- Published: 04 March 2011 04 March 2011
- Last Updated: 23 March 2013 23 March 2013
The office of Oberbefehlshaber Ost (Oberost) was dissolved in July 1940 and its duties were taken over by the Militärbefehlshaber im Generalgouvernement.
Johannes Blaskowitz issued two memoranda to Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres Walther von Brauchitsch formally complaining about the behaviour of the SS-units during the invasion of Poland when they were responsible for the killing of large numbers of civilians, especially Jews. This lead to him falling out of favour with Adolf Hitler who complained about his "childish attitude" when reading the first memorandum.
The below quotes are from his second memorandum issued in February 1940.
The attitude of the troops to the SS and police alternates between abhorrence and hatred. Every soldier feels repelled and revolted by these crimes which are being perpetrated in Poland by nationals of the Reich and representatives of the State authority. He does not understand how such things can happen with impunity, particularly since they occur, so to speak, under his protection.
Every police search and confiscation is accompanied by a tendency for those of the police involved to rob and plunder. It is clearly the normal custom for confiscated articles to be distributed among the police and SS units.
If high officials of the SS and police demand acts of violence and brutality and praise them publicly, then in a very short time we shall be faced with the rule of the thug. Like-minded people and those with warped characters will very soon come together so that, as is now the case in Poland, they can give full expression to their animal and pathological instincts. It is hardly possible to keep them any longer in check, since they can well believe themselves officially authorized and justified in committing any act of cruelty.
The only way of resisting this epidemic is to subordinate those who are guilty and their followers to the military leadership and courts as quickly as possible. (1)
The second memorandum also included the below from General der Infanterie Wilhelm Ulex:
The acts of violence by the police forces, which have increased recently, demonstrate a quite incredible lack of human and moral feeling, so that it can be called sheer brutalization. And even so I believe that my headquarters only hears of a small number of the acts of violence occurring.
It seems as if the superiors privately approve of this activity and do not wish to intervene.
I see the only way out of this ignoble situation, which besmirches the honour of the whole German nation, in the recall and disbanding at a stroke of all the police units, including all their superior officers and all those leaders in the departments of the 'General Government' who have witnessed these acts of violence for months, and their replacement by sound honourable units. (1)
Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt (3 Oct 1939 - 20 Oct 1939)
Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz (20 Oct 1939 - 1 May 1940)
Generalleutnant Curt Ludwig Freiherr von Gienanth (1 May 1940 - 21 July 1940)
1. "Nazism 1919-1945, vol. 3, Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination" by J. Noakes & G. Pridham, page 938-941.
Johannes Blaskowitz (Generaloberst who as Oberbefehlshaber Ost sent an official memorandum to Hitler complaining about atrocities of the SS-Totenkopfverbände in Poland 1939)
J. Noakes & G. Pridham - Nazism 1919-1945, vol. 3, Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination
Reference material on this unit
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