Wolfgang Kügler

Wolfgang Kügler was an SS-Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) and a Teilkommandoführer (detachment leader) for Einsatzkommando 2, a subdivision of Einsatzgruppe A.[1] Following World War II, he was tried and found guilty of war crimes before a court in West Germany. His sentence was reported to have been 8 months in prison and a fine. The most serious charge against him was that he had organized and been a commandter at the massacre of about 2,700 Jews, mostly women and children, on the beach at Liepāja, Latvia. Kügler claimed he was absent on leave in Germany when these murders occurred.

The Einsatzgruppen and the SD

The Nazi occupation regime planned to kill as many "undesirable" people as possible in the immediate wake of the invasion, Operation Barbarossa. "Undesirables" in the Baltic States included Communists, Gypsies,[2] the mentally ill, and especially Jews. The executions were to be carried out by four task forces, known as Einsatzgruppen (A, B, C, D); for the Baltic States the responsible unit was Einsatzgruppe A, initially under the command of Franz Walter Stahlecker.[3] A Nazi secret police organization known as the Sicherheitsdienst or SD furnished most of the personnel for the Einsatzgruppen. The SD first established its power in Latvia through Einsatzgruppe A, which was subdivided into units called Einsatzkommandos 1a, 1b, 2 and 3.[4] As the front line moved further east, Einsatzgruppe A moved out of Latvia, remaining in the country only a few weeks, after which its functions were taken over by the "resident" SD,[4]

Activities in Latvia

Kügler arrived in Liepāja, Latvia on 10 or 11 July 1941, to take over command of the resident SD. From then until April 1943 he was responsible for the massacres in Liepāja and the vicinity.[5] Consistent with SD practice, orders for killings were not issued in writing but were given only orally. Kügler travelled to Riga every two weeks to receive instructions.[6] Kügler personally supervised at least one mass shooting.[7]

The December massacre at Šķēde

In December 1941 the Liepāja SD, together with their Latvian collaborators, carried out the execution of approximately 2,700 Jews on the beach at Šķēde.[8] Photographs were taken of the December killings and these survive today. They are some of the most well known images of the Holocaust in Latvia.[9] Whether Kügler was actually present at the December massacre is a matter of dispute. At post-war trials, several German SD witnesses said Kügler was absent on leave, while all the Latvian witnesses said he was present.[10]

Career after Latvia

In April 1943 Kügler was replaced by SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Kurt Jurgschait. According to a post-war trial in Germany, the grounds for his removal were his theft of property that had once belonged to the Jews whom he had murdered. He was also suspected of being too friendly with the Latvians, including his mistress and interpreter, Mrs. Kronbergs.[10] Professor Ezergailis reports that Kügler was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment and a fine.[10]

Notes

  1. ^ Klee, Gold Old Days, at page 297
  2. ^ Lewy, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, at pages 122 to 126
  3. ^ Roseman, The Wannsee Conference, at pages 39 to 47
  4. ^ a b Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 245
  5. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 291.
  6. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 231, n.7
  7. ^ Klee, Gold Old Days, at page 127
  8. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 293 to 296
  9. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 57, n.48
  10. ^ a b c Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 307, nn.76 and 77

References

  • Ezergailis, Andrew, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941-1944 -- The Missing Center, Historical Institute of Latvia (in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) Riga 1996 ISBN 9984-9054-3-8
  • Klee, Ernst, Dressen, Willi, and Riess, Volker, eds. "The Good Old Days" -- The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders, MacMillan, New York 1991 (translation by Deborah Burnstone) ISBN 0-02-917425-2
  • Lewy, Guenter, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, Oxford University Press 2000 ISBN 0-19-512556-8
  • Roseman, Mark, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution -- A Reconsideration, Holt, New York, 2002 ISBN 0-8050-6810-4

External links

Albert Sauer

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Arajs Kommando

The Arajs Kommando (also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS commander and Nazi collaborator Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). It was a notorious killing unit during the Holocaust.

Eduard Strauch

Eduard Strauch (17 August 1906 – 15 September 1955) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer, commander of Einsatzkommando 2, commander of two Nazi organizations, the Security Police (German: Sicherheitspolizei), or Sipo, and the Security Service (German: Sicherheitsdienst, or SD), first in Belarus – then called White Russia or White Ruthenia – and later in Belgium. In October 1944, he was transferred to the military branch of the SS (Waffen-SS).

Erich Ehrlinger

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He was also the commander of the Security Police (SiPo) and the Security Service (SD) for central Russia as well as a department chief in the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA). He did not hold a doctorate degree, as is sometimes reported. He would eventually rise to the rank of SS-Standartenführer.

Franz Walter Stahlecker

Franz Walter Stahlecker (10 October 1900 – 23 March 1942) was commander of the SS security forces (Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD)) for the Reichskommissariat Ostland in 1941–42. Stahlecker commanded Einsatzgruppe A, the most murderous of the four Einsatzgruppen (death squads during the Holocaust) active in German-occupied Eastern Europe. He was killed in action by Soviet partisans and was replaced by Heinz Jost.

Friedrich Panzinger

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Fritz Dietrich (Nazi)

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Kaiserwald was built in March 1943, during the period that the German army occupied Latvia. The first inmates of the camp were several hundred convicts from Germany.

Following the liquidation of the Riga, Liepāja and Daugavpils (Dvinsk) ghettos in June 1943, the remainder of the Jews of Latvia, along with most of the survivors of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, were deported to Kaiserwald.

In early 1944, a number of smaller camps around Riga were brought under the jurisdiction of the Kaiserwald camp.

Following the occupation of Hungary by the Germans, Hungarian Jews were sent to Kaiserwald, as were a number of Jews from Łódź, in Poland. By March 1944, there were 11,878 inmates in the camp and its subsidiaries, 6,182 males and 5,696 females, of whom only 95 were gentiles.

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Karl Jäger

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Korherr Report

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The decrease of Soviet Russian Jews from the territories overrun in Operation Barbarossa was not included due to lack of statistical data. The summaries came from the RSHA office receiving all SS reports about the so-called "already evacuated" Jews. Their "special treatment" was removed from the document on the request of Himmler who intended to share it with Hitler, and replaced by Korherr with "processed".

Latvian Auxiliary Police

Latvian Auxiliary Police was a paramilitary force created from Latvian volunteers by the Nazi German authorities who occupied the country in June 1941. It was part of the Schutzmannschaft (Shuma), native police forces organized by the Germans in occupied territories and subordinated to the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei; Orpo). Some units of the Latvian auxiliary police were involved in the Holocaust. One of its units, the Arajs Kommando, was notorious for killing 26,000 civilians during the war, mostly Jews, but also Communists and Romas.In addition to regular stationary police (patrolmen in cities and towns), 30 Police Battalions were formed. These mobile groups carried out guard duties of strategic objects or building fortifications, participated in anti-partisan operations and fought on the Eastern Front.

Liepāja massacres

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Rollkommando Hamann

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Rudolf Batz

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Wolfgang Birkner

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After the German attack on the Soviet forces in eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa, Birkner and his Einsatzkommando were deployed in the newly-formed Bezirk Bialystok district in the Army Group Centre Rear Area due to reports of alleged Soviet guerrilla activity. Birkner arrived in Białystok from the General Government on 30 June 1941, sent in by the SS Police commander Eberhard Schöngarth on orders from the Reich Main Security Office. As veteran of Einsatzgruppe IV from the Polish Campaign of 1939, Birkner was a specialist in rear security operations.

Šķēde

Šķēde is a suburban settlement near Liepāja, Latvia, in Medze parish. It is located on the north border of the city. Šķēde was the biggest dacha cooperative in Latvia in the time of the Latvian SSR. One of Šķēde's notable features is its street names, which are known as "lines" and numbered from 1 to 18. Typical Šķēde addresses may thus appear as: Šķēde 1-15-2. Until 2005, the main Liepāja landfill was located near Šķēde.

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