Sunday, January 30, 2011

Human Remains Seen By American Journalists at Klooga and Babi Yar

On October 6th, 1944, the New York Times published this report from Klooga that had been filed by W.H. Lawrence four days earlier. The report began:
KLOOGA, Estonia, Oct. 2 (Delayed) Foreign correspondents were shown today the scene of the German executions on Sept. 19 - an act that demonstrated most conclusively that the Germans are in full scale retreat and are capable of cold- blooded slaughter even when it will serve little, if any, military purpose.

Here at the Nazis’ Klooga labor camp, built originally to house the last survivors of the Vilna Ghetto, I have seen and counted recognizable parts of 438 complete and partly burned bodies of men, women and children, including one child who could not have been more than three months old, but whose skull had been shattered by a bullet and who lay on the arm of her dead mother in cold, bleak country in the midst of a pine forest. I have seen three huge funeral pyres that first were built of pine logs by prisoners whose captors then shot them and burned their bodies. Near these piles, now almost completely reduced to ashes, I counted recognizable parts of at least 215 bodies. and an unknown number of other skeletons that had been reduced to bone ash by a hot fire made by burning pine logs and bodies soaked in gasoline. In a field nearby...were the bodies of a dozen other persons who had tried to escape but were cut down by bullets.

Prisoners Burned in Barracks

I have seen the charred remnants of a barracks building into the eight rooms of which the Germans crowded an estimated 700 persons, who were shot. The barracks then was set afire and destroyed, crematíng the bodies that remained inside. Alongside this building there was a row of at least 150 bodies, some of persons who obviously had been cut down while attempting to escape from the building.

Some bore little marks of fire, but others were merely charred, shrunken skeletons of men and women. Inside the barracks great piles of bone ash mixed with wood ash testified to the large number of other persons who had died in the building. In the central part of the camp itself there was one other ghastly scene. In a courtyard I counted the bodies of sixty-four persons, including men, women and children and it was there that I saw the young baby, dressed in a red sweater, white woolen panties and a blue shirt.

These were the bodies of persons who had been machine-­gunned to death inside one of the central barracks, but which the Germans, in their anxiety to flee before the approaching Red Army, did not have time to burn.
The head of the Associated Press in the USSR, Eddy Gilmore, filed this report, which similarly described the bodies of children with bullet holes in the backs of their heads. Gilmore had previously filed this report concerning Babi Yar. Photographs taken at Klooga were published in Life magazine on October 30th, 1944, and can be viewed here.


  1. The photos of corpses on unlit pyres shown in Life are some of the "softer" Klooga photos. IIRC some brain-damaged Estonian "Revisionist", referred to by the equally brain-damaged Udo Walendy, once claimed that these photos had been staged by the Soviets. As the more graphic photos in this USHMM query show, the Soviets wouldn't have been in need of staging anything at Klooga even if they had been thus inclined.

  2. Poke!
    I'll put you on my blogroll if you put me on yours!

  3. Desperately lonely septuagenarian troll from New Zealand screaming for attention under one of his earlier aliases, how pathetic.

  4. don't hold back.
    But the fact is your blog is in error on this point. Bodies were not seen by American journalists at Babi Yar - certainly not by William Lawrence who was sceptical at Kiev in a way he was not at Klooga or Lublin.

    If incontinent history merits a guernsy why not LGR?

  5. don't hold back.
    But the fact is your blog is in error on this point. Bodies were not seen by American journalists at Babi Yar - certainly not by William Lawrence who was sceptical at Kiev in a way he was not at Klooga or Lublin.

    If so, JH should change the heading, and SOF/LGR will have done something useful for once in his wasted life by pointing out this error. Bravo!

  6. In his article about Babi Yar, Gilmore wrote that
    "We walked along the ditch, which seemed to be just sand. Here and there were such things as fingers without hands. At another place there was a half burned show with flesh inside. There were several bones about. We also uncovered lots of broken burned spectacles. There were several pairs of broken false teeth."

    So changing the title to "Human Remains Seen By American Journalists at Klooga and Babi Yar" would be sufficient

  7. Oh, and thanks for pointing out that evidence of Nazi mass killings eventually convinced the initially skeptical William Lawrence.

  8. Well, he was Jewish. What do you expect him to say?

  9. Desperately lonely septuagenarian troll from New Zealand has again run out of arguments.

  10. W.H. Lawrence - born Lincoln, Nebraska. Not Jewish to my knowledge.

    Eddy Gilmore - born Selma, Alabama. Not Jewish, to my knowledge.

    Lurker may be thinking of W.L. Laurence - born Salantai, Lithuania - who wrote about the Atomic Bomb but was not at Babi Yar.

  11. Nothing is stopping Jews from being born in Lincoln, but in this case I think you right.
    I was basing it on this (unreliable)
    but if I recall I went through the whole business of the two Lawrences some years ago and reached your conclusion as well but simply forgot.
    Its difficult when you don't have an entire intelligence network behind you. Glad to see the change in title - although it does avoid the issue of the extreme difference in magnitude in human remains seen in the two sites.

    Give my regards to Hanse Heer

  12. Hardly a problem: the corpses were dug up and burnt successfully at Babi Yar (albeit leaving behind fingers, etc, as described) but the burning operation at Klooga was interrupted by the Soviet advance.

  13. are there British or American press clippings existing from 1941 just after the massacre?


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