Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
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[ OSR's #8 - #195 ]
Bruno Streckenbach was born on the 7 February 1902 in Hamburg, the son of a customs official. He joined the Hamburg Police in 1933 and when the Nazis came to power, he was head of the Gestapo in Hamburg.
He then served in Poland as head of Einsatzgruppe 1 which was located in the Neutitschen, Bielsko and Rzeszow areas. After November 1939 personnel from this Einsatzgruppe were assigned to the SS and SD units in Krakow.
In Krakow Streckenbach was one of the leading architects of the mass arrests of the professors in Krakow University and Polish intelligentsia during May 1940, the infamous ‘Aktion AB,’ which in German stood for Ausserordentliche Befriedungsaktion, which resulted in the death of 3,500 intellectuals, for which he was promoted in January 1941.
The Reich’s Military Planning committee planned the A-B Aktion during February and March 1940, and Hans Frank ordered the aktion to commence on the 16 May 1940, within a week of the start of Hitler’s western European campaign.
ce were “very interested” in the Jewish question.
The Germans arrested about 3,500 Poles in the Generalgouvernment whom they considered underground leaders and 3,000 suspected of criminal activities, and these were murdered in the Palmiry Forest, near Warsaw and at other sites.
Among those Polish intellectuals murdered were Maciej Rataj, Stefan Bryla, Tadeusz Tanski, Mieczyslaw Niedzialkowski and Janusz Kusocinski.
The A-B aktion was planned to end by the middle of 1940, but lasted well into the autumn of the same year, with executions in a number of locations, but whilst it depleted the ranks of the Polish underground, it did not succeed in eliminating Polish resistance, as envisaged.
On the 31 October 1939 Streckenbach informed Hans Frank about Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler intentions to deport Jews who lived in the areas of Poland now incorporated into the Reich, and replace them with Poles who could be considered racially suitable for Germanisation.
Under the decree dated the 28 November 1939, in the Generalgouvernement, the Judenrat was placed under the control of the civilian authorities. Two days later at a meeting in Krakow, with Hans Frank, F-Wilhem Kruger, Gustav Wachter and others Streckenbach, the commander of the Security Police and Security Services in the Generalgouvernment, informed the meeting that the Security Police and Security Services in the Generalgouvernment, informed the meeting that the Security Police were “very interested” in the Jewish question.
On October 31, 1939, he informed Hans Frank, General Governor for the East, about Himmler’s intention to organize the deportation of all Jews coming from regions that were now part of the Reich while about one million Poles “of good origin” would be “imported” into the Reich in order to be “dePolonized”.
Streckenbach wanted full control over the Judenrat, “as sooner or later all questions pertaining to Jewish matters would have to be referred to the Security Police especially if the contemplated action required “executive enforcement,” but Hans Frank was strongly against this and protested, however it was later agreed that the civilian authorities would co-operate with the Security Forces.
As the first BdS, which stood for Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, in Krakow, Streckenbach was also involved in the Generalplan Ost which was the Nazi plan for the expulsion of more than 50 million non-Germanised Slavs of Eastern Europe through forced migration, beyond the Ural Mountains and into Siberia. In their place up to 8-10 million Germans would be settled in an expanded living space, ‘lebensraum.’
For his part in executing the Generalplan Ost he oversaw the expulsion and relocation of approximately 88,000 Poles and non-Aryans from the former western Polish provinces into the Generalgouvernment.
For his part in executing the plan Streckenbach oversaw the expulsion and relocation of approximately 88,000 Poles and non-Aryans from the former western Polish provinces into the Generalgouverment. After serving in this role, Streckenbach was then sent to Berlin as the director of AMT 1, the staff department of the Reich Main Security Office.
Prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Streckenbach went to Pretzsch on the Elbe, where at the end of May 1941 a three week training course took place, where handpicked members of the SD, Gestapo and the police, were trained for service in the Einsatzgruppen.
Bruno Streckenbach was tasked to train and indoctrinate these men, in the deadly role in the forthcoming conflict, where the four Einsatzgruppen would operate. He detailed the mission of the Einsatzgruppe, which was to seize and destroy all political and radical enemy groups such as Political Commissars Bolsheviks, gypsies, partisans and Jews.
SS- Brigadefuhrer Streckenbach further ordered that all enemies of the Third Reich were to be deported to concentration camps and Jews were to be singled out for ‘special treatment’ which actually meant extermination.
Streckenbach was put in charge of the Security Forces operating behind the front lines of Army Group North.
On the 9 November 1941he was promoted to SS-Gruppenfuhrer und Generalleutnant der Polizei and in September 1942 he requested to join a front-line unit and he was transferred to the Waffen-SS with the rank of an SS-Obersturmfuhrer der Reserve and he trained with anti-tank units and joined the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer.
Streckenbach won both the Knights Cross and the Oakleaves as Commander of the poorly equipped 19th Volunteer- Division of the Waffen –SS (Latvian Nr 2) while serving on the Russian front during the heavy fighting in the Baltic States.
He was taken prisoner by the Russians and in 1952 he was sentenced to serve twenty-five years in prison, but was released on the 10 October 1955. During the Nuremberg Trial, Ohlendorf accused him and said that Streckenbach transmitted the extermination order at a meeting concerning the missions of the Einsatzgruppen in mid-June 1941.
Post-war attempts by the then West German to bring him to justice failed. He was brought to trial but in 1973 the case was dismissed due to his poor health, he died on the 28 October 1977 in Hamburg.
The SS Alibi of a Nation 1922-1945 by Gerald Reitlinger, published by Arms and Armour Press London 1981
Their Honour was Loyalty, by Jost W Schneider, published by R.James Bender San Jose California USA 1993
The Destruction of the European Jews, by Raul Hilberg, published by Holmes and Meier, New York 1985
The Field Men, by French L MacLean, published by Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA.
Nazi Crimes in Poland by Stanislaw Kania
Copyright: Chris Webb & Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009