Set of papers from occupied Lwow
Rare SS commandants signed release form.
A rare and important set of documents that were used during both the Russian and German occupation of eastern Poland during World War Two: from the city of Lwow.
The Infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement of August 1939 paved the way to the outbreak of hostilities that would engulf the continent and then the entire world for 6 long years.
Two parties joined forces openly and secretly to start their colonial quests, both out of ideological and political reasons and aspirations. The first victim to fall would be the peaceful state of Poland. They invaded the country in September of 1939, carve it up and leash out a horrific purge and cleansing of the local population, and after 6 long years of battle, millions would find their death.
What started as an agreement of convenience and mutual understanding in 1939 would turn out to be a bitter fight right to the end: only one would remain standing on two feet.
Poland was divided, at first, into 2 spheres of influence: one under a brutal racial fascist Germany and the other, also brutal, under strict Stalinist communist Russia.
1941 would see an end to this unholy partnership when Germany would invade its former ally in what would be known as Operation Barbarossa.
The eastern Polish Galician city of Lwow fell under both Soviet and Nazi occupation during the war, with mass deportations and executions under the feared secret police known as the NKVD followed by lethal and genocidal reprisals and cleansing of the local population, mainly it’s Jewish people, by the SS and Gestapo.
1941 saw the physical beginning of the mass destruction and murder of eastern Europe’s Jews, followed a year later by their brothers and sisters from the west: In the East it was mass shootings committed on the fields and plains of the eastern states and later on it would be more “industrialized” and “human”, as the German killers put it, by mass gassing in the death camps erected in occupied Poland.
The city of Lwow saw a ghetto being established in late 1941 then followed by a small by deadly forced labor camp as well (Zwangsarbeiter Lager Lemberg-Janowska), run by the SS. One of its commandants was Gustav Willhaus, July 1942 to June 1943, who was known for his target shootings of the inmates in the small camp. He was a sadistic butcher who met his fate at Steinfischbach, around March of 1945.
Some brief biographical points:
- 1924-28 Joined the SA;
- 1929-30 Hitlerjugend;
- 1932 Joined the NSDAP (No. 129 296);
- Same year enters the SS;
- 1940 Enters the Waffen SS;
- 1940-41 Sees security operations in occupied Norway;
- 1941 November arrived at Lwow;
- 1942-43 Commandant at Lemberg labor camp;
- 1943 Waffen Geb. Division der “SS-Handschar”;
- 1945 killed in action near Steinfischbach.
The set of papers in this short and brief article all belonged to a family who was under dual occupation during the war. One family member, Michael Ahn, was imprisoned at the Lwow (Lemberg) camp and released in 1943; the release “good-conduct” certificate was hand signed by Gustav Willhaus, one of the rare documents that bare his signature and proof of him being the commander of the camp.
Smaller image source: Jewish Virtual Library.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.