The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Fourth Day: Friday, 8th February, 1946
(Part 12 of 22)

MARSHAL OF THE COURT: May it please the Court, I desire to announce that the defendant Hess will be absent until further notice on account of illness.

THE PRESIDENT: Would it be convenient to you and the Soviet Delegation if the Tribunal sat in open session until 11.30 to-morrow morning, and then after that we would adjourn for a closed session for administrative business? Would that be convenient to the Soviet delegation?

GENERAL RUDENKO: We, that is the Soviet delegation, have no objection.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, then, that is what we will do. The Tribunal will sit to-morrow from 10 until 11.30 in open session and will then adjourn.

GENERAL RUDENKO: In these prisoner of war camps, as well as in camps for the civilian population, extermination and torture were practised, referred to by the Germans as "filtering, execution, special regime." The "Grosslazarett" set up by the Germans in the town of Slavuta has left grim memories. The whole world is familiar with the atrocities perpetrated by the Germans against Soviet prisoners of war and those of other democratic States at Auschwitz, Maidanek, and many other camps.

The directives of the German Security Police and of the SD - - worked out in collaboration with the Staff of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, whose chief was the Defendant Keitel -- were applied here.

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Operational Order No. 8 stated:

"Executions must not take place in the camp or in the immediate vicinity of the camp. If the camps in the Government General are situated in the immediate vicinity of the frontier, the prisoners intended for special treatment should, if possible, be transported to former Soviet districts. Should executions be necessary owing to violations of camp discipline, the chief of the operational detachment should in this case approach the camp commandant.

"The activities of the Sonderkommandos sanctioned by the army Commanders of the rear areas (district commandants dealing with affairs connected with prisoners of war) must be conducted in such a way as to carry out 'filtering' with as little notice as possible, while the liquidation must be carried out without delay and at such a distance from the transit camps themselves, and from populated places, as to remain unknown to the rest of the prisoners of war and to the population."

The following "form" for the carrying out of executions is recommended in Appendix 1 to Operational Order No. 14 of the Chief of the Security Police and S.D., dated "Berlin, 29th October, 1941, No. 21 B/41 G.R.S.-IV A.I.Z.":
"Chiefs of operational groups decide questions about execution on their own responsibility and give appropriate instructions to the Sonderkommandos. In order to carry out the measures laid down in the directives issued, the Kommandos are to demand from the commandants of the camp the handing over to them of the prisoners. The High Command of the Army has issued instructions to the commandants for meeting such demands.

Executions must take place unnoticed, in convenient places, and, in any event, not in the camp itself nor in its immediate vicinity. It is necessary to take care that the bodies are buried immediately and properly."

The report of the operational Kommando (Obersturmbannfuehrer Lipper to Brigadefuehrer, Dr. Thomas) in Vinnitza, dated December, 1941, speaks of the way in which all the above- mentioned instructions were carried out. It is pointed out in this report that, after the so-called "filtering" of the camp, only 25 persons who could be classed as "suspects" remained in the camp at Vinnitza.

"This limited number," the report states, "is explained by the fact that the local organisations, in conjunction with the commandants or with the appropriate counter-intelligence officers, daily undertook the necessary measures, in accordance with the rules of the Security Police, against the undesirable elements in the permanent prisoner of war camps."

Thus, apart from the mass executions conducted by "Sonderkommandos" specially created for this purpose, the systematic extermination of Soviet persons was widely practised by commandants and their subordinates in camps for Soviet prisoners of war.

Among the documents of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union for the Investigation of Crimes committed by Germans in the temporarily seized territories of the U.S.S.R. there are several notes of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs V. M. Molotov, on the subject of the extermination of prisoners of war and of their cruel treatment, and in these notes numerous instances are given of these monstrous crimes of the Hitlerite Government and of the German Supreme Command.

The note of V. M. Molotov, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, dated 25th November, 1941, on the subject of the revolting bestialities of the German authorities against Soviet prisoners of war, addressed to all Ambassadors and Ministers Plenipotentiary of the countries with which the U.S.S.R. has diplomatic relations, points out that the German High Command and the German military units subjected the Red Army soldiers to brutal tortures and

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killings. The wild Fascist fanatics stabbed and shot on the spot defenceless sick and wounded Red Army soldiers who were in the camps; they raped hospital nurses, and brutally murdered members of the medical personnel.

A special count of the victims of these executions was conducted on instructions of the German Government and the Supreme Command. Thus, the directive given in Appendix 2 to Heydrich's Order No. 8, points out the necessity for keeping an account of the executions performed, i.e., of the extermination of prisoners of war, in the following form: (1) serial number; (2) surname and first name; (3) date and place of birth; (4) profession; (5) last place of domicile; (6) grounds for execution; (7) date and place of execution.

A further specification of the tasks to be carried out by the Sonderkommandos for the extermination of Soviet prisoners of war was given in Operational Order No. 14, of the Chief of the Security Police and S.D., dated 29th October, 1941.

Among brutalities against Soviet prisoners of war must be included branding with special identification marks, which was laid down by a special order of the German Supreme Command, dated 20th July, 1942. This order provides for the following methods of branding:

"The tightly drawn skin is to be cut superficially with a heated lancet dipped in india ink."
The Hague Convention of 1907, regarding prisoners of war, prescribed not only humane treatment for prisoners of war, but also respect for their patriotic feelings and forbids their being used to fight against their own Fatherland. Article 3 of the Convention, which refers to the laws and customs of war, forbids the combatants to force enemy subjects to participate in military operations directed against their own country, even in cases where these subjects had been in their service before the outbreak of war. The Hitlerites trod underfoot even this elementary principle of International Law. By beatings and threats of shooting they forced prisoners to work as drivers of carts, motor vehicles, and transports carrying supplies and other equipment to the front, as ammunition bearers to the firing line, as auxiliaries in anti-aircraft artillery, etc.

In the Leningrad district, in the Yelny region of the Smolensk district, in the Gomel district of Byelorussian S.S.R., in the Poltava district and in other places, cases were recorded where the German command under threat of shooting, drove captured Red Army soldiers forward, under threat of shooting, in the van of their advancing columns during attacks.

The mass extermination of Soviet prisoners of war, established by special investigations of the Extraordinary State Commission, is also confirmed by the documents of the German police and of the Supreme Command, captured by the Soviet and Allied armies on German territory.

In these documents it is stated that many Soviet prisoners of war died of hunger, typhus and other diseases. The camp commandants forbade the civil population to give food to the prisoners and doomed them to death by starvation. In many cases prisoners of war who were unable to keep in line on the march, because of starvation and exhaustion, were shot in full view of the civil population and their bodies left unburied. In many camps no arrangements of any sort were made for living quarters for the prisoners of war. They lay in the open in rain and snow. They were not even given tools to dig themselves pits or burrows in the ground. One could hear the arguments of the Hitlerites: "The more prisoners who die, the better for us."

On the basis of the above exposition, I declare, on behalf of the Soviet Government and people, that the responsibility for the bloody butchery, perpetrated on Soviet prisoners of war in violation of all the universally accepted rules and customs of war, rests with the criminal Hitlerite Government and German

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Supreme Command, the representatives of which are now sitting on the defendants' benches.

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