Erich von dem Bach

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I was the only SS leader in Russia who was not assassinated or upon whom an assassination was never attempted. I could walk anywhere without a bodyguard.

Erich Julius Eberhard von dem Bach-Zelewski (1 March 1899 – 8 March 1972) was a high-ranking SS commander of Nazi Germany. During World War II, he was in charge of the Nazi security warfare against those designated by the regime as ideological enemies and any other persons deemed to present danger to the Nazi rule or Wehrmacht's rear security in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe. It mostly involved atrocities against the civilian population. In 1944 he led the brutal suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. At the end of 1941 the forces under von dem Bach numbered 14,953 Germans, mostly officers and unteroffiziere, and 238,105 local “volunteers” (most war crime victims were executed by local collaborators under Nazi command.)

Despite his responsibility for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, Bach-Zelewski did not stand trial in the Nuremberg trials, and instead appeared as a witness for the prosecution. He was later convicted for politically motivated murders committed before the war and died in prison in 1972.

Quotes[edit]

Germany could not win this war because it was in league with the devil. This war would not have ended without revolution.
  • I was the only SS leader in Russia who was not assassinated or upon whom an assassination was never attempted. I could walk anywhere without a bodyguard.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (14 February 1946) from The Nuremberg Interviews (2004) by Leon Goldensohn and Robert Gellately
  • From May until August, I went on a search for Himmler. Finally, I gave myself up voluntarily in August 1945. I went from one village to another looking for Himmler in order to kill him. I also wanted to find my family, whose whereabouts I did not know. I didn't know what the future held in store for me. At that time, I thought it was certain that since I was an SS general, I would be taken prisoner and executed at once.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (14 February 1946) from The Nuremberg Interviews (2004) by Leon Goldensohn and Robert Gellately
  • Germany could not win this war because it was in league with the devil. This war would not have ended without revolution.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (14 February 1946) from The Nuremberg Interviews (2004) by Leon Goldensohn and Robert Gellately
  • I am the only living witness but I must say the truth. Contrary to the opinion of the National Socialists that the Jews were a highly organized group, the appalling fact was that they had no organization whatsoever. The mass of the Jewish people were taken completely by surprise. Never before has a people gone so unsuspectingly to its disaster. After the first anti-Jewish actions of the Germans, they thought now the wave was over and so they walked back to their undoing.
    • Quoted in Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators : Essays on the Nazi Holocaust (1980) by Joel E. Dimsdale, p. 35

About Bach-Zelewski[edit]

  • Von dem Bach is so clever he can do anything, get around anything.
    • Adolf Hitler, as quoted in The Simon and Schuster Encyclopedia of World War II (1978) by Thomas D. Parrish and Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall, p. 45
  • I hardly recognize him here. He was very egocentric, tried to get ahead without considering others.
  • Bach-Zelewski is a liar and a criminal — a terrible man. I repeat, he is a liar, a criminal, and a killer. I have proof of what I am saying about myself, but I know that Bach-Zelewski is a frightful liar.
  • But to go back to Bach-Zelewski — I think Bach-Zelewski has the kind of personality that can't differentiate between the truth and lies. He gets himself so much into the whole thing he can't differentiate. He convinces himself and believes he has gone so far that he has to die for the cause. Originally it was not the truth, but he so convinces himself — he's ready to die for it.
  • That Swine.
    • Herman Goering upon seeing Von Dem Bach about to testify at the Nuremberg Trials.[citation needed]

External links[edit]

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