One further incident I remember was a large-scale execution by firing-squad which took place at a well on the way to Kachowa. There was a hole in the steppe measuring about six to seven metres on the upper edge. Near by there were piles of grain in rows.
The grain may have been haystacks or rings of sheaves drying out or something else. We Schutzpolizisten were driven to this well in troop carriers. There was not a village in sight for miles. There was not even a barn in the vicinity. The victims - several hundred, or even a thousand, men and women - were transported in trucks. I cannot recall whether there were any children. These people were made to lie or kneel about a hundred metres from the well in a depression which had been hollowed out by the rain and remove their outer garments there. They were lined up ten at a time at the side of the well and were then shot by a ten-man execution squad, which included myself. When they were shot the people fell forwards into the well. Sometimes they were so frightened that they jumped in alive. The firing-squad was switched a great many times. Because of the psychological pressures to which I too was exposed during the shooting I can no longer say today, try as I might, how many times I stood by that hole and how many times I was relieved from that duty.
Obviously these shootings did not proceed in the clam manner in which one can discuss them today. The women screamed and wept and so did the men. Sometimes people tried to escape. The people whose job it was to get them to stand by the well yelled equally loudly. If the victims didn't do as they were told there were also beatings. I particularly remember a red-haired SD man who had a length of cable on him with which he used to beat people when the action was not going as it should. Many, however, came without resistance to the execution area. It is not as though they had any alternative...
The firing-squad at the well consisted of Schutzpolizisten, Waffen-SS personnel and members of the SD. We Schutzpolizisten used our own carbines, the SD men used sub-machine-guns and pistols. At any rate everyone used his own weapon. All the ammunition we needed was kept ready in boxes. The execution area was a terrible sight. The ground round the well was covered in blood; their was also bits of brain on the ground which the victims had to step in when they were brought over. But it wasn't at that point that they realized what lay ahead for them. They could already hear the shooting and screaming from the place where they were kept waiting...
It took barely an afternoon before the last victim was in the well. Something I still remember clearly about this execution is that afterwards the SD people got drunk, so they must have received a special ration of schnapps. We Schutzpolizisten did not receive anything and I remember that we were very angry about that.
December 3, 1997