Paul Blobel

Last updated
Paul Blobel
Paul Blobel.jpg
Blobel in custody, 1948
Born(1894-08-13)13 August 1894
Died7 June 1951(1951-06-07) (aged 56)
Known for
Criminal statusGuilty
Criminal charge Crimes against humanity
Trial Einsatzgruppen Trial
Penalty Death
SS career
AllegianceFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg SS
Rank Standartenführer
Commands held

Paul Blobel (13 August 1894 – 7 June 1951) was a German Sicherheitsdienst commander and convicted war criminal who played a leading role in the Holocaust. He organised and executed the Babi Yar massacre, the largest massacre of the Second World War at Babi Yar ravine in June 1941 and following re-assignment developed the gas chambers for the extermination camps in Poland. From late 1942 onwards he led Operation 1005 where millions of bodies were exhumed at the massacre=sites and extermination camps across Eastern Europe in an effort to erase all evidence of the Holocaust. He was later convicted at the Einsatzgruppen Trial and executed.

Contents

Early life

Born in the city of Potsdam, Blobel fought in the First World War as an engineer, in which by all accounts he served well, being decorated with the Iron Cross first class. After the war, Blobel studied architecture and practiced this profession from 1924 until 1931, when upon losing his job he joined the Nazi Party, the SA, and the SS (he had joined all of these by 1 December 1931). [1]

Early war-time ID issued to Paul Blobel by the "Volkswohlfahrt", Nazi Germany's welfare organization. Early war-time ID issued to Paul Blobel by the "Volkswohlfahrt", Nazi Germany's welfare organization.jpg
Early war-time ID issued to Paul Blobel by the "Volkswohlfahrt", Nazi Germany's welfare organization.

SS career

Blobel in SS uniform Paul Blobel (SS~1940).jpg
Blobel in SS uniform

In 1933 Blobel joined the police force in Düsseldorf. In June 1934 he was recruited into the SD Security Service. During World War II, following Operation Barbarossa, in June 1941 Blobel became the commanding officer of Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C, active in Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Both, Einsatzgruppen and the Order Police battalions were responsible for massacres of Jews behind the Wehrmacht lines in the Soviet Union. The murder campaign included all political and racial undesirables. In August 1941 Blobel was put in charge of creating a Nazi ghetto in Zhytomyr to enclose around 3,000 Jews who were murdered a month later. [2]

On 10 or 11 August 1941, Friedrich Jeckeln ordered him, on behalf of Adolf Hitler, to exterminate the entire Jewish population. [3] On 22 August 1941, the Sonderkommando murdered Jewish women and children at Bila Tserkva with the consent of Field Marshal Walther von Reichenau, commander of the 6th Army. SS-Obersturmführer August Häfner testified at his own 1942 trial: [4]

The Wehrmacht had already dug a grave. The children were brought along in a tractor. The Ukrainians were standing around trembling. The children were taken down from the tractor. They were lined up along the top of the grave and shot so that they fell into it. The Ukrainians did not aim at any particular part of the body. ... The wailing was indescribable. [4] :217

Blobel, in conjunction with Reichenau's and Friedrich Jeckeln's units, organised the Babi Yar massacre in late September 1941 in Kyiv, [5] where 33,771 Jews were murdered. [6] In November 1941, Blobel received and activated the first gas vans at Poltava. [4] :234

Blobel was relieved of his command on 13 January 1942, officially for health reasons, but mostly due to his alcoholism. According to Dieter Wisliceny he developed the concept of the gas chambers for the extermination camps. In June 1942 he was put in charge of Aktion 1005, with the task of destroying the evidence of all Nazi atrocities in Eastern Europe beginning at Chelmno and continuing on to Sobibor Extermination Camp, Auschwitz, the camps in the Independent State of Croatia, the [[Baltic States, and eventually back to the site of the Babi Yar Massacre in the Ukraine. This entailed exhumation of mass graves, then incinerating the bodies. Blobel developed efficient disposal techniques such as alternating layers of bodies with firewood on a frame of iron rails. [4]

In October 1944 he headed an anti-partisan group in Yugoslavia. Gitta Sereny related the conversation about Blobel she once had with one-time Chief of the Church Information Branch at the Reich Security Head Office, Albert Hartl.

Hartl had told me of a summer evening—that same hot summer in 1942—in Kyiv when he was invited to dine with the local Higher SS Police Chief and Brigadeführer, Max Thomas. A fellow guest, SS Colonel Paul Blobel, had driven him to the general's weekend dacha. "At one moment—it was just getting dark," said Hartl, "we were driving past a long ravine. I noticed strange movements of the earth. Clumps of earth rose into the air as if by their own propulsion—and there was smoke; it was like a low-toned volcano; as if there was burning lava just beneath the earth. Blobel laughed, made a gesture with his arm pointing back along the road and ahead, all along the ravine—the ravine of Babi Yar—and said, 'Here lie my thirty-thousand Jews.'" [7]

Trial and conviction

Blobel is sentenced to death at the Einsatzgruppen trial, 10 April, 1948. PaulBlobel1948.jpg
Blobel is sentenced to death at the Einsatzgruppen trial, 10 April, 1948.

Up to 59,018 killings are attributable to Blobel, though during testimony he was alleged to have killed 10,000–15,000 people. He was later sentenced to death by the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal in the Einsatzgruppen trial. He was hanged at Landsberg Prison shortly after midnight on June 7, 1951. [8]

In the media

Related Research Articles

Final Solution Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jews

The Final Solution or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution to the Jewish question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geopolitical terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.

Extermination camp Nazi death camps established during World War II to primarily murder Jews

Nazi Germany used six extermination camps, also called death camps (Todeslager), or killing centers (Tötungszentren), in Central Europe during World War II to systematically murder over 2.7 million people—mostly Jews—in the Holocaust. The victims of death camps were primarily killed by gassing, either in permanent installations constructed for this specific purpose, or by means of gas vans. The six extermination camps were Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz and Majdanek death camps also used extreme work under starvation conditions in order to kill their prisoners.

Babi Yar Ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv

Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and a site of massacres carried out by Nazi Germany's forces during its campaign against the Soviet Union in World War II. The first and best documented of the massacres took place on 29–30 September 1941, killing approximately 33,771 Jews. The decision to kill all the Jews in Kyiv was made by the military governor Generalmajor Kurt Eberhard, the Police Commander for Army Group South, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. Sonderkommando 4a troops, along with the aid of the SD and SS Police Battalions with the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police backed by the Wehrmacht, carried out the orders.

<i>Einsatzgruppen</i> Nazi paramilitary death squads, part of the SS

Einsatzgruppen were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II (1939–1945) in German-occupied Europe. The Einsatzgruppen had an integral role in the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" in territories conquered by Nazi Germany, and were involved in the murder of much of the intelligentsia and cultural elite of Poland, including members of the Catholic priesthood. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political commissars, Jews, and Romani people, as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.

Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth was a German SS officer and Holocaust perpetrator who was one of the leading architects of the program to exterminate the Jewish people of Poland, known as Operation Reinhard. His nicknames included Christian the Cruel and The Wild Christian.

Friedrich Jeckeln German Nazi, Higher SS and Police Leader, SS-Obergruppenführer

Friedrich Jeckeln was a German SS commander during the Nazi era. He served as a Higher SS and Police Leader in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II. Jeckeln was the commander of one of the largest collection of Einsatzgruppen death squads and was personally responsible for ordering and organizing the deaths of over 100,000 Jews, Romani, and others designated by the Nazis as "undesirables". After the end of World War II in Europe, Jeckeln was convicted of war crimes by a Soviet military tribunal in Riga and executed in 1946.

<i>Sonderaktion 1005</i> 1942 Nazi German project

Sonderaktion 1005, also called Aktion 1005, or Enterdungsaktion, began in May 1942 during World War II to hide any evidence that people had been murdered by Nazi Germany in German-occupied Poland and Soviet Union. The project, which was conducted in secrecy from 1942 to 1944, focused on concealing evidence of mass murder at the Operation Reinhard killing centres, as well as at other sites. Groups of Sonderkommando prisoners, officially called Leichenkommandos, were used to exhume mass graves and burn the bodies; inmates were often put in chains to prevent them from escaping.

Otto Rasch

Emil Otto Rasch was a high-ranking German Nazi official and Holocaust perpetrator, who commanded Einsatzgruppe C in northern and central Ukraine until October 1941. After World War II, Rasch was indicted for war crimes at the Einsatzgruppen trial, but the case was discontinued for medical reasons in 1948. He died in 1948 while in custody.

Collaboration in German-occupied Ukraine

Collaboration with Nazi Germany in German-occupied Ukraine took place during the occupation of what is now Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II. The new territorial divisions included District of Galicia and Reichskommissariat Ukraine, which covered both the south-eastern territories of the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, across the former borders.

Kamianets-Podilskyi massacre

The Kamianets-Podilskyi massacre was a World War II mass shooting of Jews carried out in the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa, by the German Police Battalion 320 along with Friedrich Jeckeln's Einsatzgruppen, the Hungarian soldiers, and the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police. The killings were conducted on August 27 and August 28, 1941, in the Soviet city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, occupied by German troops in the previous month on July 11, 1941. According to the Nazi German reports a total of 23,600 Jews were murdered, including 16,000 who had earlier been expelled from Hungary.

Janowska concentration camp

Janowska concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp combining elements of labor, transit, and extermination camps. It was established in September 1941 on the outskirts of Lwów in Eastern Poland / Western Ukraine. The camp was named after the nearby street Janowska in Lwów of the interwar Second Polish Republic.

Rumbula massacre 1941 massacre in Riga, Latvia

The Rumbula massacre is a collective term for incidents on November 30 and December 8, 1941, in which about 25,000 Jews were killed in or on the way to Rumbula forest near Riga, Latvia, during the Holocaust. Except for the Babi Yar massacre in Ukraine, this was the biggest two-day Holocaust atrocity until the operation of the death camps. About 24,000 of the victims were Latvian Jews from the Riga Ghetto and approximately 1,000 were German Jews transported to the forest by train. The Rumbula massacre was carried out by the Nazi Einsatzgruppe A with the help of local collaborators of the Arajs Kommando, with support from other such Latvian auxiliaries. In charge of the operation was Höherer SS und Polizeiführer Friedrich Jeckeln, who had previously overseen similar massacres in Ukraine. Rudolf Lange, who later participated in the Wannsee Conference, also took part in organizing the massacre. Some of the accusations against Latvian Herberts Cukurs are related to the clearing of the Riga Ghetto by the Arajs Kommando. The Rumbula killings, together with many others, formed the basis of the post-World War II Einsatzgruppen trial where a number of Einsatzgruppen commanders were found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Syrets concentration camp

Syrets was a Nazi concentration camp established in 1942 in Kyiv's western neighborhood of Syrets, part of Kyiv since 1799. The toponym was derived from a local small river. Some 327 inmates of the KZ Syrets were forced to remove all traces of mass murder at Babi Yar.

The Holocaust in Ukraine Aspect of Nazi Germanys extermination campaign

The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, the General Government, Crimean General Government and some areas under military control to the East of Reichskommissariat Ukraine and as well in the Transnistria Governorate and Northern Bukovina and Carpathian Ruthenia in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944, more than a million Jews living in the Soviet Union were murdered by Nazi Germany's "Final Solution" extermination policies. Most of them were killed in Ukraine because most pre-WWII Soviet Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement, of which Ukraine was the biggest part.

Babi Yar memorials

Babi Yar, a ravine near Kyiv, was the scene of possibly the largest shooting massacre during the Holocaust. After the war, commemoration efforts encountered serious difficulty because of the policy of the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a number of memorials have been erected. The events also formed a part of literature.

Poems about Babi Yar commemorate the massacres committed by the Nazi Einsatzgruppe during World War II at Babi Yar, in a ravine located within the present-day Ukrainian capital of Kiev. In just one of these atrocities – taking place over September 29–30, 1941 – 33,771 Jewish men, women and children were killed in a single Einsatzgruppe operation.

Hermann Franz was a high-ranking commander in the SS and police of Nazi Germany. He was the commander of the Police Regiment South, which perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust in the Army Group South Rear Area. In 1942 he became commander of the 18th Mountain Police Regiment. Subsequently, Franz served as commander of the Ordnungspolizei in Greece and then became Higher SS and Police Leader Greece in late 1944.

The Police Regiment South was a formation of the German Order Police, the German national uniformed police force, during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the Schutzstaffel (SS) and deployed in German-occupied territories, specifically the Army Group South Rear Area. In July 1942, its three constituent battalions were redesignated as the 10th Police Regiment.

The Police Battalion 303 was a formation of the German Order Police during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment South. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen of the SD and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade of the Waffen-SS, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

The Police Battalion 45 was a formation of the German Order Police during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment South. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen of the SD and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade of the Waffen-SS, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

References

  1. Zentner, Christian Ed; Bedürftig, Friedemann Ed (1991). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan. p. 1150. ISBN   0-02-897502-2.
  2. Ogorreck, Ralf (2010). Les Einsatzgruppen, Tallandier, p. 150, ISBN   978-2-286-03062-9
  3. Ogorreck, Ralf, op. cit. p. 203.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Friedländer, Saul (2007). The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945 . HarperCollins. ISBN   978-0-06-019043-9.
  5. Christopher Browning: The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 March 1942 (With contributions by Jürgen Matthäus), Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. pp. 291–292 ISBN   0-803-25979-4 OCLC   52838928
  6. 1941: Mass Murder The Holocaust Chronicle. p. 270
  7. Sereny, Gitta (1974). Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder (2005 paperback ed.). London: Pimlico. p.  97. ISBN   978-0-7126-7447-8. Sereny also mentions the story in her 1995 biography of Albert Speer: Sereny, Gitta (1996). Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth (1996 paperback ed.). London: Picador. p.  272. ISBN   978-0-330-34697-9.
  8. "Five death sentences were confirmed: the sentence against Oswald Pohl, as well as those passed against the leaders of the Mobile Killing Units, Paul Blobel, Werner Braune, Erich Neumann and Otto Ohrlendorf. ... In the early morning hours of 7 June, the [] Nazi criminals were hanged in the Landesburg prison courtyard." Norbert Frei, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration. Columbia University Press, 2002. p. 165 and p. 173