Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

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Worksheet for Poster (11)

Pages 50 – 53

  1. a. Look at the picture and study the excerpts from Helena Kotorgeina’s diary. What was changed in the fate of the Jews in the occupied territories of the U.S.S.R, beginning from June 1941?
  2. b. Study the excerpt from the underground Jewish newspaper “Bulletin” from October 1941. In your opinion, did the readers understand and realize what was happening in the newly-occupied territories in the East?

Optional question:

Study the excerpts from Himmler’s speech.

What is the ideological Message the murderers were supposed to carry with them while executing their orders?

Reading Material for Poster (11) Worksheet
Kovno Diary (1941-1942)[1]

September 12, 1941

In Marijampole (a patient, who was an eyewitness, told me), they dug a deep pit, took women out there with their children, and shot them to death. Then they ordered the next group to lie down on the still-warm – and possibly still alive – corpses, and killed again. Moans, cries of despair, wailing! A few “Shaulists” [2] fainted, and ambulances were called for them. The women were left in underpants and brassieres and the men in underpants; all the rest of the clothing was arranged in a pile and given out to those who had taken part in the killing.

October 30, 1941

At dawn it was heard that in the “Ninth Fort” (the death fort) the prisoners had dug deep pits, and when the people were led there it was already clear to them all that this was death. They burst out crying, wailing, screaming. Some tried to escape on the way, but they were shot to death. Many corpses remained in the fields. At the “fort” the doomed were slipped, and in groups of three hundred they ran them to the pits. First they threw in the children. The women were shot on the side of the pit, and then came the men’s turn… Many were buried alive… The people doing the shooting were all drunk. I was told all this by an acquaintance who heard it from a German soldier, an eyewitness, who wrote to his Catholic wife, “Yesterday I became convinced that there is no God; if there were, He wouldn’t have let these things happen…”

(1) From “The Diary of Helena Kutorgiena (A Lithuanian Doctor)”, in Yalkut Moreshet 17, February 1974, pp.44-45; 4950 (Hebrew)

(2) After Lithuania was occupied, Lithuanian police brigades were formed, and their men took part in the annihilation operations in Lithuania, Byelorussia, and Poland.


Evacuation of the Jews

I also want to speak to you here, in complete frankness, of a really grave chapter. Amongst ourselves, for once, it shall be said quite openly, but all the same we will never speak about it in public. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30,1934*, to do our duty as we were ordered, and to stand comrades who had erred against the wall and shoot them, and we never spoke about it and we never will speak about it. It was a matter of natural tact that is alive in us, thank God, that we never talked about it amongst ourselves, that we never discussed it. Each of us shuddered and yet each of us knew clearly that the next time he would do it again if it were an order, and if it were necessary.

I am referring here to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. This is one of the things that is easily said: “The Jewish people are going to be exterminated,” that’s what every Party member says, “sure, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination – it’ll be done.” And then they all come along, the 80 million worthy Germans, and each one has his one decent Jew. of course, the others are swine, but this one, he is a first-rate Jew. Of all those who talk like that, not one has seen it happen, not one has had to go through with it. Most of you men know what it is like to see 100 corpses side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stood fast through this and – except for cases of human weakness – to have stayed decent that has made us hard. This is an unwritten and never-to-be-written page of glory in our history, for we know how difficult it would be for us if today – under bombing raids and the hardships and deprivations of war – if we were still to have the Jews in every city as secret saboteurs, agitators, and inciters. If the Jews were still lodged in the body of the German nation, we would probably by now have reached the stage of 1916-17.

The wealth they possessed we took from them. I gave a strict order, which has been carried out by SS Obergruppenfuhrer Pohl, that this wealth will of course be turned over to the Reich in its entirety. We have taken none of it for ourselves. Individuals who have erred will be punished in accordance with the order given by me at the start, threatening that anyone who takes as much as a single Mark of this money is a dead man. A number of SS men – they are not very many committed this offense, and they shall die. There will be no mercy. We had the moral right, we had the duty towards our people, to destroy this people that wanted to destroy us. But we do not have the right to enrich ourselves by so much as a fur, as a watch, by one Mark or a cigarette or anything else. We do not want, in the end, because we destroyed a bacillus, to be infected by this bacillus and to die. I will never stand by and watch while even a small rotten spot develops or takes hold. Wherever it may form we will together burn it away. All in all, however, we can say that we have carried out this most difficult of tasks in a spirit of love for our people. And we have suffered no harm to our inner being, our soul, our character…

In: Documents on the Holocaust, p.344-345

*The reference is to “the night of the long knives” murder of Rohm, SA leaders and other purges.