Wilhelm Kube (13 November 1887 – 22 September 1943) was a German
politician and Nazi official. He was an important figure in the German
Christian movement during the early years of Nazi rule. During the war
he became a senior official in the occupying government of the Soviet
Union, achieving the rank of Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien
(Belarus). He was assassinated in
Minsk in 1943, triggering brutal
reprisals against the citizens of Minsk. An extreme antisemite, he is
known to have said about Jews: "What plague and syphilis are to
humanity, are Jews to the white race." 
However, Kube behaved towards German Jews in a relatively mild way
during his charge in Minsk, by trying—unsuccessfully—to protect
German Jews, whom he felt as culturally closer, from extermination.
As for Minsk, he planned to level the city and replace it with a
German settlement, called Asgard.
1 Early life
2 Nazification of Christianity
3 Denunciation of Buch
4 SS career
Kube was born in
Glogau (today's Głogów), Prussian Silesia, and
studied history, economics and theology. He was active in the
Völkisch movement as a student, and was an early member of the Nazi
Party. In 1924 he was one of the first group of Nazi members elected
Weimar Republic Reichstag. In 1928 he was appointed Gauleiter
of Brandenburg and speaker of the tiny Nazi party fraction (6 seats)
Prussian Landtag (Prussian state legislature).
Nazification of Christianity
Kube remained an active Christian as well as a zealous Nazi, and in
1932 he organised the list of candidates of the Faith Movement of the
German Christians for the ordinary election of presbyters and synodals
Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union
Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union on 13 November
that year. The
German Christians then gained about a third of all
seats in presbyteries and synods. Kube was elected as one of the
presbyters of the congregation of
Gethsemane Church in
Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. The presbyters elected him from their midst as
synodal into the competent deanery synod (German: Kreissynode; Berlin
then comprised 11 deaneries altogether), and these synodals again
elected him a member of deanery synodal board (German:
Kreissynodalvorstand). When in 1933 the Nazis came to power he
remained active in the German Christian movement which sought to
"Nazify" the 28 Protestant church bodies in Germany. For 23 July
Hitler ordered an unconstitutional, premature re-election of all
presbyters and synodals, with the
German Christians now gaining
70–80% of the seats, so Kube could then further advance as head of
the Berlin synod of the old-Prussian Church. Following the German
conquest of Poland in 1939 his Nazi party domain was extended to
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia and Reichsgau Wartheland.
Denunciation of Buch
In 1936 it was claimed in an anonymous letter that Party Judge Walter
Buch, the father-in-law of Martin Bormann, was married to a half-Jew.
In the course of a Gestapo investigation it came to light that the
letter had been written by Kube, whom Buch had investigated owing to
concerns over his private life and his leadership style in the Gau.
Buch saw to it that Kube was removed from all his posts. Only on
Hitler's orders was he allowed to remain a Gauleiter, albeit without a
Kube joined the SS in 1934 and attained the rank of Rottenführer
(Private First Class). In 1940 he served for a period at the
concentration camp at Dachau. In July 1941, in the
wake of the German occupation of the western parts of the Soviet
Union, he was appointed Generalkommissar for Weissruthenien (now known
as Belarus), with his headquarters in Minsk. In this role Kube oversaw
the extermination of the large Jewish population of this area. He was
nevertheless outraged by the
Slutsk Affair in October 1941, when SS
Einsatzgruppen (death squads) massacred Jews without the authority of
the local Nazi civil administration and Security SS authorities. Local
non-Jewish Belarusians were also killed, creating great resentment
among the population. Kube wrote in protest to his supervisor and
Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler:
The town was a picture of horror during the action. With indescribable
brutality on the part of both the German police officers and
particularly the Lithuanian partisans, the Jewish people, but also
among them Belarusians, were taken out of their dwellings and herded
together. Everywhere in the town shots were to be heard and in
different streets the corpses of shot Jews accumulated. The
Belarusians were in greatest distress to free themselves from the
The letter concluded:
I am submitting this report in duplicate so that one copy may be
forwarded to the Reich Minister. Peace and order cannot be maintained
Belarus with methods of that sort. To bury seriously wounded people
alive who worked their way out of their graves again is such a base
and filthy act that the incidents as such should be reported to the
Führer and Reichsmarschall.
Despite these misgivings, Kube participated in an atrocity on 2 March
1942 in the
Minsk ghetto. During a search by German and Belarusian
police, a group of children were seized and thrown into pits of deep
sand to die.
At that moment, several SS officers, among them Wilhelm Kube, arrived,
whereupon Kube, immaculate in his uniform, threw handfuls of sweets to
the shrieking children. All the children perished in the sand.
Kube's contradictory attitude towards Jews is shown in his behaviour
towards German Jews deported to Minsk. He was particularly incensed by
the presence among the deportees of men decorated during World War I.
These Jews who he regarded as belonging "to our cultural milieu"
prompted Kube to file a complaint with Reinhard Heydrich, in which he
stated that "during the evacuation of Jews from the Reich, the
guidelines on who was to be evacuated had not been properly observed"
and he attached a list of names. During the 2 March 1942 massacre,
Generalkommissar Kube withheld German Jews from a mass shooting which
was conducted in
Minsk under the supervision of Sturmbannführer Dr.
Eduard Strauch, at which 3,412 Jews were killed, an unprecedented act
that provoked a formal complaint from the SS according to which
"Generalkommissar Kube appears to have promised to the German Jews,
who before my time were delivered to the ghetto five thousand strong,
that life and health would remain theirs".
Heydrich flew to
Minsk to deliver Kube a reprimand, after which he
felt compelled to comply with extermination actions. On 31 July he
wrote to his friend, the Reichskommissar for the Ostland, Hinrich
Lohse, in Riga:
Following lengthy talks with the SS-Brigadeführer Zenner and the
extraordinarily diligent head of the SD, SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr.
Strauch, in the last two weeks in White Russia we have liquidated
roughly 55,000 Jews....In the city of
Minsk about 10,000 Jews were
liquidated on 28 and 29 July. Of these, 6,500 were Russian Jews,
predominantly women, children, and the aged; the rest were Jews unfit
for labor, mainly from Vienna, Brünn, Bremen, and Berlin. The latter
had been sent to
Minsk last year in accordance with the Führer's
Minsk proper there are 2,600 Jews from
Yelena Mazanik, who supposedly assassinated
Wilhelm Kube by placing a
time bomb in his bed.
At 1:20 am on September 22, 1943 Kube was assassinated in his Minsk
apartment by a time device hidden in his mattress in Operation
Blow-Up. According to one version of the plot, the bomb was allegedly
placed by Soviet partisan Yelena Mazanik (1914–1996), a Belarusian
female who had managed to find employment in Kube's household as a
maid to assassinate him. Alternatively, the explosives were set up by
Lev Liberman from the
Minsk ghetto, who was also employed in the
household. In total 12 groups have received an order from Moscow to
The bomb went off forty minutes early, purportedly due to higher air
temperature than that during bomb testing. In retaliation, the SS
killed more than 1,000 men who were citizens of Minsk. Owing to Kube's
antagonistic attitude to some SS anti-Jewish actions, Himmler felt
that the dead man had been well on the way to booking himself a place
in a concentration camp anyway, and reportedly described the
assassination as a "blessing".
Mazanik escaped the reprisals and continued to fight with the
partisans. She was later awarded the title Heroine of the Soviet
Union. After the war she went on to become deputy director of the
Fundamental Library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences.
^ ""What plague and syphilis are to humanity, are Jews to the white
race." in Finnish "Sitä mitä rutto ja syfilis ovat ihmiskunnalle,
ovat juutalaiset valkoiselle rodulle."". www.nazi-lauck-nsdapao.com.
^ Gerald Fleming,
Hitler and the Final Solution (Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 116–119.
^ Bloodlands: Europe between
Hitler and StalinBy Timothy Snyder page
^ Biographical information from Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum
Dritten Reich (Fischer Verlag 2005), 346
^ Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression: Volume III (Office of United States
Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality OCCPAC).
Washington, D.C.: USGPO. 1946. pp.783–789 Archived 2011-05-22 at the
Wayback Machine. accessed January 2008.
^ Gilbert, M: "The Holocaust", page 297. Fontana/Collins, 1987.
^ Fleming, Gerald. "The Camp of the German Jews in Minsk". nizkor.org.
Retrieved 14 May 2016. Quoted from Gerald Fleming,
the Final Solution (Berkeley: University of California Press 1987),
116 – 119.
^ Ioffe, Emanuil. "800 дней воли и борьбы". sb.by.
Retrieved 10 February 2015.
^ Captain Vasiliy Tsvetkov. "A Bomb for Gauleiter". De Bello.
^ Hilberg, Raul (2003).
The Destruction of the European Jews
The Destruction of the European Jews (3rd
ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 400.
^ Reidlinger 1960 p.157 as quoted in Turonek 1989 p.118.
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