I N THE VERY EARLY HOURS OF JULY 13, 1942, THE MEN OF Reserve Police Battalion 101 were roused from their bunks in the large brick school building that served as their barracks in the Polish town of Biłgoraj. They were middle-aged family men of working- and lower-middle-class background from the city of Hamburg.


Considered too old to be of use to the German army, they had been drafted instead into the Order Police. Most were raw recruits with no previous experience in German occupied territory. They had arrived in Poland less than three weeks earlier. it was still quite dark as the men climbed into the waiting trucks. Each policeman had been given extra ammunition, and additional boxes had been loaded onto the trucks as well. 1 They were headed for their first major action, though the men had not yet been told what to expect.


The convoy of battalion trucks moved out of Biłgoraj in the dark, heading eastward on a jarring washboard gravel road. The pace was slow, and it took an hour and a half to two hours to arrive at the destination—the village of
Józefów—a mere thirty kilometers away. Just as the sky was beginning to lighten, the convoy halted outside Józefów. It was a typical Polish village of modest white houses with thatched straw roofs. Among its inhabitants
were 1,800 Jews.


The village was totally quiet. 2 The men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 climbed down from their trucks and assembled in a half-circle around their commander, Major Wilhelm Trapp, a fifty-three-year-old career policeman
affectionately known by his men as “Papa Trapp.” The time had come for Trapp to address the men and inform them of the assignment the battalion had received.


Pale and nervous, with choking voice and tears in his eyes, Trapp visibly fought to control himself as he spoke.The battalion, he said plaintively, had to perform a frightfully unpleasant task. This assignment was not to his liking,indeed it was highly regrettable, but the orders came from the highest authorities. If it would make their task any easier, the men should remember that in Germany the bombs were falling on women and children.


He then turned to the matter at hand. The Jews had instigated the American boycott that had damaged Germany,one policeman remembered Trapp saying. There were Jews in the village of Józefów who were involved with the partisans, he explained according to two others. The battalion had now been ordered to round up these Jews. The male Jews of working age were to be separated and taken to a work camp. The remaining Jews—the women, children, and elderly—were to be shot on the spot by the battalion. Having explained what awaited his men, Trapp then made an extraordinary offer: if any of the older men among them did not feel up to the task that lay before him,he could step out.

然后他转口说手头的事情。犹太人煽动了美国的抵制行动,这损害了德国的利益,一名警察记得特拉普说过,在Józefów村有犹太人参与了那个行动。据另外两个人说,他是游击队员。这时,全营的人奉命围捕这些犹太人。处于工作年龄的男性犹太人将被分开并带到劳动营。剩下的犹太人——女人,孩子和老人都将被全营就地枪决。特拉普向他的部下解释了等待他们的是什么,然后他提出了一个特别的提议:如果他们当中的任何一个老人不能胜任摆在他面前的任务,他可以走出去。(step out 有暂时离开的意思。)


By leoom


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