The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, February 13, 1946
(Part 10 of 19)

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Three of Hitler's high-ranking officers have confirmed that already at the beginning of the war the question of exterminating Soviet prisoners of war was settled during a special conference. They (the witnesses) differ slightly in detail, but the fact itself has been quite definitely established.

The sentence which I quoted from the directive of Field Marshal Reichenau also confirms that even the supply of food to the soldiers of the Red Army taken prisoner by the Germans was considered as "unnecessary humaneness."

It is useful perhaps to submit to you Document 884-PS, which becomes Exhibit USSR 351. It bears the signature of Warlimont and a postscript by the Defendant Jodl. The document was drawn up at the Fuehrer's Headquarters on 12th May, 1941. It said, "O.K.H. had submitted the draft of a directive dealing with the treatment of responsible political workers and similar persons." You have this quotation on Page 35 in the document book, as well as the two following excerpts which I am going to quote.

The draft foresaw the "removal" of persons of this category. The decision whether a prisoner of war falls into the group "to be removed" is up to the officer, and the document states: "By an officer with authority to impose punishment for breach of discipline."

[Page 316]

Thus, any junior officer was endowed with powers of life and death over any captured Red Army soldier, regardless of his rank or service.

Paragraph 3 of this document states:

"Political Commissars of the Army are not recognized as prisoners of war and are to be liquidated, at the latest, in the prisoner of war transient camps. No evacuation to the rear areas."
The Defendant Jodl added the characteristic postscript -- you will find it on Page 37 of the document book:
"We must reckon with possible reprisals against German airmen. It would, therefore, be better to consider all these measures in the nature of reprisals."
General Oesterreich's testimony concerning the existence of the order to brand Soviet prisoners of war is fully confirmed.

I submit to the Tribunal, as Exhibit USSR 15,Order No. 14 802/42, given by the Chief of Gendarmerie of the Vice- Governor in the Region of Styria. It is stated in the order that it is a question of disclosing the order of the Chief of Police. The first paragraph of the order of the chief of the regular police states (the paragraph quoted is on Page 38 of the document book):

"Soviet prisoners of war are to be branded with a special and lasting mark.

(2) The brand is to consist of an acute angle of about 45 degrees with a l cm. length of side, pointing downwards on the left buttock, at about a hand's width from the rectum. This brand is to be made with the lancets available in all military units. Chinese ink is to be used as colouring matter."

The third paragraph underlines that:
"Branding is not a sanitary precaution."
It is stated in Paragraph 5 that, together with all Soviet prisoners of war now entering the regions of the Baltic States, the Ukraine, and the province of the Governor- General commanded by the German Armed Forces, all the remaining prisoners of war in the area of the Supreme Army Command (O.K.W.) up to September, 1942 are to be subjected to branding.

The same directive was issued to the Presidents of the Regional Labour Administration and the Reich Plenipotentiaries for Labour.

In this Document 1191-PS, Page 40 of the document book, it is stated that the order of the O.K.W., dated 10th July, 1942, was brought to the attention of the Presidents of Regional Labour Administrations and to the Reich Plenipotentiaries for Labour.

Our documents numbered USSR 121, 122,123 and 124 are excerpts taken from orders issued by the German military authorities, such as regimental and divisional commanders, and confirm that the prisoners of war -- in order to "spare German blood" -- were forced to clear minefields and carry on work which endangered their lives. Order No. 16641, of the 60th German Infantry Division, states, in explanation of the bestial treatment of the Soviet warriors:

"Russian soldiers and officers are very brave in battle. Even a small isolated unit will always attack. In this connection a humane attitude towards the prisoners is not permissible."
This quotation is on Page 44 in the document book.

THE PRESIDENT: We have had that already, have we not, or an almost identical one?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: You are right, Sir. I quoted this excerpt as a part of the Note of the Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Molotov, and now I quote

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it as part of a special German document. I consider that it is an unprecedented event in history when, instead of respecting an enemy for his military valour, the senior officers of Hitler's army, in reply to such military valour, ordered their subordinates to treat this same enemy ruthlessly and inhumanly.

In the document submitted to you as No. 3257-PS (Exhibit USSR 352) there is a sentence directly relating to my theme. It has been read into thr record. Document 3257-PS is a secret report of the Armament Inspector in the Ukraine, dated 2nd December, 1941, and addressed to the Chief of Armament Section of the O.K.W. It states (the excerpt quoted is at the end of Page 45 and the beginning of Page 46 of your document book):

"Living conditions, food and clothing conditions and the health of the prisoners of war are bad; mortality is very high. We may reckon on the fact that during this winter people will perish at the rate of tens and even hundreds of thousands."
I submit Document D-339 as Exhibit USSR 350. The chief camp and factory physician, Jaeger, having inspected the camp in Naeggerath Street, informed the medical department of the Central Administration of Camps, in a top-secret medical report on 2nd September, 1944, as follows:
"The prisoner-of-war camp in Naeggerath Street is in an atrocious condition. The men live in dustbins, in ovens no longer used, in huts made by themselves. Food is barely sufficient. Krupp is responsible for the food supply. Medicine and bandages were so scarce that in many cases medical treatment was completely impossible. The blame for this appalling state of affairs rests on the permanent camp."
In the files of the defendant Rosenberg was found, among other documents, one numbered 081-PS, which becomes Exhibit USSR 353. As far as we can understand, it is a letter from Rosenberg to Keitel, dated 28th February, 1942, on the subject of the prisoners of war. A copy found in Rosenberg's files is unsigned, but there is no doubt that such a letter was either addressed to Keitel or prepared for dispatch to the chief of the Armed Forces.

The letter states that the fate of the Soviet prisoners of war in Germany is a tragedy on an enormous scale.

I will now read into thr record the second sentence of the fifth paragraph of the Russian text (you will find it on Page 48 of the document book):

"Out of 3,600,000 ..."
THE PRESIDENT: I think the United States read this letter, did they not?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: The document has been partially read, but I would ask permission to read part of a short excerpt a second time, since it is of importance to my further report. It will, quite litreally, only take one and a half minutes of our time.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, we have been preventing other prosecuting counsel from reading documents which have already been read and we are directed by the Charter to conduct an expeditious trial; and I do not really see how it can be expeditious if documents are read more than once.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: This document, which is already known to the Tribunal, presents a very clear picture of what happened in the camp. The author of this letter states that attempts had been made by the population to supply the prisoners with food, but that in most cases the attempts were foiled by the energetic opposition of the camp commanders.

There is no reason to suspect the author of that letter of piling on the agony, or of having any liking for the Soviet people. On the contrary, there is every reason to state that the question has not yet been fully elucidated. This document, addressed by one defendant to another, enables us to imagine the acts that took place in the camps for Soviet prisoners of war.

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I began by presenting to you two documents of German origin, and this with a definite aim in view. After you have been informed of the attitude of the Hitlerites themselves towards the Soviet prisoners of war, and as soon as you, however briefly, have learned what the camps for the Soviet prisoners looked like from the words of the Hitlerites themselves, it will be easier for you to estimate the probative value of the documents of non-German origin.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a convenient time to adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

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