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German Reports

Gebietskommissar Gerhard Erren, an official of the Ministry of the East run by Alfred Rosenberg wrote about the town of Slonim in a report dated January 25, 1942:

"Upon my arrival there were about 25,000 Jews in the Slonim area, 16,000 in the actual town itself, making up over two-thirds of the total population of the town. It was not possible to set up a ghetto as neither barbed wire nor guard manpower was available. I thus immediately began preparations for a large-scale action. First of all property was expropriated and all the German official buildings, including the Wehrmacht quarters, were equipped with the furniture and equipment that had been made available...Any article which could not be used for the Germans were handed over to the town for sale to the local population. Proceeds from their sale were sent to the finance department. The Jews were then registered accurately according to number, age and profession and all craftsmen and workers with qualifications were singled out and given passes and separate accommodation to distinguish them from the other Jews. The action carried out by the SD on 13 November rid me of unnecessary mouths to feed. The some 7,000 Jews now present in the town of Sonim have all been allocated jobs. They are working willingly because of the constant fear of death. Early next year they will be rigorously checked and sorted for a further reduction.

"The plains were extensively cleansed for a time by the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately, however, this only took place in villages with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. In the Rayon towns all Jews will be eradicated with the exception of all but the most essential craftsmen and skilled workers, after auxiliary work for the east-west movement has been carried out.

"Since the Wehrmacht is not longer prepared to carry out actions on the plains I shall concentrate all the Jews of the area into two or three Rayon towns. They will work in closed columns only, in order to stamp out once and for all illicit trading and support for the partisans among them. The best of the skilled workers among the Jews will be made to pass their skills on to intelligent apprentices in my craft colleagues, so that Jews will finally be made dispensable in the skilled craft and trade sector, and can be eliminated".[1]

The chauffeur to Erren described one of the "reduction" actions as follows:

"I was holding a whip or a pistol. I was loading or unloading. The men, children and mothers were pushed into the pits. Children were first beaten to death, and then thrown feet [first] into the pits. There were a number of filthy sadists in the extermination Kommando. For example, pregnant women were shot in the belly for fun and then thrown into the pits...Before the execution the Jews had to undergo a body search, during which..anuses and sex organs were searched for valuables and jewels".[2]

The Generalkommissar for Belarus, Wilhelm Kube, in a report dated July 31, 1942 wrote:

"It has become apparent during the course of all clashes with partisans in White Russia, in both the former Polish and former Soviet parts of the Generalbezirk, that the Jews, together with the Polish resistance movement and the Moscow Red Army in the east, are the principal supporters of the partisan movement. Consequently, the question of how the Jews in White Russia should be handled is a political matter taking priority over all considerations about the risks to the economy as a whole. Accordingly, it has to be solved not from an economic but from a political point of view. During the course of extensive discussions with SS-Brigadeführer Zenner and the very competent Leiter of the SD, SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. jur. Strauch, it was established that we have liquidated about 55, 000 Jews in the last ten weeks. In the Minsk area [Gebiet Minsk-land] the Jews have been completely eradicated, without any negative effect on the workforce. In the mainly Polish area of Lida 16,000 Jews have been liquidated, in Slonim 8,000 Jews. Our preparations for the liquidation of the Jews in the Głębokie area were disrupted when the rear army area preempted us, liquidating 10,000 Jews whom we had been due to eradicate systematically, without any prior liaison with us. (A report on this incursion has already been submitted). On 28 and 29 July about 10,000 Jews were liquidated in the city of Minsk, 6,500 of them Russian Jews-for the most part old people, women and children-and the rest Jews unfit for work, who had mostly been sent from Vienna, Brünn, Bremen and Berlin in November of last year to Minsk on the Führer's orders".[3]

[1]  Hilberg, Raul (1985). The Destruction of the European Jews. New York: Holmes & Meier. ISBN 978-0-8419-0832-1., p. 368.
[2]  Klee, Ernst; Dressen, Willi; Riess, Volker (1991). "The Good Old Days" – The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders. Trans. Burnstone, Deborah. New York: MacMillan. ISBN 0-02-917425-2, page 163.
[3]  Ibid. p. 167.