On June 20, 1942, Reserve Police Battalion 101 from Hamburg, consisting of eleven officers, five administrators and 486 men set out by truck for Poland. A few days later they arrived at the town of Bilgoraj, south of Lublin. Here for the first time they were told the purpose of their mission: to drive the Jews out of the nearby town of Józefów. Next morning, each man was issued with an ox-hide whip to be used to drive the victims out of their homes. Anyone who resisted was to be shot on the spot. The first 'action' was the rounding up of Jews from the ghetto of Jósefów.
This was done with the utmost brutality, Jewish corpses lay strewn throughout the ghetto. All Jews, lying sick in the hospitals were simply shot where they lay, wounded Russian soldiers were completely ignored. Those alive were assembled in the town's market place and then marched in groups to the woods on the town's outskirts. Divided into killing squads of eight to ten men, each man from Battalion 101 would select a victim, a man, a woman or child and then walk in parallel single file to the killing site. There the victims were ordered to lie, face down, in a row on the ground to await the inevitable bullet in the back of the head.
This procedure was repeated over and over again throughout the day at the end of which, the uniforms of the killers were splattered with blood, brain matter and bone splinters. The thirty men of Lieutenant Kurt Drucker's platoon of Second Company, shot between two and three hundred Jews within a four hour period. That day, over 1,200 Jews were disposed of, the bodies left for Jósefów's Polish mayor to arrange burial.
Not all members of Police Battalion 101 approved of the task they were asked to perform, and after the first few killings, asked to be excused. Surprisingly, many such requests were granted as there were always enough volunteers to take their place. At the war crimes trials after the war, 21 members of Police Battalion 101 were convicted, 14 were sentenced to death by hanging.