The HHE was continually competing with the Wehrmacht for manpower and requested state funding in order to complement and bolster its own special requirements. As the Wehrmacht had priority in amassing manpower through direct conscription, Himmler was well aware that this was depleting his SS of potential material. Therefore, to satisfy the demands of the Waffen-SS, the Reich Interior Ministry turned to the occupied territories to fill the gaps. In this way, the problems surrounding matters of recruitment were solved, since the Army High Command was now able to maintain its first call on personnel within the borders of Germany.
The best that Globocnik and the KdF could hope for by way of satisfying their own special requirements was to select men from the concentration camps and the police. It is more than likely this policy was the main reason why we find police officers and concentration camp guards being incorporated into T4 and Reinhardt). 
In mid-March 1942, when Belzec commenced operations, Governor Hans Frank, in a series of lectures, warned the establishment that a police State was emerging. Such pronouncements were the beginning of his demise, exclusion from the inner sanctum of the Party and fall from absolute power in the General Government. Although he was to remain official head of the General Government for the rest of the war, his position was increasingly compromised and power greatly reduced. Germany now appeared to be embarking on a system of administration that was effectively evolving into a 'State-within-a-State,' the consequence of which, should events have continued in its favor, the SS would have emerged as the supreme leadership in Germany and the conquered territories. With the implementation of Reinhardt, a third structure emerged which also acted independently of both the civil government and the SS. Reinhardt would sweep aside all established conventions, rules and principles, dispensing its own justice.
As the war progressed and operations against the Jews increased, greater use was made of the auxiliary units, particularly in the towns and villages of the Lublin District and the area between the Bug and the Vistula rivers in eastern Poland. During its short but distinctive existence, the members of the Selbstschutz distinguished themselves with their extreme brutality: shooting, raping and plundering when rounding up Poles and Jews for forced labor to satisfy the economic demands of the Reich. The Selbstschutz was the main policing resource for the arrest and detention of Jews and Gypsies.)
The manner in which they operated came under severe scrutiny by the HHE, who were concerned with the brutal way these units were carrying out their duties, and Governor General Frank, not missing a chance to snipe at the SS, demanded that his HSSPF, Krüger, justify their actions. Matters came to a head when reports of atrocities committed in the town of Jozefów) reached the desk of Hermann Goering in Berlin, in his capacity as Reich Minister for Defence.
By the end of June 1940, the Selbstschutz was so completely out of control that Ernst Zörner, the Governor of Lublin District, informed Frank of their undisciplined behavior, prompting him to instigate further enquiries. The result was that on August 31,1940, the Selbstschutz was disbanded and the best recruits transferred to the Waffen -SS and the Wehrmacht. Globocnik, however, would neither submit to nor accept this as a fait accompli. With the probable backing of Himmler, he took measures to ensure that he could retain his most trusted lieutenants for the future.
In October 1941, an extermination campaign was launched against the Jewish population in southern Poland, surpassed in cruelty only by the SS murder squads of SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krüger in Nadworna and Stanislawów. On instructions from Globocnik, Hauptmann (Captain) Kleinschmidt, the company leader of a transport unit, reported with 15 men to the Lublin barracks, and each one was given a lorry and instructed to drive to a nearby Jewish labor camp. A total of 450 Jewish men women and children were loaded onto lorries and driven to an abandoned airfield 25 miles outside of Lublin. The prisoners were forced to dig ditches six cubic metres in size. After finishing the ditches, the victims had to undress and were given corrugated-paper shirts to wear. In batches of 10, they then had to lie in the bottoms of the ditches lined with straw. Grenades were tossed into the ditches, and body parts flew everywhere. Any survivors were shot. Lime was then spread over their remains and the next 10 victims, who had been watching, were forced to submit to the same treatment. Women were kicked in the stomach and breasts, and children smashed against rocks. According to witnesses, Globocnik's men subsequently killed many Jews in this manner, which was about as far as one could go in streamlining the process of mass murder, in the absence of more advanced technology.
On October 21,1941, Globocnik received permission to set up a training establishment at Trawniki, a village 25 km. south-east of Lublin. The manpower consisted of recently captured Soviet prisoners, who had until recently been held in conditions of the utmost squalor. Soviet troops who were captured or had surrendered were not given the status of POWs because Stalin had not signed the relevant international conventionshence, their appalling maltreatment and murder in the 'cages' in which they were held.
These renegade troops signed up for duty with the Germans primarily for self-preservation rather than ideological reasons, and were to prove an invaluable asset to the Nazis. They were used to brutal effect in the concentration camps, ghettos, and in all of the ongoing Jewish actions. Their primary role, however, was as additional manpower to guard the Reinhardt death camps, while other units performed security duties in SS-run enterprises, guarded supply dumps, and manned checkpoints on the main roads.
The Third Reich could not have benefited from a more firmly established and historically-rooted source of anti-Semitic manpower than the Ukrainians. This was partly rooted in their mistaken belief that the Germans would grant them an independent state once the war had been won. In the pre-war years, the Ukraine had been subjected to German propaganda designed to encourage them towards self-determination and had been encouraged to perceive themselves as an ally, with the tacit suggestion that Germany would reward them once the military situation had stabilized. This deception by the Germans was for purely pragmatic reasons since they had no intention of offering the Ukrainians an independent state. Once this deception became apparent, the consequence among the ex-POW collaborators was a state of mutual mistrust and suspicion. Despite their misgivings, the Ukrainians engaged in a co-operative relationship, albeit lethargically. Easily contaminated by the Nazi racial virus, the Ukrainian militias joined the Germans in their 'Drang nach Osten' ('Drive to the East') and all that it entailed. The Nazis had found a reticent but acceptable partner to pursue their aims of domination and Jewish destruction, even though their hatred and contempt for 'racially inferior' beings also encompassed the Slavs.
Ukrainian collaboration in the General Government can be divided into two categories: collaboration by the indigenous population of western Ukraine, and the Ukrainians who had fought under the Soviet banner and had been taken prisoner or surrendered during the Germans' eastward thrust. It is the second group that is of particular interest, since these were the men selected for service within the concentration camp system and the death camps.
The Ukrainians now collaborated with the Germans in a conspiracy to engage in mass murder with each one dependent on the other, although motivated by entirely different goals. While the Germans were motivated by their policies of rabid anti-Semitism and genocide, the Ukrainians were prepared to do their 'dirty work' in return for immediate and future reward. It is important to understand the difficult personal circumstances through which the Soviet auxiliaries - the majority of whom were Ukrainians - came to be involved at the heart of the genocidal activity in Reinhardt.
By the end of 1941, about 3,350,000 Soviet soldiers had been taken prisoner or had surrendered to the Germans, and were incarcerated in primitive enclosures known as 'cages' in the towns of Zhitomir, Belaya Tserkov and Rovno in the Soviet Union, and Chelm and Zamosc in eastern Poland, where the conditions were primitive in the extreme the prisoners were simply herded by the thousand into open fields surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by Wehrmacht sentries. There was no shelter of any kind and the inmates resorted to digging holes in the ground with their bare hands.
No food, water, or the most basic sanitation was provided, which reduced the starving prisoners to eating the grass in the 'cages'. Cannibalism was a fact.The fate of many had been provisionally sealed by virtue of the 'Operation Orders' issued by the Chief of the Sipo and SD, Reinhardt Heydrich, before the commencement of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The selections among these prisoners took place before the onset of winter; this was a decisive factor for the 'volunteers' who had no wish to starve or freeze to death.
However, the SS recruiting officers were very selective in choosing suitable volunteers from the many hundreds of thousands of prisoners available. Once selected, they were removed to two 'cages' in the city of Chelm in eastern Poland for further assessment. The criteria for selection were age, fitness, appearance, and a willingness to serve the Reich. An added advantage was knowledge of the German language.
In September 1941, many of these prisoners were scrutinized to assess their allegiance, and when reviewing their fate, as a gesture of 'friendship' the Germans showed special preference for prisoners identified as Ukrainians. German military documents seized after the war show that by the end of January 1942, of a total of 280,108 prisoners released, not a single one was Russian, but an astonishing 270,095 were Ukrainians.The rest came from annexed countries. Those identified as Jews were handed over to the SD for 'special treatment'-- i.e., immediate execution.
In the early autumn of 1941, SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Streibel, commandant of the Trawniki camp, toured the 'cages' with a team of his officers, searching for Volksdeutsche, who proved to be few and far between. Of the 100 prisoners selected by the end of the month, only five were Volksdeutsche. Groups of 50 300 politically suitable prisoners were eventually selected to be trained in Trawniki as auxiliary guards. A final filter in the selection process was a medical team which examined each 'volunteer'.
None of these Soviet prisoners knew why they had been selected or for what purpose, and those that survived the war have stated that they were prompted to 'volunteer' to escape their present situation in which many thousands were dying each day from starvation, typhus and dysentery. The 'volunteer' Sergei Vasilenko stated, I did so for a crust of bread I did not think the Red Army could defeat the German Army.
Those who passed the test as suitable for training were taken in small groups to the Trawniki camp. Only then were they told that they were being inducted as SS-Wachmänner (guards) for military establishments and concentration camps and operational duties in the Jewish ghettos. There was no mention of death camps. Objectors were threatened with ' Majdanek', and although they had no idea what this meant, they had no desire to return to any kind of 'camp'.
In Trawniki, each man had to fill in a Personalbogen (personal questionnaire), written in German and Russian, concerning their military postings, disciplinary record, transfers, promotions, and linguistic abilities, and to which was added their photograph, thumb print and an Erkennungsmarke (identity number.) After signing a Dienstverpflichtung ('obligation to duty') each one was sworn-in and welcomed as soldiers of the SS.
Globocnik, having retained his SS/Police officers and NCOs as instructors, opened the 'SS Training Camp Trawniki' on October 27, 1941, and with the experience gained with his Selbstschutz and Sonderdienst units, had now created another band of murderous helpers. Over 5,000 auxiliary guards were trained at this camp.
This special unit was extremely useful to the Germans because they could be relied upon to carry out on-site mass murder shooting operations, and thus spare the German murder squads the ordeal of shooting men, women and children face-to-face. While German SS/Police officers undertook the initial preparations for rounding-up the victims, it was usually the Trawnikmänner who carried out the actual shooting, and the Germans would often wait patiently while the Trawnikimänner first consumed quantities of vodka, usually in the presence of their victims, before commencing their murderous work.
The basic training at Trawniki usually lasted four to six weeks with three companies of 120 men each divided into several Züge (platoons) led by a Zugführer. By the beginning of 1942, there were 720 recruits (six companies of 120 men each) undergoing training at the camp with bi-lingual Zugführers acting as interpreters. During this period, the recruits underwent courses by German SS/Police instructors in understanding basic military commands in German, singing German songs, small arms and marching drill, guard procedures and ghetto-clearance techniques. Each man was issued a captured Russian rifle; only the Zugführers had pistols.
When a Jewish labor camp was constructed adjacent to the Trawniki training compound, the trainee guards were sent out on exercises, rounding up Jews in towns in the Lublin District and bringing them into the labor camp. Trawniki had become a central staging point for daily 'Judenaktionen' ('Jewish operations') as Wachmann Engelgard recalled. The final part of the training course consisted of Jews selected from the labor camp being shot individually by each Trawnikimann.
On completing their training, the bi-lingual Trawnikimänner were designated Oberwachmann and Zugwachmann and posted to various establishments. Others were simply designated as Wachmann and posted in groups to military establishments as armed auxiliaries to support the German security services. The majority were assigned to Reinhardt camps.
Once the Jewish destruction commenced, the Ukrainians were liberally used in 'Jewish operations' ghetto clearances, preparation of killing sites, execution duties, and manning the death camps. The 20-30 strong Ukrainian guard at the Sipo/SD School Rabka and the nearby Plaszów labor camp were all posted from Trawniki. Although their duties were at the discretion of the commander where they served, they remained under Trawniki camp administration for all transfers, records, discipline, pay and uniforms. In the places where they served they were known as 'Trawnikimänner', 'Askaris', 'Hiwis', or 'Czarni' ('Blacks' in Polish). There was always a residue of Ukrainian tradesmen stationed at Trawniki engaged at building and maintenance projects. However, these men were often called upon to dig mass graves in various locations and guard the killing sites until the SS delivered the victims for shooting operations. Once this had been accomplished, they returned to Trawniki awaiting their next call-out. Much use was made of this cadre by police regiments who were active in the Lublin area for Jewish operations, especially during mid- to late 1942.
Between 70 and 120 Trawnikimänner were selected to act as the guard unit at each of the three Reinhardt death camps and came under the jurisdiction of the relevant camp commandant. Although these guards remained under the auspices of Trawniki camp, in the death camps they were under the control of SS-Obersturmführer/ Kriminalkommissat Wirth, who also arranged their transfers between the camps.
Because for administrative purposes, the three Reinhardt camps at Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka were treated as a single unit with interchangeable personnel, we see the same personnel appearing in different post-war trials, facing completely separate indictments relating to Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibór. Although the Trawnikimänner were also available for transfer to other establishments in the General Government, such as concentration camps Plaszów, Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and other detention centers in Germany ,this occurred only after their duty with Reinhardt had concluded.
During the opening phase of the Jewish deportations in March 1942, Globocnik relied on the Trawnikimänner for carrying out these operations, the first of which was the clearing of the Lublin ghetto. The Jews were driven out of their houses to the Lublin slaughter yards, where they boarded the trains for Belzec.
As Globocnik continued to establish new Jewish labor camps in the Lublin District, Trawnikimänner provided the guard units. Such camps in Lublin included the SS-Bekleidungswerke located on the pre-war Lublin airfield, and the Linden Strasse camp, also known as the Lipowerlager after the Polish name for the street. By mid-1942, this team of seasoned thugs was at the forefront of all Jewish operations, including the emergency 'fire brigade' operations during the suppression of the uprisings in the major ghettos of Warsaw, Bialystock, and Czestochowa.
A much clearer picture of the activities and lives of the Ukrainian Trawnikimänner has emerged in the wake of the much-publicised John Demjanjuk trial in Israel, which began on February 16, 1987 and concluded on April 25, 1988. Demjanjuk was found guilty and sentenced to death, but, remarkably, on appeal the conviction was reversed. The evidence presented by the prosecution covered the method of recruitment and activities of these guard units in the Reinhardt camps. This previously obscure and murky aspect of the Holocaust has had more light shed on it as the result of recently-developed co-operation between Israel, the United States, and the former Soviet Union, during which the post-war testimonies of several hundred former Ukrainian guards recalling their time in the Reinhardt death camps have been made available to the West.
The SS-Scharführer at Trawniki, Reinhold Feix, was placed in charge of the Ukrainians. He had been brought in to maintain order and discipline. Feix set a standard for cruelty and with the Latvian Volksdeutsche, Schmidt, was unsurpassed in brutality in the treatment of Jewish victims. As a mark of the respect with which this brute was regarded, a road leading from the Ukrainian barracks to the high watchtower overlooking the camp in Phase Two of Belzec was named Feixstrasse.
The Volksdeutsche were very close to the camp SS and later deputized for them in killing operations. The Ukrainian overseers and supervisors were given wide discretion by the camp leadership in their daily duties, including executions, which were sometimes accompanied by intense cruelty. The most favored Ukrainians those of proven loyalty were armed with a pistol. The lower rank guards were all housed in barracks inside the camp and delegated for duties such as patrolling, manning watch-towers, guarding the rail sidings between Belzec station and the camp, and supervising the Jewish victims on arrival.
Even though these guards had undergone extensive training in Trawniki, a different interpretation of their duties manifested itself once they arrived in Belzec. The procedure for training them was set out in detail by Wirth. It was designed to complement the duties of his SS personnel and Jewish 'work brigades.' Throughout the entire period of genocide in all three Reinhardt camps, it was the Volksdeutsche NCOs and Ukrainians, assisted by the Jewish 'death brigades', who - under the supervision of the camp SS carried out the process of genocide from start to finish. The role of the Jewish 'death brigades' was vital for the extermination operation: they were the ones who daily had to handle the corpses. Wirth, in conversation with the SS investigating Judge SS-Obersturmführer Konrad Morgan, stated: Give me my Jewish'work brigades' and I could send everyone else home and do the job myself. It is clearly evident that the auxiliary elements in Belzec and elsewhere were carefully selected for this duty. Despite the challenging conditions under which they were pressured to volunteer for duty as German auxiliaries, many of them were inherently cruel by nature. The small group T4, SS and policemen, acted only as supervisors.
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