Mass executions at Rovno and Dubno

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23061
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Mass executions at Rovno and Dubno

Post by David Thompson » 15 Oct 2004 06:47

These documents speak for themselves. They are collected at "Document 2992-PS: Affidavit of Hermann Friedrich Graebe [translation]", in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume V: US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1946. pp. 696-703

I, Hermann Friedrich Graebe, declare under oath:

At Wiesbaden, on 10 November 1945 I made two statements describing as an eye-witness the execution of Jews on the former airport near Dubno, Ukraine, and the herding together, ill-treatment and killing of men, women and children of the former Ghetto at Rowno, Ukraine.

By way of corollary to these statements I depose as follows:

1. The SS-man acting as the executioner on the edge of the pit during the shooting of Jewish men, women and children on the airport near Dubno, wore an SS-uniform with a grey armband about 3 cm wide on the lower part of his sleeve with the letters "SD" in black on it, woven in or embroidered.

2. SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Puetz was in charge of the carrying out of the operation (Aktion) at Rowno during the night of 13 July 1942. I knew Dr. Puetz personally as the "Kommandeur der SP u. SD" [commander of the Security Police and Security Service] of Rowno, for I had had several discussions with him with a view to preventing a pogrom against the Jews [Judenaktion] at Sdolbunow, Misotsch and Ostrog. Dr. Puetz was introduced to me by the Area Commissioner Georg Marschall. In addition I definitely remember that a nameplate was fixed on the outside of the door to his office bearing his name and rank.

On the morning of 14 July I recognized three or four SS-men in the Ghetto, whom I knew personally and who were all members of the Security Service in Rowno. These persons also wore the armband mentioned above. I cannot recall their names, but, in my opinion, the foreman Fritz Einsporn must know their names, as, to my knowledge, he corresponded with them.

I make the foregoing statement in Wiesbaden, Germany, on 13 November 1945. I swear before God, that this is the absolute truth.

(S) Fr. Graebe (t) HERMANN FRIEDRICH GRAEBE


*****************************************

Before me, Homer B. Crawford, being authorized to administer oaths, personally appeared Hermann Friedrich Graebe, who, being by me duly sworn through the interpreter Elisabeth Radzie-Jewska, made and subscribed the following statement:

I, Hermann Friedrich Graebe, declare under oath:

From September 1941-January 1944 I was manager and engineer-in-charge of a branch office in Sdolbunow, Ukraine, of the Solingen building firm of Josef Jung. In this capacity it was my job to visit the building sites of the firm. Under contract to an Army Construction Office, the firm had orders to erect grain storage buildings on the former airport of Dubno, Ukraine.

On 5 October 1942, when I visited the building office at Dubno, my foreman Hubert Moennikes of 21 Aussenmuehlenweg, Hamburg-Haarburg, told me that in the vicinity of the site, Jews from Dubno had been shot in three large pits, each about 30 meters long and 3 meters deep. About 1500 persons had been killed daily. All of the 5000 Jews who had still been living in Dubno before the pogrom were to be liquidated. As the shootings had taken place in his presence he was still much upset.

Thereupon I drove to the site, accompanied by Moennikes and saw near it great mounds of earth, about 30 meters long and 2 meters high. Several trucks stood in front of the mounds. Armed Ukrainian militia drove the people off the trucks under the supervision of an SS-man. The militia men acted as guards on the trucks and drove them to and from the pit. All these people had the regulation yellow patches on the front and back of their clothes, and thus could be recognized as Jews.

Moennikes and I went directly to the pits. Nobody bothered us. Now I heard rifle shots in quick succession, from behind one of the earth mounds. The people who had got off the trucks -- men, women, and children of all ages -- had to undress upon the order of an SS-man, who carried a riding or dog whip. They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing and underclothing. I saw a heap of shoes of about 800 to 1000 pairs, great piles of under-linen and clothing. Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells and waited for a sign from another SS-man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand. During the 15 minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy. I watched a family of about 8 persons, a man and woman, both about 50 with their children of about 1, 8 and 10, and two grownup daughters of about 20 to 24. An old woman with snow-white hair was holding the one-year old child in her arms and singing to it, and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The couple were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed toward the sky, stroked his head, and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the SS-man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound. Among them was the family, which I have mentioned. I well remember a girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said, "23". I walked around the mound, and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was already 2/3 full. I estimated that it already contained about 1000 people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS-man, who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people, completely naked, went down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of the pit and clambered over the heads of the people lying there, to the place to which the SS-man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or injured people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of the bodies that lay before them. Blood was running from their necks. I was surprised that I was not ordered away, but I saw that there were two or three postmen in uniform nearby. The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot. When I walked back, round the mound I noticed another truckload of people which had just arrived. This time it included sick and infirm people. An old, very thin woman with terribly thin legs was undressed by others who were already naked, while two people held her up. The woman appeared to be paralyzed. The naked people carried the woman around the mound. I left with Moennikes and drove in my car back to Dubno.

On the morning of the next day, when I again visited the site, I saw about 30 naked people lying near the pit -- about 30 to 50 meters away from it. Some of them were still alive; they looked straight in front of them with a fixed stare and seemed to notice neither the chilliness of the morning nor the workers of my firm who stood around. A girl of about 20 spoke to me and asked me to give her clothes, and help her escape. At that moment we heard a fast car approach and I noticed that it was an SS-detail. I moved away to my site. 10 minutes later we hear shots from the vicinity of the pit. The Jews still alive had been ordered to throw the corpses into the pit -- then they had themselves to lie down in this to be shot in the neck.

I make the above statement at Wiesbaden, Germany, on 10 November 1945. I swear before God that this is the absolute truth.

Hermann Friedrich Graebe

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Wiesbaden, Germany, 10 November 1945.

Homer B. Crawford Major, AC Investigator Examiner, War Crimes Branch

I, Elisabeth Radziejewska, being first duly sworn, state: That I truly translated the oath administered by Major Homer B. Crawford to Hermann Friedrich Graebe and that thereupon he made and subscribed the foregoing statement in my presence.

Elisabeth Radziejewska Interpreter
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Wiesbaden, Germany, 10 November 1945.

Homer B. Crawford,
Major, AC Investigator Examiner,
War Crimes Branch


*********************************************

SECRET

The Area Commissioner [Gebietskommissar] ROWNO

Ref Messrs. JUNG Rowno

The Jewish workers employed by your firm are not affected by the program [Aktion]. You must transfer them to their new place of work by Wednesday, 15 July 1942 at the latest.

13 July 1942
For the Area Commissioner Beck [Stamp]
Area Commissioner Rowno


**************************************************

Before me, Homer B. Crawford, being authorized to administer oaths, personally appeared Hermann Friedrich Graebe, who, being by me duly sworn through the interpreter Elisabeth Radziejewska, made and subscribed the following statement:

I, Hermann Friedrich Graebe, declare under oath:

From September 1941-January 1944 I was manager and engineer-in-charge of a branch office in Sdolbunow, Ukraine, of the Solingen building firm of Josef Jung. In this capacity it was my job to visit the building sites of the firm. The firm had, among others, a site in Rowno, Ukraine.

During the night of 13 July 1942 all inhabitants of the Rowno Ghetto, where there were still about 5000 Jews, were liquidated.

I would describe the circumstances of my being a witness of the dissolution of the Ghetto, and the carrying out of the pogrom [Aktion] during the night and the morning, as follows:

I employed for the firm, in Rowno, in addition to Poles, Germans, and Ukrainians about 100 Jews from Sdolbunow, Ostrog, and Mysotch. The men were quartered in a building, 5 Bahnhofstrasse, inside the Ghetto, and the women in a house at the corner of Deutsche Strasse, 98.

On Saturday, 11 July 1942, my foreman, Fritz Einsporn, told me of a rumor that on Monday all Jews in Rowno were to be liquidated. Although the vast majority of the Jews employed by my firm in Rowno were not natives of this town, I still feared that they might be included in this pogrom which had been reported. I therefore ordered Einsporn at noon of the same day to march all the Jews employed by us -- men as well as women -- in the direction of Sdolbunow, about 12 km from Rowno. This was done.

The Senior Jew [Judenrat] had learned of the departure of the Jewish workers of my firm. He went to see the Commanding Officer of the Rowno SIPO and SD, SS Major [SS- Sturmbannfuehrer] Dr. Puetz, as early as the Saturday afternoon to find out whether the rumor of a forthcoming Jewish pogrom -- which had gained further credence by reason of the departure of Jews of my firm -- was true. Dr. Puetz dismissed the rumor as a clumsy lie, and for the rest had the Polish personnel in my firm in Rowno arrested. Einsporn avoided arrest by escaping from Sdolbunow.

When I learned of this incident I gave orders that all Jews who had left Rowno were to report back to work in Rowno on Monday, 13 July 1942. On Monday morning I myself went to see the Commanding Officer, Dr. Puetz, in order to learn, for one thing, the truth about the rumored Jewish pogrom and secondly to obtain information on the arrest of the Polish office personnel. SS Major [SS-Sturmbannfuehrer] Puetz stated to me that no pogrom (Aktion) whatever was planned. Moreover such a pogrom would be stupid because the firms and the Reichsbahn would lose valuable workers.

An hour later I received a summons to appear before the Area Commissioner of Rowno. His deputy, Stableiter and Cadet Officer [Ordensjunker] Beck, subjected me to the same questioning as I had undergone at the SD. My explanation that I had sent the Jews home for urgent delousing appeared plausible to him. He then told me -- making me promise to keep it a secret -- that a pogrom would in fact take place on the evening of Monday 13 July 1942. After lengthy negotiation I managed to persuade him to give me permission to take my Jewish workers to Sdolbunowbut only after the pogrom had been carried out. During the night it would be up to me to protect the house in the Ghetto against the entry of Ukrainian militia and SS. As confirmation of the discussion he gave me a document, which stated that the Jewish employees of Messrs. Jung were not affected by the pogrom [Original attached.]

On the evening of this day I drove to Rowno and posted myself with Fritz Einsporn in front of the house in the Bahnhofstrasse in which the Jewish workers of my firm slept. Shortly after 22:00 the Ghetto was encircled by a large SS detachment and about three times as many members of the Ukrainian militia. Then the electric arclights which had been erected in and around the Ghetto were switched on. SS and militia squads of 4 to 6 men entered or at least tried to enter the houses. Where the doors and windows were closed and the inhabitant did not open at the knocking, the SS men and militia broke the windows, forced the doors with beams and crowbars and entered the houses. The people living there were driven on to the street just as they were, regardless of whether they were dressed or in bed. Since the Jews in most cases refused to leave their houses and resisted, the SS and militia applied force. They finally succeeded, with strokes of the whip, kicks and blows with rifle butts in clearing the houses. The people were driven out of their houses in such haste that small children in bed had been left behind in several instances. In the street women cried out for their children and children for their parents. That did not prevent the SS from driving the people along the road, at running pace, and hitting them, until they reached a waiting freight train. Car after car was filled, and the screaming of women and children, and the cracking of whips and rifle shots resounded unceasingly.

Since several families or groups had barricaded themselves in especially strong buildings, and the doors could not be forced with crowbars or beams, these houses were now blown open with hand grenades. Since the Ghetto was near the railroad tracks in Rowno, the younger people tried to get across the tracks and over a small river to get away from the Ghetto area. As this stretch of country was beyond the range of the electric lights, it was illuminated by signal rockets. All through the night these beaten, hounded and wounded people moved along the lighted streets. Women carried their dead children in their arms, children pulled and dragged their dead parents by their arms and legs down the road toward the train. Again and again the cries "Open the door!" "Open the door!" echoed through the Ghetto.

About 6 o'clock in the morning I went away for a moment, leaving behind Einsporn and several other German workers who had returned in the meantime. I thought the greatest danger was past and that I could risk it. Shortly after I left, Ukrainian militia men forced their way into 5 Bahnhofstrasse and brought 7 Jews out and took them to a collecting point inside the Ghetto. On my return I was able to prevent further Jews from being taken out. I went to the collecting point to save these 7 men. I saw dozens of corpses of all ages and both sexes in the streets I had to walk along. The doors of the houses stood open, windows were smashed. Pieces of clothing, shoes, stockings, jackets, caps, hats, coats, etc., were lying in the street. At the corner of a house lay a baby, less than a year old with his skull crushed. Blood and brains were spattered over the house wall and covered the area immediately around the child. The child was dressed only in a little shirt. The commander, SS Major Puetz, was walking up and down a row of about 80-100 male Jews who were crouching on the ground. He had a heavy dog whip in his hand. I walked up to him, showed him the written permit of Stabsleiter Beck and demanded the seven men whom I recognized among those who were crouching on the ground. Dr. Puetz was very furious about Beck's concession and nothing could persuade him to release the seven men. He made a motion with his hand encircling the square and said that anyone who was once here would not get away. Although he was very angry with Beck, he ordered me to take the people from 5 Bahnhofstrasse out of Rowno by 8 o'clock at the latest. When I left Dr. Puetz, I noticed a Ukrainian farm cart, with two horses. Dead people with stiff limbs were lying on the cart. Legs and arms projected over the side boards. The cart was making for the freight train. I took the remaining 74 Jews who had been locked in the house to Sdolbunow.

Several days after 7/13/1942 the Area Commissioner of Sdolbunow, Georg Marschall, called a meeting of all firm managers, railroad superintendents, and leaders of the Organization Todt and informed them that the firms, etc., should prepare themselves for the "resettlement" of the Jews which was to take place almost immediately. He referred to the pogrom in Rowno where all the Jews had been liquidated, i.e. had been shot near Kostolpol.

I make the above statement in Wiesbaden, Germany, on 10 November 1945. I swear by God that this is the absolute truth.

Hermann Friedrich Graebe

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Wiesbaden, German 10 November 1945.

Homer B. Crawford
Major, AC Investigator Examiner,
War Crimes Branch

I, Elisabeth Radziejewska, being first duly sworn, state; That I truly translated the oath administered by Major Homer B. Crawford to Hermann Friedrich Graebe and that thereupon he made and subscribed the foregoing statement in my presence. Elisabeth Radziejewska Interpreter

Subscribed and sworn before me at Wiesbaden, Germany, 10 November 1945.

Homer B. Crawford
Major, AC Investigator Examiner
War Crimes Branch, US Army

Jonathan Harrison
Member
Posts: 173
Joined: 24 Sep 2007 14:29
Location: USA

Re: Mass execution at Dubno 13 July 1942

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 28 Mar 2009 23:01

David, the thread title is misleading. Graebe is referring to two separate events. The Aktion of 13 July was in Rovno whereas the Dubno Aktion was in October.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23061
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Mass execution at Dubno 13 July 1942

Post by David Thompson » 28 Mar 2009 23:25

Thanks, Jonathan. You're right. I changed the title of the thread to correct any misimpression.

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”