Saturday, September 28, 2013


Since the beginning of 1941, the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) and the Reich Leader SS (Himmler) had given consideration to the handling of Soviet prisoners of war, which made it clear that it was an ideological war within the terms of a military operation (Weltanschauungskrieg) towards the Soviet Union. Although using at least a portion of the prisoners for work assignments from the beginning, had been considered, but the primary goal remained the extermination of the 'Bolshevik Enemy'. Political Officers, Communist Functionaries, Intellectuals and Jews, who were to be deprived of combatant status per se and ordered their immediate execution even in the operational area. A majority of the prisoners of war should never get near the vicinity of the Reich according to their original plans. A few weeks after the attack on the Soviet Union, due to the rapid advance of German troops there were already tens of thousands of poorly trained members of the Red Army in camps on the territory of the German Reich and had even sometimes sent to individual work assignments. [We had on our estate about forty Russian prisoners working in various functions and had been the most reliable workers after their physical conditions had improved, there were never any indication from the population, that they were enemies of the Reich,HKS]. The principle of isolation, selection and systematic extermination of the Ideological Enemy threatened to fail in practice. With the instruction (Einsatzbefehle)of commands 8, 9, 17 and 21 July, and complementary policies dated the 27th August 1941 ordered by the Chief of the RSHA, Reinhard Heydrich, that all Gestapo sections to check areas under its jurisdiction in "Russian camps" (Russenlager) for "intolerable" prisoners and send them to the nearest concentration camp for instant execution.
Flossenbürg execution site next to the crematorium. US Army Signal Corps, April 30 1945

 The first execution of Soviet prisoners of war took place on September 3rd 1941 in Flossenburg. This was a contingent of 41 members of a labour unit from the Grafenwöhr Training Area, who had been selected on 25th August by a Gestapo (Einsatzgruppe) Task Force from Regensburg. After spending a brief time on the 3rd September in Flossenburg they were murdered there on the same day. [The Stapostelle Regensburg was responsible for the administrative district of Upper Palatinate/Lower Bavaria with the Stalag XIII-A Sulzbach-Rosenberg and XIII-B Weiden. The exudate's by Stapo Regensburg compare ibid, page 123-138. sic] Between August 25 and 26 September 1941 the Regensburg Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) examined a total of 2344 members of the Red Army, of whom 330 men, between the 3rd September and December 17th they were liquidated in Flossenburg for being classified as'intolerable' and found undesirable. Some of these have now been identified through personal records, including Franz Yankovsky, Kazimir Petrutik and Denis Misjutschenko,  farm workers from Belarus, the first two common soldiers, the last obviously a civilian. They arrived in July, shortly after their capture,held in Stalag IV-B Mülberg in Saxony, registered there in mid-August and then moved to Weiden. On 29 August, the Regensburg Gestapo members reviewed the work detail at the post office basement in Weiden and handed the three with another 14 Red Army soldiers to the camp at Flossenburg, where they were shot on the same day.

At left, a column of Soviet prisoners of war, under German guard, marches away from the front. Place uncertain, July 1, 1941
By year end, groups of prisoner of war from across the Military District XIII, which covered an area of ​​Würzburg to Karlsbad were periodically selected, and murdered in in Flossenburg. Their total number has to date only be roughly estimated. The sheer number of those Soviet prisoners of war nominated by the State Police-office in Regensburg until the summer of 1942 and sent to Flossenburg for execution can be established between 800 and 1000. The various  Transports with Red Army Prisoners for this period and also from the field of Stalag 359 in Falkenau by the State Police-office Karlsbad prove equally correct. Figures by the Gestapo office Nürnberg-Fürth, in their area of ​​responsibility was the only camp for Soviet officers on the territory of the German Reich, the Oflag XIII-D in Hammelburg, as well as the huge POW-Lager XIII-A located near the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nürnberg-Landwasser, which transferred at least 1000 of these men to have them murdered at Flossenburg.  Taking  a conservative estimate that during September of 1941 to the summer of 1942 almost 2,000 Soviet prisoners of war were killed on the basis of operational orders No. 8 and 9.  As of 31 July 1942, the systematic selections of Soviet prisoners of war for execution were stopped on the territory of the German Reich following a decision by the Chief of the Security Police and the SD. As envisaged in the original plan against the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Red Army soldiers were now selected directly at the front or in POW camps within the Generalgouvernment (Occupied Eastern Countries) and murdered. Thus, in 1942  the scheduled execution of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers in the camp Flossenburg was temporary at an end. Nevertheless, still a large number of Soviet prisoners of war were sent to the concentration camps. The use of directives No. 8 and 9 were still in force, and thus the activity of Stapo offices now focused on a review of prisoner who had become conspicuous in the POW camps and labour detachments (Arbeitskommandos). The transfer to a concentration camp meant, no automatically liquidation of the prisoners as from the summer of 1942. Part of the captives were formally released from a POW camp, however, and were then sent  as labourers into concentration camps. There, they received the category 'E. r. Kgf '(former Russian prisoners of war) and be reclassified as concentration camp prisoners at the lowest level of the prisoner hierarchy. [As a side issue, one of Stalin's sons was kept in Germany as a POW, he, Stalin was desperately trying to find out the fate of his son after the war, who had committed suicide on top of an electric fence. Although American Intelligence were fully aware of the circumstances, they never revealed their knowledge to Stalin, nor the fate of his son, HKS]

Dugouts, which served as living quarters for prisoners in Stalag 319—a German-built camp for Soviet prisoners of war. Chelm, Poland, between 1941 and 1944.

Parallel to the beginning of the systematic murder of Soviet prisoners of war, Himmler tried the High Command of the Wehrmacht to get a number of several thousand Soviet prisoners of war to work in the concentration camps. Since the mass executions of Soviet POW's and the transfer of the 'working Russians' took place at the same time, both events has to be interpreted in the context of parallel measures, namely: 'liquidation' and 'work'. On October 2nd, the OKW ordered the release of a total of 25,000 Red Army soldiers as labour requirements to the SS. In all concentration camps separate accommodation areas had been set up for the 'working Russians'. The Flossenburger camp commander Künstler in mid-September 1941, offered to take 5,000 prisoners of war, their accommodation should be provided in a most 'primitive form'. On October 15th Flossenburg finally received  2000 Soviet soldiers from the prisoner of war camp Mühlberg in Saxony. These men formally retained their status as prisoners of war and were kept separately in the registry of the concentration camp.
The building expansion of the camp, however, did not yet provide for the inclusion of these ' working Russians' and so the huts 11,12 and 13 were cleared and fenced as a stopgap. In the remaining ten barracks at the same time 3,300 other prisoners were housed. Many of the 'working Russians' that reached Flossenburg were so exhausted and ill that they were not able to work. Of the 2,000 consigned young men only 1597 still lived by the 15th April 1942, and of these 1150 were considered to a limited degree "operational". The work assignments targeted for these Russians was even by the standards of the SS themselves as unthinkable.  It was not until April that only 500 were employed in the quarries of DESt. In July 1942, the surviving 'working Russians' moved into an area now completed as the "prisoner of war camp "which consisted of four horse stables and the vacated barracks 11,12 and 13 filled with newly arriving prisoners. The fate of the 'working Russians' is so far unclear. Proven is that 650 of them, together with other 170 prisoners were transferred to the Mauthausen concentration camp on September 9th 1942. The vacant accommodations which was termed as a special area as a POW camp was dissolved and converted into a quarantine section.
Soviet prisoners of war receiving their meager rations. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war died in German custody, mostly from malnutrition and exposure. Rovno, Poland, 1941.

From the very beginning, German policy on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) was determined by National Socialist ideology. German political and military leaders regarded Soviet POWs not only as racially less valuable but as potential enemies, obstacles in the German conquest of "living space."(Lebensraum) The German regime claimed that it was under no obligation for the humane care of prisoners of war from the Red Army because the Soviet Union had not ratified the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War, nor had it specifically declared its commitment to the 1907 Hague Convention on the Rules of War. Technically both nations, therefore, were bound only by the general international law of war as it had developed in modern times. Yet even under that law, prisoners of war were to be protected. [German soldiers in Soviet captivity did not fare any better as far as treatment was concerned, sic]

Sack of wood flour (finely powdered wood or sawdust) used to make substitute bread. The official ration of this "bread" for Soviet prisoners of war was less than 5 ounces a day. Deblin, Poland, 1942 or 1943.[The bag states clearly 'Spelzmehl' , the statement as being finely powdered wood or sawdust is incorrect. Wheat and Spelzmehl served for the production of white bread, buns and cakes. sic]

Soviet prisoners of war were the first victims of the Nazi policy of mass starvation in the east. In August 1941, the German army set a ration of just 2,200 calories per day for working Soviet prisoners of war. [You can sustain with just 1400 calories per day, sic] Even this was not enough to sustain life for long, but in practice the POWs received much less than the official ration. Many Soviet prisoners of war received at most a ration of only 700 calories a day. [ From my own experience in Eisenhower' s Death Camp with 400 calories I had reached starvation level after 10 days, HKS]. Within a few weeks the result of this "subsistence" ration, as the German army termed it, was death by starvation. The POWs were often provided, for example, only special "Russian" bread made from sugar beet husks and straw flour. Suffering from malnutrition and nearing starvation, numerous reports from the late summer and fall of 1941 show that in many camps the desperate POWs tried to ease their hunger by eating grass and leaves.{So did I myself, collecting dandelions and boil them to remove the bitter taste,HKS]
At Flossenburg, camp conditions deteriorated during the winter 1941/42, the physical appearance of some inmates down to skeletons was obvious. This was due to the chronic malnutrition and the constant abuse of prisoners. Although the importance of prison labour in the concentration camps as requested by the ideas of Himmler and Pohl, to their minds increased steadily, but living conditions changed very little. As of December 16, 1941 to January 15th 1942, 125 inmates, including 63 Soviet prisoners of war died, the following month, the death toll increased to 168, of which 51 were 'working Russians'. Of the nearly 3,200 inmates in December 1941 to March 1942, 500 of them were consistently, or only partially operational in any month. From an effectiveness of inmate labour, in a labour economics sense, this was poor, there could be no question about that. It was not an economical enterprise. In addition, the work often stopped entirely in the winter months. As the security situation in the quarry was extremely limited due to fog and snow, the commander Künstler partially or not at all turned out the prisoners for only a few hours because of the increased risk of escapes. In November 1941 it was only 18 days of the month that any work was performed, In January 1942, only 17 days. Although the physical condition of most prisoners stabilized in April due to the onset of spring slightly, still there remained a constant number of approximately 400 inmates that were only partially fit for work. Among them were many elderly and disabled people, who had become from the perspective of the SS an 'unnecessary burden'.
  'Extermination wing Bernburg'
Since April 1941, the Medical Commission Action 'T4' dealt with the elimination of mental disabilities in the concentration camps and selected prisoners that were no longer capable of working and had them killed in the '(Euthanasia) Institutions' Bernburg, Sonnenstein or Hartheim. The SS internal file dubbed the first scheduled mass murder of concentration camp inmates with the short ambiguous  abbreviation 'Aktion 14f13'.
Action 14f13 was started in other concentration camps in April 1941, for Flossenburg a selection in 1941, can not be proven. The only files indicating in regard to the visit of the medical commission points to the spring of 1942. In a later process by the Attorney General in Frankfurt, which involved the transfer to the Tötungsanstalt Bernburg, SS-Rapport Leader Joseph Schmatz stated: "In the spring I got the order from the commandant of the camp Flossenburg to accompany a prisoner transport to Bernburg an der Saale the following day [...]. Those prisoners brought to Bernburg  were largely disabled. [...] they were not seriously ill , otherwise they would not be able to walk to the station. [...] The ones involved, were people, due to their physical condition and could only perform work inside the camp, but otherwise sound. For inclusion into a working details, which required physical strength they were not suitable. (In addition, about 230 prisoners were brought by Schmatz and six other SS men to Bernburg and there handed over to the staff of the "euthanasia centre). (Euthanasienanstalt)."A few days after our return to Flossenburg  the Effect Administrator Schneider told me, that the personal belongings of the prisoners sent to Bernburg, this concerned their clothes and other personnel items had been returned to Flossenburg, including one or two prisoner's prostheses. [Ref.:Josef Schmatz statement, Attorney General, Frankfurt, J 7/63, in Memorial Archives Berburg. [I would like to thank Frau Dr. Ute Hoffmann for pointing this out to
'The gas chamber, designed by Erwin Lambert'
Erwin Hermann Lambert was a perpetrator of the Holocaust. In profession, he was a master mason, building trades foreman, Nazi Party member and member of the Schutzstaffel with the rank of SS-Unterscharführer (corporal). He supervised construction of the gas chambers for the Action T4 euthanasia program at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg and Hadamar, and then at Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps during Operation Reinhard. He specialized in building larger gas chambers that killed more people than previous efforts in the extermination program.
Lambert's primary task was to direct construction work at the T4 killing centres, particularly the construction of gas chambers and crematoria. In testimony Lambert claimed that he merely erected room dividers and installed doors, a claim largely discredited. Since Brandenburg and Grafeneck had already been completed before Lambert joined the T4 program, he worked at Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg, and Hadamar as the program's "expert for the construction of gas chambers".
After T4's termination, Lambert was posted to Operation Reinhard in Lublin for the purpose of bricklaying assignments which constructed the gas chambers in Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps. At Lublin Lambert joined the SS. During this time, however, his work was often interrupted for further construction jobs in Germany and Austria involving the still-ongoing Action 14f13. With the help of Ukrainian volunteers and condemned Jewish prisoners, Lambert rapidly constructed solid gassing facilities at Sobibor and Treblinka.
Erwin Lambert
In addition, Lambert directed construction at several nearby forced labour camps such as Dohorucza and the Poniatowa concentration camp. Reportedly, Lambert attempted to remain an uninvolved expert devoted solely to his work and not interested in the conditions which surrounded it. According to one survivor, Jankiel Wiernik, Lambert avoided looking at dead bodies and treated his Jewish work crew in a professional manner.
“Unterscharführer Herman [sic] was humane and likeable. He understood us and was considerate of us. When he first entered Camp II and saw the piles [of bodies] that had been suffocated by the gas, he was stunned. He turned pale and a frightened look of suffering fell over his face. He quickly took me from the place so as not to see what was going on. With regard to us, the workers, he treated us very well. Frequently he would bring us food on the side from the German kitchen. In his eyes one could see his good-heartedness... but he feared his friends. All his deeds and movements expressed his gentle soul".
After Operation Reinhard, Lambert was posted to Trieste, where he continued to participate in genocide by installing cremation facilities at the concentration camp Risiera di San Sabba.
After the war, Lambert was arrested on 28 March 1962. At the First Treblinka Trial in 1965, Lambert was tried for the first time and sentenced to four years imprisonment for aiding and abetting the murder of at least 300,000 people. Having already served this time, he was allowed to live as a free man. At the Sobibor Trial in 1966, Lambert was acquitted. At the trials Lambert denied involvement in the killing operation and claimed that he merely suspected that the buildings would be used for killing. At the age of 67 on 15 October 1976 Erwin Lambert died.
SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) Irmfried Eberl  was an Austrian Nazi who helped to establish, and was the first commandant of, the Treblinka extermination camp, where he worked from July 11, 1942 until his dismissal on August 26, 1942. As a psychiatrist, Eberl was the only physician to command an extermination camp. In January 1948, he was arrested. Before his trial could begin, he hanged himself. He was 38 years old.
When the T-4 Euthanasia Program commenced, Eberl was a willing participant. On February 1, 1940, at just 29 years old, Eberl became the medical director of the killing facility at Brandenburg. In the fall of 1941 he assumed the same position at Bernburg Euthanasia Centre. Despite not being formally ordered to take part, psychiatrists such as Eberl were at the center of every stage of justifying, planning and carrying out the mass murder of those with mental disorders, and constituted the connection to the later annihilation of Jews and other "undesirables" in the Holocaust.
When public outcry against Action T-4 forced its abandonment in Germany, Eberl found himself out of work. This did not last long, as the Nazi leadership made the decision to use the Action T-4 personnel to murder much larger numbers of people in Poland, using variations of the methods used in the T-4 killings. Eberl was first transferred to Chełmno extermination camp for a brief stint. On July 11, 1942, Eberl was transferred to command of Treblinka as part of Operation Reinhard. But Eberl's poor management of the camp soon proved to be disastrous.According to SS-Unterscharführer Hans Hingst: Dr. Eberl's ambition was to reach the highest possible numbers and exceed all the other camps. So many transports arrived that the disembarkation and gassing of the people could no longer be handled.

 'Irmfried Eberl, one of the doctors who administered euthanasia
In 1970, Franz  Stangl, then in prison for his own crimes, described Treblinka when he first came to the death camp while it was still under Eberl's command:
“I drove there, with an SS driver....We could smell it kilometers away. The road ran alongside the railway tracks. As we got nearer Treblinka but still perhaps fifteen, twenty minutes' drive away, we began to see corpses next to the rails, first just two or three, then more and as we drove into what was Treblinka station, there were hundreds of them – just lying there – they'd obviously been there for days, in the heat. In the station was a train full of Jews, some dead, some still alive – it looked as if it had been there for days.
When I entered the camp and got out of the car on the square I stepped knee-deep into money; I didn't know which way to turn, where to go. I waded in notes, currency, precious stones, jewelry, clothes... The smell was indescribable; the hundreds, no, the thousands of bodies everywhere, decomposing, putrefying. Across the square in the woods, just a few hundred yards away on the other side of the barbed-wire fence and all around the perimeter of the camp, there were tents and open fires with groups of Ukrainian guards and girls – whores from Warsaw I found out later – weaving, drunk, dancing, singing, playing music – Dr Eberl, the Kommandant showed me around the camp, there was shooting everywhere ... ”Eberl was sent back to Bernburg Euthanasia Centre for a short spell afterwards.
In 1944 he joined the Wehrmacht for the duration of the war. After the war, Eberl found himself a widower following his second wife's death, and continued to practise medicine in Blaubeuren until he was arrested in January 1948, and hanged himself the following month to avoid a trial.

                                                                                                                                                                    continued under Part 4/6


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