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German Soldiers Describe Attitudes Towards Jews

30 December 1939, Saturday
Corporal J. E. Reserve Infantry Battalion 134. (Wien Strebersdorf)

…After 53 days of travel through former Polish territory, passing the crosses marking the [graves] of the murdered ethnic Germans and through the Protectorate, I have today reached Vienna once again. Our car, driven by our battalion adjutant and myself, resembled a garbage truck rather than a vehicle for personnel. However, war is war and dirt is dirt.…We found almost no real roads, and were thus often stuck up to the fenders in mud, going from one village to another, from one town to another, wherever we were ordered to go. We could see the terrifying impact of our artillery and air raids. Certainly not a pretty picture for the faint-hearted. At the same time, there were people all over who were tirelessly rebuilding towns, streets, houses and gardens. And Jews – hardly ever have I seen such neglected figures walking around, clothed in rags, filthy, loathsome. They seemed to us like a pest. Their evil appearance, cunning questions and actions often made us reach for our pistols so as to provide a reminder of reality to those among them who were too nosy or pushy…. The following happened to a comrade from the old Reich as he spoke to a Jew, inquiring about the near town: as the car started to move, a youth stuck a dagger in his throat through the open window. The assailant was immediately struck down by the sergeant, who managed to shoot before he died. For this reason we travel with our weapons ready to fire at all times, and I do not envy anyone who comes too close to our car with no reason…

26 October 1941, Sunday
Field Justice Inspector F.A.
Regional Headquarter 199 V
Military Post Number 44345

We are sitting here in the midst of Russia. As you have learned from reports in the press and newsreels etc. almost everything here has been burned out. The roads are unpaved. Once we, in the rear, have cleared the region from partisans, Jews and other scum, we will move forward. The civil administration will take our place and begin the reconstruction….

28 May 1942, Thursday
Vehicle Examiner H.K.
Vehicle unit 610 (Brest/Bug)
Military Post Number 37634

…I am troubled by the nourishment of our Polish civilians, whose productivity has been declining sharply. For sixty hours of work per week we get provisions that enable us only to provide them with pitiful soup five times a week. What they receive in addition from the city administration is completely insufficient. The situation of the Jews is even worse. Some of them simply collapse from hunger while working in imperative road building. Beatings and shootings are to no avail in such cases….

18 December 1942
Technical Sergeant E.E.

Thank God we are going to the south. The winter is not as bad and the partisans, this cunning criminal horde, does not exist there. The Center and North regions are much worse in this respect…. The towns are neglected…The houses are wooden shacks, held together by boards and covered with white paint. This is the Ukraine. The houses and apartments are clean. People seem well-nourished and are all very plump. Sometimes we come upon beautiful girls, pearls of the land. But whatever is Russian is sodden with filth; even the buildings are huts. There are very few churches, and what remains used to be until a short while ago warehouses, stables and cinemas. Factories in ruins are in and around the towns. All of Russia was an arsenal. However, everything is without any major planning, arbitrary and built without any style. It reflects the terribly chaotic swindle of Jewry. I did not believe it until I arrived here. But now I understand it and absolutely justify it. There is only one [solution] for Jewry – annihilation. You cannot describe the chaos that reigns here. I cannot forget the mess of telephone poles, encumbered with endless wires, reaching into the skies at both ends of the town of Sslawjansk – unparalleled chaos. And I am convinced that Jews were at the head of all institutions. Their guilt is therefore enormous, the suffering they caused –incomprehensible and the murder they committed – diabolic. Only their annihilation can atone for this. Up until now I have rejected this way as immoral. However, after seeing this Soviet paradise, I know no other solution. The dregs of all criminality generate in this eastern European Jewry, and the singularity of our mission has become clear to me…

From the book: Walter Manoschek, (ed.),Es gibt nur eines fuer das Judentum: Vernichtung, Hamburg, 1995.

Source: Yad Vashem