Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

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Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Andrius Kulikauskas » 21 Dec 2018 22:20

I ask for help with the following mystery: Who in Einsatzkommando 2 was responsible for the Holocaust in northern Lithuania, and in particular, the killing of all 1,800 of Plungė's Jews on July 12-13, 1941, and the killing of the 800 male Jews of Telšiai a few days later?

Generally speaking, Einsatzkommando 3 conducted the Holocaust in Lithuania, and Einsatzkommando 2 conducted the Holocaust in Latvia. They were both part of Einsatazgruppe A. However, these killings at Plungė and Telšiai do not appear in the famous report by Karl Jäger, the leader of Einsatzkommando 3. From Einsatzgruppe A leader Walter Stahlecker's report of October 15, 1941, we know that there was a unit (I think about 30 Germans) of Einsatzkommando 2 based in Šiauliai, Lithuania (Schaulen in German), which was (nominally) responsible for the killing of 42,000 Jews in Lithuania. Who was in charge of this unit?

Schaulen Gebietskommissar Hans Gewecke talked in an interview (taped covertly) about a Dr.Scherni. See page 47. In the English translation of the transcript it is written Dr.Scherzi.
" have not had any dealings with Jaeger, I had no dealings with anybody from the SS and have personally with nobody –I have to correct myself – the exception was Dr. Scherzi.... [...] At the very beginning. He was chief or deputy chief of the security police, the security police stationed in Schaulen. A very well read, very educated man with whom I talked already for that reason, who... if he himself had participated in extermination actions against Jews that happened before my time –he was there already before my time –if he led them, participated in them, I don’t know."
Was there any such Dr.Scherni or Dr.Scherzi in the SS, SD or similar unit?

The Einsatgruppe A deputy Karl Tschierschky had a similar name. But he wasn't a Ph.D., as far as I can tell.

It is strange that Gewecke says about himself that he came to Šiauliai around July 10 although the civil administration was established in Riga only in July 17 and announced in the Šiauliai newspaper only on August 3.

In the Plungė killings it seems that there were only two Germans, who were left behind by the Wehrmacht and were the nominal German commandants. From what the locals say, they were the ones least fit for the front, and drinkers. At the killings they simply served refreshments. The town and the whole region was run by Captain Jonas Noreika and several other officers. They even declared a mobilization obligating young men in the area to serve in the name of Lithuania. I have a written a long Query Regarding Jonas Noreika's Criminal Gang and posted it at his granddaughter Silvia Foti's website.

In my understanding, this mass murder on July 12-13 of the 1,800 Jews of Plungė was the first such killing in Nazi-occupied Europe where all Jews were killed, including women, children, and the elderly. Or was there an early killing of that magnitude? It's very strange that such a historic event took place with hardly any Germans present.

In the killing of the Telšiai men there seem to have been 8 Germans (I think SS) and 50 to 60 Lithuanian partisans. The organizer was Noreika's deputy, Telšiai police chief Bronius Juodikis. I think these Germans were part of that Šiauliai unit. They were very sadistic and I think of them as sadism tourists. But certainly Juodikis must have been the main organizer and invited them. They were there to grant authority, to have communication, and to represent the Reich's treasury. That's how I understand it based on the testimony.

My main question is who was nominally in charge? In 1968 the West German prosecutors questioned Lithuanian historian Zenonas Ivinskis about the killings, because they had no idea themselves, and he was from Plungė. They asked the Soviets, and after reinvestigating, they answered much as I have above. Nobody knew.

My theory is that Heydrich allowed Pranas Germantas-Meškauskas to do as he liked with this pocket of Lithuania and that Noreika fulilled Germantas's wishes to kill all of the Jews. Plungė Jew Olšvangas who went to high school with Germantas has written about Germantas's wish. And in the LCVA archive I found the permits to carry guns, which were being used in 1942 as paper for new documents. These permits were issued to the Lithuanian National Socialist Police of Telšiai. The term is very odd because Germantas-Meškauskas was the only Lithuanian allowed to use such a term, as Škirpa notes in his memoirs, for generally the Nazi brand was not for export, as Hitler had said. Germantas knew Heydrich personally because he had been his translator. Germantas was in Berlin during the first Soviet-occupation of Lithuania before the Nazi invasion. Before the war Noreika made secret trips back and forth to Germany. At the start of the war, Noreika was in the fields with his rebels, that is, five farmers and five high schoolers. German scouts on motorcycles whisked him away to Memel/Klaipėda and he came back with armbands that allowed them all to keep their guns. And then that day, on June 24, he headed to see the Telšiai Commandant. So I presume that he had those gun permits and that the reason he became the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front in the region was because he had the best contact with the Germans. He was only a 30 year old captain with not much experience in life.

I have written to the Freiburg archive to ask what files they have for the Commandants in Kaunas, Šiauliai, Telšiai and Plungė. They gave a very thoughtful reply but I need to pursue that further. I don't know German so I appreciate any help in thinking through what questions to ask the archive.

Making progress on this mystery is helpful because Grant Gochin, who I am working for, has taken Lithuania's Genocide Center to court, after they have responded to our query by refusing to change their assessment of Noreika as a person who may be honored as a Lithuanian anti-Soviet hero. Also, it's a very curious mystery, and a strange moment in history which may have contributed to the acceleration of the Holocaust.

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by von thoma » 21 Dec 2018 23:44

I ask for help with the following mystery: Who in Einsatzkommando 2 was responsible for the Holocaust in northern Lithuania, and in particular, the killing of all 1,800 of Plungė's Jews on July 12-13, 1941, and the killing of the 800 male Jews of Telšiai a few days later?
Einsatzkommando 2 leader, SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Batz ( From June–4 November 1941 ), could be your man
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Gorque » 22 Dec 2018 23:41

Some other members of Einsatzkommando 2 were:

Hauptsturmführer Gerhard-Alfred Backhaus- Einsatzkommando 2/ Paymaster

Sturmbannführer Dr. Horst Barth- Einsatzkommando 2/ organizer and director of shootings (9-10.41)

Rottenführer Hans Baumgartner- Kraftfahrer (driver) of a Wanderer PKW in Einsatzkommando 2

Sturmscharführer Alfred Beku- Teilkommandoführer in Einsatzkommando 2—Teilkommando consisted of the 1st squad, 1st platoon, 1st co. 9th

Obersturmführer Kurt Bleckmann- in Einsatzkommando 2

Untersturmführer Böhme- in Einsatzkommando 2

Untersturmführer Paul-Anton Botor- Einsatzkommando 2/ Transportations section (7.41-5.42)

Rottenführer Willy Broecker- in Einsatzkommando 2

Oberscharführer Siegfried Dawe- in EG A then Einsatzkommando 2

Hans Degenfelder- in Einsatzkommando 2, Sanitäter

Anton Dittrich- in Einsatzkommando 2

Oberscharführer Paul Fahrbach- Dolmetscher in Teilkommando Grauel in Einsatzkommando 2 (41-43)

Untersturmführer Leopold Fischer- in Einsatzkommando 2

Obersturmführer Gerhard Freitag- Kommandostab, Vorzimmeradjutant to Rudolf Batz, in Einsatzkommando 2 (till 9.41)

Untersturmführer Josef Genböck- in Einsatzkommando 2

Unterscharführer Johannes Gersdorf – in Einsatzkommando 2

Hauptscharführer Werner Gottschalk- in Einsatzkommando 2

Obersturmführer Erhard Grauel- Einsatzkommando 2/ Teilkommandoführer/ Leiter III possibly (7.41-10.41)

Obersturmführer Herbert Greif- in Einsatzkommando 2

Untersturmführer Karl Halamek- in Einsatzkommando 2

Scharführer Erich Handke- in Einsatzkommando 2/ in Teilkommando Grauel

Obersturmführer Reinhold Hänsel- Einsatzkommando 2/ translator/ Referat IV (7.41-12.24.41)

Obersturmführer Albert Höfler- Einsatzkommando 2/ possibly Referat III

Hauptwachtmeister der Schutzpolizei Hoffmann- Zugführer of Zug III of the 1st company of the 9th Police Reserve Battalion/ Zug attached to Einsatzkommando 2

Unterscharführer Hermann Huetter- in Einsatzkommando 2

Hauptsturmführer Arnold Kirste- Leiter IV in Einsatzkommando 2 (7.41-44) at the end of 41 was a Liaison Offizier for Rudolf Lange and the Arajs Kommando

Scharführer Filip Krapp- In Einsatzkommando 2 in Teilkommando Grauel

Sturmbannführer Otto Kraus- Translator for EG A and Leiter III for Einsatzkommando 2 (41-11.42)/ Riga born/ Knew Russian and Latvian

Untersturmführer Wolfgang Kügler- Referat III and SD chief in Liepaja/ Teilkommandoführer of Einsatzkommando 2 (6.1941-1943)

Hauptscharführer Gerhard Kuketta- In Teilkommando Grauel in Einsatzkommando 2

Scharführer Walter Lamprecht- in Einsatzkommando 2

Unterscharführer Willi Martin- in Einsatzkommando 2 and Sonderkommando 1b

Scharführer, Oberscharführer or Hauptscharführer Jasep Michalsky- In Einsatzkommando 2 in Teilkommando Grauel

Scharführer Ernst Michelsen- Kraftfahrer in Einsatzkommando 2

Obersturmführer Kurt Migge- Possible referat IV in EG A and Einsatzkommando 2 (3.42-6.42)

Obersturmführer Franz Nakaten- Referat V in Einsatzkommando 2 (9.41-8.42)

Rottenführer Helmut Patzke- in Einsatzkommando 2

Hauptscharführer Otto Reiche- In Einsatzkommando 2 in Teilkommando Grauel as well as supervising Women’s Prison

Oberscharführer Siegfried Schal- In Einsatzkommando 2

Hauptsturmführer Dr. Friedrich Schallwig- Einsatzkommando 2 (7.41-3.44)

Hauptscharführer Fritz Scherwitz- Truck driver in Einsatzkommando 2, eventual supervisor of an SD Jewish workshop in Riga (10.41-10.44)

Obersturmführer Erwin Schmiel- Either in Sonderkommando 1a or Einsatzkommando 2 (1941)

Oberscharführer Karl-Emil Strott- Referat III in Teilkommando Grauel in Einsatzkommando 2 (7.41-1.45)

Untersturmführer Herbert Teuffel- Referat IV in Einsatzkommando 2

Oberscharführer Wilhelm Thiel- in EG A then Einsatzkommando 2, Sanitäter

Unterscharführer Karl Tollkühn- in Einsatzkommando 2 then EG A

Assembled from data derived from here:

viewtopic.php?t=234062

HTH :)

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by AliasDavid » 23 Dec 2018 09:49

Andrius Kulikauskas wrote:
21 Dec 2018 22:20
...
Schaulen Gebietskommissar Hans Gewecke talked in an interview (taped covertly) about a Dr.Scherni. See page 47. In the English translation of the transcript it is written Dr.Scherzi.
...
Was there any such Dr.Scherni or Dr.Scherzi in the SS, SD or similar unit?
Scherni reminds me of the Czech surname Czerny, and I could indeed find mention of an Austrian lawyer Dr. Cerny as successor of Werner Gottschalk as leader of the Restkommando 2 in Šiauliai/Schaulen (?) in the files of the Investigation conducted by the public prosecution office in Hamburg against the perpetrators of the Holocaust in Šiauliai/Schaulen. Also see this thread, in which some sources dealing with the Holocaust in that area are mentioned.
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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Andrius Kulikauskas » 25 Dec 2018 14:01

Von Thoma, Gorque, AliasDavid,

WOW! That's extremely helpful.

Yes, that makes sense that Dr.Czerny got transcribed as Scherni. He was a doctor. And also, Gewecke says that he was chief or deputy chief, so quite possibly both were true.

The Julius Paul Wilhelm Hungerberg trial file, and even the summary, is extremely important for us because it provides some details about the unit, that it was one-fourth of the whole and arrived July 3, 1941. We have the names of the leaders and possible members, including Lithuanian members or collaborators, and notably the size, 20 - 25 men, and then down to a Restkommando of 8-10 men or even 4-5 men. The first leader Krause is not identifiable (!) and Hungerberg was the only identifiable member of the Restkommando. So this makes clear that this unit was truly insignificant and nevertheless managed to nominally be responsible for the murders of 42,000 Jews by mid-October according to Stahlecker's report.

There seem to be 15 volumes of papers for the trial. I imagine it all ended when the defendant passed away in 1978. I hope to order a copy. I found this web page for that. I am curious if anybody has any experience or advice regarding that. I am thinking of approaching the German embassy in Lithuania if they might provide us a copy of the file as a gesture of assistance.

I have a related question that perhaps someone might help me with. I have an English translation of some of the Einsatzgruppen Reports but it is complete. I have ordered through interlibrary loan the book of all of the Einsatzgruppen Reports in German. However, it's been a couple of weeks and I'm not sure when I will get the book. Please, I'm curious if there is any mention of Plungė (the killings took place on July 12-13) or Telšiai (Telsche - the killings took place some time during July 15-20). If there is, that is very interesting, but if there isn't, that's noteworthy, too.

Any more information about the leaders or members, especially in July, 1941, would be most helpful.

Thank you for this Christmas present, your invaluable help for truth and reconciliation!

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by AliasDavid » 25 Dec 2018 18:22

See Meldung der Einsatzgruppe A (Stahlecker-Bericht. It provides data on an accumulated level, distinguishing between Kaunas and the smaller cities as a whole only. The Jäger-Bericht (EK3) is more detailed, but doesn't cover the Schaulen area.

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Andrius Kulikauskas » 29 Dec 2018 00:53

Thank you, AliasDavid. Telšiai and Plungė don't even register. So I will keep looking. In the month of July, the Lithuanians there organized at least 9 mass murders of Jews and at least 2 of local Lithuanians, about 3,700 people, it seems quite independently.

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Earldor » 14 Jan 2019 00:47

USHMM's Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933-1945, Vol. II, Part B lists all of these sites (Siauliai, Plunge and Telsiai).

For Plunge (p.1105):

"The ghetto was liquidated on July 13 or 15, 1941 (sources differ), when Lithuanians trucked and marched the Jews to ditches located 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) to the northwest of the town, near the village of Kausenai, where they shot them.2"

2 = GARF, 7021-94-430, the official number of victims is 1,794

(Entry written by Alexander Kruglov and Geoffrey Megargee, trans. Steven Seegel)

For Siauliai (p.1119-1121)

"In the first days of the German occupation, a Lithuanian administration and police force were established. Various German institutions were also based in the town. Feldkommandantur 819 administered the town initially, then passed on its authority to a civil administration headed by a Gebietskommissar and his staff in August. Units of the Secret Military Police (GFP) and elements of Einsatzkommando 2, Under Einsatzgruppe A, were also present. SS-Hauptscharführer Werner Gottschalk, head of the Restkommando, a subordinate unit of Einsatzkommando 2, directed the first murders of Jews from the city and region. In late July, the 3rd Company of German Police Battalion 65 arrived in Siauliai. This company repeatedly participated in the murder of Siauliai Jews during the summer, assisted by other German military and police units.

The first mass murder of Siauliai Jews took place in the Kuziai Forest, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from Siauliai, on June 29, 1941. The victims also included ethnic Lithuanian and Russian members of the Communist Party and the Komsomol. According to witness accounts, the Germans perpetrated the Kuziai killings 2. Mass arrests of Siauliai Jews took place on June 30, July 1, and July 5. Among those whom the Lithuanian police arrested were 20 of the most distinguished members of the Siauliai Jewish community [...] Approximately 1,000 Jews were murdered before the establishment of the ghetto, many by Lithuanian partisans.

[...]

Mass murders of Siauliai Jews took place near the village of Bubiai, in the Gubernija Forest, part of the Normanciai Forest District approximately 15 kilometres (9 miles) from Siauliai, during September 1941. [...] Witnesses to the murders stated that the executions were directed by German officers, although Lithuanian partisans participated as well 4.

[...]

The shootings would start at about 3:00 or 4:00 PM and were supervised by German officers. The executioners were Lithuanian partisans and soldiers of the 14th Lithuanian Police Battalion, quartered in Siauliai.

[...]

The last major shooting of Jews in 1941 took place between December 8 and December 15. On the orders of Gebietskommissar Hans Gewecke and the head of the German Security Police and SD, 72 Jews from Siauliai, who worked in a nearby villages, were seized and then shot. The executioners were policemen from the villages of Kursenai, Staciunai, Radviliskis, and Pakruojis. 16.

[...]

The Siauliai ghetto was under the supervision of Gebietskommissar Gewecke until mid-September or October 1, 1943, when, the SS assumed jurisdiction. The ghetto then acquired the status of a sub camp of the Kauen concentration camp. The head of the Schaulen sub camp was SS-Unterscharführer Herman Schleef."

4 = Yerushalmi, Pinkas Shavli, p.32.
16 = Statement of the Description of Murders in the Siauliai City Jewish Ghetto, November 25, 1944, LMAB, RS, fr. 159-29, p.3.

(Entry written by Arenas Bubnys and Avinoam Patt)

For Telsiai:

"The Germans bombed Tesiai on June 23, 1941, and units of the German army entered the city on June 25. At this time, Lithuanian Major Alfonsas Svilas became the commandant of the city and its surrounding area. Even before the arrival of the Germans, Lithuanian nationalist activists had started to loot Jewish property and arrest Jews. [...] On June 27, remembered as the "Friday of Terror," Germans and their Lithuanian collaborators went house to house and ordered all Jews to assemble in the main square. From there they were marched to the shore of Lake Mastis, where the Lithuanians proclaimed that the Jews were responsible for the murder of 72 Lithuanian political prisoners during the final hour of Soviet occupation. [...] The Lithuanians forced the Jews to exhume, clean, and reinter the bodies. The Jewish men were then subjected to torture, then finally shot on July 15-16.

After a few days, the surviving women and children were moved to a detention camp at Geruliai. They were joined there by women and children from the Viesvenai camp. Jews from a number of smaller towns had been concentrated at this site: Alsedziai, Rietavas, Varniai, Luoke, Laukuva, Zarenai, Navarenai, and other places. Altogether about 4,000 women and children were held at Geruliai, [...] Several hundred young women were made available to local farmers, who used (or abused) them as agricultural labourers. [...] There was widespread disease (especially typhus and diphtheria), with virtually no medical resources, and many children died. Worst of all, the inhabitants were exposed to armed incursions and rapes by their Lithuanian guards. When the agricultural jobs were finished by the end of August, rumours spread about an impending Aktion. One day before the Aktion, the camp commander, B.Platakis, offered to save the people in exchange for a gift of 100,000 rubles. Overnight the women's committee conducted a frantic collection of valuables, which Platakis happily accepted. However, on Saturday, August 30, 1941, a group of about 600 women ages 15 to 30 were ordered to stand aside. The rest of the women and all the children were taken to the Geruliai Forest, murdered, and thrown into pits 5.

The 600 young women were taken back to Telsiai and put into a ghetto that had been established in a run-down neighbourhood on Ezero Street near Lake Mastis 6.

[...]

At the end of December, between Christmas and the New Year, the women learned that the ghetto would be liquidated within a few days. A fair number fled, some of them finding shelter with the farmers they had met during forced labor as agricultural hands. A small number of Jewish women were subsequently accepted into Siauliai ghetto. On December 30-31, 1941, the downtrodden and exhausted remnant was taken to Rainiai and shot to death 8."

5 = Alperovitz, Sefer Telz, oo. 324, 332.
6 = USHMM, RG-50.473*0086; Bubnys, "Mazieji Lietuvos zydu," pp.155-158.
8 = Alperovitz, Sefer Telz, pp. 324-325; Dulkiniene and Keys, With a Needle in the Heart, pp. 126, 176-178, Bubnys, "Mazieji Lietuvos zydu," pp. 157-158.

(Entry written by Samuel Fishman and Martin Dean)

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Andrius Kulikauskas » 14 Jan 2019 14:13

Dear Earldor, Yes, thank you! I also recently found this encyclopedia, and it is authoritative and relevant. However, it also lacks information about the Germans responsible for Plungė and Telšiai. The information about Šiauliai is useful and new for me. Thank you!

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Re: Einsatzkomando 2 in Šiauliai (Schaulen)

Post by Earldor » 03 Feb 2019 17:23

You're welcome, Andrius.

Perhaps you can contact the authors of the entries. They may be able to help you with your questions. USHMM in Washington and Yad Vashem may also be of assistance, although I do know that at least Yad Vashem sometimes charges a nominal fee for questions posed to them.

Please keep us informed as well.

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