Documents: Cases of Typical Atrocities, Part 3
25. Rifle butts used on a pregnant Woman
Mord an Blümke
The witness, Martha Blümke of Bromberg-Jägerhof, 74 Brahestrasse, made the following statement on oath:
... They were all seated in the cellar except Günther Gehrke, aged 13, and Ernst Boldin, aged 12, who were in the yard. The soldiers asked the children where their fathers were. The fathers then came out into the yard. They had to put up their hands and were at once beaten with rifle butts. Kanderski and his son, who had hidden themselves in the same cellar, were also beaten in the same way. They took my brother away. My sister-in-law ran after them crying, and little Günther was crying too. They thrust my sister-in-law back. They also took the youngster with them. They pushed my sister-in-law into a ditch and dealt her a blow with a rifle butt, although they could see that she was pregnant.
I saw the bodies afterwards. My brother had been beaten to death, not shot. His face was completely smashed in. The lad had likewise been beaten to death.
Source: WR I
26. With crowbars and clubs
The murder of Springer in Schleusenau
The witness, Rudoff Jeske, wheelwright, of Bromberg, made the following statement on oath:
In the afternoon of Sunday, Sept 3, 1939 from 10 to 15 hooligans armed with iron bars and poles came to Schleusenau, Grunwaldzka. They at once made a rush for the house of our neighbour, Springer, and I saw them beat him to the ground with their crowbars and sticks. Then they gave him a severe kicking as he lay there. They tortured him in this way until he had to get up. He was to be taken off to the police station, but he was much too weak to walk. They kept beating him with their rifle butts. In desperation and terror of death, Springer tried to seize hold of a rifle butt. Then there was a shot and he collapsed sideways. Half of the civilians ran on, the other half ran up to my house. When they came to fetch Springer two hours later, and put him on a stretcher, I saw him trying to raise his head slightly. Springer was about 62 years old.
Source: WR I
27. Skull split half-open
25 Germans from Wonorze shot
The witness, Friedrich Weiss, butcher, of Wonorze, made the following statement on oath:
Altogether, 25 men from Wonorze were shot. They were hastily buried by Polish soldiers, after having been robbed of most of their clothes. Eight or 9 days later, when digging up their dead bodies, I ascertained that they all had bullet wounds, in some cases the skulls were so injured that they were split
half-open. Whether these injuries were due to shots or were the result of other
ill-treatment, I cannot say.
Source: WR II
28. Abdomen slit open – Bowels hanging out – Castrated!
The murder of Ernst Krüger, the brothers Willi and Heinz Schäfer, and Albert Zittlau
The witness, Heinrich Krüger, farmer in Tannhofen, stated the following on oath:
... As my son Ernst had been frequently asked for, and certain of the villagers had already been shot by the Polish soldiers, he fled on Tuesday Sept. 5, 1939 together with Albert Zittlau and the brothers Willi and Heinz Schäfer, who had at first taken refuge in a barn. On Sept. 19, 1939, I learnt from Frau Zittlau that she had found her husband buried in a field close to the main road in the vicinity of the Rucewko estate. She said that only his head and an arm were sticking out of the ground. Near the same place Willi Schäfer's cap had also been found. As we all supposed that now all four fugitives were very likely lying together, I went there with a few Germans from our village. With the help of some other persons whom we had called, we dug up the ground at that spot and laid bare the body of my son, that of Zittlau and of the two Schäfer brothers. The bodies were in a confused heap. Underneath the soil was covered with blood. I assume that all four had been actually done to death in this pit and had been buried just where they had fallen.
The lower part of my son's clothing had been undone, his jacket, vest and also his shirt had been drawn away on both sides, laying bare his abdomen. This was slit open and his bowels were half out. His boots had been taken off and were missing. His wallet containing about 40 zlotys, his watch and chain and his papers had been taken as well. At any rate these things had been in his possession when he left his parents' house.
Heinz Schäfer likewise had had his abdomen slit open and his bowels were hanging out. Heinz Schäfer and my son had been treated in the same way, except that his genitals were missing. These had been cut away, for I could clearly see shreds of flesh and bowels where they should have been. Heinrich Wising, a farmer from Tannhofen, who was also present, corroborated this when we discussed it together later. In the case of both my son and Heinz Schäfer, we looked for bullet wounds but could not find any.
In the case of the others, the clothing had not been touched. Zittlau had been shot in the chest and Willi Schäfer's body had no signs of any wound. We did not remove the clothing, but only loosened Zittlau's clothing in front a little.
Source: Sd. Is. Bromberg 151/39
29. Head torn half away
The murder of Alf. – "Shoot them all! Spare only the little children!"
In accordance with the findings of the inquiry, the witness Blendowski made the following statement on oath:
On Sept. 5, 1939, Alf, a farmer, told Blendowski and his family, who lived in
Klein-Neudorf, to come to his place at
Gross-Neudorf for safety from the Polish hordes. Blendowski agreed, and came to
Gross-Neudorf on Sept. 6, 1939, at about noon. The Alf family were just having dinner. Frau Alf invited Blendowski to share it with them. While they were still at their meal, Alf's daughter shouted: "They have come!", and some Polish soldiers drove into the yard in a farm waggon. The waggon was driven by a workman named Bernhard Zielinski.
Source: Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 1/39
30. Whole families murdered
The witness, Anton Dombek, garden inspector, of Bromberg, 2c Goethestrasse, made the following statement on oath:
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1939, the Polish militia with some regular soldiers among them departed. About half an hour later the German troops entered the town. We began to restore order in the town on Wednesday morning. The sights that met our eyes were terrible. The elderly people had been shot, but were without any mutilation worth mentioning. On the other hand, we found in a large mass grave at 8 Bülowplatz some dead bodies, mutilated beyond recognition. The bodies were covered with straw and a had sand thrown over them. In some cases the back of the head was completely knocked off, the eyes gouged out, the arms and legs broken, and even some of the fingers.
Whole families have been murdered. For example: Kohn: father, mother and 3 children. Boldin: 3 persons. Böhlitz: father and 2 sons. Beyer: father and 2 sons (18 and 10 years
old) – the younger had [been] torn from the
broken-hearted mother's arms.
Source: WR I
31. Polish woman full of murder lust foams with rage
Murder of the two Rapps, father and son
Frau Helene Stein of Bromberg, 79 Frankenstrasse, was summoned to appear and stated:
On Sept. 3, 1939, I was on air raid duty in front of my house and I saw the gang go to the Bettins... Some hours after these occurrences, another gang came and took Frau Reinhold away. I recognized only the woman Goralska among the party. She kept raining blows on Frau Reinhold until the latter fell to the ground. Goralska seized her from behind, by the hair, and Frau Reinhold screamed terribly. Goralska also kicked her and maltreated her so severely that the men belonging to the party got between Goralska and her victim, whom she would otherwise have murdered then and there.
The witness further stated:
Before the incident with Frau Reinhold, above described, Goralska told some women she knew that a minority German, Rapp, had shot the Polish baker named Ulatowski (Ulatowski is however still alive) and that the Rapps had then been taken away and she mentioned how she had enjoyed seeing the Rapps knocked down and shot, both the elder and the younger Rapp, and their wives, and she had been amused over it all. During her recital of these happenings, Goralska literally foamed at the mouth.
Source: Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 88/39
32. "I die for my Country!"
The murder of Belitzer
In accordance with the findings of the investigation, the witness Lassa stated on oath:
On Monday, Sept. 4, 1939, at about half past seven in the morning, the father of a casual labourer named Max Ejankowski, whose whereabouts are still unknown, appeared with seven Polish soldiers at the farm of his neighbour, Lassa. The father of Ejankowski, pointing to Lassa, said to the soldiers: "This is a Hitlerite, you could shoot him straight away." At the same time he struck him in the face with his fist. When Lassa's wife, in fear for her husband, protested to the soldiers that he was innocent, Ejankowski's father shouted: "You shut your mouth. You're all in for it now!" Thereupon Lassa was led away from the yard on to the road by the Polish soldiers.
On the road there was a horde of Polish bandits, among them Max Ejankowski. He drew the attention of the Polish soldiers who were taking Lassa off, to a house on the opposite side of the road, where a butcher named Bruno Belitzer, a minority German, aged 65, lived, and he shouted out to them: "There's another Hitlerite over there, you could take him with you at the same time." Max Ejankowski and his father went on to tell the soldiers that Belitzer and Lassa had fired on Polish soldiers. Then they both accompanied two soldiers across to Belitzer's house, fetched him out and took him off with Lassa. At their headquarters, they had to stand against the wall with their hands raised above their heads. Several dead minority Germans were already lying on the ground, shot. After Belitzer and Lassa had been standing about 5 minutes against the wall, a Polish soldier ordered Belitzer to repeat a Polish sentence after him. As Belitzer had no command of Polish he knew at once that he was going to be murdered, so he said to Lassa: "Goodbye Josef, my time has come. I die for my country!" The soldier then shouted to him: "What is that you are saying, you pig?" Belitzer called once more to Lassa: "Goodbye! Heil Hitler!" Thereupon the soldier shot Belitzer, first in the arm, then in the head and then smashed his head in with the butt of his rifle. Lassa was released the same day through the intervention of two former school chums who at the moment happened to be in the Polish army.
Source: Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 21/39
33. German mother with six young children begs in vain for shelter
The following experience, reported by Frau Amei Lassahn, wife of a clergyman (Bromberg-Schwedenhöhe), relating to her wanderings in quest of shelter for herself and her six children, is indicative of the deep hatred felt for the Germans, inspired and fostered by Polish agitators.1
... Suddenly the thought came to me: "Quickly, to the House of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy!" They have been having things from our garden for years. We rang the bell. The door was opened. The nun in charge of the children, whom we knew well, stood before us, an open prayer book in her hand.
"Sister, do take pity on us and take us in."
A torrent of abuse broke from her. "Go back to the place you came from. We have no room here for cursed Germans. Be off with you."
 Then I flung all my pride away and entreated her once again in all meekness. "Sister, I implore you, have pity on me. I don't ask for myself, I won't come in myself, but save my children from the mad crowd."
To soften her heart, I pushed my little boy forward.
"Be off with you! There's no room here for you cursed Germans."
The door was slammed.
We had not moved 4 paces from the door when the mob tore the old sexton from my side. When I tried to hold him, I received such a blow in the back that I stumbled forward...
34. Father shot – Daughter raped – Both robbed
The murder of Gannott
Staff Field Court of the Air Force,
In the case of the inquiry into the International Law case Bromberg I, the witness, Frl. Vera Gannott of Bromberg, 125 Thorner Strasse, appeared, and after being cautioned to tell the truth and reminded of the significance of the oath made the following statement:
Re. person: I am 19 years old, Protestant, of no occupation.
Re. matter: When it was known in the town that German troops were marching in, the populace and the Polish soldiers began committing acts of violence against us, too. On Sunday at about 2 p.m. some Polish soldiers and civilians approached our house at 125 Thornerstrasse, situated 3 miles from the town. The civilians said: "There are Germans living here," upon which the soldiers at once started shooting. We fled into a shed. In my opinion they also threw hand grenades. First of all they hauled my father out of the shed. He was asked by the Poles where he had the machine gun. My father, however, did not understand the question, as he did not understand Polish. Then I came out of the shed as well. I wanted to stand by my father as I could speak Polish. I asked the Poles what we had done to them and pleaded for my father. The Poles, however, shouted: "Down with the German pigs!" My father received several blows from rifle butts in the face and on the body and was also stabbed with bayonets. He thereupon fell to the ground and, as he lay there, he received 6 bullets; he died. The mob of soldiers then withdrew, after telling the civilians they might plunder [loot] the house if they liked, otherwise they would set fire to it.
Then my mother too came out of her hiding place. We wanted to wash my father's body which was covered with blood. We had just began to do this when another Polish horde appeared armed with staves and cudgels. My mother as well as my aunt were beaten with the cudgels; I myself was cuffed left and right. Then they went away again. After a time another horde of Polish soldiers and civilians appeared on the scene. On their approach I ran into the water of the Brahe, a river which flows behind our house, but I was pulled out by the hair. Ten or 15 civilians dragged me into the house. They said I would see that Poles were not at all such bad fellows and they would allow me to change my wet clothes. As however none of them made any move to go out, I refused to change, whereupon the Poles tore the clothes off me and laid me out naked on the floor. About 10 men held me down by the head, hands and feet, while one of the Poles raped me during which I sustained several injuries. The first days I suffered considerable pain, but not now. No other Poles violated me. While this was going on, my mother was led to a room upstairs and kept there at the point of a rifle.
The Polish soldiers robbed my father and me of our money, handbag, watches and rings. Our house was completely wrecked. The furniture was smashed with axes. All the crockery as well as the linen was stolen.
We had no weapons in our house. We had already delivered them over to the police in accordance with the general order.
Read, approved andThe witness took the oath.
signed Vera Gannott
(signed) Dr. Waltzog (signed) Hanschke
Apart from Willi Gannott, six other persons in the same house were murdered, namely: The son of Frau Emma Gannott, the minority German Karl Kohn, his wife and their 3 children, aged from 16 to 24. Willi Gannott and Karl Kohn were murdered on the "Blood Sunday" and the other five Germans on Monday, Sept. 4th.
Source: WR I2
35. [Rape] of German Schoolgirls
The witness, Hedwig Daase, teacher's wife of Slonsk, makes the following statement on oath:
On Friday, Sept. 8, 1939 a mounted patrol consisting of about 20 men entered our village. They were looking for weapons and literature from Germany. A military search was also made in our house again. The search was so thorough that everything [in] cupboards, drawers, dressing tables, etc., also in the classroom, was taken out and scattered all over the floor. The leader of the patrol put my husband's new fountain pen into his pocket. A soldier stole six new soup spoons, another soldier stole 180 zlotys, my gold watch, a penknife, some spirits and some honey from me. The inspection commission were greatly disappointed to find that my husband had already been interned. I had the impression that the soldiers were looking especially for German men.
Towards the evening of the same day two auxiliary policeman came in a waggon, drove up before our house and took away bread, hay and honey. At about 11.30 p.m. they both came again, accompanied by a third. I was forced to stay in the kitchen under guard, whilst the second auxiliary policeman took my youngest daughter into the bedroom and the third went into the
living-room with my eldest daughter. I heard my eldest daughter screaming horribly. As she later related to me, she was beaten,
half-strangled and threatened with shooting unless she gave herself up to him. The
resistance put up by my daughter prevented the auxiliary policeman from carrying out his intention. He therefore let her go, she came to me in the kitchen and he went to the official who was with my youngest daughter. Together they succeeded in overpowering her.
After that the two turned their attention to my eldest daughter and overpowered her in the same way. They had previously torn down the knickers of both girls. Both men were natives of Ciechocinek.
Source: WR II
The witness Melitta Daase, schoolgirl, of Slonsk, deposed on oath as follows:
On Friday night, three civilians with red and white armlets came into our home. One had a sabre, the second a rifle and the third a Browning. My mother had to stay in the kitchen, with an armed civilian beside her. My sister, two years younger than myself, and I were led into separate rooms each one by another civilian. I was forced to sit on the sofa, the civilian sat down beside me and began to make a physical examination. Then he grasped under my skirt, tore my knickers and demanded that I should be intimate with him. I defended myself frantically, even when, with the Browning to my breast, he threatened me with death. Only after bringing over to his assistance the second civilian, who in the meantime had raped my younger sister, was he able to force me to sexual intercourse with him. The doctor, whom I visited the next day, confirmed that sexual intercourse had taken place. The same result was shown by the examination of my younger sister. They beat me and tried to strangle me; I have not, however, sustained any considerable open wounds.
Source: WR II
36. Her Daughters as Targets
The Witness Else Siebert, nee Dey, of Rojewo in the Hohensalza district, deposed on oath as follow.
On Sept. 7, 1939, we observed Polish soldiers marching along the high road in the direction of Hohensalza. One band came to a halt by the roadside and several soldiers came into our house and asked us if we were perhaps "waiting for Hitler"; they demanded of us that we should leave immediately. We loaded the most necessary things onto a waggon as hastily as we could, sharing another waggon with the Trittel family, as each of us had only one horse. My brother-in-law, who also went with us, had harnessed both his two horses to his cart. We travelled over Hohensalza-Rojewo to an estate near there. Here we made a halt but were betrayed by a family of the name of Hallas, of Liskowo, to the Poles on the estate, of whom some wore armlets. These Poles ordered my husband to come with them, led him to the boundary of the estate and there shot him. I did not see the actual shooting myself but heard the shot and, later, saw him lying there. Shortly after, the men with the armlets fetched my brother-in-law and took him to the same place and killed him with two shots. Soon after the taking away of my husband, I went with my three daughters to the place in question and was in time to see him drop to the ground. Then the men with the armlets fetched our neighbour Trittel and shot him also, although he begged ceaselessly for mercy. And afterwards Trittel's daughter was shot, likewise from the front, and, some time later, the son, who received the bullet from behind and fell upon the body of his sister. All the assassinations were carried out by one and the same man and with a rifle. I presume that he was from the estate in question and that he there played a role similar to that played by the men wearing the same armlets on our own estates here.
After the shooting of these five persons the turn of myself and my three daughters came. We were forced to lie on the earth, face downwards, and then the man with the rifle took aim at us. I myself did not see him do this, but I was told about it by my daughter, who repeatedly turned round. The people of the estate stood around us and shouted continually that we must be shot. The man with the armlet, however, did not shoot us, but allowed us, after we had lain there for about two hours, to go into a barn, into which he locked us.
I wish to add that Herr Trittel, when he resisted being taken to the spot where he was later shot down, was struck by civilians in the most brutal manner with whips and sticks.
Source: WR II
37. Mass Murder in Jägerhof
The murder of Pastor Kutzer. – Eighteen fettered men shot down one after another
Extract from records of the Reich Police Headquarters – Special Commission in Bromberg – Ref. No. Tgb. V (RKPA) 1486/16.39.
With what cold-blooded deliberation the murders of the Bromberg "Blood Sunday" were carried out has been revealed with particular clarity by the investigations into the case of Kutzer, the Protestant pastor of Bromberg-Jägerhof, and into the other mass murders committed in that part of the town. In Jägerhof alone, during the course of Sept. 3, 1939, sixty-three minority Germans of ages ranging from 14 to 76 were collected from their homes by search-parties of Polish soldiers, acting either under the leadership of armed Polish civilians or on denunciation by the latter, and murdered in various parts of the district, in some cases in its centre.
The mass murders of Jägerhof were started with the murder of the 45-year-old Protestant pastor Kutzer, a married man and the father of four children of the ages of three to fourteen years. This German, imbued as he was with the German tradition, was particularly hated by the Poles because he conducted a parish consisting almost entirely of minority Germans in an exemplary manner, urging them unceasingly to courage and tenacity in those difficult days before the outbreak of war, so that, for instance, by the time the morning of "Blood Sunday" arrived, fewer minority Germans had fled from Bromberg-Jägerhof than from any other part of the city. Pastor Kutzer went so far as to give the shelter of his home, which until then had been used as a billet by Polish officers of a regiment stationed in Jägerhof, to German refugees from other parishes.
In the course of Sept. 3, 1939, seven different visits were made by seven different
search-parties, under the pretext that weapons were believed to be hidden in the Rectory and in the church; these parties were led on, or incited by, the same civilians in every case. The absurdity of such an accusation is proved sufficiently by the one fact alone that until after the beginning of the war Polish officers were billeted in the Rectory. After failing to find weapons or any other objects considered by the Poles as dangerous, in spite of repeated searching, the pastor was taken, at 1:30 p.m. the same day, from the circle
These Germans, taken at 3 p. m. from the Rectory without any justifiable reason, were, as is shown by the evidence of Polish and German witnesses, led to an embankment in the neighbourhood of the church grounds and there, with twelve other German men – and one German woman, Frau Köbke – who had been likewise dragged from their homes, they were stood, fettered, in a row. Then 12 Polish soldiers standing at a distance of about 8 yards, shot them down, one after another. After the first man had fallen, Frau Köbke, who was standing in the middle of the group of unhappy victims and whose husband had been murdered earlier that day on their property, fell senseless to the ground. Heedless of this, the remainder of the eighteen fettered men were shot down, and following this, they released the hands of the witness Köbke and forced her, after she had recovered her senses and before they allowed her to go, to look once more at the murdered men, one by one. This "entertainment" was watched by about 200 Polish soldiers and men and women of the civilian population.
The corpse of Pastor Richard Kutzer was found, together with the bodies of the three other murdered minority Germans, near the canal bridge in Jägerhof, on Sept. 6, 1939. According to the
medico-legal post-mortem on his body, the pastor received a fatal shot just above the
shoulder-blade, accompanied by severing of the vein; the lower jaw had been smashed by a blunt instrument.
38. Twenty Minority Germans shot at Jägerhof
The Murder of Köbke, Schröder and others
Bromberg, Sept. 20, 1939
In the inquiry into the case of
Gniewkowski, accused of murder,
the witness, Anna Koebke, widow, nee Wietychowski, of Jägerhof, 1 Okopowa, born on July 2, 1882 at Susannental, district of Rosenberg, after having been made acquainted with the reason for her interrogation, deposed as follows:
When my husband, my daughter and son and myself heard on Sunday, Sept. 3 of this year, that all Germans were to be killed, we went for refuge into the cellar of a friendly neighbour, Schröder, and locked ourselves in there. At about 12 o'clock there came a great crowd of soldiers and civilians, beating against the cellar-door, throwing hand-grenades and shooting through the cellar-window. My daughter was wounded by a shot in the hip. I was the first to flee from the cellar and I ran into our garden. So terrified was I when I came out of the cellar that I did not recognise any of those among the big crowd. I recognised only our neighbour, the mason Klimczac, as the latter attempted to catch hold of me and cried out that I was a German and must be struck down. I was able, however, to escape from Klimczac and to get into my garden.
After about a quarter of an hour; I went to the Polish family Gorny (a shoe-maker), that lived near by. I hoped perhaps to find protection with them. Gorny and his wife and some others who were there spat upon me and insulted me, until soldiers appeared and led me away into a wood, where I found about 20 other minority Germans. I was then fettered, and they began to drive us to and fro, striking us with the butts of their rifles and kicking us. They told us that we were to be shot in Schleusenau. On the way to Schleusenau we were followed by a great crowd of Polish civilians, women, men and even children, who were continually cursing us, demanding our death and striking at us with axes and sticks. Among this crowd were Gniewkowski, the butcher, whom I know personally, and a certain Paschke, of Schleusenau. I quite definitely heard their voices among the crowd, shouting that we should be shot down. Whether either Gniewkowski or Paschke were carrying axes or sticks I do not know. We minority Germans – there were about 20 men, amongst whom I was the only woman – were then halted at an embankment in Schleusenau and every one of the German-born men was shot by the soldiers and railwaymen in the presence of the Polish crowd. Gniewkowski and Paschke were among this crowd. I became unconscious and fell to the ground, and, at the command of an officer, I was set free. As I was about to leave, the Polish crowd forced me to return to look at the bodies and to shout "hurrah for Poland" several times.
Among the 20 persons shot were:
Of the people left behind in the cellar the following were, as I afterwards learned, shot whilst attempting to escape:
Read, approved and
signed Anna Koebke
The second witness, Fräulein Elli Koebke, of Jägerhof, 1 Okopowa, born on June 3, 1912 at Jägerhof (Bromberg), declared after being told the reason for her interrogation:
After my mother had fled from our neighbour Schröder's cellar on Sept. 3, 1939, we also rushed out of the cellar, into which the Poles were not only shooting but also throwing gas and hand grenades. Overcome by the effects of the gas and the wound in my hip, I fell down almost immediately in the court. All the men amongst the other persons rushing out of the cellar were at once shot down by the soldiers; and with them died also a Polish servant-girl. Frau Schröder had been badly wounded in the cellar. Among the crowd which stood before the cellar, shouting continuously that we were Germans and must be shot immediately, were:
I quite definitely saw and heard the above-named persons shouting with the rest of the crowd that we were Germans and must be killed. When I collapsed, and in this way escaped death, the crowd screamed (and with it the above-named persons) that I also should be shot. A Polish soldier, however, declared that the women should be spared. For several hours I remained, exhausted, together with Frau Schröder, lying near the bodies, whilst the crowd dispersed.
I also wish to state that Mme. Wolnik and Mme. Borek, Szymanski and Rynkowski stole things from our home during the events of Sept. 3, 1939. We found the things ourselves in the homes of the above-named when we visited them accompanied by German soldiers. In the apartment shared by the Boreks and the Wolniks we found our sofa, a linen-press, two bedsteads, chairs, a settee, a [watering] can, wash-boiler and other smaller things.
At Rynkowski's I found our wardrobe.
At Szymanski's, our wash-basket with some linen.
Read, approved and
signed Elli Koebke
Source:: Sd. Is. Bromberg 95/39
39. Thirty-nine shot at Jesuitersee
Badly Wounded thrown into the Lake and further fired upon
Extract from the records of the Reich Police Headquarters – Special Commission in Bromberg – Ref. No. Tgb. V (RKPA) 1486/9.39.
I.On the day after the Bromberg "Blood Sunday," that is on September 4, 1939, late in the afternoon, thirty-nine German-born men of Bromberg and its immediate surroundings were murdered by members of a regular Polish army unit at the Jesuitersee, which lies about 13 miles south of Bromberg on the road to Hohensalza. Among those whom it was intended to murder were the minority Germans Gustav Gruhl of Bromberg and Leo Reinhard of Zielonka, who escaped death by a lucky chance.
From the statements of these witnesses, it appears that on the morning of September 4, 1939, a large band of men, women and children, amongst whom was Gruhl, were driven along the ditch at the side of the high road in the direction of Hohensalza. In a glade, five miles south of Bromberg, the women and children were separated from the group and the men lined up before a machine-gun for execution. On the command of a Polish officer, however, the murder was not carried out on this spot. Whilst the Germans were being lined up for the intended murder, a second group of German-born men, fettered in such a way that the left wrist of each man was secured to the right wrist of his neighbour, were driven along the high road. This second group, among whom was the witness Reinhard, was joined to the first group all ready to be shot, and the men, accompanied by soldiers and Polish field-gendarmes, who continually mishandled them, were led on to the Jesuitersee where they were handed over to a military formation stationed there.3
II.Whilst the foregoing report is based upon statements made by the witnesses Gruhl and Reinhard, which from the strictly legal standpoint it is not possible to verify completely, the following details are based almost exclusively upon objective and remarkably well-preserved evidence found on the spot of the crime:
The 41 Germans – 39 bodies from the group in question were recovered – were lined up in a row, some still in their fetters, with their faces to the lake and about 13 to 15 yards from its shore. The soldiers then began to shoot wildly at the minority Germans with their rifles and, as is revealed by the post-mortem results and by the bullets found lodged in the victims' bodies, with highly effective automatic pistols. The marksmen stood, as is shown by the spent cartridges and other objects which have been found, in a half-circle behind their victims, standing at a distance of sometimes less than five yards and sometimes more than 20 yards away from them. After this shooting orgy had begun, a German aeroplane appeared high above the lake, with the result that all the murderous marksmen ran for cover. Six still unwounded or only slightly wounded Germans took advantage of this opportunity to flee towards, or along the sides of the lake. The witness Reinhard, who had freed himself from the loosened fetters, was able to escape by swimming and wading into a dense strip of reeds at the water's edge, whilst the witness Gruhl succeeded in hiding himself under a bathing hut built upon posts from 9" to 18" high. Two of the Germans attempted, with the aid of a boat which had lain at the lake's edge, to reach the other shore; a third witness attempted to swim across.
This incident can have lasted only a few moments, and in the meantime the German aeroplane had passed, so that the Polish soldiers could continue their shooting orgy and they succeeded in hitting the three fugitives last mentioned, who were not yet far from the shore. Another wounded man obviously dragged himself to an old boat lying in a shed near by and there succumbed to his wounds. And then – this is the most monstrous part of the behaviour of the Polish soldiers at the Jesuitersee – those of the Germans who were not yet dead but in a badly wounded condition were dragged along a landing stage built 60 yards out into the lake and thrown from there into the water, and, as is again clearly proved by the post-mortem results, fired upon from the landing stage. This fact is proved not only by the statements of the two witnesses who escaped with their lives, in particular that of Gruhl who was able to watch the incident from his hiding-place, but also by the extensive traces of blood on the planks of the landing stage and by objects dropped there and in the water and washed on to the lakeshore.
The findings of the medico-legal examination complete the picture. It would take too long to enumerate here the wounds of the 39 victims4 as ascertained by the medico-legal experts, and to draw the conclusions therefrom. To show the nature of the "humane" death which the Polish soldiery accorded to their victims, it will doubtless be sufficient to say that one German, apart from a bullet wound in itself comparatively harmless, had received 33 bayonet-thrusts in the region of the neck, of which only one was a fatal stab. Another victim was deliberately shot in the anus, whereby it must be remembered that, as is shown by the wound on the abdomen where the bullet left the body, the German, although not in a lying position, must have been in such a position that his face was to the ground. A number of victims received up to 15 ricochet and grazing bullet-wounds, of which not one shot was absolutely fatal. In the case of the last-named victims – and this will be proved even more conclusively after completion of the examination of the parts of the lungs taken from the bodies – death by drowning is to be assumed. Under these circumstances, it hardly appears worth while to mention further that almost all the victims show extensive wounds caused by blows, stabs or cuts – two of the Germans showed clear traces of having been stabbed in the eyes.
III.Despite the brevity of the above description, representing the copious results of the investigations made by the police and medico-legal authorities, it is sufficient evidence of the indisputable fact that, at Bromberg, a regular Polish Army unit murdered 39 German-born men in a manner hard to describe and of almost unbelievable brutality, not only by shooting but also with the aid of the bayonet and the rifle butt, and throwing badly wounded men into the lake.
40. A Murder in almost every Home!
The witness Dora Kutzer, of 14 Kroner Strasse, Bromberg, deposed on oath as follows:
In our Protestant parish there is, so far as I know, hardly a single house which has not to mourn the murder of one, two or even three minority Germans. Up to the present moment 59 dead are lying in our Protestant churchyard, and we are still far from having found all the dead.
Source: WR I
41. "Put a Bullet In his Head!"
The Murder of Gustav Fritz
The witness, Walli Hammermeister, a servant-girl in the employ of Erich Jahnke, Langenau near Bromberg, deposed on oath as follows:
... When the soldiers discovered that Herr Fritz could not speak Polish, one of them told him that he himself, although a young man, could speak both German and Polish, whereas Fritz, despite the fact that the Polish State had been in existence for 20 years, could not yet speak Polish. Herr Fritz replied that he was 75 years old and could not learn Polish at this age. To this, another Polish soldier said: "Put a bullet in his head!" The first soldier then shot Herr Fritz in the right side of his head. I saw this with my own eyes. I fled into the
Source: WR I
1Extract from the detailed report in manuscript of the writer's experience concerning the occurrences in and around the rectory and church of Bromberg-Schwedenhöhe. ...back...
3The fact that a regular army unit was concerned here is borne out by both the statements of German and Polish witnesses, including Gruhl and Reinhard, and the discoveries made on the actual spot of the crime; particularly those discoveries made in buildings used as shelters and stables which stood in the
438 unknown dead, of whom 28 could be later identified, have been exhumed and subjected to
post-mortem examinations. ...back...