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Chapter 6 (Cont.)

Arrival Procedures at Belzec
From the time the Kolomyja transport had departed at 2050 hours on the 10th, its progress was closely monitored at every stage. Kolomyja rail authorities would inform their comrades in Stanislawow. News of the transport leaving Stanislawow would be forwarded on to Klaparow/Lvov, who in turn would make arrangements for guards to be ready to receive the designated labour, and also ready the Janowska Jews selected for Belzec. Teams of security guards would effect this transfer and repair any damage for the Kolomyja transports onward journey to the penultimate stopping point at Rawa Ruska.

Rawa Ruska, only 20 klms down line from Belzec was the key rail junction point for all rail traffic destined for Belzec arriving from the south and west, and was effectively a staging point for all these resettlement transports. Correct procedures on the final approach to Belzec were paramount and closely adhered to. September was at the height of resettlement traffic and several trains daily were scheduled for Belzec via Rawa Ruska. On one transport which was stationary in Rawa Ruska, an 11 year old boy was literally thrown out of the wagon window in a bid to save his life. He was not successful, he was caught and murdered on the spot. (76) Franciszek, a railway worker at Rawa Ruska station speaks of naked Jews who escaped uninjured from the transports: 'I know of no single case in which local Polish population had rescued such an escaper, at the most they helped by giving a piece of bread. The Germans had issued special orders to the population to report if any naked Jews were found'. Approaching Belzec from the opposite direction (Lublin), resettlement trains stopped at Zwierzyniec (40 klm from Belzec) where similar regulations applied. Also, the same frantic quest for escape occupied the Jews on these transports. On a transport from the town of Zaslaw several Jews jumped the train on the move and escaped. One boy survived, Yacov Gurfein, fell to the ground and waited. When the train moved off after the search, Yacov walked to Jaroslaw and took a train to Przemysl. He survived the war. (77)

During the time the transport was held in Rawa Ruska, detailed information was passed to the Reichsbahn in Belzec (78) and also to the camp receiving office (Kommandantur) of the number of wagons, pieces (Jews), escort, etc. they could expect. Once clearance was given by the camp, the resettlement train would leave on the single track line on a journey that could taken a little over 30 minutes. (79)

On arrival at Belzec the 51 wagons were shunted into the station siding. Then commenced the ritual of entry into the camp proper, twenty units at a time. No security personnel or engineers of the Reichsbahn, or the resettlement transport guards were allowed inside the camp. The SD guard and other personnel remained outside throughout and guarded the outer area during the course of the procedures being enacted at the entrance. To the accompaniment of the camp musicians,(80) the wagons were shunted through the main gate which was closely guarded by the Ukrainian guard. Once inside the camp proper, the main gate was closed and now everything was automated to deal with the transport as quickly, quietly, and efficiently as possible.

The camp SD welcoming committee (81) stirred into action the Jewworkers (Zugführer) and Ukrainian guard (Trawnikis, blacks or Kiwis) assigned for this purpose. Wagon doors were opened to the accompaniment of shouts: schnell, schnell, bistro, bistro, (mixture of Russian/German quick, quick). As the Jews dropped to the ramp (82) they were immediately goaded with whips and rifle butts and ordered men and boys left, women and children right to the undressing (if dressed) and haircutting barracks. (83)

When this transport was unloaded, 2000 Jews, men, women and children were found dead, (25%).(84) (Die immer größer werdende Panik unter den Juden, hervorgerufen durch starke Hitze, Überfüllung der Waggons und den Leichengestank – es befanden sich beim Ausladen der Waggons etwa 2000 Juden tot im Zuge – machten den Transport fast undurchführbar. Um 18:45 Uhr kam der Transportzug in Belzec an). (85) Death due to suffocation, illness, suicide and shootings. (86) Again I draw attention to the incomprehensible understanding of the conditions at this time that even shocked the supervising SD. (87) Piles of fly-bitten putrid, smelling bodies just dumped on the ramp awaiting removal by the Jewwork brigade. Those too ill to form any sense of the proceedings were just left until the bulk of walking Jews had been processed. It is interesting to note that Zugwachtmann Jacklein was allowed into the camp and was present during the unloading. (88)

Those sick and disabled Jews were now guided by a selected group of camp personnel, these Jewish misfits were led to the Lazarett (89) (the bogus military hospital) where they were met by a white coated official who invited them into heavy camouflaged reception area. (90) Taken behind this screen explained all to them. Before them was a pit surrounded by an earth bank. In the pit was a burning mass of decomposed bodies infested with flies. Led or stretchered by their bogus camp helpers, and now resigned to their fate, they quietly walked or were carried, to the edge of the pit and shot in the back of the neck by a pre-positioned executioner, usually the duty Scharführer or Ukrainian.

Wirth, who had been promoted to Inspector of Action Reinhard camps, and was now based in Lublin, had demonstrated to his men in Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka how these executions were to be carried out. (91)

At the height of resettlement activity to Belzec, August – October, 1942, when our transport from Kolomyja took place, we have the accounts of SS-Heinrich Gley and Robert Juhrs. Gley explains the three ways in which they knew that a transport was due to arrive:

  1. The SS were ordered to their work places – probably by Schwarz – shortly before a transport arrived. (shortly = within an hour).

  2. Hering (Commandant) would inform Schwarz, who would then inform another SS-NCO to pass the message.

  3. They were told either at breakfast or just afterwards, or, alternatively, during or after lunch.

Gley continues:
When the last Jews capable of walking had left the assembly yard, Hering gave the Jewish work brigade the order to carry away the dead and half dead through the gate in the fence to the graves. There, they were ordered lay on their stomachs. The grave was used only for this purpose and was as big as a room. It could be 5m x 5m. Hering then ordered the SS personnel the still living Jews in the graves. The grave was not very deep, so that one could climb in with one step… I then stepped up to the victims from behind and, shot them in the back of the head. I was armed with a machine pistol MP-38 with a full magazine, and on my belt an automatic pistol – a 9 mm Beretta. The number shot in this manner depended on the numbers on the incoming transports. (92)
Robert Juhrs:
I was present when a big transport arrived in the Autumn, 1942, (possibly Kolomyja) which was divided up – I was on duty at the unloading ramp; exactly when, I can no longer say. On this transport the wagons were grossly over – full and there were many Jews who were unable to move. It could be that… Jews had been pushed to the floor and trampled. In any case, there were many Jews who were unable to go to the undressing barracks. As usual, Hering appeared and gave me the order to shoot these Jews: 'take these people to Camp 11 and shoot them there'. Hering ordered the Jewish Kapo or to the work brigade to take the sick, the infirm and the exhausted - to the gate of Camp 11. The Jews were taken to the graves, ordered to lay down on their stomachs and I shot them with a machine pistol in the back of their heads. I must emphasize that they did not suffer.(93)
Of the 600.000 Jews who perished in Belzec, there were just a handful that escaped, and only two that survived the war that were able to form some recollection of the camp procedures. (94) However, we have perhaps one of the most detailed descriptions of all the procedures, from the ramp to the final burial of the gassed Jews into the Belzec pits given by SS-Untersturmführer Kurt Girstein.

Lt. Wassermann concludes his report: (95)
In the course of the raids themselves, during the period 7 – 10th September, 1942, nothing special happened. (suggesting the circumstances of the Kolomyja resettlement transport was the norm rather than the exception). The co-operation between the Orpo men who were engaged, and the men of the security police (SD) was good and frictionless. (96)

Timetable for the 2050 from Kolomyja to Belzec – 10 September 1942(97)

Schedule   Time and Date   Note
Loading Kolomyja   1900   7.9.42   4769 Jews – all sexes/ages
Sniatyn, Horodenka   1800   8.9.42    
and other districts   1800   9.9.42   3436 Jews – all sexes/ages
Transport sealed   1800   10.9.42   Total 8205 Jews – naked
Departs Kolomyja   2050   10.9.42   Break-outs and shooting
Stops at Stanislawow for urgent repairs           Jumpers escape en-route Guards/Jews – desperate
Arrives Lvov   1115   11.9.42   Delivers 1000 / loaded 1000 Janowska
Departs Lvov   1330   11.9.42   More ammunition issued
Arrives Rawa Ruska   1730   11.9.42   Repairs and break-outs
Departs Rawa Ruska   1810   11.9.42   No ammo. Stones thrown – Clearance from Belzec
Arrives Belzec   1845   11.9.42   Transport split – sidings
Handed over to SDCO(98)   1930   11.9.42   Bill of Lading signed
Unloaded at Ramp   2200   11.9.42   2000 dead in transit or shot
All gassed (99)       12.9.42    

Stations between Kolomyja and Belzec C of the 2050

Kolomyja   Stanislawow   Chodorow
Gody Turka   Lucynow   Czany-Ostrow
Korszow   Jamnica   Boryniecze
Chiebiczyn   Sielec   Wybranowke
Hotoszkow   Jezupol   Bobrka Chienowice
Onynia   Wodniki   Podmonastranz
Worona   Gubowce   Stare Siotc
Markowce   Halicz   Dawidow
Chryplin Junction   Bolszowce   Sichow
Stanislawow   Burstyn-Demianow   Klaparow (Janowska)
    Martynow   Lvov
Lvov/Klaparow   Rawa Ruska   Based on 1939 Polish Rail Map
Brzuchowice   Rzyczki    
Zawadowa   Hrebenne   'Specjalna Mapa Kolejowa Polski' Zakl. Kartogr. W. Glowczewski, Warsaw.
Zarudce   Lubicza    
Mierzw   Zatyle    
Kamicnka-Woloska       After leaving Kolomyja this transport stopped frequently at many of the stations for repairs and round-ups of the jumpers.
Rawa Ruska   Belzec    

As a rider to Browning's 'Ordinary Men', the following personal details of a small selection taken at random, of Ordnungspolizei in 1947, may of interest:

Among the refugees who were in Vienna in the years 1945 – 48, there were several Jewish witnesses who survived from the Kolomyja ghetto. In the summer of 1947 a number of them came to the Jewish Historic Documentation Centre in Vienna and declared that they were survivors of the Kolomyja ghetto.

They reported that during the years 1941 – 43 about 60.000 Jews lived in Kolomyja, of whom only 200 survived and now lived in different countries. The witnesses were the brothers Josef and Moses Schliesser, Hermann Zenner and the cousins Markus and Jsak Krauthammer.

The witnesses were summoned to the Police H.Q. of Vienna, Department 1. (State Police), in July and August, 947 for a hearing. As a result of their statements, a number of ex Schutzpolizei that had served in Kolomyja were arrested. (100)

Further police enquiries resulted in the arrest of others who were implicated by evidence obtained from the first wave of arrests. (101)

Franz Pernek, Born Triest, 5.10.1906. Roman Catholic, married with one child. Since January, 1930 had been a resident in Vienna. He received a primary and secondary school education, leaving education at the age of 15 years to work locally as an apprentice butcher and meat curer. In 1927, he joined the Metropolitan Police in Vienna, and was attached to Police District Kost XX. In October, 1940, with other colleagues in the same precinct he was told to report to the Schutzpolizei (city police) in Kolomyja, Galicia. (102) The police station worked on a two shift system (A and B), personnel being equally divided. Administratively the station was divided into 3 sections: office, stores and equipment, and the front police office accessible to the public. All the functions of a police station prevailed, i.e., cells, communications centre (teleprinter, phones etc.), typists, canteen, garage, motor vehicles etc. Ancillary staff, mechanics, cleaners, office personnel were in the main employed from local Polish/Ukrainian sources. Some 30-40 Jews were also employed. It is interesting to note, that when the situation of the Jews deteriorated and resettlement escalated, many Jews found sanctuary in the cellars of the police station and were able to defer arrest and deportation for some time. (103)

Franz Pernek recalls one such incident in 1942, when columns of Jews, guarded by units of the Order Police, Schupo and Ukrainians, were being marched to the Scheparowce forest for liquidation, the SD and Gestapo were searching for particular Jews:

Such people were hidden in our building (police station). However, at first we knew nothing about this, but later we noticed a cigarette smell coming from the cellar. Then the Gestapo found out and brought these people out one by one. They only left us 3 or 4 people who were Hertl's personal suppliers. But after some time they too were taken away by the Gestapo for liquidation, with Hertl's agreement or at his request.

Very soon after this, a public order notice was issued to the effect that anyone found harbouring Jews would face the death penalty. It worked, within days 70 Jews had been surrendered to the Gestapo, imprisoned and taken to Scheparowce and shot. (104)

The Schutzpolizei headquarters in Kolomyja was a magnet for all other agencies (Gestapo, SD, SS, Orpo, Ukrainian militia etc. (105)) that would use their facilities for operational purposes and relaxation, discussing their daily toll of Jews over a 'pint of Poland's best beer'. (106)

Pernek, during the course of his interrogation, was quite forthcoming in describing their duties which were acted out in Kolomyja. In Ghetto clearing duties their particular duty was to guard the exits to prevent Jews escaping. The bulk of the clearing was carried out by the Gestapo, Orpo, Ukrainian militia and 'Volks' German auxiliaries. Observing these drives, he witnessed several shootings of Jews and the assembling of the remainder, many hundreds, who were then marched off to the Scheparowce forest for execution. Pernek describes the Scheparowce shooting site as located about an hours march outside the city limits, a disused powder magazine, heavily screened with barbed-wire fences 4 metres high and impossible to escape from. On this occasion he also refers to Robert Frost (60 years) who was from the department of Jewish Affairs in Kolomyja. (107)Pernek recalls Frost during the Scheparowce action, standing with his dog on the corner of the street and shouting to the raiding party, 'Lads, do a good job'.

In another action, believed to be the 10 September resettlement transport to Belzec, and probably he is talking about the 7 September, 1942, his duties varied slightly, but again guarding the ghetto and escorting duties. On this occasion about 1000 Jews expelled from the ghetto were marched directly to the rail station for resettlement. He recalled that many Jews were shot en-route by the Gestapo, Kripo (CID) used whips on the Jews to make them walk faster. Polish police (supervised by Kripo) were armed with batons. Ukrainian militia were armed with Russian rapid-fire machine pistols. Pernek himself was armed with a service pistol.

At the same time, and this corroborates the above 10 September resettlement, other actions were being carried out in Kosow and Horodenka. When the Schupo commander, Hertl heard of this, he left Kolomyja with two Schupo police (Kleinbauer and Layer), plus his driver Marko, to look for typewriters for the Schupo police office – the reports had to be typed!

As Christopher Browning relates from his own research, there was an acute shortage of manpower to carry-out all the resettlement actions. In the Lublin District where they were better positioned to man these actions, Globocnik soon requisitioned units of the Ordnungspolizei and Schutzpolizei to get involved in the dirty side of Action Reinhard, i.e., actual face to face killing of men, women and children. The Schupo men in Kolomyja were no exception and when called upon for this duty, shooting the Jews into the pits opened up in the local cemetery, they were not wanting.


Then Hertl informed us that orders had arrived that we, the Schupo were to carry out minor actions. He (Hertl) personally deployed the men including Gallhart, Doppler, etc., in effect all of us were included. The Ukrainian command was informed that all men at their disposal must report to their posts. Lt Wittmann got orders from Hertl to march the assembled troop to the Jewish cemetery. Hertl said to me: 'you stay here and come up behind us'. I admit that Gallhart, Doppler, Kneissl and I, as well as 3 or 4 Ukrainians, fired. Reisenthaler, Kroegner, Schipany, Wittmann and Hertl also stood by the pit. The shootings were carried out in two pits which had been dug in advance. The people had to take off their outer garments and were killed with a bullet in their necks. We, the firing party were then withdrawn.

The personal clothing taken from the Jews were taken to the city council. All valuables were seized by the Gestapo. Now blooded, men of the Schutzpolizei immediately received orders via their commander (Hertl) that from now on, they too would be engaged in the shooting of Jews. Hertl, like Hans Kruger (Stanislawow) and Dr. Schongarth (Lvov) before him, gave a demonstration to his men of how these future executions were to be carried out. One Schupo officer, Gross, refused to be involved. It is not known if any action was taken against him, but according to Pernek, he was never seen at later liquidation's. (108)

After the war, Pernek returned to Vienna and continued his police service. At the time of his arrest on 5 September, 1946, he was a serving Police Sergeant. (109)

Another Schupo officer who worked with Pernek in Kolomyja:

Franz Schipany, born 24.5.1913, Kirbach, Austria. Roman Catholic. In 1942, a married man with one child. Received and primary and secondary school education in Vienna. At 15 years left school, and like Pernek, Schipany worked as a butcher and meat curer. On 15 November, 1938, enlisted in the police force, serving in District 6, Vienna. After training (6 months), he was transferred for duty in Czechoslovakia. He later served as a police officer in Krakow and Tarnow, before returning to Vienna in 1940. Towards the end of 1941, he was transferred to Lvov, and after a short period to Kolomyja. Franz Schipany served with the Schutzpolizei in Kolomyja from late 1941 until 1944.

Schipany corroborates the testament of Pernek and fully acknowledged his participation in the killings of Jews at the Scheparowce forest, the ghetto, the cemetery and the prison. The cemetery:

I admit that I took part in several liquidations of Jews in the Jewish cemetery. The Jews had to go, undressed, into a sand pit, lie on their stomachs and were then killed by a bullet in their head.

Schipany continued to relate his part in other actions in Kolomyja, including the searching for Jews in the ghetto, their murder and the final burning down of the ghetto. He was fully engaged with Orpo, Ukrainians, and Sipo-SD in all these actions including the resettlement operations from Kolomyja in April and September, 1942.

After the war he returned to the butchery trade and later as a security official in Vienna.

Our last example is Othmar Kleinbauer. Born 18.5.1893, in Vienna. Roman Catholic. Married with no children. Received a primary, elementary, and High School education. (Civil Service matriculation at Obergymnasium in Klosterneuburg). On 1 January, 1919, he joined the Vienna Police Force until he was transferred during war time. On 6 October, 1941 he was posted to the Schutzpolizei in Kolomyja with the rank of Polizeimeister and served with this unit as quartermaster and under the command of Peter Leideritz (SD).

Kleinbauer continues the corroborative line of both Pernek and Schipany of the Schupo activities in Kolomyja. He was engaged in all the shooting of Jews in the cemetery, Scharparowce forest and Prison - also the Ghetto and resettlement operations in April and September, 1942:

I admit that I was twice in command of the liquidation unit in the Jewish cemetery. I want to mention that at that time I had already been promoted to Police Lieutenant. I took charge of the people to be liquidated, who included men, women and children. They were about a 100 persons. They were escorted by my company to the Jewish cemetery where I asked Pernek how the liquidation was to be carried out. I heard Pernek tell the people 'take off your clothes, the old go first to the front of the pit '. He continued, 'come over here, lie down in the pit, it doesn't hurt, the quicker you are the better for you'. The Jews ere taken to the edge of the pit, not in it. On my order they were shot dead with a bullet in their neck. I recall that dumdum bullets were fired, which shattered the heads of those shot beyond recognition. The pieces of brain splashing out, dirtied my shirt and face which made me feel sick. (110)

The fate of the 4000 Jews in Horodenka and adjoining villages (111) faired the same as the Jews in Kolomyja, only the names of the perpetrators changed. On the 4th April, 1942, the majority that were captured and were taken to Kolomyja for eventual resettlement. A further sweep of the district on the 14th April, picked up those that had been in-hiding who were immediately shot. (112) The only Jews that were spared these actions were 70 artisans useful to the Germans. On the 29th October, 1942, these remaining Jews were taken to the killing fields of Scheparowce and shot.

Extermination of the Jews in Kuty (the Sub-District of Kolomyja)

A. First Decrees of the German
Authorities in Kuty were identical to those in Horodenka. 2500 Jews lived in Kuty at the time of its occupation, at the end of July, 1941

At the end of October, 1941, a contribution of 5000 dollars was imposed upon the Jews in Kuty and was paid in full. The Judenrat was careful not to become involved in any dispute with the authorities and hoped to ease the situation of the Jews by strict compliance with its orders. In October, a German Labour Office was opened in Kosow, headed by Rebkoff and the Jews of Kuty came under its jurisdiction.

B. First Action
On the 9th April, 1942, at 8.50 am, several lorries and cars of the SD from Kolomyja arrived at Kuty. The SD was commanded by Obersturmführer Leideritz, Hauptscharführer Frost, Oberscharführer Hubert and Oberscharführer Kramberg assisted by members of the frontier Guards, German Gendarmerie from Kosow, Ukrainian Police and local inhabitants of Kuty, conducted a pogrom which lasted for several hours. 600 Jewish men, women and children were killed in the most cruel way. Houses were set on fire and many Jews were burnt alive. Approximately 600 Jews were herded together, loaded onto lorries and taken to Kolomyja. Leideritz ordered that all the remaining Jews except 25 families had to move into the Kolomyja Ghetto by the 24th April,1942. The Judenrat of Kosow succeeded by bribing Volkmann and Rebkoff, in getting permission for 300 families to remain in Kuty. All the others were transferred to the Kolomyja Ghetto. There, some of them were taken immediately to the railway station for deportation to the extermination camp Belzec.

C. Final Action
The remaining Jews in Kuty received work-cards from the Kosow Labour Office.

At the end of August, 1942, all the work-cards had to be submitted to the Labour Office for control. Part of these cards received the stamp marked 'A'. Rebkoff explained that all labourers, being in possession of the new stamp, would be permitted finally to remain in Kuty. The Judenrat paid to Rebkoff a great sum of money in order to receive a maximum number of 'A' stamps.

On the 7th September, 1942, Michael, the Head of the Central Labour Office, Kreisarbeitsleiter of the Sub-District Kolomyja, visited Kuty. He informed the Judenrat that on the 8th September, 1942, all Jews, including those being in possession of the 'A' stamps, had to assemble at 6 am for a final registration on part of the SD. He affirmed that these registrations were of a purely formal nature. On the 8th September, 1942, 600 Jews assembled. 250 Jews had escaped the same night and tried to cross the Rumanian border, many others hid in the town. All the assembled Jews were arrested by a squad of SD commanded by Hauptsturmführer Frost and Hauptsturmführer Schwenker. They were brought to Kosow and put in the local prison. There, Jews from Kosow, Zabie and Rosnow had already been detained.

On the 9th September, 1942, all Jews were marched to the prison at Kolomyja. Jews who did not march quickly were shot; most of the children and pregnant women, old and frail Jews were also shot by SS Frost, Schwenker and Hauptscharführer Weissmann.

On the 10th September, 1942, many Jews who had hidden in Kuty and who had been given away by the local population and all those who tried to cross the Rumanian border, were arrested and taken to the local prison. All these detainees were brought to the railway station and deported to Belzec extermination camp. Single Jews who succeeded in jumping from the train related that up to 40% of the deportees died on the way of suffocation. Up to 200 Jews were packed into every wagon.

On the 1st December, 1942, the remainder of the Jews in Kuty were arrested and taken to the Scheparow forest outside Kolomyja and executed.

12. Third Deportation in Kolomyja

On the 11th October, 1942, the Ghetto was surrounded by the SD and Ukrainian Auxiliaries. Almost every house was guarded by an armed policeman. Only a few Jews succeeded in hiding. Jews with work cards thought they were safe. They were the first victims. Jews found hiding were shot on the spot. All the others were taken to a public place. Out of 4500, only 240 labourers were selected and their cards stamped anew. All the others were dealt with in a similar way as those on the 7th September, and deported to Belzec.

On the 15th October, 1942, Untersturmführer Gay assisted by CID-Knackendoerfer gave orders to arrest 105 Jews and to bring them to the local slaughter houses. There the Jews were ordered to lie down and were shot by Gay and Knackendoerfer.

From Stanislawow to the Extermination
and Resettlement in Kolomyja and District

The Final Solution

13. Extermination of the Hallerbach Group

In the middle of October, 1942, Jewish labourers were eliminated from all factories. They were organised into one group under the command of Oberscharführer Hallerbach. They had to collect and to sift the property of the deported Jews of the Ghetto B and C. Their work was supervised by members of the Sonderdienst who treated them cruelly.

On the 5th November, 1942, all labourers of this Hallerbach group were told to assemble for inspection. They were told that a special commission from Lvov had arrived and had demanded that all work had to be completed by the 1.3.43. Most of the Jewish labourers being assured that at least until the end of the year they would be safe obeyed the order.

The group was surrounded by the SD commanded by Hallerbach. They were taken to the prison and all their property was taken away from them. On the same day the Ghetto was searched. Many Jews were killed and others were brought to the prison. A part of the Ghetto was set on fire and many Jews were killed. The Jews in the prison were deported to Belzec.

Once the liquidation of the Kolomyja ghetto had been completed, the whole process was repeated. Jews living in adjacent towns and villages were driven into the Kolomyja ghetto to undergo selections, killings and transport.

14. Extermination of the Jews in Sniatyn

A. First Persecution
4000 Jews lived in Sniatyn when the Rumanian Army occupied the town in June, 1941. Immediately after their entry into the town Rumanian soldiers murdered 20 Jews.

At the beginning of July, 1941, the Germans took over the command of the town. They appointed a Jewish Council which had to carry out the German demands. In August, 1941, the local SD ordered the Rabbi of Dashkoff and 25 prominent Jews of the town to call at the office. 8 days afterwards 15 more prominent Jews were ordered to appear. None of them returned home and as it turned out afterwards all of them were murdered.

B. First Action
On the 17th September, 1941 the first extermination action took place. Several hundred Jewish men were arrested. The action was carried out by the local SD, Ukrainian Police and many local Ukrainian and Polish inhabitants of the town. 140 Jews were taken out of the town and executed in Potoczek, a village near Sniatyn.

C. Action in the Ghetto and Vicinity
A Labour Office was established in the town headed by Koegler and all the Jews had to register there. Every Jew between the ages of 14-60 (age varies) was eligible for forced labour.

In December, 1941, the local commissioner Petsch ordered the establishment of a ghetto. On the 26th December, 1941, an extermination action took place in Zablotow which was carried out by the SD of Kolomyja, local Gendarmerie, Ukrainian Police and local inhabitants. 800 Jews were executed in the town and several hundred were transferred to Sniatyn. Also in other villages of the vicinity of Sniatyn a similar action took place and many Jews were transferred to the ghetto in Sniatyn.

The Jews of the ghetto were employed on different forced labour in the town and in the vicinity. They left the ghetto in small groups escorted by Gendarmerie and Ukrainian Police who maltreated the labourers. The Local Supply Department issued no food to the Jews in the ghetto. A great famine prevailed and many Jews died of exhaustion and starvation.

D. Second and Third Actions
In April, 1942, two successive actions took place which were carried out by the SD, Gendarmerie and local frontier guards (Zollgrenzschutz) and Ukrainian Police. Altogether 1600 Jews were deported to the Belzec extermination camp. They were loaded into railway wagons, 120 per truck. Neither food nor water was given to them during the journey and the trucks were sealed before departure. A great number of Jews died on the journey. Approximately 400 women, children and men unfit for transportation were slaughtered in Potoczek.

E. Fourth and Fifth Actions
In June, 1942, the same formations carried out an action during which a further 400 Jews were murdered in Potoczek. In July, 1942, again several hundred Jews were murdered.

F. Final extermination
The final deportation took place on the 7th September, 1942. The ghetto was surrounded by the SD, frontier guards, Gendarmerie, Ukrainian Militia and local Polish and Ukrainian civilian volunteers. More than a 1000 Jews were deported to Belzec extermination camp. A great number were killed in the ghetto. Only 15 Jews were officially permitted to remain in Sniatyn. Approximately 200 remained in hiding. The Authorities searched after hiding Jews and killed those detected. At the end of 1942, Sniatyn was 'judenrein'.

15. Extermination of the Jews in Kosow and Vicinity (Sub-District of Kolomyja)

4000 Jews lived in Kosow at the time of the Russian Army withdrew from the town on the30th June, 1941.

4000 Jews lived in the villages in the vicinity: Pistyn, Jablnow, Jablowice, Zobie, and other small villages.

The Ukrainians who took over the administration of Kosow, started immediately to search Jewish houses and confiscate Jewish property. The Ukrainian Police arrested many Jews. They were taken to the local prison, cruelly beaten and often tortured to death. Jews were beaten in the streets by local youths. The Ukrainian authorities immediately introduced forced labour for all Jews between the ages of 16-60.

In August, 1941, Jews were ordered, by a special decree of the Kreishauptmannschaft, to handover all gold, jewellery and other valuables, etc., on pain of death.

In the mountain villages Ukrainian peasants, incited by local priests, carried out pogroms and slaughter of the Jews. In Jablonika 60 Jews were slaughtered and thrown into the Czermuk River. Many Jews escaped to Kosow. In September, 1941, German Gendarmerie arrived in Kosow. All Jews were ordered to wear the special star. Contraveners were shot. The Germans began immediately to confiscate all Jewish property.

B. The First Action
On the night of the 15th October, 1941, a meeting between the representatives of the SD (Kolomyja)and local Ukrainian notables took place in the Kosow town hall. The local Ukrainian authorities, headed by the Mayor Vinizky, had previously petitioned the Kreishauptmannschaft to clear Kosow of the Jews. During the meeting the detailed plan for the action was worked out.

On the 16th October, 1941, the action started. SD/Sipo squads commanded by Untersturmführer Gay and Oberscharführer Hubert, Schupo squads from Kolomyja commanded by Lieutenant Hertl, local police commanded by Feldmeister Bayer, members of the local frontier guards commanded by Lange. The Ukrainians and the Poles also participated. Jews were hunted in the streets and dragged out of their houses. They were taken to a near-by hill where they were killed and buried in graves dug in advance by local Ukrainians.

The official orders of the Head of the SD/Sipo Leideritz were to kill 900 Jews. When this figure was attained Gay applied to Leideritz for new orders. Leideritz stated it was up to the local authorities to decide if the action should go on. The Ukrainian town council agreed it should go on.

Local Ukrainians searched after the Jews and handed them over to the Germans. On the first day the Jews in the town did not know yet what was happening to the arrested Jews. Gay and Haertl visited the Judenrat and declared that if certain quantities of clothes, furs, linens, etc. were handed over to them, nothing would happen to the arrested Jews. The Judenrat believing this promise supplied great quantities of the desired goods. 2088 Jews were killed during the action which lasted 3 days.

C. Actions in the Vicinity
At the end of November, 1941, am action took place in Zabie. SS/SD from Kolomyja commanded by Hauptscharführer Weissmann, the local authorities, Ukrainian Police and inhabitants participated. 600 Jews were killed in the village.

At the beginning of 1942 – 30 Jews of foreign nationality were arrested in Kosow, by order of Volkmann, and executed in the Scheparowce forest.

On the 8th April, 1942, actions took place in Pistyn where 500 Jews lived, and in Yablonow, with a Jewish population of 1.700. SS/SD squads from Kolomyja, local Ukrainian Militia and the inhabitants participated. Some of the Jews were murdered on the spot. The others were brought to the Kolomyja Ghetto.

D. Transfer from Kosowto Kolomyja
In April, 1942, Leideritz decreed that all the Jews from Kosow had to move to the Ghetto of Kolomyja by the 24th April, 1942. However, the Judenrat succeeded, by bribing Volkmann and Rebkoff, in obtaining permission for 250 families to remain.

On the 24th April, 1942, 1000 Jews were moved to Kolomyja. Some of them were taken to the railway station and loaded onto wagons bound for Belzec extermination camp.

The conditions under which the remaining Jews lived in Kosow were almost unbearable. They had to work 10 hours daily without rest or food. Food was very scant as the Supply Department refused to issue any rations to the Jews.

The confiscation of Jewish property continued. The Ukrainian Authorities ordered to demolish houses of Jews and use the materials for their own purposes.

E. Action and final exterminationof the Jews.
In August, 1942, Rebkoff ordered that all work-cards were to be remitted for control. Some of the cards were stamped with the letter 'A'. The owners of these cards received special badges with the letter 'A' and a number. On the 5th September, 1942, Michael, the Head of the Labour Office in Kolomyja, informed the Judenrat that 500 Jews would be permitted to remain in Kosow.

By a special order of the SD, all Jews had to assemble on the 9th September, 1942. Trusting the promise given by SS-Michael, 500 Jews assembled. The others hid in pre-prepared bunkers. All the assembled Jews were arrested. The action was carried out by the SD squad from Kolomyja commanded by Untersturmführer Frost and Hauptscharführer Weissmann and local Gendarmerie. Only 66 Jews were permitted officially to remain in Kosow. The Jews were marched to the prison in Kolomyja. On the way they were brutally beaten and some of them killed.

In Kosow the Gendarmarie, the Ukrainian Police and the local inhabitants searched after the hiding Jews. Jews apprehended were killed on the spot or sent to Kolomyja. All the Jews detained in the prison were deported to Belzec extermination camp.

Ukrainians organised themselves in special gangs which searched thoroughly every house in Kosow. They robbed everything they found. Jews from the vicinity were brought to Kosow and detained in the local prison. In the middle of September they were sent to Kolomyja together with the Jews who had been arrested in Kosow. From there they were taken to the Scheparowce forest where they were mowed down by machine-guns. The dead were buried together with many still living.

The search after the hiding Jews in Kosow continued unrelentingly. The few Jews legally remaining in Kosow tried to supply the hiding Jews with food. They were spied upon by Ukrainians who succeeded this way in finding many hideouts.

On the 29th September, 1942, Leideritz proclaimed that all Jews living illegally in Kosow would be permitted to move freely to Kolomyja during two days. Many Jews who could not bear any longer the strain and the dreadful conditions in the bunkers took advantage of this offer.

On the 21st October, the final extermination of the Jews living legally in Kosow took place. They were rounded up, taken to the Scheparowce forest and murdered. For some time afterwards the hunt after hiding Jews continued. When bunkers were found all the inhabitants were taken out and shot on the spot.

Only a few Jews succeeded in escaping by crossing into Rumania or Slovakia.

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  1. Statement of Andrzej Tonko, a worker at Rawa Ruska railway station between August, 1942 and May, 1944 to the Investigation Commission in Belzec 10.10.1945. (MTCL). Return
  2. Interviewed by the Israeli Police on 23.6.1960. Ref. No. 280. File 13-142/4BP (MTCL). Return
  3. MTCL. The Reichsbahn Liaison Official at Belzec station was Rudolf Gockel who not only received and signed for the Bill of Lading but organised the personnel to shunt the transport, 20 wagons at a time into the camp, and after unloading, would remove the wagons out of the camp into sidings. Return
  4. Communication was usually by telephone or tapped-out in Morse code. Return
  5. Musicians were taken off the June resettlement transport from Krakow and formed into a camp orchestra which played continually at reception, undressing and the march along the 'tube' to the gas chambers. Return
  6. Belzec was well into the second phase. The camp had been re-organised and new gas chambers had been built and relocated (camp 2). Administrative changes had also taken place (not that this concerned the Jews from Kolomyja). In the SD: On 1.8.1942, Wirth had been promoted (to the Inspectorate of all three 'AR' death camps and had been replaced by Hering, Schwartz (deputy), Tauscher, Gley, Schemmel, Hackenholt, Irrmann, Feix plus a host of Ukrainians and Volksdeutsche specialists. Return
  7. The ramp platform was about 1m above the reception area. Supervising the ramp area at this time was probably another policeman and T4 practioner who had served with Hering at Sonnenstein euthanasia establishment, Fritz Tauscher (MTCL). Return
  8. Usually the commandant or his deputy would give a spiel of welcome, instructions to bath and eat before their onward journey to work camps. For the Kolomyja Jews this was not necessary. In the early transports hair was not cut until being taken out of the gas chambers. Wirth in his re-organisation introduced the hairdressing barracks that was carried on in Sobibor and Treblinka. Return
  9. The number of Jews found dead on arrival in Belzec was not unusual. In the final action in clearing the Tarnow ghetto which took place early September, 1943, 10,000 Jews were rounded up and transported to Auschwitz. On arrival, only 400 remained alive and they were immediately gassed. (See trial of Amon Goeth – opening remarks by Dr. Tadeusz Cyprian, prosecuting Counsel). Another example is shown in the statement of Kurt Gerstein (IMT -Doc. No. 1553-PS)p. 5 ' In 10 minutes the first train will arrive! And indeed, a few minutes later the first train came from Lemberg (Lvov). 45 cars, containing 6,700 persons; 1,450 of whom were already dead on their arrival'. Return
  10. Vienna Documents: ZStL, Bd. 410, Bl. 508-510 (Report of Lt Wessermann). Return
  11. In the translated document (German and English) sent to me from the USA, the number of Jews found dead at unloading is shown as 200 (English translation) 2000 (German copy). I also note that Hilberg who refers to the same information Vol. 2 (p, 497), mentions 200. Browning refers to 2000 which is probably the correct figure, in which case, any assessment of the conditions at unloading is superflerous. To be verified – Zstl. Bd vol. 410, pp 508-10. Now verified as 2000 (25%) Jews dead on arrival. This a lesson for all researchers. Return
  12. ibid. Return
  13. Klee, Gressen and Riess. 'Those were the days', p. 232-5. See Statement of Josef Jacklein, 7/Pol. 24 in Lemberg, dated 14.9.1942. Return
  14. For descriptions of an execution pit and method of shooting see: ZStL file No.: AR Z 252/59: The Case Against Josef Oberhauser et a/., p. 1554: Heinrich Gley, 24 November 1961/Münster; p. 1484: Robert Juhrs, 12 October 1961/Frankfurt am Main. Both Gley and Juhrs were assigned to execution duty. It is not conceivable that only one such execution pit existed in the camp, as these witnesses state. Return
  15. Staatsanwaltschaft beim Landgericht Düsseldof / file 11-931638. Statement of Willi Mentz 3.9.1965 in Bielefeld. Return
  16. There many occasions where the commanding officer exhibited leadership of this nature – Schongarth in Lvov and Hans Kruger in Stanislawow were first to execute Jews into the pits as an example to their men. Return
  17. MTLC: Gley was certainly in Belzec at the time of the Kolomyja Transport Statement to the Münster Police 6.2.1962 (My brackets). The camp survey of 97/98 shows several graves of this size, particularly in the area where we believe the Lazarett compound was located. Return
  18. ibid. Statement to the Bavarian Regional CID – Frankfurt/Main 11.10.1961. Return
  19. Only one survivor eventually came forward in subsequent trials: Rudolf Reader who had changed his name to Roman Robak and lived after the war in Canada. According to various sources – 55 persons escaped from Belzec. Only 5 are known to have survived the war but were unable to be traced with the exception of a very few which I will deal with in 'escapes'. Return
  20. At the time of writing 'Ordinary Men', Browning uses pseudonyms for identification of those engaged. Time has moved on and we are able to be as accurate as possible using correct names. Return
  21. ibid. My brackets. Return
  22. Processing transports during the hours of darkness was unusual. Resettlement trains arriving during the hours of darkness were usually kept intact until 6 am the following day. Return
  23. Probably the then Commandant of Belzec Kriminalinspektor Gottlieb Hering, and old friend of Christian Wirth whose friendship went back to their police service days in Stuttgart. Or, maybe Hering's deputy, SS-Hauptscharführer Schwarz. In Belzec at this time, Hering assumed control over Camp 1, and Schwarz controlled the death rattling of Camp 11. Both these men were keen horse riders and kept stabled horses at Belzec. There is a renowned story still repeated by villagers in Belzec to-day: It concerned a local Polish (non Jew) peasant named Panasowiec who on an occasion got too near the camp. Hering and Schwarz chased him on horse through Belzec village, whipping him to a standstill. A local artist, who has painted a number of pictures of activities in the camp, including happenings at the ramp, the digging-up and burning the bodies in 1943 and several other recollections. Also among this collection is a painting of Hering and Schwarz riding through the village whipping the Pole. I have seen this painting which is displayed on the wall in the Priest's house in Belzec village. Return
  24. In charge of the gassing installations at this time was SS-Scharführer Lorenz Hackenholt, assisted by a small team of Ukrainians. According to my colleague Michael Tregenza, they were also assisted by two Jewish mechanics. This is not surprising as the whole murdering process, although initiated by SD and T4 practitioners, in practice it was the Jewish workers that enabled the task to be completed. Did they have a choice? Belzec could have operated without both the SS and Ukrainian Guard? Return
  25. Vienna Documents: Arrested: Steiner, Schipany, Gall, Pernek and Kleinbauer. Return
  26. ibid. Arrested: Stanka, Straka, Gross, Ruprechtshofer, Reisenthaler, Layer, Uitz and Winkler. Return
  27. ibid. His police colleagues at the time were all serving police officers of the Vienna District: Capt. Doppler, Lt. Hertl. Non. Comm. Officers: Cpl. Gallhart, Kneissl, Sgt. Hofstetter, Cpl. Straka, Gross, Witmann, Kroegner, Uitz, Res. Off. Steiner, Schipany, Reisnthaler, Ruprechtshofer, Kleinbauer, Gall, Marko, and Layer. This unit was joined later by other police from Vienna: Stanka, Mauritz and Wittich. The Schutzpolizei detachment in Kolomyja was permanent with all the trappings of any medium police station found in the UK. Return
  28. ibid. Statement of Franz Pernek. (my bracket). Return
  29. ibid. Return
  30. Since 1933 the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) and Schutzpolizei (Schupo) had become the foot soldiers of Nazi security policy. Initially a 56,000 strong police army that eventually merges with the Wehrmacht in 1935. In 1936, reorganisation of all the security services now came under the control and direction of Kurt Deluege. By 1938/9, these branches had grown to over 62,000 men which were sectioned into Polizei-Hundertschaften (police companies of 108 men). These men, exempted from the Wehrmacht, wormed into Polizei-Ausbildungsabteilungen (training units), and sent to barracks in the ten major cities in the Reich. At the outbreak of war, the Ordnungspolizei had grown to 131,000 men at the disposal and direction of Himmler. By 1940, as the result of intensive recruiting, the numbers swelled to over 244,000. They fought alongside the Wehrmacht in the Barbarossa campaign and with distinction at Leningrad in 1941, before being reigned in by Himmler for internal policing. For our purposes, these units were stationed in the five districts of the Generalgouvernement under the command and direction of the HSSPF/SSPF, and were major players within 'Action Reinhard' enforcement operations of Jewish resettlement. Return
  31. Again, I stress the practical normality of this, which can be compared to 1998 police practices in the UK or any other western civil administration. The marauding Gestapo, SD, UK, Jewish brigades etc., etc., can readily be recognised with to-days crime squads, special branch, special constables, traffic wardens etc., although it is true to say, the ultimate ends were somewhat different. Return
  32. In all the sub-districts where there was a Schupo police presence, there was always at least one officer designated for Jewish Affairs. This post was a substantive appointment with its headquarters in Stanislawow (Brandt), Lvov ( ) and Krakow (BdS). Return
  33. Vienna Documents – Statement of Pernek. Return
  34. ibid. Pernek attempted suicide by hanging in his police cell. However, when he recovered he requested writing materials to recall events in Kolomyja. Return
  35. ibid. Statement of Kleinbauer. Return
  36. YVA. In December, 1941, in the small Jewish community of Niezwiski, the Jewish families who totalled just 60 men, women and children were rounded up by local Ukrainian and Polish peasants. Their hands were tied with barbed-wire and then all of them were thrown into the river Dneister and drowned. (YV). The Jews from the villages of Tarnowicz, Polna, Glushkow, Tyszkowce, Czerniatyn and Potoczyska were rounded-up, the elderly and sick were shot, the remainder taken to Kolomyja and sent to Belzec in April, 1942, resettlement. Return
  37. Vienna Documents. The organisers of the Horodenka resettlements were SS-Obersturmführer Doppler, Land Commissioner Petsch, security officials Koenig, Kraemer and Ukrainian/Polish Gendarmerie and militia. Return

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