Old postcard White Church with Choral synagogue. © /
The history of the atrocities committed by the Nazi invaders on the territory of the Soviet Union, so great that on many episodes seven and a half decades later, remembers only the experts.
If the tragedy of Babi Yar and Katyn known to almost all, about the crime committed by the Nazis in August 1941 in the town of White Church, is written much smaller.
“It was a conveyor belt”. As Babi Yar became the “boundary of death”
Ancient people in the ancient city
Founded by Yaroslav the Wise to the city, which was originally called St. George, nearly a thousand years. According to popular legend, the site was destroyed during the Mongol invasion, St. George built a small Church of rough-hewn white birch. Subsequently, the White Church rising from the ashes of the city.
In the early nineteenth century, the city, have seen a lot in his lifetime, gave shelter to the Jewish community, became eligible for resettlement and construction. The Jews brought to the White Church big trade and craft.
By the beginning of XX century in the White Church about 19 thousand Jews, which represented more than half of the population of the city. But revolution and Civil war led to the reduction of this number.
However, before the beginning of the great Patriotic war in the White Church lived about 9,500 of the Jews. Part of the men were called to the front of the women and children had to evacuate. However, by mid-July 1941, in the White Church there were about 4,500 Jews.
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“Many of the Jews were shot, and others ran away”
The city was occupied by German troops on 16 July 1941. As in other early in the war, the full horror of the incident is understood not all. “The Germans were a cultural nation, they are children and the elderly are not at war,” said Belotserkovsky inhabitants.
Meanwhile, the Germans, entrenched in the occupied territories, proceeded to “sweep” unwanted elements, primarily Communists and Jews.
The White Jews of the Church were thrown into prison, where they lingered for a long time — they were shot. From the report of the commandant of the White Church on 11 September 1941: “Many of the Jews, the White Church shot, the rest fled. Jews in the city is almost gone. Subordinate headquarters instructed that if they still have a significant number of Jews, then they should organize the ghetto and to use the Jews for work in accordance with existing regulations”.
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“A scream and a cry broke the calm of the night soldier”
Shoot adults have robbed children, the decision about the fate of which was not immediately accepted. By 20 August 1941 in one of the buildings in the city had accumulated about 90 young children who are orphans, from babies to six-year-olds. The only “care” manifested to them, was that accidents were guarding around the clock to Jewish children escaped.
Explosion at the festival. The Nazis dropped a bomb on the playing children
The frightened kids who were tormented by hunger and thirst, constantly crying and screaming. Children’s screams became concerned about the German military stationed near the scene of the concluding little slaves.
The priests-chaplains of the 295th infantry division of the Wehrmacht went to see what was happening.
Here’s what he wrote in his report to the command of a Protestant pastor 295th infantry division, Kornman: “Yesterday, August 20, about 15 hours, to me and to the military chaplain came two priests from the nearest branch of the field infirmary, and reported that nearby, about 500 meters away, on the top floor of one of the houses discovered, 80-90 children — infants and preschool age, screaming and crying that could be heard from a distance; because they are already there the whole day, were violated the night’s rest of the soldiers stationed in the neighboring houses. From these soldiers and learned priests on children. I went with them and the chaplain to this house and saw that there were two small rooms, lie and sit the children — some of them in their own filth — and, most importantly, there was not a drop of drinking water, so they suffered greatly from thirst. On the post were Ukrainian police, from whom we learned that Jewish children whose parents were shot. Near the post there were a group of German soldiers at the other corner of the house — another group, and the two excitedly discussed what they saw and heard.”
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The priests, of course, knew about the treatment of Jews in the Third Reich, but I believe that children deserve clemency. They managed to get the local command delay a decision on the fate of the children, after which they appealed to the command of the army.
White Church was taken by the 6th army of the Wehrmacht. The army that took Paris to finish his story in Stalingrad winter of 1943. And in the summer of 1941 she was commanded by Walther von Reichenau, belonging to the part of the German officer corps, strongly supported the ideas of Nazism.
Reichenau, after receiving a report of the priests, was furious. He resented the fact that in the destruction of the Jews made manifest fluctuation. He expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that chaplains in General have given publicity to this story, and the interpretation of events given by the priests, he described as “wrong, ending and extremely sassy.”
Reichenau was sent to the White Church of the chief of the Sonderkommando 4A of Einsatzgruppen “C” SS standartenfuehrer Paul Blobelin charge of the punitive actions.
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“Put them on the edge of the ditch and started shooting”
Blobel, who a month later would command the destruction of the Jews in Babi Yar, upon arrival, ordered the children immediately shot.
It all happened on 21 August 1941. Here’s what he said about this day the SS obersturmführer August Hefner: “Blobel ordered me to execute these children. I asked him: who is going to shoot? He said the soldiers of the Waffen-SS. I told him: they are young, how do we explain to them that you need to shoot little children? And I suggested that the children were shot by Ukrainian police subordinated to the feldkommandantur. None of them refused… I went into the woods… the Soldiers have managed to dig a moat… Bring children… the Ukrainians were standing around trembling. Children are unloaded… They were put at the edge of the ditch and began to fire… Up the indescribable cry. This picture I will never forget in my life. It’s hard for me to talk about it. I especially remember one little blond girl who clung to my hand. He shot her, too… some kids had to shoot four or five times to kill them.”
The Reichenau order was fulfilled: no one else was disturbed by the true Aryans of the Wehrmacht, crying and screaming.
“Famine, fires and the dead”. Memories of children about Stalingrad November 1942
The fate of the executioners
When after heavy fighting on 4 January 1944, troops of the 1st Ukrainian front White Church was released in the ditches near the city were found the bodies of about 4,500 Jews executed. Were killed, almost all who remained in the city at the time of the occupation.
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Walter von Reichenau did not long survive the children who signed the death warrant. 14 Jan 1942 at Reichenau had bleeding in the brain, and on January 17 he died in the air during a flight from Poltava to Leipzig for treatment; the plane with his body while landing in Lviv suffered a plane crash, crashing into a hangar. While the commander of the severed head, which had to sew in place for a state funeral.
Paul Blobel at the end of the war fell into the hands of the Western allies. In 1948 he was sentenced to death by an American military court on process on the case of the Einsatzgruppen at Nuremberg and hanged on June 7, 1951.
August Hefner, as well as his patron Blobel participated in the massacres at Babi Yar, appeared in court in Germany only in the late 1960s, got 9 years in prison, was released, and died quietly in 1999.
In June 2017, the leaders of the Jewish community of the Ukrainian city of Belaya Tserkov turned through an international organization Rememberus.org with a request to influence the city government that prevent the installation of the sign in memory of the Jewish children murdered here by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators.
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