Operation Hermann

by Irene Newhouse

During the second half of July 1943, to early August 1943, Operation Hermann was conducted by various military units coordinated by Einsatzgruppen.  Its purpose was to, as much as possible, reduce the number of partisans in the area between somewhat east of Lida and west of Minsk, from Maladzecna to Stoubcy [MapQuest spellings] alternately spelled Molodechno & Stolptsy & various other ways.

Units were brought in to surround the area, and then anyone caught up in the net was to be forced to work for the Nazis or murdered.  The need for forced labor, scrap material of any kind & the need to conserve motor vehicle fuel were all emphasized in the orders.

On August 1, orders were issued that the area was to be completely emptied.  Anything that could not be moved was to be destroyed.  The entire population was to be moved to transit camps, where the most able-bodied were to be deported for forced labor.  The fate of the remainder was to be left up to the local military units.  To the extent possible, even the forests were to be burned.  Any human thereafter found in the area was to be considered "fair game".  This sounds even more chilling in German than in English, because in English the term has crossed over into general usage from hunting.  This is not the case for the German equivalent, which is strictly a hunting term.

Operation Hermann took place after the mass murders of most of the Jews in the area, but it must have had a terrible effect on those who had fled to the forests.

Thanks to Peter Duffy for sharing copies of  orders & reports for Operation Hermann, which were given him by a survivor.

Jack and Rochelle, by Jack and Rochelle Sutin [see the books page] contains a first-hand account of what it was like to be a partisan during Operation Hermann.

One of the units participating in Operation Hermann and the "evacuation" immediately thereafter  was Einsatzgruppe Dirlewanger, which was notorious for its cruelty.  This unit is the subject of French L. MacLean's The Cruel Hunters:  SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger, Schiffer, ISBN: 0-7643-0483-6.  The original name "Wilddiebkommando" means "Poacher Commando".  Yes, the original conception, if you can call it that, was to man the unit with convicted poachers.  They couldn't find enough, so the scope was widened to include other convicts. Note: the Wiesenthal Center used to have material on Dirlewanger. Do a web search for the terms Dirlewanger and Wiesenthal. I am not including a direct link as they change about every two years & I can't do the maintenance.

If you search Google Groups for information on Dirlewanger, you will find a number of postings.

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