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15 typewritten pages of onion skin paper, pages 2-15 numbered at top center; first page begins with July 3, 1941.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
Felix Landau’s wartime diary begins in June 1941 in the Eastern Polish city of Lvov (Lemberg in German) and details his experiences as an SS Sargent of an Einsatzkommando unit for which he volunteered. His experiences as a participant in atrocities against Jews and Poles - the hallmark of the Einsatzgruppen - is mixed with his personal musings and his professions of affection for his fiancé Gertrude. Landau would play a role in Einsatzgruppen actions throughout Galicia.
Landau was Austrian by birth, joined the Nazi party at 21, and eventually progressed to membership in the SS. He was imprisoned for participation in Austrian chancellor Dollfuss’ assassination. Upon his release in 1937, Landau moved to Germany, married, and became a naturalized citizen. From his work in the Gestapo, he volunteered for Einsatzgruppen service after the German invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941. His diary entries commence in July 1941 and record his decision to volunteer for participation in actions in Lvov and Drohobycz. Landau is active in Einsatz activities including organizing Jewish labor and murdering Jews as a volunteer for an execution squad in occupied towns.
Landau’s full diary has been translated by Tuviah Friedman, former Director of the Institute of Documentation of Nazi War Crimes in Haifa, Israel. Mr. Friedman played a major role in the capture of Adolf Eichmann. A hard copy of the entire translation of Landau’s diary is available at Kenyon. The following entries are excerpted from the diary.
Lemberg, July 3rd, 1941: On Monday 30.6.1941, after a sleepless night I volunteered…for a Commando Operation…At 4 PM on 2 July, 1941, we arrived in Lemberg. In comparison Warsaw is harmless. Shortly upon arrival, the first Jews were shot by us. As is usual, some of the modern-time leaders become mad with a superiority complex, really imagine to be what they seem... Whilst writing the order is given to get ready. Commando operation with steel helmet and rifle, 30 rounds of ammunition…500 Jews stood on parade for execution by shooting… lined up ready to be shot…I don’t much care for shooting defenseless people-even if they are only Jews. I prefer honest open combat.
5.7.1941: …Today we might have our first hot meal…there is the smell of corpses everywhere when passing burnt houses. Time is filled out with sleep. In the course of the afternoon about another 300 Jews and Poles are put down. At a street corner we saw several Jews covered all over with sand. We looked at one another. All thought the same thing. The Jews had crawled out of the grave of the shot people… [Instead, they learn that Ukrainians had rounded up some 800 Jewish men and taken them up to the ruins of the Citadel on a hill. Landau’s Einsatzkommando unit was scheduled to shoot them the following day, but they were released and in the process a group of Wehrmacht soldiers beat them mercilessly.] …We continued driving down the road. Hundreds of Jews with blood streaming down their faces, holes in their heads, broken hands and eyeballs hanging from their sockets are running along the road…soldiers standing with cudgels thick as fists lashing out and beating anyone crossing their path… Jews heaped row upon row, like pigs, whimpering terribly. Nothing against it only they should not let the Jews run around in this state. For today we have nothing else to do…Comradeship is still good…I am disappointed…too little combat, hence this bad mood.
Drohobycz 12/7/1941: At 6 o’clock I am suddenly being woken out of my sleep. On parade for execution. Alright then, so I can play hangman and afterwards grave digger, why not? It’s …strange, it is combat one loves, and then one has to shoot down defenseless people. 23 are to be shot, amongst them the women already mentioned. They are to be admired. They refuse to accept as much as a glass of water from us. I am designated a marksman and have to shoot eventual escapees. We drive along the road for a kilometer and then turn to the right into a wood. We are only 6 men …and are looking for a suitable location for the execution and burial. A few minutes and we found such a place. The death candidates step forward with shovels to dig their own grave. Two of them are crying. The others appear to have tremendous courage. What may go through their minds at this moment? I think each has a small hope that somehow, he will not be shot after all. The death candidates are being paraded in three rows as there are not enough shovels. Strange, nothing moves in me. No pity, nothing. This is how it is, and that’s all there is to it. Only very gently does my heart beat when uncalled for emotions and thoughts awaken…And here I am today, a survivor standing in front of others in order to shoot them. Slowly the hole gets bigger and bigger, two of them are crying continuously. I keep them digging longer and longer: they don’t think so much when they’re digging. During work they are quieter. Valuables, watches and money are being put on one heap. After all of them are brought to a vacant place, the two women are made to stand at one end of the grave as first in line to be shot. Two men are already shot…in the undergrowth…The women stopped to the pit, tremendously composed and turned around. Six of us had to shoot them…three men to aim to the heart, three men to the head. I take the heart. The shots are heard and brain matter whiz through the air. Two in the head is too much.
22.7.1941: …In the morning the workers ordered arrived. When I then wanted to go to the committee of the Jews, one of its members arrived and asked for my assistance, since the Jews refused to work there. I went over there. When these arseholes saw me, they ran away in all directions. A pity I didn’t have a pistol on me, or I would have shot some down…I declared that unless 100 Jews would fall in within one hour, I would choose 100 Jews to be shot. Scarcely 30 minutes later, 100 Jews arrived and another 17 men for those that had escaped beforehand. I reported the incident and at the same time demanded that those that had run off were to be shot for having refused to work…12 hours later, 20 Jews were killed.
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12 7/8 x 8 1/4"
"Wartime Diary of Felix Landau (1910-1983)" (1905). Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection. 2022.1.30a-o.