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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.
The soul "evolution" ?
( one can gather - if to compare this letter with Kube's letter to Lohse on 31 July 1942 )
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The Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police
The Chief of the Guerrilla Combat Units
lc Daily Rept No. 2/43
O.U., 25 July 1943
Personal Staff of Reichsführer-SS
Schriftgutverwaltung [Secretarial Schriftgutverwaltung [Secretarial Department] File No. Secret
To the Chief of the Guerrilla Combat Units SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police von dem Bach
Re: Generalkommissar for White Russia, Gauleiter Kube
Previous correspondence: none
Permit me to submit the following report regarding the Generalkommissar for White Russia, Gauleiter Kube.
I have composed the report from documents in the files at the office of the Commander of the Security Police and the SD in White Russia.
As is known, there are a great many rumours surrounding Gauleiter Kube. In my report I have therefore almost exclusively limited myself to mentioning facts for which there exists documentary evidence or which I myself have witnessed. I have attempted to demonstrate that Kube is wholly incompetent as both a leader and administrator, that he has a hostile attitude towards the SS and police and that in the Jewish question he displays an absolutely impossible attitude.
White Russia is currently in administrative chaos. The administration is at most in control of one-third of the area. It has relinquished control over the remaining two-thirds of the zone with resignation and no longer dares penetrate this area, although the guerrilla situation there is not particularly serious. All attempts to bring the area back
under civil administration have been stopped. It is indicative that the administration is never at hand during major SS and police actions and only resumes its work once a trouble spot has been pacified. As a result almost all actions are ineffectual... .
The administrative deficiencies described above in White Russia are for the most part to be attributed to a deficient staff policy on the part of the Generalkommissar. This policy can be described succinctly as follows: any strong and competent men to be appointed have been removed while dim-wits and bootlickers, most of whom have some past connection with the Gauleiter and who have now once again latched on to him, are retained. The category of decent men includes Landrat [District Administrator] Eger, Hauptabteilungsleiter II, the Head of the Propaganda Department, Dr Scholz, the 2. Staatsanwalt Assessor [assistant public prosecutor] Scheid, who was transferred after being commended highly, and Inspector Weich, whose trust was lost for the simple reason that he had dared to put a `former acquaintance' of the Gauleiter's on night duty.
By contrast everything is done to retain for example a man like Stadtkommissar Janetzke. Janetzke is an extremely weak human being given to heavy drinking. He runs his office in a disturbingly negligent and disorderly manner. His wife, who likewise consumes too much alcohol, has committed the most serious appropriation of essential foodstuffs. She was also involved in a fight with the Stadtkommissar's driver. At a `party' in the presence of her husband she undid the clothes of a drunken party guest and blackened some parts of his body with shoe polish. All these things are known to the Gauleiter. Although he could not prevent legal proceedings from being brought against her he managed to ensure that these only resulted in a rehabilitation order or a transfer from Minsk to Nowogrodek [Novogrudok].
Landrat z.D. Schroder, Head of the Procurement Office was, to my knowledge, already connected with the Gauleiter in Brandenburg. Schroder's way of life from an alcoholic and erotic viewpoint is also unworthy of a German person in the East. His `business dealings' as Head of the Procurement Office are so shady that the entire department is accusing him of misappropriation. He is constantly saying that a word with the Gauleiter is enough to render any reproach invalid. Although he was stripped of his title Landrat by the Ministry for the Interior and the Ministry for the Eastern Territories refused Schroder's appointment as Gebietskommissar in principle, the Gauleiter appointed him as deputy Stadtkommissar and requested
the Reichkommissar to give its final approval of his appointment as Stadtkommissar.
The Gebietskommissar in Glcbokie is a further member of the former Kube circle, Paul Hachmann. Before Hitler came to power and for some time afterwards this man worked as a private detective and chorister. He has numerous convictions for robbery and embezzlement, but his criminal record was destroyed after Hitler came to power. Hachmann is utterly unsuited to the job of Gebietskommissar. His conduct towards the Jews is unbelievable. Despite warnings from a number of quarters he has nevertheless been retained by the Gauleiter... .
Rumours surrounding the personal conduct of the Gauleiter are particularly wide-ranging. There is however no reliable proof for these. Kube once told a small group of people with visible pleasure how he had personally fitted underwear for female artists who were passing through town. It is also fairly certain that from time to time he had relations with his female employees before his wife arrived in Minsk.
The following incident can be verified. The Gauleiter once noticed a White Russian woman doctor because of her beauty but subsequently lost track of her. When he could not establish the identity of the doctor he called a White Russian doctors' convention in Minsk at which he gave a talk. There he discovered her and ordered his adjutant to take her photograph and find out her personal details. The next day the doctor was ordered to the head of the local self-help centre, who revealed to her that the Gauleiter had requested her as his domestic servant. When she refused to go, it was explained to her that one had to make sacrifices for the White Russian cause. Upon refusing a second time she was told that criminal proceedings would be considered. Only following this threat did the White Russian declare herself prepared to work for the Gauleiter. It is not known to date whether or not there was any intimacy in this case. This is currently being determined. In conclusion it can be said that since Frau Kube's arrival in Minsk criticisms in this regard can no longer be made.
As far as the Gauleiter's attitude to the SS and the police is concerned, it can be established that he has had a very negative attitude towards them. It is extremely difficult to provide precise proof as he gives a show of being amicably disposed towards the SS and holding the Reichsführer in high esteem. He asked the SS and Polizeiführer, Brigadeführer Zenner and v. Gottberg if he could use the informal `Du' to address them and even used `Du' during high official occasions.
In daily life, however, particularly during police actions against Jews, which will be gone into in more detail later, his negative attitude has been repeatedly made evident. While he behaved in an outwardly friendly manner towards Brigadeführer Zenner, behind his back he made verbal and written reports to the Reichskommissar and to the Minister [for the Eastern Territories] in which he was at pains to draw attention to the Brigadeführer's alleged incompetence.
After `Operation Malaria' SS-Obergruppenführer Jeckeln was of the view that White Russia was to a large extent pacified. The Gauleiter expressed his agreement and sent a letter of gratitude to him. However, in private circles he made fun of the Obergruppenführer and maintained that the report the Obergruppenführer had submitted to the Reichsführer was incorrect... .
The attitude of Generalkommissar Kube to the Jews is quite literally slavish. Here, too, his duplicity is clearly discernible, despite the fact he stresses in all his official speeches and written communications that the Jewish question must be settled as quickly and radically as possible. The following letters, comments and orders I cite shed light on his real attitude. I will let the substantive writing speak for itself.
I would like to venture that the most serious document is a communication from the late chief of the Security Police, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich. Obergruppenführer Heydrich's letter is dated 21 March 1942.Dear Pg. Kube,
Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter Dr Meyer came and handed over to me a list of persons about whose cases, as he informed me, there had been numerous complaints. These complaints had been raised as, allegedly, in their cases the relevant guidelines were not adhered to during the evacuation of the Jews from the Reich territory to Minsk.
Although I had been previously convinced that the guidelines I had issued regarding the practical procedure for the evacuation of Jews from the Reichsgebiet were observed rigorously in every case, I nevertheless ordered a thorough and time-consuming check of cases you had complained about. As can be seen from the attached report on our findings, all the cases are without exception legally determined Jews, i.e. Jews and Jewesses who as a result of divorce and the like no longer have relations with their German-blood spouses and therefore can be equated entirely with the Jews.
I was not informed of the circumstances under which this list was compiled. Really, the only explanation I can give for the compilation of the list is that the accounts of the evacuated Jews were believed blindly.
There seems to have been an inclination to give the accounts of the Jews more credibility than the German authorities, which act in accordance with highly detailed instructions issued after the most thorough examination of each individual case. And this at a time when the clearing up of the Jewish problem in the Reich etc. has been tackled in earnest.
Many of the Jews in the above-mentioned list are already known for their repeated attempts to deny their Jewishness, on all kinds of possible and impossible grounds. It is also natural that first-degree half-castes [Mischlinge] in particular try to deny their Jewishness at every available opportunity.
You will agree with me that, in the third year of the war, even for the Security Police and the Security Service there are tasks which are more important for the war effort than running about pandering to the bellyaching of Jews, making time-consuming lists and distracting so many of my col-leagues from other far more important duties. If I instigated an investigation into the persons on your list at all this was only in order to prove such attacks wrong once and for all in writing. I regret to have to write yet another such justification six and a half years after the enactment of the Nuremberg laws.
The following file note shows the circumstances in which this list, for which Obergruppenführer Heydrich reprimanded Kube, was compiled:On 29.11.1941 the ghetto was visited by Gauleiter Kube.
Present were SS-Brigadeführer Zenner, General of the Police Herf and some political leaders. The Jew Frank acted as guide. During the conversation Frank mentioned that there were people here whose brothers were engaged in active service. Kube stated that he would immediately report these cases to the Führer. He asked Frank for a list of names of these cases. In the Berlin section of the ghetto Kube stopped two girls who in his view had an Aryan appearance and had their personal details taken down by a political Leiter. The whole proceedings took place in the presence of the Jew, Frank.
So it was the Generalkommissar himself who had ordered the Jews to draw up such a list of allegedly unfairly resettled Jews.
The following letter, dated 15 January 1942, to SS-Brigadeführer Zenner reveals a strange attitude towards the Jewish question:My dear Carl,
Today my transport officer reported to me that the SS-Oberscharführer who was running the garage fire hearing had acted in the most uncouth fashion. In front of witnesses he asked the driver who is under my command whether he had heard that the Gauleiter had thanked the Jew who had saved the Maybach for him. He wished to know what form these thanks took.
Apart from the fact that this was an act of utterly outrageous tactlessness on the part of the SD Oberscharführer concerned, I also view it as an insult and a lack of respect. The Jew in question entered the burning garage and without any help brought out my valuable Maybach, which was threatened by the fire. As a result he has saved the Reich some 20,000 RM. It goes without saying that I as a decent person should thank him for this. I must add that in no way will I tolerate a police official of indirectly lower rank to me criticizing my conduct during a legal hearing. I request you to see to it that necessary steps are taken. Under no circumstances should this man be involved with hearings of the Generalkommissariat. He does not possess the maturity these hearings require.
The fact was that the Gauleiter had enthusiastically shaken the hand of the Jew who had got the car out from the garage, and had thanked him. This fact was transmitted to the official responsible for conducting the inquiry into the incident by the Generalkommissar's driver and he could not refrain from expressing his surprise over this. Whereupon the Generalkommissar believed himself to be justified in attacking the investigating official in the most unpleasant way.
Attacks of this nature against my officers and men were the order of the day.
On 1 March 1942 an action was to take place against the Russian ghetto in Minsk. The Generalkommissar received prior notification. In order to disguise the action the Council of Elders was to be informed that 5,000 Jews from the Minsk ghetto were to be resettled. These Jews were to be notified by the Council of Elders and told to get ready. Each Jew would be permitted to take along 5 kg of luggage.
As can be proved, the actual intentions of the Security Police were betrayed by the Generalkommissariat. Those Jews employed in the Generalkommissariat were not allowed into the ghetto for several days but were made to stay in the Generalkommissariat, as a result of which it became clear to the ghetto Jews that the version put out by
the Security Police was not correct. In addition, further indiscretions were committed, as emerges from liaison reports. At the time it was not possible to prove these incidents. It is clear, however, that the Gauleiter used his knowledge to save his Jews.
As a result of the betrayal no Jew appeared at the appointed time. There was nothing else to do but to round the Jews up by force. The Jews put up resistance and the men taking part in the action had to use firearms. When matters were at their worst, just as the men were going all out to break down the resistance the Gauleiter appeared. I shall now quote a file note dated 5 March 1942:At about 16.30 hours the Gauleiter, accompanied by his personal adjutant and an SS-Untersturmführer, arrived. It was already clear from a distance that the Gauleiter was unusually agitated. When I saw the Gauleiter coming towards me, I went up to him and greeted him. Immediately he began to shower me with criticism about the outrageous proceedings when the Jews had been rounded up. He reproached me with the fact that there had been repeated shooting in the ghetto, with ricochets also outside the ghetto. The Gauleiter's tone was exceptionally sharp. His rebukes could be heard by the Russian Jews standing around and by the White Russian policemen. In my capacity as specialist official responsible for the Jewish question and an SS officer I consider myself to have been grievously insulted.
The Gauleiter remained for some time in the ghetto. He reprimanded several of my men. During this time he repeatedly used expressions such as `filthy business' and `you haven't heard the last of this'. According to a report which cannot be substantiated 100 per cent, he is said to have distributed sweets to Jewish children on this occasion.
A file note by the then commander of the Sipo and the SD reads:The next morning, Tuesday, 2 March 1942, at 9.00 Landrat Reuscher arrived and formally asked me for information as to where the Gauleiter's three Jewish hairdressers were. He said that the Gauleiter wanted me to give an immediate explanation, particularly since I had given instructions to exclude all German Jews from the action. I was not in a position to divulge the relevant information to Landrat Reuscher, whereupon he said he would go straight away to the German Council of Elders in the ghetto. I advised him not to do this, remarking that the several visits made by the Gauleiter yesterday to the ghetto had already had an unfavourable effect. The Landrat declared himself to be satisfied and added that he just wanted a report about the whereabouts of these Jews as soon as possible. I immediately went to Brigadeführer Zenner and informed him of this conversation. The Gauleiter had meanwhile already telephoned the Brigadeführer, who said the Gauleiter had more or less shouted him down. It was not possible to have a
reasonable conversation with him. The Gauleiter held the SD responsible for the disappearance of the Jews. He demanded that the hairdressers be brought back by the evening at the latest or else he would start legal proceedings in the special court. He also said that he would no longer have anything to do with the SD... .
The Gauleiter apparently submitted a report to the Minister for the Eastern Territories, for on 10 March 1942 the following communication arrived:The Reichsminister for the occupied Eastern Territories has requested a report on the last action against the Jews in Minsk. I would therefore request you to submit a report as soon as possible on the measures you carried out.
The Security Police did not respond to this communication. The Gauleiter's wish to show the Security Police in an unfavourable light is evident from the following file note dated 18 April 1942:At 11.15 hours the Gauleiter telephoned and reported the following: the public prosecutor had informed him that a few days previously about fifteen Jewish women and men covered in blood had been led across the street. The interpreter who was accompanying them had himself fired on them in the prison thereby putting the officer on duty at considerable risk. The Gauleiter has demanded a rigorous investigation and severe punishment. The steps taken are to be reported to him immediately.
On 25 April 1942 I sent a written communication to the Gauleiter, extracts of which follow:... In addition to this purely objective observation, may I, Gauleiter, make the following remarks: May I ask you to name for me the persons who have slanderously claimed that I allowed Jewish or other persons to be led through Minsk covered in blood. Time and time again I am made aware of people trying to accuse my men of degenerate sadism. My officers and men work hard every hour of every day to fulfil their difficult duty. We are faced with an enemy who does not shrink from using any means. Over the past few weeks hardly an arrest took place without my men being shot at. It should go without saying that faced with such a state of affairs we are not in a position to take a mild line. Nobody, down to the Reichsfuehrer and the Führer, would understand it if I did not take the strongest measures to protect the lives of those officers and men who have been entrusted to me. Gentleness and time-wasting humanitarianism would have serious consequences in such a situation. I attach more worth to the life of one of my men than I do to those of a hundred Jews or partisans. Because our duties are hard and difficult I must stand up for my men and refute any slander most vehemently.
Significantly, in a communication of 28 April 1942, the Generalkommissar made no response at all to my reproaches but instead suggested that there should be a segregation of prisoners within the prison. He goes on to write:That the Jews belong within the framework of political criminality is for me, as the bearer of a party decoration, self-evident. I would prefer it if we could send all Russian Jews as quickly and as quietly as possible to their deserved fate. In addition you will always find me only too happy to cooperate with you and your men in a friendly manner. Since my student days (1908 to 1912), as a deutschvolkischer student, I have been engaged in the struggle against the Jews.
Thus when Gauleiter Kube feels himself to be under attack he immediately claims to be a great opponent of the Jews. He has also taken a very strong position against the Jews in his official pronouncements when addressing officers. In addition, he has sent a number of written communications to the higher SS and Police officers for the Eastern Territories in which he unambiguously demands the solution to the Jewish question. In my view, his speeches and written communications, in which he expresses his opinion on the Jewish question, are merely a means for him to cover his tracks at a later stage... .
Generalkommissar Kube appears to have promised the German Jews, 5,000 of whom were delivered to the ghetto before my time, that their lives and health would be spared. There is no completely reliable evidence available to back up this claim. Nevertheless, on the basis of existing material such an inference is justified. Particularly telling is the file note dated 2 October 1942:On the occasion of the meeting on 2 October 1942 Gauleiter Kube began to talk about the Stuttgart poet, Georg Schmuckle, whom I know well personally. He praised his work, including his volume of novellas, The Red Mask. I pointed out that in this book of short stories the Wurttemberg Jewish financier, Süss Oppenheimer, had actually been glorified, to which Kube stated that we young National Socialists did not yet have the correct attitude. When it came to Jews we were always afraid of endangering our souls. As a student before the war who had a true sense of his Germanness, he had listened to Mendelssohn and Offenbach but had nevertheless not abandoned his völkisch ideas. He did not understand why, for example, it was unacceptable today to mention Mendelssohn or play Jewish works, such as Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. He added that he was referring solely to the Jews of the nineteenth century, who after being liberated from the ghetto had taken a colossal step forwards. It was established beyond a doubt that the Jews had culture. This stemmed from the six per cent of their blood
which was Nordic, or possibly from West European and Roman influences.
Although we young National Socialists had the correct attitude from a physical or material point of view, spiritually or intellectually we were on the wrong track. He was, however, of the view that the Jewish contribution to musical history in the form of, say, a Mendelssohn could not simply be removed, without leaving a gaping hole.
The Gauleiter had learned that a German Jew had been slapped around the face by a police officer. Kube reprimanded the police officer in the presence of the Jew, demanding to know whether he too, like the Jew, had been awarded the Iron Cross. Fortunately the police officer was able to answer in the affirmative.
On 2 December 1941 the Elder of the Jews from the Altreich remarked that on the occasion of the Gauleiter's visit to the ghetto he had gained the impression that the Gauleiter wanted to treat the Jews from the Reich somewhat less harshly than the Russian Jews, who in no way could be compared to one another.
On 2 February 1942 the KdS was informed in confidence that the Jew employed as a hairdresser by the Generalkommissar in Minsk, who shaved the Gauleiter every day, had said that all those Jews working in the departments of the Generalkommissariat were under the personal protection of the Gauleiter. Each Jew had the right to lodge a complaint with the Gauleiter if they were treated in an inappropriate manner by German nationals [Reichsdeutsche]. It can be proved that this Jew's claim was not idle chatter by the fact that on several occasions Kube reprimanded Germans for ill-treatment or verbal abuse of Jews. He could only have known about such cases from the actual Jews involved.
During a major ghetto action it was made known by informants that the German Jewish Ordnungsdienst [organization for maintenance of public order] made up predominantly of former World War I servicemen, was intending to put up armed resistance. In order to avoid bloodshed on the German side the Ordnungsdienst was made to assemble and was told that a fire had broken out in the town and they should be at the ready for fire duty. The Jews were then loaded on to trucks and sonderbehandelt ['given special treatment', i.e. executed]. This matter also reached the Gauleiter's ears, although how is not known. He reacted angrily to the news saying that it was brutal to eliminate these former war veterans who had fought at the front and that, besides, this type of action was outrageous.
In his letter of 28 April 1942, which I have already mentioned, Kube states that he would prefer it if all Russian Jews were sent to
their deserved fate as quickly as possible. Thus it is clear that here once again he was making an exception of the German Jews.
On 30 October 1942 the Generalkommissar issued the following order:To Hauptabteilungsleiter I, II, III
Re: Complaints to the police and SD.
Complaints concerning misdemeanours of staff members or White Russians, Jews, etc. in our employ are to be submitted to me first for approval. Hauptabteilungsleiter are requested to ensure that this order is strictly adhered to by circulating it in the departments for which they are responsible.
The Generalkommissar in Minsk
The German members of the Generalkommisariat were understand-ably outraged that they were named in the same sentence as Jews. For the Generalkommissar it was, however, not a question of wishing to keep German personnel or White Russians out of reach of the Security Police – his sole aim was to protect his German Jews.
An Abteilungsleiter reported on 7 November 1942 that while he had been walking through the Generalkommissariat he saw a Jew loafing around in front of a door. When asked what he was doing there, the Jew said, `I'm waiting for the boss.' When questioned further as to whom this boss was, the Jew answered, the Gauleiter.
On not a few occasions the Gauleiter has bawled at members of the civil administration in front of Jews who happened to be standing there. The long-standing party comrade and Ortsgruppenleiter Hoder was shouted at in this fashion and threatened with dismissal because he had remarked that Robert Ley would certainly be surprised if he heard that Jews were being accommodated in the Robert Ley House in Minsk. Here too the Jews in question were German.
The Generalkommissar and his wife have donated groceries, fruit and vegetables to German Jews, in particular the hairdressers and tailors.
On numerous occasions Kube has said to me personally that Jews evacuated from the Reich could be spared without any problem since they do not understand the local language and would therefore not pose a danger in so far as their becoming involved in guerrilla activities was concerned.
I am convinced from the evidence that deep down Kube is opposed to our actions against the Jews. If he does not admit to this outwardly the only reason is his fear of the consequences. He is in agreement with actions against Russian Jews because he is able to appease his conscience by the fact that the majority of Russian Jews collaborate with the guerrillas.
I cannot conclude this report without emphasizing that almost all the information I have submitted is known in the widest circles of the civil administration and the Wehrmacht, and even to a lesser extent among the White Russians. The Wehrmacht smiles and watches the incompetence of the Gauleiter with enjoyment. Far-sighted members of the civil administration are in despair and can no longer see any way out of this bungled state of affairs. The White Russians too have lost faith in German leadership because again and again they are made to feel personally the aimlessness of the policy. In the circumstances I consider it ill-advised to retain the Generalkommissar.