And this is less than 1% of the greatest Tragedy in the History of the World
9/30/2021, 2:08:01 AM
It was mass murder in chord: 80 years ago, SS murderers shot 33,771 people near Kiev. Few were convicted. A German lawyer now wants to bring one of the last alleged perpetrators to court.
The lawyer, 73 years old, is running out of time.
With each passing day, the likelihood that he will achieve his goal decreases.
“It’s a race that can hardly be won,” says Hans Brehm, who doesn’t want to be called by his real name here.
After all, 99-year-old Herbert W. can die at any time.
Brehm, who wants to remain anonymous out of self-protection, still wants to try: The lawyer wants to bring one of the last remaining alleged perpetrators of Babyn Jar to court.
“I want to have the man dragged in front of the Kadi,” emphasized Brehm in an interview. It is not important to him that the elderly come to prison afterwards. But at least one indictment, he wants to get that. “This is about atonement, about late justice,” says Brehm. “Why not hold a 99-year-old accountable? 99-year-olds were also murdered in Babyn Yar. “
Old people, babies and children, women and men: on September 29 and 30, 1941, the SS murderers and their assistants wreaked havoc on the outskirts of Kiev.
Babyn Yar, “Indian Gorge”, is the name of the valley.
There members of Sonderkommando 4a of SS-Einsatzgruppe C, supported by the Waffen-SS and police units, the Wehrmacht and Ukrainian militias, murdered exactly 33,771 Jews – so it says in the “USSR incident report No. 101” of October 2, 1941.
Opera music and schnapps for the killers
33,771 people in 36 hours, that’s more than 15 per minute – Babyn Jar meant murders in record time.
It was the largest single massacre of World War II in Europe.
Not even in the Nazi murder factories Auschwitz, Treblinka or Belzec were so many people killed at once in the same place.
Believing that they would be relocated, the Jews ran in a long line to the gorge.
There they had to hand in their valuables and passports, strip naked and sometimes lay face down on the corpses of those previously shot.
The members of the murder squads were exchanged regularly.
The organizers of the massacre had also thought of their physical well-being: a kitchen cart provided the henchmen with hot meals and schnapps;
Opera music echoed through the gorge to cover up the death screams.
“I saw people grow old and gray in seconds,” reported Dina Pronitschewa, one of the few survivors.
“You heard such a groan that your hair stood on end.
When I fell on the corpses, blood was poured over me;
the blood even got into my mouth and I had to vomit. ”In 1968 Pronitschewa described the horrific slaughter before the Darmstadt jury court.
“Action went smoothly“
The murderers, however, were extremely satisfied: “The operation itself went off without a hitch,” noted the “USSR incident report No. 106” of October 7, 1941. Due to “an extremely skillful organization,” the Jews “had to relocate until immediately before the shooting “Believed, it was said in a report, not without pride.
Even after the collapse of the Nazi regime, the perpetrators of Babyn Yar, a symbol of the »Holocaust by bullets« in Eastern Europe, did not appear to be guilty.
One felt less pity for the murdered than for the murderers.
“For them,” that is, the Jews, “a human life counted for nothing, in a sense,” said SS officer Paul Blobel, who, as standard leader of Sonderkommando 4a, was largely responsible for the massacre, at the Einsatzgruppen trial in Nuremberg.
“They did not know their intrinsic value,” said the defendant Blobel during interrogation. “In other words, you feel more sorry for the men who shot than for the victims?” Asked Public Prosecutor Benjamin Ferenz. Blobel’s answer: “Yes, our shooters had to be looked after.” And: “I have to say that our men who took part were more nervous than those who had to be shot there.”
The defendant Kurt Werner, a member of Sonderkommando 4a, also felt sorry for himself. Before the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal he said in 1947:
“I still remember the horror of the Jews who were able to look down at the corpses in the pit for the first time up at the edge of the pit. Many Jews screamed out loud in shock. You can’t imagine what nerve it took to do this dirty work down there. “
More on the subject:
SS murderer in court: “It was the order that the Jewish population should be totally exterminated” By Marc von Lüpke
The mass murderers as unfortunate victims: there is hardly a more heinous way to ridicule the dead.
The perpetrators’ racist worldview remained powerful even after 1945 – the “long process of covering up almost all traces” began, which could have contributed to an investigation into the war crime of Babyn Yar, according to historian Wolfram Wette.
In the follow-up trials in Nuremberg in 1947/48, three high-ranking Nazi criminals (Paul Blobel, Otto Rasch and Waldemar von Radetzky) were brought to justice for their responsibility for the massacre;
SS officer Blobel was executed on June 7, 1951.
From the ranks of the Wehrmacht also involved in the massacre, however, no legal action was taken, as historian Franziska Davies emphasizes.
“Babyn Yar, isn’t that a city in Mongolia?”
Most of the members of the Sonderkommandos and, according to Davies, at least 700 men in the task forces who were involved in the mass murders remained unpunished.
It was not until 1967/68 that ten members of Sonderkommando 4a were tried in the so-called Callsen trial in Darmstadt.
Three defendants were acquitted, the others were sentenced to prison terms of between 4 and 15 years for complicity in murder, but not for murder.
“The inadequate legal processing of Babyn Jar is unworthy of a constitutional state,” says Hans Brehm.
Just as unacceptable as the fact that hardly anyone in Germany still knows about the massacre.
The lawyer interviewed 100 people around him – only a few could associate anything with the term.
“Babyn Yar, isn’t that a city in Mongolia?”
“People don’t care, even acquaintances and relatives show me a bird,” says Brehm.
What only encourages him even more: Now he is doing everything possible to have the 99-year-old Herbert W. indicted.
The SS man was once a member of Sonderkommando 4a of SS Einsatzgruppe C – and at the time of the massacre he said he was in Kiev.
North Hesse regularly took off the German sports badge up to the old age of 95, as reported in the regional press.
Then it became quiet about the sprightly pensioner: Together with two other SS men, W. had gotten into the crosshairs of the judiciary.
He claimed he was just a paramedic
As early as 2014, the Jewish Simon Wiesenthal Center submitted a list of the names of around 80 members of Einsatzgruppen A to D to the federal government, including alleged perpetrators of Babyn Yar.
In 2017, the central office of the state justice administrations for the investigation of National Socialist crimes in Ludwigsburg initiated an investigation, after which the public prosecutor’s office in Kassel took over.
But she stopped her investigation against Herbert W. in March 2020.
There is no concrete evidence that the accused was involved, it said.
W. had protested to the “Hessische / Niedersächsische Allgemeine” that he had not killed anyone.
He was only a paramedic.
“Why do you need paramedics in a massacre?” Asks Hans Brehm and laughs bitterly.
He now wants to have the proceedings against W. reopened: “The victims have a right to have things investigated to the extent necessary.”
“We go crazy from being aware of what happened”
But legal investigations against very old suspected Nazi criminals are mostly extremely laborious – and accordingly unpopular.
Brehm sees only one chance to reopen the Herbert W. case: a Babyn-Jar victim descendant must make a legal interest credible and lodge a complaint against the termination of the investigation.
There are still descendants who could bring Brehm to this step: On September 21, the lawyer traveled to Kiev to contact the families of the victims of Babyn Yar.
So it is quite possible that the German judiciary will have to deal with the massacre again – that monstrous war crime about which a resident of Kiev wrote in horror on October 2, 1941:
“Has there ever been anything like this in human history?
… You can’t write, you can’t try to understand, because awareness of what happened makes us crazy.
… cursed century, cursed, terrible time! “