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Generalkommissariat Minsk

A Gallery of Unpublished Original Photographs of occupied White Russia, 1941-3

THESE images are from 171 original 35mm negatives taken by or for Joachim Reuscher, a personal friend and an officer on the staff of the Generalkommissariat Minsk, the civil governor of White Russia (now: Belarus) 1941-1943. On the original box is written: "Minsker Filme, 1942/1943. Aufgenommen von Reuscher, durch Bundesarchiv Koblenz bearbeitet, zurueck erhalten Nov. 1958." In fact the negatives also show scenes in 1941.

The photos show the Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube (far right, with SS Brigadeführer Karl Zenner*) and his staff and friends, conferring with visiting officers, and touring cities including Minsk, Riga, and Marienburg. The images include the German school, war-damaged buildings, an unidentified pile of Jewish luggage, hanged partisans (including some well-known photos), and family and private outings.

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Kube was appointed by Hitler in the summer of 1941, and assassinated by a female household staff member known as Galina on September 21/22, 1943, as he slept. Although involved in some atrocities, history considers Kube generally to have been one of the more humane German governors, even an anti-Nazi, and there were demonstrations of sympathy during his state funeral.

To complete the usefulness of this collection of negatives (of which 62 are selected here), we invite our readers to identify by name the people, officers, units, uniforms, women, girlfriends, locations, events, make of automobile, and perhaps even cities, buildings, streets, and dates. Tell us:

We have made high resolution (10MB, sometimes more) scans of all these photographs. They are often grainy (Perutz film), which limits detail definition. For further information:

First posted: Monday, August 29, 2005

All photographs are copyright, and permission must be sought from us before any use whatsoever is made of them


* Carl Zenner (1899-1969), Polizeipräsident in Aachen 1935-41, then SS- und Polizeiführer (SSPF) in Minsk, Weißruthenien. In July 1942 he left Minsk and became chief of Amt B II of the SS-Hauptamt until the end of war.

Our insignia expert Jeff Clark comments: Wilhelm Kube is still wearing the early-pattern Gauleiter tabs. It is strange that he held that a high rank in the Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete but did not wear the new Gauleiter tabs and an old-style swastika armband to boot; the new rank insignia had been issued in 1940 by the Reichsorganisations- Leiter (Dr Ley) and it seems many people ignored the change over.

Uniform expert Bill D of Philadelphia comments: The most prevalent uniform is an unadorned four-pocket tunic, lacking shoulder straps or collar tabs, which is the uniform of Rosenberg's Ostministerium officials. By regulation there were collar tabs and shoulder insignia for rank purposes, but most of the officials shown wear no badges of a specific rank. By regulations, a large curved-wing eagle was worn on the left sleeve but, this also appears in only a few of the photographs and several officials lack even that adornment; all seem to wear the appropriate visor cap for the Ministry. Note that in one image [No. 39] an official has removed the rather massive eagle from his sleeve and had it sewn to his right breast, in the style of the German military, which it gives his tunic a rather Chaplinesque "Great Dictator" look

The son of Wilhelm Kube informs us, Sept 14, 2005: "Meine Mutter ist auf Fotos nr.144, 63 und 79. Die Fotos nr.39 und 42, sind von einer Ausgrabung alter Gräber aus der Eiszeit, wo mein Vater ein Skelett und sonstige Sachen ausgegraben hatte. Laut meiner Mutter hatte er die Einwohner wegen dieser Hügel gefragt, was diese wären, sie sagten es wären Gräber aus der Napoleonzeit, aber Vater wußte genau das Napoleon seine toten Soldaten nicht begraben konnte auf seinen Rückzug, deswegen hat er mehrmals dort ausgegraben, sämtliche gefundene Sachen schickte er damals ins Museum nach Heidelberg, dessen Direktor extra nach Minsk gefahren war."

Thursday, January 10, 2008: We are indebted to Mikola Volkau of Belarus for identifying several of the backgrounds and buildings and supplying modern photographs of these locations to us for comparison.


Letter from reader Cass about one of the images, the execution of three partsians including Masha | Various web sites identify Masha as a teenage Jewish nurse

For an energetic though loosely argued defence of the proposition that the Unidentified Young Female about to be executed is the (Jewish) teenager Masha Bruskina, citing several eye-witnesses who claimed to have known her, see the paper by Nechama Tec and Daniel Weiss, both also Jewish, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, VIII, No.3, winter 1997, pages 366-377.

 Locations (click air photo below to enlarge):

  1. Heutige Leninstrasse
  2. Platz der Freiheit
  3. Marienkirche
  4. Dominikanische Kirche (1960-en zerstört)
  5. Alte Palast von Radzivillen, später Stadttheater (zerstört 1986)
  6. Platz des zerstörtes Europahotel (2005-2006 neu gebaut aber auf dem Platz des zerstörtes Stadttheater (No. 5))
  7. Ehemalige Dominikanische Strasse, heute Internationale strasse
  8. Alexanderpark
Wartime aerial photo of Minsk