61. Both legs hacked off

Many bodies were completely naked.


The witness, Otto M i l b r a t , 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 in Hohensalza. One body was completely charred, for a nearby stack had been fired. 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


62. A mutilated son

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


The witness, Bruno S i e b e r t , 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

63. Nine German Women murdered in Neutecklenburg

The witness Karl S c h m i d t , 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 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 howling.


Source: WR II

64. Mass murders in Ostwehr

Polish officer orders: "Shoot them all!"

Court of inquiry for breaches of international law with the Supreme Ostwehr, October 15, 1939.
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:


. . . 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 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 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.


[p. 110]


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 farmer's son 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.


(signed) Willi Veltzke


Source: WR I

65. 14 Minority Germans shot near Nieschawa

The witness, OIga K o s c i n s k e , nee Utke, labourer's wife, of Podole, testified under oath to the following:


On Thursday, Sept. 7, 1939, I was just about to leave my house and cross the road which connects Ciechocinek with Nieschawa, intending to go and help at farmer Tessmann's, where my husband was employed. I was accompanied by my nine year old daughter. Just at that moment I noticed Polish soldiers on the roadway, approaching on bicycles. As they came nearer, I was able to distinguish civilians, whom they were leading along. One of the soldiers had the number 63 on his shoulder strap.


Daniel Leischner, whom I knew, said as he passed quite close to me: "Give my love to father and mother," whereupon a Polish soldier shouted at me: "Do you know these bandits? You're one of these Hitlerites too, I expect!" I made no reply.


I happened to hear the soldiers discussing among themselves as to whether they had sufficient bullets: Thereupon I hurried as fast as possible back to my house, as I had a foreboding that the civilians were to be shot. Glancing sideways I managed to see the 14 men lined up against the dyke of the Vistula, and the soldiers commencing to fire at them. They first shot farmer Keller. I then heard the others cry out: "O God, Glory be to God in the highest, all honour and glory be His!" Soon afterwards, the other shots rang out, and I saw Karl Fleming raise himself up on all fours. A soldier went up to him and fired at him with his Browning. When he again dragged himself up, they beat him with the butts of rifles, until he was dead. Without burying the bodies, the soldiers rode on towards Nieschawa. I was standing about 40 paces from the spot where the murders took place. Among the 14 civilians were: Keller, Fleming, Leischner, Kessler, Dreyer and Rienast. I did not know the others.


Source: WR II

66. German lad transfixed by a bayonet and carried across the market square of Alexandrowo

The witness, Alexandra B e r t h o l d , nee Teschner, minister's wife, of Nieschawa, testified on oath to the following:


. . . On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1939, I saw from our windows a column of three to four hundred prisoners being driven along. They were all clean, decent Germans, both town and country people, well dressed, with dumb despair written on their faces, engaged couples holdings hands, and old men supported by the younger people. Some could hardly crawl further and were being borne along by their companions. About a tenth of the prisoners were women. They were allowed to sit down on the sand before our house. The majority immediately threw themselves down. The escort, consisting of from 15 to 20 police with fixed bayonets, were supplied with food, but the German prisoners were not.


. . . Our parishioners related to us how the lad Peplau, of Alexandrowo, who was soon to have been confirmed, was carried across the market square of Alexandrowo on a bayonet. He was by no means dead and he is said to have screamed so much that even the Polish population was outraged at the spectacle.


Karl and Lydia Schulz, brother and sister, of Zbrachlin in our parish, were first transfixed with bayonets by Polish soldiers aided by Polish civilians, and driven into their house, which was subsequently set on fire. Both perished in the flames. On Sept. 12, 1939, I accompanied my husband to Stousk, to inter 22 members of the German minority, who had been murdered. The bodies had been horribly mutilated. The legs of our parishioner Wiesner had been broken, the face of the butcher Keller had been slit open with a bayonet, the nose and ears of Daniel Leischner, a young man, had been severed. His face was completely cut to ribbons, and his father, Heinrich Leischner, had also been murdered. As I was told by the parishioner of Slonsk, the daughters of Daase, the schoolmaster, were forced at the order of the Polish military to disrobe and were then raped by the soldiers. In Slonsk, 48 people, men for the most part, were murdered. The stench of corpses pervaded the country round Slonsk. I also learned from the parishioners that the head of Frau Agathe Leischner had been severed from her body. This too, they say, was done by the Polish military.


Source: WR II

67. Head completely smashed--right eye put out

The murder of Posehadel


The witness, David P o s c h a d e l, a workman of Slonsk, made the following statement on oath:


On Thursday, September 7, 1939, I was going to Ciechocinek, while my son was taking the cow into the field. As I was returning from the town, I met my son being led away by a soldier. My son was 36 years of age. I dared not speak to him. My son also said nothing, only looked at me and cried. I found him on Sunday, September 10, 1939, lying buried in a ditch on my neighbour Glasmann's land. The head was completely smashed, in addition there were many bayonet wounds; amongst other injuries, the right eye had been put out. He had received one shot in the chest.


Source: WR II

68. The corpses in the manure ditch

The witness, Bruno H a n s e , a farmer of Ostwehr, made the following statement on oath:


On September 8, 1939, towards evening, I was taken, together with other Germans, to the Michalowo farm by Polish soldiers. After we had been lined up in two ranks with our faces to the wall behind a barn on the farm, a thin little lieutenant with black hair, 5ft 6in tall, ordered the escort to unbuckle their spades. They laid these down in front of the first rank. Then the lieutenant ordered the first rank to dig holes. We did not do this, although called upon to do so three tunes.


Then we had to line up in single rank with our faces to the wall. To my right was the eldest of the Jordans, Alfred by name, to my left my brother, to my brother's left Adolf Jordan; in the darkness I was no longer able to recognize the others. Hearing the lieutenant give the order to shoot us all, I tried to ascertain from what point the shooting would be done. Then, as we were getting into line, I noticed that a soldier on the right of Alfred Jordan, at a distance of about a yard, had put his rifle to his shoulder and was aiming along the line at the level of a man's head. Being an old soldier, I thought to myself at once that he wanted to bring down several with a single shot, and bent my head a little forward. At this instant the first shot rang out, and both Alfred Jordan and my brother collapsed without a sound. I threw myself to the ground in a similar fashion. I heard the soldier fire along the line at least four times more. I heard the groans and the death rattle of some of those who had been hit while others begged to be finished off, and I noticed the Polish lieutenant with a flash lamp in his hand going along the line of victims, flashing a light upon them; while one of the soldiers standing behind us fired on the screaming and groaning men to finish them off. The thought flashed through my mind that, when my turn came, I should either be shot dead or buried alive. Having to make a rapid decision, I jumped up and ran past the soldiers and round the farm buildings. I knew the layout of the place. After I had run about 20 yards, about three shots went off behind me. However, on account of the prevailing darkness, I was not hit. I wandered about and finally reached home towards 7 o'clock the following evening. When I got home, my mother told me that German troops had already passed through.


On Monday, September 11, 1939, at about 12.30 p.m., I went back to the Michalowo farm and there found the bodies of the murdered men lying in a manure ditch with a few shovelfuls of earth thrown over them. My brother had received a shot through the carotid artery; Alfred Jordan, who was on my right, had been shot at close range through the temple. Some of the victims also bad their heads smashed in with a rifle.


Source: WR I

69. Woman in an advanced state of pregnancy shot dead and thrown into a pig-sty

The murder of Helene Sonnenberg and Martha Bunkowski in Hudak


Extract from the records of the Reich Criminal Police Department-Special Commission in Bromberg

File reference: Tgb. V (RKPA) 1486/12. 39.


On September 7, 1939, in the village of Rudak, a few miles south-east of Thorn. Frau Helene Sonnenberg and Frau Martha Bunkowski, amongst many others, were murdered.


These two murders represent a climax of vileness and depravity since in the case of the 26-year-old Helene Sonnenberg, the wife of Albert Sonnenberg, the sexton of the Protestant parish of Rudak, it concerned a woman far advanced in pregnancy, who was also the mother of a little son three years of age. These acts in particular are clearly the result of the extraordinary persecution of the Protestant clergy, sextons, and the members of their families. In Rudak, on Sept. 1, 1939, in the course of this persecution, the sexton Albert Sonnenberg was fetched out of his house. at a time when his wife and little son were away, and dragged off with many others. Frau Sonnenberg heard of this before she returned to her little house next to the church, and decided to save herself and her child by not going back to the house at all; she had heard enough in the previous weeks to have no doubt that no good would come to her from the Poles, as the wife of a man in the honorary service of the Church.


This pregnant woman, with her little son, wandered about in the neighbourhood of Rudak, anxious about her husband and uneasy as to her own fate, from the 1st to September 6, 1939, after she had in vain begged many people for shelter, and had passed the nights in barns and in a brickworks. On Sept. 6, 1939, she met with Martha.


Bunkowski, an unmarried woman, who like herself was escaping from the furious Polish mob, and both the fugitive women then concealed themselves, together with the little boy Heinrich Sonnenberg, in a fortified place which the Polish troops had abandoned and in which other fugitives already had thought to find shelter. On the following day, Sept. 7, 1939, the pregnant woman asked Fraulein Bunkowski to fetch clothing from her house for the three-year-old boy. Fraulein Bunkowski readily complied, but came back shortly afterwards, led by Polish soldiers, and was then marched away together with Frau Sonnenberg and her child. Witnesses declare that after some time a soldier brought the boy back and said in Polish: "The two will never come back!"


On Sept. 8, 1939, some German people found the pregnant woman and her companion in the pig-sty of the sexton's house, which lay about 30 yards away from the church. She was lying with her face in a pool of blood; the body of Fraulein Bunkowski was lying with the upper part of the body across two wooden barrels. The sty was locked from the outside.


The investigations of the Criminal Police lead to the conclusion that the two women had received in all, five shots outside the buildings, so that the victims, already dead, had been dragged into the pig-sty as corpses, and there thrown down and locked in.


The Sonnenberg case cannot be better characterized than by quoting the concluding words of the report given by the medico-legal expert, Dr. Panning (1), in which he states:


"The fact that the remains of the foetus were not found in the body of the mother but between the upper thighs corresponds to the generally known process of so-called 'coffin-birth;' that is to say, an expulsion of the child's body from the uterus in cases of this kind brought about as the result of putrefaction . . . In any case the degree of pregnancy was so advanced that it could not escape even the most casual glance."

70. Led to execution, handcuffed in pairs

The 73 year-old witness, Albert B i s s i n g , sculptor and churchwarden, of 1, Grüne Gasse, Lissa, stated on oath as follows:


We were guarded by firemen and soldiers and bound in pairs:--I and Juretzky, Weigt and Gaumer, two baker's hands of Linke (Lissa), Schulz and Konke, and the apprentice, Schwarz and Jeschke, a teacher. We were accused of shooting; the witnesses against us were two Poles, of Lissa, one, Ulrych, of evil reputation, and the housekeeper Glumniak . . .


On Sept. 2, 1939, at 2 o'clock in the morning, we were again bound in pairs by firemen and were not allowed to sit down again. At 3 o'clock we were told to climb


(1) OKW Army Medical Inspection Service, file reference Br. 112.


[p. 115]

into a vehicle standing in front of the house; as we were tightly bound together, we could not do this and so were thrown up into it. It was a workman's cart on which there was only a board, not very wide. With my 73 years I suffered much pain from the severe jolting and the tight binding--my posterior was soon sore to the bone--I asked that the bonds might be loosened at least. They loosened. them only a little for me. A woman whom we asked for water, held some up to our mouths. In the same way my cap, at my request, was pulled down over my face. Thus we came to Kriewen. Up to that point we had remained unmolested. Only Juretzky was sworn at in the town by a Polish fellow-tradesman. From Kriewen onwards there were always cyclists riding ahead of us mobilizing the people of the villages through which we passed. The villagers struck at us with sticks and whips. I am also certain that I saw a scythe. We asked for the vehicle to be stopped so that we could retire for a moment; this was not allowed; finally, however, it stopped and we had to relieve ourselves sitting on the side of the vehicle.

We arrived in Schrimm on September 2, 1939, at about 9 o'clock in the morning. The people of the town met us with loud cries. My fellow prisoner, Hausler, a master locksmith, received such a blow in the eye from a metal object attached to a leather strap that the eye was left hanging out. Afterwards he asked for a moist rag to alleviate the pain a little; he was told that such a thing was unnecessary, he would be shot in any case. We were accommodated in the school attached to the Catholic church. In a yard nearby we had to jump down from the vehicle, bound as we were; I still do not know how we managed to do it. Here the nine of us were joined by two German farmers, Hermann Lange and Wilhelm John of Sentschin (Furstenwalde near Punitz), both about 50 years of age. One of them, in Kroben, had been thrown down on the ground and his back trampled on with boot-heels to such an extent that lie could no longer stand upright; the other, in Schrimm, had had all this teeth except two knocked out. The space we were in, was so confined that it was only possible for half our number, at the most, to sit down. Hausler lay down on a cupboard, to sleep. We were given nothing to eat, only a bucket of water was passed in to us. Towards 12 o'clock all eleven of us were taken to the Police Station of the town hall on the marketplace. A third of the space in a medium-sized room was penned off by iron bars all the way round. We could just stand in this space, and were obliged to do so. The civilian official on duty annoyed us continually. For example, he said that glycerine and a can for making bombs had been found at my place; also a jemmy and an axe to murder Poles with. Actually there was a small crowbar and an axe as required by the regulations, in my anti air-raid cellar. Furthermore, he said we need not think that a single inch of Polish land would go to Germany; in Lissa the dead Germans were lying about like flies.

After nine of those arrested had been sentenced to death for alleged possession of weapons, and Bissing, on account of his advanced age, had had "his sentence graciously commuted to 10 years imprisonment," they took leave of one another. Albert Bissing reports on this:

The other eight asked me to stand by their families and to- say good-bye to them. I proposed that we should all say the Lord's Prayer together, and we all repeated it aloud. The prior then reappeared, and we told him that an injustice was being done us He replied: "Well, we will say the Lord's Prayer," to which I answered: "We have already said it once but it will do us no harm if we pray a second time." We prayed aloud; after a while the prior fell out and we finished the prayer alone--Juretzky had been previously taken into the school church--and had there received Holy Communion. At the altar he had said: "I die innocent, I die for my German Fatherland."


The eight men had to get ready. They were taken away by the soldiers at 11.30 midday. They asked for a strong escort so that they would not be beaten or molested by the mob. They also begged for good marksmen. Gaumer said to me: "What do you think my old father will say when he sees me so soon?" Weigt said: "I won't let them blindfold me, or otherwise the Poles will think that I fear death." They were led away in twos, chained together with handcuffs, in the following order: Juretzky, Jeschke, Gaumer, Weigt, Hausler, Schulz, Lange, John. Konke and I wanted to go' with them as far as the door; this was not allowed, we were driven back and locked in. A sentry stood before our cell. I asked for some paper to write on; it was refused. Then I sat down at the table and prayed. Half an hour later I heard two volleys, one after the other. The corporal had assured us previously that the whole proceeding would not last more than a second. All eight of my comrades who were shot had shown an admirable calm for the remaining time they were with me, and they also went calmly to their place of execution . . .


Source: WR II

71. "Gate-money" for the viewing of corpses

A stamp-collection as evidence of espionage


The murder of the brothers Alfred and Kurt Barnicke in Posen


Extract from the records of the Reich Criminal Police Department - Special Commission in Posen - File reference Tgb. V (RKPA) 1486/5. 39


On September 4, 1939, in the immediate vicinity of their house, on a courtyard in the thickly populated working-class district of "Wallischei" in Posen, the 27 year old clerk, Alfred Barnicke and his 24 year-old brother, the fitter, Kurt Barnicke, were shot dead by Polish soldiers.


The two victims occupied, together with their 51 year old mother, a rented apartment in house No. 1 at Wallischei. They were regarded by the Polish population of their district as steady, hard-working people. Kurt Barnicke was well-known as a sportsman and boxer; the young Poles in the neighbourhood nicknamed him "Leo."


Already in the evening of the day previous to the murder, some adolescents of the civilian Air Raid Precaution Service (LOPP) had attempted to abduct Alfred Barnicke from his home. He was accused of having given flash-light signals. After they had been obliged to recognize that this accusation was devoid of foundation, he was beaten, in the presence of his mother, until the blood ran . . .

After that, Frau Barnicke had to get a bowl of water in order that the louts could cleanse themselves of the blood of the victim.

On the following day (4. 9. 1939), the militia made a fruitless search for weapons in the victim's home. The only thing they could object to, however, was a book: "Das Deutschtum in Polen" (The Germans and German Culture in Poland)-it had to be burnt. Shortly afterwards Polish soldiers forced their way into the apartment.

Frau Barnicke made the following statement in regard to the above:

"Towards 11 o'clock on Sept. 4, 1939, three Polish soldiers came and, as soon as they had entered the place, behaved like wild beasts, smashed open cupboards and drawers, and threw everything (Clothing, underclothes, food etc.,) on the floor, and even knocked out the bottom of a drawer.


When they came into the room and went up to my son Alfred, they said in Polish, when they discovered the stamp collection: "Now we have got the spy!" They proceeded to beat him with their rifle butts on the back and shoulders. When he tried to explain to them that a collection of stamps could certainly have nothing to do with espionage, they struck him in the face and spat on him; one could see all their finger marks on my son's face-my son was being beaten in this way in my presence, I intervened and begged the soldiers in Polish not to beat him so cruelly. Thereupon one of the soldiers drew his bayonet and pressed it against my chest, and another struck me on my left shin with the butt of his rifle. They smashed our wireless set with rifles with fixed bayonets. When they discovered my son's savings, amounting to somewhat over 1000 Zlotys, they swore in Polish: "The accursed Germans, the money they have got!" I saw one of the soldiers putting the money into his pockets . . ."

The stamp collection and an old steel helmet, a souvenir of the World War, sealed their fate. These objects, also a motor-cycle lamp and a mileage recorder, which the soldiers could not even recognize as such, were sufficient proof for members of the Polish army-both were led away as spies.

In the courtyard, accessible to all tenants of the flats at 4, Venetianer Gasse, they together with a convict who had been recaptured, were exhibited before the view of the crowd which had assembled. Men, women and children--some 17 families live herded together around the backyard of these worker's quarters--and the mob that had collected, maltreated and abused the two defenceless men.

For two hours they had to endure abuse and maltreatment. Finally, the officers who were present decided to have the shooting of the two brothers carried out on the spot. The convict, who had previously received food and clothing, was allowed to go free.


Although a few civilians, with better judgement, pointed out that women and children should certainly not be allowed to be witnesses of this execution, an officer gave the order for the two Germans to be put against the wall in the backyard.


Shortly afterwards both were shot down by four Polish N.C.O.'s. before the eyes of the crowd and those of the women and children living in the house. The two bodies were left lying in the yard, after the soldiers had appropriated the valuables.


Even though executions of this kind are not exactly customary, the following scenes however testify to a brutality of feeling which, to a person of cultivated mind and mentality, is quite inexplicable. The crowd which had assembled in the street, and on account of the congestion in the yard, had not been able to witness the spectacle of the execution, now demanded admission so as to see at least the corpses of the two Germans. No scruples were shown about profiting from the crowd's desire for sensation, and "gate-money" was demanded from all who wanted to enter the yard, the money being used later to buy cigarettes and spirits.


Statements relative to this made by the Polish eye-witness, Peter Borowski:


. . . After the shooting, the whole street was full and the people wanted to see what was going on. . : The soldiers were collecting money in a military cap from people who wanted to see the bodies . . . The soldier who was collecting the money was standing at the street-door. He gave me his cap with money in it to hold because the people were pushing; he wanted to press them back. However, I passed the cap on to Mme. Nowacka and told the people it was not a circus, and that they should not push so much. Then they swore and shouted at me and I had to get away . . .


Another witness, Mme. Stanislawa Wolff, states: 


I saw Mme. Nowacka and Mme. Gorzanek collecting the gate-money . . . I also noticed that, first of all, Peter Borowski was collecting the money. He was standing in the doorway and had a cap in his hand. He took money from anyone who wanted to go into the yard. I have also heard from these two women that Borowski had had sausages, spirits and cigarettes bought out of the money for the soldiers; I saw the two women going off to buy these things. They told me that they were now going to do some shopping . . .


It was possible to prove from the statements of witnesses that-the brothers Barnicke had been shot at about 1.30 p.m. It was not until shortly before 5 p.m. that the bodies, were removed on the instructions of the Militia, and were conveyed through the town on a platform lorry without covering of any kind. The relatives were not informed of the place of burial.


Stefan Piaskowski, a member of the Polish Militia, tried to make capital out of this fact in a blackmailing kind of way by promising the mother of the murdered men, who had an understandable interest in knowing the burial place of her sons, that he would name the place if she gave him money. Frau Barnicke in fact handed him a total of 30 Zlotys, without however ever obtaining this information from him. Only after weeks of investigation was it possible to recover the bodies of the brothers Barnicke from a mass grave.


Objective evidence and the result of the autopsies support the statements of the witnesses, which in themselves are identical. In the backyard of the house, 4, Venetianer Gasse, three bullet holes are clearly discernible in the rear Wall.


In addition to a fatal bullet wound, injuries to both eyes were found in the case of Kurt Barnicke, which according to medical opinion were probably due to stabs.


On the body of Alfred Barnicke were found two bullet wounds and the bridge of the nose was broken as well.


The proofs that the brothers Barnicke were shot by Polish military, are confirmed by a document of Polish, origin.


In the home of the former Chief of Militia of the 5th Commissariat, the journal of the local office was discovered hidden away and was confiscated. It contains the entry, stating that on the September 4, 1939, a certain Alfred Barnicke, and another person unknown, were shot dead by a Polish military patrol in the yard of No. 4, Venetianer Gasse (Venecjanska). A later addition states that the unknown person was, in fact, Kurt Barnicke.

72. Corpses of Germans to be seen for a penny

The witness, Maria H ä u s e r , nee Kaletta, wife of a motor-driver, of 5, Walischei. Posen, stated on oath as follows:


Two German prisoners were led to the courtyard of 4/5, Venetianer Straße, at the moment when I was in the street, and were put up against a wall there. As I conjectured they would be shot, I went away in order not to be an eye-witness. Just as I was going away I saw a Polish officer, coming from the Warthe, go into the yard, and shortly afterwards I heard three shots fired.


Then, later, I saw people being admitted into the courtyard on payment of 20 groszy (a penny) to look at the corpses of the two Germans. The money was accepted by the Polish military.


Source: WR II

73. Five corpses in a confused heap

The witness, Anna T r i t t e l, nee Wolter, of Rojewo, District of Hohensalza, stated on oath as follows:


. . . I had remained behind, and then ran away because acquaintances from Bromberg told me that I really ought to go. For some time after that, I wandered about with my foster-child, and finally went back again to Rojewo, which was now full of German soldiers, and then on Wednesday I again drove to the place where my husband


[p. 120]


and my children had been shot. The five bodies lay in a Polish trench, thrown together in a confused heap; the carcase of a cow was lying on the body of my son. My husband bad a bullet-wound in the chest, my daughter also. My son had two wounds, one in the right wrist and one in the right lower jaw. I was not able to find further wounds.


Source: WR II


74. Polish grammar-school boys as franctireurs


German people in Pless as victims of rebels in ambush


Investigation Department for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Pless, Sept. 12, 1939


Military High Command.




Scholz, Government Counsellor,


as Judiciary Official of Military Justice, appointed.

Franz, Government Chief inspector, as Record Officer.


The manager Nieratzik appeared and declared: 


My name is Hans Nieratzik, born at Miedzna, near Pless, on Dec. 10, 1898, at present, manager of the Schadlitz estate in Pless.


On Friday, Sept. 1, 1939, the first Polish soldiers retreated from Pless in the direction of Gora. The whole night we heard Polish artillery and cavalry passing by Pless on the motor road. We knew therefore that the Poles were beaten, and expected that the German troops would soon march in.


On Saturday, September 2, at 12 o'clock, the first German armoured cars went past to the right of the motor road, 550 yards south of Pless. Towards 2 p m. the first armoured reconnaissance cars crossed the southern boundary of Pless. They were followed by mechanized infantry. We were, happy and grateful that everything was going on so satisfactorily. We felt quite safe, and therefore called women and children from the cellars. About 300 vehicles drove past us. Every single one of them was greeted with immense exultation. Everybody laughed and cried together, the women quickly fetched flowers from anywhere they could find them, provided bread and butter, milk and fruit, and tried to shake every soldier's hand. We men fetched out our last cigarettes and gave them to the soldiers. The boys climbed on to the cars, and rode a short distance on them. Everybody was beside himself with joy. The last of the vehicles stopped just in front of us for a short halt, and we conversed for about five minutes with the soldiers.


Suddenly a shot was fired at us from the water-tower. This was evidently the signal agreed upon for a general attack. An exceedingly heavy fire was opened from the water tower, the court building, the former police building and the boarding-school garden with machine guns, sub-machine guns and rifles. The franctireurs fired on the German soldiers and on the fleeing women and children. Frightful confusion prevailed. Children cried for their mothers, wives for their husbands. In the midst of it all one heard the cries and groans of the wounded, and of people shouting for stretcher bearers. The German soldiers returned the fire for a long time, but then had to drive off in order not to lose contact with those ahead.


Some of the dead were still lying in the street on Sunday afternoon. Previously we had only been able to carry away those who were lying near cover, because anyone who showed himself was shot at. Even the stretcher-bearers were not spared, one of them was shot dead. In all, as I learnt subsequently, 20 civilians were killed and two severely wounded. The family of the master-locksmith Niemitz suffered particularly badly. The wife was mutilated beyond recognition, a grown up son and a daughter about 6 years of age were also killed. The husband was reported severely wounded.


The perpetrators of this atrocious massacre are to be sought only amongst the civilians of Pless and the neighbouring district. It is a case of Insurgents who had been armed by the Polish authorities in the middle of the summer and before the mobilization. The received instructions to remain behind when the Polish soldiers marched off and to fire on the German soldiers from ambush. Polish grammar-school boys who had been incited beyond control by their teachers were particularly conspicuous.


This written statement was read to the witness, approved by him and signed as follows:


(signed) Hans, Nieratzik


He took the following oath: I swear by Almighty God that I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.




(signed) S c h o l z                  (signed) F r a n z


Source: WR I

74.a Shot dead by Polish Insurgents

Investigation Department for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Pless, Sept. 12, 1939.

Military High Command.


Scholz, Government Counsellor, as Judiciary Official of Military Justice, appointed.

Franz, Government Chief Inspector, as Record Officer.

The official, Herr Zembol, appeared. He declared: My name is Paul Zembol, born in Pless on June 15, 1899, and I live at 21, Bahnhof Strasse, Pless.


On Saturday, September 2, 1939, at about 4 p. m., a German armoured car stopped before our house because of a chain defect. Three young men therefore went out of the cellar where we all were, and helped to repair the damage. This occurrence was said to have been observed by a young Polish miller who belonged to the insurgents, from the mill opposite. He is alleged to have informed Polish soldiers who were concealed in the Station Park. After the armoured car had been gone half an hour or an hour, we left the cellar, as my wife wanted to warm some milk for the child. We had been up hardly a few minutes, when two armoured cars and a motor-cycle came past. My wife ran to the window and called out: "Look, the German soldiers are already here." She wept for joy, seeing German soldiers for the first time. She waved to them and several times cried: "Heil!" I had a feeling that all was not yet over, and for that reason held back my wife, who really wanted to go out into the street. At that instant, just as she was giving the child something to drink, 50 Polish soldiers came from out of the Station Park under the command of a Polish officer. They rushed up to our house. My wife tore the child out of the cradle and we hid ourselves in the kitchen behind a dresser, as we had no time to run into the cellar.

The Polish soldiers threw hand-grenades into the two lower apartments, and into those of our neighbours. Then they smashed in the door of our place and started shooting about in the room. The child cried out in fright. "Here is another little Hitlerite yelling. Shoot!" The soldiers shot into our corner, but did not hit us.

Then they drove us into the street with the butts of their rifles, and the officer shouted: "I'll show you, calling 'Heil Hitler'." Other Polish soldiers were waiting downstairs. All of them struck and stabbed at us.

I received a stab in the trousers, the child's shirt was pierced. My wife cried: "At least spare the child!" The Poles, however, went on blindly shooting and striking at us. I caught a blow from a rifle butt, intended for the child, on my shoulder. My wife received a bayonet thrust, a shot in the heart, and several blows with rifle butts, which broke her ribs and legs in many places. She collapsed, and in falling, gave me the child. Soon afterwards she died. We had been married for 9 years. We had four children, three of whom are still living.

I was in the World War from 1917 to 1919. I saw many things there and underwent very much suffering. Never before have I seen faces so distorted with fury or bestial expression, as in this sudden attack on my defenceless family. They had certainly ceased to be human beings.

On the same day, my brother-in-law and my brother were shot by Polish insurgents. My brother-in-law died a few hours later. He left behind a wife, and a child nine months old. My brother is lying in hospital with severe injuries.

This written statement was read over to the witness, approved by him and signed as under:

(signed) Zembol Paul

He 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) S c h o l z                  (signed) F r a n z


Source: WR I


74.b 16 year-old Polish youths as murderous bandits

Investigation Department for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Pless, Sept. 12, 1939


Military High Command.




Scholz, Government Counsellor,


as Judiciary Official of Military Justice, appointed.


Franz, Government Chief Inspector, as Record Officer.


The former employee of the Volksbund, Hertel, appeared. He declared:


My name is Heinz Hertel, born at Claustal, District of Zellerfeld, on April 18, 1902. am now employed by the District Council in Pless. On Sept. 1 and 2, I guided the German troops through the district of Pless, and was in the Regimental Commander's car. On Sept. 2, at about 3 o'clock, we advanced across the southern boundary of the town of Pless, in the direction of the railway-station and the Pilsudski settlement.


In the former Furstenstrasse we were met with great jubilation by about 100 minority Germans who had assembled together in all haste, although the march through came as a surprise. They cried and laughed, shook the German soldiers' hands and pelted them with flowers which they had quickly fetched. Tears of joy came into my own eyes too, that Pless, too, had now been freed.


We had passed the station, when a sharp fusilade was suddenly opened upon us from the station building, from the gas; works and from private houses. At the same time a frightful series of reports went off all over the town. As I learned later, the first shot was fired from the court building. It was obviously the pre-arranged signal for the general attack. The franctireurs, who first let the German troops march through and then fired from ambush on the last of the vehicles and on the German civilian population, were in plain clothes. I saw some of them myself being brought out of a house from which a considerable amount of shooting had occurred.


It was generally known in the Pless district that the franctireurs had been equipped at the beginning of July with sub-machine-guns, light machine-guns and rifles by the Polish military authorities. The franctireurs were continually threatening the German population that one day they would all be shot.


Amongst others, many Polish grammar-school boys were conspicuous as franctireurs. They had received preliminary military training and had been particularly spurred on by their teachers who all came from Congress Poland. On July 30, many 16 year old youths also were armed with infantry rifles.


This written statement was read to the witness, approved by him and signed as under: 


(signed) Heinz Hertel


He 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) S c h o l z                  (signed) F r a n z


Source: WR I


75. Barrage by Insurgents

Investigation Department for Breaches of International Law, attached to the Pless, Sept. 12. 1939


Military High Command.




Scholz, Government Counsellor, as Judiciary Official of Military Justice, appointed.


Franz, Chief Government Inspector, as Record Officer.

The works manager Schwarzkopf appeared. He declared: My name is Emil Schwarzkopf. I was born at Kreuzburg (Upper Silesia) on Jan. 15, 1883, now residing at 7, Kopernikus Strasse, Pless.


On Saturday, between 2 and 3 p. m., we hard that the German troops were marching in. My wife and children wanted to look at this I tried to hold them back but their joy was too great. They would not be held back. They picked all, the flowers in the garden and ran off. I went after them. We took up a position at the water-tower. Every one was jubilant, cried "Heil" and showered flowers on the troops. The women gripped the soldiers' hands and tried to embrace them.


Probably over 100 cars had driven past, when suddenly shots were fired on soldiers and civilians. The soldiers shouted: "Lie down!" And a regular volley started. More than 1000 shots were fired.


I took cover in the ditch on the right side of the road. My wife and my son-in-law, Stephan Niemicz, were shot dead right neat to me. I received a shot in the arm and slight wounds in the throat, in the eye and in the back of the head. My daughter Lucie, my son Fritz and his wife were severely wounded. My son-in-law left behind a wife with two little children, one three years old, the other six months old.


Polish soldiers were no longer in the place at the time of the shooting, which was solely the work of insurgents, who some time previously had been armed by the Polish authorities.


In Pless, people are now generally saying that the insurgents were planning a massacre on a still larger scale. They are said to have had the intention of shooting all those who acknowledged themselves as Germans at the time of the passing of the German troops. They were prevented from carrying out this plan only because the shooting had started prematurely, while the German soldiers were still there.


This written statement was read over to the witness, approved by him and signed as under:


(signed) Emil Schwarzkopf


He 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) S c h o l z                  (signed) F r a n z


Source: WR I


[p. 125]