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Krasnoje: The end of the "worker-Jews"
War of Annihilation - War Crimes of the Wehrmacht from 1941 to 1944
From Spring 1943 onwards, the Jews working for the Wehrmacht were shot in ever increasing numbers. Himmler pushed for a wrapping up of the "Final Solution", but the military leadership vacillated: while it did not want to loose its slave labor, it also did not object to the disappearance of irksome witnesses in time for the great retreat.
Nowhere did the Army resist the murders of the Security Service's killing squads, it usually cooperated with them.
The Wehrmacht maintained a major repair depot, a so-called Army Equipment Park, in Krasnoje, Northwest of Minsk. It employed 1,500 Jews which were housed in barracks on site. The Commandant had brought some of the work force from a neighboring Ghetto in the Summer of 1942. Those "unfit for work", i.e. the elderly, women and children had been shot by Wehrmacht soldiers, supported by a Security Service detachment.
By March 1943, the fate of the "worker-Jews" of Krasnoje was sealed. Instead of being herded off to work, the work gangs were marched to a separate barracks under the pretext of immunizations. The others still remaining in the Ghetto were herded together by soldiers of the equipment park. The Sonderkommando of the Security Service was already waiting for both groups of Jews, which were taken to a nearby barn, shot and then burnt.
Examination on 07.18.1967 of the witness Szmuel Palti, former Jewish inmate at Krasnoje. Criminal case at the district court of Bochum. "On the day in question, the Jews were being led to work as if nothing unusual was about to happen. I went to work in a column. The higher-ranking officers of the equipment park were already waiting at the gate for them. The higher officers never waited for us like that. They told us that because of an outbreak of typhoid in the area of the camp (the camp was situated right behind the equipment park), we needed injections. We were led there. Right behind us, the gate was closed and I saw immediately that the entire camp was being surrounded by armed Germans. We were ordered into the barracks and to told to strip down to our underwear. There were men and women together. We were kept there until the afternoon. Then trucks drove up and people were pulled in groups from the barracks. - I saw how my mother and my younger brother were dragged outside. The trucks slowly filled with people, which drove off towards the river Usza. There, the people were herded into a wooden building-the building stood on the banks of the river-and shot and then burnt."
Examination on 08.31.1967 of the defendant K., former company commander of the 1st Company of Security Battalion 28 "A dispatch rider arrived in the stand-by area to the South of Krasnoje with orders that I should advance to Krasnoje with my unit and to cordon off the Jewish Ghetto there. I moved out with my company and carried out the order ... I ordered my men to search the area for Jews. My men did indeed flush out some Jews ... While my unit was combing the Ghetto for Jewish men and women, trucks arrived with Jews that were then unloaded under guard. I was standing nearby, on a rise and watched as the Jews were being unloaded from the trucks ...
During this phase, the soldiers under my command had orders to keep the square surrounded, so that none of the Jews could escape ... After the operation was over, I gave the order to move out. I did not wait for the barn with the dead Jews to be to be set on fire. As far as I could see, the Jews were led into the barn, where two to four pistol marksmen waited and killed them with shots through the base of the skull."
Examination on 01.16.1969 of the former Acting Corporal F. "Battalion commander Haferkamp made a speech which basically said: 'We've pulled special duty today, the Jews are getting knocked off. We've got nothing to do with the shooting, the SS take care of that. We just have to seal off the Ghetto. Anyone trying to escape must be shot.'"
Examination on 09.19.1969 of the former Acting Corporal S. "At the start of the operation, some of the Wehrmacht units, i.e. the security battalions and the men of the army equipment park, were ordered into the area between the Ghetto exit and the barn, to watch the Jews on either side of the path in order to prevent any escapes. Escape attempts were made. I mean, some Jews did or might have made it to the riverbank to dive and swim away. Fleeing Jews were fired on."
Examination on 11. 11. 1964 of the former Commandant of Krasnoje, Col. Z. "In my view, the safety of the army equipment park would have been imperiled if I hadn't ordered it cordoned off. Otherwise a few Jews would certainly have escaped and gone over to the partisans. Those that were well informed about the equipment park could have given the partisans precise information about the park, about its lay-out, etc."