Jews at the Bogdanovka camp is supported by wartime and postwar German sources. According to the marginalia on a May 12, 1942, letter from the German Foreign Office to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the ethnic German auxiliary police murdered at least 28,000 Jews.Abschiebung von rumänischen Juden am Bug, May 12, 1942, NARA, T120/3132/E510806. If Franz Rademacher‘s notation referred simply to the killings at the Bogdanovka camp,then it is similar to later Soviet estimates. Likewise, in his 1957 blackmail letter, Walter Vahldieck estimated that Hartung had orchestrated the murder of 36,000 Jews, approximately 20,000 more victims than Liebl, a neighboring Bereichkommandoführer who had not deployed to the Bogdanovka camp. 50 000 Juden aus Odessa / Tatsachenbericht von W. V., 1957, BAL, B162/2295, 26. The murder of 16,000 Jews under Liebl‘s command is confirmed by Soviet counterintelligence records. Protokol doprosa / A. M. G., September 20, 1944, Staatsarchiv Münster, Nr. 2902, 51. A former ethnic German resident of Transnistria offered a similar estimate of 17,000 to 18,000 victims to the West German police in 1962.Zeugen schaftliche Vernehmung von N. E., January 16, 1962, BAL, B162/2290, 184.
Rademacher's note (actually written by Triska) can be matched with the March Intelligence Report of the gendarmerie legion in the Berezovka district, which stated that "80% [of those evacuated from Odessa] have been executed" (Ancel, Document 569), and which is supported by at least eight surviving gendarmerie reports (here).
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