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[Page 576]

Frantz Karl Hess - Volozhyn hangman

Number one murderer, who was the head of the extermination of the
Volozhyn ghetto on May 1942. Summary of the stenographic protocol, which was published as a book by the title “ The trial of the natzy invaders who committed acts of horror in Belarus”

Translated by Dr. Yosef Porat

The trial started on January 15th 1946 and was finished on the 29th. In these days the martial court of the Minsk County was weighing the accusations against eighteen nazi officials who served in the German police and army; Among them – four S.S. and S.D. commanders, two chiefs of battalions, a Major, two Captains, two Uberleutenats and the rest of inferior ranks. Frantz Karl Hess, second lieutenant of the thirty second “ Zondercommando” stationed near the police and S.S. in Minsk was one of the eighteen convicts.

The following judges held the trial:

Chairman of court: General Kadrov.
Judge: Chief of Battalion Sacharov.
Judge: Chief of Battalion Vinogradov.
The prosecutors: Lieutenant Colonel Yatzanin and the Battalion Head Palachin.
Lawyers nominated by the state represented all convicts, except Frantz Karl Hess who renounced the lawyer and preferred to represent himself. After some formalities, the hearings began.

The hearings on the 19th of January 1946 were dedicated to the investigation concerning the prosecution that was held against Frantz Karl Hess.

Given here is a briefing of the hearings and the verdict.

(addressing accused Hess):
Are you confirming your testimony given in the early investigation?
Hess: Yes I confirm it.
The chairman
to the prosecutor
Comrade prosecutor, do you have questions to the accused?
Prosecutor: Yes. Addressing Hess asks: Tell me Hess; on what year did you enter the ranks of the fascist party?
Hess: In 1939.
Prosecutor: What was your military rank and in any what regiment were you serving your duty?
Hess: I was a simple private in the S.S. army.
Prosecutor: What is your family origin?
Hess: I come from a working family. My father worked in a factory.
Prosecutor: What office did your father hold in the factory?
Hess: He worked as a simple worker.
Prosecutor: Your father was a Nazi?
Hess: No. He was apolitical and died in 1916.
Prosecutor: How come that you, as a son of a working family, finds yourself in the ranks of the Nazi party?
Hess: Because I am German.
Prosecutor: Just because you are German?
Hess Yes.
Prosecutor: What did you do in the army?
Hess: I worked in a factory producing weights.
Prosecutor: When did you come to the Zondercommando in Minsk?
Hess I came in the beginning of December 1941.
Prosecutor: What duties were put upon you?
Hess: I had to guard the offices and establishments of the army and the SS.
Prosecutor: This is not true! You were trained in courses for commanders of the border police, in managers courses and in handling trained dogs – all these were done for house guarding only? Tell the court all of the truth!
Hess: All right, I shall tell! Our work as house guards was only for deception.
Our main mission was the extinction of Jews. The orders were given from above and we were forced to commit them.
Prosecutor: To where did you go on the first half of May 1942 with a shooting squad?
Hess: We drove to Volozhyn.
Prosecutor To which county does Volozhyn belong?
Hess: To Molodechna County I think. I am not sure.
Prosecutor: What did you do in Volozhyn?
Hess: We exterminated the Jews there.
Prosecutor: How many Jews did you kill there?
Hess: Approximately two thousands.
Prosecutor: Who was in charge of this 'actsia'?
Hess: Untersturmführer Grabe.
Prosecutor: How did you gather the Jewish community in order to commit the horror acts?
Hess: We took the people from their houses, they were locked in the cowshed, and there we shot them to death.
Prosecutor: What have you done with the property and valuable objects of the dead?
Hess: We sent the valuables to Villieka.
Prosecutor: From whom were the two thousand dead, in the town of Volozhyn of Molodechna County, composed?
Hess: From men, women and children.
Prosecutor: Why did you kill the people? Just because they were Jews?
Hess: Yes. Just because they were Jews.
Prosecutor: Were within the two thousand dead also other nationalities members?
Hess: No. Jews only.
Prosecutor: In what way did you execute them?
Hess: We divided the Jews to groups of eighty – hundred people. Every group was entered into the cow shed, and there they killed them one by one- till the last one of them.
Prosecutor: Within the two thousand were also people from Volozhyn vicinity, or from Volozhyn only?
Hess:  I do not know.
Prosecutor: You took out all of the Jews from the ghetto?
Hess: Yes, we took out all of them.
Prosecutor: Who were the shooters?
Hess: All were ordered to shoot, including me.
Prosecutor: How many Jews did you kill with your own hands in Volozhyn?
Hess: I personally killed about one hundred and twenty Jews. (Noise in the courtroom).
Prosecutor: In what part of the body did the bullet hit? Did you shoot the back of the neck?
Hess: Yes, we shot the head. The Jews were kneeling on their knees and we shot the head, which means – the back of the neck.
Prosecutor: Did the children also were kneeling on their knees and shot in the back of their necks?
Hess: Yes, all of them – children, men, women, old and young.
Prosecutor: From what weapon did you shoot?
Hess: From a pistol.
Prosecutor: What kind of gun was it?
Hess: It was a 0.8-mm army gun.
Prosecutor: What have you done with the bodies? Buried them?
Hess: No. We soaked most of the bodies with gasoline and burned them.

The last words of Hess were that he regrets his actions in Belarus, but that he is innocent because he was forced to do it by his superiors.

He declared before the judges and the people whose sons have judged him, that fascism was the greatest curse that the world has ever known.

These ended the hearings on the 29th of January. In the late hours of the night, the court published its verdict.

The verdict

The court martial concluded, that Frantz Karl Hess, as an inferior rank officer of the eighth Zondercommando' by the security police of the SS and SD, took an active part.

In the December 1941 'action'. In this 'action' a hundred patients that were hospitalized in the Minsks' mental hospital were shot, as well as two hundred and fifty civilians that were temporarily arrested in Minsks' prison.

Many times Hess took part in the killings of soviet citizens from Jewish origin, among them old, women and children.
In December 1941, he took part in the killings of two thousand people in Minsk.

In 1942 he took part in the killing of the peaceful Jewish community in the city of Vileycky. In the small town of Ivia, Molodechna County, Hess killed sixty people with his own hands. In the cities Dolginova and Vishnieva, Hess participated in murdering three thousand five hundred soviet citizens of Jewish origin.

In the town of Volozhyn, he took part in the execution of two thousand Jews, of which he himself killed one hundred and twenty. In the town of Trastenitz-Zutta he was a part of a company that executed in shooting and strangling eighteen thousand Soviet citizens of Jewish origin.

As a whole Hess participated in killing and strangling of thirty thousand people, most of them Jewish. He himself killed several hundreds of them.

According to a section of the order submitted by the superior court of the SSSR, on the day of 19.4.43, the German Frantz Karl Hess born in 1909 in the village of Kastill of Louatmaritz County in the Soudet region, was charged to death by hanging.

On the 30.1.1946, on 1430 in the afternoon by Moscow time, the verdict was executed. Hess was hanged on the hippodrome of Minsk.

Over one hundred thousand people attended the hanging of the convicts.

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