| Subscribe | Press Room | Store | Friends | Contact Us

German Reports

The Yad Vashem Archives hold many millions of pages of documents gathered from numerous German archives (West and East).

From the testimony of Heinrich M., who served in the 307th Police Battalion, about the killing of the the Jews of Brest on July 10, 1941



On the day of the operation we were awakened at 3 a.m. July 10, 1941 was apparently chosen as the day we would [take part] in the killing. … In regard to our upcoming assignment we were told that we had to assemble all the males from their appartments in the Jewish neighborhood of Brest and to line them up on the street. They had to get dressed and take everything they could carry with them. We were also told that the Jews were going to be sent to Germany to work.
The collection and organizing of the Jews in the Jewish neighborhood lasted until 6 o'clock in the morning. Part of our battalion was sent to the execution site by truck. The rest guarded the Jews on the way to the site. The execution site was located south of Brest-Litovsk [sic], outside of the forts, and appeared to be covered with dunes. The trip from the city center to that location took about 15 minutes. When we arrived, at 6.30, there was an SS unit there, apparently one company of them. SS soldiers armed with machine-guns surrounded a circular area, that was 600 meters in diameter. Apart from the SS men, also present were SD soldiers wearing grey uniforms. As I heard later, after the men were shot, those soldiers "took care of" the women and children who had been brought there in the afternoon by SS units. The latter were also armed with guns and machine-guns. In total, there were twelve trenches 10 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, and 3-4 meters deep. I believe that each pit could contain about 600 bodies. In order to avoid a mistake regarding the number of the Jews we shot on that day, I would like to stress that during the operation that I am describing here only about 6,000 Jewish men were shot. … There was no lime chloride or any other means of disinfection available. Soon after we arrived at the site, a long column of Jews arrived from the city. They were halted 300 meters from the pits. While the Jews were handing over their possessions, the platoon's officers positioned the shooters. After that, we received instructions regarding the shooting.… According to our instructions, the people were to be taken to the pits in groups of 50. The Jews were forced to lie face down on both sides of the trench so that their heads [i.e., the back of their heads] could be seen from above the pit. Behind every Jew there was a shooter standing with a 98 Rifle [a carbine] with a bayonette. The shooting took place in the following way: the point of the bayonette was placed close to the back of the victim's head; after that the rifle was inclined 45 degrees and a shot was fired. The skull was often torn away at the spot where the bullet entered. Sometimes, if the rifle was aimed at a larger angle or the victim was holding his head too high at the moment of the shooting, the bullet went through the neck. In such cases, the officers and the platoon heads finished off the condemned ones by shooting them with their guns. After that we shooters had to throw the bodies into the trench. No one piled up the bodies. This shooting lasted for the whole first half of the day with no break at all. At the beginning, the groups of 10-12 people to be shot approached from both long sides of the trench. Later it became impossible to keep up the same pace and the shooting was carried out in a chaotic manner. When they approached the pits, the Jews were dressed. They did not have to take off their clothes. This operation was over by 4 p.m…. Almost all the Jews who were mentioned here met their fate with stoic calmness and heroic self-control. I was amazed to see the Jews like this….





Yitzhak Arad, ed.,The Destruction of the Jews of the USSR under the German Cccupation, 1941-1945, Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 1991 p.80-81 (in Russian).
Video
Nina Gooen (neè Hershberg) was born in 1935 in Brześć nad Bugiem and lived there during the war years:
To view - click here
Nina Gooen (neè Hershberg) was born in 1935 in Brześć nad Bugiem and lived there during the war years:
+ Show additional videos