[Document located by Bastian Fleermann in 2012 at Wiener Library, London, ref 1113/1; scan in my possession; translation by Roberto Muehlenkamp; see transport list here]
Regarding Evacuation of Jews to Minsk
Transport Escort from 10.11 to 184.108.40.206. Transport Journey
The transport of Jews, comprising 992 Jews from the cities Düsseldorf, Essen and Wuppertal, departed on 10.11.1941 at 10:40 hours from the freight station Düsseldorf-Derendorf. The journey went via Mettmann to Wuppertal-Steinbeck, where the Jews to be evacuated from there were already loaded and ready and attached to the train. In Wuppertal the train’s delay was already 40 minutes. The journey went via Hagen-Soest to Paderborn. The delay until there had further increased and was now already 125 minutes. 6 kilometers before the next station the train broke apart as the locomotive couldn’t pull the heavy train over the slope and was pounding more and more. The calling of a pushing locomotive, which pushed the disengaged part of the train until Altenbeken, and the transshipment of the Jews caused the delay to increase to 3 hours and 40 minutes. Hereafter the transport was conducted via Northeim – Nordhausen – Halle – Cottbus – Sagan – Glogau (where the delay had increased to 8 hours and 30 minutes) – Lissa-Kalisch – Litzmannstadt to Warsaw, where the train arrived at the station Warsaw-East on 12.11 at 4:15 hours. The delay was already over 13 hours. Due to this big delay the locomotive meant for this train had already been put to other use. Waiting for a new locomotive lasted until 12 hours, i.e. almost 8 hours, during which the train stood unheated at the station. The outside temperature on this day was 12 degrees below zero. Thereafter the journey went via the border station at the former German-Russian border, Malkinia (here again a stop of 1 ½ hours), to Bialystok. There the train was received with noticeable alarm. It turned out that along the way a locomotive with two freight wagons had been on the track, which could barely be taken to a sidetrack in time and the turnout turned 20 m before the transport train. In Bialystok the station master then informed me that further on the line there might be partisan groups who stopped and tried to plunder trains. The train was now not sent along the direct line, but had to deviate in the direction of Brest-Litovsk, in order to go via the small junction Czeremcha to Volkovirsk, where the main line was reached again. Already one station after Bialystok, at Lovitzka, the train broke for the second time due to the Polish train driver’s bad driving. As obtaining a pushing locomotive was out of the question, the train had to be shunted. The coupling torn out was fortunately on the back side of the damaged wagon, so that this wagon could be taken along at the end of the train. There was a turnout close by, so that the shunting was possible. At Czeremcha the wagon then had to be replaced, as it could no longer be connected to the brake hoses. A replacement wagon was available. The damaged wagon, which by the way was the replacement wagon borrowed in Altenbeken, got stuck in Czeremcha. Due to this incident the main line at Volkovirsk was only reached hours later after traveling a distance of 174 km. In Czeremcha itself the train again had to lie in waiting from 2:30 to 9:30 hours due to a change of locomotive. The train was again unheated, and the outside temperature was 18 degrees below zero. The heating pipe was so frozen that later the locomotive could no longer push through the steam. Still it was possible to thaw out the hoses at least up to the escort detachment’s wagon. After a stay of 1 ½ hours in Hainovka the main line was again reached at Volkovirsk on 13.11 at 13:45 hours. Here we learned that from the Bialowicze forest by the line, the former Polish state hunting ground, where Reichsmarschall Göring had formerly been Pilsudski’s guest, 1200 Soviets had been taken out and that another 2 battalions were still in hiding there. The stay at Volkovirsk was again 3 hours. On the remaining journey the train again had to stop at Baranovicze for 2 hours and finally at Stolpcze for 2 ½ hours. On 14.11 at 10:40 hours, after exactly 96 hours, the transport reached the destination Minsk. The Jews at this time were quite softened-up, as the train had largely remained unheated and especially since entering Russian territory it had no longer been possible to take in water, because the water can only be drunk after boiling there, I had no means of boiling for almost 1000 persons and didn’t want to have cases of dysentery or typhoid fever in the train already. The Jewish doctor, Felsentaler from Düsseldorf, who along the way had made great efforts to help his racial fellows, had already told me in Warsaw that about 300 Jews were no longer in marching conditions. The unloading at Minsk could nevertheless be carried with the desired speed. All Jews also marched the way of about 40 minutes to the ghetto. During the unloading the escort detachment was assisted by Latvian police, who after their recent experiences with Russian Jews behaved so as to speed up the process. The unloading was finished around 12:25 hours. Already after arriving in the ghetto the Jews from Düsseldorf discovered a piano in a former bar and started a surprising performance. About 20 younger people performed nude dances, three couples engaged in sexual acts in front of everybody. The return to Asian ways thus seemed to require little effort.
2. City of Minsk.
The city of Minsk is about 90 % in ruins. Quite untouched is the Jewish quarter, which however only consists of the typical Russian wooden houses and is indescribably dirty. There are three large buildings left in Minsk, the Lenin House, the Soviets’ administration building, the opera, a construction that is as tasteless as it is overloaded inside in a new-rich manner, and in which now a soldiers’ cinema has been installed, and finally a former officers’ school, also an awful block, which on the inside looks like a stack-room.
This construction houses Police Battalion 32, a battalion of Latvians and the Security Service and State Police office. The room for these units is extraordinarily limited. About the population, which is supposed to formerly have been 200,000 people, I could obtain no more precise information. In the city there is only one shop, a flower shop, and the population is a burden for the occupiers as concerns food. From the Jewish quarter, in order to make room for the Jews evacuated from the Reich, 8,000 Russian Jews have been removed and shot by Latvian police. The commander was a Latvian officer, whose wife had been raped in front of his eyes by the Soviets and then murdered together with his 6 children. He himself escaped from a prisoner transport. This man, 27 years old, has completely white hair and looks like a very old man. The Jews he treats accordingly. In the city of Minsk the male population is rounded up and guarded every night. Nevertheless attacks on soldiers keep occurring all the time. Some days ago a first lieutenant was led into an ambush by a 7-year-old boy who stood by the road and reached out something to the car as if he wanted to sell it. When the officer stopped and walked towards the boy, there were two shots that wounded him mortally.
Due to the difficulties as concerns quarters and food in Minsk I was eager to take the return trip as soon as possible. The Battalion 32 itself had food only for one day and could spare for my 16 men only half a loaf of bread for each and two cans of liver sausage for all.
3. Russian Prisoners of War.
Already while approaching Minsk soldiers and station workers had told us true horror stories about the Russian prisoners of war. Although these things have nothing to do with the transport, I would nevertheless like to mention them for the sake of interest. It was told that the prisoners attacked and devoured each other. Due to two cases we noticed ourselves we became convinced that these tales were true. Once a man wounded by a shot from the escort of a prisoner transport as he tried to escape was immediately robbed of his clothes by another. Thereafter his body was cut up with a shard of glass, liver and lung were torn out and devoured by the fellow prisoners. At the Minsk freight station the following occurred by the adjacent ramp: one of three prisoners rebelled against a guard who was impelling him to work. The guard shot the man in the head, the skull burst. The two fellow prisoners plunged on it immediately and devoured the emerging brain matter. Finally we noticed on a heap of several hundred corpses of Russian prisoners, lying behind the Minsk railway station, that also here either the skulls had been smashed, the bodies torn up or parts of the buttocks cut out. The corpses were later loaded by fellow prisoners, who threw them around like animal carcasses, and for the few pieces of clothing that some still had on there was again a fight among the prisoners. After this observation it was a relief to see with what loving care the German graves had been arranged.
4. Return Journey of the Transport Detachment
As no scheduled trains circulate yet on Russian territory, the escort detachment had to use the next possible transportation opportunity. Such opportunity was supposed to be available as a mail train was to go to Warsaw around 17:30 hours and a passenger car for the detachment was supposed to be attached to it. However, no passenger car was available. Instead the detachment received an older freight wagon, which at least had an iron stove. Wood and coal were obtained and seats were at least provisionally hammered together from wooden planks. After we had waited in vain until about 20:30 hours for the departure of the mail train – in the meantime the detachment had been abundantly shunted around in the freight wagon – we were informed that the empty train, in which the Jews had arrived in the morning, was to be sent to Warsaw – Berlin that same evening. So we changed trains, unfortunately to 3rd class, as the wagon used on the trip here had meanwhile been stripped of its water cans, light bulbs and a part of its padding and furthermore the heating pipes were frozen. The detachment occupied the first wagon after the locomotive. Numerous Wehrmacht servicemen asked for permission to come along. Some of them coming from the front had already been on their way since 3.11 and exceeded their 7 travel days. This was on 14.11.
Departure from Minsk finally occurred on 22:30. Soon we found out that of course this empty train was everywhere dispatched as a second priority, or better last priority. In Volkovirsk, the distance to which was 262 km, the train arrived only on the following day, 15.11 at 23:00 hours, and was dispatched from there only on 16.11 at 7:15 hours. On the same day there was another stop in Czeremcha from 10:50 – 20:30 hours = 9 hours 40 minutes. The following 78 km to Bialystok took 4 hours and 10 minutes. In Bialystok the train was meant to lie still until the next day, 18.11. Thereupon I decided to continue the journey with the express train departing daily at 4:54 hours from Bialystok to Königsberg/Prussia. Arrival in Königsberg was at 10:43 hours. From Königsberg the journey continued at 12:39 hours. In Berlin, where the train was meant to arrive at 22:30 hours, the last train westward was missed, so that the journey continued on 18.11 at 8:33 hours from Berlin. During the night the men could sleep in the Chausseestrasse lodging. Arrival in Düsseldorf was on 18.11 at 20:38 hours with one hour delay. Thus the traveled distance was 3476 km.
4. [sic] Experiences
a) Marching rations on such a transport must be issued for more than just three days. Additionally an adequate amount of alcohol is necessary.
b) The men must each take along two blankets. Cookware must be provided.
c) If such cannot be issued on duty, the men should if possible take along spirit stoves.
d) As warm clothing earmuffs and woolen finger gloves are necessary. For the guards who during stops must stand by the train felt boots are requested. Two pairs would be sufficient for such a detachment.
e) The armament of one carbine and 30 rounds seems insufficient given the insecure conditions. 2 to 4 machine pistols or 2 light machine guns are desirable. If not available, it is suggested to issue hand grenades to the detachment. The men must take along steel helmets.
f) Furthermore portable spotlights are necessary. The escort detachment’s cars are in the middle of the trains. During stops it is not always possible to send men so far to the back that the end of the train can be watched. Such patrols don’t reach the escort wagon when the train moves on. Also for the men sent to the front part of the train it is dangerous to board the starting train when the escort wagon has reached their position. This must almost always be done from the rail, i.e. without any railway platform. In case of plundering attempts flare pistols are also necessary. Finally reserve batteries for the flashlights, and for the escort car itself candles as emergency lighting must be taken along.
g) The support by Wehrmacht posts, especially as concerns food, was very good. What merits especial praise, however, it the activity of the Red Cross nurses, who were available any time day or night and on several occasions helped the detachment to overcome ration bottlenecks.
5. [sic] The detachment provided by the 1st Company conducted itself very well. The men were fresh and zealous throughout. Incidents or sick reports did not occur.
|For the correctness:
Senior Master Sentinel of the Constabulary (Schutzpolizei)
Captain of the Constabulary (Schutzpolizei)