Wilhelm Kube

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Wilhelm Kube
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-0821-500, Wilhelm Kube.jpg
Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube
Personal details
Born (1887-11-13)13 November 1887
Glogau, German Empire
Died 22 September 1943(1943-09-22) (aged 55)
Minsk, Belarus
Military service
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Rank SS-Generalkommissar

Wilhelm Kube (13 November 1887 - 22 September 1943) was a German politician and Nazi official. He was an important figure in the German Christian movement during the early years of Nazi rule. During the war he became a senior official in the occupying government of the Soviet Union, achieving the rank of Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien (Belarus). He was assassinated in Minsk in 1943, triggering brutal reprisals against the citizens of Minsk.

Early life[edit]

Kube was born in Glogau (today's Głogów), Prussian Silesia, and studied history, economics and theology. He was active in the Völkisch movement as a student, and was an early member of the Nazi Party. In 1924 he was one of the first group of Nazi members elected to the Weimar Republic Reichstag. In 1928 he was appointed Gauleiter of Brandenburg and speaker of the tiny Nazi party fraction (6 seats) in the Prussian Landtag (Prussian state legislature).

Nazification of Christianity[edit]

Kube remained an active Christian despite being a zealous Nazi, and in 1932 he organised the list of candidates of the Faith Movement of the German Christians for the ordinary election of presbyters and synodals within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union on 13 November that year. The German Christians then gained about a third of all seats in presbyteries and synods. Kube was elected as one of the presbyters of the congregation of Gethsemane Church in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. The presbyters elected him from their midst as synodal into the competent deanery synod (German: Kreissynode; Berlin then comprised 11 deaneries altogether), and these synodals again elected him a member of deanery synodal board (German: Kreissynodalvorstand). When in 1933 the Nazis came to power he remained active in the German Christian movement which sought to "Nazify" the 28 Protestant church bodies in Germany.[1] For 23 July 1933 Hitler ordered an unconstitutional, premature re-election of all presbyters and synodals, with the German Christians now gaining 70-80% of the seats, so Kube could then further advance as head of the Berlin synod of the old-Prussian Church. Following the German conquest of Poland in 1939 his Nazi party domain was extended to include Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia and Reichsgau Wartheland.

Denunciation of Buch[edit]

In 1936 it was claimed in an anonymous letter that Party Judge Walter Buch, the father-in-law of Martin Bormann, was married to a half-Jew. In the course of a Gestapo investigation it came to light that the letter had been written by Kube, whom Buch had investigated owing to concerns over his private life and his leadership style in the Gau. Buch saw to it that Kube was removed from all his posts. Only on Hitler's orders was he allowed to remain a Gauleiter, albeit without his own Gau.

SS career[edit]

Kube joined the SS in 1934 and attained the rank of Rottenführer (Private First Class). In 1940 he served for a period at the concentration camp at Dachau[citation needed]. In July 1941, in the wake of the German occupation of the western parts of the Soviet Union, he was appointed Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien (now known as Belarus), with his headquarters in Minsk. In this role Kube oversaw the extermination of the large Jewish population of this area. He was nevertheless outraged by the Slutsk Affair in October 1941, when "Einsatzgruppen" (death squads) of the SS massacred Jews without the authorization from the local Nazi civil administration and Security SS authorities. Non-Jewish local Belarusians were also killed, creating great resentment among the population. Kube wrote in protest to his supervisor and Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler:

House in Minsk where Kube was assassinated

The town was a picture of horror during the action. With indescribable brutality on the part of both the German police officers and particularly the Lithuanian partisans, the Jewish people, but also among them Belarusians, were taken out of their dwellings and herded together. Everywhere in the town shots were to be heard and in different streets the corpses of shot Jews accumulated. The Belarusians were in greatest distress to free themselves from the encirclement.

The letter concluded:

I am submitting this report in duplicate so that one copy may be forwarded to the Reich Minister. Peace and order cannot be maintained in Belarus with methods of that sort. To bury seriously wounded people alive who worked their way out of their graves again is such a base and filthy act that the incidents as such should be reported to the Fuehrer and Reichsmarschall.[2]

Despite these misgivings, Kube participated in an atrocity on 2 March 1942 in the Minsk ghetto. During a search of the ghetto by German and Belarusian policeman a group of children were seized and thrown into pits of deep sand to die.

"At that moment, several SS officers, among them Wilhelm Kube, arrived, whereupon Kube, immaculate in his uniform, threw handfuls of sweets to the shrieking children. All the children perished in the sand." [3]

Assassination[edit]

Yelena Mazanik, who assassinated Wilhelm Kube by placing a time bomb in his bed.

At 1:20am on 22 September 1943 Kube was assassinated in his Minsk apartment as per Operation Blow-up. His death was caused by a time bomb hidden in his mattress; the bomb was placed by Soviet partisan Yelena Mazanik (1914-1996), a Belarusian woman who had managed to find employment in Kube's household as a maid in order to assassinate him. The bomb went off forty minutes early, purportedly due to higher air temperature than that during bomb testing.[4]

In retaliation, the SS killed more than 1,000 male citizens of Minsk. Despite this, SS leader Heinrich Himmler reportedly said the assassination was a "blessing," since Kube did not support some of the harsh measures mandated by the SS.[5]

Mazanik escaped the reprisals, and carried on with the partisans. She was later awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. After the war she went on to became deputy director of the Fundamental Library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographical information from Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich (Fischer Verlag 2005), 346
  2. ^ Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression: Volume III (Office of United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality OCCPAC). Washington, D.C.: USGPO. 1946. pp.783-789 accessed January 2008.
  3. ^ Gilbert, M: "The Holocaust", page 297. Fontana/Collins, 1987.
  4. ^ Captain Vasiliy Tsvetkov. "A Bomb for Gauleiter". De Bello. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  5. ^ Reidlinger 1960 p.157 as quoted in Turonek 1989 p.118.
  6. ^ "Women at War Could Do Anything". Rianovosti. 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2012-12-24.