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Diary of an Einsatzkommando - Felix Landau

Felix Landau – Einsatzkommando  

War Diary – Selected Extracts

 

Part One Service in Lemberg

 

  

Felix Landau was a SS Hauptscharführer, a member of an Einsatzkommando during World War II, based first in Lemberg (Lviv), and later in Drohobycz. He played a key role in the Einsatzgruppen actions throughout Galicia. He is known for his daily diary and for helping prolong the life of Jewish artist Bruno Schulz in 1942.

In June 1941, Felix Landau volunteered for Einsatzkommando service. He began his diary in July 1941, interspersing sentimental letters to his fiancé with detailed records of his participation in atrocities of what later came to be known as the Holocaust.

He describes "shooting exercises" and "wild actions", shooting sprees wherein he and his men would pick off random Jews who worked nearby or passed by on the street. In one such event in November 1942, Landau killed the personal dentist of a fellow officer, Karl Günther. In revenge, Günther caught up with Schulz, then under the protection of Landau, and shot him twice in the head.

According to Schulz's friend Izydor Friedman, who witnessed the death, this happened at the corner of Czacki and Mickiewicz Streets. Later, Günther told Landau: "You killed my Jew - I killed yours."

  

 

Felix Landau

Lemberg 3 July 1941

 

On Monday 30 June 1941, after a sleepless night I volunteered for a number of reasons to join an Einsatzkomando (EK). By 9 o’clock I had heard that I had been accepted.

 

It was not easy for me to leave. Suddenly everything had changed in me. I almost thought that I would not be able to tear myself from a certain person. I felt acutely how attached one can become to another human being. As usual our departure was delayed several times but at 17.00 hours we finally left. We stopped one more time and once again I saw the person who has become so dear to me.

 

Then we set off again. At 22.30 we finally reached Cracow. The accommodation was good. No creature comforts whatsoever. You can actually become a soldier in just a few hours if you want to.

 

We then passed through Przemysl. The town was still burning -on the street we saw shot-up German and Russian tanks. It was the first time I had seen two-tier Russian tanks.  After a short time we set off again towards Millnicze. It was becoming increasingly clear that the troops had recently been through.

 

At 21.30 on 1 July 1941 we arrived in Millnicze, we stood around aimlessly without any plan. We quartered ourselves in a Russian military school. It was still burning here too. At 23.00 hours we finally went to bed. I set up my bed and kipped down. Naturally I enquired whether it was possible to send letters but unfortunately it wasn’t.

 

On 2 July 1941 we were woken at 6.00 as at the front. There were women and children standing by burning houses and rummaging around in the rubble. During the journey we came across more Ukrainian soldiers. As we got closer to the Russians the smell of decaying corpses got stronger and stronger.

 

At 4.00 pm on 2 July 1941 we arrived in Lemberg. First impression: Warsaw harmless in comparison. Shortly after our arrival the first Jews were shot by us. As usual a few of the new officers became megalomaniacs; they really enter into the role wholeheartedly. We took over another military school in the Bolshevik quarter.

 

Here the Russians must have been caught in their sleep. We quickly gathered together the bare essentials. At midnight after the Jews had cleaned the building, we went to bed.

 

3 July 1941. This morning I found out that we can write and it looks as though the post will actually be dispatched. So while listening to wildly sensual music  I wrote my first letter to my Trude. While I was writing the letter we were ordered to get ready. EK with steel helmets, carbines, thirty rounds of ammunition.

 

We have just come back. Five hundred Jews were lined up ready to be shot. Beforehand we paid our respects to the murdered German airmen and Ukrainians. Eight hundred people were murdered here in Lemberg. The scum did not even draw the line at children.

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/index.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

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Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

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