The murder of the Jews in the occupied areas of Poland and the Soviet Union is currently being researched with new and intensified interest. Though previously investigated mainly by Polish, Israeli, and American scholars, now historians in Germany are also probing facets of this darkest chapter in German history. The general approach is that pioneered by Hilberg, Browning, and Scheffler, which concentrates on the ways in which these crimes were organized and carried out. This paper follows a similar line of inquiry.
In examining the concrete implementation of the "Final Solution" in occupied Poland and the Soviet Union, a pivotal question concerns the role of the occupation framework and of the individual perpetrator. Although Christopher Browning blazed a trail for such studies, analyzing the policies pursued by individual authorities and the murder operations carried out by one police battalion, our knowledge of these crucial factors still remains inadequate. Earlier research by Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm had already pointed in this direction, but they explored the "Final Solution" in the context of very large spatial areas and were able only tangentially to investigate the role played by the individual perpetrator.
This paper seeks to inquire into these questions in light of a specific example: the mass-murder operations carried out by the Border Police Headquarters (Grenzpolizei-Kommissariat) in Stanislawow (today called Irano-Frankovsk) in southeastern Galicia under SS-Captain Hans Krueger from 1941 to 1943. Over the span of sixteen months, this small police station—its staff at times numbering only twenty-five—organized and implemented the shooting of some 70,000 Jews and the deportation of another 12,000 to death camps. Acts of such monstrous proportions are generally associated only with the large SS killing squads that operated in the occupied Soviet Union. In the research literature, there is little mention of what transpired in Stanislawow. To date, the massacres there have been treated at greatest length by Tatiana Berenstein; unfortunately, however, there has been little response to her valuable articles in Yiddish and Polish on the destruction of the Jewish communities in Galicia. The detailed reconstructions of the Austrian journalist Elisabeth Freundlich have also kept alive the memory of these events.
On July 20, 1941, almost one month after the German attack on the Soviet Union, a forward detachment of the Gestapo arrived in the town of Stanislawow at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Stanislawow, renamed Stanislav after the Soviet invasion of Poland and called Stanislau by the German occupiers, was located some 120 kilometers southeast of Lvov (Lemberg), the capital of eastern Galicia. At the beginning of July 1941, the area had been overrun and conquered from the south by the Carpathian units of the Hungarian army. Throughout that entire month, the region StanislawowKolomea (Kolomyja) - Horodenka was under Hungarian military administration, as had been agreed upon by Germany and Hungary before the attack.
The Gestapo detachment that arrived on July 20 moved into the building formerly occupied first by the Habsburg and then the Polish District Court, premises that had last been used by the Soviet NKVD. The Gestapo police were members of the so-called detachment for special purposes (Einsatzkommando Z.B.V.- zu Besonderer Verwendung) that had arrived in Lvov on July 2, on the immediate heels of Einsatzgruppe C; its instructions were to continue the killing squad's work, especially mass executions.
The detachment's commander, Dr. Eberhard Schoengarth, lost little time, dispatching sub-units to Rawa Ruska, Drohobycz, and Tarnopol already during the first two weeks of July. Some six men came to Stanislawow; they were commanded by Oskar Brandt, a brutal Gestapo officer who had earlier served as "special officer for Jewish affairs" (Judenreferent) with the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei, Sipo) in the Krakow District. He was joined a week later by Hans Krueger. After it had been decided that eastern Galicia was to be incorporated into the Generalgouvernement as a fifth district, Schngarth instructed his subordinate Krueger to set up a branch office of the KdS (Kommandateur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD)—the Regional Command of the Sipo and SD (Sicherheitsdienst, the intelligence branch of the SS) in Stanislawow. The Sipo consisted of the Gestapo and Criminal Police (KriminalPolizei, Kripo).
To his superior, Krueger was undoubtedly the right man for the job: he had joined the SA in 1929 at the age of twenty and was thus a seasoned "alter Kaempfer." While growing up in his home town of Posen (Poznan), he had seen the German-Polish "cultural struggle" first-hand; together with his parents, he had been expelled by Poles in 1918. Krueger rose rapidly in the SA ranks. Instead of working in agriculture, for which he had specific training, he took over as leader of a SA "stormtrooper unit." Shortly after the Nazis seized power in January 1933, Krueger was soon active in "combatting adversaries", appointed head of the Political Section in the Oranienburg concentration camp. After the Roehm Purge in June 1934, and the subsequent disarming of the SA, he was also demoted, ending up as a section head in a labor office.
Krueger did not return to the Nazi apparatus of repression until 1939, joining the Gestapo as an official in his native Posen and then in Krakow. Here, too, his Nazi fanaticism and brutal ruthlessness did not go unnoticed, and the Krakow KdS named him director of the Sipo Academy in the town of Zakopane. There he trained Ukrainians and others as future Sipo personnel, men whom he would later command in Stanislawow.
Krueger's big chance came with the attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Schoengarth, head of the Security Police in the Generalgouvernement, based in Krakow, did not assemble his Einsatzkommando until a week later, around June 29. Almost 150 members of the Krakow KdS were recruited for this task, and Krueger was one of the highest ranking officers among them. At about 4 P.M. on July 2, the first motorized column of the detachment rolled into its destination—Lvov. It immediately began carrying out its mission, including confiscating documents and art objects, but, most particularly, locating and liquidating "adversaries." A large anti-Jewish pogrom was raging in Lvov at the same time, which claimed the lives of several thousand Jews, yet it appears unlikely that Krueger was implicated in this mass murder.
Soon after they had set themselves up in Lvov, Krueger and his subordinates began searching out and arresting members of the Polish intelligentsia in the city, using eighty-eight prepared lists they had brought along. The first victim, seized on July 2, was Kazimierz Bartel, the former Polish prime minister. During the night of July 3, and the early hours of July 4, a total of twenty-three professors from the two universities in Lvov were also rounded up. All but one were subsequently taken out and shot that same morning in a Lvov park. There is no evidence to link Krueger directly to these shootings, but he was certainly involved in organizing the murder of the Lvov professors.
In the meantime, the "detachment for special purposes" was at work making mass arrests of Jews in Lvov; those seized were held for several days on a playing field in the town. On July 5, most were removed to a wooded area at the edge of the city and were then shot by members of Einzatzkommandos 5 and 6.
Thus, by the time Krueger arrived in Stanislawow, he had already participated in a slew of killings. But now his commanding officer, Schoengarth, entrusted him with far more extensive tasks. The details of those orders, relying on Krueger's testimony after the war, can only be partially pieced together, and his statements are replete with lies and halftruths. Yet it is probable that Schoengarth gave Krueger orders to liquidate the Jewish and Polish intelligentsia in Stanislawow. Furthermore, the commandant of the Sipo certainly instructed Krueger to take harsh measures against all Jews. However, it is fairly certain that, before the end of August 1941, there was as yet no talk of murdering the entire Jewish population, including women and children:
“Among other things ... I'd been given the order to clean the area of Jews. Initially, that meant deporting the Jewish population or concentrating them in ghettos. A bit later, a directive from the RSHA gave the order to render the area judenfrei a new interpretation: their liquidation".
In the case of Heinrich Himmler himself, it was not until August 14, 1941, that he issued a directive to the Higher SS and Police Leaders (HSSPF) in the Soviet Union, ordering them to murder all Jews irrespective of gender and age.
At the beginning of August 1941, however, the region was still under Hungarian sovereignty. The Hungarians had ordered all Jews to wear an identifying Star of David armband. Yet the Hungarian military did not countenance any pogroms against Jews or even mass executions in the area under their control and even prevented a number of such actions: "Isolated operations against Jews carried about by militia. The result was immediate intervention by the Hungarian military".
For that reason, Krueger organized a mass shooting in Stanislawow on August 2, 1941, under the guise of "registering the wealthier class." Eight hundred Poles and Jews reported to the police. Of these, 200 skilled workers were sent back home. The rest were transported the following day to the forest near Pawelce and were then secretly executed by the Security Police.
Preparations for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" in the Galicia District were initiated in September 1941. According to Krueger's statements, the corresponding orders had been issued by Schoengarth before he left Lvov in August 1941. The KdS office, which had evolved from the initial Einsatzkommando for special purposes, was operational in the district capital from September 1. It was headed by SS-Major Helmut Tanzmann, who previously had directed Schoengarth's personnel section. Tanzmann's commanding officer was the SS and Police Leader in Galicia, SSPF Friedrich Katzmann, assigned to Lvov already at the end of July 1941.
It is still not clear precisely who—Schoengarth, Tanzmann, or Katzmann— issued the precise orders for the mass murders carried out in eastern Galicia beginning in October 1941. Decisions on the "Final Solution" throughout Europe were being made at the time in Berlin, such as that for deportation of Jews to the East reached around September 18, 1941, and the agreement purportedly concluded on October 13, 1941 between Himmler and Odilo Globocnik, the SSPF in Lublin District, to set up the first extermination camps. Yet the question remains: why did they commence immediately with the mass murder of Jewish men, women, and children in Galicia District, while in the other Generalgouvernement districts the authorities waited until extermination camps had been completed? It appears that the wishes of Hitler and Himmler were consonant here with initiatives in Krakow and Lvov, which could have stemmed either from Schoengarth or Katzmann.
That same September 1941, there were extensive discussions with Katzmann and Tanzmann in Lvov regarding the "Jewish Question". It was decided at that time that the heads of the branch offices in the southern section of the district—Krueger in Stanislawow, Hans Block in Drohobycz, and Peter Leideritz in Kolomea, who had been building up the Sipo there since early September—should commence with a wholesale liquidation of all Jews. There were several key reasons for selecting these particular regions. First, they were located on the border with Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), annexed by Hungary from Czechoslovakia in November 1938 and March 1939. Since July, the Hungarians had been deporting thousands of non-resident Jews from this territory across the border into eastern Galicia. Those deportees from Hungarian-occupied Ruthenia became the victims of the largest massacre of the "Final Solution" up until that time, perpetrated in KamenetsPodolsk on August 27-28, 1941. Tanzmann also ordered that all Galician Jews who had been captured by Hungarian border guards while attempting to flee and were sent back over the border should be shot. Secondly, a ghetto was to be set up in Stanislawow, to be kept as small as possible. Several witnesses, including Kruger, concur in citing this motive for the mass murder:
“When the heads of the various branch offices were installed by the new commander in Lvov, Sturmbannfuehrer Tanzmann, specific areas were assigned, and then the guidelines for work were set down...Jews not suitable for deployment as laborers were to be shot. Since they realized that such shootings could not be organized overnight, the plan was that the residential area set aside for the Jews should be progressively reduced. The result was that a certain number of Jews had to be shot on a regular basis, because space was no longer available."
With a staff of only twenty-five men at his disposal, how could Hans Krueger have possibly carried out this order? The KdS branch office was responsible for the counties of Stanislawow, Kalusz and, until the spring of 1942, the region around Rohatyn. Initially, this included some 9,300 sq. km., and later 8,800 sq. km., a region with more than 700,000 residents. For this reason alone, Krueger's office found it impossible to fulfill all the varied and diverse functions carried out by the KdS in Lvov, who was assisted by a large staff of 400 police officers and officials. In Stanislawow, too, there was the customary division into administration, Gestapo, Kripo (Criminal Police), and SD. However, the only time things functioned smoothly was when there were no ongoing "large-scale operations." Yet from October 1941 to the end of 1942, such Grossaktionen were high on the agenda. Thus, the branch office basically had only two tasks with which to deal: until the autumn of 1942, the liquidation of Jews; later on, the struggle against Polish and then Ukrainian resistance. Thus, Krueger and his men largely succeeded in crushing the Armia Krajowa, the main armed Polish underground, in the Stanislawow area in November-December 1942.
Krueger took brutal action relatively early against the organization of Ukrainian nationalists; however, this did not escalate into a civil war until the autumn of 1943, after the formation of the Ukrainian Army of Rebellion (UPA). During this phase, control over the area gradually slipped from the hands of the German occupiers. Although the Communist underground was of marginal importance in the region around Stanislawow, Krueger had many individuals suspected of earlier Communist activity executed.
A special task of Krueger's Grenzpolizei-Kommissariat, as the branch office in Stanislawow was soon designated, was to secure the border with Hungarian-annexed Ruthenia. For this purpose, Krueger had border-police stations in Tatarow and at the Wyszkow Pass set up under his command. The staff there consisted of one or two Germans, along with several Polish or Ukrainian Kripo officers. They, too, took an active part in the slaughter of Jews in their areas. Like their commander Krueger, Rudolf Mueller at Wyszkow Pass and Ernst Varchmin in Tatarow were radical antisemites. There were so-called Kripo stations in Kalusz, Dolina, Nadworna, and Tlumacz, but these were manned solely by Polish and Ukrainian police.
In Stanislawow itself, Krueger commanded a relatively motley crew. It has been possible to determine that, over the entire period of occupation, a total of some fifty German Sipo and SD men served there; at any given time, there were always about twenty-five on active duty. Gestapo men, such as Krueger and the chiefs Brandt and Erwin Linauer, already experienced in "combating adversaries," were there only to handle the central functions. Krueger had brought along Heinrich Schott (former Judenreferent) and the ethnic-German Mauer brothers from the Sipo Academy in Zakopane. Josef Daus, Kurt Giese, Hans Greve, Wilhelm Hehemann, Walter Lange, Otto Rueckerich, and Kurt Wulkau had previously served with the Security Police in the Krakow District, Werner Hagemann had been stationed in Zamosc, and Franz Mause in the Warsaw District. Werner Sankowsky was transferred there later, in the spring of 1942, from the KdS Galicia. Except for the Gestapo leaders, these men were all non-commissoned officers, with the rank of Scharfuehrer (sergeant), yet in eastern Galicia, they had the power of life and death over tens of thousands.
Already in the summer of 1941, in order to increase his personnel, Krueger had built up a unit of Rumanian and Hungarian ethnic Germans sworn to the Security Police. Some of these men later rose to the level of Scharfuehrer and were naturalized as citizens of the Reich. These auxiliary Sipo forces regularly participated in mass killings.
Yet even that personnel pool was insufficient to carry out the kind of largescale Judenaktionen that had been envisioned from September 1941 on. To stage such a "large-scale operation," all the other German agencies in the Stanislawow area had to be brought in on the action as well. The highest-level civilian administrative body in the region was the County Superintendency (Kreishauptmannschaft), headed in Stanislawow, from September 1941, by Kreishauptmann Heinz Albrecht, an official of the internal-affairs administration who had previously held a similar post in Konskie.
Superintendent Albrecht was a committed National Socialist and dedicated antisemite, as reflected in his inaugural speech delivered in the town of Rohatyn on September 28, 1941, and reconfirmed in testimony given in 1962: "As a National Socialist, I believed then that the Jews were the cause of all our misfortune."
Emil Beau, the municipal commissioner responsible for the Stanislawow urban area, was cut from the same cloth as Albrecht in character and conviction. But far more important for Krueger was the so-called Orpo, the regular police (Ordnungspolizei): it was the only body that had sufficient personnel at its disposal. Already in August, a contingent of the municipal police (Schutzpolizei, Schupo), a subdivision of the Orpo, had been dispatched to Stanislawow from Vienna. These municipal police officers, deployed on so-called special duty (Einzeldienst), were responsible for the Stanislawow urban area and supervised the Ukrainian auxiliary police unit that had been set up by Krueger back in July. The Schupo was headed by Paul Kleesattel, whose maltreatment of Poles had even become the object of a SS trial Even larger than the Schupo contingent on special duty was Reserve Police Battalion 133 (PRB 133), whose 1st and 2nd Company were stationed in Stanislawow.
Subsequent to the September discussions in Lvov, Krueger began to make preparations for the large-scale massacre of Jews in Stanislawow. In order to condition his security police for the task awaiting them, he first organized a mass murder on October 6, 1941, in the nearby town of Nadworna as a kind of "dress rehearsal." He also brought in reinforcements to Nadworna from the Border Police station in Tatarow. All Jews were ordered to assemble in the town marketplace. Members of the town's Judenrat and their families were separated from the rest. The police herded off all the others to a nearby wooded area and shot them there. This massacre in Nadworna, which claimed the lives of 2,000 men, women, and children, marked the actual beginning of the "Final Solution" in the Generalgouvernement.
Immediately thereafter, Krueger began preparations for "Bloody Sunday" in Stanislawow. By an order from the Orpo commander in Lvov the Schupo special duty contingent and Reserve Police Battalion 133 were ordered to provide "cooperative assistance" to the Sipo. On October 11, Krueger's deputy Brandt conferred with the RPB 133 commander Gustav Englisch, who initially placed one detachment of his men at their disposal. That same day Krueger himself contacted the municipal commissioner Emil Beau, who then issued directives on the revised and reduced dimensions of the ghetto perimeter. Not until the next morning, October 12, were all the various authorities involved, including the new Schupo chief Walter Streege, summoned to a meeting. Krueger had also managed to obtain a detachment of the railroad police (Bahnpolizei) to join in the blood-letting.
Small Schupo detachments immediately began driving the Jews in one neighborhood of Stanislawow from their homes; they were marched in long columns out to the Jewish cemetery at the edge of town. The nearly 20,000 Jews were herded into the large cemetery grounds, surrounded by a high wall. The victims were forced to the edge of two large pits that had been excavated there, compelled to climb onto a beam suspended over the pit, and were then shot. The executioners were Sipo men, including Krueger himself, as well as members of the Orpo and railroad police. Panic broke out among the horror-stricken Jews, who began to press toward the cemetery’s exit gate. But they were in a tight trap. The shooting continued without letup until dusk. Only a few Jews had been selected out of the doomed mass by the perpetrators before the bloodbath began. As night fell, Krueger called a halt to the mass murder. He had mercilessly ordered some 10-12,000 persons slaughtered. The cemetery gates were opened once again, and the survivors poured back into the city. Poles and Ukrainians had already taken over the Jews’ abandoned dwellings. In order to contain possible discord, an additional PRB 133 company was ordered in from Lvov.
These atrocities marked the onset of the murder of the entire Jewish population in the Stanislawow region. Sipo commander Tanzmann had issued new orders in this regard: the Jewish communities in the Carpathian valleys were to be liquidated. On October 16, Ernst Varchmin from the Border Police station in Tatarow, together with the 3rd Company of PRB 133, began the slaughter in Delatyn and Jaremcze, the most southern Jewish communities in the region. Finally, on October 29-30, a Sipo unit from Stanislawow shot several hundred Jews in Bolechow. It has been impossible to clarify the exact circumstances and dates of the mass shootings in Rohatyn, Kalusz, and Dolina, purportedly carried out at this same time by the Stanislawow KdS branch. In December 1941, Tanzmann ordered a temporary halt to the shootings, since it had become difficult to dig open pits in the now solidly frozen ground.
There had been plans since early March 1942 for deportations to the Belzec extermination camp, located some 65 kilometers northwest of Lvov. At this particular time, the area around Rohatyn, to the north of the Dniester, was earmarked for removal from the sphere of authority under the Stanislawow Security Police. So Krueger took swift action, hastening to dispatch a detachment to Rohatyn on March 20, to murder some 2,300 Jews in the freezing cold.
Krueger then continued with the slaughter of Jews in the Stanislawow ghetto. To expedite matters, the Labor Office there had compiled an alphabetical list of the Jewish population. On March 31, 1942, Passover eve, several thousand Jews in the ghetto were taken into custody by the Schupo, detachments of RPB 133, and the Ukrainian auxiliary police. Once again, those seized were so-called “asocial elements”, the elderly, sick, or beggars. Later, the torch was put to their dwellings so as to force out anyone in hiding. The Jews were marched to the train station and deported to Belzec on April 1. With several thousand persons, this amounted to the largest single transport to the camp up until that time. After the deportation, the Stanislawow Labor Office conducted a new registration of Jews, and, immediately after, Krueger and his henchmen murdered thousands more.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, an ethnic German from Stanislawow complained about events in the city and region: "Mr. Krueger has employed this same tactic in other localities in the Stanislawow District too, e.g., in Tatarow, Delatyn, Kosow, Kolomea and other towns, where thousands of Jews were shot and buried alive [sic]."
In Stanislawow District, the civil authorities now began to concentrate smaller Jewish communities in the respective subdistrict capital. Within a short period, the Jews who were affected were forced to relocate, trudging in large columns to the subdistrict town after having left behind their possessions. Immediately after the Judenaktion in Stanislawow on March 31, Jews were taken from the closest smaller towns to the Stanislawow ghetto: on April 5-6, from Tlumacz, and later also from Tysmienica and Wojnilow. The latter two towns were now judenfrei. In a private letter sent to Germany, the rural commissioner in Nadworna remarked: "Currently I'm involved in resettling my 7,000 Jews. How is something I'll have to tell you in person. It can't be explained in writing."
In Stanislawow, most of the expellees were placed in a kind of ghetto within a ghetto, where they were soon put to death. At the edge of the socalled Jewish residential area, there was an unfinished, three-story building for a grain mill, the so-called Rudolf Mill. This facility was used in particular for confining the elderly and sick, along with Jews from Ruthenia, in isolation. The building was guarded outside by Ukrainian auxiliary police, and Jewish police personnel (Ordnungsdienst) were stationed inside. As a result of overcrowding and lack of supplies, the hygienic conditions there were catastrophic. Epidemics broke out two weeks after the first victims were interned there.
In setting up the Rudolf Mill, Krueger had initiated the makings of a brutal mechanism. Due to the poor general condition of the victims and the terrible privations and overcrowding, it was inevitable that some of the confinees should fall ill. Krueger had ordered all sick Jews confined there to be liquidated. Schott, the Gestapo Judenreferent in Stanislawow, exercised a veritable reign of terror in the mill, personally shooting large numbers of sick Jews almost on a daily basis. He was later joined voluntarily in this endeavor by Schupo Lieutenant Ludwig Grimm, who also took regular part in the Rudolf Mill killings.
In the summer of 1942, Krueger sent his subalterns to the town of Dolina, located west of Stanislawow in the Kalusz District. Up until then there had been only a few mass-murder actions in this region, and no deportations whatsoever. The detachment from Stanislawow was commanded by Rudolf Mueller from the Border Police station at the Wyszkow Pass. On August 3, all 3,500 Jews in Dolina were taken from their homes and herded into the marketplace, where many were maltreated by the police and numerous children were shot. After completing a selection, the police marched a group of nearly 2,000 Jews to the Jewish cemetery, where they were summarily massacred.
When Krueger received notice in July from the KdS that there would be a temporary halt to further deportations from Stanislawow, he shut down the Rudolf Mill, which had indeed served as a kind of transit camp for Jews from the area. Beginning in August, Jews were now regularly executed in the courtyard of Sipo headquarters. On August 28, September 4, 9, 26, and October 3, the Sipo shot a total of several hundred persons each day. When the authorities in Lvov announced there would be another train to Belzec, Krueger's deputy Oskar Brandt designated the first day of the Jewish New Year as their day of deportation. There were still some 11,000 Jews living in Stanislawow at this time.
Once again, the upcoming "resettlement" was announced on posters. Of the 3,000 to 4,000 Jews seized, only the doctors were selected out from the rest; all others were deported. In September, most of the Jews from outlying smaller localities were brought to Stanislawow and shot there at the Jewish cemetery. The largest Jewish community in the region, in Kalusz, was totally liquidated on September 15-17, at the hands of the Stanislawow Sipo under Wilhelm Assmann; only a few workers were spared. In July, Kalusz still had a large Jewish population of more than 5,500. After this massacre, there were just 3,000 Jews left in the entire Kalusz County. In Stanislawow County, there were now officially only 6,000 Jews, compared with a previous Jewish population in excess of 50,000.
On October 15, 1942, the Jewish community in Stanislawow was largely annihilated. Thanks only to the intervention of a courageous railroad official were 150 Jewish railroad workers selected out and allowed to remain in the city. On November 7, the Jewish Social Self-Help Office (Juedische Unterstuetzungsstelle, JUS) in Krakow received a final cry for help from the town of Nadworna:
“Here in Nadworna and throughout our entire region, there is now an operation under way aimed at deporting almost all Jews from the area, with only minor exceptions (doctors, pharmacists, independent artisans and the workers interned in individual camps). As a result of this Aktion, the number of Jewish inhabitants in our district has fallen to about 1,000, compared with a former Jewish population around 18,000."
The Gendarmerie (rural police) in Stanislawow reported in December:
“With the exception of a few doctors and pharmacists, all Jews in the district have been evacuated or transferred to the ghetto in Stanislawow. The ghettos in the county towns Tlumacz and Nadworna have been liquidated.”
Already on November 2, 1942, Superintendent Albrecht had been gratified to noted in a public speech: “In the course of this year, European Jewry has largely been eliminated as a result of efforts to safeguard the life of the Aryan peoples. In the near future, their final remnants will likewise disappear.”
In January 1943, the police in Stanislawow continued their mass murders unabated. On January 24-25, they launched a raid on Jews without work permits; some 1,000 of those seized were shot, and a further 1,500-2,000 were deported to the Janowska camp in Lvov. Almost daily then, the ghetto was searched for new victims. Finally, on February 22, Krueger's deputy Brandt had the ghetto surrounded; all residents were taken into custody. Only a few hundred workers employed in scrap reclamation, the eastern railroad and supply depot were selected out; all the others were shot.
The ghetto was now considered to have been liquidated. Nevertheless, the police continued combing the ghetto area until April, repeatedly apprehending and executing Jews who had gone into hiding. There is a single report extant from March 9, 1943, in which a Kripo patrol records the murder of a Jew discovered in the former ghetto area.
Krueger's era in Stanislawow had now also come to an end. Already in the fall of 1942, he had encountered problems when an audit of his office by the Reich Auditor's Office (RAO) had turned up certain surprising discoveries:
An especially extreme case has been uncovered in the branch at Stanislau in Galicia. Large amounts of confiscated money and jewels were retained there. During a local inspection of the rooms of the responsible administrative official, Police Secretary B., officials of the Reich Auditor's Office discovered large amounts of cash, including gold coins, and all sorts of currency—even $6,000—as well as entire chests full of extremely valuable jewels. These were stored in all manners of boxes and containers, desks, etc. None of this had been listed or registered. In some containers, there was a slip with the original amount; but in most, there was no written record of any kind. It was no longer possible to determine how much had originally been there. The RAO had to limit itself to establishing the exact contents of what was found there in order to prevent further valuables from disappearing. The cash alone amounted to 584,195,28 Zloty. Added to this were the jewels uncovered there; their precise value could not be determined, but is likely to be in the range of several hundred thousand Reichmarks. Several days after intervention by the RAO, the Political Sec. B., who had chief responsibility for these matters, shot himself."
Krueger himself ultimately brought about his own transfer and demotion by disclosing his murderous deeds to a Polish noblewoman under arrest. Following an intercession, the countess was released, and after she had made known what Krueger had confided to her, proceedings were initiated against him. He was formally charged with betraying secret information and was later transferred from his "kingdom" in Stanislawow to Paris.
At the end of the war, Krueger was arrested in the Netherlands and was held in custody by the Canadians and later by the Dutch authorities. Since his activities in Poland were unknown to his captors there, he was set free in November 1948. He began working in Germany as a traveling salesman and soon started his own firm. In the 1950s, Krueger already felt so secure that he filed a request to be reinstated as a civil servant in accordance with Article 131. However, his request was denied, and his application for a position with the state internal security agency (Verfassungsschutz) in North RhineWestphalia was also turned down. Krueger then opted for a career in party politics; he rose to the post of district managing director of the Free People's Party (FVP) in Muenster, later switching to the German Party (DP). From 1949 to 1956, he was state chairman of the Association of Germans from Berlin and Brandenburg (Landsmannschaft Berlin-Mark Brandenburg); in 1952, he served as second spokesperson for the association. Krueger ran unsuccessfully as a candidate in the 1954 elections to the NRW state assembly, campaigning on the list of the League of Eastern Expellees and Victims of Justice (Bund der Heimatvertrieben und Entrechteten).
In 1959, his new career came to an abrupt end, when, after ten years of activity in the public eye, his past returned to plague him. Krueger was taken into investigative custody. Investigations by the Dortmund State Prosecutor's Office dragged on for a further six years, until a formal indictment was issued in October 1965. At his trial, which lasted two years, Krueger displayed enormous self-confidence and indulged in numerous antisemitic outbursts. Finally, on May 6, 1968, the Muenster State Court sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was however, released in 1986. Krueger then went to Munich. He died in 1988, in the southern Bavarian town of Wasserburg am Inn.
What was Krueger's specific contribution to the course of the "Final Solution" in the area under his control? Due to the fragmentary state of the sources, we can only venture a partial answer. Krueger was the first to organize mass murders in the region while it was still under Hungarian occupation. In the fall of 1941, seizing the initiative before the other Gestapo leaders, he proceeded to execute Jews in legally unclear situations, e.g., Jews or half-Jews apprehended without the obligatory armband. Elsewhere at that time such offenses were still being penalized by fines. A murder order was issued by Krueger for just such an offense:
“I was informed confidentially that the Jew H.S. was walking around without the mandatory Jewish armband. I had him arrested on October 10, 1941 and confined in the local jail here. In reply to why he was not wearing the obligatory armband, he stated that he didn't know that he, as a baptized Jew, was also required to wear the band. It is my recommendation that the Jew H.S. be liquidated as a consequence of his failure to adhere to the German regulations.
Lange SS-Sergeant Security Police Stanislau, October 16,1941/Galicia/Order
1. The Jew H.S. is to be liquidated.
2. Prepare a record card. /done La./
3. SS-Sergeant Hehemann should complete the E [execution]-list.
4. File it away.
It is impossible to determine what Krueger's exact responsibility was in connection with "Bloody Sunday." It is clear that a massacre of such proportions under German civil administration was virtually unprecedented. But further research is needed on whether Krueger actually initiated this crime. He was undoubtedly responsible for its brutal execution and the large number of victims. For 1942, the striking feature is the murder, at a relatively early point, of all Jews in the Stanislawow area.
Yet the Border Police Headquarters in Kolomea was even more radical in this respect. More important here than the factor of the individual Sipo chiefs was the fact that there were few large-scale forced-labor projects for Jews in the southern parts of the district, projects which in other areas had helped temporarily to save lives. From the spring of 1942 on, operations against Jews followed the waves sweeping across the entire district. A decisive element was Krueger's direct participation in the radical implementation of the mass murders on the spot. In the Stanislawow region alone, over 85 percent of the Jews were shot rather than deported. Krueger was the architect of this bloodbath, making sure his own people were involved. In actuality, this meant that some of his subordinates personally shot thousands of men, women, and children at the pits. There was only negligible resistance on their part to participate in the slaughter.Thus, the case of Stanislawow was marked by a distinctive, specific mix of personality and external circumstances, particularly geographical.
Although the branch office in Stanislawow and its chief Hans Krueger should be viewed as an extreme example, they reflect typical features of the personnel and activity of KdS external branch offices in areas of occupied Poland and the Soviet Union. Even though Krueger bears responsibility for the largest single number of mass murders perpetrated by a KdS branch anywhere in the Generalgouvernement, there were numerous station chiefs who were comparable, such as Peter Leideritz in Kolomea, or Hermann Mueller in Tarnopol. We know even less about other radical "ideological perpetrators," since they did not survive the war and were thus not subjected to later criminal investigations.
Similar events occurred in the four other districts of the Generalgouvernement. Only in the case of the western area of the Warsaw District had the Jews been deported to the Warsaw ghetto before the onset of the actual "Final Solution." In all other districts, the KdS branch stations were the actual mass executioners; in the district capitals, the agencies responsible were the KdS head offices themselves.
Insofar as the Jews had not already been eliminated by the mobile SS and police units, the KdS external branches in the occupied Soviet Union had an analogous function. Often, however, stationary Sipo offices were established only at a later point and were sometimes not set up at all in areas under military administration. East of the Dnieper, most Jews had already fled before the Wehrmacht arrived. In the occupied Soviet Union, deportations hardly played any role. Almost all Jews were massacred near their home towns and villages, or gassed in mobile vans. Nevertheless, there is still a great need for basic historical research regarding the activities of the Sipo in these areas.
When compared with the Gestapo offices in the Reich and the KdS head offices, which have on the whole been better researched, the differences are clear: first, the further east one goes, the smaller the staff in the external branch offices. Secondly, the ranking personnel in such branches generally consisted of Gestapo career officers, while many officials in the Reich Gestapo and the KdS head offices were trained lawyers. Third, numerous KdS commanders came from the ranks of the SD, the ideological elite within the SS. The tasks of such KdS commanders in connection with the mass killing of Jews were largely organizational and supervisory; in the main, they were physically present only when there were large-scale deportations and mass executions directly in their particular town.
In contrast, the chiefs of the external branch offices, their local Gestapo heads, and Judenreferenten organized the murder of Jews right on the spot, negotiating with other institutions such as the Orpo and civil administration. They also carried out the killings personally, in countless instances using their own weapons. Thus, these men constituted a core segment of the personnel in the "Final Solution"; without their participation, it would have been impossible to implement the carnage in this manner.
Translated by William Temple
Source: Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. 26, 1998, pp. 239- 265