nuremberg military tribunal




Instigation to Pogroms

Certain Einsatzkommandos committed a crime which, from a moral point of view, was perhaps even worse than their own directly committed murders, that is, their inciting of the population to abuse, maltreat and slay their fellow citizens. To invade a foreign country, seize innocent inhabitants and shoot them is a crime, the mere statement of which is its own condemnation. But to stir up passion, hate, violence and destruction among the people themselves, aims at breaking the moral backbone, even of those the invader intends to spare. It sows seeds of crime which the invader intends to bear continuous fruit, even after he is driven out.

On the question of criminal knowledge it is significant that some of those responsible for these shameless crimes endeavored to keep them secret. SS-Brigadier General Stahlecker, head of Einsatzgruppe A, reporting on activities of Einsatzgruppe A, stated in October 1941 that it was the duty of his security Police to set in motion the passion of the population against the Jews. "It was not less important", the report continued,

"In view of the future to establish the unshakable and provable fact that the liberated population themselves took the most severe measures against the

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Bolshevist and Jewish enemy quite on their own, so that the directions by German authorities could not be found out."


In Riga, this same Stahlecker reported:

"Similarly, native anti-Semitic forces were induced to start pogroms against Jews during the first hours after capture, though this inducement proved to be very difficult. Following out orders, the Security Police was determined to solve the Jewish question with all possible means and most decisively. But it was desirable that the Security Police should not put in an immediate appearance, at least in the beginning, since the extraordinarily harsh measures were apt to stir even German circles. It had to be shown to the world that the native population itself took the first action by way of natural reaction against the suppression by Jews during several decades and against the terror exercised by the Communists during the preceding period."


Stahlecker was surprised and disappointed that in Lithuania it was not so easy to start pogroms against the Jews. However, after certain prodding and assistance, results were attained. He reports:

"Klimatis, the leader of the partisan unit, mentioned above, who was used for this purpose primarily, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of advice given to him by a small advanced detachment acting in Kowno, and in such a way that no German order or German instigation was noticed from the outside. During the first pogrom in the night from 25 to 26 June the Lithuanian partisans did away with more than 1,500 Jews, set fire to several synagogues or destroyed then by other means and burned down a Jewish dwelling district consisting of about 60 houses. During the following nights about 2,300 Jews were made harmless in a similar way. In other parts of Lithuania similar actions followed the example of Kowno, though smaller and extending to the Communists who had been left behind. "


In working up special squads to initiate and carry through pogroms in Lithuania and Latvia, Stahlecker made it a point to select men who for personal reasons had a grudge against the Russians. Somehow these guards were then made to believe that by

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killing Jews they were avenging themselves on the Russians for their own griefs. (L-180)

Activity and Situation Report No. 6, prepared in October 1941, complained that Einsatz units operating in Esthonia could not provoke "spontaneous, anti-Jewish demonstrations with ensuing pogroms" because "adequate enlightenment was lacking." However, as stated before, not everything was lost because under the direction of the Einsatzgruppe of the Security Police and Security Service, all male Jews over the age of 16, with the exception of doctors and Jewish Elders, were arrested and killed. The report then states" "At the conclusion of the operation there will be only 500 Jewesses and children left in the Ostland." (NO-2656)

Herman Friedrich Graebe, manager and engineer in charge of a German building firm in Sdolbunow, Ukraine, has described in graphic language just how a pogrom operates. When he heard that a pogrom was being incubated he called on the commanding officer of the town, SS-Sturbannfuehrer Putz, to ascertain if the story had any basis in fact since he, Graebe, employed some Jewish workers who he wished to protect. Sturbannfuehrer Putz denied the rumors. Later, however, Graebe learned from the Area Commissioner's deputy, Stabsleiter Beck, that a pogrom was actually in the making but he extracted from Graebe the promise not to disclose the secret. He even gave Graebe a certificate to protect his workers from the pogrom. This amazing document reads:

"Messrs. JUNG

The Jewish workers employed by your firm are not affected by the pogrom (Aktion).You must transfer them to their new place of work by Wednesday, 15 July 1942, at the latest.

From the Area Commissioner Beck"


That evening the pogrom broke. At ten o'clock SS-men and Ukrainian militia surged into the Ghetto, forcing doors with beams and crossbars. Let Graebe tell the story in his own words:
"The people living there were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or in

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bed. Since the Jews in most cases refused to leave their houses and resisted, the SS and militia applied force. They finally succeeded, with strokes of the whip, kicks and blows, with rifle butts in clearing the houses. The people were driven out of their houses in such haste that small children in bed had been left behind in several instances. In the street women cried out for their children and children for their parents. That did not prevent the SS from driving the people along the road, at running pace, and hitting them, until they reached a waiting freight train.

Car after car was filled, and the screaming of women and children, and the cracking of whips and rifle shots resounded unceasingly. Since several families or groups had barricaded themselves in especially strong buildings, and the doors could not be forced with crowbars or beams, these houses were now blown open with handgrenades. Since the Ghetto was near the railroad tracks in Rowno, the younger people tried to get across the tracks and over a small river to get away from the Ghetto area. As this stretch of country was beyond the range of the electric lights, it was illuminated by signal rockets.

All through the night these beaten, hounded and wounded people moved along the lighted streets. Women carried their dead children in their arms, children pulled and dragged their dead parents by their arms and legs down the road toward the train. Again and again the cries 'Open the door! Open the door!' echoed through the Ghetto."


Despite the immunity guaranteed his Jewish workers by Commissioner Beck, seven of them were seized and taken to the collecting point. Graebe's narrative continues:

"I went to the collecting point to save these seven men. I saw dozens of corpses of all ages and both sexes in the streets I had to walk along. The doors of the houses stood open, windows were smashed. Pieces of clothing, shoes, stockings, jackets, caps, hats, coats, etc. were lying in the street. At the corner of the house lay a baby, less than a year old with his skull crushed. Blood and brains were spattered over the house wall and covered the area immediately around the child. The child was dressed only in a little shirt.

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The commander, SS Major Puetz, was walking up and down a row of about 80 - 100 male Jews who were crouching on the ground. He had a heavy dog whip in his hand. I walked up to him, showed him the written permit of Stabsleiter Beck and demanded the seven men whom I recognized among those who were crouching on the ground. Dr. Puetz was very furious about Beck's concession and nothing could persuade him to release the seven men. He made a motion with his hand encircling the square and said that anyone who was once here would not get away. Although he was very angry with Beck, he ordered me to take the people from 5 Bahnofstrasse out of Rowno by 8 o'clock at the latest.

When I left Dr. Puetz, I noticed a Ukrainian farm cart, with two horses. Dead people with stiff limbs were lying on the cart, legs and arms projected over the side boards. The cart was making for the freight train. I took the remaining 74 Jews who had been locked in the house to Sdolbunow."


5,000 Jews were massacred in this pogrom.

Special Kommando 7 which, as heretofore indicated, had shot the 27 Jews on the streets of Witebsk, announced in its report:

"As a result of the pogroms carried out by the Lithuanians, who were nevertheless substantially assisted by Sipo and SD, 3,800 Jews in Kauen and 1,200 in the smaller town were eliminated."


In some areas special groups were set up:

"In addition to this auxiliary police force, 2 more independent groups have been set up for the purpose of carrying out pogroms. All synagogues have been destroyed; 400 Jews have already been liquidated."


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Musmanno, Michael A., U.S.N.R, Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. pp. 31 - 35 (original mimeographed copy)

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Ken Lewis
March 13, 1998
Rev. 1.1