Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

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Rob - wssob2
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Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby Rob - wssob2 » 19 Oct 2011 03:36

P. 384 of Michael Burleigh's recent work Moral Combat: Good and Evil in WWII ( http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Combat-Good ... 518&sr=1-1) recounts the following incident:

8th Co., SS-IR 8 platoon leader Alois Knabel enters Russian village in 1941, informed by the village headman that there’s a Jewish cobbler, wife and child in the town.

Knabel has the Jewish man and wife brought to the company’s quarters, where they are forced to wash and scrub the area while Knabel shouts insults and beats them with a club.

Then Knabel and 2-3 of his fellow SS troopers escort the couple to the edge of the village, where they shoot them in the back of the neck, while Knabel hold the hand of their three-year old child.

Witnessing the sudden, bloody execution of the parents, the child starts screaming. Knabel cradles the child, shushing and stroking the child’s hair with his left hand.

And with his right hand brings a service pistol to the child’s neck and fires a bullet to the base of her skull.

One of the fellow SS troopers later commented, “Look and see how finely Knabel did that, how he first calmed the child down and then shot it.”

See also footnote #1, Martin Cuppers, Wegsbereiter der Shoah . Die Waffen-SS, der Kommandostab Reichfuhrer-SS und die Judenvernichtung, 1939-45 (Darmstadt, 2005) p.119
- http://www.amazon.com/Wegbereiter-Shoa- ... 3534160223

Michael Burleigh also mentioned the story in his article Did Stalin condone the holocaust? How warped Soviet values may have prevented him stopping Nazi death camps for the Daily Mail at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1bBunwSfU

It may be the same Alois Knabel that's breifly mentioned on the "SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und Ersatz-Batn.18" thread at
viewtopic.php?f=50&t=150921

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby David Thompson » 19 Oct 2011 05:13

It may be the same Alois Knabel that's breifly mentioned on the "SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und Ersatz-Batn.18" thread at viewtopic.php?f=50&t=150921

The Dienstaltersliste der Waffen-SS (1 Jul 1944) shows Alois Knaebel (Knäbel) as an SS-Haupsturmfuehrer der Reserve, SS-Nr. 141043, DOB 29.8.02, promoted 21.6.1943, but gives no current assignment.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby PATRICK CHARRON » 26 Nov 2012 13:47

Hello,

I read too this story in the book Kommandostab RFSS by Cüppers
There is apparently only one Alois Knäbel and he paid at least in part for this crime having been convicted in France but for other facts.
He is in John Moore's Führerliste
Knäbel, Alois Hstuf. 29. 8.02 Stollhofen SS Nr141 043 Gefangnis Loos/Frankr 4.57
Ostuf. Inf.Rgt.8 6.41
Regards
Patrick

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby Rob - wssob2 » 29 Nov 2012 19:16

Thanks Patrick for the update - what did Knäbel stand trial for in France?

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby history1 » 30 Nov 2012 08:27

Rob - wssob2 wrote:[...] what did Knäbel stand trial for in France?

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=150921&start=0#p1319451

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby David Thompson » 01 Dec 2012 05:53

Two opinion posts from mikel and revans618, which added nothing of informational value to the discussion, were removed by the moderator pursuant to the forum and section rules - DT.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby michael mills » 05 Dec 2012 07:03

Perhaps Rob-wssob2 could enlighten us as to his purpose in bringing to our attention this story from the book by Michael Burleigh.

Burleigh's purpose was obviously to give an illustration of the sort of monsters those SS-men were.

But it seems to me that Knäbel and his men could have done far more cruel things to that child than consoling it before suddenly killing it instantly.

For intance they could have mocked it for a while. Or they could have made it run hither and thither in terror while taking potshots at it.

Knäbel's action might be compared to giving a condemned person a sedative before killing him, which would generally be considered more merciful than keeping that person fully conscious and in terror up to the moment of death.

The words of the SS-man who commented on Knäbel's action in calming the child before killing her suddenly are open to different interpretations. He might have regarded the whole episode as comical in a brutal sort of way. On the other hand, he might have been expressing surprise at what seemed to him an unexpected act of relative kindness on the part of Knäbel in not letting the child continue to suffer terror until the moment of death.

Of course, the most merciful thing Knäbel and his men could have done would have been to let the child live, indeed to let the whole family live. But it may be that they were under orders to kill all Jews they captured.

If the piece by Burleigh in the "Daily Mail" linked by Rob-wssob2 is an extract from the book referred to, then that book seems to be more a work of emotional propaganda than of sober history. Indeed, the piece contains some rather silly statements, such as:

No one seems to ask why Stalin did not use his huge air force to bomb the camps or drop paratroops who would have made short work of the SS men running the death camps. If there are sins of omission to be accounted for, then here may well be where the blame truly lies.


At the time the three death camps under the command of Globocnik were running at full blast, in the summer and autumn of 1942, the German-Soviet front was hundreds of kilometres distant, at Stalingrad on the Volga. It would have been a risky operation to send the Soviet Air Force to bomb those camps from such a distance, particularly as Stalin needed to concentrate all his resources to fight the German forces that had penetrated deep into his country (which was not the case for the Anglo-American Allies). By the time extermination operations at those camps had ceased permanently, in autumn 1943, the front was still far away.

The concept of sending Soviet paratroopers to attack the camps is sheer silliness. At the time Hungarian Jews were being sent in large numbers to Auschwitz, May-June 1944, the German-Soviet front was in Belorussia, and did not approach Warsaw until July, at the end of Operation Bagration. Any Soviet paratroopers dropped onto Auschwitz would have been far behind enemy lines, and would have been on a suicide mission. By the time Soviet forces got anywhere near any German death camp the killing had been largely completed, and there were few victims left to save.

Another egregious error in Burleigh's book is his attribution of the "sardine-packing" method of mass-execution by shooting to Jeckeln, and gives a sensationalised (and fictitious) description of Jeckeln and his men discussing it in the hearing of their victims.

In fact, the method of "sardine-packing", having the victims lie down in neat rows in the mass grave and then shooting each one individually in the back of the head was invented by the NKVD during the Great Terror, as is shown by Timothy Snyder in his book "Bloodlands"; Jeckeln and the other SS leaders simply copied the NKVD methodology, which they found to be more efficient than the traditional German military method of execution by firing squad.

I have given these examples to demonstrate the sensationalised and excessively emotional nature of Burleigh's book.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby carman » 07 Dec 2012 15:35

July 27, 1965
Nazi Officer Charged with Killing Hundreds of Thousands of Jews
BONN, Jul. 26 (JTA) –

An officer of Hitler's SS who will be charged with "personal responsibility" for the murder of several hundred thousand Jews at Mogilev area, in the Ukraine, during World War II, will be put on trial next fall, it was announced today by Dr. Joachim Griess, president of the Frankfurt Criminal Court.

The accused is Adolf Harnischmacher, 44, of Echborn, who was the head of a Nazi einsatzcommando operating in Mogilev from December 1941 to December 1942. He has been under arrest since 1961. Thirty witnesses will be heard in the proceedings, the court stated.

In a trial under way at Heckingen, where an ex-Nazi named Helmut Schnabel is charged with having murdered small children at the Vaivari concentration camp, an Israeli testified today that he had seen the defendant kill children and send others to their deaths at Auschwitz. The witness, Mordechai Rosenberg, of Givat Haim, Israel, said Schnabel had beaten other inmates into unconsciousness and that he himself was beaten by the defendant. Rosenberg had been sent to the camp with a large transport of Jews from Vilna.

One former SS officer awaiting trial at Ludwig shaven committed suicide last night. The man was Alois Knabel, charged with murdering three Jews in the Ukraine and with participating in the killing of "countless others." He was found hanged in his cell this morning. Under investigation for the last several months, the man had been released twice, but rearrested each time under the orders of the prosecution.
The last paragraph at least explains the fate of Alois Knabel,,,,,,,source Jewish News Archive

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby PATRICK CHARRON » 07 Dec 2012 23:09

Hello,

Carman, Thanks for this information on the fate of Alois Knäbel.

Knäbel crimes in Russia were not cited during his trial in France. It makes me think of another similar mass murderer detained and sentenced by a French court.
The Ostubaf August Meier ex - leader in the Einsatzgruppen was sentenced to 20 years hard labor June 28, 1952 for crimes committed as head of SIPO-SD Limoges, 284 victims identified. Amazing, Jewish victims of the action Brehmer and those of Oradour sur Glane for example were not mentioned in the trial.
He was released after 3 years and 6 months.
His activity in the Einsatzgruppen, around fifty thousands of victims, men, women and children, had not been cited by the court of Bordeaux.
Caught up by the German justice, he committed suicide in prison in 1960.

Regards
Patrick

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby Nautilus » 08 Dec 2012 00:13

michael mills wrote:
No one seems to ask why Stalin did not use his huge air force to bomb the camps or drop paratroops who would have made short work of the SS men running the death camps. If there are sins of omission to be accounted for, then here may well be where the blame truly lies.


At the time the three death camps under the command of Globocnik were running at full blast, in the summer and autumn of 1942, the German-Soviet front was hundreds of kilometres distant, at Stalingrad on the Volga. It would have been a risky operation to send the Soviet Air Force to bomb those camps from such a distance, particularly as Stalin needed to concentrate all his resources to fight the German forces that had penetrated deep into his country (which was not the case for the Anglo-American Allies). By the time extermination operations at those camps had ceased permanently, in autumn 1943, the front was still far away.


There was no technical and strategic possibility to mount in 1942 a carpet-bombing campaign over the death camps which were all in Central Europe, flying through the German AA defense, even for the Western Allies. For the Soviets, who were fighting by the skin of their teeth back then, it was not even worth of discussion.

Operation Tidal Wave, despite having a smaller and more precise target, far better preparation, shorter flying range, lesser air defenses to cross and happening 1 year later, still ended as the worst disaster of all USAAF bombing missions, ever.

carman wrote:An officer of Hitler's SS who will be charged with "personal responsibility" for the murder of several hundred thousand Jews at Mogilev area, in the Ukraine, during World War II, will be put on trial next fall


Then, just as in Knabel's case, there was no execution of a Jewish family with a child, for a field officer had no authority to execute anyone, just as there were no reasons. This was just murder. Or, more precisely, "a kind of murder to fit ideologically", so the criminals knew they were not going to be brought to German military justice.

~Nautilus

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby michael mills » 09 Dec 2012 02:44

Then, just as in Knabel's case, there was no execution of a Jewish family with a child, for a field officer had no authority to execute anyone, just as there were no reasons. This was just murder. Or, more precisely, "a kind of murder to fit ideologically", so the criminals knew they were not going to be brought to German military justice.



"Murder" is an illegal homicide, so the issue resolves to a definition of the factors that make a homicide legal, and hence not "murder".

It is the sovereign state that determines the circumstances in which a homicide is legal. Usually those circumstances involve homicides carried out by an agent of the sovereign state in pursuit of orders issued by the ruler of that state according to law.

It follows that the legality of homicides ordered or authorised by the ruler of a state, eg by the Government of wartime Germany, depends on whether those orders or authorisations are consistent with the laws of the state.

Agents of the wartime German state such as Knäbel were entitled to believe that the orders they were given to carry out homicides of particular categories of persons, eg Jews, were legal and sanctioned by the German Government, and hence were not "murder". Of course, a different state, for example the Allied states, or the post-war German state, might take the view that the orders to commit homicide issued by the wartime German Government were illegal, and hence the homicides constituted murder.

That leaves open the question of whether Knäbel and his men had been given specific orders to execute all Jews they captured, or whether they had not received such orders but had decided to kill the Jewish family on their own initiative, in the belief that they would not be punished.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby uberjude » 09 Dec 2012 03:04

No expert in law, but the point that other states may disagree with an authorization to murder could be taken a bit further since, of course, that no state has the authority to legalize murder within somebody else's borders. Thus, if the US government authorizes someone to kill children in Iran, that "authorization" probably won't do too much good if the killer is captured by the Iranian authorities. Consequently, one might argue that regardless of what "sanction" the German government may have given the Knabels of the Reich, there was no way in which those actions could have been "legal."

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby michael mills » 09 Dec 2012 12:03

Response to Uberjude:

The laws of war applicable at the time prescribed what a state occupying territory of another state with which it was at war could legally do in that territory.

Of course, arbitrary killing of inhabitants of that occupied territory without due process of law was not an action permitted by those laws of war.

However, the laws of war only applied if the occupying state recognised the occupied territory as belonging to the enemy state, with itself having only limited and temporary sovereignty, and the inhabitants of the territory remaining subjects of the enemy state and protected by it.

If the occupying state did not recognise the occupied territory as belonging to the enemy state, eg if it annexed that territory, or simply refused to recognise the enemy as a legal entity, then it could claim that the laws of war did not apply to the territory, and it was entitled to impose its own laws, ordinances and State-sanctioned practices (such as killing inhabitants of the territory it regarded as dangerous enemies).

Of course, whether the occupying power is able to impose its interpretation of the status of the occupied territory depends in the last analysis on its raw power relative to that of the enemy state and the latter's allies.

In the case of the Soviet territories occupied by Germany in 1941, the German Government de facto withdrew recognition of the Soviet Union as a legal entity, meaning that in its view those territories were not occupied enemy territory subject to the laws of war, but a no man's land in which it was entitled to impose its own laws and practices such as State-sanctioned killing.

As it turned out, German raw power was not sufficient to enforce its interpretation of the status of the occupied territory, with the result that the Soviet Union and its allies were able to impose their contrary interpretation, namely that that territory had remained legally Soviet sovereign territory under enemy occupation, and that therefore German actions on that territory were infringements of the laws of war and hence punishable crimes.

An analogous situation obtains in the territories conquered by Israel in 1967. The Government of Israel claims that those territories were not legally under the sovereignty of Jordan or Egypt, and hence are a no man's land where the current laws of war applicable to occupied enemy territory do not apply, and in which it is entitled to impose its own laws and practices.

Granted the laws and practices imposed by Israel do not extend to arbitrary killing of the inhabitants, but they do include seizure of property and the settlement of colonists, which are contrary to the laws of war applying to occupied enemy territory.

Unlike Germany, Israel has been able to impose its interpretation of the status of the conquered territories for almost a half-century simply because its raw power and that of its allies is so much greater than that of any entity which disputes that interpretation.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby wm » 09 Dec 2012 13:07

michael mills wrote:If the occupying state did not recognise the occupied territory as belonging to the enemy state, eg if it annexed that territory, or simply refused to recognise the enemy as a legal entity, then it could claim that the laws of war did not apply to the territory, and it was entitled to impose its own laws, ordinances and State-sanctioned practices (such as killing inhabitants of the territory it regarded as dangerous enemies).

michael mills wrote:In the case of the Soviet territories occupied by Germany in 1941, the German Government de facto withdrew recognition of the Soviet Union as a legal entity, meaning that in its view those territories were not occupied enemy territory subject to the laws of war, but a no man's land in which it was entitled to impose its own laws and practices such as State-sanctioned killing.


The prescribed one year waiting period and even the notification requirement weren't fulfilled. This itself is a war crime of the highest order.
According to the Hague conventions:
Art. 43.The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

Art. 45. It is forbidden to compel the inhabitants of occupied territory to swear allegiance to the hostile Power.

Art. 46. Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected.
Private property cannot be confiscated.

Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.


Art. 96. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties wishing to denounce the present Convention, the denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Netherland Government, which shall immediately communicate a duly certified copy of the notification to all the other Powers informing them of the date on which it was received.
The denunciation shall only have effect in regard to the notifying Power, and one year after the notification has reached the Netherland Government.

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Re: Execution of a Jewish child, late summer 1941

Postby uberjude » 09 Dec 2012 22:00

It's not really analogous to the situation with Israel, since the West Bank and Gaza, by UN Resolution, were supposed to be part of a Palestinian state, but were then occupied by Transjordan (which granted citizenship to Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank) and Egypt (which did not do the same for Gaza). Gaza, in fact, was not legally part of Egypt, but was administered by Egypt. So in fact, Gaza was actually not part of any particular country when Israel captured it in 1967. As for the West Bank, only a handful of countries recognized the annexation, so Israel was hardly alone in refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Jordanian or Egyptian rule. Furthermore, both of those states have subsequently given up any authority over those territories.

Plenty of things to criticize about Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza, but it's nor really analogous to a situation in a German state which had previously recognized the Soviet Union invaded Soviet territory and then decided that it was going to "withdraw" recognition of Soviet rule over territory that was unquestionably Soviet.


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