What's the story behind this execution?

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Panzermahn
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What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 08 Nov 2010 16:50

Hi

I was reading David Kahn's classic, Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II and I came across these three pictures. Does anyone knew what is the story behind their execution apart from what is stated in the caption?

Pictures from page 504 and 505

execution1.jpg


execution2.jpg


Panzermahn
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Ypenburg
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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Ypenburg » 08 Nov 2010 20:28

Josef Wende and Stefan Kotas, both mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=142851

Nachname: Wende
Vorname: Josef
Dienstgrad: Grenadier
Geburtsdatum: 12.08.1926
Geburtsort:
Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 28.09.1944
Josef Wende ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Andilly (Frankreich) .
Endgrablage: Block 30 Reihe 8 Grab 569

Nachname: Kotas
Vorname: Stefan
Dienstgrad: Grenadier
Geburtsdatum: 06.12.1918
Geburtsort:
Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 28.09.1944
Stefan Kotas ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Andilly (Frankreich) .
Endgrablage: Block 30 Reihe 8 Grab 572


"On September 24,1944, the young infantryman Josef Wende together with his comrade Stephan Kortas was send across the Mosel to recon the American lines. They were discovered by the American sergeant Skaboro and captured. On October 18, 1944 they were sentenced to death as being spies and on 11 November 1944 shot in the garden of a farmhouse at Toul. "
Source: "Alliierte Verbrechen an Deutschen" by E. Kern, 1980.

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heimwehr danzig
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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by heimwehr danzig » 08 Nov 2010 22:20

If they were shot as spies then I take it they were captured in either US Army uniform or civilian clothes?

I ask because at the time of their execution both are in German uniform (although I cannot make out any badges/insignia) and I wonder how likely it is that the Americans would have German uniforms available in which to dress prisoners for execution. The link below to the Operation Grief thread shows a German POW about to be shot still in his US uniform.

If they were in German uniform when captured, how can they be spies?

Kind regards,
"If I looked like Himmler, I wouldn't go on about race so much"
- Albert Forster, Gauleiter Danzig West Prussia

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by David Thompson » 08 Nov 2010 22:57

heimwehr danzig -- You asked:
If they were shot as spies then I take it they were captured in either US Army uniform or civilian clothes?

Panzermahn's source, Hitler's spies: German military intelligence in World War II by David Kahn, says at p. 363 that the men were captured in civilian clothes, posing as Polish slave laborers.
http://books.google.com/books?id=FYl11l ... 22&f=false

I don't have any information on the stock of captured German uniforms the allies may have had available by Oct 1944 from their campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France.

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 09 Nov 2010 16:28

Ypenburg wrote:Josef Wende and Stefan Kotas, both mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=142851

Nachname: Wende
Vorname: Josef
Dienstgrad: Grenadier
Geburtsdatum: 12.08.1926
Geburtsort:
Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 28.09.1944
Josef Wende ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Andilly (Frankreich) .
Endgrablage: Block 30 Reihe 8 Grab 569

Nachname: Kotas
Vorname: Stefan
Dienstgrad: Grenadier
Geburtsdatum: 06.12.1918
Geburtsort:
Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 28.09.1944
Stefan Kotas ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Andilly (Frankreich) .
Endgrablage: Block 30 Reihe 8 Grab 572


"On September 24,1944, the young infantryman Josef Wende together with his comrade Stephan Kortas was send across the Mosel to recon the American lines. They were discovered by the American sergeant Skaboro and captured. On October 18, 1944 they were sentenced to death as being spies and on 11 November 1944 shot in the garden of a farmhouse at Toul. "
Source: "Alliierte Verbrechen an Deutschen" by E. Kern, 1980.


Hi Ypenburg

Thanks for the additional German source. David Kahn stated that Wende and Kostas were ethnic Poles drafted into Germany Army and was caught masquerading as Polish slave labourers while wearing civilian clothing. However Erich Kern mentioned that they were sent for reconnaisance and were captured and executed after being sentenced as spies.

However looking again at the photographs in Kahn's book, it seems that Wende and Kostas were wearing German uniforms (devoid of insignias though) judging by the bergmütze and schirmütze they were wearing respectively, I think Kern's version is more credible though it is possible that the Americans may provide them German unifoms to wear on the day of their execution (though I think it is highly unlikely that it could happen).It seems plausible that Wende was wearing a Luftwaffe fliegerblaus (lack of buttons)

Does anyone know how to accessed NARA files on their execution? I am pretty sure that the Americans interrogated them and recorded it down together with the judgement of the military tribunal that sentenced them to death

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 09 Nov 2010 16:52

Josef Wende and Stefan Kotas, both mentioned here: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=142851

other names

Günther Ohletz
Stefan Kotas
Josef Wende
Hubert Albrecht
Hubert Rawe
Erwin Brian (sentence for life)
Josef Müller (sentence for life)
Günther Schulz
Curt Bruns
Richard Jakszyk/Jarczyk (executed 28.04.1945)



I remember I read about Richard Jarczyk in Biddiscombe's book Werewolf! History of the National Socialist Guerrilla Movement 1944-1946 (University of Toronto Press 1998) and The Last Nazis: SS Werewolf Guerrilla Resistance in Europe 1944-47 (2006)

"In the Rhineland, a Polish Volksdeutsch named Richard Jarczyk infiltrated American lines, where he obtained civilian clothing from a sympathetic German woman and in March 1945 got himself hired by an American MIlitary Government detachment at Bruckweiler. Jarczyk was such a conscientious employee that he was soon considered for an appointment as the Bürgermeister of a local town, although his suspicious behaviour eventually gave him away. Since his real mission was sabotage, murder and espionage, he was persistent in his efforts to obtain travel permits, and this gradually aroused the interest of the CIC. Subsequently he was arrested, tried and executed on 23 April [note 64]"

Note 64 = History of the Counter Intelligence Corps, vol. 19, 57; vol.16 NA; and The Washington Post, 24 April 1945

Page 106, Werewolf! History of the National Socialist Guerrilla Movement 1944-1946

Photos from page 10 and 11 of the book Werewolf! and page 157 of the book the Last Nazis

jarczyk1.jpg


jarczyk2.jpg


jarczyk3.jpg
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Panzermahn
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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 09 Nov 2010 16:57

jarczyk4.jpg


jarczyk5.jpg


However in the Last Nazis, Biddiscombe stated that Jarczyk was an Obergefreiter and was found guilty by the US Army Seventh Army military commission for attempted sabotage while in civilian clothing. In Werewolf! Biddiscombe gave the rank of Jarczyk in the index section as sergeant.
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Ossian
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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Ossian » 10 Nov 2010 03:57

Panzermahn wrote:
Ypenburg wrote:
Does anyone know how to accessed NARA files on their execution? I am pretty sure that the Americans interrogated them and recorded it down together with the judgement of the military tribunal that sentenced them to death


Good question. I know that at least some military commission cases of the period can be found in the Record Group containing the records of the Judge Advocate General. The record of trial and allied papers in the Anton Dostler case for example, tried in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, can be found in various boxes and folders associated with Case File 16-115 in entry 143, Record Group 153. This suggests that other cases from the combat theaters could be located in the same series.

It is also possible that the military commission case files regarding spies in the European Theater of Operations are to be found in the records of the Judge Advocate section of the ETOUSA, or, equally likely, in the Judge Advocate Section of the Headquarters, 12th Army Group. This case was tried by a military commission convened by the Third Army and sent to the 12th Army Group for confirmation. After execution, trial papers were to be forwarded to the Staff Judge Advocate of the 12th Army Group for record-keeping purposes. I believe the surviving records of that headquarters would be the best starting point to look for them at NARA.

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 10 Nov 2010 06:15

Ossian wrote:
Panzermahn wrote:
Ypenburg wrote:
Does anyone know how to accessed NARA files on their execution? I am pretty sure that the Americans interrogated them and recorded it down together with the judgement of the military tribunal that sentenced them to death


Good question. I know that at least some military commission cases of the period can be found in the Record Group containing the records of the Judge Advocate General. The record of trial and allied papers in the Anton Dostler case for example, tried in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, can be found in various boxes and folders associated with Case File 16-115 in entry 143, Record Group 153. This suggests that other cases from the combat theaters could be located in the same series.

It is also possible that the military commission case files regarding spies in the European Theater of Operations are to be found in the records of the Judge Advocate section of the ETOUSA, or, equally likely, in the Judge Advocate Section of the Headquarters, 12th Army Group. This case was tried by a military commission convened by the Third Army and sent to the 12th Army Group for confirmation. After execution, trial papers were to be forwarded to the Staff Judge Advocate of the 12th Army Group for record-keeping purposes. I believe the surviving records of that headquarters would be the best starting point to look for them at NARA.


Hi Ossian

Thanks for the infos. It would be interesting to see what the records and documentation mentioned about these spy trials. Biddiscombe mentioned in his book The Last Nazis that Jarczyk attempted sabotage while wearing civilian clothing.

Another interesting conjecture is that if the Germans captured the 50 RAF aircrew who escaped from Stalag Luft IV, gave them trials and sentenced them to death for "attempting sabotage while in civilian clothing" rather than executing them summarily after recapture as what has happened, would the Germans be charged by the Allies for war crimes?

I would be interested to see any provisions in the Hague Conventions regarding the sentencing or punishments for the crime of "attempting sabotage" (implying that a sabotage has not or may not happened yet)

Panzermahn

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by PFLB » 10 Nov 2010 10:05

would the Germans be charged by the Allies for war crimes?


Yes because the charge would be spurious and an obvious cover for summary execution. Many German and Japanese war criminals were convicted for carrying out executions through the instrumentality of a show trial.

The Hague Conventions are not criminal codes and therefore do not deal in depth with concepts like 'attempt'. Article 29 of the Hague Regulations defines 'spy' to include a person who 'obtains or endeavours to obtain information in the zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party'. Since the undisputed right of belligerents to try spies and saboteurs exists in order to allow them to safeguard security in territory under its control, it would be nonsensical if they could try an accused only for a completed offence, and not for an inchoate offence such as attempt, conspiracy or solicitation, or for subsidiary offences such as accessory after the fact. All such concepts are, for example, part of the Military Commissions Act 2009 (US). In practice I believe you would find that military tribunals will answer the question of what constitutes an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation by reference to the domestic criminal law with which they are familiar.

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 20 Nov 2010 15:39

I came across this while looking for more info on the execution of the Einheit Stieulau kommandosoldaten;

Uniforms were sourced in several ways. The Brandenburgers bought Dutch uniforms in second-hand shops or made use of supplies captured by the Finns from the Red Army during Winter War of 1939-40, while Skorzeny's forces in the Ardennes simply wore uniforms found in captured US supply dumps by other German troops. In the Brandenburgers' case, the deceptions were mostly successful and for Skorzeny's men rather less so. It is wrong to believe that wearing the enemy's uniform effectively makes the wearer liable to summary execution. This is not the case in military law as a soldier may wear a captured uniform but only becomes liable to summary justice if he fights in it. Brandenburgers took off enemy greatcoats and headgear before going into action in the German uniforms worn beneath, but it seems equally likely that they also fought in partial or total enemy kit. We also know that Skorzeny's men in Ardennes wore partial or complete US uniforms. The subtlties of this fine distinction in international military law were often lost in the heat of the battle or simply unknown to front-line soldiers. It is well documented that 18 of the Stielau detachment were captured, tried and executed by firing squad for wearing US uniforms, although doubts had been cast over the legitimacy of the courts' decision as it seems that in certain cases the men had not used their weapons. Nevertheless, German special forces captured in complete enemy uniforms were treated as spies and therefore liable for the death penalty.


Page 68, Brandenburgers: The Third Reich's Special Forces by Ian Westwell (Ian Allan Publishing 2003)

Anyone know more about this?

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by PFLB » 21 Nov 2010 05:44

t is wrong to believe that wearing the enemy's uniform effectively makes the wearer liable to summary execution. This is not the case in military law as a soldier may wear a captured uniform but only becomes liable to summary justice if he fights in it.


This statement is misleading, at least insofar as it expresses as unqualified a legal view which was actually highly contentious. Most states and commentators have traditionally taken the view that almost any use of the enemy's uniform in a military operation is prohibited. The current position of the US military, based on the Skorzeny Case, is actually an exceptional one: see Dieter Fleck, Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (2008) rule 473. For example the UK MoD Joint Service Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict (2004) gives the use of enemy uniforms in rear areas for training purposes, or to effect an escape of POW's, as examples of permissible use, whilst stating that it is prohibited for special forces to wear enemy uniforms behind enemy lines: para 5.11.1.

The question of summary justice is a further issue, i.e. whether they are to be treated as a spy or francs tireur and then whether such persons were liable to summary justice. According to Fleck's Handbook, most states traditionally took the view, at the very least, that a soldier caught behind enemy lines wearing the enemy uniform could be treated as a spy. However, if these people were tried by military commission they were not summarily executed in any case.

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by David Thompson » 28 Aug 2011 13:40

For a good start on a list of names of German soldiers executed for espionage or sabotage, see the thread at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=181225

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Panzermahn » 21 Oct 2011 20:24

Could anyone identify the German Army officer in uniform executed by the Americans at 0.50 at the youtube video below (warning, could be graphical to viewers)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3kUPJqyIgY

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Re: What's the story behind this execution?

Post by Ossian » 22 Oct 2011 15:41

Panzermahn wrote:Could anyone identify the German Army officer in uniform executed by the Americans at 0.50 at the youtube video below (warning, could be graphical to viewers)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3kUPJqyIgY
The German officer in uniform is Captain Curt Bruns, a member of a Volks-Grenadier-Regiment. Bruns was executed for his role in the alleged murder of two American prisoners of war during the Battle of the Bulge.

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