The Holocaust Historiography Project

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Translation of document 054-PS

The Reichminister For The Occupied Eastern Territories C.P., 7 October 1942
The Representative at the Army Sector B. L 14/10

To the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, Chief Section I,

BERLIN, Unter den Linden 63.

Reprint to Captain Lorenz Hg. of the High Command of the Army

Subject: Treatment of Ukrainian Specialists.


Attached I send you the copy of a report made by the Commandant of the Collecting Center for Specialists at Charkow. (report submitted at the end of September 1942) as well as the copy of a letter from April 1942.

Relative to the treatment of Ukrainian specialists in the Reich, I was asked by the Chief of Staff of the Commander in Chief to attend to the matter most emphatically since the complaints here never cease. I have discussed it thoroughly with the chief of section VII at the Commander in Chief's. I went to see Captain Schmid and visited the camp. As synopsis of the discussions with the gentlemen and reading of reports the following can be established in general:

a. With some few exceptions the Ukrainians employed individually in the Reich e.g. at small trade plants, as agricultural laborers, as domestic helps, etc., are very satisfied with their conditions.

b. The Ukrainians sheltered in the community camps, however, complain very much.

The enclosed report of Captain Schmid reports these matters in detail.

The question of treatment of the Ukrainians, transported to the Reich as workers of the East worries the bureaus of the Army concerned a great deal. The Commander in Chief urged me to visit some of the camps in the Reich myself as soon as possible and to report to the proper authorities in order to bring about immediate relief. The Army zone is by no means satisfied. All the circumstances of discontent contribute more and more to more people joining the bands or wandering away to the camp of the Bandera esp. other groups hostile to us.

The best propaganda of all would be to treat the workers of the East well; great demands are not made by the Ukrainians anyhow. If their treatment will only be somewhat better and humanely decent these people, who make in part a good impression, will be more than satisfied; these people after all came to the Greater German Reich at least at the beginning of the employment of workers of the East in the Reich of their own free will and full of hope. The unsuitable treatment described in the reports is hardly propaganda and is not profitable for us. After all, we are not at war with the Ukrainian population and certainly not with people who by their voluntary enlistment for labor, help us to win the war.

It also would serve our purposes definitely better to utilize the specialist in his specialty.

[signed] THEURER (Theurer)

1st Lieutenant Copy of Copy

Collecting Center for Skilled Workers at Charkow. Captain Schmid, Commandant.

To the Commander of the Army Sector B., Section VII CHARKOW

Subject. Abuses in the treatment of Ukrainian skilled workers. By reason of my capacity as commandant of the Collecting Center for skilled workers and the transport of skilled workers to the Reich connected with it and thereby being in touch with the various groups of the Ukrainian population, I am informed of the morale of the Ukrainians in the extended surroundings of the Eastern Ukraine. Resulting from this knowledge I have to state that an atmosphere of animosity has taken the place of the original attitude toward the Reich. This sudden change of mood is connected partly with the scarcity of food for the civilian population caused by the war and intensified by the measures for centralization. The more important motive the extreme abuses which have taken place at various times in the treatment of skilled workers shipped to Germany.

Since a prosperous economic cooperation with the 35 million people of the Ukraine lies within the interest of our coming generations and since the Ukrainians themselves are organically healthy, very capable of development and rich in valuable and willing constructive forces, it is necessary to prevent in time an estrangement starting at the roots and to recognize the beginnings of the disastrous development before it is too late, and to take effective countermeasures.

I. Abuses in recruiting.

At the beginning of the action the recruiting worked on the basis of voluntary enlistment. Later on a certain pressure had to be put on to reach certain minimum quotas. This however did not give a license to the starosts and to their militia, entrusted with the drafting, to the brutalities mentioned in the following.

The starosts esp. village elders are frequently corruptible, they continue to have the skilled workers, whom they drafted, dragged from their beds at night to be locked up in cellars until they are shipped. Since the male and female workers often are not given any time to pack their luggage, etc., many skilled workers arrive at the Collecting Center for Skilled Workers with equipment entirely insufficient (without shoes, only two dresses, no eating and drinking utensils, no blankets, etc.). In particularly extreme cases new arrivals therefore have to be sent back again immediately to get the things most necessary for them. If people do not come along at once, the threatening and beating of skilled workers by the above mentioned militia is a daily occurrence and is reported from most of the communities. In some cases women were beaten until they could no longer march. One bad case in particular was reported by me to the commander of the civil police here (colonel Samek) for severe punishment (place Sozolinkow, district Dergatschi). The encroachments of the starosts and the militia are of a particularly grave nature because they usually justify themselves by claiming that all that is done in the name of the German Armed Forces. In reality the latter have conducted themselves almost throughout in a highly understanding manner toward the skilled workers and the Ukrainian population. The same, however, can not be said of some of the administrative agencies. To illustrate this be it mentioned, that a woman once arrived being dressed with barely more than a shirt.

Particularly distressing is the fact that, on account of issued ordnances to prevent smuggling, all food acquired by the skilled workers and the rest of the population by buying or bartering household utensils, etc., is being taken away by the militia on the way. This is not rarely accompanied by beatings (without regard to objections or given circumstances).

It happened that skilled workers who came to Germany had sold or bartered their own belongings partly or completely in that way, thus they owned neither household furniture, etc., nor any other goods or food. By combatting smuggling in that manner, unfortunately only too often very poor people are being affected and robbed of their last property, while the real smugglers are hard to catch. Furthermore food has disappeared from the market due to a freezing of prices.

Family members left behind and formerly supported by those who went to Germany get social care. This, however, is only the case in the city of Charkow, not in the case of people on the country (note: used to be the case, now all get special food distribution, the hardship thus is removed). The taking away of food esp. the sale of goods mentioned above often results in considerable hardships for those left behind and has sometimes strong effects, since neither communal nor reciprocal assistance exist here.

Very depressing for the morale of the skilled workers and the population is the effect of those persons shipped back from Germany for having become disabled or not having been fit for labor commitment from the very beginning. Several times already transports of skilled workers on their way to Germany have crossed returning transports of such disabled persons and have stood on the tracks alongside of each other for a long period of time. These returning transports are insufficiently cared for. Nothing but sick, injured and weak people, mostly 50-60 to a car, are usually escorted by 3-4 men. There is neither sufficient care or food. The returnees made frequently unfavorable but surely exaggerated statements relative to their treatment in Germany and on the way. As a result of all this and of what the people could see with their own eyes, a psychosis of fear was evoked among the specialist workers esp. the whole transport to Germany. Several transport leaders of the 62nd and the 63rd in particular-reported thereto in detail. In one case the leader of the transport of skilled workers observed with his own eyes how a person who died of hunger was unloaded from a returning transport on the side track [1st Lt. Hoffmann of the 63rd transport Station Darniza]. Another time it was reported that 3 dead had to be deposited by the side of the tracks on the way and had to be left behind unburied by the escort. It is also regrettable that these disabled persons arrive here without any identification. According to the reports of the transport commanders one gets the impression that these persons unable to work are assembled, penned into the wagons and are sent off provided only by a few men escort, and without special care for food and medical or other attendance. The Labor Office at the place of arrival as well as the transport commanders confirm this impression.

II. Deficiencies on Transport

During the transport to Germany provisions should be made for food, water and drink, answering the call of nature, medical care, orderly transportation, avoidance of maltreatment, delousing according to regulation, and supervision. To take care of all this a military escort is detailed consisting of 1 car commander for each car, 1 train guard for every 6 cars, 1 supply man for every 5 cars, and 1 control staff for every 3 cars. This is the minimum strength required according to corresponding reports of all transport commanders. With less than that orderly care and transportation of specialists is no longer secured. It has been often confirmed that insufficient and uninstructed escorts caused fatal accidents, insufficient food and care, escape of hundreds of workers, most brutal maltreatment with consequent disorder and confusion. Unfortunately the escorts were depleted on the way in various manners by Army details esp. by commanders for the supervision of furloughs or after the transports were taken over by the police. This always affected the transports unfavorably. The transports commanders are instructed to secure the interests of the transports by all possible means against encroachments of all kind. They are of vital importance for the Great German Reich.

Recently the practice started of handing the transports over to new escorts in Przemysl. These escorts are under the command of a delegate of the German Labor Front or the Ministry of Labor. This practice is clearly against the regulations and rules of the Reich Marshal and the Deputy General for Labor Supply. Taking a good management of the transport by the delegates for granted, incoming reports here list the following deficiencies: The escorts are understaffed which causes in part lack of care and food and rough treatment, doctors and released female domestic helpers are detained in camps without authority for want of supplementary identification papers, social care iS lacking. A verbal report at hand relates in detail and with the witnesses the irresponsibility and indecent conduct of delegate Albert Nuessen who took over the 62nd transport. The transfer to the camp is made as fast as possible and not perfect. The railroad offices are of course directed to support the transport commanders. Unfortunately, however, some of the office chiefs of the railroad treat the transports of specialists often as very immaterial. The chief of transportation in Romodan e.g. stated to a transport commander that these transports are not important. Yet the Fuehrer himself ordered these transports, and the problem of work power was declared to be the most important and urgent in order to increase the potential of armament

The food situation of the transports is now somewhat improved after giving right notice ahead of time. Previously some of the food stations failed grossly. However, it happens again and again that in spite of giving advance notice of the transports strength in time, no warm or cold food is ready or available. Sometimes this is due to military or hospital transports which passed through before. This can be easily understood. Sometimes, however, the notice was not passed on or simply nothing at all was done. In the Reich it is generally better. Of course it happens when trains are detoured a great deal of the specialists go hungry for days. The iron ration is always taken along and also used. It mostly depends on the transport commander and the office -chief for social care how unforeseen food difficulties are overcome. The Army offices show always greatest understanding for supplying these transports, the deputies of the labor front most of the time fulfill their appointments well, however some of the deputies of the attendance service have completely failed in their duties. The transport commanders are instructed to give exact names and conditions in the future. The red cross which at times is overburdened helps with the supplying; unfortunately, however, the attitude and behavior of many female red cross workers toward the specialists is based often on uncomprehension of the Fuehrer’s great action in regard to Eastern workers, and they treat especially the female workers in an outrageous manner. Food also has been refused at times with the reference that these were “Russian swine.” Nobody pays attention to the fact that these are Ukrainians, because there is a lack of information to that effect. In reference to this, attention is called to the fact that it has happened on several occasions that people have broken out of the cars after several days of hungering, hurried into the nearby villages, sold their goods and acquired food. In such cases of course it is not to be expected that they all come back. Such gross incidents of the transports of the first months have not to our knowledge been repeated in the summer. However, it has been reported that about 500 workers escaped along the route out of a transport which started from Kiev, accompanied by only a few policemen, supposedly 5 in all, (and without medical personnel) and which convoy was badly supplied and taken care of.

To understand the supply problem, it is important to know, that often only a short time is being allotted for the feeding of the many hundred people by the train commander or the railway station officer. Therefore all the workers can only be fed before the departure of the train if there is a sufficient amount of accompanying and attendance personnel and if the food is handed out quickly at several distributing points; in addition close cooperation of the workers is needed. Because the transports must often stop 1-3 Km outside of the stations it still happens frequently that a small part of the workers remains without rations because the engineers, in spite of agreements and the stationmaster let the trains take of without warning. On the basis of reported incidents, attention must be called to the fact that it is irresponsible to keep the workers locked in the cars for many hours so that they cannot even take care of the calls of nature. It is evident that the people of a transport must be given an opportunity from time to time to get drinking water, to wash, and in order to relieve themselves. Cars have been showed in which people had made holes so they they could take care of the calls of nature. When nearing bigger stations persons should, if possible relieve themselves far from these stations.

The following abuses were reported from the delousing stations: In the women’s and girls' shower rooms, services was partly performed by men or men would mingle around or even helped with the soaping!; and vice versa, there was female personnel in the men’s shower rooms; men also for some time were taking photographs in the women’s shower rooms. Since mainly Ukrainian peasants were transported in the last months, as far as the female portion of these are concerned they are mostly of a high moral standard and used to strict decency, they must have considered such a treatment as a national degradation. The above mentioned abuses have been, according to our knowledge, settled by the intervention of the transport commanders. The reports of the photographing were made from Halle; the reports about the former were made from Kiewerce. Such incidents in complete disregard of the honor and respect of the Greater German Reich may still occur again here or there.

III. Abuses inside Germany

Undoubtedly the higher authorities in the Reich do everything to attend, in the best manner, to the workers from the East, especially from the Ukraine, who have been called to Germany. In most of the enterprises, too, in the countries and in households, one is not only satisfied most of the time with the Ukrainian women and girls as help, but they are also treated with a happy solicitude and with understanding for their position and for our relations to the Ukraine.

Here too, unfortunately voices are heard that tell of bad treatment in the collecting as well as other camps. All the time people tell about beatings and thrashings and constantly also they write about them. It seems that especially these men who have functions pertaining to order and security violate sometimes very much the limits of admissibility and identify the Ukrainians as Bolsheviks while they have actually for decades opposed themselves to Bolshevism as its natural enemies. The camp commanders also, usually show no understanding for the Ukrainians. The treatment in the camps is described as being bad and very brutal.

With regard to food, it is being felt in Germany that in a war for life and death, it is but natural to impose harsh restrictions in the first place on foreigners who have been up to the present in the enemy’s camps. No doubt the Reich and the businesses make efforts to keep the workers who were brought in, in good health and working condition. If abuses take place here, it is harmful to ourselves and should be remedied in each single case.

Disadvantageous also is the fact that a great portion of the German population considers the Ukrainian labor forces as their worst enemies and as Russian Bolshevists and treat them accordingly. A definite clarification is urgently needed here. In the face of such an attitude of the Ukraine it will be completely impossible to have for decades and centuries a successful and durable solution for the great economical and political problem of the East especially of the Southern part.

Until recently the postal communication problem of the specialists with their country was not fully solved and gave cause to ill rumor and depression. At present an improvement is being planned.

Here in the Ukraine thousands of recruiting notices and placards have been put out to get cooperation from the people and urging them to report to the Reich with the assurance of best treatment Therefore, considering this and also the above mentioned abuses, it would seem to be of interest to the Reich, and necessary for the security of our future race and to prevent a later evil, to prevent by all means an alienation of the Ukraine with its precious territories and population by settling vicious abuses and by a clarification of the situation.

Certified True Copy C. P. 5 October 1942.

[illegible signature]

At the V.O. of the Reichs Ministry for the occupied territories of the East.

Deputy with Army, Territory B. Official seal.

Copy of Copy

Copy of a letter of graduate engineer given to the Specialist Collecting Camp.

(Translated from the original in the Specialist Collecting Camp.)

27 April 1942

Camp Dabendorf, Berlin Reich Railway direction.

Mister Franz H. Ergard and H. Nester!

As I have told you in my letter of 20 April 1942, we have been transported to the Grunewald Railroad car repair factories. In the first week I have worked as a manual laborer in the main warehouse of the works. I have unloaded coal, have dug the ground and have stacked lumber. This is supposed to be the “employment of Specialists” in their own line of work. The question constantly arises, why did I go to Germany, maybe that I who volunteered as a specialist (graduate engineer) for Germany, am to be transformed into a banned prisoner? I wonder why? What misdeeds have I committed against Germany? On the contrary. I have believed all those who spoke in Charkow about the worker’s life in Germany. My attitude toward Germany has remained kind and friendly, I want to work, but I do not want to be led astray, to be treated as a civilian prisoner and without any care, or as a forgotten man who can find nowhere and receives from nobody, care and moral backing. I had hoped that we would be treated humanely and quite differently. It should be clear that I did not come to Germany to beg for charity. I had a job in Charkow and a decent working place; this I have renounced for the good of Germany and sacrificed for the improvement of the condition of my family. It was clear to me that I had to help that state that delivered me from the Bolshevist yoke, from this yoke under which I had to live for 24 years. Now I had expected a better future for myself. Our food ration consists of: at 4 o'clock in the morning ¾ of a liter of tea, in the evening at 6 o'clock ¾ of a liter of soup and 250 grams of bread a day. That is all. With such food we have to dig the ground and great requirements are made from us just like from manual laborers. On account of the undernourishment and the heavy work I am weak and exhausted today and I don’t know if I can endure and survive this much longer. To what conditions thoughtlessness can drive a man! Into a condition which will probably not be pleasant to anybody.

I beg you all, deliver me, help that I can go back to my family! If this is impossible, ease my condition otherwise I may commit a stupidity, escape or suicide.

There is no possibility to continue to live like this.

Your, Grigori.

P.S.: Expect with impatience to hear from you. What is the possibility of sending me a work suit which in my stupidity I have not taken along.

Certified copy of Original 5 Oct. 42 Mamperl, employee

(At the V.O. of the Reich Ministry of the occupied territories of the East. Deputy with Army, Territory B.)