“What did you think we were going to do?” I asked him. He muttered something that I could not quite make out. I prodded him again, saying louder “What?” He spoke up. “I thought, well…” and with that his voice trailed off. I just looked at him and laughed. Sometimes the quiet ones aren’t deep. They just don’t have anything worth while to say.
About ten minutes later the local rabbi arrived, accompanied by two elderly assistant rabbis dressed in black gabardine, leading a group of about forty Jews. The group was mostly boys and old men. The military age young men for the most part had left before we arrived or were in a Polish Army prisoner of war camp somewhere. Tagging along with the Jews were a couple of dogs who kept darting about sniffing everything in sight. I watched with delight as one of the dogs lifted his leg and pissed on the front of the church. Bringing up the rear, yet keeping a safe distance was six small boys and a little girl attracted by the Jewish parade.
The SD officer from earlier that morning walked out of the town hall accompanied by several SS men I had never seen before. With them was a fat, raggedy looking civilian wearing an armband stenciled with “Police Auxiliary.” Very impressive local police uniform I thought. The SD officer shouted at the rabbi to come over, and gave him orders to have the men sit down in two groups of twenty in front of the church. Each one of the Jews was carrying a small bundle. I later found out they had been told to bring clothes and personal items with them because they were were going to be spending the next few days digging antitank ditches. This was still early enough in the war that we were dealing with relative innocents. Innocent in that they were docile and cooperative to a point. Occasionally, like today, we would have a short lived problem because one of them thought they still had rights.
The SD officer with whom we were to work with frequently over the next three months espoused an operational philosophy that it was easier to keep to keep the cattle moving up to, and thorough the chute if they weren’t spooked. He was in the minority among his colleagues in this belief. Later on in the war when we crossed paths again he had definitely joined the “Kill them all and let Woden sort them out” school of SS public relations. Right now though he was angry and going off in the fat civilians face. Amazingly enough the fat man was a company commander in the local militia and his troops had not shown up yet. I heard him shout “Yes sir!” and salute. He turned, and took of waddling at high speed out of the market square. I watched as he trundled his fat ass down one of the roads leading in the opposite direction of where the Yids had come from.