Hidden legacy of the fugitives from war: Lithuanians set up to do Germans' 'dirty work'

PAUL HILBERG, professor emeritus of political science at Vermont University in the US, told the Gecas libel trial in Edinburgh that the Lithuanian police battalions were set up by the Germans after they invaded Lithuania in 1941, to carry out their 'dirty work' of murdering Jews, writes Stephen Ward.

'The German police and the German army did not wish to commit Napoleonic atrocities,' he said. 'It was, after all, a cultured nation. If harsh actions were necessary against defenceless men, women and children, the task was transferred, wherever possible, to indigenous help. The Lithuanians were used to spare the psychological burden which would otherwise have fallen on the Germans.'

He said that the Lithuanian troops were used to 'ferret out' any elements deemed dangerous by the Germans, including communists, Jews, gypsies and mental patients.

He had personally found German documents in archives in Minsk which detailed orders given to the Lithuanians. They were among 2,000 folders dealing with railways and their security.

Their role was 'primarily for terror and secondarily for fighting'. By 'terror' he meant 'one-sided killing operations'.

The 12th had two German divisions, and three Lithuanian. He said that from historical records he could say that the 12th battalion was available for these shooting operations.

It had been present at Minsk in early 1941. 'They would guard the victims during their last moments of life; bring in small batches to ditches; shoot them there and, if wounded, shoot the wounded and then cover the graves and report back.'

He gave an account of a two-day massacre at Slutsk, now in Belarus, when 7,000 Jews were killed. Contemporary documents show that the operation was carried out by the 11th German police battalion, assisted by two of the three Lithuanian companies attached to it. One German major had left the scene because he was so disturbed by what was happening. The Jews were taken from shops and factories to just outside the town, where they were shot next to pits. Some wounded people managed to crawl out of graves. He said that this offended the Germans' sense of orderliness and officers used pistols to kill anyone left alive in the pits.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Existing Customer Telephone Consultants

£13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Every day they get another 1000...

Recruitment Genius: Contract Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor