Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
User avatar
Kim Sung
Member
Posts: 5037
Joined: 28 May 2005 13:36
Location: The Last Confucian State

Postby Kim Sung » 18 Jan 2006 02:33

Maybe, one of the reasons why defenders at Brest fought to the end, knowing there's no hope of survival, is this initial German atrocity of taking civilians as a human shield.

User avatar
Kim Sung
Member
Posts: 5037
Joined: 28 May 2005 13:36
Location: The Last Confucian State

Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Kim Sung » 17 Jul 2010 14:09

From 4:01 to 5:32 of the trailer of a new movie on the defense of Brest Fortress, you can see that my initial claim in this thread on the German atrocities at Brest Fortress posted 5 years ago is possibly true.



viewtopic.php?p=1487163#p1487163

http://naviny.by/rubrics/culture/2010/0 ... o_117_3954

Jan-Hendrik
Member
Posts: 7770
Joined: 11 Nov 2004 12:53
Location: Hohnhorst / Deutschland

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Jan-Hendrik » 17 Jul 2010 14:49

So far there is any evidence existing for this claim.....and a "movie" should now do so? :roll:

Jan-Hendrik

dibo
Financial supporter
Posts: 346
Joined: 25 Jun 2004 10:10
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby dibo » 08 Dec 2010 12:41

Jan-Hendrik wrote:So far there is any evidence existing for this claim.....and a "movie" should now do so? :roll:

Jan-Hendrik


Evidences, as documents, there are not - the Germans, understandably don't mention this episode, and the Russian documents are also understandably hard to come.
But there are memories from the surviving medical personnel from the hospital in Russian language here:
http://www.brest-sv.com/librery/histor/ ... ina_1.html
Basically all of them claim that there was some resistance in and around the hospitals from the surprised Soviets, that the Germans killed some of the medical personnel and many of the wounded (especially any political officers they found), that they tried to put the survivors into human shields, shooting whoever refused to. Then the stories become different - some say the Germans tried to enter the Citadel posing as medical personnel, but were shot and some that the Soviets let the human shield come close, then shouted in Russian "Lie down", immediately opening fire (this was repeated several times). Many of the memories conflict each other and only a few mention this episode.
Last edited by dibo on 08 Dec 2010 14:17, edited 2 times in total.

division azul
Member
Posts: 108
Joined: 28 May 2009 08:56
Location: belgium

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby division azul » 08 Dec 2010 13:31

the german 225th Division used a human shield trying to cross a brigde in Vinkt,a village close to Deinze,and this was in may 1940,so thats early in the war,27 civis were killed

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinkt_Massacre
united we stand,divided we fall

Panzermahn
Member
Posts: 3500
Joined: 13 Jul 2002 03:51
Location: Malaysia

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Panzermahn » 08 Apr 2011 10:31

A scene from a movie depicting the use of human shields by the Germans could hardly be considered as an authentic 'evidence" of such thing if it indeed happened.

I think we should approach this issue in an objective matter rather than fully relying completely on Soviet-era /Russian sources.

I am also wondering why the Soviets did not bring these charges against the Germans in Nuremberg Trials if they had complete "evidence" of these "war crimes" (just like they had "evidences" of German atrocities in Katyn).

I would like to see any non-Soviet/non-Russian sources with regards to the Germans using human shields to capture the Brest Fortress in 1941

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22865
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby David Thompson » 08 Apr 2011 12:29

Panzermahn -- You wrote:
I am also wondering why the Soviets did not bring these charges against the Germans in Nuremberg Trials if they had complete "evidence" of these "war crimes" (just like they had "evidences" of German atrocities in Katyn).

(1) The Soviets only participated in one Nuernberg trial -- the one conducted by the International Military Tribunal (IMT). The other Nuernberg trials were held by American military courts.

(2) The IMT trial dealt with the criminal policies of the NS-regime, and there is no evidence that the German Army ever had a policy favoring the use of human shields in combat. Consequently, there would be no reason for the subject to come up in the IMT proceedings as part of the charges against the defendants.

Peter K
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 3632
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 19:17
Location: Poland

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Peter K » 20 Dec 2011 11:36

Episodes with Germans using civilians as human shields had been recorded before, also in the West:

For example:

Pz.Div. "Kempf" (and then 217. Inf.Div. at Rynia on 11.09.) using civilians as human shields in Poland:

viewtopic.php?f=55&t=77665&start=30

Domen121 wrote:
tigre wrote:On September 01, 1939 the German troops crossed the Polish border thus begining the campaign, a few moments after the troops had crossed the border between Germany and Poland, a communications officer assigned to the Border Guard asked the commander of the I. Battalion 80 pp (Infantry Regiment): " A Company of infantry and a cavalry group crossed the border. What we do." The response of Mjr. Bronislaw Jan Schlichtinger was: "open fire".

(...)

The actions.

Panzer Division Kempf advanced with two battle groups, to the right the III. / SS "D" (reinf.) to Dzwierznia - Krajewo and to the left the I. / SS "D" (reinf.) to the left of Bialuty by Cota 188 - Uniczky - Zawadsky. At 09:55 hours the Ops Officer (Ia) of the division reported to the I AK that the SS "Deutschland" could not conquer Uniczky - Zawadsky. Later Uniczky - Zawadsky and Dzwierznia were finally conquered and the SS troops were halted ahead of the main defensive position in Mlawa.

At 10:00 hours the PR 7 occupied a new assembly area in the woods of Wetzhausen, near the ranger station Hasenheide. At 12:25 hours it was asked for aerial support for the armored attack to the air liaison officer of the Army Corps. The infantry was stopped by intense fire and strong resistance from the Polish positions, established as a semi-circle in front of Mlawa and could not continue its advance. A second assault promised to be very costly in human lives and it was decided to employ the tanks; nevertheless the time for reconnaissance was very short which would be paid later. (...)

Meanwhile, the SS-IR "D" would attack again with the following scheme of maneuver:

a) Gruppe Kleinheisterkamp would attack on the forests located 1 km SW of Uniczky - Zavadsky - Height 192 (western sector).
b) Kampfgruppe Witt would attack through Zulineck to Height 192 (eastern sector).

... the fire of the German artillery broke out on the barrages foreseen on Height 192 and the SS Regiment went on the attack but gaining ground slowly.

While the armored attack took place as follows: the I. Abteilung (Major von Gersdorff) was established as the first wave and the II. Abteilung (Oberstleutnant Schmidt) in the second with its 5. / PR 7 (Hauptmann Goecke) supporting the infantry. The PR 7 went on to the attack, however and because of the lack of reconnaissance it found a continuous anti-tank obstacle built with cement and rail tracks placed in a slanting position to the attacker and then there were the first casualties.

The Pz Kw I, which were majority in the unit, were not able to withstand the punishment they were subjected to by the Polish anti-tank guns and howitzers. Here were killed in action, among others comrades, Hauptmann Walther (Leader of the 1. / PR 7) and Leutnant Lenz (Pl Ldr in the 6. / PR 7). Under fire protection unleashed by some tanks it was recognized in order to find a gap in the barrier.

Then the regiment still found an anti-tank ditch of 6 meters wide, 3 meters deep and 500 meters in length, which cut its way. The obstacle stretched from the rails barrier in one end, to a swamp in the other. Meanwhile the tanks fought recognized targets, knocking out several hostile anti-tank guns. But the obstacle was insurmountable.

(...)

At 17:00 hours the regiment's commander called off the assault in order to avoid unnecessary losses. First the PR 7 was assembled at Windyki, but the place was within the enemy's weapons range therefore it went to a forest located 1.5 kilometers northwest of Grzybowo. Meanwhile the Ia of the Armored Division Kempf reported that Height 192 was not conquered yet.

The I. / PR 7 suffered the following casualties: 1 officer, 3 NCOs and 11 soldiers killed in action, 1 officer, 4 NCOs and 14 soldiers wounded. The II. / PR 7 had only one officer dead. Losses suffered in tanks by the I. / PR 7 were 7 tanks totally destroyed and 32 damaged.


About repulsing tank-infantry attacks near "Uniczky-Zavadsky" (Uniszki Zawadzkie) says e.g. this account:

- Mjr. Bronislaw Schlichtinger, commander I./80 pp (I. battalion of 80 infantry regiment)


Here goes his account:

"Time 4:00 - report from the border. Infantry company and a group of mounted soldiers crossed the border - what to do? I answered: Open fire! I immediately reported to regimental commander, using the second telephone. Reply from the regimental commander was: "Vistula started" (codename of "war"). At the very same time an enemy plane appeared above our positions. AA artillery and MGs opened fire.
At 10:00 the first air bombing of our positions by dive bombers took place. Enemy infantry advanced forward with strong cover / support of own fire. Some enemy guns drived into open positions and attacked bunkers with direct fire. The ground was moaning, but bunkers stood like a wall. At 12:00 individual groups of enemy infantry moved to an assault, followed by 45 tanks which emerged from behind the horizon from the north-west of village Windyki, echeloned in deep, 5 tanks in each column, developing their attack in western direction. The attack broke down along the main line of AT obstacles. The enemy lost 6 tanks. Tanks fell back to Uniszki Zawadzkie forest. Crews of knocked-out tanks were jumping out of vehicles, some of them ran towards the forest, some along our obstacles. After repulsing the attack of 45 tanks, another attack in strength of 50 tanks came out (apparently it was supposed to be a joint assault, but wasn't coordinated in time) from Windyki directly on Slawogora Stara estate, on both sides of the road. Tanks were repulsed - 2 destroyed. Around Midday enemy fire was stronger. The enemy launched an assault from Uniszki Zawadzkie forest, stronger grouping attacked the point of contact, that is my left wing, right wing of major Jedrzejczyk. Ca. 50 Polish peasants with spades advanced in front of the attacking enemy infantry, Germans ordered them to dig niches / trenches for them. (The same later took place in combats at Rynia and at Warsaw, when Germans rushed women, tied with ropes, in front of them). The line of peasants was moving forward and ca. 300 meters south of Uniszki Zawadzkie forest they started to dig shelters for the enemy. When Germans got into those trenches, peasants started to move further forward. I ordered the commander of artillery battalion to fire with shrapnels, to wound the enemy, and only scare the peasants. The enemy attack was halted."


And 225. Inf.Div. using civilians as human shields in the West (at Vinkt, Belgium):

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=103798&start=15

The fact that the Germans are said to have commenced the engagement using civilians as human shields, and then continued to execute people after it has ended, is also telling. Even on the most favourable interpretation of these facts all I can say in favour of those responsible is that they may have been provoked by the other side, but being provoked and carrying out lawful reprisals are not the same thing. This might explain why they received sentences that were relatively light (for murder), especially if they acted under some notion of responding to perfidy or unlawful participation in combat by the Belgians. On the other hand, if the killings actually constituted reprisals one would expect acquittal.

It is also telling that those convicted ranged from a major downwards. If reprisals were ordered, one would expect the order to have come from a general officer with training in how to perform them, not from a major. One of the extraordinary aspects of the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order given in 1941 was that within its sphere of operation it devolved power to order 'reprisals' (loose term) down to battalion commanders. And here we have a situation on the Western Front in 1940, so I doubt that this was within the competence of a major. On the other hand, suppose for a moment that such an order was given by a competent officer - it is unlikely that any of those carrying it out in good faith would have been convicted.


However, this is not German-specific.

In the battle of Grodno in 1939 Soviets also used human shields (according to Polish accounts).

Consistent testimony of two young women from Grodno - Grażyna Lipińska and Danuta Bukowińska - mention a young Polish boy tied to frontal armour of a Soviet tank as "human shield". He had 5 rifle wounds. The boy told Lipińska that he attempted to destroy that tank with a bottle with gasoline before the tank's crew captured him.

User avatar
Kim Sung
Member
Posts: 5037
Joined: 28 May 2005 13:36
Location: The Last Confucian State

Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Kim Sung » 20 Dec 2011 14:57

Domen121 wrote:However, this is not German-specific.


Thank you for new information. A human shield is not European-specific. North Korean People's Army also used human shields during the Korean War.

http://blog.naver.com/junhu12/20117712761

Peter K
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 3632
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 19:17
Location: Poland

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Peter K » 20 Dec 2011 16:31

Kim Sung wrote:Maybe, one of the reasons why defenders at Brest fought to the end (...)


German 45. Inf.Div. reported 7000 POWs (including 100 officers) at the Brest Fortress on 30 June 1941.

murx
Member
Posts: 647
Joined: 23 May 2010 20:44

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby murx » 30 Dec 2011 20:43

Itis a good place to ask questions about the accuracy of atrcoity reports. Here some eyewitness reports from Breton separatists: .
First the taking of the cities:

The 10th Army surrendered Rennes without firing a shot in the city’s defense. The general staff and several hundred officers surrendered to a corporal. The Nantes garrison stacked their arms, returned to barracks and waited for the Germans. They surrendered to a lone panzer. The tank’s driver was stunned by the lack of resistance and proceeded to hand out cigarettes. The commandant of Brest ordered his officers to disarm the troops and confine them to barracks. The 5th Panzer Division arrived the next evening and Brest was surrender without a fight. The defenders of Lorient suffered a similar fate. Orders were issued banning any attempt to escape. The Germans arrived on June 21st and the Lorient garrison was marched off to POW camps. It was a disgraceful performance. The Germans and Italians refused to grant a ceasefire in advance of an armistice and continued to attack French positions until June 25th.

And backwards:

Liberation

The Breton resistance was ready when the invasion came. It was so successful in disrupting the region’s rail system that the German 7th Army gave up its efforts to reinforce the Normandy front from Brittany. The maquis also continued the vicious civil war with the Bezenn Perrot and Vichy. The collaborators were becoming desperate as their position deteriorated. Dozens of resistance sympathizers and innocent hostages died at their hands in the final weeks before the liberation.
The Americans finally broke the German lines at Avranches on August 1st. The VIII Corps of Patton’s Third Army under General Middleton launched a two pronged attack aimed at cutting off German troops on the peninsula. The 4th Armored Division rolled south capturing Rennes on August 4th and Nantes on August 6th. Four divisions of the German 7th Army were trapped. The 6th Armored Division reached the outskirts of Brest that evening. The 4th Division pushed on reaching the outskirts of Lorient on August 7th . The resistance performed magnificently, blocking roads and clearing the enemy from the interior. The maquis now guarded the same railways they had sabotaged a few days earlier. The lines would be needed to supply the Allied effort until a port could be captured.
Attention next turned to St. Malo. The Americans had bypassed it after encountering strong resistance during the drive on Brest. A week of shelling and air raids weakened the defenders resolve and the city fell on August 17th.
The gap between Middleton’s force and the main body of Patton’s army widened as the focus of the war effort shifted toward Paris. The Breton ports lost much of their value and General Bradley ordered Middleton to contain the Germans in pockets around Lorient and Saint Nazaire and continue the siege of Brest.
The Brest garrison under General Ramcke included a crack parachute division and seemed to pose the greatest threat to the Allied forces. The seven week siege cost the Americans 10,000 casualties. The city was surrendered on September 19th . The victors marched into a smoking ruin. Seven thousand of Brest’s 16,500 homes were destroyed and 5000 were so badly damaged they had to be demolished. German troops on the Crozon peninsula on the far shore of Brest harbor surrendered later that day. German resistance in Brittany outside the Lorient and Saint Nazaire pockets came to a conclusion.


http://worldatwar.net/article/brittany/index.html

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 22865
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby David Thompson » 31 Dec 2011 02:55

murx -- The subject of the thread is the fortress of Brest-Litovsk in eastern Europe in 1941, not the French port in 1944.

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Member
Posts: 1316
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 22:48
Location: Portsmouth, England

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Richard Hargreaves » 05 Jul 2012 20:20

There's no evidence in the files of 45 ID of using women and children. They did use captured Russian and French tanks, perhaps as a ruse.

There is a cryptic reference in the divisional war diary for 27/6/41 to 'bringing up prisoners as part of the clearing up work and burial of the dead'. The diary's not shy on what would have happened to the fortress had the bombing raid failed, so I can't see why they'd leave out references to such human shields, even in euphemistic terms.

Peter K
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 3632
Joined: 12 Jul 2006 19:17
Location: Poland

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Peter K » 05 Jul 2012 22:00

There's no evidence in the files of 45 ID of using women and children.


You don't think that commanders reported about their own war crimes to higher levels, do you ???

If I was such a commander, I wouldn't report that I ordered my men to use women & children as shields.

User avatar
Richard Hargreaves
Member
Posts: 1316
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 22:48
Location: Portsmouth, England

Re: Human Shields at Brest Fortress

Postby Richard Hargreaves » 05 Jul 2012 22:43

There's ample evidence in the contemporary files of German regiments, divisions and higher commands of all manner of shootings - commissars, prisoners and the like, so yes, I do believe that the official papers would record it. In this case they don't.


Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot]