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Chapter 5

Murder of the Lvov Professors[100]

 

Background

Prior to September 1939 and the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of of different ethnic groups and religions, 60% of whom were Poles, 30% Jews and about 10% Ukrainians and Germans. The city was one of the most important cultural centres of pre-war Poland, housing Lvov University and Lvov Polytechnic. It was the home for many Polish and Jewish intellectuals, medical fraternities, political and cultural activists, scientists and members of Poland's interwar elite.

After Lvov was occupied by the Soviets in September 1939, Lvov University was renamed in honour of Ivan Franko, a Ukrainian hero, and the language of instruction was changed from Polish to Ukrainian. Lvov was captured by German forces on 30th June, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Along with the German Wehrmacht units, a number of Abwehr and SS formations entered the city.

 

Ominous Beginnings:

On 29th June, the city of Lvov fell to the Germans, which was the trigger for Dr Schoengarth to initiate his move towards Lvov with his specialist officers of zbV and to set up the framework of ensuing Nazi policies in the districts of East Galicia.[101] Elsewhere, the Jewish communities were being subjected to atrocious brutality and trembled with thoughts of more to come.

On July 1st, 1941, as the fast-advancing German army entered the City, and only two days later, by order and with the encouragement of the Field Komandanture, Lvov's Ukrainians organized a systematic, unusually bloody and beastly pogrom of the City's Jews. The action

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started July 3rd about 10 a.m. and lasted till 6 a.m., with German uncompromising punctuality.

Thousands of Ukrainian rioters, mostly young peasants between 14 and 30 years old, armed with heavy wooden sticks and steel bars, appeared from nowhere, simultaneously in all the Jewish neighbourhood streets. In groups of a dozen or more, they broke into one house after another, and then into individual apartments, beating every Jew they found in a heinous manner, frequently to kill. Crowds of followers, men and women, kept them company, and avidly lent a helping hand in beating or murdering the victims, and grabbing everything in sight in large bags brought along especially for this purpose. These hoodlums did not spare anyone – sick, handicapped, old people, women, even pregnant women, or children. In some houses they were throwing Jews, beaten unconscious, from balconies down to the streets or patios, to their death. Then they gathered groups of victims in the prisons near Zamarstynowska and Kazimierzowska streets (called Brygidki), where a pile of prisoners' bodies murdered the night of June 30, immediately prior to the entry of the Germans, was found by militias. The Germans and Ukrainians spread rumours implying that retreating Bolsheviks perpetrated the murders. They blamed the Jews, acting as 'prison guards and prison heads', and consequently directed the revenge toward all Jews, in accordance with their concept of collective responsibility, avenging the Jewish cooperation with the Soviet authorities.

Their revenge was atrocious. The Jews assembled in the prison yard were undressed, and subjected to tortures impossible to describe. They were beaten with wood and steel bars, suffering broken bones, torn beards, were forced to drink urine, to perform dancing and walking on nails, to mutually beat each other. Amidst screams and insults they were ordered to clean and bury the murdered prisoners in a common grave. All these activities were performed in the presence of German officers, observing with a smile the sadistic performance of Ukrainian hooligans, giving them encouragement. They also kept taking photographs, which was indeed, their preferred activity.[102]

 

Entry into Lvov

Dr Schoengarth, with 230 men of Commando zbV, marched into Lvov on the heels of 'EG' 'C' in the afternoon of the 2nd July, and immediately began to fulfil

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their orders, to arrest and execute all members of the Polish intelligentsia and prominent Jews.[103] Over 3,000 Ukrainian politicals had already either been murdered by the NKVD or left in the prisons.[104] As soon as the Russians had withdrawn, Ukrainian nationalists (OUN) turned on the Jews in the city, murdering up to 10,000 in the wake of the German occupation.[105] One other task, which had been delegated to zbV, was the seizure of art objects and documents. For these purposes and taken along for the ride, the expertise of a civilian foreign Dutch national and art expert, Pieter Menten, was given the title of Sonderfuehrer and the bogus rank of SS-Scharfuehrer.[106]

 

The Leadership of zbV:

SS-Brigadier Dr Schoengarth[107] Commander-in-Chief BdS and zbV.
SS-Captain Hans Krueger[108] Regional Commander KdS East Galicia
SS-Lieutenant Colonel Heim[109] Deputy to Schoengarth
SS-Major Helmut Tanzmann Personnel SS-2nd
Lt. Wilhelm Rosenbaum[110] Logistics
SS-Sonderfuehrer Pieter Menten[111] Interpreter
SS-2nd Lt. Oskar Brandt Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-2nd Lt. Kuch Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-2nd Lt. Grothjan Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-2nd Lt. Otsch Kiptka[112] Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-Scharfuehrer Horst Waldenburger Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-Captain Dr Walther Kutschmann Specialist Jewish Affairs
SS-Scharfuehrer[113]  

Officers from zbV, now in possession of the '88' list of prominent members of Lvov society, began to comb the area.[114] The first victim to succumb to the work of zbV was an ex-Polish prime minister, Kazimierz Bartel, who was immediately shot.[115] Professor Groer, of Lvov Medical Institute, and a witness, escaped death by chance and lived to testify to the Soviet Special Commission who investigated the crime after the war.[116]

During the night of 3/4th July, 23 Professors from the two Lvov Universities were arrested with their families and taken to the interrogation centre of 'Bursa Abragamovichev House', the headquarters of zbV. Some of the first victims were: Professor Tadeuz Ostrowski, a noted surgeon and art-collector; Professor Jan Grek, an internal medicine expert, also an art-collector. Among those killed

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by the zbV team during the next few days was every member of the Grek and Ostrawoski families. During that night, a firing squad was detailed consisting of five ethnic German SD, and two Ukrainian police auxiliaries.[117]

At 5 a.m. on the morning of 4th July, officers of zbV took the arrested professors and their families in trucks to the Wulecka hills where two Ukrainians had prepared a pit. All twenty-three professors and their families were then executed. The two Ukrainians were also executed and thrown on top of the other dead bodies.[118] A witness to these murders was a resident from Lvov, named Golzmann, who also gave evidence to the 'Soviet Special Commission': he had seen 20 persons, including four professors, lawyers and doctors, brought into the yard of 8, Arciszewski Street and soon thereafter removed together under guard.[119] These murders were carefully concealed from the outside and repeated enquiries from relatives and friends were ignored. It wasn't until the first week in October 1943, when the Blobel Commando 1005 exhumed a number bodies at Wulecka and burned them, that the fate of the professors were known and confirmed.[120] In addition to the recollections of the escaped Jewish prisoner Leon Wells,[121] the 'Soviet Special Commission' and two further witnesses, whose names were Mundel and Korn, corroborated the findings.[122] What part Hans Krueger played in these murders cannot be ascertained. After the war, Krueger was closely questioned about these murders but declined to give any further information.[123] We do know that the whole episode was conducted under the direct orders and supervision of Dr Schoengarth.[124]

Pieter Menten is prominent when delving into the facts surrounding the 'professors' murder. According to Simon Wiesenthal, in a letter to the author, 'it's not at all unlikely that Menten played some role in those professors' murders'.[125]For sure, the Lvov neighbours of the Ostrowsky's confirmed that Menten became their neighbour just hours after the murder, and immediately had men working to remove the art collection to a warehouse near the railway station.[126]

In the house of Dr Tadeusz Ostrowsky, which was situated at 3 Slowackiego Street, (now called Saskasangsko), had been used as a safe house for fellow art collectors of the Lvov intelligentsia society whose art collection was said to be worth millions.[127] On the night of the 3/4th July, it was Menten who had selected this venue from the '88 list'. In the company of Horst Wallenberger (the identity of this officer is debatable), Menten removed the occupants from the apartment and took them to the zbV headquarters for interrogation. The following morning, Menten alone, returned to the apartment and requisitioned it. He also

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requisitioned the apartment of Jan Grek. Pieter Menten personally took possession of some of the most valuable art collections from these premises. After the professor's murder, Menten organised the removal of this valuable collection to a warehouse near the railway station and from there to Krakow. As was the case in these times, only a proportion of this property was dealt within the regulations and sent on to Berlin for cataloguing and disposal. A few selected items, no doubt of exceptional value, found their way to a secluded warehouse at the rear of the Sipo-SD Rabka School.[128]

One curious aspect of the Professors' murder, was how they were able to remain in Lvov under Soviet control, when it was clearly their principle to deport all such intellectuals to the outer regions? How were these academics, from the highest of Lvov cultural and literary society, able to operate under the eyes of the NKVD (later KGB)? It is not a question that can be fully answered here, but it is enough to say, that some selected members of the Polish elite were being protected by the Soviets for political reasons, perhaps to play the 'Polish Card' at some indeterminate time.[129]

 

Eyewitness Accounts:

The first genocidal action that the Nazis carried out in Galicia was the murder of the Lvov professors in the first week of July 1941. This was described by Polish historian Zygmunt Albert:[130]

Here is what the sole survivor, Professor Groer, stated:

'We were taken to the Abrahamowicz dormitory. The car was driven into the courtyard; brutally pushed we were crammed into the building and told to stand facing the wall. There were already many professors there. We were ordered to lower our heads. If someone moved he was hit with a rifle butt or his head was struck with fists. Once, when a new group of captured men was brought in, I tried to turn my head but was immediately hit with a rifle butt and, henceforth, I refrained from such attempts. It was probably half an hour past midnight, and I stood motionless until 2 a.m. More victims were brought in and told to stand against the wall. Every ten minutes or so we heard screams from the cellar and sounds of shots commented by one of the Germans: 'Einer weniger' (one less), which at that time I considered to be an attempt of terrorizing us. Every few minutes the name of a professor was called and the man was led to a room on the left. I remember well that Prof.

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Ostrowski was called; afterwards I was the tenth or perhaps twelfth to go as the next. I found myself in a room where there were two officers, a younger one who arrested me and another one of a higher rank, a large, portly man. He immediately shouted at me: “You dog, you are a German and have betrayed your German country! You served the Bolsheviks! Why didn't you, when it was possible, depart with all the other Germans to the West?” I began to explain, at first quietly and then louder, as the officer raised his voice, that although I was of German descent I considered myself a Pole. Secondly, even had I intended to go west, the Soviet authorities would not have permitted it because of my high social position as University Professor and well-known clinician – they considered me indispensable? I was then asked to explain the meaning of the visiting cards of British consuls found in my possession. I replied that I was married to a titled English lady and we were often visited by British consuls. He grew quieter, and apparently impressed he said: “I'll have to speak to my boss, we shall see what can yet be done for you” and hurriedly left the room.

The younger officer who remained with me said quickly: “That really depends only on him, since he has got no superior here. Tell him you have made an important medical discovery, which may be useful to the German Army. This could save you.” At that moment the other officer returned. There was no time to say a word because they ordered me out of the room. I was taken to the opposite, i.e., left side of the corridor, allowed to sit down and smoke a cigarette. I was even given a glass of water. Beside me there were standing professors Solowij and Rencki. After a while one of the Gestapo men asked them how old they were. I think they said 73 and 76. I was certain that due to their age they would be set free. I also thought that my case was not quite hopeless. The officer who interrogated me came and told me to go into the yard and walk, adding: “Behave as though you were never arrested.” I began to walk round the yard smoking one cigarette after another. I kept my hands in my pockets. Some time went by. All at once two Gestapo men entered the yard from the street. The building and the yard were of course guarded. The two saw me, rushed at me, slapped my face shouting furiously what business I had in the yard strolling with my hands in my pockets. I said I was told to behave as a non-arrested person. They grunted something, lost interest in me and entered the building.

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It was perhaps four o'clock in the morning when a group of 15 to 20 professors was led out of the building. The group was headed by four professors: Nowicki, Pilat, Ostrowski and, I think, Stozek who carried the bleeding body of young Ruff. They were followed among others by Witkiewicz. When they passed the gate and disappeared on the Abrahamowicz Street, the Gestapo ordered Mrs Ostrowska and perhaps also Mrs Grek to wash the blood off the stairs.

Twenty minutes later I heard some shots from the direction of the Wulecki Heights. Shortly afterwards a group of 20 to 30 persons was led into the yard through the same back door of the building and was told to stand in two-three rows facing the wall. Among them I recognized only Assistant Professor Mlczewski. Some time later the Germans led out of the building Dobrzaniecki's service staff, Ostrowski's cook and a younger female servant, Grek's cook and domestic servant and the English teacher who stayed with the Ostrowski family. The Gestapo chief, who had earlier interrogated me, asked them if they all belonged to the domestic service. Only the teacher replied negatively stating who she was. The German, obviously annoyed, ordered her to join at once the group facing the wall and told his comrade loudly that those (standing at the wall) were to be taken to prison, while those others (indicating the servants and me) are to go free. I noticed that the servants talked with the Gestapo man and a civilian agent. The Gestapo man told the servants to return home, take their belongings and go wherever they wanted. They may look for work. All would be well now, no more Poland or Soviets, henceforth there would be only Germany forever.

When I was about to leave I went up to a Gestapo men and asked him if I could get back my photo camera. He pointed to a room where another German arranged all the plunder. Being afraid they may remember the 20 dollars I had, I gave these to the Gestapo man and he returned my belongings. As I was leaving the room he rushed out saying: “Listen, give us your address because another unit may come and take you in again. We shall make a note here, so you will be left alone and not bothered again.” He wrote down my address in his notebook, I left the building and went home. Later, the same morning, on my way to the clinic, I met near Prof. Ostrowski's apartment the Gestapo officer, who had arrested me on the previous night. Smiling he said: “You were very lucky.” Several days later I was visited by two German officers who

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were present at my arrest. They wanted to buy my photo camera and carpets. During their visit I found out their names, one was Hacke, the other Keller or Kohler. In the following two or three months, despite evicting me from my apartment, the Germans came several times, beguiling me out of various valuable objects, for instance, photo cameras which I have been collecting. Once I ventured to ask Keller what happened to the other professors. Waving his hand he said: “They all were shot that night.”'

 

Further witnesses come forward

Tadeusz Gumowski, an engineer, who lived with his family at Nabielak Street 53. During the night from July 3 to 4, 1941, they were woken up by the Germans and Ukrainians who demanded to see their registration papers. He described the events:

'[...] I spent some time sitting in the garden. At the first light of the day I saw soldiers digging a hole on the slope of Wulecki Heights. Feeling apprehensive, I called my family and we watched the Germans through the window. The pit was dug in about 30 minutes. The prisoners were brought in batches of four from the direction of the “Abrahamow buildings” (this was their name if I remember correctly) and made to stand in line facing us along the edge of the pit. The firing squad stood on the opposite side of the grave. A volley rang out and almost all fell into the pit. Prof. Witkiewicz crossed himself and collapsed. The men were not handcuffed. We counted the groups of four. If I remember correctly there were about five such groups. I think there were also three women. The whole action did not take long and other batches of four persons waited nearby. After the execution the ditch (grave) was quickly filled up, the earth stomped down. This was done by German soldiers. We, myself, my father, wife and sister, watched the execution in turn through field-glasses. At present my sister lives abroad, the other members of my family are dead. We watched from the same room and the same window. I recognized no one besides Prof. Witkiewicz. But the others recognized several persons including Professor Stozek and his sons, Professor Ostrowski and his wife, Professor Longchamps and probably his wife, and others. One of the ladies wore a blue shawl. There were probably three women. One of them, unable to walk, was dragged by two soldiers. My sister Zofia Nowak-Przygodzka lives now in Paris VII, 31 rue Rousselet. Approximately twenty persons were shot

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that night. None of them received a “coup de grace” after the volley. It is quite probable that some were buried alive. On the second or third day after the execution, I, my sister and my wife went towards the grave. It was rather indistinguishable and we found it only because we knew the exact spot. A bunch of flowers was on it and this may have been an indication to the Germans that the grave site was known; so, several days later, they excavated the bodies and took them away. I did not see the exhumation. We assumed it took place, because we noticed that the grave was dug up [...]'.

Gumowski's sister, Dr. Zofia Nowak-Przygodzka, who moved to Paris after the war, stated:

'[...] In Lvov I lived in a villa at 53 Nabielak street, next to the condominium of professors from the Institute of Technology, and also Prof. Witkiewicz. Our villa stood on a 12-meter high embankment, several hundred meters from the Wulecki Heights, where the Abrahamowicz Educational Institution and the House of Technicians were.

That critical night I got up as usual to take a look at my little children. As always I went up to the window to look around. We have been living in constant fear because of German searches and arrests. Two nights before, they sought Prof. Witkiewicz in my house. He was arrested the same night together with two other professors from the Institute of Technology.

I noticed some unusual movement on the Wulecki Heights: several men were digging. I woke my parents and we began to watch, but taking care not to be seen.

After some time we saw people coming down on the left side of the hill in a file along a pathless tract. I noticed soldiers in German uniforms and a dozen or so civilians. Some women (perhaps three) were at the end of the column. One wore a shawl, which was well visible because it undulated in the breeze. The soldiers helped some persons to walk down. Several persons were then lined up along the pit, which just had been dug. We heard dry cracks (shots), and the persons dropped from the row into the pit.

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Another group followed the first to be executed. Distinguished among them was a grey-haired man who crossed himself. The women were in the rear. The pit was filled up. Watching the execution we had no idea what it was all about. There was no mention about it anywhere next day. We knew that to have witnessed it was dangerous to us. The execution was also watched from the neighbouring houses and it became known that professors were murdered.

Weeks later I ventured to go up the Wulecki Heights as though taking my children for a walk. I found the place of the execution. It hardly differed from the surroundings; the soil was slightly depressed, and grass grew as everywhere. I would not have found it had I not known the area well. I was told later that the Germans secretly exhumed the bodies.'

This is how Mrs Lomnicka described the execution after her husband was arrested:

'[...] sleep became impossible. I stood at the window for hours waiting for daybreak, wishing to go out and find out more about the raid. At dawn I saw from the window of our third floor apartment some movement on the Wulecki Heights. Silhouettes appeared, a group separated from the others who remained near the Abrahamowicz Institution, went down the slope and disappeared from sight behind the house of Dr Nowak-Przygodzki. I sat on the couch wondering what was going on at such an early hour (4 a.m.). At this moment I heard the first shots and all became clear. I rushed to the staircase where the window looked out to the right and made a better observation possible. I saw that those who came down the hill stopped midway in a small dale. I recognized German soldiers and men in civilian suits. There were also women; one figure gave the impression of being a priest in a cassock. One of the men wore a grey suit. He looked like my husband, but I quickly rejected the gruesome thought. They led up groups of five at a time and I saw how they collapsed after each volley of shots. I stood there “frozen to the floor”, semi-conscious, watching the ghastly spectacle. Two ladies from the neighbourhood were with me: Mrs Janina Wieckowska, later to become the wife of judge Zenek in Kracow, and Mrs Solecka, wife of a secondary-school professor in Lvov at Kazimierzowska Street. Were those people the professors arrested that

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night? Was my husband among them? It was impossible to be certain because of the distance [...]'.

Maria ZaLeska, an artist who also lived at Nabielak Street, stated:

'[...] those to be executed were brought down the hill in pairs. The place of execution was not directly in front of us but slightly to the right. It was a small depression among the trees. I saw three of them standing on the embankment. One group after another came down the hill. If I remember correctly, one person was dressed in black – it could have been a woman or a priest. My son, with whom I shared the field-glasses, watched other groups. I saw at the rear a slowly walking, lone woman. In our field of vision there were three soldiers from a special squad. The area was so narrow and steep that it is doubtful whether there were more than six. If I remember correctly, the men I saw were hatless. I did not recognize anybody. We thought in horror that they might be executing Jews. Soon after the execution we were told that the grave was watched. I was there in winter or early summer, 1959. I knew nothing of the exhumation and was surprised that there was a depression where the grave was supposed to be and no embankment nearby. During that tragic night the events were also watched by my son – he was executed in Stutthof in 1944. In my opinion, most information could be obtained from Prof. Witkiewicz's tenant and Dr Ostrowski's housemaids – but who knows where they are?

Here is some hearsay evidence: 'the last to be shot was Mrs Ostrowska who could barely walk suffering from a leg ailment. A woman with a bright scarf was seen. Prof. Witkiewicz, easily recognized by his neighbours, was hatless. It was said that the Germans made the arrests assisted by Ukrainians, and that the list of those to be seized must have been prepared some time ago, because they also came to arrest Professor Dr Leszczynski who had died already some time ago, as a victim of Soviets.'

Zofia Orlinska-Skowronowa related:

'[...] we lived in a villa with a small garden at 55 Nabielak Street, facing Wulecka Street and, for this reason, could see the Wulecki Heights from the window of my room on the second floor. On the tragic day I was awoken by a volley of shots from the direction of Wulecki Heights.

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Approaching the window I saw a group of persons, about 36, walking in a file from Abrahamowicz Institution in groups of five or six, assisted by a German, towards the foot of the hill. They stopped on the flat part of the slope, a clearing, stood in a row with their backs to Wulecka Street, facing the Abrahamowicz Institution. My attention was drawn to the firing squad consisting of about ten soldiers in grey-green uniforms, who shot those standing in front using automatic weapons. As the bodies that collapsed could not be seen on the surface, it was obvious that a pit had been dug, but I do not know when and by whom.

I have also noticed that at the left side of the pit there was a small group of military men. They may have been German officers. The execution described above was repeated until all prisoners, including one woman, were killed. I recognized Professor Wlodzimierz Stozek and his son Emanuel (called Mulek) among those executed. Concerning Emanuel, I remember a horrible moment: after the volley all persons except Mulek Stozek fell into the pit. He remained standing, but soon a single shot threw him into the common grave. He was dressed in a tobacco-brown coat and grey trousers. Prof. Stozek wore a dark overcoat. I watched the execution through binoculars from about 3:30 to 4 a.m. Shortly afterwards, several soldiers – they may have been either from the firing squad or from the group standing nearby – filled the pit up [...]'.

But the most detailed statement describing the execution was made by Karol Cieszkowski, an engineer:

'[...] during the night from July 3 to 4, about 10 p.m. I heard violent knocking on the door of the neighbouring house at 53c Nabielak Street, where Prof. Witkiewicz lived. Because no one opened the door, the intruders – I was told later – shot into the lock. At about thirty minutes past midnight the Germans came to our house and took away Professor Stozek – who lived on the ground floor – and his two sons. I do not know whether they went by car or were led away on foot. As I was very upset I could not sleep all night.

At 4 a.m. – I remember the time well because I was just checking my pulse by means of a phosphorescent watch. I heard some shots from the direction of Wulecki Heights. The day dawned. On the slope of the Wulecki Heights, well seen from the window of my corner room extending to the north, I saw some scores of civilians standing in a row

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and at a distance; right and left of them there were several smartly, one could say elegantly dressed German officers with revolvers in their hands. I did not count the civilians; there may have been about 40 to 50 persons. Somewhere in the middle of the slope I saw on the edge of an excavated pit four civilians facing the slope with their backs to me. Behind them were four German soldiers armed with rifles. An officer was nearby. Probably at his command, the soldiers fired simultaneously and the four persons fell into the pit. Another batch of four was led down the path and the action was repeated. This went on until all civilians were brought down and murdered. The last to be shot down was an elderly woman in a long black dress. She was alone and walked staggering. As she was led to the edge of the pit filled with corpses she reeled and was held up by an officer. A soldier shot her and she fell into the common grave.

As regards details of this execution, I recognized some persons with certainty, not only because I watched the proceedings through binoculars but some of them I knew very well and even with the naked eye I recognized their suits, characteristic movements, etc. I distinguished Prof. Stozek beyond question. He stood at the pit in his characteristic pose with his hands clasped behind his back. But I failed to see the professors Lomnicki, Pilat and Witkiewicz. I did not see or recognize professors Weigl and Krukowski. But I failed to see the execution of the first victims because I approached the window after the first shots were fired. Nor did I see any more women in addition to the one killed at the end.

I distinctly remember that four of the condemned came down the slope carrying an unconscious man. Another group of four came down slowly because one of them visibly limped. I suppose it might have been Prof. Bartel, but I failed to recognize him. I remember that when one of the groups of four stood at the edge of the pit, with their backs to the soldiers, one of the condemned turned to the killers and holding his hat in his hands (all condemned men took off their hats probably by order) began to remonstrate animatedly gesticulating. An officer standing at the side made a gesture as though telling him to turn round, and when the man obeyed, the soldiers shot him down.

I remember other details. A second before the order to 'fire' was given, one of the victims jumped into the pit, probably to save himself, and

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tried to get out immediately after the volley, but a soldier shot him; the man staggered and fell into the grave.

The pit was rectangular, divided by a non-excavated strip of earth, so that the victims standing on it fell, after being shot, forwards or backwards always into the pit. It happened only once that one of Prof. Stozek's sons standing on this narrow strip at the end of the line of four did not – after the volley – fall into the pit, but his body was pushed down by soldiers.

After the execution the squad led by an officer remained at the pit. The soldiers took off their coats, rolled up their sleeves, picked up spades and began to fill up the grave. At first, they proceeded carefully because the earth was spattered with blood, which I saw as large red patches. From time to time the soldiers interrupted their work and listened to the officer who seemed to talk to them or explain something.

The execution was watched from my window by my father, my sister and a tenant. They all came to my room because being farthest to the north, it was nearest towards the Wulecki Heights. Watching the murders, my father did not say a word and afterwards never talked to me about them. But my sister and the tenant recognizing individual persons (for instance when Prof. Stozek's sons were led to the pit) cried: “Oh, they are leading Mulek!”'

 

Persons Murdered 4th July 1941: Wulecki Hills

1. Prof. Dr Antoni Cieszynski, age 59 Chairman of Stomatology, UJK
2. Prof. Dr Wladyslaw Dobrzaniecki, age 44, head of Surgery, PSP
3. Prof. Dr Jan Grek, age 66, Chairman of. Internal Diseases, UJK
4. Maria Grekowa, age 57, wife of prof. Grek
5. Doc. Dr Jerzy Grzedzielski, age 40, Chairman of Ophtalmology UJK
6. Prof. Dr Edward Hamerski, age 43, Chairman of Internal Diseases, AWL
7. Prof. Dr Henryk Hilarowicz, age 51, Chairman of Surgery, UJK
8. Priest Dr Teol Wladyslaw Komornicki, age 29, relative of Mrs. Ostrowska
9. Eugeniusz Kostecki, age 36, husband of prof. Dobrzaniecki's housekeeper

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10. Prof. Dr Wlodzimierz Krukowski, age 53, Chairman of Electrical Measurements, PL
11. Prof. Dr Roman Longchamps de Berier, age 59 Chairman of Civil Law, UJK
12. Bronislaw Longchamps de Berier, age 25, PL-graduate, son of professor
13. Zygmunt Longchamps de Berier, age 23, PL-graduate, son of professor
14. Kazimierz Longchamps de Berier, age 18, Secondary School-graduate, son of professor
15. Prof. Dr Antoni Lomnicki, age 60, Chairman of Mathematics, PL
16. Adam Miesowicz, age 19, HighSchool graduate, grandson of professor Solowij
17. Prof. Dr Witold Nowicki, age 63, Chairman of Pathological Anatomy, UJK
18. Dr med. Jerzy Nowicki, age 27, senior assistant of the Chair Hygiene, UJK, son of professor
19. Prof. Dr Tadeusz Ostrowski, age 60, Chairman of Surgery, UJK
20. Jadwiga Ostrowska, age 59, wife of prof. Ostrowski
21. Prof. Dr Stanislaw Pilat, age 60, Chairman of Petrol and Earth-Gas Technology, PL
22. Prof. Dr Stanislaw Progulski, age 67, Chairman of Pediatrics UJK
23. Ing. Andrzej Progulski, age 29, son of professor
24. Prof. Dr Roman Rencki, age 67, Chairman of Internal Diseases, UJK
25. Dr med. Stanislaw Ruff, age 69, Chairman of Surgery, Jewish Hospital taken from prof. Ostrowski's flat with his family
26. Anna Ruffowa, age 55, wife of dr Ruff
27. Ing. Adam Ruff, age 30, son of dr Ruff
28. Prof. Dr Wlodzimierz Sieradzki, age 70, Chairman of Forensic Medicine, UJK
29. Prof. Dr Adam Solowij, age 82, ret, Chairman of Obsterics and Gynaecology, PSP
30. Prof. Dr Wlodzimierz Stozek, age 57, Chairman of Mathematics PL
31. Ing. Eustachy Stozek, age 29, ass. PL, son of professor
32. Emanuel Stozek, age 24, PL-graduate, son of professor
33. Dr iur. Tadeusz Tapkowski, age 44, taken from professor Dobrzaniecki's flat
34. Prof. Dr Kazimierz Vetulani, age 52, Chairman of Theoretical Mechanics PL
35. Prof. Dr Kasper Weigel, age 61, Chairman of Measurements PL
36. Mgr iur. Jozef Weigel, age 33, son of professor

[Page 56]

37. Prof. Dr Roman Witkiewicz, age 61, Chairman of Mechanical Measurements PL
38. Prof. Dr Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski, age 66, writer, Chairman of French Literature at the University, arrested in prof. Grek's flat

 

Persons murdered in the courtyard of the hostel of Abramowicze:

1. Katarzyna Demko, age 34, teacher of English, taken from apartment of Prof. Ostrowski
2. Doc. Dr Stanislaw Maczewski, age 49, Chairman of Obsterics and Gynaecology, PSP
3. Maria Reymanowa, age 40, nurse taken from apartment of Prof. Ostrowski
4. Wolisch, age 40-45, businessman taken from prof. Sieradzki's flat

Persons murdered on 12th July 1941:

1. Prof. Dr Henryk Korowicz, age 53, Chairman of Economics, AHZ
2. Prof. Dr Stanislaw Ruziewicz, age 53, Chairman of Mathematics, AHZ

Person murdered in prison on 24th July 1941:

1. Prof. Dr Kazimierz Bartel, age 59, Chairman of Design Geometry, PL, former prime minister of Polish Republic (three terms of office), who has been arrested already on 2nd July 1941.

After World War II the leadership of the Soviet Union made attempts to diminish the Polish cultural and historic legacy of Lvov. Crimes committed east of the Curzon line could not be prosecuted by Polish courts. Information on the atrocities that took place in Lvov was restricted.

In 1960 Dr Helena Krukowska, the widow of Prof. Dr Włodzimierz Krukowski, launched an appeal to the court in Hamburg. After five years the German court closed the judicial proceedings. Public prosecutor von Beelow argued that the people responsible for the crime were already dead. This however was not true since at the same time SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Hans Krueger, commander of the Gestapo unit supervising the massacres in Lvov in 1941, was being held in Hamburg prison (he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the mass murder of Jews and Poles in Stanislawow, committed several weeks after his unit was transferred from Lvov). As a result no person has ever been held responsible for

[Page 57]

this atrocity. In the 1970s Abrahamowicz Street in Lvov was renamed Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski Street. Various Polish organisations have made deputations to remember the victims of the atrocity with a monument or a symbolic grave in Lvov. These requests have been so-far rejected.

 

Medical Practioners Targated by zbV[131]

gal018.jpg
Figure 18: Dr. Marek Redner

 

The first doctor who perished at the hand of German murderers, starting the bloody chain of nightmares, was Dr Perec Gleich. On that morning, he left his house at Kollataja Street. A few hours later he was executed by a German firing squad in the yard of Brigidki, together with the rabbi, Dr Lewin, and the newspaper editor, Henryk Hescheles.

The second victim, although not killed, was Dr Ascher Izrael, who was dragged to the yard of the Zamarstynowski prison, where he was terribly beaten, his face transformed into bleeding rags and his body covered with open bleeding lacerations. The third victim was Dr Mejbaum, a surgeon, also heavily lacerated to a point that he never recovered and was unable to return to work. He was killed in an action at a later date. On that day several hundred Jews were killed, and over 2000 were severely wounded. The next day the situation was quiet and we started the work, caring for the victims of the pogrom. The Jewish neighbourhoods had the appearance of a battlefield, covered with traces of the terrible butchery. Most houses were full of victims of beating, calling desperately for help and assistance.

[Page 58]

The next Action followed on July 25th, (directly after the prison murders) and was directed specifically by zbV against the Jewish intelligencia, including a group of most prominent doctors. This pogrom was called the 'Petlura Action', since it was carried out following a list prepared by the Ukrainians cooperating with the German authorities. They were taken in the middle of the night from their beds, and given orders to take a blanket and change of underwear, under the pretext of being taken to a field hospital. They were taken to the police station and never seen or heard of again. Some unconfirmed reports were received later that they were deported to one of many extermination camps near Lvov. During this Action, approximately 2000 Lvov Jews, mostly prominent citizens distinguished by their social and professional position, perished. Among them were 20 doctors, including Dr Mauryc Pensias, an outstanding radiologist; Dr Schneider, president of the Medical Union; Dr Marek Wollner, laryngologist; Dr Bernard Sonnenschein-Swiatlowski, Dr Kornelia Graf, wife of Dr Natan Graf, president of T.O.Z (Towazystwo Ochrony Zdrowia,) and many others.[132]

It was a sad reality of the times when German doctors, both military and civilian, quietly looked on while Jewish doctors were murdered and tortured. They observed the tortures and bestialities inflicted on their colleagues without a single word of protest and without any sympathetic reaction. They participated actively in actions, with willing zeal. They derived personal profits, exploiting the hopeless situation of Jews, blackmailing whenever possible, extorting gifts in exchange for worthless 'Ausweis', armbands, certificates, 'iron lists' or similar 'protective' devices. They frequently evicted their fellow Jewish doctors literally on to the street, occupying their fully furnished apartments.

The German doctors, in committing these felonies and crimes, used their own initiative and zeal, not necessarily imposed by the regime, but rather flowing directly from their own anti-Semitic instincts. There is abundant evidence of this: Immediately following these actions, in front of the Jewish hospital on Alembek Street, Dr Doppheide, principal physician of 'District Galicien', arrived in his car with his staff. After emptying all the halls and evicting all the patients, he stole, with great deal of effort, all the expensive instruments left by the departing Jewish doctors, delighted with his looting.[133]

The days following these events brought an avalanche of new directives and orders, following each other at a lightning pace, not giving the battered community time to breathe or recover. The orders to surrender radios and telephones were followed by prohibition of employment of a Jew in workplaces, then interdiction of employment of Aryans by Jews, the immediate release of

[Page 59]

Christian domestic helpers, interdiction of school attendance by Jewish children, forbidding the Jews entrance to movies, theatres, public parks, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Then, buying food in markets, use of public transportation, such as streetcars or railways were prohibited. Shortly afterwards, the closing of synagogues was followed by the burning of the Temple on Zolkiewska Street, and finally the order to wear a white armband on the left arm with an embroidered star of David.

At the same time, Jewish assets were confiscated including businesses, retail stores, warehouses, real estate. Farms were confiscated and taken over by so-called German 'Treuhanders'. In order to dig out hidden assets and jewellery, huge 'contributions' were imposed. With these powerful blows, the Germans, in a very short time, eliminated all advances and gains of the emancipated Jewish community. Jews were removed from the protection of law, becoming free game for every Aryan without a hunting permit, totally unprotected. An active hunt could even result in a reward and recognition by the German authorities, while hiding or helping a Jew was punishable by death.[134]

Dr Mark Redner:

'Now, let's review some numbers. The number of Jewish doctors annihilated in Lvov by the Germans cannot be established accurately. When the Red Army occupied Lvov in September of 1939, they found many doctors, refugees from Western Poland, who fled at the time the war started from Hitler's advancing armies and found in Lvov a warm welcome, hospitality, and jobs, thanks to the help and friendly attitude of the Jewish and non-Jewish population. At the very end, they did not escape their tragic destiny, when they fell back into the hands of their German executioners, with the exception of those few that the Soviets deported deep into Eastern Soviet Union. As a result of these complications, it is impossible to account exactly for the number of Jewish doctors remaining in the city on July 1st 1941, which is the day of the occupation of the city by the Germans. Also, we cannot establish exactly the number of colleagues that survived the annihilation. Many escaped the city and survived using 'Aryan' papers, changing their names and religions, staying in Poland, and perhaps till today retaining their assumed identity. Many of them, after the war, broke ties with the Jewish community as a result of the loss of their families and of the persecution they suffered. One thing is certain, that the Jewish medical

[Page 60]

community, so rich and remarkably excellent, was completely annihilated and simply ceased to exist.

The expulsion of Jews from their apartments located in the Aryan neighbourhoods started soon after the invasion by German troops. In the beginning, it was a sporadic and random action affecting mostly the largest and most beautiful apartments of doctors and other wealthy Jews. After a while, the Germans started to clean up whole streets, or city blocks of the newest and most modern houses, assigning them to dignitaries, members of the N.S.D.A.P, military authorities, and civilians assigned on the basis of 'Raumungabefehland,', issued by Stadthauptman's office. It was also a daily occurrence to see an arbitrary expulsion of a doctor by a Hitlerite, with typical brutality. It would be perpetrated by a Gestapo bureaucrat, or by another German kicking in the door, with loud screams, requesting the owner to vacate the house within hours. It was not uncommon to see the expulsion carried on with a whip, chasing people from their home straight onto the street, and not allowing them to carry any belongings. More than one doctor suddenly found himself under the blue skies, sometimes with a sick child in his hand… In a very few exceptional cases Germans returned some items, such as bedding and clothing to the owner. The medical instruments, X-ray equipment, and other medical tools were confiscated, if not saved previously by donation to a Jewish Hospital or institution.

The local Ukrainians also took an active part in the expulsion of Jewish doctors. In a few instances, Poles, including professionals and neighbours (till recently “good friends”) participated in the plunder, with the help of Gestapo friends or acting with a formal allocation from the Stadthauptman's office. A classic case of this type was the expulsion of Dr Nadel by Dr Reinc, a Volksdeutsch, in an extremely brutal manner, without any warning.'

 

Dr Schoengarth's Shooting Seminar

A matter of hours after the professors' murder, Dr Schoengarth gathered his officers and proceeded to lecture them on their forthcoming duties. His senior officers, including Krueger, Rosenbaum and Kutschmann, were taken to the Lvov prison where they were shown the thousands of dead prisoners the Soviets had left behind. It was emphasised that they had been killed by the Soviets at the instigation of the Jews.[135]

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The shooting of the prisoners found in the three prisons in Lvov, were committed by the NKVD prior to the Russians' withdrawal from the city and on the orders of the Soviet 'Special Courts'. From the prison, the SD entourage was taken to a previously prepared pit on the outskirts of the town where shooting of Jews had already commenced. Dr Schoengarth lectured his men on the exact way that these pits were to be prepared. According to Hans Krueger's testament after the war, Schoengarth pointed out the precise Berlin-designated dimensions, transport, security, the varieties of execution, the placement of the bodies in the graves, and the coup de grace:[136] 'Schoengarth stood at the pit edge while the executions were going on. Ukrainians were in the pit arranging the dead bodies. Men and women were driven up in trucks. They stood at the edge of the pit and were then shot. They had remained clothed. The Ukrainians were then ordered into the pit to arrange the bodies'.[137]

Other reports of the Dr Schoengarth seminar suggest that he instructed all his commanders to personally engage in the killing.[138] Evidence was given of Jewish men and women being brought to the pit and made to undress, robbed of their possessions and made to kneel or stand at the edge of the pit.[139] Each commander took it in turn to shoot at least one Jew. SS Scharfuehrer Wallenberg (noted chief executioner of zbV) and Dr Schoengarth demonstrated to those present how this was to be done. Wallenberg selected his Jew and shot him in the nape of the neck. He then called the next officer to repeat the action with another victim and so it went on.[140]

Hans Krueger describes events:

'Schoengarth ordered his commanders to shoot Jews during these actions. On the evening after the Lvov demonstration, Schoengarth gathered together all SS staff. Rosenbaum and Menten were there. Schoengarth made a speech. He said, “You saw how it was done. Every man should join in the shooting. I will shoot anyone who doesn't agree. I will back up every SS Fuehrer who shoots a man for not obeying my order.”[141]We all felt it was horrible but necessary to deal with any sissies.

Two SS men who refused to kill Jews were driven to commit suicide by Schoengarth: some SS men went into the woods near Lvov in search of partisans. An SS Fuehrer shot himself there. The other SS men reported that partisans had shot him. In fact this man had shot himself on orders from Schoengarth because he did not wish to kill Jews.

[Page 62]

Schoengarth gave him the opportunity to kill himself so that his wife would receive a pension, which she wouldn't have done if the officer had appeared in an SS Court.[142] In Warsaw, an SS Fuehrer refused to kill Jews and was imprisoned. Schoengarth had arranged for a pistol to be put in his cell and the man shot himself.'[143]

Krueger's remarks are interesting. In most war crimes trials the accused continually put up the defence of 'Acting under orders'. 'If I refused to obey an order, I could be shot.' Prosecution at these trials invariably challenged this assumption. Many historians today assert that there is no evidence where a German officer was disciplined for refusing to shoot Jews. The evidence that no German was ever killed or incarcerated for having refused to kill Jews is conclusive. The officer was given other duties or transferred.[144] We have in Krueger's testimony a direct contradiction (if true). I would suggest that repercussions for refusal very much depended on the Commanding Officer of the day. Dr Schoengarth was not one of those officers who adhered to leniency. We will see later where seven of the SS-garrison in Belzec were acquitted of mass murder, citing their defence: 'If we disobeyed orders, our lives and our families lives were in danger.'[145] We will also review the suicide by shooting of two SS-Sharfuehrer s in the 'Reinhardt' camps brought about by fear of Commandant Wirth.

 

Hans Kreuger moves to Stanislawow

Dr Schoengarth sent Hans Krueger, no stranger to executions, to Stanislawow as a forward unit of Sipo-SD where, in October 1941, he would instigate one of the biggest mass murders in the history of the Holocaust and pave the way for the resettlement transports to Belzec. In my view, this was a defining moment that set in motion the entire destruction policy of European Jewry.

Stanislawow was in south-east Galicia and had been occupied by the Hungarians before the Nazis' arrival. The first killing action in the city was overseen by Krueger on August 2nd and resulted in the murder of approximately 500 male Jews and 99 Poles in the forest near Pawelce. This was documented at Krueger's trial after the war.

These killings still came within the scope of the so-called 'Intelligenz-Action': killing the intelligentsia. An escalation of killing to include normal civilian men, women and children occurred in September, and was prompted by the decision of the new Lvov chief, SS-Major Tanzmann, to set up a ghetto in Stanslawow

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that was too small to hold all the Jews. Krueger gave a candid account of this process in his pre-trial interrogation of 26th June, 1962. One small area where Krueger would not have to concern himself with, were the lost villages in the Stryj valley, where a splinter group of zbV (BdS) were about to make a visit.[146]

Dr Schoengarth (taking with him Wilhelm Rosenbaum) had now returned to security duties in Krakow, probably to supervise the oncoming Jewish resettlement in the Generalgouvnement and the re-commissioning of the Sipo-SD School at Bad Rabka. SS Captain Hans Krueger after the initial settling of accounts in Lvov now commanded his own SD unit in Stanislawow where he was engaged in setting standards for Jewish destruction. Krueger co-ordinated mass slaughter of the Jews and supervised rounding-up techniques for deportations to the Belzec death camp and Pieter Menten went his own way.

Dr Schoengarth's zbV final report to Himmler would detail that their Einsatzgruppe could be credited with 17,887 victims up until September 1941, not including the four Pieter Menten massacres in the Stryj Valley.

 

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