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Chapter 7

Extermination of the Jews
of Kolomyja and District

In 1941, there were over 60.000 Jews in Kolomyja which had become the central transit and extermination point for the Jewish population of that district. At the end of the war, only 200 Jews had survived, and it is from a small number of those survivors that we are able to piece together the calendar of events during the Nazi occupation. We are able to identify the main Nazi protagonists, the method of systematic murder of men, women and children, and the transportations to the 'Death Camp' at Belzec (2).

Kolomyja and District Belzec Transports (3)

3-6   April 1942
    June 1942
7-8   September 1942
 11-13   October 1942
Gwozdziec via Kolomyja:
    April 1942
    April 1942
    September 1942
Jablonow via Kolomyja:
    April 1942
    September 1942
Kosow via Kolomyja:
    April 1942
    September 1942
Kuty via Kolomyja:
    April 1942
Obertyn via Horodenka:
    September 1942
Peczenizyn Belzec Transports:
    April 1942
Pistyn via Kolomyja:
    April 1942
    September 1942
    April 1942
    September 1942

1. Occupation by Hungarian Forces

On the outbreak of the war the 1st September, 1939, the Wehrmacht crossed the Polish border. On the 16th September, the Polish government escaped to Romania via Kolomyja. Since 1938 Germany had deported its Polish Jews across the border into Poland. Those that had originated from Kolomyja returned there and were later supplemented with Jews from Czechoslovakia and Austria after the Anschluss – they had seen the writing on the wall. During the period, 1939 – 1941, the Jewish population in Kolomyja increased to over 60.000 (4).

Kolomyja under Russian occupation
On the outbreak of World War 11, on the 1st September, 1939, the Wehrmacht crossed the Polish border. On the 16th September, the Polish government fled to Kolomyja, and then over the border to Romania. The next day, 17th September, the first Russian tanks entered the town under the auspices of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. A certain amount of harmony and collaboration ensued, until the 22nd June, 1941, and the onslaught of 'Barbarossa'. On the 3rd July, 1941, the last Russians left Kolomyja. The following day, the 4th July, Hungarian troops marched into the town where they remained for six weeks when relieved by the Wehrmacht.

No sooner had the Russians decamped, the first excesses against local Jews commenced. Ukrainian nationalists caught Jewish men and women in the streets, or dragged them out of their houses. They were being led fettered through the streets of Kolomyja and the local population beat and abused them. They were taken to public places where monuments of Soviet personalities had been erected. They were then yoked to the monuments which they were forced to pull down while being beaten. The Jews were ordered to break the monuments with their bare hands. During these proceedings many Jews were seriously injured. Jewish houses were ransacked and robbed. The Ukrainian intelligentsia took over the town administration.

After the entry of the Hungarians, comparative order returned to the town. Jews were ordered immediately to wear special arm-bands. The Hungarian authorities demanded labourers from the local council. The council listed only Jews who worked without payment.

The first German officials to arrive in the town were: Volkmann, who was appointed Kreishauptmann (Chief of District), the Stadthauptmann (Town Commissioner), Michael, head of the Labour Office, Dr. Jordon, Landwirtschaftsrat (Head of Supply Department) and Oberleutnant Haertl as Chief of a detachment of Schutzpolizei (City Police). Hans Kruger in Stanislawow ordered in reinforcements of Schupo into the Kolomyja districts to assist in resettlement operations. In October, 1941, 35 men of the Vienna Schutzpolizei arrived in Kolomyja (5).

There were a number of 'murder squads' drawn from a number of agencies. Initially, Einsatzgruppen, Waffen SS and Wehrmacht personnel. Once the area was secured, internal security forces took over. Although working at times on different agendas, their tasks were identical: the extermination of all political adversaries to the 'New Order', and Jews {perce}. These units were drawn from: Sipo-SD (Gestapo Kripo etc.), Schutzpolizei (policemen from Vienna District), Ukrainian Police Auxiliaries, Local militia (Ukrainian and Polish). These forces were also supplemented by Railway Police and Council employees.

Sites of extermination
The transports to Belzec and murder of Jews in the Scheparowce forest is central to the extermination of the Jews in the Kolomyja and we have some first hand accounts from the Schutzpolizei of how these executions took place. Other locations of mass murder in Kolomyja were the Jewish cemetery, the Jewish abattoir and the Prison under the command of Leopold Winkler.

Police Battalion 133 (Police Regiment 24)
Identified Schutzpolizei of Kolomyja who were responsible for mass slaughter of the Jews in this district. They were divided up into two groups: A and B. There was an officer section, a quartermaster section and the police station personnel:

Captains Doppler and Gross

Lt. Hertl and Kleinbauer (check ranks)
Sergeants: Pernek, Kneissl, Hofstetter, Steiner
Corporals: Gallhart, Straka
Constables: Gall, Harko, Kroegner, Layer, Mauritz, Reisenthaler,
Ruprechtsofer, Stanka Schipany, Wittich, Uitz

Katzmann (Lvov), Kruger (Stanislawow), Brandt (Stanislawow)
Leideritz (6), Goedds, Weissman, Frost, Volkmann, Rebkoff, Hack,
Petsch, Koenig, Birsch, Schwebe, Hubert, Wahrmann, Schwenker,

Governor of Kolomyja Prison:
Winkler (7)

The 'SD – Sipo' as well as the 'Schupo' were assisted by a special Ukrainian Auxiliary Police. There was also a separate Ukrainian Police Unit commanded by Ukrainians.

2. German Anti-Jewish Decrees

On the 1st August, 1941, (8) the German authorities took over the civil administration. Immediately after the Germans had taken over control of the town, Jews were being hunted in the streets and taken for forced labour. The nature of the labour was very heavy work. Loads which were usually carried by 10 men, were now carried by 4 Jews at double march. Their work was supervised by soldiers of the Wehrmacht who beat the Jews cruelly with sticks and rifle butts. No ordinary man could stand this work for more than a few days. Many of the Jew-workers were taken home unconscious, and many were crippled for life. German soldiers frequently entertained themselves by dragging the Jews from their houses and making them perform all kinds of unnatural acts. Their beards and hair were cut off to the laughter of the local towns-people who watched. The victims were kept for hours while being subjected to beatings, abuse and threats of death. As no orders had been received, the Jews were released, but it was a short respite.

Individual confiscation of Jewish property was forbidden. Only the Kreishauptmann and the Chief of the 'SD. und Sipo' were authorised to confiscate Jewish property. Special officials of the Judenrat collected the requested objects and handed them over to the authorities. In August, 1941, Volkmann ordered the Jews to hand over all their gold, silver, jewellery and all furs and woollens, and refusal would be immediate death. It was accepted that much of this property was pilfered by the operators.

Once, an order was issued for all Jews to hand in their furs. They were collected and sorted in the Horowitz factory. Kleinbauer was in charge of this operation. I admit that I received a fur coat from the post. The furs were loaded and sent to Lemberg (Lvov). On the orders of the Gestapo, the Judenrat also took in precious stones and jewelry. (9)

That same month, the Kreishauptmannschaft set up by a special decree, its own auxiliary police force, called Sonderdienst which was comprised of local Volksdeusche (Ukrainians or Poles of part German descent, declaring themselves as Germans).

At the end of August and the beginning of September, 1941, detachments of the German Security Services began to arrive in Kolomyja from Stanislawow. On the 21st September, 1941, the staff of the 'Sicherheitsdienst und Sicherheitzpolizei', commanded by SS-Obersturmführer Peter Leideritz rounded up 250 Jews. Three days later they were taken to neighbouring Korolowska to be shot, but were prevented from carrying out these executions by the Hungarians. (10)

On the 22nd September, 1941, houses of the wealthy Jews were evacuated with immediate effect. The owners were not permitted to take any objects with them. The German authorities expropriated Jewish buildings in entire streets for their own purposes without payment or compensation. These seizures were accompanied by arrests, beatings and abuse of the Jewish population.

3. The Establishment of the Judenrat

The Jewish community had elected a council directly after the occupation by the Hungarians. At the end of September, 1941, Volkmann and SS-Leideritz appointed a new Judenrat (more to their liking). (11) This Judenrat was now the centre of authority for the Jews in Kolomea and district. It was organised on the Kahal system, a state within a state, for which certain legislative and executive powers and legal authority over the Jews was to be delegated. The power of the Judenrat became more effective after the Jews moved into the Ghetto and entirely isolated from the town population.

A centralised Judenrat operated in most districts, Kolomyja taking in the towns of Kuty and Kosow etc., which resulted in much argument between their representatives. (12) The German Authorities only dealt with the President of the Judenrat. They remitted to him their demands and he was wholly responsible for their strict execution. There was to be no compromise. The establishment of the Judenrat restricted arbitrary action. Persecution became organised and was carried out according to a predetermined plan.

The Judenrat organised the supply of Jewish labourers for the town administration. The Jews would officially receive wages amounting to 80% of the scale fixed for the Aryan population. In reality, the Jews received much less. The wages were paid direct to the Judenrat who distributed a small amount to the actual worker, after taxes and other expenses. To protect the Jewish intelligentsia for as long as possible, many were employed by the Judenrat. The German Tax Authorities, headed by Dr. Lorens demanded the payment of all taxes even those that had been outstanding over many years.

Record of 'Actions in Kolomyja' (13)

In the Scheparow Forest

4. First Extermination – Payments of Contribution

Of the 60.000 Jews murdered, approximately two thirds were killed in Kolomyja. Approximately one third were sent to Belzec. (14)

On the 11th October, 1941, all Jewish teachers were arrested by the SD and removed to the prison to join many other Jews already detained. Lists of names and addresses had been complied by Ukrainian and Polish informers.

In the local prison, the Germans asked the Jewish prisoners for volunteers for work. Many answered this call to get away from the bad conditions in the prison. A small group of young Jews were selected and taken to Szeparowce, a forest near Kolomea where they were forced to dig deep ditches. In the evening all of them were shot. The detainees in the prison were given neither food or water, provisions sent into the prison by the Judenrat were stolen by the guards or given to non-Jews. The following day, the 12th October, (a Jewish holyday) all became clear: The SD, Schutzpolizei, and Auxiliary Police hunted down Jews in the streets and arrested them. Armed German Security Forces went to the Synagogue and stopped the service, then set it on fire. Everyone was removed, men, women and children. They were all taken to the Scheparowce forest just outside of the town where over 3.000 were all shot into the pits which had been previously prepared by the Jewish prisoners.

We are able know the Modus Operandi of these 'Aktions' by the interrogation of some of the perpetrators who were arrested after the war. (15) The background to these arrests are of importance as they detail individual responsibility in the manner of execution, and not the usual defensive obfuscation. Their apprehension came about as the result five Jewish survivors from Kolomyja. (16)

Those arrested (17) acted very much like the norm, i.e., when they knew their precarious situation, they implicated others to lessen their own actions, and so to speak, spread the blame as a barrier to a more severe justice. There was no honour among this selection of thieves and murderers, as they crumpled under interrogation and 'spilled the beans' to save their own skin.

Ex Schupos Stanka and Straka were the first to break and detail the systematic weekly killing of Jews in Kolomyja in the Scheparowce forest, the cemetery and abattoir. Uitz stated that his police detachment shot over 15.000 Jews in Kolomyja. (18) Pernek tried to hang himself in the prison cell, but later he was so overcome with remorse, he requested pen and paper to record what had happened in Kolomyja and confirmed the forest liquidations and the use of dogs to tear at Jewish throats. (19) An interesting fact emerged that has been discussed elsewhere, was that Lt. Gross refused to participate in killing actions and there had been a row with Hertl. Gross was not included in further actions, and no disciplinary action was taken against him. (20) All admitted shooting of Jews and complicity in Belzec transports in the districts of Kuty, Kosow, Jablonow, Pistyn, Peczenizyn, Horodenka, Czernilicia, Gwozdiec, Zablotow and Zabie.

The accused Steiner when under interrogation, acted out a typical shooting:

Describing a shooting in the Scheparowce forest, he took his coat off and lay down on the floor as though expecting to be shot in the neck the next minute. When I touched his neck with a pencil, Steiner screamed, "Please, please, don't shoot me." I was embarrassed and asked him what the matter was. "Well," Steiner said, "I was thinking about all that happened in Kolomyja and Schaparowce." (21)

The accused Kleinbauer, when admitting he had used dumdum bullets in the executions of Jews which had caused pieces of brain to splatter his face, he unconsciously passed his and over his face, as though he wanted to wipe them off once more. (22)


"In the year 1942, I was in command of an 'action' in the Jewish cemetery in Kolomyja when men, women and children were liquidated. Pernek gave the order to the Jews to take all their clothes off and the old to go to the front of the pit. Pernek shouted, "Come on, lie down in the pit here, it doesn't hurt. The quicker you are, the better for you." The order was that the people always lie down on their stomachs in the pit and were then killed by a bullet in their head. I saw the results of the explosive dumdum bullets which shattered the heads of this killed beyond recognition. Again, about 40 persons, elderly men and women were taken to the cemetery. I gave the order for everybody to undress and go into the pit. They had to lie down on the edge, not inside the pit, and were then shot with a bullet in the neck." (23)

The accused Schipany:
"In the Autumn of 1941, the Jews were surrounded in the ghetto, driven to the prison. From there they were marched to the Scheparowce forest about 2 kms. away where they were liquidated by the SD. The Jews had to go naked into a sand pit, lie on their stomachs and were shot in the head by myself. (24) I carried out other liquidations in Jewish cemetery and prison and also outside Kolomyja, in Sabladov, Sniatyn, Ottynia and Hordenka." (25)

There seems little doubt that the methods and procedures in the killing fields, the clearing of the ghetto and the round-ups for deportation, were all co-ordinated on a set out plan. These plans for 'Aktionen' were carried out to precise instructions originating (for the Kolomyja region) from Sipo-SD in Lvov (Katzmann) and Stanislawow (Kruger). The Modus Operandi for the SS/SD security services was identical all over the occupied territories in the east. (26) However, there were some slight deviations by individual idiosyncratic commanders which has been discussed elsewhere.

Firearms and ammunition used in the majority of the Jewish 'liquidations' in Kolomyja and elsewhere, were Russian. The preferred weapons were the Russian machine pistol, ten shot rifles and machine-guns. Why this was so, is not clear. A German defeat at this time was inconceivable to the Nazis, so concern of any subsequent forensic examination of weapons to point at German implication was an unlikely reason. Maybe it is as simple as using obsolete ammunition to murder a disgarded people at no cost to the Reich. This view is supported by events in Horodenka after the first action as we shall see. (27)

At the end of October, 1941, the Judenrat was ordered by the SD to pay a contribution of 100.000 Reichmarks and 50 kg of gold. (28) The Judenrat, believing that payment would ease the fate of those arrested on the 12th October, collected the money and gold together and paid up. Of the 1500 Jewish prisoners, only 150 were released. The rest were taken to Scheparowce and murdered. The Judenrat had been told that the young Jews who had been taken previously, had gone to work in Germany. Seven weeks later, the Judenrat found out the truth – Scheparowce.

5. Second Extermination – Collection of Furs

At the beginning of November, 1941, the SD were searching for particular Jews (who were now believed to be in the Jewish police) who had worked for the Russians. The Judenrat were given an ultimatum, give them up within 1 hour or all Jews living in the vicinity of their residences would be executed. The Jews surrendered and were shot on the spot. Nevertheless, the SD, headed by Hauptscharführer Goedds, accompanied by the Ukrainian auxiliary police, broke into houses on Morka Street and arrested all the Jewish inhabitants. Jews trying to escape or hide were shot on the spot. 600 old and sick Jews were arrested and taken to the prison. The following day they were all taken to Scharparowce and murdered. This time there was no attempt to hide the crime.

In late December, 1941, Himmler ordered the confiscation of all furs in possession of Jews. On the 26th December, the SD arrested 16 prominent Jews. The Judenrat were informed that these Jews would be held as hostage subject to the surrender of all furs held by the Jews. Failure to hand over the furs would result in the 16 Jews being executed. Within a few days all furs were handed over. SS-Leideritz told the Judenrat that the order to collect furs in August by Volkmann had been unlawful.

6. Extermination of the Jewish Intelligentsia

On the 26th January, 1942, 200 of the Jewish intelligentsia were arrested and taken to the prison. Among them were the Jews who had been hostage over the furs collection. The Germans behaved very correctly towards these Jews, allowing them to dress properly and take food and luggage. There were no abuses on this occasion. On the 7th February, 1942, the Jews and their relatives were told that they would be taken to Germany for work. The Jews were loaded onto trucks and driven out of the prison. A few days later, local eye witnesses stated that the Jews had been taken to the Scheparowc forest and murdered. Only essential Jewish intelligentsia and artisans, who were considered absolutely indispensable were spared, and permitted to remain in Kolomea.

7. Daily Occurrences of Abuse

Maltreatment of Jews and individual cases of murder were daily occurrences. The Jews were at the absolute mercy of the Germans. The requisition of Jewish property was continuous, everything of value was stolen. Approximately 200 Jews were arrested almost on a daily basis by the Security Services. Many arrests were as the result of denunciations by local people. The system adopted appeared to be: to fill the prison, and remove the inmates in groups of 500 twice a week to the Scheparowce forest for execution, replenish the prison and so on. (29) A twice weekly collection as a dustbin service to the refuge dump.

Food was now very scarce and there were many cases of starvation, disease and outbreaks of epidemics. Acute famine was apparent at the end of 1941, which effected everyone, there were no rich Jews left to barter their property. Jews in the prison were not fed at all by the authorities and had to rely on the Judenrat.

8. Establishment of the Ghetto (3 sections: A, B and C)

At the beginning of March, 1942, the Judenrat were told by Volkmann and Leideritz that the Jews were to move into a Jewish quarter.

By March, 1942, their number of Jews had been reduced to 17.000. The rest had been killed in Scheparowce, the cemetery and the prison, or died of disease or starvation. It was the Germans intention to allow only 9.000 Jews to remain in a Ghetto marked out in the poorest part of the town. They demanded that the Judenrat hand over all old and sick Jews, and those not fit for work. Failure to reduce the Ghetto by this means would mean more drastic action by the Germans. The Judenrat, backed by Jewish public opinion, refused to consider any action of this kind.

Volkmann and Leideritz were on bad personal terms and each man tried to score off the other when it came for the establishment of the Ghetto. As they could not agree on any procedure, they ordered Hohlmann, the Stadthauptmann, to carry out the transfer. Hohlmann issued special decrees for the transfer. On the 23rd and 30th March, 1942 respectively. Every Jew was allowed to take only what he could carry. Jews found outside the Ghetto enclosure would be shot. On these dates the Jews had to assemble at special locations and enter the Ghetto by special gates under the control of the German authorities. By the 23rd March, all the Jews were in the Ghetto – one week early.

9. First Deportations

At the beginning of April, 1942, SS-Leideritz organised the first deportation action of the Jews. On the 2nd April, all Jewish labourers who were proceeding to their place of work were arrested by the SD and assembled in Kasarnik Street. They underwent a selection by a commission composed of Michael (Head of Labour Office), SS-Leideritz and other SS officers. The old and frail were selected for transport. The others were sent back to work after being beaten cruelly.

On the 3rd April, Ghetto 'A' was surrounded by troops of the SD and Ukrainian Police. Other members of the SD commanded by Leideritz, augmented by local Schutzpolizei from Tarnopol entered the Ghetto. All Jews were dragged out of their houses. The sick and those unfit for transport were killed on the spot. The remaining Jews were concentrated in the Synagogue. There was another selection, those fit for work were removed and sent home. Those that remained were kept in small rooms where many of them suffocated. That same evening they were taken to the rail station for transport.

On the 4th April, the same proceedings were repeated in Ghetto 'B' – Jews old and unfit for work were taken for transport.

On the 6th April, came the turn of Ghetto 'C'. Many hid as they knew the course of events. Jews found hiding were killed on the spot without regard to age or fitness. Parts of the Ghetto were set on fire to prevent Jews from escaping. SS and auxiliaries stood on guard near the burning houses to hinder attempts to fight the fires and killed every Jew trying to leave his house. Many Jews were burned alive.

During these proceedings more than 100 Jews were killed in the Ghettos. 5000 were taken for transport to Belzec. On the 7th April, 1942, all the Jews held over the past few days, were taken to the railway station and loaded onto cattle trucks. Up to 140 Jews were put into one wagon which caused many cases of suffocation. The train was sent to the extermination camp Belzec via Janowska. There were no survivors.

Between the 22nd to the 26th April, 1942, 4000 Jews were brought from smaller towns of the sub-district of Kolomea to the city. (30) Approximately 1000 were immediately sent to the prison for deportation to Belzec. The others remained in the Ghetto to await their turn for selection.

10. Ghetto File – April-September, 1942

After the deportations proceedings, life in the Ghetto normalised. The Ghetto was fenced-in and isolated from the outside world. Only labourers going to their places of work were allowed to leave through the special gates. They were searched thoroughly for hidden food stuffs on their return. Jews trying to smuggle food into the Ghetto were arrested and immediately executed.

The Jewish affairs were directed by a triumvirate composed of SS-Leideritz, Volkmann and Hohlmann. SS-Leideritz was in charge of all Jewish executions. The civil authorities directed by Volkmann and Hohlmann were in charge of the administration of Jewish affairs. Dr. Jordan, director of the Supplies Department (Landwirtschaftsrat) was in charge of food supplies for the local population. According to an official decree by the Generalgouvernement Jews were allowed special fixed rations. In fact, however, only a small portion of the official ration rations were handed over to the Judenrat which had to be distribute it among the community. The policy of Dr. Jordon, acting in co-operation with Volkmann and Hohlmann, and those who replaced them later, was to cause the starvation of the Jews.

It was forbidden under pain of death to buy illegally any food. Nevertheless the Judenrat succeeded in buying some additional food on the black market. It organised restaurants and people's kitchens. This effort, however, could not stem the famine. 40-50 Jews died daily from starvation. The officer of the Judenrat had to keep current lists of the Jewish population and had to register all cases of deaths. The lists were examined weekly by the German authorities which watched the progress of the hunger campaign. By accepting bribes and robbing Jewish property for their personal benefit, many German officers succeeded in accumulating large fortunes, among them especially Volkmann, Dr. Jordon, his successor, Hohlmann and his successor, Michael, Dr. Lorens., SS-Leideritz and Untersturmführer Frost. (31)

The individual arrests of Jews continued in the Ghetto. Up to 150 Jews were arrested monthly and taken to the prison. When the prison was full, the Jews were taken to the Szeparwoce forest and murdered. Every Jew was compelled to work. Jews found outside the Ghetto were shot. The SD would carry out private murder actions against particular Jews. Two particular CID officers, Wahrmann and Knackendoerfer, took great delight in killing Jews.

11. Second Deportation Action

After the April deportations, Jewish workers received from the labour office special work cards stating their place of employment. On the 14th August, 1942, all labourers were ordered to appear at 6 am for registration. Approximately 30 Jews did not comply with the orders or arriving late were executed. All the others went before the special commission composed of the SD and the Labour Office. On this occasion they were all released and sent to their homes.

On the 7th September, 1942, all Jewish labourers were ordered again to appear for registration together with their families. The Judenrat had been assured by Michael (Labour Office), that nothing would happen to the Jews on registration. 8000 Jews assembled, most of them young and fit for work. They were surrounded by the SD, Schutzpolizei, auxiliaries, special squads of the Tarnopol Schutzpolizei, Sonderdienst, Ukrainian Police and many German civilians who participated voluntarily. The labourers together with their families were divided into groups according to their place of work. Out of every group a small number of specialists were selected and put to one side, altogether approximately 1600. They were kept in special buildings.

Those Jews not selected, remained standing where they were all day. The Germans abused them, making them do exercises: to stand up, to run, to sit down, and all manner of abusive actions. Those not being quick enough or were not fit, were badly beaten, including pregnant women and children. Those trying to escape were shot dead. Every Jew was searched for valuables. The women had to undergo abusive searches. At 5 pm, under heavy guard, all the Jews were brought to the railway station. They were packed into rail wagons and deported to Belzec. (32)

It is now proposed to outline the Kolomyja Death Transport of the 10th September, 1942, as reported by a Lt. of the Schutzpolizei Reserve Company commander to the commander of the Public Order Police, Lvov, Galicia dated 14th September, 1942:

On the 9th September, Detectives Knackendoerfer and (Kripo) assisted by the SD, entered the Jewish Orphan's Home. The orphanage housed approximately 400 children whose parents had already been murdered. It was located in Ghetto 2, and when this was liquidated it was planned to remove the children into ghetto 1. In the night, before the transfer could take place, Hertl arrived with several Schupo men and shot all the children. The wife of SS-Peter Leideritz was present and assisted in this massacre. (33)

On the 19th September, 3000 Jews from the sub-district of Kolomea were brought to Kolomea railway station and deported to Belzec. When the train passed Lvov, young and strong Jews were taken out and sent to the Janowska Camp.

12. Third Deportation

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.

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

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  1. The districts: Horodenka, Jablonow, Kosow, Niezwiska, Obertyn, Peczenizyn, Pistyn, Roznow, Sniatyn and Zabie. See maps. Return
  2. Main sources: Investigation by Jewish Committees in 1945 – Yad Vashem: 04/32. Tuviah Friedmann, Director of the Institute of Documentation, Haifa, Israel. Friedmann investigated the Kolomyja Murders and personally interviewed the surviving witnesses, including the testimonies of the brothers Moshe and Joseph Schliesser in Vienna in the summer of 1947. Friedmann was the driving force that culminated in the eventual prosecution of several of those mentioned, albeit the sentences bore no relation to the crimes committed. Return
  3. Berenstein – table 6 Return
  4. The 1931 census registers 14.332. The increase to 60.000 as shown by a report dated January, 1958, by former residents of the Kolomyja district. No numbers are available for 1941, but Berenstein quotes 16.044 in April, 1942. Return
  5. This detachment of police in Kolomyja came together in a variety of circumstances. Kleinbauer was a serving police officer in the Vienna police, when on 6.10.1941, he was ordered to Kolomyja. Schipany had seen service with the Schupo in Wilicka, Censtochau, Krakow, Tarnow and Lvov, when he was transferred to Kolomyja. Pernek arrived via Kost in October, 1941. Reinforcements of 7./ police 2 4 detachment who had been engaged in Jewish resettlement in Skole, Stryj and Chodorow during the period 3 – 5 September, 1942, arrived in Kolomyja in time for the action of the 7.9.42. Return
  6. Peter Leideritz, Chief of the SD in Kolomyja has much to answer for in the extermination of the Jews in the Kolomyja District. After the war Leideritz disappeared into obscurity (like many others). One bright sunny morning he was walking along a street in Germany when he was recognised by a Jewish survivor from Kolomyja. He was extradited to Poland and hanged (Vienna papers). Return
  7. Leopold Winkler was a career prison officer. In 1940 he set up the prison in Warsaw. On the 22nd May, 1942, he was transferred to Kolomyja to organise the prison service staffed with Ukrainians and Poles. After the war he returned to the prison service in the Vienna District Court. Return
  8. The date that the district of Galicia was incorporated into the General government. Also, The movement out of Lvov of SS Hans Kruger transferred to Stanislawow to set up SD-Sipo offices in the towns, including Kolomyja. Return
  9. The Vienna documents, No. 1/45447/47 juc. KI./Si – statement of Franz Pernek. Return
  10. There was a reluctance by the Hungarian military to collaborate with the German authorities in the arbitrary shooting of Jews. Return
  11. Isaiah Trunk, (hereafter Trunk) 'Judenrat', (Macmillan London 1942) p,21 – note 29 E. Unger, Zkhor. Myimery Kronot hamavet – Tel-Aviv, 1945, pp. 51-53. The Gestapo had nominated Chaim Ringelblum, as head of the District Judenrat, but the day after this nomination Ringelblum declined the appointment. Marcus Horowitz replaced him. Ringelblum's refusal was not forgotten however. On the next 're-settlement' transport, Ringelblum and his family were probably taken to Belzec in April, 1942. Return
  12. ibid, p. 41. Food distribution and payments were the main cause, plus a clash of personalities. Return
  13. The Vienna documents. The witness Jacob Singer recalled 17 Aktionen in Kolomyja: In 1941 – 12th Oct; 6th Nov; 23rd Dec. 1942: 3-6 April; 15th Aug, 7th Sept; 10th Sept; 5th Oct; 11th Oct; 5th Nov; 14th Dec. 1943: 2nd Feb. There were many others. Return
  14. ibid Return
  15. Return
  16. The Vienna file: The brothers Joseph and Moses Schliesser, Hermann Zenner and the cousins Markus and Jsak Krauthammer. Jsak Krauthammer was particularly important as he had been a servant of the Schutzpolizei working for Police Sergeant Alois Steiner, and thus was privy to activity, but more importantly, was protected by Steiner as the best 'boot polisher' in the police detachment. Return
  17. ibid. Steiner, Schipany, Gall, Pernek and Kleinbauer Return
  18. ibid. Statement 15.9.1947 Return
  19. Return
  20. ibid. See my remarks during the Schongarth era. Return
  21. ibid. Statement of interrogator (no signature) ref. 1/45447/47. juc. KI./Si Return
  22. ibid. Observation by interrogator. Return
  23. ibid. Statement of Kleinbauer (Quartermaster of police regiment) Return
  24. ibid. Statement of Schipany. Return
  25. ibid. Statement of Schipany. His reference to the ghetto originally 1942 and then changed to 1941 – this was probably 1942, as the ghetto was set up in March 1942. Return
  26. Many meetings were held to thrash out procedures. Directives were issued, sometimes daily, to the SD commanders in the field. On the Senior Command course held at the Rabka SD School, these procedures were discussed in seminars and conferences attended by active SD commanders who were withdrawn from active duty to catch up on the latest of Nazi ideology and thinking. In my view, Hans Kruger, the protege of Schongarth, was the originator of the 'master blueprint' that operated throughout the Nazi kingdom. Return
  27. Horodenka ref see .(p.2) Return
  28. Although there is no direct evidence, this sum was also sought to offset 'action activities'. When we excavated the Belzec site at a location we believed was the 'Lazarett' (where the old and the sick were taken from the transports to be shot), we found several hundred used Russian make cartridges. Return
  29. Vienna documents – Statement of Leopold Winkler (prison governor in Kolomyja). Winkler committed suicide by hanging shortly before his extradition to the Soviet Union in 1947. Return
  30. This again shows us these well tried out procedure that was occurring all over the occupied territories – Fill the ghetto from the immediate vicinity – selection of the weakest for extermination – removal – replenish from other localities – repeat and repeat until Judenrein. Return
  31. Vienna documents – Frost Return
  32. On this occasion, and there is no reason to think that circumstances changed significantly, 180-200 Jews, men, women and children were packed into each transport wagon. This is important for a number of reasons: it was an official German report, dated 14.9.1942 by the perpetrators at the time. It throws into chaos many assessments by other historians when calculating numbers etc., as many based their findings of between 100 – 150 when coming to a final analysis of Jews exterminated in the camps. Kolomyja was not the exception but the rule. Reference will be made in due course and my assessment of the numbers murdered in Belzec. Return
  33. ibid. Reference to the wife of Leideritz – see Yad Vashem report dated 3.9.1962 (0-4/32) report of Jewish Committee dated 13.5.1945 'Extermination of the Jews in Kolomea'. Return

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