Friday, November 30, 2012

The Jäger Report (8)

The Jäger Report (1)

The Jäger Report (2)

The Jäger Report (3)

The Jäger Report (4)

The Jäger Report (5)

The Jäger Report (6)

The Jäger Report (7)

The eighth and last blog of this series addresses Karl Jäger's involvement in the killings committed by Einsatzkommando 3 in 1941, his further wartime career and his postwar life until his arrest, interrogation and suicide in 1959. Like in the previous blogs of this series, the information presented in this blog is mostly based on German historian Wolfram Wette’s biography of Karl Jäger (Wolfram Wette, Karl Jäger. Mörder der litauischen Juden, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, hereinafter "Wette, Jäger").

Jäger’s criminal responsibility

On page 7 of the Jäger Report, Jäger informed his superiors that he had been entirely successful in making Lithuania "free of Jews" – except for the 34,500 Work Jews he had been kept from killing by the German army and civilian administration. An additional unknown number of Jews, not mentioned in the Jäger Report, had been hidden by Lithuanian peasant families or fled into the forests and formed partisan units. Thus a group of 350 armed Jews from the Kaunas ghetto joined the partisans at the end of 1942.

According to a handwritten report of Jäger’s dated 9 February 1942, the number of people killed by Einsatzkommando (EK) 3 had by that time risen to 138,272. Further killings followed, as mentioned in the previous article of this series, until almost all of Lithuania’s Jewry had been wiped out.

Order Nr. 1331 from the Commander of Security Police and Security Service for the Eastern Territories (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD Ostland) in Riga, instructing the commanders of EK 1 A in Reval, EK 1 B in Minsk and EK 3 in Kaunas to immediately submit information about executions carried out, broken down into A) Jews, B) communists, C) partisans, D) mental patients and E) others (to be specified), furthermore information about how many of the total were men, women and children. Facsimile in Wette, Jäger, page 146.

Jäger’s reply dated 9 February 1942 to Order Nr. 1331. Jäger reports execution of A) 136,421 Jews, B) 1,064 communists, C) 56 partisans, D) 653 mental patients, E) 44 Poles, 28 Russian prisoners of war, 5 Gypsies, 1 Armenian. Total 138,272, thereof 55,556 women, 34,464 children. Facsimile in Wette, Jäger, page 147.

What kind of perpetrator was Karl Jäger? Was he a writing desk criminal, who merely received and processed his subordinates' reports about the killing, but mostly stayed away from the dirty work of mass executions? Jäger’s most knowledgeable critic may have been SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schmitz, who succeeded Hamann in October 1941 as Jäger’s deputy. When interrogated in Ludwigsburg in 1960, Schmitz testified that due to his obsession with numbers Jäger had been the butt of jokes from his subordinates. On the whole his position as Commander of Security Police had overburdened him, and he had thus clung to seemingly tangible matters like the numbers of people shot. According to a later deposition by Schmitz, Jäger had only reached his position due to a wartime lack of personnel. As he had never held a regular job before, he felt insecure in the presence of any man who, like Schmitz, had undergone a regular career as a public servant and was familiar with administrative work. The office work had largely been done by Jäger’s subordinates Schmitz, Porst, Rauca and Stütz. SS-Hauptscharführer Rauca had been in charge of Jewish matters. (Wette, Jäger, p. 149; Schmitz’ interrogations referred to by Wette’s sources took place on 15.1.1960 and on 6.3, 9.3. and 4.12.1962).

The critical assessments of Jäger’s lack of competence as a police commander, however, say little about the extent of his responsibility as a perpetrator. As commander of EK3 and then Commander of Security Police and SD (KdS) in Lithuania, Jäger bore the overall responsibility for the deaths of the 138,272 Lithuanian Jews and others who had been murdered until 9 February 1942, the date of his handwritten list shown above. Besides being formally the man in charge, Jäger also meticulously watched over his competences. In case of disputes about competences with other Einsatzkommandos Jäger effectively asserted his position. Dr. Erich Ehrlinger, former commander of Sonderkommando 1b, which was replaced in early July 1941 by EK3, described Jäger in 1959 as an elder gentleman of simple thinking, who was zealous about his actual or presumed competences. Jäger had been "extremely pigheaded" ("ausgesprochen dickköpfig") and considered himself the essential person on site. (Wette, Jäger, page 150, citing Ehrlinger’s deposition on 30.7.1959, Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. IV, Bl. 2501-3002 (Bl. 2677)). The police officials of EK3 and the KdS in Wilna and Siauliai, who murdered with the assistance of local auxiliaries just like their colleagues in Kaunas, were clearly subject to Jäger’s command. The Regional Commissioner of Siauliai, Hans Gewecke, testified after the war that Jäger had on 3 September 1941 ordered him to "liquidate all Jews in Schaulen" (Wette, Jäger, page 150, citing Aktenvermerk Hans Gewecke, in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen, Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/58. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. II, Bl. 785). At a later time Jäger had ordered Gewecke to liquidate parts of two ghettos in Siauliai, which Gewecke however refused to do with his back covered by Reich Commissioner Hinrich Lohse (Wette, Jäger, page 151, citing Curilla, Wolfgang, Die deutsche Ordnungspolizei und der Holocaust im Baltikum und in Weiβrussland, p. 891).

Jäger was quite active in performing his functions, either by initiating murder operations through his general or specific orders or by giving Hamann and other SS-officers of EK3 a free hand to prepare and carry out murder operations on their own initiative with his approval. There are also several testimonies whereby Jäger was present at the shootings in Kaunas and personally supervised them. Like other Einsatzgruppen commandants Jäger maintained the principle that every German under his command had to prove his worth at shootings of Jews. He thus forced every one of his subordinates to take part in the shootings and accordingly also shot people himself. A detective chief superintendent by the name of Dr. Fritz Bartmann, who was transferred to the KdS Lithuania in July 1942 and acted as Jäger’s deputy, testified in 1959 that Jäger required each of his officers to take part in such actions and had told Bartmann that it would also be his turn one day. According to Bartmann, Jäger threatened officials who didn’t want to take part in liquidations by pointing his gun at them. (Wette, Jäger, p. 151, citing Bartmann's deposition recorded in Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. X, Bl. 5289-5295 (Bl. 5295)). A Gestapo official serving with the EK was once asked by Jäger whether he had already stood at the pit. (Wette, Jäger, p. 151, citing the deposition of former Gestapo official Ferdinand Schlemmer on 22.12.1959, in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. X, Bl. 5341). Another policeman testified that Jäger had always meant to incriminate everybody and personally issued liquidation orders (Wette, Jäger, p. 151, citing the deposition of Heinrich Erlen, in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. X, Bl. 5459-5463).

Jäger also took initiatives of his own time after time, like when he ordered the shooting of the Jews transported to Kaunas from the Reich. His remarks on page 7 of the Jäger Report ("I also wanted to kill these Work Jews, including their families, which however brought upon me acrimonious challenges from the civil administration (the Reichskommisar) and the army and caused the prohibition: the Work Jews and their families are not to be shot!") further show that Karl Jäger was a killer out of conviction, who meant to carry out his extermination work as completely as possible and deplored being hindered in doing so by military and civilian officials demanding that Jews be kept alive as laborers. In their final report dated 30 October 1959 about the shootings of Jews by EK3, the jurists of the Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen zur Aufklärung nationalsozialistischer Verbrechen (Central Office of the Federal States' Judicial Administrations for Investigation of National Socialist Crimes) therefore considered SS-Standartenführer Jäger to have been responsible for the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jews to the same extent as Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich (Wette, Jäger, p. 152, citing Zentrale Stelle, 30.10.1959, "Abschluβbericht über die durch EK3 bzw. KdS Litauen erfolgten Judenerschieβungen in Litauen", in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. X, Bl. 4357-4365 (Bl. 4359)).

Jäger’s nightmares

Despite his zeal, the mass killings left their mark on Jäger. SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Jost, who in 1942 temporarily replaced Walther Stahlecker (killed in a partisan attack) as head of Einsatzgruppe A and Commander of Security Police for the Eastern Territories, thus being Jäger’s direct superior, testified in 1959 that Jäger had confided to him in a private conversation that he could no longer sleep, saw dying women and small children all the time, even had hallucinations and could no longer go home as he had children and grandchildren himself. Jäger had called himself a lost man who could not be restored by a leave or by internment in a sanatorium, for he found no peace anymore (Wette, Jäger, page 153, citing Jost’s deposition on 27.6.1958, in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. II, Bl. 879). In another deposition Jost went into further detail:
On occasion of a meeting with Jäger at the beginning of my activity in Riga, Jäger openly confided to me his sufferings of conscience. He told me that he could not sleep when he thought of the shootings in which he had taken part. Ghosts were haunting him all the time, he therefore could no longer face his wife with a clean conscience and neither could bear having his grandchildren on his lap.

(Wette, Jäger, page 153, citing Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. I, Bl. 267 and Bd. IV, Bl. 1749; my translation.)

Jost claimed to have thereupon promised Jäger that he would have to give no further orders for shooting Jews.

From an SS point of view, being tormented by conscience revealed a lack of sufficiently strong nerves. Jäger’s maudlin remarks about the killings of the Jews were interpreted as meaning that Jäger was not as tough as required. This may have been the reason why, despite his outstanding murder record, Jäger was excluded from a further career in the SS. In August 1943 he was relieved from his position as KdS Lithuania, which he had held since 2 December 1941. Towards the end of the war he received a salary increase, but he remained in the rank of SS-Standartenführer, which he had already reached in 1940. (Wette, Jäger, page 154).

Jäger ‘s activities in 1943-1945

After being relieved from his post in Lithuania on 1 August 1943, Jäger was (according to his own deposition) assigned to command an operation against partisans. There are no written sources to confirm this claim, however. Then he went back to Berlin. Having heard that he was to be assigned to the – not very attractive – position of Hauskommandant (house commandant) at the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA - Reich Security Main Office), Jäger protested with his superior Kaltenbrunner, pointing out that Kaltenbrunner’s predecessor Heydrich had guaranteed him the position of police president years before. But only in June 1944 Jäger was transferred to the position of police president in the city of Reichenberg in the Sudetenland, present-day Czech Republic. This was the position he held at the end of the war.

After the Wehrmacht’s capitulation Jäger did not flee abroad as did many other higher SS-officers, and he neither hid under a false name. Instead he lived unrecognized in the American zone of occupation, near the city of Heidelberg.

Jäger had been divorced from his first wife Emma in 1940. Shortly thereafter he had married Lotte Schlienenkamp, who was 24 years younger. He took his wife with him to Reichenberg. When the Red Army approached Reichenberg, Jäger considered whether he was to shoot himself, his wife and his child – he must thus have had a child from his second marriage – like a number of other higher SS-officers had done. Instead he decided to flee west. After an odyssey of five weeks the Jäger family reached the city of Tecklenburg in Westphalia.

Jäger didn't remain there, however, because he feared being arrested for the mass murder of the Lithuanian Jews. The day after his arrival he left wife and child in Tecklenburg and went south to Freiburg im Breisgau and Walkirch, where he hoped to find work with the sewing silk manufacturer Güterman in Gutach near Waldkirch, who he had worked for in 1934 and 1935. Jäger agreed with his wife on a cover address under which they were to remain in contact. However, Jäger now went into hiding and wasn’t heard of in the following time. Lotte Jäger thereupon had him searched by the tracing service of the German Red Cross, fearing that he had been recognized and arrested by police authorities of the occupying powers. Yet the German Red Cross wasn’t able to establish Jäger's whereabouts for years. Jäger's second marriage was eventually divorced at Lotte’s request by a decision dated 20 March 1951 from the Court of Assizes (Landgericht) in Münster, Westphalia. At that time Jäger was 63 years old. (Wette, Jäger, pp. 155-156).

Citizen of the German Federal Republic, 1949-1959

When he returned to his home town of Waldkirch, Jäger was well received by people who had known him. Some had a vague idea that Jäger had had "something to do with the Jews", but no one had precise information in this respect – obviously including the French occupiers, who made no attempts to arrest the former SS-officer.

Jäger spent several months in Waldkirch. In July 1945 he went to village of Wiesenbach in the Heidelberg district, where he was employed as a rural worker by the owner of a local mill. For six years, from the summer of 1945 to the summer of 1951, Jäger remained in Wiesenbach. Details about this phase of his life are not known. Between 1951 and his arrest in 1959 Jäger worked at the Kümmelbacher Hof, a spa resort near Heidelberg.

About Jäger’s behavior in these years little is known. According to his own statements Jäger had no contact with former comrades. As he told an interrogator from the crime police in 1959, he had cut off links with his former life, including the members of his family, lived a lonely life and only rarely read a newspaper. Jäger pointed out that already in June 1945 he had been registered under his real name by the Americans in Thuringia. An interrogator in Ludwigsburg he told that after the war he had not been in hiding to avoid an eventual prosecution, but since 1945 been properly registered with his correct personal data, first in Wiesenbach and later at Kümmelbacher Hof near Heidelberg.

This was a half-truth, however. While Jäger had filled in the registration form for the Wiesenbach community with his actual first and last name – both of which are not uncommon in Germany – he had omitted any connection to NS organizations. The community obviously took his self-presentation at face value and made no inquiries. Therefore Jäger also didn't have to undergo a denazification procedure. Instead he received a postcard certifying that he belonged to the "non-incriminated" category.

American tracing authorities issued a warrant in 1948 to arrest the SS commander Jäger on charges of murder. Yet this measure did not lead to intensive investigations by German police authorities about Jäger's whereabouts. As far as known Jäger’s name was first mentioned by German authorities in connection with the preliminary investigations for the proceedings against SS-Oberführer Bernhard Fischer-Schweder at the Ulm Einsatzgruppen trial. In late 1956 the Federal Criminal Agency (Bundeskriminalamt) ordered a search for Jäger. But research at his former domiciles in Bonn, Düsseldorf, Münster, Freiburg, Waldkirch and Ravensburg at first met no success. The publication of a search warrant in the 1957 Federal Criminal Gazette, which included a photo of Jäger in SS uniform, also brought no results.

The fact that mass murderer Jäger managed to live a relatively quiet life for fourteen years after the war was closely related to the prevailing attitude towards NS-criminals in the West German society during most of the 1950s. German authorities at that time searched neither for Jäger nor for other members of Einsatzkommando 3. The people that Jäger met in his new environment in the Heidelberg area either didn't know or didn't want to know about his past as an SS-officer. From the manager of the Kümmelbacher Hof Jäger did not conceal the fact that he had been in the SS and commander of the security police in the East, but the lady obviously kept this information to herself.

In his book Vergangenheitspolitik, in which he addresses the suppression and palliation of the NS past between 1948 and 1955, historian Norbert Frei describes a case that can be considered representative of the political climate in that period. In the autumn of 1952 two sentenced German war criminals managed to escape from Werl prison in the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. One of the escapees, Willhelm Kappe, who had been sentenced by the British to lifetime imprisonment for shooting a Russian prisoner of war, went to his relatives in the town of Aurich in East Frisia. Wilhelm Heidepeter, who had a fish trade in Aurich and was the local president of the Social Democratic Party in the town’s senate, learned about this and informed the police. Yet Kappe managed to flee again and could rely on solidarity by the population and the press. Heidepeter, on the other hand, was persecuted as an informer. Citizens armed with clubs went to his house, crashed his shop window and left a transparency reading: "Here lives the traitor!". Heidepeter, who had fled from Aurich in the meantime, was deposed from all public offices, and a proceeding to exclude him from the party was filed. In the German press no voice was raised to defend Heidepeter.

Such was the atmosphere in West Germany in the early 1950s as concerns the Nazi past. The overwhelming majority of the population was nationalist like in Nazi times, showed solidarity with sentenced Nazi criminals (usually referred to as "so-called war criminals") and demanded their release, preferably in the form of a general amnesty. Press and politicians played the same tune. In late 1950 the American High Commissioner McCloy received death threats because he had refused to pardon war criminals awaiting the execution of the death penalty in Landsberg prison. McCloy was desperate about the fact that the German population didn’t want to realize the "enormity" of the crimes for which these people had been sentenced.

In the first five years of the German Federal Republic there was a broad consensus among all parties on how the Nazi past was to be handled. The threateningly uttered demand was to "finally put a final stroke (Schlussstrich)" under these matters. This political environment also benefited rural worker Karl Jäger (Wette, Jäger, pp. 157-163).

Jäger’s arrest and interrogation in 1959

After the Ulm Einsatzgruppen trial had shaken the West German public and judicial system out of their complacency, the aforementioned Central Office of the Federal States' Judicial Administrations for Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg started working on 1 December 1958. It's task was to investigate Nazi crimes so far unknown or not judicially prosecuted and prepare trials of NS perpetrators with its preliminary investigations.

The first preliminary investigation procedure was aimed at the suspect Karl Jäger, whose name had come up during the Ulm Einsatzgruppen trial. Jäger's whereabouts were finally established in April 1959 by a special commission from Ludwigsburg. In Waldkirch a detective from the special commission managed to find out by mere chance that Karl Jäger was still alive and living in Heidelberg. Investigations in Heidelberg established that Karl Jäger had since 1 August 1951 been registered in Kümmelbacherhof, Schlierbacher Landstrasse 214.

Jäger was arrested on 10 April 1959 and taken into investigative custody on suspicion of murder at the Heidelberg district court, where he was first interrogated by officials of the Baden-Württemberg federal state’s Office of Criminal Investigation (Landeskriminalamt). In these interrogations he didn’t deny that between 1941 and 1943 he had been an SS-Standartenführer, commander of Einsatzkommando 3 and Commander of Security Police and Security Service (KdS) for the Lithuania General District. Yet he denied having had anything to do with the shootings of Lithuanian Jews. There had been executions, for sure, but the orders for these had come "from above". He said that he had had to obey "because there was a war going on", but at the same time denied having issued any instructions himself. (Wette, Jäger, pp. 165, citing Jäger’s deposition on 10.4.1959, in: Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen Ludwigsburg, 5 AR-Z 14/1958. Beschuldigter: Jäger, Karl, Bd. I, Bl. 235-241). Two months later the Central Office in Ludwigsburg, which by then had taken over the investigations, had Jäger transferred to a central hospital on the Hohenasperg. Jäger was detained there in a two-man cell and in the last week before his death on 22 June 1959 in a one-man cell. He was interrogated by an official of the Baden-Württemberg State Office of Criminal Investigation, chief inspector Aedtner. On four days Jäger was interrogated for 23 hours; the interrogation records, 29 pages long and signed by Jäger, can be read here.

While he could not deny the murder of the Jews in Lithuania, Jäger claimed that he had not wanted them and they had caused him much suffering. He tried to make believe that the massacres and liquidations had not been carried out by him but by others, especially Hamann and the Lithuanian Lieutenant Bronius Norkus. The murder operations had happened without any orders of his and all he had done was sit in his office, receive the reports with numbers of those executed and transmit them to Einsatzgruppe A in Riga. Jäger’s key exculpatory claims on pages 10 and 11 of the interrogation record translate as follows:
When I arrived in Kauen (Kaunas) the shootings of Jews were already under way, i.e. Jews had already been shot and were being shot. These shootings were supposed to have been carried out by the Lithuanian auxiliary police. Who told me so I don't know; I hardly think that I received a service report about this from Hamann or Wolf. On whose instructions these shootings were carried out is not known to me. Neither can I say whether Ehrlinger or Wolf with their people took an active part. Tolerate it they certainly did, for otherwise the shootings by the Lithuanians would not have continued. I myself also didn't interdict these shootings, because through Heydrich's address on occasion of the meeting in Berlin it had been established that the Jews in the East must be shot. Besides this address by Heydrich I had until then received no more detailed oral or written order from the RSHA or from another entity.
I saw this statement of Heydrich's as a binding order that upon taking up my activity in the East the Jews were to be shot. Therefore I did nothing against these shootings. Inside however I rejected them and considered it cruel and terrible that people were being killed or were to be killed only because of their faith and their race. I wish to point out, however, that I never issued an order to any member of my office to shoot a certain number of Jews or to shoot Jews at all. I also didn’t have to do this, because things happened all by themselves.
How many Jews had already been shot until my arrival or during the first days I cannot say, but there may have been several thousand. As I remember these shootings were carried out in the old Forts 7 and 9 in Kauen. Whether at the time of my arrival or shortly thereafter Jews were also shot in Wilna, I no longer know. I consider it quite possible, however.
When I arrived at Kauen there was a Lithuanian police there authorized by the Germans. The commander of the security police was the Lithuanian Cenkus. Furthermore there was a so-called shooting detachment, about 50 to 100 Lithuanians strong, under the Lithuanian lieutenant Norkus.
Norkus and his detachment were later subordinated to Hamann and carried out the shootings of Jews together with him. Hamann acted in complete independence. I never gave him shooting orders. I only received reports about the number of those shot from case to case. These were then reported via Stahlecker to the RSHA in the Action Reports (Ereignismeldungen) together with other situation reports that bore my signature. The Action Reports were put together from the various sections' individual reports by my office - "topkick" Porst – and submitted to me for signature.

These exculpatory claims stand in stark contrast with Jäger’s statements in his report dated 1 December 1941, which was not known to Jäger’s interrogators in 1959. On the very first page Jäger mentioned executions "carried out by Lithuanian partisans on my instructions and under my command". On page 7 he proudly reported that "the goal of solving the Jewish problem for Lithuania has been achieved by Einsatzkommando 3. In Lithuania, there are no more Jews, other than the Work Jews, including their families" - who Jäger regretted not having been able to kill because of "acrimonious challenges" from the civil administration and the army, who wanted to keep a number of Jews alive as laborers. Regarding Hamann he pointed out that the same had "completely and entirely adopted my goals and understood the importance of ensuring the co-operation of the Lithuanian partisans and the competent civilian positions".

Jäger’s suicide

After blatantly lying about his involvement in the killings and trying to shift the blame onto others during the interrogations, Karl Jäger took his life in the night from 21 to 22 June 1959, by hanging himself in his cell with an electric cable. Before he had written farewell letters to the family of his son-in-law Sepp Fackler and to his interrogator Aedtner, in which he claimed that he had committed no crimes and heaped no guilt on himself, furthermore lamenting the "terrible fate" he had met (Wette, Jäger, p. 168). Below is a copy of Jäger’s farewell letter to Aedtner, which is shown on page 170 of Wette’s biography.

The text in German reads as follows:
An den Vernehmungsbeamten Herrn Aedtner!

Ich scheide aus diesem Dasein, weil ich dieses Leben nicht mehr ertragen kann. Nehmen Sie es bitte nicht als Feigheit oder Angst vor dem Kommenden. Ich habe seit 15 Jahren mit den Verhältnissen + Geschehnissen in Litauen längst mein damaliges Leben abgeschlossen. Mein Gedächtnis und mein Erinnerungsvermögen hat mich vollständig verlassen, ich kann die Auskunft die Sie von mir verlangen, nicht mehr geben.
Ich weiss und es ist mir bewusst, dass die Mitangeklagten nun alle Schuld auf mich abladen werden. Ich verzeihe ihnen.

Ich betone und sage erneut aus, dass ich diese Judenerschiessungen niemals gebilligt habe und dass ich gegen mein Innerstes im Kriege auf diesen Posten gestellt worden bin. Ich habe niemals Judenerschiessungen befohlen, ich habe niemals einen Exekutionsbefehl gegeben, so wahr mir Gott helfe! Ich habe kein Verbrechen begangen und habe keine Schuld auf mich geladen. Ihnen Herrn Aedtner und Herrn [unleserlich] danke ich für die vorbildlich menschliche Vernehmung und für all das Gute, das Sie mir persönlich getan haben. Karl Jäger

Darf ich Sie bitten an folgende Adressen das Geschehene mitzuteilen:
Familie Sepp Fackler in Baden-Baden, [Anschrift unleserlich]
"          Otto Wild in Freiburg im Breisgau Wallstrasse 9
Frau von Althen in Kümmelbacherhof – Post Neckargemünd.
Die bereits erhaltenen Briefe wolle man auch an die [unleserlich] Adresse nach Baden-Baden senden!

My translation:

To the interrogating official Mr. Aedtner!

I depart from this existence, because I can no longer bear this life. Please don’t take it to be cowardice of fear of what is coming. Since 15 years I have long put behind me the circumstances and occurrences in Lithuania and my life back them. My memory and my capacity to remember has completely left me, I can no longer provide the information that you demand of me.
I know and am conscious that the co-defendants will now put all blame on me. I pardon them.

I emphasize and again state that I never condoned the shootings of the Jews and that I had been placed in this position during the war against my inner self. I never ordered shootings of Jews, I never gave an execution order, so God help me! I committed no crime and heaped no guilt onto me. You, Mr. Aedtner, and Mr. [unreadable] I thank for the exemplarily humane interrogation and for all the good you did for me personally. Karl Jäger

May I ask to communicate what happened to the following addresses:
Family Sepp Fackler in Baden-Baden, [address unreadable]
"         Otto Wild in Freiburg im Breisgau, Wallstrasse 9
Mrs. von Althen in Kümmelbacherhof – Post Neckargemünd.
The letters already received should also be send to the [unreadable] address in Baden-Baden!

[Update, 27.04.2018: Broken links were replaced or removed, some minor errors in the text corrected.]

1 comment:

  1. Comparing the handwriting from 6.2.42 with the suicide note seems to show it is the same person. A copy of the 6.2.42 document is in YVA O.18/76, p.5,


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