As an eyewitness to the brutal SS executions Hermann Graebe, manager of a German construction firm in the Ukraine, later provided vital testimony in the Nuremberg trials, invoking bitter persecution from many of his countrymen. To escape the hostility, Graebe moved his family to San Francisco where he lived until his death in 1986. Hermann Graebe was honored as a 'Righteous Among the Nations'.
On October 5, 1942, by accident, Hermann Graebe and his foreman came upon an Einsatz execution squad killing Jews from a small town in the Ukraine. Mass shooting, the commonest means of slaughter, was described with classic simplicity by Herman Graebe before the International Military Tribunal. This is his statement:
'I walked around the mound, and found
myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged
together and lying on top of each other so that their heads were visible.
Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some
of the people shot were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and
turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was
already 2/3 full. I estimated. that it contained about 1,000 people.
I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS man, who sat at
the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He
had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette. The people,
completely naked, went down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of
the pit and clambered over the heads of the people lying there, to the
place to which the SS man directed them.
the morning of the next day, when I again visited the site, I saw about 30
naked people lying near the pit-about 30 to 50 meters away from it. Some
of them were still alive; they looked straight in front of them with a
fixed stare and seemed to notice neither the chilliness of the morning nor
the workers of my firm who stood around.