Frankolovo

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TISO
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Re: Frankolovo

Post by TISO » 12 Jul 2011 20:44

Not exactly the topic but here is a collection of photos made on 22nd of july 1942 during the excution of hostages in "Stari pisker" prison in Celje (some of 374 in all shot in this yard during 1941 and 1942):
http://www.ce-nob.si/Search/keyword

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 03 Jun 2012 11:29

Recently I have acquired some knowledge of events discussed here in the past years so I have decided to make a contribution.


Part I - Dorfmeister's death

Bračič brigade of 14th divison consisted of four battalions. 1st and 2nd company of 2nd battalion of Bračič brigade took position by the road Stranice–Frankolovo in the morning 2.2.1945 as ordered by brigade command. At 07.20 they fired at the convoy of 2nd battalion of 14th SS Police regiment on its way from Slovenske Konjice to Celje. The second part of the convoy stopped out of range. Three trucks at the head of the convoy were destroyed. They were loaded with ammunition for anti-aircraft artillery, two of them exploaded during the attack. Dorfmeister's driver Lerch, slightly wounded in his cheek, managed to pass trucks before they exploaded. He drove to Celje where Dorfmeister died in hospital 3.2.1945 at half past noon. He was hit in his head where the bullet remained. Only after the attack partisan intelligence service realized that Dorfmeister had been killed. His funeral was in Celje 5.2.1945, attended by Uiberreither, Rösener, Steindl and others. The news of Dorfmeister's death and funeral was published 8.2.1945. 2nd and 3rd battalion of Bračič brigade carried out four attacks on cars and trucks 9.2.1945 by the same road as 2.2.1945.

Obviously Dorfmeister was not assassinated as TISO wrote in his post of 25.8.2009 and Michael wrote in his post of 3.9.2009. He was not even a target. He died in a shooting between policemen and partisans because he had chosen to join the police convoy with his car and consequently his car was under fire. His car was as legitimate target as the police convoy was. Furthermore, Dorfmeister was not killed as a civilian official as written by Michael in his post of 16.11.2009. Dorfmeister's car made part of police convoy and surely had no signs of transporting civilians. Finally, partisans who attacked the police convoy had no idea of Dorfmeister's presence. In sum, Dorfmeister's death occured unintentionally, was not planned by attackers and was contributed to by Dorfmeister himself having joined the police convoy.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 03 Jun 2012 12:23

Part II - prisoners' death near Frankolovo

Note: Partisan attack and hanging of prisoners took place half way between Stranice and Frankolovo.

Order to hang 100 prisoners was given to Kds Stage by HSSPF Rösener. Prisoners to be executed were chosen by gestapo following their standard procedure. Their list was made by gestapo in Maribor and confirmed by KdS Stage and HSSPF Rösener. Prisoners from Maribor were transported to Celje while those from Celje prison remained there. 12.1.1945 they were all transported by trucks to Frankolovo where they arrived past eight in the morning. Prisoners were hung one by one, several (3-4) on a single tree, first on one side of the road, then on the other side. While some prisoners were being hung, others had to dig two mass graves and carry those already dead to the grave. Present were gestapo leader in Celje Kramhöller, Dorfmeister's successor Mayerhöfer and his deputy Flaser. 98 prisoners were hung. Ivan Skale was shot while trying to escape. (His son Ivan Skale was hung). Herman Zdolšek was shot by gestapo 14.2.1945 near Celje where he was brought from the hospital. The majority of prisoners executed were partisans captured mostly during the occupant's offensive campaign in December 1944 and January 1945. Seven of them belonged to Bračič brigade. Some of them were captured wounded. The youngest prisoner killed was born 13.12.1928, the oldest one was born 14.1.1881.

The area was secured against possible partisan attack by police and military units which took their position 11.2.1945. Partisans noticed their presence but were not aware of the plan to hang prisoners. At around ten in the morning an occupant's unit of around 50 men had a fight with 2nd battalion of Bračič brigade. It was snowy and foggy.

1st battalion of Bračič brigade destroyed two cars 16.2.1945 by the same road as 2.2.1945 and clashed with the enemy having arrived from Frankolovo and Slovenske Konjice. 4th battalion of Bračič brigade had a fight in Paški Kozjak 17.2.1945. The brigade counted 651 men 14.1.1954 and 511 men 27.2.1945. After Dorfmeister's death officials from Celje used alternative road via Rogaška Slatina and Ptuj to travel to Maribor.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 04 Jun 2012 07:23

Part III – occupation of Štajerska (Untersteiermark)

Some general information is useful and some is needed to understand the status of prisoners executed near Frankolovo. Initially, it is not true that uccupied Štajerska (Untersteiermark) with a surface of 6782 km2 and a population of 568.215 in 1931 was annexed to the Third Reich as TISO wrote 25.8.2009. In Spring 1941 it was decided to annex it 1.10.1941 but was postponed first to 1.11.1941 and then to 1.1.1942. Finally, annexation was postponed for indefinite period of time due to the failure of complete pacification of the region. Slovene Štajerska (Untersteiermark) was supposed to become part of Austrian Steiermark and that's why it was to a large extent governed by Austrians. The region was under German military command until 14.4.1941 only when it was placed under the authority of CdZ Uiberreither and his administration. Uiberreither was subordinate to Hitler who appointed him CdZ. In April 1941 CdZ Uiberreither started to carry out the prewar plan of germanization, which resulted in 4584 people expelled by 5.7.1941, 9.963 people expelled by 27.9.1941 and 36.261 people expelled by 30.7.1942. Additional 17.000 people fled to the neighbouring region occupied by Italy. Property of expelled citizens was confiscated. Books in Slovene language were taken out of libraries and burnt. The use of Slovene language was forbidden, children had to learn German only. I believe these were all illegal activities of the occupant by international law of that time. The very invasion of Yugoslavia was illegal as it represented a violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

CdZ Uiberreither passed a decree 16.8.1941 and made it public. He declared death penalty for those who attended a meeting armed, who gave shelter or food to members of armed bands, who supported members of armed bands in any way or were in contact with them, who possessed arms, ammunition or explosive, who took part in a sabotage or burnt provisions. He declared that the property of decree violators and the property of their families would be confiscated. He declared the most severe penalty for those who didn't inform the closest police station of armed bands. Those who had fled or had been expelled after 6.4.1941 and would return to Štajerska (Untersteiermark) without permisson as well as those who would cross the border without proper documents would be severely punished even by death in severe cases.

The decree contained no information of who was authorized to implement it and how. CdZ Uibereither authorized gestapo to implement it. KdS was authorized to pass or refuse death penalty suggested by gestapo. CdZ Uibereither had the right to amnesty but never used it. There was no tribunal for political prisoners. They were arrested, interrogated, found guilty, sentenced and executed in a police procedure.

Regarding the legality of CdZ Uiberreither's decree of 16.8.1941 one should consider the following opinion of the US Military Tribunal in Nürnberg, 1948: »Hostages may not be taken or executed as a matter of military expediency. The occupant is required to use every available method to secure order and tranquility before resort may be had to the taking and execution of hostages. Regulations of all kinds must be imposed to secure peace and tranquility before the shooting of hostages may be indulged. These regulations may include one or more of the following measures : (1) the registration of the inhabitants, (2) the possession of passes or identification certificates, (3) the establishment of restricted areas, (4) limitations of movement, (5) the adoption of curfew regulations, (6) the prohibition of assembly, (7) the detention of suspected persons, (8) restrictions on communication, (9) the imposition of restrictions on food supplies, (10) the evacuation of troublesome areas, (11) the levying of monetary contributions, (12) compulsory labour to repair damage from sabotage, (13) the destruction of property in proximity to the place of the crime, and any other regulation not prohibited by International Law that would in all likelihood contribute to the desired result. If attacks upon troops and military installations occur regardless of the foregoing precautionary measures and the perpetrators cannot be apprehended, hostages may be taken from the population to deter similar acts in the future provided it can be shown that the population generally is a party to the offence, either actively or passively. /.../ It is a fundamental rule of justice that the lives of persons may not be arbitrarily taken. A fair trial before a judicial body affords the surest protection against arbitrary, vindictive or whimsical application of the right to shoot human beings in reprisal. It is a rule of International Law, based on these fundamental concepts of justice and the rights of individuals, that the lives of persons may not be taken in reprisal in the absence of a judicial finding that the necessary conditions exist and the essential steps have been taken to give validity to such action.”

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 04 Jun 2012 07:27

Part IV - executions of prisoners in occupied Štajerska (Untersteiermark)

1590 prisoners were executed for violating CdZ Uiberreither's decree: 174 in 12 executions in 1941, 866 in 21 executions in 1942, 55 in 4 executions in 1943, 230 in 17 executions in 1944, 265 in 13 executions in 1945. All were shot except those from Frankolovo. 82 were women, mostly shot in 1942. The last group of 18 prisoners was shot 3.4.1945. The bloodiest execution occurred in Maribor 2.10.1942 when 143 prisoners were shot in the courtyard of the prison. They were shot in groups of five therefore 29 groups were shot. Citizens of Maribor were listening to the shooting for the whole afternoon.

The executed prisoners who were not captured partisans were among those numerous civilians who were arrested by gestapo. Sometimes they were arrested on mere suspicion of violating the occupant's law, often relatives were arrested with the suspected violator. Interrogation by gestapo included various methods, including beating of prisoners. In the end, interrogation officer made a final report suggesting one of three measures: release, concentration camp or execution. Those suggested for execution were transferred to Maribor prison, others were transferred to prison Borl (Ankenstein). Some of the Borl prisoners were later transferred to Maribor for execution. Execution decree was prepared by gestapo in Maribor, Kds signed it, prisoners were executed in the same day. Executions took place in the courtyard of the Maribor prison, on five occasions in 1942 in the courtyard of the Celje prison, since May 1943 on locations of partisan attacks. Bodies were transported to Graz cemetery for cremation or burial.

Until 1943 KdS Luker decided all alone about executions. Since January 1943 KdS Maribor had to ask HSSPF Rösener for approval. A list of prisoners to be executed with necessary data was sent to HSSPF Rösener who confirmed it by leter or cable. In 1944 and in 1945 suggestions for executions of prisoners were made by Franz Steindl and Steirischer Heimatbund leadership.

Announcements mentioning an attack and giving names of executed prisoners were fixed in public in the day of the execution. Not every attack was folowed by execution. There was no pattern about the kind and scale of attack folowed by execution. The number of prisoners executed varied from 10 to 143, the frequency of executions was irregular. The population could not predict when and why executions could occur as any attack could be but needn't be followed by an execution. Population called the executed prisoners hostages but the occupant didn't. They were called hostages only after their death as nobody, including prisoners themselves, knew who of the prisoners would be executed and when until the day of execution. I beleive that following international law of that time executed prisoners cannot be regarded as hostages as mentioned by Michael in his posts of 24.12.2009 and of 26.8.2009: »… the term ‘hostages’ will be considered as those persons of the civilian population who are taken into custody for the purpose of guaranteeing with their lives the future good conduct of the population of the community from which they were taken.” (US Military Tribunal in Nürnberg, 1948)

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by history1 » 04 Jun 2012 17:33

trekker wrote:Part IV - executions of prisoners in occupied Štajerska (Untersteiermark)
[...] Bodies were transported to Graz cemetery for cremation or burial. [...]
Sorry but 130 km transportation of corpses just to bury them there?

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 05 Jun 2012 06:49

Part V - reprisal executions of civilian prisoners

Having established that executed prisoners were not hostages it remains to examine whether executions were reprisals as understood by international law of that time. US Military Tribunal in Nürnberg in 1948 decided as follows: »The term ‘reprisal prisoners’ will be considered as those individuals who are taken from the civilian population to be killed in retaliation for offences committed by unknown persons within the occupied area. /…/ Generally it can be said that the taking of reprisal prisoners, as well as the taking of hostages, for the purpose of controlling the population involves a previous proclamation that if a certain type of act is committed, a certain number of reprisal prisoners will be shot if the perpetrators cannot be found. /…/ Excessive reprisals are in themselves criminal and guilt attaches to the persons responsible for their commission. /…/ It is a fundamental rule of justice that the lives of persons may not be arbitrarily taken. affords the surest protection against arbitrary, vindictive or whimsical application of the right to shoot human beings in reprisal. It is a rule of International Law, based on these fundamental concepts of justice and the rights of individuals, that the lives of persons may not be taken in reprisal in the absence of a judicial finding that the necessary conditions exist and the essential steps have been taken to give validity to such action.«

There is another relevant fact of the matter. Prisoners whom Gestapo had decided to kill for violation of CdZ Uiberreither’s decree and whom had not been given a trial before a judicial body were sent to Maribor prison from all over Štajerska (Untersteiermark). They were executed regardless of their place of residence after a particular local attack of partisans had occurred. Even though executed prisoners were not hostages the following opinion of the US Military Tribunal in Nürnberg is in my opinion relevant and applicable: “…there must be some connection between the population from whom the hostages are taken and the crime committed. If the act was committed by isolated persons or bands from distant localities without the knowledge or approval of the population or public authorities, and which, therefore, neither the authorities nor the population could have prevented, the basis for the taking of hostages, or the shooting of hostages already taken, does not exist.«

Comparing tribunal’s decision with facts presented I believe that executions of civilian prisoners described were illegal by international law of that period. Michael’s assertion that executions would seem to have reasonably in accord with relevant rules of land warfare in his posts of 24.8.2009 and of 16.11.2009 is in my opinion incorrect.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 05 Jun 2012 09:06

history1 wrote:
trekker wrote:Part IV - executions of prisoners in occupied Štajerska (Untersteiermark)
[...] Bodies were transported to Graz cemetery for cremation or burial. [...]
Sorry but 130 km transportation of corpses just to bury them there?
It is a fact but I don't know the reason for doing it.

There is a monument in Graz cemetery built 1.11.1961 with names of 2516 victims of various nationalities burried there. 1213 of them were Slovenes of whom 319 were cremated, 694 were burried, for 200 it remains unknown. 1168 were killed in Slovenia of whom 65 were partisans of the Pohorje battalion killed 8.1.1943, 54 were prisoners executed in Gorenjska, others were prisoners executed in Štajerska: 661 in Maribor, 374 in Celje, 10 in Šoštanj, 4 in Trbovlje. They died in 1941-1943. Additional 45 victims were killed in Graz, mostly deserters from the German army executed by decapitation.

My post was not quite accurate as not all corpses of 1590 prisoners executed in Štajerska in 1941-1945 were transported to Graz cemetery as is evident in the Frankolovo case, for instance.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 06 Jun 2012 07:11

Part VI - reprisal execution of civilian prisoners near Frankolovo

It is clear from the announcement that the execution near Frankolovo was a reprisal action for Dorfmeister's death. But there are other facts revealing that it was actually a simple revenge.

It is known that it was Rösener who ordered KdS Stage that 100 prisoners must be executed. KdS Stage ordered gestapo to prepare 100 prisoners which they did following their standard procedure. Example: SS-Scharführer Josef Hotz who interrogated prisoner Karl Tamše in Celje 9.1.1945 made a final report 6.2.1945 suggesting prisoner to be executed as reprisal for Dorfmeister's death. Obviously Rösener's order was passed 6.2.1945 latest and all gestapo procedure that followed was just a legal cover. Besides, Dorfmeister's successor Mayehöfer wrote in his diary 12.2.1945: Execution of 100 bandits by hanging near Stranice as revenge for Kreisführer Dorfmeister.

After the execution gestapo in Celje realized that Franc Žohar had been executed instead of Franc Žoher. They had similar names but their dates of birth and places of residence were different which shows that even most basic formalities were disregarded. Kramhöller refused the idea of killing Franc Žoher because he had been ordered to execute 100 prisoners only. Obviously, the main concern was not whom to kill but to kill 100 prisoners as ordered by Rösener.

Since February 1944 announcements of reprisal executions including that of the Frankolovo reprisal in February 1945 stated that prisoners had been sentenced to death by a field court-martial (Feldgericht). The existance of such a court is not confirmed. I suppose it couldn't be established by a military command to trial civilians. Could it be established by HSSPF Rösener as a police Feldgericht? Is such a police court-martial known at all from elsewhere?

At this point it has to be mentioned that a special tribunal was established by CdZ Uiberreither's decree of 1.9.1944. The tribunal was subordinate to CdZ Uiberreither who appointed dr. Armin Gubo from Graz for its president. Prosecutor was SS-Hauptsturmführer Alois Gabrysch from KdS Stage's office. The special tribunal held 30-40 trials, those who were sentenced to death were executed by decapitation in Graz. The number of death sentences and executions is unknown, they were at least five. However, none of 1590 prisoners executed in Štajerska in 1941-1945 including those hung near Frankolovo in February 1945 was sentenced by the new special tribunal. They were all chosen for execution by gestapo and confirmed by either KdS Maribor or HSSPF Rösener.

Altogether I think there isn't much fact to support assertions that the killing of civilian prisoners near Frankolovo 12.2.1945 was legal by international law of that time.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 06 Jun 2012 07:17

Part VII – reprisal execution of captured partisans near Frankolovo

The relevant question is whether captured partisans executed near Frankolovo were entitled to the status of prisoners of war. I think they were if they met the following requirements of the Article 1 of the Haque Regulations (1907): 1) To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; 2) To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance; 3) To carry arms openly; and 4) To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Fulfillment of conditions was a matter of fact. I believe that in 1944-1945 the four conditions could be considered as fulfilled by partisan units in Štajerska and that at least part of partisans executed near Frankolovo were entitled to the status of a prisoner of war.
--------------

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 13 Jan 2013 13:17

trekker wrote: While some prisoners were being hung, others had to dig two mass graves and carry those already dead to the grave.
The above statement left me doubtful and I finally took time to check it with another source. What I've found may be interesting for some other AHF members.

It seems that in February 1945 with signs of possible defeat German officers were increasingly aware of possible consequences of their actions. Gestapo leader in Celje Kramhöller testified after WWII that SS-Strurmbannführer Hagen, Rösener's officer, warned him to be careful as hanging 100 prisoners could be regarded as a war crime. Commander of security area (Schutzgebiet) Untersteiermark dr Kühhas told Kramhöller he didn't want his men to hang prisoners. He said he would order prisoners to be executed upon written order only and he would let them be shot not hung. So it is possible that dr Kühhas arranged that his men secured the area but did not take part in the execution. Who did?

In Banat region (Serbia) Germans organized units of Hilfspolizei from volunteers of various nationalities living in that region. In October 1944 these units withdrew via Hungary to Austria. In December 1944 a Hipo battalion was organized in Graz and sent to Celje region to guard industrial and mining facilities. On 12.2.1945 they were ordered to go by trucks to Celje prison where they loaded prisoners with their hands tied on their backs. On arrival trucks stopped at the place of execution with prisoners remaining on board. Prisoners got off one by one at their turn. The hanging was done by two Hipo volunteers. Two graves were digged and dead prisoners were burried by prisoners who had been transported from Celje prison for that purpose and were returned to prison in the end. It was customary that criminal prisoners assisted during executions of political prisoners.

Death certificate (Todesanzeige) was issued for each dead man stating that prisoner died 12.2.1945 at 11.00 because of hanging (im Sonderverfahren erhängt).

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by G. Trifkovic » 15 Jan 2013 14:32

Thanks for the detailed posts, trekker.
It seems that in February 1945 with signs of possible defeat German officers were increasingly aware of possible consequences of their actions. Gestapo leader in Celje Kramhöller testified after WWII that SS-Strurmbannführer Hagen, Rösener's officer, warned him to be careful as hanging 100 prisoners could be regarded as a war crime. Commander of security area (Schutzgebiet) Untersteiermark dr Kühhas told Kramhöller he didn't want his men to hang prisoners. He said he would order prisoners to be executed upon written order only and he would let them be shot not hung. So it is possible that dr Kühhas arranged that his men secured the area but did not take part in the execution. Who did?
What is the source for the quoted lines? Thanks again,

G.

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 25 Jan 2013 08:14

G. Trifkovic wrote: What is the source for the quoted lines?
My last post was based on a booklet
Stane Terčak: Frankolovski zločin, Ljubljana, 1971

Information on prisoners' execution in my previous posts was taken from
Milan Ževart: Stranice 12. februarja 1945, 1981
(shortened) published in
dr. Milan Ževart: Izbrana dela, Velenje, 2005

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by TISO » 28 Jan 2013 23:39

Just a note both authors mentined were partisans and after the war partisan "historians" that were writing up official glorious/mythical partisan histories of various partisan units.

dr. Milan Ževart was OF activist and later partisan in Tomšič brigade after the war he was also delegate in SFRJ assembly (1963-65)
Stane Terčak i belive was a partisan in XIV division

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Re: Frankolovo

Post by trekker » 29 Jan 2013 08:17

TISO wrote:Just a note both authors mentined were partisans and after the war partisan "historians" that were writing up official glorious/mythical partisan histories of various partisan units.
AHF is a history forum and history is about facts, I believe. I tried to be as factual as possible. Are there any facts mentioned in my posts you disagree with?

The topic is about executing prisoners near Frankolovo. It has nothing to do with partisan units and glorifying them. I believe any serious AHF member is able to distinguish facts from myth anyway.

I didn't know the past of both authors and I do not see why you mention it. Is it just giving a fact or something else?

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