The ease of killing women and children-But orders are orders.

101

The one thing I find the most difficult doing these blogs is to remain as objective as possible and to try to keep emotions like anger out of it. It is nearly impossible, especially when you come across a story like the story of Reserve Police Battalion 101.

As the name implies these men were reserves, not professional soldiers or policemen.In a similar fashion as the National Guard in the United States, these German battalions were organized regionally. The 101 consisted mostly of often ordinary middle aged  men from working- and lower-middle-class neighborhoods in Hamburg, many with families.

101 men

Their commander was Major Wilhelm Trapp, he was a career police man, a WWI veteran who had joined the Nazis in December 1932.

In June 1942 the battalion was sent to Poland to  partake  in the rounding up of Jews.

On July 13,1942, just three weeks after their arrival, the men were sent to the village of Józefów, home to 1,500 Jews.

Prior to departure from Biłgoraj, where they had been stationed,they were given large amounts of extra ammunition and a generous supply of alcohol was procured.

101 drinks

Major Wilhelm Trapp, stood up in front of the  men. As he began to speak they noticed he was emotional.

He told his men to round up all the Jews living in this village as reportedly  they were involved with the local partisans.

Trapp ordered  that they should separate the Jewish men so they could be sent off to a work camp. But, the woman, children and the elderly should be taken aside and shot – and although he did not like what they had been asked to do, it would make it easier if they remembered that, back home in Germany, bombs were falling on women and children.

Trapp then said if any of the older men among them did not feel up to the task that was put before him, he could decline to so. He paused, and after a few moments, one man stepped forward. One of the officers  began to reprimand the man. The major told the officer to be quiet. Then 13 or 14 other men stepped forward also. They turned in their rifles and were told to await a further assignment from the major.

Of the 500 men standing there that day only 14 or 15 chose to opt out of the killing. The rest went on to massacre all the Jewish women, children and elderly people in the village.

The massacre lasted for 17 hours.By afternoon, the men were being offered bottles of vodka to “refresh” themselves.

It is said that some of the uniforms were dripping wet with brain matter and blood.

Trapp did not take part in the shootings himself, he spent the rest of the day in his headquarters, which was a converted school building in town. He also went to the homes of the Polish mayor and the local priest. Witnesses who had seen him  during the day described  him as  complaining about the orders he had been given and “crying like a child.”

Trapp later remarked to his driver: “If this Jewish business is ever avenged on earth, then have mercy on us Germans … But orders are orders”, he said

For nearly all men, Jozefow was the first time where they had to kill. All of the platoons conducted  at least one more mass shooting . Most found that these subsequent murders were easier to perform.

101+

 

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BBC

 

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The killing of Athletes

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It is often said that the death of a million is a statistic but the death of one is a tragedy, and unfortunately this is true. People just become desensitized when they see the pictures of a great number of corpses. It is just human nature, a defense mechanism because the brain just can’t fathom the horror.

However people do get emotionally touched when the stories are personalized and especially when they are able to identify or associate themselves to that story. I was going to do a blog on the Palmiry massacre.

The Palmiry massacre was a series of mass executions carried out by Nazis , during the occupation of Poland , near the village of Palmiry in the Kampinos Forest, located northwest of Warsaw. The best documented of these massacres took place on 20–21 June 1940, wherein 358 members of the Polish political, cultural and social elite were murdered in a single operation.

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However I decided to focus on just 2 victims, athletes, and not just any athletes but Olympic medal winning athletes.

Tomasz Stankiewicz

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I would nearly say this is a double tragedy because so little is known or written about Tomasz. He was a Polish track cyclist who represented his country in the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

As a as member of the Polish team he won a silver medal in the  team pursuit event.

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As so many other he became involved in underground activities at the beginning of the German occupation of Poland

One day he  accidentally ,  fell into a trap prepared by the Germans. Unfortunately, he was carrying illegally printed underground newspapers. He was arrested and was sent to Pawiak prison in Warsaw

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From there, he was deported to Palmiry on 20 or 21 June 1940 and executed.

Janusz Kusociński.

Janusz

Born in Warsaw into the family of a railroad worker, Janusz Kusociński, or Kusy as he was nicknamed. As a schoolboy he was more interested in playing football, and he played  for several clubs in Warsaw. He turned to  athletics in 1928 after joining the sport club “Sarmata”. His coach at the club was the famous Estonian, decathlete Aleksander Klumberg.

In his first competition at the Polish National Championships, Kusociński surprisingly won the 5000 m and cross country titles.

During the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 1932 he won the Gold medal in the 10 000 m with a time of 30:11.4.

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He volunteered for the Polish army when Poland was invaded by the Germans and was wounded twice.  He worked as a waiter during the German occupation, but was also a member of the Polish resistance. Janusz was arrested by the Gestapo on 26 March 1940 and  imprisoned in  the Mokotów prison. He was also executed during the June 20/21 executions.

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Wilhelm Kube’s Paradox in the Holocaust

Wilhelm Kube

Wilhelm Kube was a devout Christian as well as a zealous Nazi. Those 2 aspects of his life clashed a few times during WWII.

In July 1941, just after the German occupation of the western parts of the Soviet Union, he was appointed Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien (now known as Belarus).

As Generalkommissar he was in charge of the extermination of the large Jewish population of his assigned region. He was nevertheless disgusted and outraged by the massacre in  Slutsk in October 1941.  SS Einsatzgruppen murdered Jews without the apermission  of the local Nazi civil administration and Security SS authorities. Local non-Jewish Belarusians were also massacred, causing great resentment among the population.

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Kube wrote in protest to his supervisor and Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler:

“The town was a picture of horror during the action. With indescribable brutality on the part of both the German police officers and particularly the Lithuanian partisans, the Jewish people, but also among them Belarusians, were taken out of their dwellings and herded together. Everywhere in the town shots were to be heard and in different streets the corpses of shot Jews accumulated. The Belarusians were in greatest distress to free themselves from the encirclement.

I am submitting this report in duplicate so that one copy may be forwarded to the Reich Minister. Peace and order cannot be maintained in Belarus with methods of that sort. To bury seriously wounded people alive who worked their way out of their graves again is such a base and filthy act that the incidents as such should be reported to the Führer and Reichsmarschall.”

In another letter dated December 16 1941 to Hinrich Lohse the Reichskommisar for Ostland.

Hinrich_Lohse

 

“Minsk
Generalkommissar for Byelorussia
To: Reichskommissar for Ostland

I wish to ask you personally for an official directive for the conduct of the civilian administration towards the Jews deported from Germany to Byelorussia. Among these Jews are men who fought at the Front and have the Iron Cross, First and Second Class, war invalids, half-Aryans, even three- quarter Aryans. . .

. . .These Jews will probably freeze or starve to death in the coming weeks.
. . On my own responsibility I will not give the SD any instructions with regard to the treatment of these people. . .

I am certainly a hard man and willing to help solve the Jewish question, but people who come from our own cultural sphere just are not the same as the brutish hordes in this place. Is the slaughter to be carried out by the Lithuanians and Letts, who are themselves rejected by the population here? I couldn’t do it. I beg you to give clear directives [in this matter,] with due consideration for the good name of our Reich and our Party, in order that the necessary action can be taken in the most humane manner.
Heil Hitler!
Wilhelm Kube”

Despite these contradicting feelings he participated in an atrocity on 2 March 1942 in the Minsk ghetto.

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During a raid by German and Belarusian police, a group of children were seized and thrown into pits of deep sand to die.

At that moment, several SS officers arrived , among them was  Wilhelm Kube. Kube, immaculate in his uniform, threw handfuls of sweets to the distressed children. All the children died in the sand.

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Source

Remember.org

 

The Rexist Party-Belgian Fascists

Rexist Party flag

Germany and Italy weren’t the only countries with Fascists parties. Several European countries had National Socialist Fascists partyies, for example  The Netherlands had the NSB.

In Belgium the Rexist Party(aka Rex), led by Léon Degrelle, won about 10 percent of the seats in the parliament in 1936.

Léon_Degrelle

After failing 3 times to pass his final law exams at the Catholic University of Leuven , Degrelle, who was a dynamic orator, entered politics. Using national banking scandals and corruption of the established political parties as issues, he organized the Rexist Movement in 1930, allegedly to cleanse the Roman Catholic religion of political contamination.Its name was derived from the Roman Catholic journal and publishing company Christus Rex (Latin for Christ the King).

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Initially it stayed loyal tho the monarchy, in their flag they included the crown. At the outbreak of WWII they endorsed the Belgian government’s policy of neutrality.

In 1936, Degrelle met Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both of them providing Rexism with funds (2 million lire and 100,000 marks) and ideological support.With the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, Rexism welcomed German occupation.

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After the occupation some members left the party and joined the Belgian resistance because they could not agree with the  Nazis’ anticlerical and extreme anti-Semitic policies enforced in occupied Belgium.

During World War II Degrelle collaborated with the German occupation forces. In August 1941 he formed and later commanded the Walloon and Flemish storm-trooper brigades that fought on the Russian front. Under his guidance the Rexists took control of local governments and newspapers in Belgium. Degrelle joined the Walloon legion of the Wehrmacht, which was founded in August 1941, to fight against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. The leadership of the Rexists then passed to Victor Matthys.

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In August 1944, Rexist militia were responsible for the Courcelles Massacre .Matthyss he ordered the execution of 20 civilians in Courcelles in central Belgium as reprisals for anti-German resistance activities.

The Rexist mayor of the Greater Charleroi area, Oswald Englebin, was attacked and killed along with his wife and son by members of the Belgian Resistance between Courcelles and Monceau-sur-Sambre in a region known as the “Bois du Rognac”

As news broke in Rexist headquarters in Brussels and Charleroi of the attack on the Mayor and his family, A number of civilian were rounded up,including  policemen, doctors, architects, lawyers and various civil officials. 20 were executed. Among them was the Catholic priest Pierre Harmignie, during the night he had tried to console his fellow hostages with the words “I will die, we all will die in order for peace to return to the world so people can love each other again”

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Those responsible for the killing returned to Brussels, where they were offered a drink and congratulated.on their act of revolutionary vengeance.

The order for the executions  would ultimate lead to Matthys’s  downfall from power as criticisms surfaced. It was condemned as being too heavy-handed and Matthys gave up the leadership of the Rexists to Louis Collard.After  the liberation of Belgium in September 1944, the party had been banned.

Of the 150 participants of the massacre, 97 were identified, 80 arrested and tried of whom 27 were executed on 10 November 1947. Amongst them was Victor Matthys who was accused of organizing the massacre.

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With the final surrender of Berlin in May 1945, Degrelle was desperate to avoid Russian captivity and ordered as many of his worn-out veterans as possible to make for the Baltic port of Lubeck to surrender to the British. Degrelle himself fled first to Denmark and then Norway, where he commandeered a Heinkel He 111 aircraft,allegedly provided by Albert Speer.

After a daring 1,500-mile flight over portions of Allied-occupied Europe, he crash-landed on the beach at San Sebastian in northern Spain but was gravely wounded and hospitalized for over a year.

Hegazkin_istripua

While in Spain, during the Franco dictatorship, Degrelle maintained a high standard of living and would frequently appear in public and private meetings in a white uniform featuring his German decorations, while expressing his pride over his close contacts and “thinking bond” with Adolf Hitler.

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He continued to live undisturbed when Spain became democratic after the death of Franco with the help of the Gil family, and continued publishing polemics, voicing his support for the political far right.

In 1994, Léon Degrelle died of cardiac arrest in a hospital in Málaga, aged 88.

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Sources

Liberation Route Europe

Wikipedia Belgium

WWII Database

 

 

The Tulle Massacre- The hanging of 99

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What a sense of relief it must have been when the French people found out that the allied troops had finally arrived on June 6 1944. Unfortunately though D-Day wasn’t the end of the war it was only the start of the end and many innocent lives were still lost between that day and the end of WWII.

The citizens of the town of Tulle found out only 3 days after D-Day that the war was still raging in the most brutal way possible.

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After a successful attack by the French Resistance group Francs-tireur on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich troops forced the Maquis(French Resistance) to flee the city of Tulle (department of Corrèze) in south-central France.

Resistance operations in Tulle had been planned by the commander of the Maquis FTP of Corrèze, Jacques Chapou , aka Klébe

The offensive started on June 7 1944 at 5 AM with a Bazooka attack on the barracks of the security forces at Champ de Mars. This action  functioned as the signal to begin the attack.

The fighting centered  around three main areas: the armory, the gendarmerie barracks and the girls’ school, which housed German troops.

The focus the following day was on the girls’ school. the Resistance fighters  set fire to the school building around 3 PM.About 2 hours later , in circumstances that remain unclear and disputed, the Germans tried to leave, if one of them was waving a white cloth, others were carrying live grenades. In all the chaos, the Maquis opened fire with automatic weapons; some soldiers were cut down at close range, by exploding grenades, which would explain the injuries observed on the horribly mutilated corpses. An estimated  were killed.

When the 2nd SS Panzer Division ‘Das Reich’ entered the town they found 40 dead bodies of the German 3rd Battalion/95th Security Regiment garrison troops near the school, their bodies badly mutilated.

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On 9 June 1944, after arresting all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, the SS and members of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) ordered 120 of the prisoners to be hanged, of whom 99 were actually hanged.

Tulle

The citizens of Tulle had been warned by a text on a poster

“Forty German soldiers were murdered in the most horrible manner by a band of communists. For the guerillas and those who helped them, there is a punishment, execution by hanging. Forty German soldiers were murdered by the guerrillas, one hundred and twenty guerrillas and their accomplices will be hanged. Their bodies will be thrown in the river — Poster signed by the commanding General of the German troops.

tulle (1)

 

In the days that followed, 149 men were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where 101 lost their lives. In total, the actions of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, and the SD claimed the lives of 213 civilian residents of Tulle.

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Source

Herodote.net

Back to Normandy

The Vinkt Massacre

Vinkt

One of the first crimes committed by the German army, in western Europe, took place in Belgium villages of Vinkt and Meighem, near Ghent, between 26–28 May 1940 during the Battle of the Lys.. The atrocity was perpetrated by the Wehrmacht, not the SS.

The Vinkt bridge crossing the Schipdonk Canal was being guarded by the 1st Belgian Division of Chasseurs Ardennais

As the German 225th Divison approached the Vinkt bridge they discovered  it blocked by refugees fleeing south. The Wehrmacht soldiers then took a number of refugees and used then as human shields.

German soldiers

On  Sunday, May 26th, the Germans took hostages  at the Meigem and Vinkt church, and at a number of  farms in the area. Some hostages were killed immediately, but the a worse event occurred  at Meigem church, where an explosion killed 27 hostages.

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The following day, Monday May 27th, Adolf Hitler, demanded Belgium’s immediate and unconditional surrender. Belgium’s King Leopold III announced to his government that he would as Commander-in-Chief, use his authority  lay down arms.

Meanwhile, the Chasseurs ardennais, were not aware  of these developments,  and were still holding and defending the bridge against vastly superior odds. For unclear reasons, the German 225th Division  started to execute their hostages, and taking new ones, executing them on the spot. Refugees were taken out at random from the endless columns on the trek south and executed immediately. One priest managed to escape, being buried under two dead colleagues. He was one of four such victims who managed to escape.

victim

kerk

The victims were all unarmed civilians who had posed no threat, nor were they likely to pose any future threats. They were killed for no reason whatsoever.

On May 28 the Belgian army capitulated.

As news of the carnage spread, German press sources denied it or excused it, claiming that Belgian civilians had dressed up as soldiers. The British press who knew the facts of the atrocity refused to report for fears they’d be accused of war propaganda, Which had happened during WWI after reporting ‘the rape of Belgium’

After WWII the Wehrmacht officers Kühner and  Lohmann were sentenced to 20 years of forced labour in Belgium, however after 5 years they were extradited to Germany.

vinkt field

86 innocent civilians were massacred. Additionally to that another 27 killed by the explosion more then likely caused by German grenades.

Memorial to the victims of the massacre

Vinkt_massacre_-_Memorial

 

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Sources

Vinkt Mei 1940

Wikipedia Belgium

Blood in the snow-Continuing evil in the Ardennes.

++++CONTAINS SHOCKING IMAGES+++++++++

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Although the German army had one last offence left in them,it must have become quite clear to them that despite the early success during the Battle of the Bulge, the war was coming to an end and they would be at the losing side of it.

Rather then accepting the inevitable in dignity, some of the German troops continued in an evil and brutal way.

The pictures below contain graphic images.

A war correspondent looks down at the dead body of a young Belgian boy, murdered by Nazi soldiers.

Stavelot, Belgium. December, 1945.

massacre-in-belgium

The bodies of Belgian civilians litter the streets.
Belgium. Dec. 15, 1944.

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The blasted ruins of Bastogne after a raid by German bombers.
Bastogne, Belgium. Dec. 26, 1944.

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American soldiers, stripped of their equipment and one robbed of his boots, lie dead at the crossroads. Honsfeld, Belgium. Dec. 17, 1944.

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The scene of the Malmedy Massacre.
About 70 soldiers are stripped of their weapons, sent out into a field, and gunned down unarmed by Nazis soldiers after surrendering. Malmedy, Belgium. Dec. 17, 1944

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Another picture from the site of the Malmedy Massacre, where American prisoners-of-war were gunned down, defenseless and unarmed, by their Nazi captors.

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At a Belgian crossroads in the early hours of the battle of the Bulge, German soldiers strip boots and other equipment from three dead GIs. After U.S. troops captured this film, an Army censor redacted the road sign to Büllingen and other landmarks.

18a-198245-dead-GIs-Bulge

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Thiaroye massacre-The forgotten WWII massacre.

massacre-de-Thiaroye-541x330

I know what you are thinking”Another forgotten atrocity committed by the Nazi regime” but you’d be wrong. this massacre was carried out by the “good” guys.

It is an often-neglected fact that the majority of General De Gaulle’s Free French Forces were not white Frenchmen but were predominantly troops from its colonies in Africa and the Middle East.

Those from West Africa were known as the “tirailleurs Senegalais” (“Senegalese sharpshooters”) but were actually from Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, and Togo.

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17,000 of them died in the defence of France from Nazi occupation, and many others were captured and either died or suffered terribly in the racist German prisoner of war camps.

POW

As colonial subjects, tirailleurs (colonial infantry) were not awarded the same pensions as their French (European) fellow soldiers during and after World War II, pensions that had been promised to them at the beginning of the war. The pensions for veterans of both races were calculated on the basis of living costs in their countries of birth, supposedly lower in colonies than in metropolitan France. These soldiers additionally claimed they were owed back pay due to an order issued by the Minister of Colonies authorizing benefits for ex-prisoners of war from West Africa, which both fell short of the benefits given to French prisoners of war and was in any case not implemented.

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This discrimination led to a mutiny by about 1,300 Senegalese tirailleurs at Camp Thiaroye on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. on 30 November 1944. The tirailleurs involved were former prisoners of war who had been repatriated to West Africa and placed in a holding camp awaiting discharge. They demonstrated in protest against the failure of the French authorities to pay salary arrears and discharge allowances. An immediate grievance was the unfavorable exchange rate applied to currency brought back by the repatriated soldiers from France. A French general, briefly held by the tirailleurs, promised to have the rate changed to a par with that applicable to white veterans.

In the early hours of 1 December, French troops attacked. Despite the mutineers being unarmed, they came in shooting, with armoured cars, mounted machine guns and even a US Army tank.

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The official death toll of the repression was 35, although meticulous research by French historian Armelle Mabon suggests a much higher number of victims – around 3-400 – which is more in line with the estimations of veterans.

The mass grave into which the bodies were dumped has yet to be discovered.

In March the following year, 34 of the survivors were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by a military tribunal.

In 1947, those imprisoned were amnestied, however some had already died in prison. To date they have not been pardoned, nor has the French government apologised.

Like much of France’s violent and oppressive colonial history, the Thiaroye massacre is not taught in schools, and a 1988 film about the event, Camp de Thiaroye directed by Ousmane Sembène, was banned in France, and Senegal as well.

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Vasily Blokhin-Stalin’s butcher

Vasili_Blokhin

Born to a Russian peasant family in 1895, as a young man he quickly earned a reputation for “chernaya rabota”, or “black work”, while serving in the Tsarist army during World War I- gaining recognition from Stalin himself for his covert assassinations, torture, and executions. Blokhin quickly rose through the ranks of Russia’s secret police at the time—the NKVD—eventually becoming the head of the Kommandatura department.

Vasily Blokhin is recorded as having executed tens of thousands of prisoners by his own hand, including his killing of about 7,000 Polish prisoners of war during the Katyn massacre in spring 1940, making him the most prolific official executioner in recorded world history. He was the NKVD major in charge of executing the Polish officers from the Ostashkov camp, and he believed in personally doing the killing that his superiors had ordered him to supervise.

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Born in 1885, he was known as the NKVD’s chief executioner, having been hand-picked for this position by Joseph Stalin himself.

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Blokhin personally killed tens of thousand of men and women during Stalin’s Great Purges of the 1930s, so it was only natural that the NKVD would turn to him when it came time to dispatch the officers held in the Soviet prison camps. Along with a team of about thirty NKVD men from Moscow, mainly drivers and prison guards, Blokhin arrived at the NKVD prison in Kalinin (Tver) and set himself up in a sound-proofed cellar room that had a sloping floor for drainage.

Tver Execution room of Polish soldiers buried later at Mednoye- Photograph Katyn Museum

He then put on his special uniform, consisting of a leather cap, long leather apron, and elbow-length gloves. On a table next to him was a briefcase filled with his own personal Walther PPK pistols, for Blokhin, a true artist at his trade, would use no one else’s tools but his own.

After the prisoner’s identity was verified, he was brought handcuffed into the cellar room where Blokhin awaited in his long apron, like some horrible butcher. One guard later testified: “The men held [the prisoner’s] arms and [Blokhin] shot him in the base of the skull…that’s all”. Blokhin worked fast and efficiently, killing an average of one men every three minutes during the course of ten-hour nights – the killings were always done at night, so that the bodies could be disposed of in darkness.

Although this has never been completely proven, historians suspect that Blokhin shot 7,000 men over a period of twenty-eight days, which would make him one of the most prolific murderers of all time. However many people he killed, Blokhin was consistently promoted by his superiors for performing “special tasks”. He lost his job after Stalin died. The cause of Blokhin’s death, in 1955, was listed as suicide.

Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. This official document was approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000.

 

The Oradour-sur-Glane massacre.

Das-Reich

The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich was a division of the Nazi Waffen-SS during World War II. It was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS. Das Reich served during the invasion of France and took part in several major battles on the Eastern Front, including in the Battle of Prokhorovka against the 5th Guards Tank Army at the Battle of Kursk.

It was then transferred to the West and took part in the fighting in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, ending the war in Hungary and Austria. Das Reich committed the Oradour-sur-Glane and Tulle massacres. Its staff included regimental commander SS-Standartenführer Sylvester Stadler as regimental commander, SS-Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann, commanding the 1st Battalion.and SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Weidinger, Stadler’s designated successor who was with the regiment for familiarisation. Command passed to Weidinger on 14 June.

 

Early on the morning of 10 June 1944, Diekmann informed Weidinger that he had been approached by two members of the Milice, a paramilitary force of the Vichy Regime. They claimed that a Waffen-SS officer was being held prisoner by the Resistance in Oradour-sur-Vayres, a nearby village. The captured officer was claimed to be SS-Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion (also part of “Das Reich” division).

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He may have been captured by the Maquis du Limousin the day before. Stadler ordered Diekmann to have the mayor choose thirty people to be hostages in exchange for Kämpfe.

On 10 June, Diekmann’s battalion sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the inhabitants – and anyone who happened to be in or near the town – to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined. The SS also arrested six people who did not live in the village but merely happened to be riding their bicycles through there when the SS unit arrived.

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The women and children were locked in the church and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.

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According to a survivor’s account, the SS men then began shooting, aiming for their legs. When victims were unable to move, the Nazis covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead. In all, 190 Frenchmen died.

The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the brutal attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child. All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.

Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane who had been killed in just a few hours. Adolf Diekmann said the atrocity was in retaliation for the partisan activity in nearby Tulle and the kidnapping of Helmut Kämpfe.

Raymond J. Murphy, a 20-year-old American B-17 navigator ,shot down over Avord, France in late April 1944, witnessed the aftermath of the massacre. After being hidden by the French Resistance, Murphy was flown to England on 6 August, and in debriefing filled in a questionnaire on 7 August and made several drafts of a formal report.The version finally submitted on 15 August has a handwritten addendum:

“Several weeks ago, I saw a town within 4 hours bicycle ride up the Gerbeau farm [of Resistance leader Camille Gerbeau] where some 500 men, women, and children had been murdered by the Germans. I saw one baby who had been crucified.”

Murphy’s report was made public in 2011 after a Freedom of Information Act request by his grandson, an attorney in the United States Department of Justice National Security Division.It is the only account to mention crucifying a baby.Shane Harris(an American journalist and author) concludes the addendum is a true statement by Murphy and that the town, not named in Murphy’s report, is very likely Oradour-sur-Glane.

Children from the village’s girl’s school, in the 1942-1943 school year. All of these girls were killed in the massacre.

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Protests at Diekmann’s unilateral action followed, both from Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, General Gleiniger, German commander in Limoges, and the Vichy government. Even SS-Standartenführer Stadler felt Diekmann had far exceeded his orders and began a judicial investigation. However, 29-year-old Diekmann was killed in action shortly afterwards during the Battle of Normandy, and many of the third company, which had conducted the massacre, were also killed in action. The investigation was then suspended.