Friday 8 July 2016

Looting and Pillaging

The following is a translation of a German document, captured in 1944.

"32nd Infantry division
Department of the rear, intelligence

Content: dealing with the civilian population
  1. From interrogation of Red Army prisoners, it is known that the enemy had many very strict orders regarding treatment of Latvian civilians. Any illegal confiscation is punished with a sentence to a penalty battalion.
  2. For propaganda purposes, and in order to avoid the creation of bandit groups in our rear, we need to remind our troops of rules against looting. Theft of livestock, including horses, outside of specified zones is forbidden.
In such zones (list of zones), livestock may be confiscated from those that refuse to leave. In these cases, they are to be given a receipt.
Abandoned animals, as always, are to be rounded up and sent to the collection point at Pauleni (25 km - 32nd Administrative-Support company).
Livestock may also be collected at regimental command posts, and may be sent to the rear with regimental representatives after placing a phone call arranging their receipt.

Deputy commander of the division, first staff officer (signature missing in translated document)

Translated: military translator of the intelligence staff of the second Baltic Front
Senior Lieutenant Kopytina."

A very interesting order to not rob the local population, since the livestock ends up going westward in either case. However, sometimes, even staying behind yourself was not an option. From the interrogation of a Captain V. Kiristeins of the Lithuanian 19th SS division, on December 22nd, 1945:

"... It is known to me that, during the retreat of the 19th SS division, on the orders of the division commandant Strechenbach, starting from the city of Opochki right to Courland in the Latvian SSR, ordered all civilian population to abandon their homes and march to Libava, in the direction of Riga. Those that refused to leave were subjected to the Feldgendarmerie's methods of "evacuation".
South-Eastwards of the city of Ostrov, on the curve of the Velikaya river, the 19th SS division burned all structures in a 12 km radius and all possessions inside, taking the population to the Latvian rear. Approximately 2000 houses were destroyed in that manner, along with the adjoining orchards and gardens. These actions were done by a group composed of members of every company in the division. Strechenbach gave the order, and the order was carried out by the division's Feldgendarmerie, under the supervision of a captain whose name I cannot recall. This all happened in the period of March-April, 1944."

CA FSB R, Repository N-18313, Volume 3, Pages 201-203

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