Hamburg Deportation Transport to Minsk
© Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-jüdische Gesellschaft Hamburg.
Chapter 1. Evacuation Order to Minsk
Chapter 2. Deportation Assembly Point Moorweidenstraße
Chapter 3. Deportation Procedure in Hamburg
Chapter 4. Deportation from Hamburg to Minsk
Chapter 5. “Settlement” in the Minsk Ghetto
Chapter 6. The Evolution of the Minsk Ghetto (1941-1943)
Chapter 7. The Evolution of the rest of the city of Minsk
Chapter 8. Deportation to another concentration camp in
Chapter 9. Extermination actions near Trostinez
Chapter 10. Further deportations westwards
1. "Evacuation Order" to Minsk
The deportation transport to Lodz (Litzmannstadt) had
hardly departed Hamburg on 25.10.1941 before further transports were
Now all Jews under the age of 65 years of age (women under 60) came into
consideration. In the circular from the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) to
the Gestapo offices the number of individuals and the schedule were again
In letters dated 7.11.1941 and 15.11.1941 to the
Hamburg Regional Finance Office Claus Göttsche, head of the "Department for Jews"
(Judenreferat), for the Gestapo, Gestapo headquarters
Hamburg, sent two lists of names, a list of 1,000 Jews who were to be "evacuated" (evakuiert")
to Minsk on 8.11.1941 and a list of 420 Jews who
were to be "evacuated" to Minsk on 18.11.19.
The individuals concerned received an "evacuation
order" ("Evakuierungsbefehl") from the Gestapo, by registered mail,
informing them to report to the Masonic Lodge building at Moorweidenstraße
36 one day before "evacuation". They would be subject to special regulations
for the duration of transport. Their assets are confiscated. Each individual
could bring: a suitcase with accoutrements up to 50 kg, clothing, bedding
with blanket, food for 3 days and up to 100 RM currency, which is to be
surrendered at registration.
In addition they had to fill out the accompanying inventory of assets. This "declaration of assets"
("Vermögenserklärung") consisted of 8 pages and had
to be filled out separately for each person. Especially ample space was
allotted for particulars of bank accounts, cash and securities, insurances,
properties, other receivables, business shares, and total assets.
"Declaration of Assets" Form. Click to enlarge
The Rosenberg family living at Hansastraße 40 were
among those Jews who received an “evacuation order”.
Those affected were Fritz Alexander Rosenberg, his wife Else,
their daughter Irmgard and son Heinz Ludwig.
Heinz Rosenberg the only member of his family to survive and one of
the few Germans Jews worldwide to have survived Minsk relates the following
regarding the day they received the evacuation order:
"My parents immediately telephoned my sister and me at
our places of work. We immediately returned home, (...) We were all alarmed.
My mother wept, my aunt Meta arrived and wept, but could do nothing
to help. Our neighbours visited us, but the majority of people were
They gave the neighbours some mementoes. Then they went to the Jewish shop
to buy as much food from the ration card as possible.
Later Heinz's girlfriend Erika Hirschhorn, a young Jewess from
Romania, arrived. She related that her foster-parents had also been allotted
to this transport. She said that if all had to go then she wished to
"At noon we sat down to eat together for the last time but nobody was
hungry. Finally it was time to pack our suitcases and backpacks. Miss
Fehrs, the neighbour who lived above us gave us warm things, sturdy
shoes and as much food as she could muster. She told us that she thought our
transport was also destined for the east where warm clothes were essential.
We packed accordingly as best we could.
Finally we wrote some letters that aunt Meta was to post for us. None of us
could sleep during the night.
Mother was in despair about having to leave behind all her furniture,
pictures, porcelain and many beautiful belongings of sentimental value."
2. Deportation Assembly Point Moorweidenstraße
Heinz Rosenberg describes the procedure the Jews
destined for the Minsk transport on 8.11.1941 went through inside the Masonic
The morning after receiving the “evacuation order” father Rosenberg took the
apartment key to the police station and the family left the building around
Masonic Lodge, Moorweidenstraße 36
On arriving at the Masonic Lodge in Moorweidenstraße
their suitcase was inspected by members of the Jewish Religious Federation
Hamburg (Jüdischen Religionsverband Hamburg) and the Gestapo and then placed
in a storeroom. They then had to form two lines to the left or right
according to the first letter of the surname. Four tables stood to the left
and right of the room with a member of the community and Gestapo or SS man
At the first table, name, date of birth and address were registered.
Thereupon the relevant card was removed from the card index and the Gestapo
or SS man crossed through the name on a list.
At the second table the identification card was surrendered and a document
signed that relinquished all claim to property left behind. The document was
placed inside the identification card.
At the third table pockets were emptied and wallets and money thrown into a
large waste-paper basket. All letters were torn up.
At the fourth table gold, silver and jewellery was collected, belongings
Jews should have surrendered in 1939.
“Finally we entered the large room where we joind
hundreds of people sharing the same fate. We met many friends. At last Erika
came. She had had to wait outside until the Gestapo had made sure that the
numbers tallied: 20 Jews had committed suicide, 20 other Jews were thereby
permitted to go along voluntarily. Now we were all together.”
The community had furnished the empty rooms with beds
and straw. Hot bean soup, tea and bread were distributed. The chairman of
the community, Dr. Max Plaut told us the transport was intended to
reconstruct the cities in the east, the suitcases would accompany them in
special wagons and in addition there were three wagons with food, bedding,
medicines and work tools. In two weeks a further transport with elderly
people, women and children would follow.
“(...) There was hope and despair, laughter and
weeping, prayer and swearing. That we were all together, my family, Erika
and I, gave us strength and hope.”
Not all Jews on the two transports had to stay
overnight in the Lodge building.
The eye-witness Mrs. I. W. reported in April 1982 that women and children
could surrender their suitcases in the gymnasium, in Grabenstraße, of the
former Jewish Girls’ School at Carolinenstraße 35. Later furniture lorries
brought them to the Hanover Station, the deportation station.
These were the women and children of the men allotted to the
8.11.1941 transport. Among them were women well advanced in pregnancy.
This procedure only makes sense when the women and children were
accommodated nearby overnight thereby dispensing with the necessity of
transporting them to the nearby Sternschanze. It can be assumed they stayed
overnight in the school even when lessons took place there the next day.
Dr. Paul Blumenthal was among those who had to
report to the Lodge building on the day before the deportation date of
Born on 13.2.1880 in Hanover, former 1933 district court judge, his last
address was Eppendorfer Landstraße 30.
When junior barrister in Winsen an der Luhe he entered into correspondence
with the so-called Volksheim (Reform Home) in Hamburg-Hammerbrook. Spontaneously he
visited its founder, offered his services and soon became indispensable. He
rented a room and at weekends was always” there. As
referee his authority was accepted “absolutely” and as hiking leader he was
“unsurpassable”. His transfer to Bottrop did not affect his commitment.
After an appointment to the Prussian Ministry of Justice in Berlin - where
he was able to implement his practical experience in the drafting of laws –
he had to relinquish his commitment.
In 1924 he was transferred to Altona as a district court judge responsible
for the Court of Chancery and juvenile court. Within a short time, thanks to
his amazing memory for names and individual cases, he got to know his young
people well, as well as the homes and youth prisons, to which as judge he
sentenced children and young people. If you accompanied him through his area
of jurisdiction which he happily undertook on foot, particularly in the
poor quarters, you experienced what authority he emanated “quite naturall
and how the young people were attached to him even though initially he had
to be uncompromising with many of them.
He also constantly endeavoured to win both voluntary and paid workers for
the welfare of his young people. They were to dedicate themselves in "true
love" to the youths entrusted to them.
In 1933 he was relieved of his office by the Nazis and was forced into
premature retirement. He was not embittered. On the contrary he encouraged
his friends engaged in social work and continued to contribute his
He did not accept offers to emigrate because he we was unable to take his
sister and brother-in-law, with whom he lived, with him. One of his friends
spent his last night of liberty with him.
When his friend went to work in the morning Blumenthal asked him to say goodbye
to his colleagues for him.
Waldemar Haensel, one of Dr. Blumenthal’s junior
barristers, at this time Oberregierungsrat, succeeded in visiting the Minsk
Ghetto at the end of 1941. By coincidence he saw a water glass with the
label “Paul Blumenthal” in one of the barracks. He was able to taken
inmate to the side and learned that soon after his arrival Dr. Blumenthal
had died of pneumonia which he had caught on the transport. He also learned
that he had given humane support to his fellow prisoners so that all deeply
On 8.11.1941 around 18 Jews were deported - forcibly
or “voluntarily” - from Heinrich-Barth-Straße.
The following are listed:
| Name || Date of Birth || Occupation
| Georg Baruch || 21.2.1881 ||
| Marion Baruch || 19.3.1919 || Draughtsman
| David Jacobs || 5.7.1901 || Labourer
| Dina Jakobs née Baer || 5.7.1890 ||
| Herbert Kahn || 25.3.1922 ||
| Ingrid Kahn || 28.7.1924 ||
| Hermann Peritz || 16 9.1882 || Clerk
| Zerline Peritz || 16.8.1889 ||
| Gustav Spiegel || 9.11.1896 || Cattle-dealer
| Marga Spiegel || 24.10.1931 ||
| Rita Spiegel || 26.9.1929 ||
| Rosalie Spiegel née Wolf || 20.2.1899 ||
Among the Jews who reported to the Lodge building the day before the second
transport to Minsk on 18.11.1941 were Martha Behrend and her sisters
Elsa and Helena.
Born on 3.12.1881 in Hamburg, daughter of an architect, Martha Berend attended the
private Höhere Töchterschule (Senior Girls’ School) of Robert Meissner at
Johnsallee 54 from 1889 to 1898 and then the Altonaer Mädchen-Gewerbeschule
(Altona Girls’ Trade School) until 1902.
In March 1902 she took her examination in handicraft in Kiel and in October
1908 her examination in gymnastics. This permitted her to teach these
subjects in elementary, intermediate and senior schools (Volksschulen,
mittleren und höheren Schulen) for girls.
From April 1902 she taught at the Emilie-Wüstenfeld-Lyceum and in 1908
became the subject teacher for gymnastics.
She was a member of the so-called Children Society (Kindergesellschaft), a
circle that arranged evening meetings. Gretchen Wohlwill, art teacher at the
school, was also a member. She emigrated in 1940.
Martha last lived at Hochallee 23, together with her sisters Elsa und
Elsa, born on 13.2.1879 in Hamburg was from 1906 teacher at the Israelite
Girls’ School (Israelitischen Töchterschule) at Carolinenstraße 35.
Jews living in houses in the neighbourhood of the
Emilie-Wüstenfeld-Gymnasium school were deported to Minsk on 18.11.1941:
The following people were deported from Kielortallee 22/24:
| Name || Date of Birth || Occupation
| Dina Adloff née Weinberg || 11.6.1878 ||
|Adelheid Behr née Stock || 7.1.1867 ||
|Jenny Drucker || 28.8.1889 ||
|Minna Drucker ||18.10.1895 ||
|Else Jacobsohn née Rosenbluhm || 27.9.1882 ||
|Günter Kayser || 12.7.1938 ||
|Paulka Kayser || 17.1.1901 ||
The following people were deported from Bogenstraße 25/27:
| Name || Date of Birth || Occupation
| Anna Franziska Cohn || 31.12.1879 || Domestic
| Helene Israel || 9.4.1886 ||
| Sophie Joseph née Bodenheimer || 17.11.1868
| Elisabeth Joseph || 5.6.1900 ||
| William PhiIip || 4.8.1874 ||
| Susi Weiss née Philipp || 24. 9.1903 || Worker
The following people were deported from Bundesstraße 43:
| Name || Date of Birth || Occupation
| Max Angres || 26.12.1876 || Navvy
| Rosa Angres née Schickler || 8.8.1874 ||
| Alfred Bielefeld || 31.1.1874 || Electrician
| Helene BielefeId née Cohn || 29.6.1878 ||
| Siegesmund Schickler || 6.11.1875 || Book
The following people were deported from Bundesstraße 35:
| Name || Date of Birth || Occupation
| Bertha Bachrach née Goldberq || 26.6.1882 ||
| Lucia Bauer || 17.4.1876 ||
| Caroline Brünner née Baehr || 27.3.1880 ||
| Jeanette Goldberg || 13.1.1920 || Lady-help
| Johanna Keibel || 9.5.1891 ||
| Rosa Keibel née Heine || 20.3.1865 ||
| Hanne Rosenberg || 20.4.1880 ||
3. Deportation Procedure in Hamburg
In his correspondence of 7.11.1941 to the Hamburg
Regional Finance Office (see chapter 1), in which the names of 1,000 Jews
were listed to be “evacuated” on 8.11.1941 to Min Claus Göttsche
added the following details:
“The train departs Hamburg at 10.52 a.m. on 8.11.194 from
Hanover Station, and is scheduled to arrive in Minsk on 10.11.1941.”
He added: They can keep their identification cards, employment cards and
passports. These documents are to be stamped indicating "evacuation".
In his correspondence from 15.11.1941 Göttsche gave the
“These 420 Jews are to be added to a transport of 580 Jews from Bremen. The
train departs Bremen at 8.40 a.m. on 18.11.1941 and will arrive in Hamburg
at 11.32 a.m.
The lists of the so-called Property Utilisation Office
(Vermögensverwertungsstelle) of the Regional Finance President
(Oberfinanzpräsident) confirm that 969 Jews from Hamburg were deported to
Minsk on 8.11.1941 and 409 Jews from Hamburg were deported to Minsk on
In the meantime the assumption that at least the First
Transport, to Lodz, started from the Sternschanze “station” before
travelling to the Hanover Station has been confirmed, and in fact all
four transports that started from the Lodge building took this route.
Evidence given at trial by policemen involved in the deportations from
Hamburg relate that the Order Police (Ordnungspolizisten) of the so-called
Reserve Police Battalion 101 (Reserve-Polizeibattalion 101) provided the
guard at the “Masonic Lodge” from where they escorted the Jews to the
Sternschanze “station” in lorries. There other police from the battalio
guarded the entraining.
The battalion also provided the escort guard for three of the four
transports which included the transports on 25.10.1941 to Lodz and on
8.11.1941 to Minsk. These escort duties were “most coveted”.
Dr. Max Plaut reported that on one of the transports to
Minsk an escort officer had so badly beaten a deportee that he died
immediately but that the registering process carried out by the Hamburg
authorities was comparatively bearable and in comparison with other places
The route the deportation transport took was from
Sternschanze “station” over Dammtor, Hamburg Main Station and Oberhafen,
then a short distance forwards so as to be reversed into the actual
departure station, the Hannoversche goods station, at Loseplatz.
Hanover (Goods) Station
Heinz Rosenberg describes the day of departure:
“At five o'cloc (...) large police vans arrived and we were loaded on under
police guard and driven to the the goods station. There awaited a train
with 20 passenger carriages and five goods wagons. The carriages were old
but had windows and doors which, however, could not be opened from the
inside. Each carriage accommodated 50 people, every place having to be
occupied. The procedure took many hours.
Lastly the SS appointed a Jewish transport leader, Dr. Frank, who
chose a person to be responsible for each carriage. I was one such. I
received a yellow armband and was to distribute food and water when the
train made stops. (...) At ten o'clock the train departed.”
4. Deportation from Hamburg to Minsk
The preparation procedure and routes of the two
deportation transports from Hamburg to Minsk were different.
Regarding the Minsk transport of 8.11.1941 there are
reports from a Hamburg survivor and from a police guard.
Heinz Rosenberg reports:
“The carriages were not heated, the compartment
overcrowded with people and luggage. Some families and friends were
separated. Thereby the agitation and nervousness of the people was so great
that the smallest thing provoked a quarrel.
In our compartment my father, mother, sister and I sat on one side while the
Kaftals with their children Gabi and Hermann sat on the
other. Gabi was the only nurse on the entire transport. I assisted her in her
work. Each time the train made a stop - about every eight hours - Gabi and I
were allowed to leave our carriage to give assistance to the ill and very
elderly people in other carriages.
With each stop the escort placed the entire length of the train under guard with drawn
Erika and her foster-parents were in carriage number 8.
I was able to see and speak to her there but not to bring her to our
carriage. At least we knew that we were on the same train.”
The train travelled to Berlin, through Poland to the Russian border and from
there to Minsk. They journeyed three days and two nights. Arriving late in
the evening the SS decided not to detrain them until the next morning. This
meant spending yet another night in the cold carriages where in the meantime
food and water had become scarce.
A member of the so-called Reserve Police Battalion 101
that made up the escort reports:
"A second class carriage was attached to the train to accommodate our
escort squad. There were no guards in the carriages where the Jews were.
Only when the train made a stop did we have to guard both sides of the
train. After approximately four days travel we reached Minsk in the
afternoon. We only learned of our destination during the journey, when we
had passed Warsaw. An SS commando awaited our transport in Minsk. (...)”
Talking to members of the active battalion they learned that this unit had
already, over the previous weeks, shot Jews in Minsk. From this they
concluded that the Hamburg Jews would also be shot there. The leader of the
Hamburg commando, Oberleutnant Hartwig Gnade wanted to have nothing
to do with this. Thereafter the men returned to the station and left Minsk
with a night train.
These two reports confirm the route to Berlin and
It may therefore be assumed that the route to Berlin and from Warsaw took
the customary route.
The non-stop route from Hamburg for Berlin-Warsaw trains journeyed via Uelzen and
Trains from Warsaw to Minsk journeyed via Bialystok.
The Minsk transport of 8.11.1941 would then probably
have travelled via the following stations: Hamburg Hanover
Station, Hamburg Harburg, Winsen an die Luhe, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Stendal,
Rathenow, Berlin Spandau, Berlin Charlottenburg, Berlin Zoologische Garten,
Berlin Friedrichstraße, Berlin Schlesischer station, Fürstenwalde, Frankfurt
an der Oder, Neu Bentschen, Posen, Konin, Kutno, Lowitsch, Warsaw West
station, Warsaw Main Station, Warsaw East station, Malkinia, Bialystok,
WoIkowyskm, Barnnowitschi, Stolpce, Negoreloje, Minsk goods station.
Survivors of the Minsk transport of 18.11.1941 mention
various railway stations.
In a letter full of detail written by Hermine
Mayer, from Hamburg, from Schneidemühl, on 19.11.1941, to “my dea
Else” in Hamburg:
“We have travelled far. Twenty-three hours travel in old Czech carriages
without water supply, filthy, a small foretaste of what is to come. There
being ten people to a compartment (naturally a passenger carriage) there is
no possibility of sleep, this is my third sleepless night. Nevertheless the
mood is not bad, we won’t let it get us down.
We are on good terms with our carriage leader having worked together
organising the previous transport. Children under six years are with their
families in extra carriages accommodated in small hammocks. The escort
(local police) is not violent which impression their shouldered rifles first
gave. The engine driver is also good however the further we travel the
more noticeable is the increase in the anti-Semitism of the people on the station
The community has organised everything marvellously well, (...) The journey will take
approximately five days. Ruthi and I are happy not to have a permanent seat
but are camping in the corridor with our luggage. Washing is a luxury due to
lack of water which we may lug aboard at some stations. - (...)
Already in Hamburg I collapsed, howling, under the weight of my monster
backpack. I hope there will be transport awaiting us in Minsk otherwise I
will have to throw half my things away. Hopefully our men will fetch us.
Everything will turn out alright. I only dread the nights. (...)”
In three postcards written by Nathan Felcer,
from Bremen, from Stargard on 19.11.1941, from Warsaw on 20.11.1941 and from
Baranowitschi to his daughter Julia:
“Departed 12.30 p.m. yesterday and it is now 8.30 a.m.
in Stargard in Pommern. Up to now everything well. Mood excellent. The train
is crammed full. Last night two children were born to women from Hamburg. I
will write again from German soil. Many greetings to mummy and aunt Selma.
“Am now in Poland and have the chance to write some
lines. So far everything is fine, naturally arduous but our confidence is
high. It is not cold yet. We are indeed travelling to Minsk where it is at
the moment 25°C.”
“It is 10 a.m. on Friday and we are already deep inside
Russia, 150 km from Minsk. The cold weather is not bad. Mood good. It is hard
to say how much longer the journey will take (...) The station from where I
am writing is called Baranowitschi. All the best. Love to all. Daddy.”
Martin Spanier, a survivor of the Bremen of transport,
related that the train was escorted by Protection Police (Schutzpolizei)
from Bremen who behaved “humanely”. The journey to Minsk took approximately
five days. The train made numerous stops on the way, also in the Bialystok
These sources establish the towns of Stargard, Kreuz,
Schneidemühl, Warsaw, Bialystok and Baranowitschi to have been on the route
to Minsk. It is also to be assumed that the usual route was taken between
Stettin and Warsaw. The route from Hamburg to Bad Kleinen would necessarily
journey through the Rothenburgsort marshalling yard.
The Minsk transport of 18.11.1941 probably journeyed
Hamburg Hanover Station, Hamburg Rothenburgsort marshalling yard, Bad
Oldesloe; Lübeck Main Station, Bad Kleinen, Bützow, Güstrow, Neu
Brandenburg, Pasewalk, Stettin, Stargard in Pommern, Kreuz, Schneidemühl,
Bromberg, Thorn, Sichelberg, Nasielsk, Warsaw East station, Bialystok,
Wolkowysk, Baranowitschi, Minsk goods station.
5. Relocation to the Minsk Ghetto
Heinz Rosenburg reports the following regarding the so-called “relocatio
(“Übersiedlung”) of the Hamburg Jews on the 8.11.1941 Minsk transport and
later the 18.11.1941 Minsk transport:
Around 5 a.m. they were allowed to detrain. An SS
officer gave orders. Everyone had to place his hand baggage on a lorry. They
were counted and had to wait.
Suddenly the SS officer called for the Jewish transport leader. Dr. Frank
stepped forward, came to attention and reported the men, women and children
from Hamburg. Whereupon he was insulted with "dirty Jew"”. When he wanted to
talk to an officer or with any other German he had to remove his hat and
wait until he was addressed. With these words he took his leather whip and
struck Dr. Frank in the face so that he fell to the ground and had to be
They were then ordered to march, under guard from his
unit, to the Minsk Ghetto. Anyone attempting to flee or disobeying his
orders would be shot. One hundred would be shot for every one escape
attempt. There was enough room for everyone in the ghetto. The clearing up
work was to begin immediately. No one was permitted outside between 8 p.m.
and 6 a.m.
Dr. Frank and the 20 carriage leaders, including
Rosenberg, were first brought into the ghetto. This was enclosed by a
barbed-wire fence. They were led to an unfinished, red-brick school
building. Opposite was a white building, obviously also a former school.
They received orders to immediately clear out the red building:
"(...) the ground was covered with hundreds of dead
bodies ... There was blood everywhere, and there was still food on the
stoves and tables. All rooms were in complete disarray. No one remained alive.”
Little by little the others arrived from the station. The elderly were
brought by lorry.
“Finally all stood in the large yard in front of th
school building, exhausted, nervous, freezing and hungry. Many were curious
as to what was to be found inside the large building. They entered and came
out horrified. Lamentation and weeping caused a great confusion. (...)”
The dead were carried into the yard. The fixtures were simply thrown from
the windows and later burned. The building had no light or water, no windows
or fires and no chairs, tables or beds. The deportees distributed themselves
over roughly 30 rooms. The people had to sit on the floor.
Hardly were all accommodated when the SS officer
appeared again and demanded the “camp elder” (“Lagerälteste”) Dr. Fr He
ordered him to divide the men into two groups. One group was to be taken to
the station to empty the wagons the other to remain there in order to empty
At the station the railroad men had thrown everything onto the tracks. Only
five wagons remained in the station. The SS guard examined each suitcase.
When the suitcase had no value for them it came into ghetto. The remaining
suitcases were driven to the SS barracks.
The contents of the five wagons were seized. Only some necessarily food was
allowed to be brought in the camp.
“While I was at the station my parents and mysister
found a room on the first floor where Mr. Wagner, a friendly man, was
the room elder (Stubenältester). (...) It was here that later we ate our
first ghetto meal, bread and sausage, which we had brought from Hamburg.”
Edgar Schyberg, born Cohn, also one of the few
Hamburg survivors of Minsk, remembers being accommodated in room 39 of the
“red” building with h parents. Between the red building and the cemetery
were mass graves.
Heinz Rosenberg describes his first week in Minsk:
The next day a group was put together that repaired windows, doors and
stoves, constructed a kitchen and warehouse, and made all further necessary
The camp elder chose a camp administration of which Heinz Rosenberg became a
member. (Later Dr. Frank removed him from his position, due to differences
of opinion, which probably saved his life.
In the morning SS Obersturmführer Müller
appeared and gave new orders:
(1) The red and white buildings were to completely cleaned.
(2) The Hamburg camp was to receive its own barbed-wire fence.
This was to be become special ghetto 1 (Sondergetto 1) (SG 1).
(3) A common kitchen was to be constructed because private cooking was
(4) A list was to be made of all men and women able to work for future work
(5) The corpses were to be immediately buried or otherwise disposed of.
Subsequently, the camp administration was taken to the
Russian part of the ghetto. Shortly before their arrival the S.S had carried
out another so-called large-scale action resulting in thousands of victims.
The corpses lay there. Müller ordered them to “clean up” this part othe
ghetto to make room for new transports.
In the first days documents, medicines and all other
necessary things were taken to house number 12 where the camp administration was
The SS also ordered the small huts in the SG 1 to be used for accommodation.
At first none wanted to move as there was even more dirt and vermin there. A
community developed in the red building. Gradually some moved into the huts
and when the others heard that one got along much better there the “spel was
“Erika and her foster-parents found accommodation in a room above us. We saw
each other as often as possible. We all endeavoured to help one another but
because the rooms were so overcrowded many disputes broke out. Finally when
things had become somewhat better with the use of the small huts the message
came that a new transport had arrived.”
This transport brought 1,000 Jews from Düsseldorf.
Since no accommodation was available the new transport was accommodated in
the corridors of the red building.
In the evening a fire suddenly broke out in the house of the camp
administration. The important documents and other things including the medicines
were burnt. The camp administration moved into a small timber building adjacent
the white building.
A further transport from Frankfurt arrived. Then arrived successively
transports from Berlin, Brünn, Bremen/Hamburg and Vienna. The transport from
Bremen and Hamburg brought some relatives of the first Hamburg transport. By
this time 7,500 people had arrived.
The year 1941 ended badly: hunger, cold, lice, bugs.
Illness and death were everywhere.
The year 1942 began even worse: on the New Years evening drunken SS men
appeared and indiscriminately shot around 500 people.
In January cold weather really set in. In addition to the snow and ice there
was a stormy wind. The temperature fell below 40 degrees Celsius. The death
rate rose. Also in this month the Jewish camp management was arrested and,
after not hearing from them until March, SS Sturmbannführer Schmiedl
had them all shot for “disciplinary offences”. Over the course of twyears
five further camp administrations came and went.
In March a committee of the armed forces military
hospital (4/637) arrived and selected thirty young men and girls for work in
the military hospital.
“My sister and I were chosen. We packed our suitcases
and took our parting because it was questionable whether we would see one
another again. (...)”
The military hospital was established in the former “house of the Red Army”, a
former service club of the Russians.
“After three weeks Erika joined us as part of the
demand for more workers. We were very happy that she could escape the
hazards of the ghetto for a while.
Many of my friends H. Hauptmann, Kurt Berlin, Edgar
Francke, the brothers Menke, Kurt Rosenbaum and his
wife, Fritz Obermeyer and others were in this commando. (...)”
The external commandos were not necessarily safer.
One day 80 women did not return. At night the SS returned with the empty
lorry and explained to the camp administration they had been attacked by Russian
partisans. To prevent the women from possible escape they had shot them.
Another commando of 100 men worked in a Wehrmacht camp. They sorted Russian
rifles. One day a soldier on guard found a rifle in the shrubs and immediately
locked up all the men and told them they had two hours to name the culprit.
When the two hours were up nobody came forward.
A group of men from the SD Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst) appeared.
Having lined up the 100 Jewish men in a row they picked out ten and shot
Among them was Gabis’ father, an attorney, was had been an officer inthe
First World War. He still had the courage to shout to the SS men that he had
honours, that he had a wife and children and they had no reason to shoot
him. He spat on them.
The 90 survivors had then to carry the corpses to the mass grave.
Rosenberg describes the last ghetto commander SS
Hauptscharführer Rübe so:
“(...) He was a medium sized bugger, violent, his remarkably large hand
constantly fidgeting with a whip or pistol. His speciality was to saunter
through the ghetto with two Latvian SS men and summon one to ten Jews,
usually women, old people and children, and to take them to the nearby
cemetery and shoot them there.
Rübe came to the ghetto daily and always found victims.
One day he went to the hospital and found around 30 pregnant women there. He
left the ghetto but only in order to call for more SS men. Then the women
had to leave the hospital, were stood up against the rear wall of the
building and shot by Rübe and his men.
It was a horrific task for the men to take these corpses to the cemetery.
Such barbarisms occurred nearly every day.
One day Rübe saw a beautifully painted sign. When he learned that Marion
Baruch from Hamburg had painted it he summoned her to him. When
Marion arrived he spoke shortly to her then led her to the cemetery and shot
her without any reason.”
There were also children who had become orphans.
Mrs. Bieber from Hamburg gathered them together and, with a friend,
took them to a room in the large building.
One day Rübe visited the building and discovered the children. Next day the
“special truck” arrived. The children werherded into the lorry. Mrs.
Bieber, who had three children of her own among them, begged him to spare
the children, at least the youngest. In vain.
6. The Evolution of the Minsk Ghetto (1941-1943)
On 19.7.1941 the army commander for Minsk ordered that
a residential area “exclusively” for Jews be establish in Minsk.
The entire Jewish population of Minsk had to immediately move there i.e.
within five days. Anyone found outside this residential area at expiration
of the time limit would be arrested and “severely” punishedThey were
permitted to bring property.
The residential area was to be confined by the
Kolchosnajer Street, alongside the river, Nemigskaja Street (excluding the
orthodox church), Respublikanska Street, Schornaja Street, Kolektornaja
Street, Mebelnej Alley, Perekopskaja Street, Nisowaja Street, the Jewish
cemetery wall, Obuwnaja Street, 2. Opanski Alley, Saslawskaja Street to
Minsk Ghetto with pogroms. Click to enlarge
The Jewish residential area was to be closed off from
the rest of the city by a dry-wall. The wall was to be built by the Jews
“themselves” with stones fr uninhabitable houses.
Jews were forbidden to live outside this residential area. They were only
allowed to leave this area in a labour commando and only to labour demanded
by the Minsk administration. Infringement was punishable with death.
Jews were only allowed to enter and leave the residential area via the two
gates in Opanski Street and Ostrowski Street. The German guards and
auxiliary police were instructed to shoot infringers.
Only Jews were to have admission to this residential area with exception of
official, active members of German “units” and members of the city
administration. The Jewish Council (Judenrat) had to pay a forced loan
of 30,000 Tscherwoncen to cover the cost of the administrative work
resulting from the “resettlement”. This sum of money, whose interest charges
would be regulated at a “later” date, was to be paid within twelve
Order within the Jewish residential area was to be maintained by a Jewish
Finally the Jewish Council (Judenrat) was “fully responsibe for the execution
of the entire resettlement operation.
Similar arrangements applied to the fourth transport
from Berlin which departed on 14.11.1941. Dr. Karl Lowenstein was a
member of this transport. He also gives a detailed report likewise about the
conditions in the Minsk ghetto which inevitably related to the first Hamburg
transport to Minsk:
The arrivals were informed by the SS Leader that room had been made for them
by “bumping off” 35,0O0 Russians.
Since the Hamburg Jews were the first to be “settled” in Minsk and had been
accommodated in the red building the Berlin Jews had to initially camp down
in the corridors of this building. They sat four in a row, back to back, on
their luggage. Only after 10 days did they receive other accommodation.
Different camps were organised according to the origin of the transport: the
Hamburg camp (for deportees from Hamburg and Frankfurt), the Berlin camp
(for deportees from Berlin and Brünner), the Rhineland camp for deportees
from Düsseldor as well as the Bremen and Viennese camps.
The ghetto mostly consisted of timber buildings. These were at ground level.
At the entrance there was a stove and two small rooms. Then there were
one-story stone buildings. Each inhabitant was allotted 1.4 m².
Men and women were not separated. The terrible cold forced people to lie
pressed together for mutual warmth. When there was water supply these either
frozen or destroyed. As long as snow lay on the ground people helped each
other to clear it.
Until April 1942 there were only two kitchens available to the entire
“German” ghetto, which were in Hamburg camp. From here Jews from thother
camps had to fetch their soup, which in some cases meant a half hour walk.
There were two wash coppers available for 7,300 people. At noon each
individual received 300g water in which 5g buckwheat was cooked. There was
no fat at all and no salt for months. In addition there was 150g bread daily
baked from buckwheat flour and which tasted “terrible”. It was no wonder
that within a few weeks 700 people died from enfeeblement and diarrhoea, the
so-called camp illness.
The administration of the German ghetto was made up of
Jews from Hamburg since the Hamburg transport was the first to arrive. A
German police officer offered to take and receive post from Hamburg for
them. Thereupon on 8.2.1942 they were all, i.e. Dr. Frank,
Bieber, Behrend, Cohn, Jacob, Satz,
Spiegel and Rappolt were arrested cross-examined.
Exactly one month later Dr. Frank was returned to the camp in a terrible
state where he died the following night.
Later, on 13.4.1942, the other seven were driven into the camp lying on the
floor of a lorry and shot, faces to the ground, by an SS Obersturmführer.
Each morning those camp prisoners designated for labour
had to assemble in the respective labour commandos in the yard between the
red and white buildings.
1,300 to 1,400 prisoners from the German ghetto were deployed as labour;
there was no work for the remainder. Around 300 were employed in the
military hospital, others worked in the barracks, in the Luftwaffe materials
store (approximately 150 women) or in the shoemaker workshop (approximately
100). Those that had to lay railway track experienced the worst
Wages were 1 Mark per person per day. After tax this sum had to defray
expenditure for the ghetto.
The ghetto inmates tried to improve their situation by bartering clothes,
underclothes, wrist watches and jewellery for food. Barter was forbidden and
punishable by death.
Dr. Frank was the only Jew against bartering. He not only forbade trade
but seized the bartered food. When he discovered a barter he struck the
parties with his rubber truncheon. He even had the accommodation searched.
Dr. Karl Loewenstein’s main task was the training of
the guard. He had to protect the ghetto against attack. The guard consisted
of people who had previously served as soldiers. They were also
requisitioned for all extraordinary work: they fetched the food, procured
transport for patients and disposed of corpses.
The daily soup was brought in 50 litre containers from the kitchen in the
Hamburg camp. The route was bad, steep and slippery. The sledge used as
transport was also in a poor condition. If at noon there was still soup
remaining in the kitchen then the guards received an extra warm soup at
night, which however Dr. Loewenstein had to “fight for” each time with the
provisions leader Kaufmann from Hamburg.
There was a doctor on the Hamburg transport who
initially assumed responsibility for health care. Unfortunately he was too
old to practice his profession.
There were only five doctors available for the treatment of the
approximately 7,300 people in the German ghetto, which was totally
A provisional hospital was established in the white building. A young nurse
Lewin, worked here. She voluntarily assumed this work despite the
obnoxious smell exuding from the decomposing limbs of the patients.
Initially the guard dug individual graves for the dead which however soon
proved hopeless as the ground was too deeply frozen. When more than 1,000
corpses had accumulated, all frozen rigid, SS sappers blew out a mass grave.
The dead were then buried in this grave.
The lack of soap, the close contact with the Russian
Jews, who were worse accommodated and thereby more deteriorated, resulted in
approximately 40% of the German ghetto becoming louse-ridden.
A woman from Hamburg fought particularly hard against the plague of lice.
She had success with the aid of an old field kitchen.
In January 1942 a woman from Hamburg bore a child, who died after 4 weeks,
its mother being unable to feed it. The “entire camp” mourned over it.
The comradeship among the “mass of camp inmates was
outstanding”. Each sought to help the other when possible. Perhaps it was
the closeness to death which promoted this mutual aid. Loewenstein: “We were
like one large family. (...)”
In the morning of 2 March 1942 the ghetto commandant
appeared and gave Dr. Karl Loewenstein supreme command for the day with the
instruction that no Russian was to enter the German camp, neither for water
nor for the use of the latrines. The labour commandos who worked outside the
camp were confined to the camp on this day. Directly after the commandant
had left the “battue” began on the Russians. They were only separated by a
narrow road from this part of the German camp.
In the evening, “according to the SS”, 25,000 people, “who had done nob
any harm” were murdered.
“The columns of people marched by us, packed together, with tiny shuffling
steps to be murdered because there was not enough room for us all in the
camp. This death march was horrifying, so horrifying that we wished
ourselves a quick death.”
The Russian orphanage, which accommodated children from a few months old up
to the age of ten, was also emptied.
“Prior to the mass shooting all had to undress and throw their clothes onto
a heap. Two young women observed an older deranged woman who ran about
agitated, making no attempt to undress. Thereupon the two women went to her,
coaxed and undressed her. Then, without any word of protest, the two young
women took the older woman between them, each holding her either hand, and
lay down upon the still warm bodies of those already shot ready to receive
their death. Neither they nor the others asked their executioner for mercy.”
After Dr Frank’s arrest Erich Harf from Bremen
was chosen by the SS as his successor i.e. as chairmen of the German Jewish
On the day as of Dr. Frank’s arrest Eliyahu Myshkin (also Mishkin or
Moshkin), chairman of the Russian Jewish Council, was also arrested. He had
collaborated with the organisers of the Minsk underground and with those who
had fled into the woods.
It is surprising that there was hardly any contact between the two Jewish
With the exception of barter and labour commandos working outside the
ghettos there was practically no contact between the people in the two
ghettos. Cultural differences more than the barrier of language were
responsible for this.
The local Jews nicknamed the Jews from the “Altreich”, Austria and the
“Protectorate of Moravia and Bohemia"” “Hamburg Je"” after the first German
Jews who arrived in Minsk.
Russian Jews (Shalom Cholawsky and Isaiah Trunk) report
The “Hamburg Jews” were worse off than us. They did not know the language
and were not used to the cold weather.
They told to us they were deceived; they were told their destination was
America and that they could take their jewellery and gold with them.
At first the “Hamburg Jews” considered we were to blame for everything.
Later they realised that the Germans planned to murder all Jews.
Had they had local knowledge they would not have bartered their belongings
The underground, which operated in the Russian ghetto, offered the German
Jews the chance to flee to the woods. But they did not consider themselves
to be in danger and declined this solution.
Hans Meinhardt, one of the few survivors of
Hamburg transport reports something similar:
German Jews did not believe that they were in danger, the east European
Jews perhaps. I was not on the deportation list for Minsk but volunteered to
go with my parents. When we were in Minsk and experienced what happened
there we sough to advise those arriving after us. They rejected help not
believing anything could happen to them as they had been resettled here.”
Heinz Rosenberg experienced only indirectly the
execution action that was carried out in practically all parts of the ghetto
between 28 July and 30 July 1942 in his labour commando in the soldiers
leave-centre in Minsk. From there they could hear the “barking” of the
submachine guns and see the large “grey lorries” driving back and forth.
He gives a detailed report about these days:
“We were three days at the place of work like all the other labour commandos
and the disquiet and fear grew from hour to hour. Finally on the third
evening we were allowed to march back into the ghetto. None dared speak, we
met other columns until we came to the entrance of the ghetto and where a
Jewish guard normally stood now stood an SS man. We had to stop, wait, and
be controlled, only then were we allowed in the camp. The way normally
milling with people was now deadly quiet, we saw no one, heard no sound,
only hundreds of dead bodies lying near the houses.
We continued slowly and dejected towards special ghetto 1 (Sondergetto 1).
We did not believe our eyes when we saw two small children playing near the
fence. We were registered at the large square then everyone was allowed to
go but all had to remain in SG 1, the other parts of the ghetto were
All the people, approximately 10,000, in these parts had been killed in
Oberleutnant Stamm of the police had secured and thereby saved the
small special ghetto 1. Nobody knew his motive but soon after he was
transferred to the front.
As I approached home mother and father came to meet me. We all had tears in
our eyes. A miracle had occurred. A little later Irmgard and Erika also
returned from their place of work. We were united again. That evening we sat
together in complete silence. We were speechless because the catastrophe
had been so large and the miracle that we were still alive incomprehensible.
What we saw in the ghetto over the following days is barely recountable.
Even the strongest men broke down, women and children screamed and wept. The
cadaverous smell throughout the camp made things still worse. The SS Special
Commando had executed the slaughter but Wehrmacht soldiers stood guard over
the ghetto and watched and ensured nobody could escape their death.
The surviving German Jews from special ghetto 2 had to be accommodated in
our part of the ghetto. Many of these individuals now without family died
later of grief and sorrow.
On the day after the massacre the labour commandos left the camp as usual.
Those who laboured inside the ghetto were assigned to “clean” the ghetto of
the corpses. This took days. They repeatedly found members of their own
families or friends among those machine-gunned down. It was an atrocity.”
Heinz Rosenberg reports about the end of the Minsk Ghetto on 1.9.1942 from
in special ghetto 1:
“(...) During the night of 31 August 1942 I was on watch in the ghetto when
numerous SS, SD and police lorries drew up in front of the ghetto. At around
5 a.m. the ghetto was surrounded by soldiers. Rübe and other SS officers
entered the ghetto and instructed our administration that all ghetto
inhabitants were to assemble and that no commandos would leave for work.
At 6 a.m. we all reported. Men and women were separated. That led to tearful
outbreaks and harrowing cries. We stood for approximately an hour before
Rübe appeared with other SS officers and the Jewish camp leader to inform us
that all men between the ages of 16 and 30 were to step out in order to be
registered for special work. Our administration had a list of the names and
250 men were called out. (...)
(...) The women did not want to leave their husbands and the men did not
want to leave their families behind. Rübe called for his SS troops. The
women were driven back (...). We were given an hour to pack, to take our
leave and to prepare for our unknown destination.
Now we all wept. We knew we would not see each other again. I had to bid
farewell to my parents, Irmgard, Hannelore and most painfully to Erika.
(...) The women could not stop crying. They ran to our camp administration
and pleaded to go with their men or to release their men.
Nothing could be changed. 250 names were on the SS list, 250 men had to go.
Finally we all went to the assembly point. There was a last embrace, a last
word. The SS guards pushed the women away. 100 heavily armed soldiers
surrounded us on all sides. As the commando came "“column marc"” we
looked back one last time. For us this was the end of the Minsk Ghetto.”
7. The Evolution of the rest of the city of Minsk (1941-1944)
When, on the orders of Adolf Hitler, the German armed
forces attacked the Soviet Union on the morning of 22.6.1941 the war took on
a new dimension which proved decisive.
For this large-scale operation the German army was divided into groups in
the north, centre and south. The army group “centre” consisted of the 4th
and 9th Armies.
According to the military operation “Barbarossa” the army group “centre” was
to advance its two armies both sides of Minsk into the area around and north
Field marshal Fedor von Bock was commander in chief of the army group
centre and field marschal Günther von Kluge commander in chief of
the 4th Army.
The 4th Army included a so-called holding division (Sicherungsdivision)
which was to prevent enemy breakthroughs to the west.
The two tank divisions of the 4th Army reached Minsk on 28.6.1941.
On 24.6.1941 there was an all-out air bombardment of
Minsk about which a Russian eye-witness reported:
“On the morning of 24 June 1941, a Tuesday, I saw a squadron of 96 airplanes
over Minsk. They bombarded the city all day long. The entire centre was
destroyed. A few large buildings still stood. (...) During the bombardment
we holed up in a cellar. (...) There were corpses everywhere on the streets.
People wanting to flee the city during the bombardment could not escape
quickly enough as the streets were jammed. Those who escaped the city we cut
down by German low-flying aircraft.”
This report is confirmed by two German so-called “incident reports”:
“(...) The city centre is completely destroyed by bombing. Parts remain of
such important buildings as: the university, the house of the Red Army, the
opera and the house of the Soviets (...)”
“(...) The destruction of the city by German bombers makes it difficult t
believe that without reconstruction Minsk can again become the
administrative and economic centre of Belarus. (...)
On the evening of 6.7.1941 the so-called field
headquarters reached Minsk. It deployed a holding division (286). At the
same time a local headquarters was established in Minsk whose task it was,
with a billeting office, to clear roads and regulate traffic.
Minsk, capital of Belarus, was three-quarters destroyed by bombing and fire.
There was no light, electricity or water.
Only around 100,000 of the 1939 population of between 238,000 and 289,000
remained alive in the city. Around 30,000 of this total were men between the
ages of 18 and 45 who were interned in a prisoner-of-war camp outside of the
city to which later a further 100,000 were added. The internment was made on
the command of the 4th Army because civilians had taken part in the defence
As Soviet functionaries and Jews had fled the city
Minsk was at this time a “completely administrative-free area”.
Scarcely two weeks after the assumption of the military administration
workers from numerous large and small enterprises, prisoners and Jewish
commandos were ordered to carry out clear-up work of all kinds. The Germans
assessed the major problem to be that the majority of the population of
Belarus had practically lost all self-assertion due to their many years of
suppression under tsardom, the Soviet system and the Jews.
The census of 1929 showed that Minsk had a Jewish
population of approximately 120,000. The predominance Jews among the
population led the military administration (deployed by Field Headquarters)
to an immediate “solution of the Jewish question”, particularly as t
Jewish element was regarded as hostile.
Therefore the following ordinances were issued in “agreementwith the
Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei):
- the appointment of a Jewish Council of Elders and a chairman
- a registration of the Jewish population by the Jewish Council of
Elders and the wearing of the “Jew patch” on the chest and back (Rusan
Jews had to wear a yellow dot)
- demarcation of a ghetto which was to be moved into within 5 days.
It was necessary for the military administration to
establish a civil administration for the city.
A city commissioner was appointed to be responsible for a range of public
tasks. Through the agency of a commando of the Security Police, Dr. Witold
Toumasch, deputy leader of the Belarusian emigration in Germany, was
ordered to Minsk and appointed the first city commissioner. He was to use
Belarusian personnel. Jews, Poles and Asians were excluded.
His successor William Janetzke had already arrived in November 1941.
On 5.1.1942 he wrote to Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the
occupied Eastern Territories, arguing it was imperative that no more Jews be
sent from Germany to Minsk. He had heard that a further 50,000 Jews were to
be transported to Minsk. Apart from the impossibility of accommodating
further Jews due to the lack of space there was the “serious” problem of
feeding them. His administration was confronted with the most serious
problem of feeding the population including the Jews.
On 31.8.1941 the territory of the former Soviet
Republic of White Russia was made part of a so-called White Russia General
Commissariat with its seat in Minsk. Erich Kube was its General
Commissioner and Gau leader until he was assassinated by his Russian maid on
The General Commissariat Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia formed together the
so-called Reich’s Commissariat Ostland with its seat in Riga, administered
by Gau leader Hinrich Lohse.
This Reich’s Commissariat together with that of the Ukraine was subordinate
to the Reich Ministry for the occupied Eastern Territories in Berlin, led by
The General Commissiariat was divided into five main districts of which
Minsk and Baranowitsche were two. The main district Minsk had area
commissioners in Minsk-city and Minsk-country.
Shortly after the first transport of “German” Je had
arrived in Minsk on 29.11.1941 Kube visited the ghetto.
Dr. Frank showed him around. Frank informed Kube that there were
people in the ghetto whose brothers were in the Wehrmacht. Kube expressed
his wish to notify Hitler and asked Frank for a list of names. In the Berlin
part of the ghetto Kube stopped two girls he considered “Aryan” looking and
had a political leader write down their particulars.
In his letter of reply dated 21.3.1942 Reinhard Heydrich, chief of
the Security Police and SD, answered Kube that in this third year of war his
department had more important tasks than to be concerned with the
“jabbering” of Jews and to be carrying out time-consuming investigations.
Should he examine the list it would only be in order to disprove such attacks
once and for all.
Following Kube’s visit to the ghetto Frank said, on 2.12.1941, he had th
impression that Kube would like to see the Jews from the Reich handled less
“severely” than the Russian Jews, who were entirely different.
In a letter dated 16.12.1941 to his friend Hinrich Lohse Kube
professed he was steeled and “prepared to help in solving the Jewish question”
but that people from “their” culture were different than the “native brutish
Again in a letter to Lohse dated 31.7.1942 Kube expressed similar
After extensive talks with the SS-Brigadeführer Carl Zenner and the
chief of the SD Obersturmbannführer Dr. jur. Eduard Strauch I learned
that in the last 10 weeks we had “liquidated” approximately 55,000 Jews.
On 28 and 29 July in Minsk-city approximately 10,000 Jews were “liquidated”
of whom 6,500 were Russian Jews - predominant old people, women and
children. The rest were Jews “not fit forwork predominantly from Vienna,
Brünn, Bremen and Berlin transported to Minsk in November last.
In Minsk-city there remain 2,600 Jews from Germany and 6,000 Russian Jews
and Jewesses who are employed in labour commandos.
For him and the SD it would “naturally be best” that, after the
discontinuation of the economic requirements of the Wehrmacht, the Jews in the
General Commissariat White Russia “be finally eliminated”.
To this “conviction” is added the difficult task of seeing that the
continuing Jewish transports from the Reich meet “their intended end”. This
taxes the material and mental powers of the men of the SD and detracts them
from their tasks, which lie in the territory of White Russia.
It would be helpful if the Reich’s commissioner would stop further Jewis
transports to Minsk at least until the partisan threat is “conclusively”
A “large-scale action” in the ghetto revealed that the
German Jewish Order Police was determined to carry out an armed resistance.
“To avoid the spilling of German blood” the Jewish Order Police was
assembled and informed that a fire had broken out in the city and that it
was their task to extinguish it. The Jews were then loaded onto lorries and
This also came to Kube’s attention. He was aggravated that former front
soldiers had been so brutally killed and that the method was “outrageous
In accordance with orders from Erich von dem Bach at
around 7 a.m. on 20.7.1943 Strauch imprisoned 70 Jews who worked for the
general commissioner and had them killed.
Kube demanded a written order from Strauch. The latter replied that a verbal
order was sufficient. Kube stressed that it was a severe invasion of his
official authority. It was unacceptable how Reichsführer-SS and
Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach governed his General
Commissariat. In addition he regarded this measure as “chicanery” personly
directed against him as Jews had not been removed from other offices.
He was in no doubt that in the future he would refuse “all co-operation”
with the police and the SD in particular. In future he would not permit
any member of the Security Police to enter any of his administrative
Kube finally replied that such procedure was unworthy of a “German” and of
“a Germany of Kant and Goethe”.
A Hitler decree from 17.7.1941 coupled each Reich
Commissioner with a so-called Higher SS and police chief (HSSPF) and each
General Commissioner with a so-called SS and police chief (SSPF).
These were the personal representatives of the Reichsführer SS and chief of
the German Police (RFSS), Heinrich Himmler. They had to coordinate
the activity and employment of the Security Police and SD on the one hand
and the Order Police with the Protection Police and Gendarmerie on the other
hand. They had command authority over both branches of police, e.g. with
joint deployment. In all other respects special orders of the Reich Main
Security Office (RSHA) had precedence over the Security Police and SD and
special orders of the Main Office of the Order Police had precedence over
the Protection Police and Gendarmerie.
There were so-called Higher SS and police chiefs
(HSSPF) for the regions of Russia-North, Ostland and Russia-Centre. From
August 1941 the HSSPF Russia-North was also responsible for Ostland. Between
August and November 1941 SS-Gruppenführer and General of Police Hans Adolf
Prützmann was the HSSPF for Russia-North and Ostland. His successor
was Friedrich Jeckeln with his headquarters in Riga.
Up until August 1941 the region of the former Republic of White Russia was
subordinated to the HSSPF for Russia-Centre when the General Commissariat
was again assigned in April 1943. The HSSPF for Russia-Centre was initially
SS-Obergruppenführer and general of the police, Erich von dem Bach.
From June 1943 the tasks of this HSSPF were virtually administered by the
SSPF for White Russia SS-Brigadeführer and major general of Police Kurt von
Gottberg who, in June 1944, was also appointed as the HSSPF for
Russia-Centre and White Russia. The headquarters of the HSSPF for Russia-Centre
was Mogilev, and for a time also Minsk.
The SSPF of a general district was subordinate to the
responsible HSSPF. In the general district of White Russia SS-Brigadeführer
and major general of the police Carl Zenner was HSSPF until July
1942, then SS-Brigadeführer Schimana until November 1942. He was
succeeded by Kurt von Gottberg who also temporarily took over Kube’s
position after the latter’s death.
In the context of the war against the Soviet Union
Hitler transferred to the RFSS “special authorization” (“Sondervollmachten”)
for “special tasks” (“Sonderaufgaben”).
Special Operational Squads of the Security Service and the Security Police
(Einsatzgruppen des Sicherheitsdienstes und SD und
der Sicherheitspolizei [Sipo]), a task force of mobile killing units, were
formed for this purpose. They were divided into groups A, B, C and D and
assigned to the different army groups of the Wehrmacht. Each group of
Special Operational Squads was divided into “Sonderkommandos” and
“Einsatzkommandos” according to the “area of operations”.
In autumn 1941 Einsatzgruppe A, which was assigned to
army group north, additionally took over the general district of White
Russia which had until then been the territory of Einsatzgruppe B.
The Einsatzgruppe A staff was divided at the same time. A second group was
later renamed “Commander of the Security Police and the SD Ostland”
(“Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD Ostland”(BdS)) with its
headquarters in Riga. The head of this office agency was SS-Brigadeführer
Dr. Walther Stahleckerwho remained the head of Einsatzgruppe A. After
his death in March 1942 he was succeeded by SS-Brigadeführer Heinz
Jost, until September 1942.
The mobile Sonderkommandos and Einsatzkommandos of Einsatzgruppe A later
became stationary agencies. They were named “Command of the Security Police
and the SD Ostland” (“Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD” (Kd
which were respectably responsible for a general district.
In November 1941 most of Einsatzgruppe 1b was moved to Minsk. The
“Kommandeurs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD White Russia” was formed from
this group together with Einsatzkommando 8 of Einsatzgruppe B.
Einsatzgruppe 1b was at that time led by SS
Obersturmbannführer Dr. Erich Ehrlinger. His successor was
SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Eduard Strauch until June 1943 but due to
an injury he was initially deputised, until the second half of March 1942,
by SS-Sturmbannführer and privy councillor, Walter Hofmann. Strauch’s
successor as KdS White Russia, until October 1943, was
SS-Obersturmbannführer and senior government official Dr. Erich
Isselhorst. Then Dr. Ehrlinger succeeded him until April 1944
as “Commander of the Security Police and SD Russsia-Centre and White Russia”
(“Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD Rußland-Mitte und
Weißrusland” (BdS)). At the same time this agency was reinforced by the
addition of Einsatzgruppe B, in the meantime led by Ehrlinger, who had been
withdrawn after the advance of Russian troops from Smolensk. The last BdS in
Minsk was SS-Standartenführer Heinz Seetzen, who headed the agency up
until the German retreat from Minsk at the end of June 1944.
Initially this agency had no rigid demarcated tasks.
Here the later SS-Obersturmführer and criminal inspector, George
Heuser, as well as Kurt Burkhardt, later of the same rank,
were active. Heuser was assigned particularly to criminal investigation but
also to Stapo (Gestapo) business including “Jewish affairs”
Burkhardt was primarily responsible for the latter.
SS-Obersturmführer and criminal inspector, Erich Lütkenhus succeeded
him at the beginning of April 1942. Around the middle of May the agency was
organized in accordance with the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). Heuser
became head of Department IV. Lütkenhus was assigned to Department IV b
(Jewish and Poland affairs) which he retained until the end of 1942. His
successor was SS-Obersturmführer and criminal inspector Gerhard
From spring 1942 the agency comprised approximately 130
to 150 men of the Waffen-SS and Protection Police distributed among the
different departments. The KdS or BdS additionally commanded a Latvian
company, until October 1943, a White Russian battalion and, from spring
1943, a volksdeutsche Waffen-SS company.
Soon after the occupation of White Russia the commandos
of Einsatzgruppe B began with the killing of the Jewish population. It
carried out numerous mass executions of which Einsatzkommando 8, under the
leadership of SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Otto Bradfisch, were mostly
Einsatzgruppe A, which took over the general district of White Russia in
autumn 1941 continued the execution programme. In a report from
Einsatzgruppe A, the so-called Stahlecker Report, which included this period
up to 15.10.1941, it is disclosed that within this period 118,430 Jews had
been executed of whom 7,620 in White Russia.
The staff of Einsatzgruppe A also ordered the large
mass execution from 7.11.1941 to 11.11.1941.
Between 4,000 and 6,000 Russian Jews from the Minsk Ghetto were shot in
order to create the necessary space for the forthcoming transports of Jews
from the Reich and the “Protectorate of Moravia and Bohemia”. SSPF
Zenner and SS-Sturmbannführer Hans-Hermann Remmers were
The RSHA had planned that 50,000 Jews were to be
“resettled” from the Reich and the “Protectorate” to the Reich’s
Commissariat Ostland of whom 25,000 were destined for the general district
of White Russia.
The following tranports of Jews arrived in Minsk:
| Origin || Departure Date || Number of Jews
| Hamburg || 8.11.1941 || 990
| Düsseldorf || 10.11.1941 || 993
| Frankfurt || 11.11.1941 || 1,042
| Berlin || 14.11.1941 || 1,030
| Brünn || 16.11.1941 || 999
| Hamburg and Bremen || 18.11.1941 || 908
| Vienna || 28.11.1941 || 1,001
These 6,963 Jews were initially quartered in that part of the Minsk Ghetto
which had been inhabited by the Russian Jews prior to their mass shooting.
There were still around 8,000 Russian Jews living in the ghetto so that with
the addition the total was now approximately 25,000.
The “action” that took place at the end of July
1942 in the Minsk Ghetto in which at least 9,000 Jews fell victim,
among them around 3,000 Jews from Central Europe, was the largest
massacre carried out in the general district of White Russia.
The execution action began on the morning of 28.7.1942 when the labour
commandos were marched out of the ghetto. Then the entire ghetto was
encircled and sealed off with the addition of railway employees, the
organisation Todt and the Gendarmerie. Then evacuation commandos searched
the ghetto and drove people from their houses. They were herded to the
ghetto exit where they had to assemble. They were then driven in batches to
the execution area near the Trostinez estate, southeast from Minsk (see
chapter 9). As KdS vehicles were insufficient lorries from the railway and
other agencies were also employed.
KdS gas vans and gas vans from other units from outside Minsk were also
employed to take people to the mass graves. It is not known whether or to
what these gas vans were used to gas individuals. The majority of victims
were killed by hand by means of a pistol shot to the back of the neck. The
shooting was carried out in accordance with prior actions (see chapter 9).
The action took three full days whereby all the Jews who had been selected
in the ghetto were killed. On all days nearly the entire KdS was deployed.
Many women and children were directly shot in the
ghetto. The majority of men were taken to Petraschkiewic outworks, northwest
of Minsk. There they had to dig pits, surrender their identity cards and
money, completely undress, fold the clothes carefully and stand at the edge
of pit. Then they were either shot in the back of the neck or with a salvo
When they were not killed immediately at the end of the execution action
hand grenades were thrown into the pits. Then earth was shovelled over the
top and the surface flattened by tanks.
From April 1943 SS-Hauptscharführer Adolf Rübe had command over the
ghetto. He deployed the labour commandos and led or accompanied all
execution actions, like his predecessors. According to Paul Kohl George
Heuser, Rübe's Jewish specialist Müller had actual command
over the ghetto.
Numerous later testimonies confirm that Rübe and a companion known as the
“little bastard” picd out Jews who they took to the cemetery from where
shots were later heard. Thereafter the two returned alone.
One day he led a young boy by the hand to the cemetery and, after giving him
a sweet, allowed him to pick flowers for his parent’s grave. Rübe shot the
boy while he was picking the flowers.
8. Deportation to a further camp in Minsk
Heinz Rosenberg was one of those who were deported to another camp in
Minsk for a short time and then deported further. He reports:
It was the morning of 1.9.1943 when they were marched out of the ghetto down
the main street to the centre of the city. Hermann Hauptmann, Arthur
Menke, Martin Stock, Ernst Selig and many other friends
were with him. They passed the opera house, where Hannelore worked.
The women stood outside and called out their names but were not allowed to
come nearer. After the march through the city they finally reached the
The camp had watch towers at all corners and a high barbed-wire fence all
around. The SS men who had accompanied them remained at the gate. Only Adolf
Rübe and another officer accompanied them and gave the on-duty SS men
a list with their names, then disappeared.
There were other prisoners there, Russians, Jews and others, but nobody
worked. There were three large horse stables, a barrack for the SS guards
and a barrack which served as kitchen.
In the stables there were no beds, chairs, mattresses or straw. The barracks
could only be used at night. During the day the prisoners had to remain
outside. In the evening they received a scoop of soup and a quarter pound of
bread. The soup was better than in the ghetto. Then the barrack doors were
closed. There were no covers or coats, no washroom or water in the barrack.
“(...) Our greatest surprise was when we were told that we could send a
short greeting to our nearest relatives in the ghetto. We did not believe
this as this had never been the case before. We were given paper and pencils
and the Kapos collected the greetings. (...)”
To our astonishment the next day we received replies from the ghetto. We
were happy to hear that they fared well. Some sent small packages. A regular
postal service developed.
After five days the guard on duty informed them their women could join them.
“Hermann and I were not sure whether it was sensible to have the women join
us. We wrote them a letter in which we explained our situation as clearly as
possible and left the decision to them.
Around midday the following day the women arrived Hannelore and
Erika were among them. We were overwhelmed. For the second time in
her life Erika had voluntarily followed me into a worse situation. We
greeted each other in silence and attempted to hearten each other. Erika
brought me greetings from my parents and Irmgard, who were as
concerned about me as I was about them. My mother even sent me a few things.
She had gone hungry in order to spare me a piece of bread. An hour later we
were permitted to escort the women into our barrack. We explained the
situation to them, put the few things they had brought with them together
with our things and returned to the yard.
In the afternoon we had our hair cut and shaved by the Kapos and their
“Thre were approximately 1,000 men and 100 women in the camp. It was
The last letter from my parents arrived on 13 September. My mother wrote to
Erika that she would send some bread for my birthday the next day. She hoped
we would survive and be happy. She did not complain about her situation. We
were very moved by so much love but could do nothing to reciprocate it.
9. Execution Actions in the proximity of Trostinez
When the Minsk ghetto was dissolved on 1.9.1943 there
were still at least 6,500 Jews in the ghetto of whom around 2,500 were
Thereafter there still remained 4,500 Jews (Russian and German) within the
At the beginning of October 1943 Dr. Erich
Ehrlinger, BdS Russia-Centre and White Russia ordered the
extermination of these remaining 4,500 Jews.
They were shot in a number mass executions spread over two or three weeks
until around 500 remained. The “actions” took place in such a way: clearing
commandos herded the people together. They were then driven in batches by
lorry to the place of execution in the proximity of the Trostinez estate.
Here the victims had to completely undress before, in accordance with
earlier mass shooting, they were executed with a pistol shot in the back of
the neck. Around 500 people were killed at each execution.
Initially around 550 Jewish craftsmen and workers, who were employed by
different departments of the German civil administration and the Wehrmacht
and quartered there following the dissolution of the ghetto, were spared.
The shootings were carried out according to a so-called
“framework” prepared by Erich Lütkenhus.
Special commandos were provided for each
“crucial point”. Generally a total 80 100 men, Protection Police and
Waffen-SS, were required for the various tasks. Members of the KdS (BdS)
were enlisted. KdS Dr. Eduard Strauch, and his successors, made sure
that when possible everyone participated and that the leaders set their men
a good example.
The planning for a execution action usually took place via written
instruction from the KdS (BdS) but occasionally via verbal command.
Depending upon the length of the pit up to twenty men with
pistols were posted and relieved by men who cordoned off the area. Pistols
were always used. As a rule each executioner received 25 rounds of
ammunition prior to the execution action. A shot to the back of the neck was
When there was the suspicion that the shot had not killed a victim
additional shots were fired. Generally a submachine gun was fired into the
pit until everything was quiet and motionless.
There was no effort to see that everyone was dead before the mass grave was
Already in the spring of 1942 Dr. Strauch had
made extensive organizational preparations in order to execute a large
number of people trouble-free and in a short period of time.
He sought out a wooded area with medium-high pine trees as execution area.
Such a wooded area lay roughly 3 to 5 km from the Trostinez estate. The
Trostinez estate was a former collective farm which was requisitioned by the
KdS in April 1942. The estate lay approximately 1.5 km southeast of Minsk
and was reached via the Minsk-Smilowitsche-Mogilew highway from which a
branch road, some hundred meters long, led south to the estate. The wooded
area lay north of the highway. You had to drive some kilometres in the
direction of Smilowitsche and then take a northerly dirt road which led
directly past the wood. The wood lay away from any human settlement and was
Great (Bolschoi) Trostinez on the road to Gomel and Mogilev.
Little (Maly) Trostinez, with lake, south of the highway.
Pits of various sizes were dug in the wood. They were
up to 3 metres deep and wide and up to 50 metres long. Russian prisoners of
the KdS (BdS) were used to dig the pits which took several days.
Shortly before the city of Minsk was evacuated at the
end of June 1944 the approximately 500 Jews, who had survived the
dissolution of the ghetto, were executed by members of BdS. The majority
were shot in the proximity of the Trostinez estate. These included the 80 to
100 Jews who were employed on the estate at that time.
A further execution action was carried out against the Jews who were still
employed by the BdS. These 30 people were predominantly craftsmen. With the
exception of four of them they were all hounded into a cellar on one of the
last days before the departure of the members of the BdS and shot. Their
corpses were left where they lay.
The wood used was the Blagowschtschina wood southeast of the
village of Great (Bolschoi) Trostinez.
In autumn 1943 the Red Army advanced ever closer to Minsk. A decree from
Heinrich Muller of the RSHA with the file reference 1005 ordered a so-called
“unearthing” (“Enterdung”) so as to erase all traces of mass slaughte
opening the burial pits and burning the corpses they contained. “Special
Commando 1005” (“Sonderkommandos 1005”) were established under the command
of SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel. The action became known as Action
Sonderkommando 1005-Mitte (Sk 1005-Mitte) (Special
Commando 1005-Centre), under the command of Dr. Ehrlinger, was
deployed in the area of army group centre. This had the task of exhuming the
around 150,000 corpses buried in the 34 mass graves of Blagowschtschina.
This action lasted from 27.10.1953 to 15.12.1943.
During this time the Sk 1005-Centre was successively led by the SS men
Arthur Harder, Friedrich Seekel and Max Krahner. Adolf
Rübe supervised and directed the workers. During this time he made a
complaint to Himmler because the "garbage men"” were so badly treated.
Otto Goldapp commanded the guard detail
comprising 40 to 60 Protection policemen and 40 volkdeutscher Waffen-SS men.
In addition there were Hungarian, Romanian, Yugoslavian and Russian
Hilfswillige (Hiwis) (“volunteer helpers”). Otto Drews waGoldapp's deputy.
The prisoner commandos had the task of opening the graves, removing the
corpses with hooks they had forged themselves, loading them onto self-made
stretchers and stacking them high in funeral piles: a layer of tree trunks,
a layer of corpses, until they had reached a height of three to five metres.
This pile, with approximately 200 corpses, was then scattered with gasoline,
later other oils, and ignited with rags on the end of poles.
Live people were also burnt.
At the beginning of November 1943, 8 to 10 Jewish women and men were burned
who together with 20 other Jews had blown up the SD casino at the
beginning of September 1943. George Heuser ordered the burning of
these live people.
The labour commando consisted of 50 to 100 Russian prisoners. They themselves
were shot and burned after certain intervals. The next morning new prisoners
were taken from the Minsk prisons who were likewise later shot.
Having unearted corpses here, from the end of October, a new site for large
execution actions had to be found. This was found approximately 500 metres
from the Trostinez estate in the Schaschkowka wood. A three meter high
wooden fence with barbed-wire and notices hindered observation. The people
were immediately burnt that fell into the pit after being shot. The 80
to 100 Jews who had worked on the estate were also executed here.
10. Further Deportations in the direction of the Reich (1943-1945)
On 14.9.1943 began a further deportation for the
approximately 500 Jewish men from the dissolved German ghetto (SG 1).
This time the deportation was in the direction of the Reich and for some took them to 12
In temporal succession these were:
Treblinka, Budzyn 1, Budzyn 2, Reichshof, Plaszow, Wieliczka, Flossenbürg,
Colmar, Sachsenhausen, Bremen-Blumenthal, Bremen-Schützenhof and
Heinz Rosenberg experienced all these camps and
When the Minsk transport, with 100 men in each cattle-wagon, stopped for the
first time, after approximately two days and nights, the deportees saw a
huge camp. Rosenberg read the name “Treblinka”. They saw many large blocks.
The SS put the prisoners into ten groups of approximately 250 men with very
different occupations. These left Treblinka that evening crammed together in
After approximately twelve hours travel they were
marched into Budzyn (1) camp. They saw around ten large blocks. They were to
work for the Heinkel works. Budzyn was initially a prisoner-of-war camp for
Polish Jewish soldiers. Three months previously Ukrainian SS had severed the
heads of all the children. The worst thing here was the daily march to the
factory. The conditions in the blocks, where approximately 200 prisoners
were accommodated, were bad: lice, dirt, darkness and illness. The factory
had previously been a former Polish army enterprise. A railway track ran
through the site.
Budzyn with ghetto. Click to enlarge
Hermann Hauptmann and Arthur Menke were employed as
electricians, Martin Stock and Rosenberg as mechanics. One day
15 men were selected as timekeepers for the prisoners at work. Stock and
Rosenberg were among those chosen.
In February they moved into a new camp, Budzyn 2. At
this time in addition to the above the following prisoners were still alive:
Kurt Spitzkopf, the Levis and Sternbergs (in each case
father and son), Seligman, Strauss, Henry Poless and
The new camp, which lay adjacent a factory, had 30
blocks each for 100 people. Since departing Hamburg they had not experienced
so much regard as here. They felt relatively good.
However some of them had to build large factory buildings.
In April 500 men, among them Hauptmann and A. Menke, were
transported to Radom to another Heinkel works factory.
Rosenberg, together with 250 mostly German Jews, was
deported to the Reichshof camp again to work for Heinkel. The journey lasted
three days. Rosenberg was employed as blacksmith.
This was a small and “good” camp. It was not the only camp so far that the
SS had no admission and was completely under the command of the factory and
Jewish camp leader.
At the end of June they were loaded onto cattle-wagons, approximately 65
people to a wagon, and arrived at Plaszow on the second day, where a half
hour march brought them to the camp.
The Plaszow camp was built upon a former Jewish
cemetery. Approximately 90% of the prisoners were Jewish women. They had
sheared heads and had the heavy work of constructing roads within the camp.
They were also sexually abused. The SS women were worse than the men. After
10 days the men were driven in lorries to the Wieliczka camp.
Wieliczka was a small camp adjacent a salt mine. There
were only male prisoners here. The mud was an unusual mixture of clay and
salt. Most prisoners only survived two months here. Rosenberg met
Hauptmann and Menke who had come from Radom here.
The next day approximately 650 men from the two transports were transported
again, 80 people to a wagon. After approximately four days the train stopped
in a goods station near the Flossenbürg camp.
Here the prisoners were accommodated in a very clean
camp. However they were constantly on the run. Approximately 600 men were
accommodated in two blocks. Firstly they came into quarantine. After two
weeks they had to drag stones and pull wagons. A few days later the Radom
transport was transported again. In mid August the others, approximately 200
men, were loaded onto cattle-wagons which, after a six day journey, reached
Colmar in occupied France.
Initially they were accommodated in four barracks in
the former prisoner-of-war camp. After one week they were moved to the Urbis
camp, with 100 men to a block. Here they worked for several weeks in a 3 km
long tunnel where parts for submarines were manufactured. The prisoners had
to work twelve hours a day with hardly any air. This was the first time they
had experienced such terrible working conditions. Finally everything was
dissolved and the prisoners were loaded into three goods-wagons. After four days
they were greeted at Oranienburg railway station with rubber truncheons,
leather whips and kicks.
They reached Sachsenhausen concentration camp after a
half hour march. Here prisoners had to regularly witness so-called
“punishments”: flogging on the so-called buck, the so-called tree haing
and squatting knees bent. The 200 men had to load and unload material from
nearby railway wagons.
One day 190 prisoners were transported in four cattle-wagons to Bremen.
In Bremen, which they reached after a three day
journey, they were marched to the Blumenthal camp. This was very small but the
block elders were brutal and the Oberscharführer a sadist. The food was also
After the Oberscharführer learned that some of them came from Hamburg
he made Martin Stock block-elder and Rosenberg room-elder.
The prisoners worked in a shipyard. They were woken at 4.30 a.m., taken to
the port where after roughly 1½ hours by boat they reached their work place.
Rosenberg’s work was with valves. Torture was also an everyday occurrence
here. Beside the “bath in the barrel” a frequent punishment was to
repeatedly throw a prisoner into the air until he was practically dead. Then the
camp-elder danced on his chest until he was dead. By mid December only 170
Jewish prisoners remained alive.
At Christmas they were transported to the Shützenhof
camp in Bremen. It was situated near the shipyard and consisted of only four
At the end of January the prisoners were only deployed in clearing
operations. Approximately 100 men remained alive of whom roughly 20 were
originally from Minsk. The next transport, to Bergen-Belsen, was the most
terrible of all. They were six days and seven nights without food or water
on the journey. Half of the prisoners were dead on arrival.
The rest were allocated a block which was so full they
had to step on other bodies. There were neither pallets nor latrines. At the
beginning of April the camp commandant Kramer ordered the corpses,
which had lain for months unburied, to be dragged into mass graves. On 15
April 1945 advancing British tanks reached Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Martin Stock and Heinz Rosenberg congratulated each other although all had
to remain for the time being in the camp.
© Dipl.-Pol. Wilhelm Mosel,
Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft, Hamburg.