Sunday, April 08, 2018

Wehrmacht Involvement in Extermination Actions in the Crimea

The Wehrmacht's role in the extermination of Jews in Crimea can be summarized in three forms of evidence. Firstly, Manstein gave an order on November 20, 1941, that was clearly incendiary, filled with biological racism and indicating a willingness to condone mass killing on racial grounds. Secondly, the fourteen command HQ[1]subordinated to Korueck 553 (11th Army Rear Army Command) issued killing reports that showed a willingness not just to hand over Jews to the SD but also to kill them using their own military police. Thirdly, documents and testimonies describe the involvement of the command HQ and their soldiers in providing transport and manpower to the Einsatzkommandos.

Manstein's order is so crucial that it is necessary to quote a long extract before noting its key phrases:
Jewry constitutes the middle man between the enemy in the rear and the still fighting remainder of the Red Armed Forces and the Red leadership. More strongly than in Europe, it holds all the key positions in the political leadership and administration, controls trades and guilds and further forms the nucleus for all unrest and possible uprisings.
The Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated once and for all. Never again must it encroach upon our European living space.
The German soldier has therefore not only the task of crushing the military potential of this system. He comes also as the bearer of a racial concept and as the avenger of all the cruelties which have been perpetrated on him and on the German people.
The fight behind the lines is not yet being taken seriously enough. Active cooperation of all soldiers must be demanded in the disarming of the population, the control and arrest of all roving soldiers and civilians and the removal of Bolshevist symbols.

Every instance of sabotage must be punished immediately with the severest measures and all signs thereof must be reported.

The food situation at home makes it essential that the troops should as far as possible be fed o the land and that furthermore the largest possible stocks be placed at the disposal of the homeland. Particularly in enemy cities a large part of the population will have to go hungry. Nevertheless nothing which the homeland has sacrificed itself to contribute may, out of a misguided sense of humanity, be given to Prisoners or to the population-so long as they are not in the service of the German Wehrmacht.

The soldier must appreciate the necessity for harsh punishment of Jewry, the spiritual bearer of the Bolshevist terror. This is also necessary in order to nip in the bud all uprisings which are mostly attributable to Jews.[2]
The term "bearer of a racial concept" could not be clearer that this was a war of extermination on racial grounds. The clause "in enemy cities a large part of the population will have to go hungry" shows awareness of the Hungerplan that was intended to starve 30 million people across the USSR. The phrase "the necessity for harsh punishment of Jewry" can only make sense if the punishment was to be collective death, and this was to be inflicted on "Jewry" not merely "Judeo-Bolsheviks" or partisans. 

Collaboration between the military and SD commenced immediately in the Crimea, a trend continued from the 11th Army's campaign farther west. On November 11, 1941, Korueck 553 Quartiermeister Friedrich Benecke informed FK 810 Pallmann that the Feldgendarmerie (FG, Military Police) were to shoot persons themselves after screening by the Geheime Feldpolizei (GFP, the Secret Field Police) and only hand over Jews to the SD in doubtful cases.[3] Three days later, OK I/853 was able to report that 11,000 Jews "are being executed by the SD" in Simferopol, although the bulk of these killings had not yet taken place.[4] Most of these Jews died between December 9-13, 1941, as per the account given by Angrick which was posted to the HC blog in 2006 by Roberto Muehlenkamp.[5] According to Operational Situation Report 150, most of Crimea's large urban districts were "free of Jews" by the beginning of 1942:

Simferopol, Yevpatoria, Alushta, Krasubasar, Kerch, and Feodosia and other districts of western Crimea are free of Jews. From November 16 to December 15, 1941, 17,645 Jews, 2,504 Krimchaks, 824 Gypsies, and 212 Communists and partisans have been shot. Altogether, 75,881 persons have been executed.

Rumors about executions in other areas complicated the action in Simferopol. Reports about actions against Jews gradually filter down from fleeing Jews, Russians, and also from the loose talk of German soldiers.[6]
The crucial role of the military in the Simferopol extermination was explained in the Manstein trial by the commander of SK 11b, Braune. The 11th Army had demanded that the area be cleared of Jews by Christmas 1941, but Braune had not been able to redeploy in Crimea all the transport and men he had recently used in Odessa. The 11th Army had provided the necessary trucks and personnel to rectify this shortage. Braune also stated that "resettled" was a euphemism for execution.[7] The Manstein prosecution then gave a detailed account of a report for November 26-27 showing the participation of Feldgendarmerie under the command of Major Erxleben.[8]

The reliance of Einsatzgruppe D on the military to cordon off the shooting areas and sometimes supply logistical assistance at other sites is shown in several sources. Operational Situation Report 193 gives a very detailed account of four raids in Feodosia, each of which was assisted by at least 350 soldiers.[9] Two earlier reports stated that 2320 soldiers, 55 Military Police and 20 Secret Field Police had been made available to the SD for an action against "unreliable elements", including "Jews".[10] Feldgendarmen assisted on 18.1.42 at Pervomaiskoye[11], an action that involved a gas van,[12] and on 25.1.42 at Sarabus-Spath.[13] Feldgendarmerie also carried out shootings, on the initiative of their HQ, in rural areas in regional hunts, such as the killing of three men and two women in the Fraydorf agricultural area.[14]

In Kertsch, the military actively requested killings. On November 27, OK I (V)/287 noted that the 11th army had requested that "the liquidation of the Jews will have to be expedited due to the jeopardized food position."[15] In the same person's subsequent report of 7.12.41, in which 2,500 Jews had been killed between December 1-3, the word 'execution' was crossed out and 'resettled' inserted.[16] A similar substitution was also made to reports by the OK in Bakhchisary[17] and Yewpatoria.[18]

On days 9-14 of the Manstein trial, numerous Nuremberg documents were submitted as exhibits that established the extent of the killing of Jews, Gypsies and "insane" persons carried out in Crimea between December 1941 and July 1942. On 14.12.41, Ortskommandantur Karasubasar Stab Wachbatl. (B) 49 reported that 76 Jewish men, women (referred to as "Weiber") and children had been taken to a field four days previously and not seen again.[19] A population count in that same location, reported on 14.2.42, found only one Jew and one Krymchak remaining in the town from a population of 8,789.[20] On 1.1.42, OK II/939 reported 443 Jews killed in Dshankoj.[21] On 15.2.42, FK 810 reported the killing in Ikor of a woman, a three-year-old child and a new-born child.[22] On 18.2.42, Operational Situation Report 170 noted that "From 9th January to 15th February, more than 300 Jews were apprehended in Simferopol and executed. By this, the number of people executed in Simferopol increased to almost 10,000 Jews, about 300 more than the number of Jews registered."[23]

Killings continued through March. Operational Situation Report 184 detailed the killing of 2,100 persons, of which 678 were Jews and 810 'asocials,' primary mentally ill and Gypsies.[24] On 13.3.42, FK 810 reported that the command HQ had handed over to the SD 98 Jews from Schaumian and 6 Jews from Kurulu-Keneges.[25] On 16.4.42, Ohlendorf's deputy Seibert informed army intelligence that:

(1). The Crimea is freed of Jews. Only occasionally some small groups turn up, especially in the northern areas. In cases where single Jews have been able to camouflage themselves by means of forged papers, etc., they will, nevertheless, be recognized sooner or later, as experience has taught. The population, which in the majority has welcomed the measures taken against the Jews, is assisting in this task by making denunciations. This is only natural considering the fact that the Crimea has been a special domain of Jewry. About the development and the influence of Jewry in the Crimea a detailed report is attached."[26]

On 30.6.42 Ortskommandantur I/287 Kertsch stated that the city was free of Jews.[27] Sixteen days later, the OK Bakhchisarai informed Korück 553 that 1029 Jews from camp Tole had been "drowned [versenkt]" at Bakhchisarai.[28] On 10.6.42, the mother of Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, a member of FGA 683, wrote to her other son: 

But thank God he has not been ordered to participate in the ‘cleansing action’ in Kerch (nicht mit in Kertsch zur ‘Säuberungsaktion’eingesetzt). It was already terrible enough in Simferopol.[29] 

The placing of ‘Säuberungsaktion’ in quotes suggests she knew of its sinister meaning.

In conclusion therefore, the support given by the Wehrmacht to the extermination actions in Crimea, both in terms of instigating and participating in executions and in providing personnel for such matters as round-ups and the cording-off of killing sites, is displayed extensively and irrefutably in German documents.             

[1] Eleven Ortskommandanturen (OK) and three Feldkommandanturen (FK); cf. Kiril Feferman, The Holocaust in the Crimea and the North Caucasus (Jerusalem, 2016), p.114. 
[2] 4064-PS, YVA P.13/136, pp.52-55, here p.53; IMT XXXIV, pp.129-132, here p.130; translation in the the trial of German Army Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, British Military Court, Hamburg [hereafter Manstein], 27.8.49, YVA TR.4/5, pp.3-5, here p.4; cf. Feferman, pp.112-114.
[3] Nuremberg document L-007, English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, p.66.
[4] Ortskommandatur I/853 (Hpt. Kleiner) to Korueck 553, 14.11.41, NOKW-1573, BArch B 162/657, pp.131-133, here p.132. Translation in NMT, X, pp.1258-1259 and in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, p.46.
[6] EM 150, 2.1.42, NOKW-1727, p.20, BArch B 162/442, p.221.
[7] Manstein, 7.9.49, TR.4/12, pp.64-69. On the role of Feldgendarmerie in Simferopol, see Feferman, pp.133-139, especially p.136.
[8] MAR-1324, Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, pp.47-48.
[9] EM 193, 17.4.42, NO-3281, pp.12-18, T2724271-T2724277; English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, pp.40-44.
[10] AOK 11 War Diary (signed Major Helmut Oppermann), 31.1.42, NOKW-1741 and Braune report, 12.1.42, NOKW-1863, both cited in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, pp.38-39.
[11] 3./Feldgend., Abt., (mot) 683, 2.2.42, NOKW-1283, BArch B/162/1182, p.17, scan of YVA M.29.FR/118 online at Untold Stories.
[12] Testimony of Stepan Beznos, 27.5.44, scan of GARF 7021-9-194, p.89, online at Untold Stories.[13] 3./Feldgend., Abt., (mot) 683, 2.2.42, NOKW-1283, 2.2.42; English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, pp.68-70.
[14] 3./Feldgend., Abt., (mot) 683, 11.2.42, NOKW-1656, BArch B 162/276, p.137, translation in Feferman, p.118.
[15] NOKW-1651, 27.11.41, BArch B 162/657, p.141, translation in Manstein, 5.9.49, TR.4/10, pp.58-59, and 8.9.49, TR.4/13, p.50.
[16] NOKW-1628, 7.12.41, BArch B 162/657, p.153, translation in Manstein, 7.10.49, TR.4/24, p.25; forensic analysis of this document by Rudolf Mally, who established that "Exekutierung" had been crossed out and "Umsiedlung" substituted. See TR.4/14, pp.17-20, and VEJ 7, Dok. 126, pp.389-391, especially note 5.
[17] Ortskommandantur Bachtschissaray, 14.12.41, BArch B 162/657, p.166; another copy, YVA M.29.FR/41 online at Untold Stories; testimony of Paul Zapp, Munich, 8.1.68 at same link.
[18] OK I (V)/277 to Korueck 553, NOKW 1727, 21.12.41, BArch B 162/657, p.166; English translation at NMT, XI, p.311 and Manstein TR.4/14, p.20. 
[19] BArch B 162/657, p.163.
[20] OK II/937 to Korueck 553, 14.2.42, NOKW-1688, BArch B 162/657, p.76; partial English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, p.71.
[21] Scan of YVA M.29.FR/40 online at Untold Stories, English translation in Manstein transcript, 6.9.49, p.723, TR.4/11, p.13.
[22] NOKW-2256, 15.2.42, BArch B 162/657, p.81; translation in Manstein, 9.9.42, TR.4/14, pp.29-30.
[23] EM 170, NO-3339, p.19, BArch B 162/444, p.384; English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, p.54.
[24] EM 184, 23.3.42, p.10, T2724048.
[25] FK 810 TB 27.2-13.3.42, 13.3.42, NOKW-1689, BArch B 162/657, pp.103-107, here p.107; English translation in Manstein, 8.9.49, TR.4/13, pp.72-73; FK (V) Yevpatoria, 16.3.42, p.2, NOKW-1851, scan from YVA M.29.FR/40 online at Untold Stories.
[26] NMT, X, p.143; Manstein, 6.9.49, TR.4/11,p.730.
[27] NOKW-1819, 30.6.42, English translation in Manstein, 9.9.49, TR.4/14, pp.21-22.
[28] II/576 (V) Bakhchisarai to Korueck 553, 16.7.42, YVA M.29.FR/1152, scan online at Untold Stories; English translation in Manstein, TR.4/59, p.21
[29] Claudia Maurer Zenck, 'Eggebrechts Militärzeit auf der Krim, Online-Publikation Hamburg, (March) 2010, online, pp.20-21; English translation in Boris von Haken, 'How Do We Know What We Know about Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht?', German Studies Review, 35/2, 2012, p.307.

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