“Look into the camera meine Kinder”

Photo: Central State Archive of Film, Photo and Phonographic Documents / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

The children’s parents, family, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents the whole mishpocha upon mishpocha are taken to a ravine or pit. If there was no pit they, the Jews, had to dig one. After stripped of their clothing, naked, they line up side-by-side facing the pit where they are shot in the neck just below their skull or shot by machine gun; they collapse on top of the previously slain, body upon body, layer after layer until the pit was full to the brim and the Einsatzkommando ran out of Jews.

She is rushed to her death to stand naked before the pit she just help dig, stand naked before a sea of the naked dead swimming before her. She knows a German bullet is about to pierce her skull. Her words are lost among the barking dogs, the angry shouts, the gun blasts, the terrible cold, the chaos: “Oh God, please save my children. I love you husband, I love you father, mother, I love you, I love you, Oh God don’t take my children, let them live, mother, mother, sister, sister I love you, I love you, I love you, God save my children ….” Her words to God are lost among the 6 million lost souls who all pleaded to God during the holocaust.

The finishing touch: the Einsatzkommando bring the children to the incomprehensible, the abominable, the horror, the nightmare, the carnage and throw them onto the top of the pile. Tumbling in air or landing on the pile of bodies they are gun-down, the Germans showing off their shooting skill.  Some of the killers, laughing, toss candy to the children during their “target practice.” If the Einsatzkommando should decide to burn the stack of bodies before covering them with dirt they throw the children alive into the flames.

Mobile killing units, Einsatzkommandos are smaller units of the Einsatzgruppen, responsible for systematically killing Jews in small villages throughout the Ukraine. About 1.3 million Jews (nearly a quarter of all the Jews who died during the Holocaust) were killed, one by one, by the 3000 men who were organized into the four Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) that headed toward Russia in the summer of 1941 on the heels of the German military.

Evil? Sadist? Cruel? Twisted? Inhumane? Sub-human? What do we call them: What names do they go by: German? Einsatzgruppen? Einsatzkommando? Nazi?
 SS? Getaspo?    Did Hitler know German men had it in them to do such work? Or did he have to draw from a special breed, part of the criminal element, depraved to begin with, soulless.

It seems that Hitler had the best of the German citizens for recruitment, not the dregs but the cream of the crop, educated, bright. Einsatzgruppen officers were professional men. They included lawyers, a physician, and even a clergyman. Postwar trials brought some of them to justice. Arrested in April 1959, an officer said of himself: “I was always a person with a heightened sense of duty.” Yes nothing stood in the way of him killing children. What does this tell us? That Hitler and these professional educated Germans are of one mind, of one evil, cruel, atrocious, malignant predilection to bloodletting,  murder, genocide? It seems so.

The Ukraine people, witness to the mass killings, knew the Einsatzkommandos as Germans. For more on the Ukraine mass killings and Father Patrick Desbois a French priest who travel from village to village interviewing and documenting witnesses to the slaughter read my post: “Required Reading: subject: “Holocaust By bullets”

Required Reading: The Holocaust by Bullets

The quote taken from Father Patrick Desbois’s book
The Holocaust By Bullets
A priest’s journey to uncover the truth behind the murder of 1.5 million Jews

Patrick Desbois, a Roman Catholic priest from France, spent four years in the Ukraine hearing witnesses’ accounts of mass executions while searching for the hidden remains of the victims — 1.5 million Jews shot point-blank dead by the Nazis from 1941 to 1944.

Those witnesses he interviewed were children and teenagers during the time of the mass executions.  Their parents were forced to work as diggers of mass graves, cooks who fed Nazi soldiers, seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution; some including the children were forced to participate in the slaughter of the Jews.

Photo: Guillaume Ribot/Yahad-In Unum

They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. Patrick Desbois has been seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of the Ukraine. His goal: to identify and record the mass execution of Jews, Roma and other victims, so that “The Holocaust by Bullets” along with the extermination camps are an enduring, glaring record of the Holocaust, are forever a part of world consciousness and that the dead along with the very earth covering them are memorialized to acknowledge, visit, ponder and mourn.

Desbois with a small crew traveled from village to village where he usually found one senior, sometime two or three seniors a village each laden with a singular childhood experience of mass murder they finally, nearing the end of their life might purge by its telling.  They often took him to the site of carnage, the site for some being out their window, their backyard, laden not only with bones but spent German cartridges.

 A CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE

Petrivna, an elder women from the village of Ternivka, tells Desbois how she witness the Jewish children and handicapped torn from their families, children torn from their mothers, carting them off to be killed later after the Germans finished off the adults. The adults were place into a large pit — 20 by 20.  They were all naked. They had to lie down on the dead bodies from the previous shooting, then shot in the head or nape of the neck.

Petrivna tells how after each shooting she and 2 friends had to walk barefooted ­­­over the bodies to pack them down so to make room for the next group. She explains, “we were too poor for shoes, we had to walk barefooted.”

After finishing pressing they poured a layer of sand over the bodies. Many of the Jews were wounded and still moving. “You see its not easy walking on bodies,” she tells Desbois.  Petrivna saw a Jewish classmate who sat next to her in school in the pit, naked, shot in the head.  Petrivna had to step on her classmate’s body along with the others. She and her 2 friends were force to continuously press the victims flat non-stop without rest, food or water — from 10am to 4pm, 6 hours of carnage and immense suffering as the Germans continued to relieve each other for lunch. Note: she describes them as Germans, not Nazis.

At the end of the day, after all the adults were slain, the German soldiers threw the children and babies onto the top of the pile.  “They threw them in the air. They threw them any old way,” tells Petrivna.

◊◊◊

November 11th Remembrance Day & Post-ukraine Reflections
By Guest Blogger, Geneviève Blouin

◊◊◊

THOSE AMONG US

What subspecies of German citizen could enact those atrocities?  I can’t believe as Father Patrick Desbois suggest, that they were once humane citizens only to be corrupted by an aggressive inhumane ideology — once loving, caring fathers with children of their own, but corrupted so as to enjoy their role as butchers in human abattoirs. All they needed was encouragement, thank you Adolf Hitler, he gave them the final solution, that’s all they needed, no threats, no intimidation, they were raring to go from the get-go, moral equivalents to the worst our country harbors — bigoted, righteous, Ku Klux Klan look-a-likes easily convinced to kill in the glory of white or Nazi supremacy.  Rush Limbaugh ranting away over the air waves would look right at home in a Nazi uniform; there’s plenty more where he came from.

♦♦♦

The Holocaust by bullets – Shoah Memorial 
Hanna Antonivna Gonovaltchiouk Born in 1921
Interviewed at Berditchev, Zhytomir region on the 16th October, 2005
Eye-witness. Witness 251
© Guillaume Ribot

♦♦♦

Grave n. 17: the remainds of a child under 10 next
to those of an adult.  ©Guillaume Ribot

◊◊◊