Recordings of German Soldiers’ Conversations Rediscovered

New research has unearthed conversations among German POWs during World War II–recorded by British intelligence–that reveals the extent to which some German soldiers knew about the slaughter of Jews. In Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying, authors Sonke Neitzel and Harald Welzer detail their findings in the British national archives and the National Archives in the United States. Among the many chilling conversations recorded is this one between Lieutenant General Heinrich Kittel and another prisoner of war named Felbert:

Felbert: Have you also known places from which the Jews have been removed?

Kittel: Yes.

Felbert: Was that carried out quite systematically?

Kittel: Yes.

Felbert: Women and children—everybody?

Kittel: Everybody. Horrible!

Felbert: What did they do to the children?

Kittel (very excited): They seized three-year old children by the hair, held them up and shot them with a pistol and then threw them in. I saw that for myself. One could watch it; the SD [Sicherheitsdienst, the Security Service of the SS] had roped the area off and the people were standing watching from about 300 m. off. The Latvians and the German soldiers were just standing there, looking on.

 

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