Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

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Carlus
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Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Carlus » 13 Feb 2023 08:36

Hi
I look for a particular information: I'm trying to discover whether a Waffen SS unit was involved in the final liquidation of the Cracow ghetto between March 13 - 14 1943.
If you look at any photos of the ghetto liquidation you can find some German soldiers escorting a column of Jews and if you pay attention to the image you will note they are wearing the classic SS uniform with the "Sieg Runen". So they had to be Waffen SS troops.
However I've never discovered to which specific unit of Waffen SS these soldiers belonged and I can't find anything in books or papers. They generically say that the ghetto was liquidated by "SS" with the help of Ukrainian auxiliaries (I. e. the Trawniki commando)
Do you have any idea?

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Obi44
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Re: Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Obi44 » 21 Feb 2023 18:06

Alright, so;
all ghetto perimeters were guarded by the Ordnungspolizei, the national regular police of Germany at the time. They also generally had a contingent of Ghettopolizei, made up of Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto, to guard the inner workings and act as "beat police" for their fellow Jews. The Ordnungspolizei (hereby referred to as "OP" for simplicity's sake) would generally only enter the ghetto under special circumstances. In addition, some ghettos, specifically those aimed at extermination rather than internment, were staffed partially by Schutzmannschaft auxiliary units.

None of these units wore SS uniforms, so they don't help much. The man in charge of Aktion Krakau was SS-Oberfuehrer Julian Scherner, the overseer of Krakow and, indeed, a Waffen-SS member. However, at the time of the action, he wasn't in command of a Waffen-SS unit. Rather, he instead commanded the Krakow garrison of OP troops and thus would've primarily used them to rid the city of Jewish presence. He was also loaned a certain number of Trawniki collaborators that mainly concerned themselves with murdering those unfit to work in the very streets of the ghetto, along with some Kriminalpolizei men.

Alongside these units, there were men from the Sicherheitsdienst and the Sicherheitspolizei, two organizations commonly associated with the Einsatzgruppen (perhaps the largest source of men for the EGs was the SD - either that or it was second only to the Waffen-SS). Unlike all previously mentioned units, members of the SD and Sipo did wear SS insignia, and the only distinguisher in the SD's case was the left sleeve diamond. The Sipo never had such a distinction.

I have yet to find any evidence that the Waffen-SS was involved in Aktion Krakau, but I wouldn't put it out of possibility, as they were involved with many other actions in many other ghettos across occupied Europe. However, until then, the men you saw, in my opinion, were probably members of the SD or Sipo.
Obi

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Carlus
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Re: Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Carlus » 22 Feb 2023 13:20

Thanks for your reply but the man directly in charge of the ghetto liquidation was SS Untersturmführer Amon Göth, who operated under Scherner command and in cooperation with the other SS officer Haase. During his trial in 1946 Göth testified that Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft guards were used alongside with German SS. The soldiers uniforms in the pictures of those days show undoubtedly they belonged to a W SS Corp.
Maybe they belonged to the Plaszow camp personnel and so they were Totenkopf Verbände soldiers. Otherwise they could belong to the Waffen SS Ersatz und Pionier Bataillon 3 of Krakau.
But it seems impossible to ascertain that.

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Re: Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Puck » 22 Feb 2023 14:45

Don't forget about the Stabskompanie der Waffen-SS of HSSPF Ost in Krakau in which members of Waffen-SS under HSSPF Ost were organized (such as guards of several ZALs).

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Obi44
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Re: Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Obi44 » 08 Mar 2023 17:12

Carlus wrote:
22 Feb 2023 13:20
Thanks for your reply but the man directly in charge of the ghetto liquidation was SS Untersturmführer Amon Göth, who operated under Scherner command and in cooperation with the other SS officer Haase. During his trial in 1946 Göth testified that Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft guards were used alongside with German SS. The soldiers uniforms in the pictures of those days show undoubtedly they belonged to a W SS Corp.
Maybe they belonged to the Plaszow camp personnel and so they were Totenkopf Verbände soldiers. Otherwise they could belong to the Waffen SS Ersatz und Pionier Bataillon 3 of Krakau.
But it seems impossible to ascertain that.
I believe Goeth only assumed a command position in the operation on March 13th/14th of 1943, whilst Reinhard kicked off in Krakow on June 1st, 1942. About 11,000 Jews were deported initially, while those working as laborers in German factories were permitted to remain until their final deportation and murder under Goeth a year later. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we're both correct here.

Do you have more info on the 3. Pionierbataillon? What division did it belong to?
Obi

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Carlus
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Re: Waffen SS and the liquidation of Cracow ghetto in 1943

Post by Carlus » 09 Mar 2023 14:42

Unfortunately I have no information on this unit.
I really would like to.

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