I. Patryliak, Dr. Habil. (History), Professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/1728-2640.2021.150.8


The article studies the issues of the collective image of SS Wachmans, who graduated from a special school in Trawnik and were involved in letter cases related to the Janiwska/Janowska Death Camp in Lviv. What was the contingent of cadets of the Trawniki camp, how did former Red Army prisoners of war get there, who were they by nationality and social origin, how old were they, did they voluntarily become guards of death camps, were there members of Ukrainian nationalist organizations among them? These and other issues are considered in the context of the tragic events that took place on a small piece of land near Lviv during 1941 - 1943. The main sources for analysis are interrogation records, intelligence reports and identification protocols, which are contained in dozens of volumes of letter cases № 9 and № 638. In addition, the article uses analytical materials of the investigation, for example, background information on crimes committed in Lviv during the Nazi occupation and the personalities of criminals, the history of the Janiwska/Janowska Death Camp, etc. Particular attention is paid to the issues of "motivation" of Red Army prisoners of war and the procedure for their transfer to German service, the study of methods of psychological pressure on them in order to turn them into obedient weapons of murder.

The biographical data of the "Trawniki men" clearly show that the experience of their pre-war life in the Bolshevik system of terror, shocking military experiences, captivity and the incredibly high mortality rate of prisoners of war in the winter of 1941-1942, psychological and physical pressure from the Nazis, virtually eliminated any moral warnings the SS Wachmans, who, fully aware of the criminality of their actions, in most cases until the last day of the Third Reich, continued to obey the orders of the Nazis, and after the war to hide their involvement in the SS security forces. The classic mechanism of self-justification for former graduates of the SS preparatory camp in Trawnik was the thesis about the "compulsion" of their actions under the pressure of circumstances, the threat of death.

Key words: letter cases, Janiwska/Janowska Death Camp, "Trawniki men", SS Wachmans, prisoners of war, interrogation records.

Submitted: 13.06.2021

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