Documents: Cases of Typical Atrocities, Part 5
Posen 50. "At them! At them!"

The murder of Grieger and John in Posen: Four hurriedly buried male bodies

Extract from the records of the Reich Criminal Police Department – Special Commission in Posen – File reference Tgb. V (RKPA) 1486/4.39.

At a place in the Matthäus Cemetery in Posen, easily reached from the outside, four male bodies, shovelled roughly into the ground at a depth of 3 feet, were found on September 24, 1939. A superficial examination by the medical expert of the Court showed that all four had met their death by acts of violence.

The post-mortem examination, conducted on September 25 and 26, 1939, exceeded the results that had been anticipated from the external inspection.

In the occiput of the corpse P. 1 (Grieger) were severe fractures of the skull, which had been caused by blows with a blunt instrument. The face was covered with innumerable stabs; the left eye had been pierced. Furthermore, a bullet wound which traversed the chest can, with certainty, be stated not to have been fatal. Death was caused by the joint influence of various acts of violence. A bullet was also found embedded in the left hip.

A bullet was found embedded in the skull of the corpse P. 2 (John). Besides this, there were wounds caused indubitably by stabbing. The skin of the face was split in several places. The severe splintering of the upper jaw, on account of the unusual nature of the fractures, led the doctor to conclude that in this case the teeth had probably been previously extracted [deliberately broken/knocked out].1

On the evening of September 3, 1939, about 10 Polish army lorries manned by troops of a tank regiment and scouts drew up in front of the house, 3 Markgrafenring, in Posen. A crowd formed in the street.

The air warden of this district, the fugitive Pole Stefan Nowicki, ordered Gerhard Grieger, 32 years of age, who as concierge was responsible for the air raid precautions in his house, to search the roof, alleging that somebody was moving about there. Grieger's search was in vain.

This trap, set for him with such incredible baseness, sealed his fate, for at that moment shouts arose from the street that somebody on the roof was signalling with a light. Grieger was dragged out of the house by three soldiers and, under maltreatment, led to the Schiller Grammar School ["Gymnasium" - similar to High School] several hundred yards away. The Pole Hendryk Bronikowski reports that Grieger, who had been kicked by the soldiers and beaten with the butts of rifles, could utter only incomprehensible words when he arrived at the school. After about five minutes the same witness heard a number of shots, which were also heard by others.

However, the air warden Nowicki was not yet satisfied. He re-entered the house with other soldiers, had the 32 year old staff employee Paul John arrested and conducted in the same way to the Schiller Grammar School [High School]. On the way John attempted to escape, but was seized again by the howling mob and so brutally beaten that he could no longer walk unaided along the short road to the place of the murder. After a few minutes he too was shot down by the soldiers.

Then, urged on by the shouts of the mob, youths who were standing about dealt out blows with axes, shovels and pickaxes to the men now lying in pools of blood. The Pole Henryk Pawlowski, who was arrested with a number of others in the course of the investigations, gives, in his confession, a clear account of the proceedings. He received the order to bury the two men who had been shot down, in the strip of lawn opposite. One of the two was still alive. Pawlowski now seized his shovel and struck with all his strength at the man lying on the ground. "I am a Christian and did not want to bury the man alive," he answered, when asked what he had thought when striking the man. Amid cries of "At them! At them!" other youths, according to his statement, were incited to similar acts of violence. The soldiers looked on inactive.

When both were dead, they were dragged right across the street – in the one case a pick was hooked between the coat and waistcoat.

They were buried in the strip of lawn on the promenade opposite, about 15 yards from the place of murder. Later the bodies were disinterred and secretly conveyed to the Matthäus Cemetery.

Pawlowski declared that, as a Catholic, he had often gone to church. When asked what the priest[s] had recently been preaching, he answered literally: "They incited the people."

The scene of the crime was visited on Sept. 26, 1939. The spot where the murders took place is situated in a street with a single row of houses in a suburb of Posen. It was possible to record photographically what were unquestionably stains of blood. On the pavement in front of the Schiller Grammar School [High School] two further large stains were discovered, radiating from which blood bespattered the roadway and the pavement to a distance of 4 yards. The wall of the Schiller Grammar School [High School] was stained to a width of 7 yards with splashes of blood. Traces where the bodies had been dragged along, led from the stains on the pavement to the roadway. The result of the medical post-mortem and the investigations which were carried out with exactitude by the Criminal Police show that neither Grieger nor John was subjected to any trial even in the slightest degree resembling martial law. The circumstances of the arrest, the sequence of events and the location of the spot where the crime took place, supply clear proof that the crime was murder in the criminal as well as in the legal sense.

On November 11, 1939, before the Special Court at Posen, Henryk Pawlowski was sentenced to death, being found guilty of participation in murder.

Schulitz 51. Slowly tortured to death

How 12 ethnic Germans were murdered in Schulitz – eyes gouged out – abdomens slit open

Description based on the evidence given on oath by the witnesses Kurt Schulz, Klara Kriewald and Ferdinand Reumann:

On September 4, 1939, seven or eight Polish soldiers appeared in the farmyard of August Schulz, a German by descent, in Schulitz. The soldiers declared that the Germans had revolvers and rifles concealed in the house and stated that the forester, Michael Naskret, had supplied them with this information. In spite of the assertions of the Germans present and notwithstanding a fruitless search of the house, the minority Germans August Schulz and his son Kurt were arrested and carried off. The same occurred at the home of the farmer Kriewald. Under the pretext that, according to information given by the forester Naskret, revolvers and rifles were hidden in the house, a search of the building was made and the farmer Kriewald as well as his 21-year-old son were led away. Frau Klara Kriewald, a woman of 54 years of age, was raped by a Polish soldier. Polish soldiers appeared too at the house of the minority German Ferdinand Reumann and demanded the surrender of weapons. Reumann spoke Polish to the soldiers and asserted to them that he possessed no weapons and also that the minority Germans had none concealed. The Polish soldiers were very surprised at this statement and one of them explained that the forester Naskret had nevertheless denounced the Germans as possessing weapons. Reumann, as he pretended that he was a Pole and spoke Polish with the soldiers, was not taken away. The minority German Schmelzer and another seven minority Germans were arrested under similar circumstances by the Polish military.

The twelve people arrested and among them notably the father of Kurt Schulz, the husband of Frau Kriewald, and the father of the witness Schmelzer, were that same day taken from Schulitz into the forest. There they were bound together and forced to remain in a squatting position. Anybody collapsing in consequence of weakness was beaten by the soldiers with their rifle butts. Kurt Schulz, who speaks Polish fluently, once more in the forest asked the soldiers why they had been arrested and what the charge against them was. The soldiers thereupon explained that they were accused of having fired with a machine gun on the forester Naskret, who fled from Schulitz, and of having done so when he had attempted to return to Schulitz in order to attend to his cattle. Naskret, they alleged, had supplied this information. The Polish lieutenant in charge of the platoon, who feared that his line of retreat might be intercepted if he did not withdraw from the wood at the first opportunity, begged Kurt Schulz to lead him out of the wood onto the road. At the witness's request, he promised in return to liberate his father and other minority Germans from Schulitz. Kurt Schulz later made his escape and returned to Schulitz. In the meantime, to be exact, on September 5, Olga Schulz and Klara Kriewald had presented themselves before the Polish military stationed at Schulitz and implored them to set their husbands and sons free. They desired that the forester Naskret should be summoned, who would most certainly corroborate their statement that the Germans were not in possession of weapons and had not fired. The soldiers then laughed and answered, "He was just the one who told us."

Kurt Schulz, as soon as he arrived back in Schulitz, immediately set out to search for his father and the other ten men of Schulitz who had been carried off. Near the spot where he and the Polish lieutenant had separated from the remainder of the column, he found the earth had been disturbed. Just below the surface he came upon his father, the other Germans from Schulitz, and a man unknown to him; all murdered. The victims were still bound together. In every case their eyes had been gouged out and their teeth knocked out. Some had had their throats cut and their stomachs slit open. The skin had been torn from the hands of August Schulz and Schmelzer. The twelve murdered men had thus been slowly tortured to death by the Polish soldiers.

Source: Sd. K. Ls. Bromberg 31/39

Dabrowa 52. Shot down one after another

"Sixteen were shot before it was my turn."

The witness Erwin Boy, master tailor, of Ostburg, testified on oath to the following:

... At the crossroads by Dabrowa we were forced to lie down with our heads on the sloping side of the road and with our feet in the field. Our rings were then taken from us; from me they took my signet ring as well as my wedding ring. When this was completed, the names of those lying at either end of the row were called out simultaneously. The person whose name was called out, had to stand up and go into the field. A soldier followed him and fired two shots at him. Sixteen had already been shot, when my turn came. When my name was called, I ran zig-zag into the field. The first bullet struck me in the right half of my body, passing clear through but without wounding me fatally. I threw myself upon the ground. The soldier following me thereupon fired at me again from a distance of 4 yards. This bullet pierced my right shoulder and tore open my right upper arm. I did not move, although I remained fully conscious. And then I heard them shooting my other comrades. When all had been shot down, they shouted: "There they lie now, that Hitler gang, the whole of the Young German Party," and both soldiers and civilians clapped their approval. Then I heard an order: "Dig holes!" To my left a hole was dug for me. I could see two civilian youths digging the hole. Just as I was to be thrown into the hole – in the meantime it had become dusk and the road was no longer visible – I jumped up and begged the civilian, who gaped open-eyed at me, to spare my life, and told him that I had a wife and children and was a poor tailor. Instead of answering me or saying anything, he took a revolver from his pocket and fired a shot at me. However, it missed its mark. I then sprang at him, dealt him a punch in the stomach and took to my heels. He called out after me, "Wojska!" which means "soldiers!"

Somewhere between Luisenfelde and Stanomin I collapsed in a ditch overgrown with thorns and lay there waiting for the morning. Towards 10 o'clock I scrambled out and made my way to a well-known German landed proprietress named Klatt, in Stanomin-Abbau. She gave me something to drink but was afraid to take me in, as a lad had meanwhile come running up with the news that murder was loose in Stanomin. She advised me, however, to conceal myself in a small wood in the vicinity and gave me a shooting jacket and spade to take with me. I then left in the direction of the wood. Hearing shots from the wood, I took cover in a ditch running along between willow trees and about 400 yards in front of the woods. Here I lay motionless under artillery and machine gun fire until early on Saturday morning. A battle between Polish and German troops had obviously been fought near me. I noticed that a German aeroplane continually circled over the woods. However, in the meantime, I fell asleep and awoke again at midday, but I had become very weak. Suddenly I heard my wife, who had come out to look for me, calling out my name, to which I replied. I was bandaged by a German military doctor who was summoned, and transported to the hospital at Hohensalza. My wounds are still open and I cannot yet use my right arm.

As well as myself, Eduard Kunitz and Hermann Galster were able to save their lives in this miraculous fashion.

In my opinion, our names had already been listed before the outbreak of war, for otherwise the soldiers would never have been able to read out our names from a chit [scrap of paper] and I consider that the village elder of that time, a man named Gorne, must be held responsible for the drawing up of the lists.

Dictated aloud, approved and signed
sgd. Erwin Boy
Source: WR I

Straczewo 53. The Massacre in Samara

Ten uninterred bodies

Samara, October 13, 1939.

Court for the Examination of
Breaches of International Law
with the Supreme Command of the Forces.

Hurtig, Judge Advocate.
Pitsch, Military Inspector of Justice.

On being called upon, Oskar Brakop, farmer's son, resident in Samara, appeared and, after the significance and sacredness of the oath had been explained to him, deposed as follows:

Re. person: My name is Oskar Brakop, born on November 15, 1909, in Samara, single, farmer's son, resident in Samara, near Straczewo.

Re. matter: After several searches of our house had been carried out by the Polish soldiers, who threatened us with death, I fled with my mother and two brothers into the fields. When the German troops had occupied our village, I returned on Sunday, September 10, 1939, to my farm. I found it had been completely plundered. Accompanied by German soldiers I went searching for dead. In one of the fields belonging to the farm Chromowola near Straczewo, we came across uninterred bodies. I found there the bodies of five members of the Richert family from Straczewo, namely the three sons between the ages of 16 and 19, their mother, and grandmother who was about 60 years old. The search for Herr Richert had obviously been unsuccessful, I heard that he had hidden in the barn. His two daughters and two younger sons had found a hiding-place with him and had not been discovered by the Poles. Besides those already mentioned, Jakob Blum and his 19-year-old son, both of Straczewo, lay on the field as well as the farmer, Johann Feiertag and his wife, Peplau junior and Frau Leschner, a niece of the farmer Blum, who happened at that time to be staying with him. Frau Richert's eyes had been gouged out and the whole of her skull smashed or shot off; Johann Blum had received a bayonet wound as well as a bullet wound; half the face of Otto Richert was missing. German soldiers made a photographic record of the discovery of these corpses, but I do not know to which body of troops they belonged. As I have heard from Herr Richert, the perpetrators were Polish soldiers who had been instructed to search the villages for Germans and to butcher them.

Dictated aloud, approved and signed
sgd. Oskar Brakop

The witness took the following oath, "I swear by Almighty God that I have spoken the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

(signed) Hurtig       (signed) Pitsch

Source: WR I

Straczewo 54. Chin smashed off, brain scattered about

Murder of Feiertag and Richert

Samara, October 13, 1939.

Court for the Examination of
Breaches of International Law
with the Supreme Command of the Forces.

Hurtig, Judge Advocate.
Pitsch, Military Inspector of Justice.

On being summoned, Emilie Feiertag, farmer's wife, resident in Samara, appeared and, after the significance and sacredness of the oath had been explained to her, deposed on oath as follows:


On Saturday, Sept. 9, 1939, I found the bodies lying in a field; the chin of Otto Richert was missing, as was also the case with Johann Feiertag. The entrails of Otto Richert were hanging out of the body. One of Frau Richert's eyes was missing and also the top of her skull; the brain lay scattered about.

Later I set out with other minority Germans to search for further dead, as well as for my husband whom I believed to have been shot. In the course of our search we discovered the bodies of the newly-married couple farmer Heinrich Blum and his wife Alwine, roughly buried in a small hole in a wood. The hole was certainly not more than one yard square. The corpses had been completely doubled up so that they could be thrown into the hole. Everywhere in the neighbourhood of our village and the surrounding villages, murdered minority Germans were found. The acts of the Polish soldiers were in my opinion carried out systematically; they even carried lists with them on which all members of the German-born families were noted.

The last Polish troops disappeared on Saturday, Sept. 9, 1939, at about 4 a.m. The first German troops arrived at our village towards 10 o'clock in the morning.

Dictated aloud, approved and signed
+ + +
Frau Emilie Feiertag, her mark.

The witness took the following oath, "I swear by Almighty God that I have spoken the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."

sgd. Hurtig       sgd. Pitsch
Source: WR I

Tarnowo 55. Looting of German Farms

In the criminal case against

  1. Wladislaus Skrzypzciak, gardener, of Koziegrowy, born on September 16, 1919, in Rakietnica, single, Roman Catholic,
  2. Stefan Zaudzinski, gardener's assistant, of Kochfeld, born on May 15, 1912, in Antoniewo, district of Wongrowitz, single, Roman Catholic,
  3. Stanislaus Bambor, labourer, of Kochfeld, born on April 19, 1908, in Samter, married, Roman Catholic,
  4. Bruno Finke, labourer, of Kochfeld, born on November 15, 1921, in Teschendorf, single, Protestant,
  5. Edmund Schlabs, butcher, of Kochfeld, born there on May 11, 1919, Roman Catholic,
  6. Bruno Nowak, miller's assistant, of Schlehen, born on January 16, 1908, in Liebuch, single, Roman Catholic,
      – all under arrest in the Court Prison in Posen –

in the cases 1–5 for serious breach of the peace,
in the case 6 for uttering threats,

the Special Court with the Military Commander in Posen, at the sitting on October 25, 1939, at which assisted:

[101] Junior Judge Dr. Schaefer, as President,
      Junior Judge Dr. Kiep and
      Judge of the Superior Court Wehl,
            as assessors,
      Prosecutor Sommer as officer of the Attorney General,
      Prosecutor Rast as Records Officer of the Legal Department,

sentenced according to law:

the accused Skrzypcziak, Zaudzinski, Bambor, Finke and Schlabs, guilty of serious breach of the peace, Skrzypcziak being armed, the others in collaboration with an armed man, being in full knowledge of and assenting to the fact of his bearing weapons, [and] the accused Nowak, guilty of uttering threats, as follows:

  • The accused Skrzypzciak, Zaudzinski, Bambor, Finke and Schlabs are sentenced to death, the accused Nowak is sentenced to 6 (six) months' imprisonment.

  • The accused, with the exception of Nowak, will be deprived of civic rights for life.

  • The sentence pronounced on Nowak to include the 1 (one) month's imprisonment while awaiting trial.

  • Costs to be borne by the defendants.

    On the evening of Sept 3, 1939, approximately ten young men, acting on their own initiative, banded themselves together in Kochfeld, near Tarnowo, under the leadership of the labourers Czapara and Szczechowiak, at present still fugitive, with intent to visit the German-born families and their farmsteads in Kochfeld and the vicinity, under the pretext of searching for weapons and in order to seize the opportunity for plunder [looting]. The horde consisted of the defendants Skrzypcziak, Zaudzinski, Bambor, Finke and Schlabs and some others. It has not yet been possible to apprehend the remaining confederates.

    At about 8 p.m. on the same day the horde made its first appearance in front of the [estate of] German farmer Arthur Bussmann of Kochfeld, encircled his house, tore a number of stakes from the wooden fence, knocked down the farmyard fence and created an uproar and din. Then, shouting such words as "Sons of bitches," they began to bombard all the windows of the ground and first floor of the house with stones. For this purpose they also used a certain number of the staves from the fence as missiles. Altogether no less than 47 window panes were smashed, four window frames broken and four roller blinds which had been let down were also damaged. An attack with axes, so fierce that the house resounded with the blows, was made on three massive fence posts, until at length they were overturned. The witness Arthur Bussmann, who except for his brother was alone in the house, fled with him at once into the loft, as he feared for his life on account of the uproar and the great fury of the crowd. By means of a ladder, which they had dragged up with them as a precautionary measure, they climbed from the loft into the uppermost attic. As Bussmann was climbing up the ladder in the darkness, he was struck on the shoulder-blade by a brick thrown through the dormer [gable] window, with the result that he almost fell from the ladder and was unable to use his arm for some time. The fury of the mob lasted about half an hour. The witness Bussmann could hear from his hiding-place how during this time the crowd even shook the trees in the kitchen garden. Apparently the bandits assumed that the members of the household in their fright had hidden themselves in the trees. Nobody yet penetrated into the living-rooms; this was to be reserved for a later period.

    The horde then left Bussmann's house to go to the farmstead of the German [farmer] Schemme, in Kochfeld. Warned in time by the violent clamour at Bussmann's, he had already taken refuge with his family in the barn cellar. Here also stakes were torn out of the fence. Nearly all the window panes were then smashed with them or with stones. Two window frames were also destroyed. Here too, the fury lasted about half an hour. Two curtains were stolen from the broken windows. Then the mob withdrew to the farm of the German [farmer] Mücke, in Kochfeld, where several window panes were broken and the gate battered until it collapsed.

    About 17 pints of milk in a can standing in front of the house were drunk. The witness Robert Mücke, who had also been warned in time by the tremendous uproar and the splintering of glass, had already hidden himself and his parents and a great-aunt in a field of maize, about 200 yards from the house. Here, in fear of their lives, they remained for four hours. The witness Super – a gardener, Mücke's neighbour and later the leader of the Polish defence corps of Kochfeld – attempted by friendly persuasion to prevent the mob from doing further damage.

    The fugitive, Czapara, declared however to the defenders [defendants] that Super, should he really wish to prevent them, would "get his face punched in."

    The band then went to the farm of the German-born [farmer's] widow Weissmüller. This land lies actually in Gurten-Ausbau, but is in fact nearer to Kochfeld. Here they began by breaking 34 window panes and smashing three window frames. Then, through the broken windows, they shone lights on the beds, which however were empty, as the witness Weissmüller and her daughter had already jumped out of bed and were standing upright under cover of the wall. The 83 year old mother of the witness, who is almost blind and suffers from paralysis of the feet, was to have been concealed by her granddaughter in the wardrobe. However it was not possible to do this because a stone weighing more than four pounds came hurtling through the window, actually splitting the cupboard door. The witness presented this stone to the court for inspection. Then the bandits smashed in the door leading from the kitchen to the garden and several men thrust their way into the kitchen. There, amidst loud invective, they overturned the table and threw a basket of 60 eggs on to the ground. The witness Weissmüller during this time heard shouts such as, "You Germans drop bombs on us." Here it must be explained that a German aeroplane had two days before dropped a bomb near Kochfeld. The tumult in the kitchen continued for about five minutes. Then the mob retired, throwing a pot of mustard on the path in front of the house. The Weissmüller family, thinking in their fear that the bandits would return, dragged their old mother to a place of concealment, first behind a stack of straw near the stable and then, when they could no longer withstand the cold there, in the warm forage-kitchen. The next morning they discovered, besides the damage already mentioned, that two chairs, a face towel and half a home-made loaf had been stolen. Two more chairs lay smashed in the garden and two sets of curtains and two window blinds had been damaged.

    From Weissmüllers' the marauders proceeded to the German-born farmer, Unkenholt, whose land also lies in Gurten-Ausbau. At this place also, nearly all the windows were broken and the window frames smashed. Four sets of curtains were torn down and damaged. Nobody penetrated into the living-rooms, plainly because Unkenholt's dog was running from room to room barking furiously. However somebody reached through a broken window and stole two draw-curtains and a mirror. The Unkenholt family had concealed themselves opportunely in a potato field a few hundred yards from the house, whence they could hear the fury of the mob and the splintering of glass. After this, the band moved to the farm of the German widow Strodtmann. There, as a commencement, almost every window pane, altogether about 66, was broken with stakes and stones and no less than 11 window frames smashed. Some of the bandits penetrated through the front door into the rooms, overturned an earthenware jar of cucumbers and a tin of malt coffee, trampled on cake which they found, and destroyed the wireless accumulator, two sets of curtains in the bedroom, the daughter's trousseau, and appropriated, amidst loud jeers, the sum of 50 Zloty which they found there, as well as the volt-meter and two sets of curtains. The Strodtmann family had hidden themselves in time in the cellar in the barn.

    The gang then retired [withdrew] to Kochfeld to the farm of the German, Schmalz. Here too the window panes on the yard and garden sides of the house were broken, to the accompaniment of a great din. Some of the men demolished the veranda on the side of the house facing the yard, smashed the front door of the house in the veranda by means of a large poker they had found in the yard, penetrated into the house and stole 180 Zloty in cash, a lady's umbrella, three sets of curtains, one pair of reins for carriage horses as well as chains and neckstraps for two horses. The family of the witness Schmalz had in good time made their escape right up on to the roof and there concealed themselves, whence the witness Arthur Schmalz distinctly recognised the voice of the defendant Skrzypcziak. On their retirement, the horde hurled a huge fire-cracker which exploded with a loud report and which they had previously found in Schmalz's house. They carried off with them an iron crowbar which they had found in the yard.

    Towards 11 p.m. the mob retired from Schmalz's house of [to] the farm of the minority German Scheintze in Kochfeld. Here, to begin with, they broke no less than 65 window panes in the house and 3 stable windows by means of sticks, stakes and stones, and completely smashed three window frames, obviously with the crowbar they had brought with them. Furthermore, they tore down two curtains and bent two curtain rods. They did not break into the house itself.

    After the bandits had made the round of these [so-called ethnic German] farms – there are only these eight German farmsteads – they returned once more to their point of departure, the property of the German-born witness, Bussmann. There, to the accompaniment of great shouting and howling, they once more threw stones at the windows and the house. Then some of the men penetrated through the windows into the living rooms and dispersed themselves among the various apartments and even went into the cellar and the attics. The doors were slammed, and the door of the servant's quarters broken in, as the witness Bussmann, who again had fled with his brother into the loft, was able to hear. The horde damaged the wireless set and the aerial, two plush arm chairs, threw ten plants in flower pots on to the floor and broke two more panes of the book cupboard. The following objects were stolen: a diamond glass-cutter, a pair of woollen pants, a woollen jacket, an empty portfolio, a pencil sharpener, 15 preserving glasses [jars] containing cherries and fruit juice, six curtains, eight stockings, a large number of handkerchiefs, three pieces of soap, a tin of boot polish, two tins of face creams, a clock, twelve knives, twelve forks, twelve spoons, three pots, two pans, two eiderdown covers together with pillows, one tablecloth, and one pound each of butter, lard and sausage, a meter rule made of iron, and two pails. The contents of some of the stolen boxes [jars] of fruit juice were drunk there and then.

    The witness Bussmann and his brother did not leave their place of concealment beneath the roof until nearly 3 o'clock the next morning, when they went and hid the whole day in a field of potatoes about one and a half miles away as the great fury of the mob still caused them to fear for their lives.

    Two days after these events, the witness Bussmann heard his ploughhand, the defender [defendant] Bambor, quarrelling in the yard about the loan of two horses with Nowak the miller assistant, charged in these records with uttering threats. Bussmann, who was also in the yard, called out to the two men that they should not make such a noise, and went towards them to settle the quarrel. The defendant Nowak, who was holding a dung-fork in his hand, brandished it threateningly at Bussmann with the words: "All such people must be got rid of."

    The court has based its findings on the testimonies given on oath by the witnesses: Arthur Bussmann, Otto Schemme, Robert Mücke, Wilhelmine Weissmüller, Frieda Unkenholt, Otto Kranz, Arthur Schmalz, Wilhelm Heintze, Stanislaus Gadjinski, Wladislawa Napieralla, Franz and Kunigunde Super, together with the mutual accusations of the defendants.

    Source: Sd. Is. Posen 78/39

    Wojciechowo 56. Polish Soldiers as [Arsonists]

    Murder of Karl and Lydia Baar

    Wojciechowo, October 13, 1939.

    Court of Inquiry for
    Breaches of International Law
    with the Supreme Command of the Forces.

    Hurtig, Judge Advocate.
    Pitsch, Military Inspector of Justice.

    On being called upon, Martha Baar, farmer's daughter of Wojciechowo, appeared and, after being warned of the significance and sacredness of the oath, deposed on oath as follows:


    ... A private first entered our house. He asked if we were Germans and if we had many sons. We answered in the affirmative to the question as to whether we were Germans, and with regard to the question as to how many sons we had, I explained that only my 46 year old brother Karl was present. Hardly had he left when a "podporucznik" (Polish lieutenant) came in and made my brother show him his military papers. I was standing in the hall. My brother Karl, my sister Lydia, my mother, a lad of 13 named Arthur Bieser, and a Polish girl of 9 named Hedwig, were in the kitchen. When the Polish lieutenant had read through the military papers, he said in Polish "It does not matter," turned round and went out of the house. However, he had hardly stepped into the yard when he turned round again and fired with his rifle into the kitchen. My brother was first struck, receiving the bullet in the stomach; he immediately sank to the floor but was not dead. He then shot at my sister Lydia, who also collapsed, but was nevertheless able to rise again and run into the garden. There she must have lain down, for we found her there when the German troops took possession. She had, however, several wounds and so must have been stabbed in the garden or been fired at again. The German military doctor, who arrived about two hours after, attended to her; but she died of her wounds the same night.

    The Polish lieutenant also fired at my mother, without hitting her however. The 13 year old schoolboy Bieser was struck in the shoulder. I was still standing in the hall, and the last bullet was intended for me, but it also missed its mark. My mother and I – the schoolboy Bieser and the girl Hedwig had meanwhile taken flight – carried my brother Karl, who had not yet succumbed, to the cellar, where we intended to take shelter. My brother said several times that it served no purpose to do so, for he must soon die, as he did in fact soon afterwards. In the meantime, our barn had been set on fire by the Polish soldiers and, fanned by the wind, the flames were now spreading towards the house, which as a result also caught fire. At the last moment we dashed into the open, having to fight our way through the flames. We left my dead brother lying in the cellar, and he was burned with the house. There were only bones left when we searched for him after the fire had subsided. When we ran into the yard, the Polish soldiers had already withdrawn, but were still standing on the road near our garden, firing in the direction from which the German troops were advancing. Two hours later the first German troops reached us.

    In our village, the Polish troops burned down three German farmsteads and also shot farmer Gatzke, a man of about 32 years of age.

    Dictated aloud, approved and signed

    sgd. Martha Baar

    The witness took the following oath, "I swear by Almighty God that I have spoken the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God".

    (signed) Hurtig       (signed) Pitsch

    Source: WR I

    Wonorze 57. Between Burning Stacks of Straw

    The witness, Eduard Kunitz, carpenter and farmer in Wonorze, made the following statement on oath:

    On the morning of Sept. 7, 1939 Polish artillery arrived and took up their quarters here. The artillery men gave us to understand that they were to be followed by Polish infantry, who would murder all the Germans. They advised us to flee. I discussed the matter with other Germans. However, at first not one of us could decide to desert our farmsteads, nor did we know what direction to take. We did eventually pack up the most necessary things, load them on to carts and drive off, taking a country road leading towards Stanomin. When we arrived at Stanomin, Polish infantry were already there to receive us. They ordered the men among us to climb down from the carts and to stand on one side. We were forced to show our papers, and all jewellery in our possession was taken from us. We had to take up our positions in a row and raise our arms above our heads. Those who could no longer keep their arms up were either kicked or prodded with bayonets. We were forced to stand in this position for about an hour. After that we were stood with our faces to the wall of an inn, our arms raised against the wall. We had to stand like this about a quarter of an hour, and then line up in fours and march towards Dabrowa-Biskupia.

    Dabrowa We arrived at Dabrowa-Biskupia at sundown. Here we were formed up in a row on the side of the road, once more with uplifted arms and, just as before, we were treated to kicks and bayonet thrusts. We stood there for probably another fifteen minutes. I was the fourth man on the left wing. On our right I noticed a Polish lieutenant speaking with an infantryman. This soldier then approached us and ordered the German on the extreme left to turn about and walk into the field. The man in question was allowed to lower his hands. Grasping his rifle the soldier followed him for a few paces and when the German had taken about 20 or 30 steps into the field, he raised his rifle and shot him from behind. The man fell to the ground, whereupon the soldier went up to him and put a bullet through his head. He then returned and proceeded with the second and third in exactly the same way. Then it was my turn. Simultaneously, however, the man standing next to me was ordered to move also, for apparently the soldier thought the procedure was taking too long. Another soldier then walked behind my companion. When we had taken 20 or 30 paces into the field I was struck by a bullet in the back. The bullet came out on the left side of my chest. I fell to the ground with my hands stretched out in front of me and, like the others, was then to be shot through the head. I was however wearing a cap which, as I fell, had slipped well over to the left. As a result the soldier apparently assumed that my head was further to the left. In any case the bullet penetrated between my skull and the cap and only slightly grazed me. I lay motionless but fully conscious and heard all the following shots. When darkness had fallen – it may perhaps have lasted half an hour – I feared that a working party would now come to bury us. I therefore very cautiously crept forward as far as a stack of straw. My body wound did not cause me any special inconvenience. As I lay near the straw stack, it suddenly became quite light. I discovered that all the stacks had been set on fire. Fearing that my stack would also be fired, I crept away, perhaps a distance of 40 or 50 yards. Later I crept as far as a ditch where there was a pool of water, in order to be able to quench my thirst. There I lay the whole night, for I had not the strength to crawl further.

    When day broke – it may have been about 7:30 – I noticed a Polish patrol of three men obviously engaged in searching the ditch. They asked me where I came from. I gave them a truthful answer and said that I should have been shot the previous day. The patrol wanted to learn from me the whereabouts of two other Germans. When I told them I would give them no information, they threatened to shoot me. I took up a position in front of them, bared my chest and asked them to shoot me on the right side, as I already had a bullet through the left. At this, the soldiers could not find the heart to fire. They then led me to a lieutenant, who gave me water when I asked for it and then, after telling his batman to give me four pieces of army bread, advised me to hide in a small wood. I then walked towards the wood, but lay down in a ditch where I could not be seen. At long intervals I was able to crawl further until, in the evening, I at length reached a farmhouse, where I was recognized by a relative. Early next morning, Saturday, the German troops arrived, by whom I was bandaged.

    Source: WR II

    Posadowo 58. "Stand them all against the wall!"

    The witness, Wiesner, farm manager in Posadowo, testified on oath to the following:

    The testimony, given on oath, of the administrator Wiesner, Posadowo, on October 4, 1939, concerns a case of most revolting cruelty practised on innocent German civilians:2

    More than one hundred minority Germans were brought before the company commander of the cycle company of the 58th Infantry Regiment stationed in Posen and here [the commander] received the report that four of their number had already been shot. He said to the 300 to 400 soldiers standing about on the parade ground: "Well, do you want to see any more of these German Hitler swine killed?" When they answered: "Yes, shoot the lot!" he first struck one of the Germans about 15 times across the head with his crop, so that the blood ran from his mouth, nose and ears, then had him placed against the wall and shot him with his Browning. Swelling with pride, he shouted to his soldiers: "Do you still want to see more of the German Hitler pigs killed?" As they howled their answer: "Stand them all against the wall!" he chose at random two further Germans from the group and let a man standing next to him choose a third, and shot these three unfortunate individuals down with his Browning. He then called for three cheers for Marshal Rydz-Smigly and had the Polish National Anthem sung.

    Source: WR II

    Schwersenz 59. The eyes gouged out

    The witness, Adolf Düsterhöft, bricklayer of Schwersenz, near Posen, testified under oath to the following:

    ... On Sept. 4, 1939 the bodies were brought back to Schwersenz, and I was able to see the body of my son Arthur, born on Sept. 23, 1909 and also that of the labourer, Kelm. Both bodies had been mutilated in the same way:

    The facial bones were battered in, the eyes were gouged out and bullet wounds were visible in both bodies. Moreover, my son's stomach had been ripped open, so that the entrails were hanging out. I have heard that the bodies of other Germans had been mutilated in the same manner.

    Source: WR II

    Schwersenz 60. Jaws broken – castrated

    The witness, Hermann Matthies, waggoner of Schwersenz, testified on oath to the following:

    ... The names of the two dead are Düsterhöft and Kelm, both of Schwersenz. They had been horribly mutilated. Düsterhöft's jaw was broken as was also a rib. The heads and faces of both were swollen and covered with bruises. The scrotum of one of them was badly swollen, a state which must have been caused by a blow, possibly from a rifle butt.

    ... Altogether I transported twenty corpses to Schwersenz. All were terribly mutilated; nearly all had broken jaws, in nearly all cases the skulls were battered in and various bones broken. The bodies displayed wounds caused by stabs, the thumb of one of the bodies was torn off and eyes and tongue were bulging out of the heads. One of the bodies had been castrated.

    Source: WR II

    Hohensalza 61. Both legs hacked off

    "Many bodies were completely naked."

    The witness, Otto Milbrat, merchant in Hohensalza, No. 20 Market Place, testified on oath to the following:

    ... On Saturday, Sept. 9, 1939 or Sunday, Sept. 10, 1939 I came across eight unburied bodies lying among the stacks of straw near the skinnery [knacker's yard] in Hohensalza. One body was completely charred, for a nearby stack had been fired [set on fire]. The second body was partially charred; on the third the left leg was missing; both legs had been hacked off the fourth, one eye of the fifth had been gouged out, both eyes of the sixth had been gouged out and the tongue of the seventh had been cut out and the stomach slit open. On the eighth body, which furthermore was already in an advanced state of decomposition, I could distinguish only bullet wounds, which must have been caused by shots fired at point blank range.

    ... I found the body of the blacksmith Wagner in a cesspool, near the nurseries of the arboriculturalist Fuchs. It was mutilated in gruesome fashion by stabs on the head and body. On the corpse itself lay large quantities of human excrement, so that one must conclude that the perpetrators had evacuated on the body.

    Numerous bodies were stark naked, leading to the conclusion that these corpses also had been despoiled.

    Source: WR II

    Swierczewo 62. A mutilated son

    "... The fingers and toes of nearly all the bodies were missing."

    The witness, Bruno Siebert, labourer of Swierczewo near Posen, testified on oath to the following:

    ... I first saw my 16-year-old son Helmut again when he was lying in his coffin in Schwersenz. The sight was indescribable; there were 16 stabs in the body, obviously bayonet wounds. Almost the whole of the right side of the face was missing, as well as the left eye, and the nose was smashed. There was also a bullet wound in the middle of the forehead. I should not have been able to recognize my son in this condition if an injury to the right thumb nail, the yellow sports shirt, the pants and the colour of the socks had not enabled me to establish his identity beyond doubt. I should also like to mention that the places where my son had been struck were all covered with bruises.

    I collapsed in anguish.

    Besides the body of my son, I saw seven others which had been buried together with Helmut in Falkowo. They were all adult men, except for one other 16-year-old youth. The corpses were without exception horribly mutilated; the fingers and toes of nearly all were missing and almost all had the stomachs slit open, so that the entrails were bulging out. I remember that the eyes of one body had been torn out. The heads of all the corpses were shapeless and unnaturally large, for they were all badly battered.

    Source: WR II

    Neutecklenburg 63. Nine German Women murdered in Neutecklenburg

    The witness Karl Schmidt, blacksmith, of Neutecklenburg in the district of Wreschen, testified on oath to the following:

    On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1939, Polish troops retreating from the west passed through our village, Neutecklenburg. The last body [detachment] of these troops – they were infantry, but I cannot state the regimental number – dragged me and 14 other minority Germans out of our houses and led us off. The soldiers were clad in drill jackets, were wearing forage caps and carrying their rifles slung across their backs. Those arrested consisted of nine women and six men. Among them were my wife, Bertha Schmidt, nee Grawunder, my mother-in-law, Wilhelmine Grawunder, nee Becke, my brother-in-law, Paul Grawunder, and my sister-in-law Else Grawunder.

    On the march, whenever we did not make sufficiently fast progress, we were threatened with the butts of rifles. The Polish soldiers shouted at us: "You'll soon be tired of your Hitler!" At a distance of about one and a half miles from the village, we were lined up facing a ditch filled with water. When we had been relieved of our watches and money, we were shot at from behind at a range of between 20 to 30 yards. A bullet struck me in the right side. I did not lose consciousness, but I threw myself down, falling into the ditch. All those who did not immediately fall into the water, were then thrown into the ditch. Most of them screamed frightfully. They were then fired at again. My brother-in-law was thrown on top of me, but I managed to keep my head above water.

    The Poles then retreated. After about half an hour, I risked crawling out of the ditch. Everything was quiet and there was no sign of life, but two dogs which had been shot at the same time were [still] howling.

    Source: WR II

    Ostwehr 64. Mass murders in Ostwehr

    Polish officer orders: "Shoot them all!"

    Ostwehr, October 15, 1939.

    Court of Inquiry for
    Breaches of International Law
    with the Supreme Command of the Forces.

    Judge Advocate Hurtig,
    Military Inspector of Justice Pitsch.

    On being called upon, Willi Veltzke, schoolmaster in Ostwehr, appeared and, after appropriate explanation of the sacredness of the oath, declared on being interrogated [questioned]:

    ... Having arrived behind a granary, I noticed a Polish lieutenant among the troops escorting us. Against our will he ordered us to dig our graves, which however we could not do in any case, as we had no spades. We were then forced to line up, and the lieutenant asked each one of us, as he flashed a pocket lamp in our faces, if we were Germans. When he had gone along the whole row, he counted us. There were 21 of us. He thereupon gave the order to the soldiers: "Shoot them all!" We were standing lined up against the wall. The soldiers then fired at us from the side and from the front. As I became giddy [dizzy] just at that moment, I was stooping a little and leaning on my brother. When a few shots had been fired, I was struck in the thigh and fell to the ground. I could hear my brother, prostrate beside me, in his death agony. Some cried out for the coup de grace, others merely groaned aloud. When we were all lying there, the Polish officer approached us and shone his lamp into each one's face. Many received their finishing shot, and another bullet was also fired at me. This bullet however merely tore the toe of my shoe to shreds, without wounding my foot.

    Gradually quietness [silence] set in again and deep darkness obscured everything. The first corpses were already being removed, when I heard the officer shout: "Look them over!" Fearing that I might yet be murdered, I crept along the wall, looked round the corners of the building and saw that the street was full of soldiers. [111] Thereupon I crawled first to a poplar tree, pulled myself into an upright position and climbed over a fence. I got caught on the fence, but managed to free myself and fell on to a heap of drain pipes, at a spot which the Poles had used as a latrine. I was covered with human excrement, but found a shirt, which a soldier had obviously hung up to dry, and bound up my thigh with it. As soldiers were everywhere standing in close proximity to me, I crept further along the buildings, crossed the court and concealed myself in some nettles. From there I crawled into a ditch, where I was able to slake my thirst. When the air had cleared, I limped back across the fields in the direction of Ostwehr and arrived home about half an hour after midnight. In the meantime the Polish troops had retired. In constant fear of my life, I passed the night in a small room. However on Sept. 9, towards 9 a.m., German soldiers appeared in our village. A German military doctor bandaged my wounds and gave me an injection, and on Sept. 11, I was transported to the hospital in Hohensalza, where I lay for nine days. I am still confined to bed, for the wound is still suppurating. On Sept. 8, 1939, the following men were shot on the farm of Michalowo:

    • Herr Jordan and his two sons;
    • farmer Wagner
    • the [son of the farmer Hanse];
    • two brothers of farmer Schott, and also
    • his son, and his nephew Sperling;
    • farmer Getschmann and his son;
    • farmer Friedrich;
    • farmer Jakob and his son;
    • dairyman Gerlieb;
    • master-baker Veltzke;
    • farmer Veltzke and his son Walter;
    • farmer Ruther.

    In the village itself the following were shot on Sept. 7, 1939:

    • The farmer's sons Erich and Wilhelm Marquardt;
    • farmer Schott and
    • farmer Bohlemann.

    Only Bruno Hanse and I escaped from the butchery on the Michalowo farm. My father was 74 years old, and Schott's son only 13 years old.

    Dictated aloud, approved and signed
    sgd. Willi Veltzke

    Source: WR I

    1The two other corpses were identified as those of Max Otto, aged 48, and Erich Manthe, aged 21. They had been murdered by Polish police officials at another spot. ...back...

    2For further details see the record of the experiences of Wiesner p. 160 etc. ...back...

    The Polish Atrocities
    Against the German Minority in Poland.

    Edited and published by order of the Foreign Office
    and based upon documentary evidence.
    Compiled by Hans Schadewaldt.