Wilhelm Kube


Carl Zenner, Benkwitz, Anita Kube, Wilhelm Kube - Priluski near Minsk - Spring 1942 (Bundesarchiv)

Wilhelm Kube was born on November 13, 1887, in Glogau, Silesia, he was the son of a professional soldier. Between 1908, and 1912, Kube studied history and political science at the University of Berlin, where he was Chairman of the German Volkisch Academic Union. During 1920, to 1923, he was the General Secretary of the German National People's Party, as well as its representative on the Berlin city council.

In 1924, he became a Reichstag deputy for the German National Freedom Party and chairman of its Berlin section. At the beginning of 1928, Kube joined the Nazi Party, sitting as a deputy in the Reichstag and as chairman of the Nazi legislative body in the Prussian Landtag. In 1933, he was appointed by Hermann Goring, as Oberprasident of the Brandenburg district, which included Berlin, and from November he represented the Frankfurt /Oder electoral constituency in the Reichstag. He was removed from all his positions in September 1936, by Major Walter Buch, chief judge of the Party court, on charges of blackmail, seduction of colleague's wives and embezzlement. Kube's career recovered thanks to Heinrich Himmler, who had been impressed by his willingness to volunteer for the Waffen-SS, at the age of fifty-three.

In July 1941, Kube was appointed GeneralKommissar of White Russia, in charge of civil administration, and at first he co-operated closely with the SS in exterminating the Jews of Minsk and Belorussia. He wrote to Gauleiter Hinrich Lohse in Riga, on December 16, 1941, and the letter is reproduced here:

My Dear Hinrich,

I wish to ask you personally for an official directive for the conduct of the civilian administration towards the Jews deported from Germany to Belorussia. Among these Jews are men who fought at the Front and have the Iron Cross, First and Second Class, war invalids, half-Aryans. Up to now only 6,000 to 7,000 Jews have arrived, of the 25,000 who were expected. I am not aware what has become of the others. In the course of several visits to the Ghetto, I noted that these Jews, who also differ from the Russian Jews in their personal cleanliness, are also skilled workers capable of doing five times as much in a day as the Russian Jews.

These Jews will probably freeze or starve to death in the coming weeks. They present a terrible threat of disease for us, as they are naturally just as much exposed to the 22 epidemics prevalent in Belorussia, as we Reich Germans (Reichsdeutsche). Serum is not available for them.

On my own responsibility I will not give the SD any instructions with regard to the treatment of these people, although certain units of the Wehrmacht and the police already have an eye on the possessions of the Jews from the Reich. Without asking, the SD has already simply taken away 400 mattresses from the Jews from the Reich, and has also confiscated various other things.

I am certainly a hard man and willing to help solve the Jewish question, but people who come from our own cultural sphere, just are not the same as the brutish hordes in this place. Is the slaughter to be carried out by the Lithuanians and Letts, who are themselves rejected by the population here?

I couldn't do it. I beg you to give clear directives in this matter, with due consideration for the good name of our Reich and our Party, in order that the necessary action can be taken in the most humane manner.

With heartfelt greetings

Heil Hitler


Wilhelm Kube

kube , zenn er , stamm

Kube, Zenner and Stamm (Bundesarchiv)

One way or another Wilhelm Kube managed to protect these Jews deported from the Reich till the following July. During February 1942, Franz Walther Stahlecker, sent the toughest of his executioners Obersturmbannfuhrer Dr Juris Eduard Strauch, to keep a close watch on Wilhelm Kube in Minsk, but Kube managed to get the Jews from the Reich excluded from the Aktion. Indeed by keeping the Jews who were employed out of the German ghetto a day or two before the 'aktion' commenced. Kube also warned the Jews in the Russian ghetto, and as a result only 3,412 Jews were killed in place of the expected 5,000.

Strauch's complaints against Kube make a fascinating document. In the course of the 'Aktion' on March 2, 1942, Strauch declared Kube 'hurt the feelings' of Franz Stark, an SS-Officer, by abusing him in front of Jews. Strauch had even heard that Kube had given sweets to Jewish children who were being buried alive, in a pit on Ratomskaya Street. Kube had also denounced SS- Brigadefuhrer Carl Zenner, who commanded the Security Police in White Russia, for refusing to restore to him his three Jewish barbers. And yet Strauch declared, Kube always protested that he was the great enemy of the Jews.

On April 2, 1942,Reinhard Heydrich flew to Minsk, and he gave Kube a severe telling off, for sending him a list of Jews whom he had registered as 'illegally removed from Germany.' He demanded from Strauch the complete liquidation of the Jews within the Minsk territory, though Strauch testified at the IMT at Nuremberg, that he had managed to obtain a deferment 'till after the harvest.'

On July 28th and 29th, the population of the two ghettos in Minsk were reduced from 19,000 to 8794, using gas-vans Wilhem Kube once again wrote to his friend Hinrich Lohse in Riga, once again:

Following lengthy talks with the SS-Brigadefuhrer Zenner and the extraordinarily diligent head of the SD, SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Dr. Strauch, in the last ten weeks in White Russia we have liquidated roughly 55,000 Jews. In the city of Minsk about 10,000 Jews were liquidated on 28 and 29 July. Of these, 6,500 were Russian Jews, predominantly women, children, and the aged; the rest were Jews unfit for labour, mainly from Vienna, Brunn, Bremen, and Berlin. The latter had been sent to Minsk last year in accordance with the Fuhrer's orders. In Minsk proper there are 2,600 Jews from Germany left.

During 1943, Kube had another serious disagreement with Dr Strauch. On July 20,1943, Strauch arrested seventy Jews employed by Kube and killed them. Kube called Strauch immediately and accused him of chicanery. If Jews were killed in his office but Jews working for the Wehrmacht were left alone, said Kube, this was a personal insult. Somewhat dumbfounded Strauch replied that, 'he could not understand how German men could quarrel because of a few Jews.' He continued:

I was again and again faced with the fact that my men and I were reproached for barbarism and sadism, whereas I did nothing but fulfill my duty. Even the fact that expert physicians had removed in a proper way the gold fillings from the teeth of Jews who had been designated for special treatment was made the topic of conversation. Kube asserted that this method of our procedure was unworthy of a German man and of the Germany of Kant and Goethe. It was our fault that the reputation of Germany was being ruined in the whole world. It was also true, he said, that my men literally satisfied their sexual lust during these executions. I protested energetically against that statement and emphasized that it was regrettable that we, in addition to having to perform this nasty job, were also made the target of mudslinging.

Five days later, Dr Strauch sent a letter to SS-Obergruppenfuhrer von Dem Zelewski in which he recommended Kube's dismissal. In a long list of accusations, Dr Strauch pointed out that Kube had for a long time favoured the Jews, especially the Jews from the Reich. So far as the Russian Jews were concerned, Kube could quiet his conscience, because most of them because most of them were 'partisan helpers,' but he could not distinguish between Germans and German Jews. He had insisted that Jews had art. He had expressed his liking for Offenbach and Mendelssohn. When Strauch had disagreed, Kube had claimed that young Nazis did not know anything about such things.

Repeatedly Kube had shown his feelings openly. He had called a policeman who had shot a Jew a 'swine.' Once when a Jew had dashed into a burning garage to save the Generalkommissar's expensive car, Kube had shaken hands with the man and thanked him personally. When the Judenrat in Minsk had been ordered to prepare 5,000 Jews for resettlement, Kube had actually warned the Jews. He had also protested violently that fifteen Jewish men and women who had been shot had been led, covered with blood, through the streets of Minsk. Thus Kube had sought to pin on the SS, the label of sadism.

On September 22, 1943, was assassinated, by Yelena Mazanik, one of his housemaids. She placed a bomb hidden in a water bottle in his bed, in the Yanchevskii Mansion, where Kube and his family lived. She escaped but 1,000 male Belorussians were killed as a reprisal. Adolf Hitler ordered a State Funeral for his veteran Party comrade.


R.S. Wistrich, Who’s Who in Nazi Germany, published by Routledge, London and New York 1995

G. Reitlinger, The Final Solution, published by Sphere Books Ltd, London 1971

Nuremburg iMT Documents PS-3665

phdn.org archives/ einsatzgruppenarchives.com

www. wikipedia

Photographs: Bundesarchiv

© Holocaust Historical Society October 9, 2021