‘Among other things I'd been given the order to clear the area of Jews. Initially, that meant deporting the Jewish population or concentrating them in ghettos. A bit later, a directive from the RSHA gave the order torender the area judenfrei, a new interpretation their liquidation.’
Hans Krueger establishes the Sipo-SD in Stanislawow.
DR SCHOENGARTH remained in Lvov with Wilhelm Rosenbaum to personal commando units to other locations. Oskar Brandt, a brutal Gestapo officer who had served as a ‘‘special officer for Jewish affairs’’ with the Security Police in the Krakow District, was sent with six men to Stanislawow. He was joined a week later by Hans Krueger who was ordered to set up a branch office of the Regional Command of Sipo-SD in Stanislawow. The Sipo consisted of the Gestapo and Criminal Police and was a part of the SD. The SD personnel, who had set out from Krakow with zbV, were now dispersed throughout East Galicia. After disbandment of zbV in mid-July, these officers were sent to the major towns in East Galicia to organise and prepare for further Jewish actions and the later, as it turned out, Jewish resettlements to Belzec:
The majority of these men were experienced ‘‘Jewish Affairs’’ Officers selected personally by Dr Schoengarth from many districts in the Generalgouvnement specifically to carry out his task. By the very nature of their geographical postings, they covered all of East Galicia under the command of the SS and Police Leader, Fritz Katzmann and SS-Captain Hans Krueger. The inclusion of the SD in the ‘‘Jewish Affairs’’ portfolio reinforces the prominence of this select bunch of zbV and their designated purpose. These instruments of the HHE were vehemently and brutally anti-Semitic and the ideological representative bureaucrats of death and destruction in East Galicia.
The roaming and movable task force of zbV had now changed into a stationary, external office Commanded by Major General Katzmann in Lvov and SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr Tanzmann (Department 1V Jewish Dept) in Lvov. Hans Krueger's KdS office in Stanislawow, which had evolved from the initial zbV, was now operational with additional branches spread over east Galicia.
After the 22nd June, 1942, the Russians had immediately evacuated Stanislawow. A week later the town was occupied by the Hungarian Army, who despite the arrival of the German Werhmacht and the Einsatzgruppen, held on to the civil and military administration. Within weeks, hundreds of weak and hungry Jewswho had been deported from the Hungarian-Ruthenian border into Galicia were arriving at the railway station in the town. Here Jews were brutally beaten and marched to a holding prison known as Rudolf Mill, a flour mill situated in Halitzka Street. It soon became common knowledge among the Hungarian government administrators that it was the intention of the Germans to kill all the Jews.
On about the 10th July, 1941, forward detachments of zbV, led by SS 2nd Lieutenant Oskar Brandt, arrived in Stanslawow and set up office in the former NKVD building. Brandt was shortly followed by Krueger on the 20th July, 1941, who took overall command of the Security Services. It is also probable that Krueger carried with him orders to liquidate the Jewish and Polish intelligentsia in Stanislawow and extend his orders to other districts by the process of staged elimination.
The war against the partisans was utilised by Hitler not only as a mask for mass murder, but also as a way to build a broad consensus of all the Nazi forces operating in the occupied areas with regard to the murder of Jews The Jews were portrayed by the Nazis as partisans or potential partisans, both as a group and as individuals, and as such were targets not only for the security services, but also the military and civil administration. By camouflaging the murder of the Jews asa war against partisans, Krueger lent to it a different dimension. Under the banner of fighting the enemy behind the front lines he murdered Jewish children, women and men. In the context of the overall war situation, the ‘‘Jewish Question’’ was but a side-line, effectively being carried out by a select minority within the German sphere of influence.
What was Krueger's specific contribution to the course of the ‘‘Final Solution’’ in the area under his control? Due to the fragmentary state of the sources, we can only venture a partial answer. Krueger was the first to organize mass murders in
the region while it was still under Hungarian occupation. In the fall of 1941, seizing the initiative before the other Gestapo leaders, he proceeded to execute Jews in legally unclear situations, e.g., Jews or half-Jews apprehended without the obligatory armband. Elsewhere at that time such offenses were still being penalized by fines. A murder order was issued by Krueger for just such an offence:
‘I was informed confidentially that the Jew H.S. was walking around without the mandatory Jewish armband. I had him arrested on October 10, 1941 and confined in the local jail here. In reply to why he was not wearing the obligatory armband, he stated that he didn’t know that he, as a baptized Jew, was also required to wear the band. It is my recommendation that the Jew H.S. be liquidated as a consequence of his failure to adhere to the German regulations.
Lange SS-Sergeant Security Police Stanislau, 16th October, 1941/Galicia/Order
- The Jew H.S. is to be liquidated.
- Prepare a record card. /done La. /
- SS-Sergeant Hehemann should complete the E [execution]-list.
- File it away.Krueger’’
Emergeance of Genocide
On 15th July, 1941, announcements were posted on walls throughout Stanislawow with the ‘‘armband’’ decree. Every Jew, including Catholics whose Jewish ancestry could be traced back to the third generation, was required to wear a ‘‘Jewish armband’’ on the right sleeve a Star of David painted blue on white fabric. The marking of Jews was an open invitation to Poles and Ukrainians to rob them in the streets, with the knowledge that little or no complaint would be made to the German authorities. In other towns in the Generalgovenment, it was the practice that a Jew caught without ‘‘the Star’’ paid afine and that was it. In Stanislawow and other towns in German occupied Galicia the matter had taken a decisive turn of a more sinister nature.
At the beginning of August, 1941, the Stanislawow region was still under Hungarian sovereignty. There was not quite a meeting of minds between the
Hungarian military and Krueger's Commando. In Operation Report USSR No.23, the following is reported:
Einsatzgruppen C: ‘‘Former Polish officers and Jews play an important part in the Honved (Hungarian) Army. The translators are almost without exception either Jews or scoundrels. All the leading military Hungarian circles sympathise with the Poles, most of them also with the Jews. Poles were preferred in Zaleschiki and Stanislawow. The Hungarian Feld gendarmerie is apparently favouring the setting up of Polish units.
In the area of Zaleschiki, the Poles co-operate with Soviet Russian gangs who are still hiding in the forests. Hungarian circles deny knowing of Polish activities in connection with Bolsheviks.
All the intelligence officers are either Jews or under Jewish influence. I personally had dealings with six officers in the area who were undoubtedly Jews. A Polish officer, Dabrowski, holds a leading position. Isolated actions against Jews were carried out by the militia (Ukrainian). As a consequence, the Hungarian Army intervened immediately. One could see leading officers together with many Jews in the restaurant Kiev.’’
Galicia as the 5th District
A number of important changes were now taking place in east Galicia. On 1st August, 1941, after a high level conference in Lvov attended by Dr Hans Frank, Dr Karl Lasch and SS-Major General Katzmann, it was decided to incorporate east Galicia into the Generalgouvnement as the Fifth District. Katzmann was immediately appointed as SS-Major General, the highest police authority in Galicia. Dr Karl Lasch was transferred from Radom district and appointed Governor in Lvov. Katzmann and Lasch were old friends who had served together in Radom 1939-41, with no apparent friction. They now had the task to subdue and organise their new territory.
The HSSPF, F.W. Krueger in Krakow had been subordinate to Frank in 1940, but was now carrying out police duties without reference to Dr Frank, taking his orders directly from Himmler. Krueger thus side-stepped Frank so as not to involve the Governor-General with police and security matters. Frank was not atall pleased with the situation and made it known. Another quirk in this obscure
chain of command was the SSPF in Krakow, (Scherner), who was receiving his orders direct from the SSPF in Lublin (Globocnik) on all Jewish matters.
Katzmann had many tasks to fulfil and not just the ‘‘Jewish Question’’. Many thousands of Poles had to be screened and transported to Germany for voluntary or compulsory agricultural work. The oil refineries had to produce twice as much oil (in the oil fields of Boryslaw and Drohobycz) for war-use in Poland and for the Russian Front, so that the refineries had to work day and night with Jewish, Christian and Ukrainian workers supervised by German engineers, technicians and plant directors. The whole economic base of skilled labour and raw materials had been badly neglected, and was made worse by demands on labour for service in the I.G. Farben industrial complexes at Auschwitz. In addition to this, Katzmann had to keep the Ukrainian Nationalists on his side, which was proving very difficult. Elsewhere, now that zbV had disbanded, the SD moved into other parts of east Galicia and were making up their own minds on economic and political priorities and were very much working to their own agenda..
Mass Killings Emerge as a Solution
To make a point and to set precedence Krueger organised a mass shooting in Stanislawow on the 2nd August, 1941, under the guise of ‘‘registering the wealthier class’.’ 800 Jews reported to the police. Of these, 200 skilled workers were sent back home. The rest, the intelligentsia, the cream of the Jewish community, were transported the following day to the forest near Pawelce where they were secretly executed by the security police. Among them was Dr Boleslaw Fell, who had practised in Warsaw before the war; Ernestyn Fach, a graduate of the University of Nantes; and her sister, Dr Klara Fach. This is another example of how a centrally agreed solution had been reached to lure selected Jews to destruction, as the same deception and procedures were occurring in many locations, thousands of miles apart, by different cadres.
Preparations for the ‘‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question’’ in the Galician District (and elsewhere) appear to have been officially initiated in September, 1941, According to Krueger's statement, the corresponding orders had been issued by Schoengarth before he left Lvov that Jews unfit or unqualified for work were to be shot, and the remainder detained in concentration camps. Krueger makes no reference to women and children who he was slaughtering daily. The 1st September, 1941, was a defining moment, with the
establishment of permanent District Government with its power base in Lvov. It is about this time that Schoengarth and Rosenbaum returned to Krakow, leaving Menten to pursue his activities confiscating seizure of art under the umbrella of the seizure order ‘‘Rosenberg’’.
One of the first priorities to be sorted was the influx of refugees now appearing on the borders. On 25th August, 1941, at a conference of the Wehrmacht, representatives of the newly formed East Ministry met at the General Quarteriermeister-OKH. Thousands of Hungarian Jews were congregating in the area of Kamenets-Podolsky, having been expelled by the Hungarians. The HSSPF in this district, Lieutenant General Jeckeln, reported that this problem would be solved by 1 September, 1941. A unit of Schoengarth's Einsatzgruppen, which had reached Tarnopol, reported having turned back 1000 Jews who had been deported by the Hungarian 10th Pursuit Battalion across the Dniester River. Hans Krueger solved the problem of the Hungarian Jews by removing them to the Stanislawow Ghetto (Rudolf Mill) where the majority received on-going ‘‘special treatment’’. To the Germans, the Hungarian government were playing a curious game that was not appreciated by the Wehrmacht, and even less so by Hans Krueger.
Jews drafted into war
The Hungarians were also operating to their own agenda when it came to Jewish labour. They had formed their own Jewish forced labour system where Jews were liable to be drafted into the Hungarian army for ‘‘auxiliary service’’ where they were used for mine-clearing operations and construction work. With the entry of Hungary into the war on the German side, these Jewish labour battalions fought at the front (behind the Hungarian and German lines) well into 1943. A report from a Foreign Office official in Krakow in November, 1943, reported that a Hungarian Jewish labour battalion was stationed in Stanislawow (well after the final deportations) and were wearing Hungarian uniforms. Other reports of Jewish labour battalion activities were reported at the battle of Kursk salient and Brest-Litovsk.
These kinds of activities by the Hungarians were in complete contrast to the view that was being spelled out by Katzmann at a meeting of the Lvov District government on 21st October, 1941, where he stressed that the leadership of the SD and Polizei interests in Galicia is guaranteed. What Katzmann meant is shown by comments made by Dr Hans Frank on 16th October, 1941, in Krakow in front of government members:
‘I will say to you quite openly, we must get rid of the Jews So as far as Jews are concerned I expect them to disappear. They must go. Gentlemen, I must ask you to be forearmed against any feelings of compassion; we must exterminate the Jews wherever we find them. Of course this will be achieved by methods different to those that Amtschef Dr Hummel spoke about. The Jews are for us too extremely harmful pigs/eaters.
We now have in the Generalgouvnement 3.5 million Jews. We can’t shoot 3.5 million Jews, we can’t poison them, but we will have to take steps that will somehow lead to an extermination successes. The Generalgouvnement must be as Jew free as the German Reich. Where and how this happens is a matter for the authorities that we are setting up here ’ ’
Out of this conference came the Order from the Commander of the Order Police (BdO) that all Jews encountered on country roads were to be shot on sight. The special courts that were to deal with relatively minor infringements by the Jews, were working too slowly, and it was agreed that something had to be done. Frank's speech gave the answer and was welcomed as a solution to the problem. The only Commander who was not impressed was Hans Krueger in Stanislawow he had been carrying out his own solutions since the 1st September, 1941. These actions by Krueger in the regions of east Galicia set the precedent, and I believe influenced the decisions of the Krakow conference on 16th December that was to extend to all the regions of the Generalgouvnement. Krueger agreed at his trial that there was no special jurisdiction in Galicia and that he was acting within the norms of German law at the time.
Prelude to bloody Sunday
Over 16 months between 1941 and 1943, Krueger, with a small squad of men sometimes numbering as few as 25, organized and implemented the shooting of some 70,000 Jews and the deportation of another 12,000 to death camps in this part of Galicia.
There may have been several key reasons why Krueger selected the districts around Stanislawow for his personal contribution to the Holocaust. First they were located on the border with Ruthenia (Carpo-Ukraine), annexed by Hungary from Czechoslovakia in November, 1938 and March 1939. Since July, the Hungarians had been deporting thousands of non-resident Jews from this
territory across the border into eastern Galicia. Those deportees from Hungarian-occupied Ruthenia (some of whom were imprisoned in Rudolf Mill) became the victims of the largest massacre of the ‘‘Final Solution’’ up until that time, which was perpetrated in Kamenets-Podolsk on 27-28th August, 1941. Sturmbannfuehrer Tanzmann also ordered that all Galician Jews who had been captured by Hungarian border guards while attempting to flee and were sent back over the border should be shot. Secondly, a ghetto was to be set up in Stanislawow, to be kept as small as possible. Several witnesses, including Krueger, concur in citing this motive for the mass murder:
‘‘When the heads of the various branch offices were installed by the new commander in Lvov, Tanzmann specified areas were assigned, and then the guidelines for work were set down. Jews not suitable for deployment as labourers were to be shot. Since they realised that such shooting could not be organised overnight, the plan was that the residential area set aside for the Jews should be progressively reduced. The result was that a certain number of Jews had to be shot on a regular basis, because space was no longer available.’ ’
In Stanislawow, Krueger and his small team of Gestapo, Kripo, and SD, carried out some of the most brutal actions of the Holocaust with the minimum of resources. He was fighting on two fronts: (1) the liquidation of the Jews until the autumn of 1942, and (2) Polish Armia Krajowa, and Ukrainian Nationalists at the end of 1942. In addition to this, he had the border passes of Tatarow and Wyszkow to contend with. He utilised local auxiliaries of Polish and Ukrainian Kripo (CID) officers to supplement his skeleton staff of ethnic German security personnel.
For the major ‘‘Jewish Actions’’, and this was normal practice in the Generalgouvnement and other areas of occupation, all manner of departments were called upon to help to cleanse the area of Jews. In the area of operations the civil authorities backed up these actions, railway staff were called upon, even the local inhabitants, including scouts and the ‘‘Hitler Jugend’’ were used in the security dragnet to get the job done.
Auxiliary Security Forces
Much more important was the additional personnel supplied by the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo). In August, 1941, a contingent of the Schutzpolizei (sub-division of Orpo), was brought into the district from Vienna. Even larger
than the Schupo contingent on special duty, were units of the Waffen SS and Reserve Police Battalion 133, whose 1st and 2nd company was stationed in Stanislawow. All these extra security troops had only one duty to perform: to assist the SD in rounding up Jews for the forest pits and Belzec.
The weekly reports of Police Reserve Battalion 133, (First Company), from the 25th July to 12 December, 1942, show a complete disregard for human life 780 Jews killed in mopping-up operations. Operating in the Stanislawow District of eastern Galicia, PRB 133 wreaked havoc amongst the impoverished Jews. The man-hunt for Jews was unyielding in its ferocity and purpose. Detailed reports sent back to their headquarters show exact numbers and categories of Jews killed. Between the 1st November, and 12 December, 1942, 481 Jews are reported killed, justifying the slaughter by pernicious explanation: thieves, beggars, vagabonds banditry, partisans, etc. The real purpose was because they were ‘‘Jews’’ which was, in itself, sufficient reason. In comparison, the Stanislawow killings set new standards for PRB 133 in the overall genocide.
‘Bloody Sunday’ and after
By 1st October, 1941, plans for the extermination of the Jews were ready. Krueger had made extensive preparations for his first big action. He chose Nadworna, a small town to the south of Stanislawow to try out his men and procedures a dress rehearsal for the destruction of East European Jewry.
In the planning and carrying out of the Nadworna ‘‘action’’ Krueger adopted his own blueprint of extermination which he had devised at the BdS office in Krakow and would later lecture on at the Rabka SD School. For the benefit of his subordinates, Nadworna was to be a seminar for ghetto clearing and extermination. On 6thOctober, 1941, all the Nadworna Jews were ordered to assemble in the market place where the town'’s Judenrat and their families were separated from the rest. The remainder of the Jews, nearly 2000, were marched under guard to nearby woods, stripped and shot into previously prepared pits.
For the Stanislawow ‘‘action’’ (Bloody Sunday) a week later, the operation was divided into manageable parts, appointing a specialist in each part (usually of SS-Scharfuehrer rank) to study the area and draw up plans for implementation: A few days before the action, the ghetto area was reduced in size. On the morning of the action Jewish Sondercommandos were brought to the town cemetery and ordered to dig a number of pits appropriate to the numbers of victims. Each pit was dug like an inverted pyramid. Either step would be dug in
the side for the victims to walk down and then lay down face forward on top of other victims, or in the case of the Stanislawow murders, wooden boards were placed directly in front of the pit for the victims to stand on. Sometimes a plank would be placed across the pit for the victims to walk across the plank to the centre; they would be shot on orders of the officer in charge, usually a preselected Scharfuehrer of the execution squad. The weapons preferred were the Russian machine- pistol which held a clip of 50 rounds of ammunition and could be fired singly or automatically.
By the 10th October, 1941, Krueger had completed his plans. He gathered together all personnel at his disposal, including RPB (Reserve Police Battalion) 133, under the command of Gustav Englisch, Civil administration, and Railway police. The first task of Krueger was to reduce the size of the Ghetto perimeter which was completed by the 11th October 1941, when Krueger held a final conference with his commanders and issued his orders for the following day's events. At 0600 hours on the 12th October, 1941, the mayhem began. The SD lead auxiliaries into the Jewish houses and drove them onto the streets to a holding point. Depending on the numbers, the Jews were led off in groups at short intervals by the Order police.
The Jews were marched in columns to the edge of town where they entered an ever-reducing funnel of guards directly into the Jewish cemetery. In batches of fifty, the Jews were pressed forward to the undressing and handing over of property area. Then, naked, men, women and children were led to the open pits. Two large pits measuring 20m. x 20m. x 6m. Deep, had been prepared in the cemetery which was surrounded by a high wall there was no way of escape. The boards before the pit method was used and the Jews were lined up to take their turn. The executioners were mainly Sipo men, including Krueger, Orpo, Railway Police; all had a go at shooting the Jews. Many Jews pushed past others to the head of the line, as they had had enough and wanted to get it over with. Those executioners resting from fatigue were drinking and taking photographs of the proceedings:
‘‘On Sunday 12th October, 1941, the unthinkable happened. The day of Hoshanah Rabba (The seventh day of the holiday, Succoth) became the blackest day in the history of the Jews of Stanislawow. Early in the morning the streets were choked with German and Ukrainian police. A large number of canvas covered trucks were going up and down the main street and turning off at the corners. Outside we could hear shouts, screams, bursts of rifle and machine gun fire. The police were going
from house to house, yelling Juden Heraus! Juden zu Arbeit! (Jews get out! Jews to work!). All our family went to separate hiding places. After it was over, my mother was missing and we learnt that she had been taken to the cemetery. A neighbour who returned later that day told us that mother was at the cemetery standing with her back to the crowd. When the shooting started, mother ran to the front and never came back. They had tried to kill all of us, the entire Jewish community of Stanislawow, in a single day.
The cemetery was surrounded by Ukrainian militia, who stood, guns drawn inside and outside the walls. Germans were posted with machine guns at several locations. On the fortress-like, square building inside the cemetery, several Gestapo men manning machine guns were stationed as guards and observers. One operated a movie camera. A row of machine guns stood at one end of the cemetery, on one side of a row of several long deep pits, with mounds of earth piled alongside. In front of the pits were boards, forming a crude platform. Truck after truck unloaded the Jews. As they came off the trucks, the Jews were ordered to put their hands behind their heads and march to the back of the cemetery and line up.
Krueger was now pacing in front of the battery of machine guns. He had sent a group of young Jewish girls to collect the valuables from the lines of people in the cemetery. The girls returned again and again with baskets filled with watches, jewellery, gold coins, and various personal objected. While the collecting of valuables went on, German and Ukrainian guards prodded the people in the first row, using their rifle butts, forcing them to line up on the boards in front of the first pit. They were then made to take off their clothes, which were piled up to one side. A hush fell upon the cemetery. Even the babies stopped screaming and now whimpered softly. All about people mumbled prayers. Then a shot was heard. It was Krueger. He shot the Jew standing directly in front of him. That was the signal. The machine guns began to rattle. The blood bath had begun.
The machine gunning continued for several hours. The gunners did not stop even to eat: food was brought to them; they ate and continued shooting. The girls who were collecting valuables were sent back for more, and as they turned, Krueger shot them all. Row after row fell into the pits; more were brought to take their places. Many who fell into the
pit were not dead. Some lay for hours before they died. A few managed to extricate themselves and while this massacre was in progress, Krueger was entertaining his friends. It was now getting dark. The drizzle had turned to rain mixed with snow. Krueger gave the order to stop firing. A voice was heard shouting, ‘Wer lebt gruesst mit dem Ruf ‘‘Heil Hitler’! Whoever is alive yell ‘‘Heil Hitler’!’ Then a moment later, Wer lebt kann gehen! Whoever is alive can go! A wild stampede ensued. In the rush to escape people fell upon each other. Many were trampled. 12000 perished in the cemetery. My mother, many relatives, and entire families had lived in Stanislawow for generations, their lives all snuffed out in that one day.
The entire operation was overseen by Hans Krueger, Chief of the Gestapo, and a tall blond German in his mid-thirties. At the gates of the cemetery Krueger was approached by Dr Teitelbaum, who served as a liaison between the Judenrat and the Gestapo. When Dr Teitelbaum told Krueger that he was going to join his people and die with them, Krueger took out his pistol and shot Dr Teitelbaum in the head and ordered his men to throw him in the pit.’ ‘
Another witness to this action was the grand-daughter of the Jew Yosef Duner, the landlord of David Kahane whose sources are shown in these footnotes; Duner recalled the events in the Stanislawow Ghetto under the command of Hans Krueger:
‘‘Almost all the Jews in the town were shot. Once the Stanislawow ghetto had been emptied of its residents, the Germans started bringing Jews in from the surrounding townships and villages until there were no Jews left in the entire district. The Jewish graveyard in Stanislawow turned into a huge mass grave. Several thousand Jews were brought to the cemetery to be killed. The men of the Gestapo execution squads were dead drunk. As usual, such drama unfolded in perfect order. The unfortunates waited for their death lined up in long columns. One unit kept order among the columns, while the other unit positioned itself behind the column on the edge of the pit and did the shooting. The victims fell straight into the pit. (The notorious, well rehearsed, and characteristic shot, aimed to the neck perfected by Krueger worked instantly.)
A woman reported that on this occasion The drunken Gestapo men lost control of the crowd and their shaking hands failed to aim accurately. Many Jews fell into the pits still alive and then covered with earth. The next morning (she noticed from her window) that the mound of earth stirred.
That same morning this woman witnessed the shooting of her husband together with other Jews as the slaughter continued. She removed her armband, sneaked out of the ghetto and escaped to Lvov.’ ’
The Jewish concentration in Stanislawow is recorded in a 1931 census as 24,800 (51% of the population); subsequent estimates, with the influx of outsiders, from Hungary and other towns in the district, far exceed this. ‘‘Bloody Sunday’’ was just the start Krueger and his crew still had another 20,000 to deal with he was setting a precedent; having murdered the 12,000 and sent the remainder back into the Ghetto, he was still left with an over-crowded ghetto. It was his practice to firstly expel the Jews, then kill them, and then replenish the ghetto with other Jews from outside in that order.
Krueger would go on devising new tactics and so refine the system of killing, and set new examples and records as time went on. On 16th October, 1941, Ernst Varmin from the Border Police in Tatarow, together with the 3rd Company of PRB 133, began the slaughter of Jews in Delatyn and Jaremcze, the most southern Jewish communities in the region. On 29-30 October, a Sipo unit from Stanislawow shot several hundred Jews in Bolechow. There were further mass shootings in the towns of Rohatyn, Kalusz and Dolina. In December, 1941, there was a temporary halt to the killings as the ground was frozen and it had become difficult to dig the murder pits.
Belzec Resettlement - Rudolf Mill
In March, 1942, Krueger got to hear that the Jews in the areas around Rohatyn, to the north of the Dniester River, were destined for the Belzec extermination camp. Not to be outdone, Krueger sent his men to Rohatyn and murdered some 2,300 Jews in the freezing cold.
The Stanislawow town massacres continued. A comprehensive alphabetical list of his Jews was compiled by the Judenrat, and there was a further reduction of the Ghetto perimeter. Security personnel were again put on alert. Another shooting took place in March, followed by a Ghetto fire that lasted three
weeks. On 31st March, (Passover eve), several thousand Jews were arrested and weeded out. The Jews were then marched to the railway station and deported to Belzec on the1st April, 1942. There were no survivors. The blood-letting continued when Krueger ordered the Stanislawow Labour Office to make further selections, and thousands more were selected and murdered. With the culling of the Stanislawow Ghetto, Jews from other towns and villages were brought into the Ghetto and the whole procedure repeated itself.
At the end of June, 1942, the situation in the ghetto declined further. The SD was now in charge of all Jewish work establishments and immediately began to liquidate these groups. The Judenrat were summoned to Gestapo Headquarters where they were all arrested and taken to the forest pits. Also at this time, Rudolf Mill was purged for the last time. The several hundred Jews in the Mill were all taken to the Jewish cemetery and shot into pits. One Jew of note among the victims was Jewish police commander, Zigo Weiss. Weiss had been collaborating with the Germans for many months as administrator of Rudolf Mill.
Mass Hangings in Stanislawow
After the June liquidations, a new Judenrat was formed. Goldstein, who had been spared the pits, was now appointed Head, very much against his will. With the influx of new victims other tricks were tried. The Germans, alleging that a Ukrainian had been shot by a Jew, ordered the Judenrat to supply 1,000 men within 3 days. During this period, a large pit was dug on Blodarska Street and a gallows erected adjacent to the police building. The Judenrat refused to nominate the 1,000 men as requested with the expected results.
Immediately the ghetto was sealed and all the occupants were turned out in a bloody furore and taken to Blodarska Street. In a systematic selection, Jews were lined up and shot into the pit. Children were just thrown in to save ammunition. The Judenrat were lined up and forced to watch these proceedings. SS-Captain Hans Krueger ordered the President of the Judenrat, Goldstein (Golsztain) to fetch a rope which was the signal to proceed with hangings. Goldstein, (the heaviest) was the first, but the rope broke. He was finished off with Ukrainian rifle butts. Next, 20 Jewish policeman were selected and hanged on the lamp posts on Badarska Street and remained there for three days; the local non-Jews were issued tickets to enter the ghetto to view the scene. Over 1,000 Jews died that day. Some were more fortunate, being kept over in their work
places by sympathetic employers. The views and recollections of the witnesses vary, but capture the essence of the ‘‘action’’.
‘‘A young Jew named Yusek attacked a Ukrainian and beat him with his own rifle. Yusek then went into hiding. The Germans summoned Mordecai Goldstein, the President of the Judenrat, and ordered him to arrest Yusek within 24 hours. This he was unable to do. Hans Krueger rode into the Ghetto on his white horse, surrounded by a heavy guard. He summoned Goldstein, all the other Judenrat members and the Jewish police force. Krueger dismounted and walked over to Goldstein and demanded Yusek, or else you will be the first of a 100 Jews to hang. Make the list! Goldstein replied that he was not God and refused to make the list. Krueger ordered all those present to be arrested and then sent for fifty yards of rope.
Every tenth Jewish policeman was singled out and guarded, with his hands tied behind his back. The rope was cut into lengths and the Jews, led by Goldstein, were hanged from the lamp posts in the street. Several of the ropes snapped, some Jews were then shot; one Jew managed to escape and survive the war. The hanging continued until the next day. About a hundred Jews were hanged and their bodies left there dangling for a week.’’
This witness, Amelie Salsitz, made her escape from the Ghetto with the help of Edmund Abrahamovitch, a Karaite who had been spared by the Germans and lived in the town of Halitz.
Now it was the turn of the Jewish communities of Dolina, west of Stanislawow in the Kalusz District. Rudolf Muller from the Border Police at Wyszkow Pass commanded a unit that rounded up the 3,500 Jews of Dolina. After a selection in the Market place, 2,000 Jews were taken to the local cemetery and shot in the usual way.
On 28th August, 1942, the 4th, 9th, and 26th of September, and 3rd October, several hundred Jews were shot each day in the courtyard of the SD headquarters in Stanislawow. Also at this time was the bloody clearing of a hospital and
(according to reports heard by a German agricultural official) a procession of Jews moving to the train station on their knees. There were still 11,000 Jews in Stanislawow at this time. The selections and deportations continued until the final liquidation on 15th, 17th September, 1942. By the 15th October, 1942, the Jewish community in Stanislawow was largely annihilated.
In December, 1942, all Jews had been evacuated from the country districts or transferred into the Stanislawow Ghetto. The Ghettos in the towns of Tlumacz and Nadworna had been liquidated. Several of the Jewish employers set up safe havens for their workers: the head of the army barracks protected 140 Jews, the austbahn 100 Jews, the army transport division 120 Jews; the Margushes factory, the carpentry shop on Piast Street, the Vatzk wagon factory, the weapon purchase department, the rubbish collection service, several sawmills, were safe havens. Small numbers of Jews were also hidden by Poles in the districts of Meizli and Gorki. Those Jews who couldn't find safety and were fit for work, were now housed in a new camp on Milanaraska Street, in the former meat plant and hospital where they were closely supervised. Each Jews was issued with a new identification badge.
Destruction of the Ghetto
For the Jews now ghettoed in Stanislawow, the end was near. In January, 1943, mass murders and selections continued unabated. On 24/25th January, a 1,000 Jews were shot who had no work permits, and a further 2,000 were deported to the Janowska camp in Lvov. Finally, on 22 February 1943, the Ghetto was surrounded: all residents were arrested. Only a few hundred workers employed in scrap reclamation, and workers at the eastern railroad and supply depot were selected out; all others were shot. There is a single report dated 9 March, 1943, in which the security patrol reports the murder of a Jew discovered in the former ghetto area.
Stanislawow was liberated by the Soviet army on 27th July, 1944. Only about 1,500 of its pre-war Jewish population remained alive. About 100 were saved by hiding in the city, with the assistance of sympathetic Aryans.
The Katzmann Report
The whole area of East Galicia was being systematically ‘‘resettled’’ under the Generalgouvernement administration of SS-Brigadier Katzmann. This was the National-Socialist answer for dealing with the ‘‘Jewish Question’’ which was
outlined in his report in 1943. This report is one of the most important testimonies relating to the Holocaust in Poland and extermination of Polish Jews. It is a report of SS-Gruppenfuehrer Fritz Katzmann, Commander of the German SS and Police in the District of Galicia, entitled ‘‘Loesung der Judenfrage im District Galizien’’ (The Solution of the Jewish Question in the District of Galicia) submitted on 30th June, 1943 to the SS and police chief Friedrich Wilhelm Krueger in Krakow. After the war the Public Prosecutor of Stuttgart (1965) sent forty-six volumes of evidence in respect of fourteen accused arraigned on 295 indictments in respect of atrocities committed in Lvov and east Galicia between 1941-1943.
The Katzmann Report was published in German and Polish. A Polish translation of the report had already been published in the 1950s, but with the censors taking out references on the communist underground, and without a scholarly edition that came with the contemporary edition. A full uncensored text of the ‘‘Katzman report’’ was published in 2009. The recent edition by the Institute of National Remembrance is furnished with a scholarly introduction and extensive footnotes.
One further matter of some interest is the deportation to Belzec of the Jew Rudolf Reder. Reder was one of many thousands of Jews deported to the Belzec extermination camp from Lvov (Lemberg) in late August 1942. Reder escaped from the death camp and survived the war to tell his story. Reder speaks for all those Jews who did not survive to bear witness. Reder's account is included to this account as Appendix 5.
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