Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
Voluntary Statement of Prisoner of War
Hauptsturmfuhrer Friedel Rau
[photos added to enhance the text]
During the time that I belonged to the staff of the Senior SS and Police Officer for North Russia, SS Gruppenfuhrer Pruetzmann, in Riga, I overheard the following during conversations by Pruetzmann with others:
1. Kovno (Lithuania)
During the period from the capture of Kovno until 3 July 1941 about 1,500 people, mostly Jews, were shot by the Lithuanians. These shootings are alleged to have taken place as reprisals for the shooting in the prison by the Russians of about 2,000 Lithuanians.
It is said that very many Jews took part in this shooting by the Russians. Both shootings each took place on one day. Pruetzmann also stated that in this case the simplest way was to allow the population’s hatred of the Jews to take its free course.
This information about the shootings can be confirmed by Obersturmbannfuhrer Werner Fromm, head of the personnel office of the Senior SS and Police Officer (chief of staff) since he belonged to the staff in Kovno.
2. The Setting up of the Camp
In August or September 1941 I heard Pruetzmann discussing with some others the isolation of the Lithuanian Jews. He spoke of the setting up of two camps near Riga, each with a capacity for 20,000 people. The accommodation was to be arranged according to sexes, the children to be in the women’s camp.
Boys of 14 years and above were to be exceptions, who would remain together with their fathers. The separation of the sexes was to be carried out in order to prevent the bearing of further children. By the setting up of these camps the institution of ghettos in the towns would become superfluous.
This plan was not put into effect up to the time Pruetzmann was transferred to the post of Senior SS and Police Officer, South Russia, but by the end of Oct 1941 work had begun in Riga, if not earlier, on setting aside a part of the city as a ghetto.
Obersturmbannfuhrer Fromm also took part in this conversation.
3. Shootings done by the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei)
I learned from another conversation (also in August or September 1941) that on this day (I do not know the exact date) about 100 people, whether Jews or Lithuanians, or both, I do not know, had been shot by the Security Police.
The firing squad was said to consist of Lithuanians under the command of an officer of the Security Police. No name was mentioned. I also do not know by whom the order for this was given. The officer commanding the Security Police was at that time Brigadefuhrer Stahlecker. Pruetzmann also added that the Lithuanians were particularly suitable for a firing squad, since their hatred knew no bounds.
4. Shooting in South Russia
After a discussion between the Senior SS and Police Officers (End September 1941) Central Russia, Obergruppenfuhrer von Dem Bach (formerly Bach –Zelewski), South Russia, Obergruppenfuhrer Jeckeln, and Pruetzmann, the latter said that Jeckeln had told him that there were no more Jews in South Russia, since various steps had been taken against the Jews there.
In this conversation mention was also made of the fact that the burial of large numbers of people was attended by great difficulties. Obersturmbannfuhrer Fromm was also present at this conversation with Pruetzmann. Who else took part in this discussion I can no longer say.
(a) Arterial Road 4(Jewish Camp)
In spring 1942 Pruetzmann received instructions from the Reichsfuhrer SS to construct Arterial Road 4 in such a way that it would be open to traffic at all seasons. The Todt Organisation had declined to build this road, which they said was not possible owing to technical difficulties.
The route for the road was: coming from Poland (Generalgouvernment) via Uman – Kirovograd – Krivoirog – Dnepro – Stalino to Rostov. When in July 1942 I travelled some way along this road – from Uman as far, roughly as Kirovograd – I saw at one place a considerable number of Jewish labourers of both sexes working on the road.
As I learned later, there was a labour camp there of several thousand Jews. This road –building sector was under Oberfuhrer Roch. Roch went to Norway in November 1944 as SS- und- Polizeifuhrer for Central and North Norway. He is said to have committed suicide after the capitulation. I do not know whether there were any other Jewish labour camps on this road.
(b) The Struggle against Guerrillas
When I lay in hospital at Kiev in 1943 I heard from my companions that in the district of the Haupt SS und Polizeifuhrer for South Russia, the main task now, was the struggle against the partisans. This was the reason for Obergruppenfuhrer von Dem Bach coming to Kiev. He was said to be in charge of the struggle against guerrillas for the whole of the East.
All available forces were now to be used against the partisans – police, the staff company of the Senior SS and Police Officer, Security Police, military forces, as well as Hungarian units. In addition the Hungarians had taken over the guarding of the northern section of the railway from Kiev to Kovel. This section went out of use later, however, as it was impossible with the forces available to prevent continued acts of sabotage.
I went to Lublin on 4 or 5 January 1944 as Adjutant to the SS und Polizeifuhrer, Gruppenfuhrer und Generalleutnant der Polizei Sporrenberg.
(a) Jewish Camp at the Old Airport (Alter Flughafen) 1943
SS- Hauptsturmfuhrer Schuster head of the Central Supply Depot at Lublin of the Haupt SS und Polizeifuhrer for South Russia, told me the following:
On ground adjoining the Central Supply Depot – the so-called “Old Airport” – had been in 1943 a camp for about 6,000 Jews of both sexes. These were later transferred to the Concentration Camp. There were Jews who had been brought to Lublin after the Warsaw insurrection in 1943.
(b) The Concentration Camp
The camp was situated on the outskirts of Lublin on the Lublin – Zamosc road, and its whole extent could be seen from the road. The camp was several kilometres long and broad. Huts had been built on a great proportion of the ground.
At the end of the camp, in the direction of the station and facing the road, there was a fairly large stone building with a high chimney. From the road this looked as if it were a factory and did not belong to the camp. Later I learned that this building was the crematorium. I did not see this either from near at hand or inside.
The office of the SS and Police Officer had no connection with the Concentration Camp. Occasionally the camp commandant came to Gruppenfuhrer Sporrenberg. Sporrenberg was, in addition to this post as SS and Police Officer, also senior officer of the garrison (Standortaelster der SS). During the time I was in Lublin the camp had had two commandants. The name of the first was Obersturmbannfuher Weiss and the second Obersturmbannfuhrer Liebehenschel, whose deputy was Hauptsturmfuhrer Melzer.
As I was not present during these conversations, and Sporrenberg did not give me any information concerning the visitors, I cannot say anything about them. Sporrenberg was always annoyed by the visits, and once remarked to me that they came with general matters with which he had nothing to do, and only delayed him.
It was only the occasion of the last visit of Hauptsturmfuhrer Melzer to Gruppenfuhrer Sporrenberg, a few days before the fall of Lublin, that Liebehenschel spoke about official matters while he sat with me waiting for Sporrenberg.
The substance of what he said was as follows:
“He received an order to take the prisoners to the rear. Transport had already left with old and sick people and now he was having difficulties with the removal of the last 2,000 persons. The difficulties were caused by the railways to whom he had applied for a transport train. He therefore wished to ask Sporrenberg to try to arrange through the Governor for transport accommodation to be allotted to him.”
When he left Sporrenberg he told me that Sporrenberg was going to try and help him.
As regards the conditions in Lublin before my arrival, the members of Gruppenfuhrer Globocnik’s staff, who almost all went with him to Trieste, should be able to give information.
Of these the only names, which is known to me, is his former Adjutant and later staff officer, Sturmbannfuhrer Lerch. Of the officers of Globocnik’s former staff, there were present at Lublin when I was there: Hauptsturmfuhhrer Kurt Claasen and Obersturmfuhrer Hans Offermann.
I have made the above statement completely voluntarily and without compulsion.
Signed: Friedel Rau
Signed in my presence: M. Ullman (W.O.I)
Witness: A.G.A.I Terry (Major)
21 February 1946
Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution, South Brunswick, New York, Thomas Yoseloff 1961
The National Archives Kew, London
Holocaust Historical Society
Copyright. SJ. & Chris Webb H.E.A.R.T 2009