Interesting article about anti-partisan warfare

Discussion in 'Soviet' started by Gerard, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    This is from Shofar FTP Archives: imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3712-ps

    Here is the article:


    [This statement is substantially the same as the testimony
    given by Bach-Zelewski on direct examination before the
    International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, 7 January 1946.]

    1. I was born in 1899 in Lauenburg in Pomerania. In 1914 I
    joined the German army. I was twice wounded and received the
    Iron Cross Second and First Class. After 1918 I was taken on
    in the 100,000-man army. I had to give up active service in
    1924 when two of my sisters married Jews. I remained active
    as an battalion commander in the Frontier Defense and also
    went on exercises every year as an officer of the reserve.
    In this war I have held various commands at the front in
    addition to my activities as Chief of Anti-Partisan units
    and on the recommendation of my superiors in the Armed
    Forces I have received clasps to the Iron Cross Second and
    First Class, the German Cross in Gold and the Knight's Cross
    to the Iron Cross.

    1. I joined the Party after the elections of September 1930,
    which showed that sooner or later the NSDAP would enter the
    government. My ideological reason was my nationalist
    viewpoint; my personal motive was fear of once more -- as in
    1924 -- seeing
    [Page 426]

    my career and my living sacrificed because of Anti-Semitism.
    I hoped by joining the movement to avert the danger which
    was threatening my family and myself. The question of what I
    would do in the Party now arose. Pure politics did not
    appeal to me as a professional soldier. The SA leaders in my
    district were young men without military experience, to whom
    I did not wish to be subordinated. Moreover the SA refused
    to have anything to do with Frontier Defense. Since at this
    time the new semi-military body -- the SS -- was beginning
    to be set up, I joined it. Between then and 1934 I
    established Allgemeine SS and SS Frontier Defense units in
    the districts of Frankfurt/Oder and Schneidemuehl. From 1934
    to the beginning of the Russian campaign I was
    Oberabschnittsfuehter in East Prussian and Silesia. I was
    opposed to Himmler's exaggerated racial and Germanic ideas
    as early as 1934 when his pronouncements were becoming
    clearer and clearer. At the beginning of the Polish campaign
    and after Himmler's speech at the Wewelsburg I was filled
    with the profoundest misgivings because I saw that my
    national status would be questioned by reason of my half
    Slav descent and my Jewish relations.

    3. At the beginning of the war I had the rank of SS-
    Gruppenfuehrer and Generalleutnant of the Police. I took
    part in the opening phase of the Russian campaign as Higher
    SS and Police Leader in Central Russia, i.e. in the Rearward
    Zone of Army Group Centre. The commander of this Rear Zone
    under the Army Group commander was General von
    Schenkendorff. I was mainly concerned with Anti-Partisan
    warfare. In 1941 I was promoted to the rank of SS-
    Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Police.

    In 1943 I was appointed Chief of Anti-Partisan units, a post
    created for me and in which I was directly subordinated to
    Himmler. My functions involved close cooperation with the
    Wehrmacht and the use of Wehrmacht units, since SS and
    police units would not have sufficed by themselves. The
    conduct of an operation was always entrusted to that arm --
    whether Wehrmacht, Waffen SS, or Police -- which provided
    most of the troops. The Wehrmacht had charge of most of the
    operations since it usually provided the greater part of the
    force. Both participants, however, had the same experiences
    with the result that Schenkendorff and I always agreed in
    our reports to Himmler and QMG of the Army.

    4. The opening of Partisan warfare found the German soldier
    entirely unprepared. Quite apart from the material losses,
    tens of thousands of German soldiers were without question
    killed by partisans, not to mention the wounded. The troops
    took to reprisals. These reprisals differed in scope and
    severity according
    [Page 427]

    to the quality of the troops and the character of their
    commander. However, when whole peoples rise, as was the case
    in the east and southeast, leaders at the top who are
    conscious of their responsibilities cannot abandon the
    execution of reprisals to the caprice of individual
    commanders. This lack of direction in responsible quarters
    is a cowardly devolution of responsibility on to lower
    echelons. But if it is obvious to everyone that lack of
    direction leads to chaos of reprisals and nevertheless no
    clear orders are given, then the only possible conclusion is
    that this chaos is intended by the leaders at the top. There
    is no question but that reprisals both by Wehrmacht and by
    SS and Police units overshot the mark by a long way. This
    fact was repeatedly established at conferences with Generals
    held by Schenkendorf. Moreover the fight against Partisans
    was gradually used as an excuse to carry out other measures,
    such as the extermination of Jews and gypsies, the
    systematic reduction of the Slavic peoples by some
    30,000,000 souls (in order to ensure the supremacy of the
    German people), and the terrorization of civilians by
    shooting and looting. The Commanders-in-Chief with whom I
    came in contact and with whom I collaborated (for instance,
    Field Marshals von Weichs, von Kuechler, Bock and Kluge,
    Col. General Reinhardt and General Kitzinger) were as well
    aware as I of the purposes and methods of Anti-Partisan
    warfare. At a conference with the QMG of the Army at
    Headquarters I was able to establish, that he also was as
    well informed as I about Anti-Partisan warfare. Throughout
    the whole of 1943 I was flying from one C-in-C to another
    and organizing countless conferences and I constantly
    observed the close collaboration between Wehrmacht, SS,
    Police and SD units. Examples of this are as follows:

    (a) In the summer of 1943 the Higher SS and Police Leader in
    the Ukraine -- Obergruppenfuehrer Pruetzmann -- was given by
    Himmler the newly set up 1 SS Calvary Division for the
    fighting against the Partisans in the Pripet marshes north
    of Zhitomir. I flew to Rovno in order to get information on
    the spot about the Partisan situation and to find out how it
    was proposed to use the Cavalry Division. The conference
    took place in the Wehrmacht casino. Not only was the
    Wehrmacht commander present in person, but also the two
    other generals and his whole staff. The Wehrmacht commander,
    as well as Pruetzmann, held forth at length on the
    situation. I got the impression that both of them were
    working together most closely on all details. This was
    further evidences by the fact that the Wehrmacht commander
    kept a permanent liason with Pruetzmann's staff in the
    person of the Wehrmacht Major von Bredow.

    [Page 428]

    (b) The liaison between the chiefs of the SD Operations
    Groups and the Intelligence officers of the Army Groups was
    particularly close. In the case of Army Group Centre the HQ
    of the Chief of the Operations Group was always at the same
    place as the HQ of the Army Group.

    (c) In Autumn 1943 almost the entire area on the junction of
    Army Groups North and Centre was occupied by a boldly-led
    Partisan group. On my map of Partisan dispositions I
    labelled this area "Partisan Republic." Both the competent
    army commander in Vitebsk -- Col. General Reinhardt -- and I
    drew attention to this danger in memoranda. These memoranda
    were exchanged between the RFSS HQ Staff and the OKW. It was
    suggested that there should be one chief of Anti-Partisan
    units and the supposition was that I myself should lead the
    undertaking, for the Partisan area overlapped the areas of
    two commanders. That the OKH recognized the operational
    significance of this undertaking is shown by the fact that
    it appointed a liaison officer of its own to my Battle HQ.
    This officer was of the greatest service to me for he kept
    both Army Groups currently informed on the battles my units
    were engaged in and also organized at Army Group the
    bringing up of artillery and the whole question of
    ammunition supply. For both these every Anti-Partisan
    undertaking was always referred to Wehrmacht depots anyway
    because the Police had not supply organization of its own.
    Even the fuel required for the movement of the troops could
    only be supplied by the Wehrmacht.

    First I flew to Army Group Centre, where I and
    Gruppenfuehrer von Gottberg negotiated with the Chief of
    Staff, General Krebs, for the setting up of a Corps von
    Gottberg. Krebs assented to everything, the corps was set up
    and deployed without any sort of friction and Gottberg set
    up his Corps Battle HQ in Polock. Then I flew to Army Group
    North. First the Wehrmacht Commander (Cavalry General
    Bremer) Obergruppenfuehrer Jeckeln and I held a conference
    in Riga. Bremer stressed that his support went without
    saying as he was a bosom friend of Jeckeln. From Riga I
    drove with Jeckeln to Army Group at Pleskau. Here everything
    had been prepared for a conference. It was led by Field
    Marshal Kuechler in person. He had also invited the three or
    four army generals who were carrying on the fight against
    the Partisans in the North on behalf of the army. First
    there was a general discussion on the whole question of the
    Partisans and how to combat them. Kuechler himself made
    quite a long speech and indicated on a map which Partisan-
    held territories were to be pacified first. Then he turned
    to me and stressed

    [Page 429]

    how close and good cooperation with Jeckeln was and how he
    could only continue to express to him his gratitude and his
    recognition for the services he rendered. Then we discussed
    the large scale undertaking planned and Kuechler promised
    the fullest support. While the battle was in progress
    Kuechler came to visit Jackeln's Corps Battle HQ in a
    Fieseler-Storch aircraft.

    [Signed] von dem BACH 27.11.45
    Whats interesting is that he names a number of Wehrmacht Generals who knew what was going on and yet dont seem to have been prosecuted. He mentions the 1st SS Cavalry Division which of course doesnt exist but he might be referring to 8th SS Florian Geyer as it was the 1st SS Cavalry Division formed.

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