The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, February 13, 1946
(Part 15 of 19)


I omit a whole number of facts, the majority of which, strictly speaking, should have been specially reported to the Tribunal. I pass on to the description of the last crime mentioned in the statement of the Commission. I pay special attention to it because it describes the brutal extermination of a very large number of wounded Red Army warriors. You will also find this excerpt on Page 99 of your document book:

"On 4th December, 1943, there arrived at the station of Sevastopol, from the city of Kerch, three transports of wounded prisoners of war belonging to the Kerch Landing Forces. Having loaded them on a 2,500-ton barge moored in the Southern bay near the landing-stage, the Germans set fire to it. The heartrending screams of the prisoners filled the air. Women who were not far from the barge could render no assistance to the wounded, since they were driven from the site of the fire by gendarmes. Not more than 15 men were saved. Thousands perished in the fire.

On the following day the same barge was loaded with 2,000 men from among the wounded brought from Kerch. The barge sailed from Sevastopol in an unknown direction, and all the wounded in it were drowned at sea."

I repeat that I am omitting a considerable number of facts established by the Commission.

There is but little difference in character between the documentary evidence already read into thr record and the data on the atrocities perpetrated by the German Fascist invaders on Soviet prisoners of war in the region of Stalino, submitted by a special Commission with, at its head, the President of the Staliozavodsk Regional Council of Workers' Deputies. I shall read into thr record that part of the document which contains items of interest to us. The official report begins in the left-hand column of Page 3 of Document USSR 2(a)

[Page 328]

and the extracts which I am reading into thr record are printed on Page 108 of your document book:
"The circumstances of the case: In the Stalinozavodsk district of the town of Stalino, in the 'Lenin Club,' the German Fascist invaders organised a camp for Soviet prisoners of war; at times there were up to 20,000 men in this camp; the Camp Commandant, a German officer named Gavbel, established an intolerable diet for the Soviet prisoners of war.

Examined as witnesses, , former prisoners of war Ivan Vasilyetch Plakhoff and Konstantin Semyonovitch Shatzky, who had been interned in this camp and managed to escape, testified that prisoners of war were starved; a loaf of bread weighing 1,200 grams and made of poor quality, burnt flour was issued to 8 men; once a day one litre per head of hot liquid food was issued, consisting of a small quantity of burnt bran, occasionally mixed with sawdust. The premises in which the prisoners of war were housed had no glass in their windows; in summer and winter alike, even in the coldest weather, 5 kilograms of coal per day only were allowed for heating purposes. This amount could not, of course, heat the vast premises where up to a thousand prisoners lived in a perpetual draught. Mass cases of frostbite were observed. There were no steam baths. Generally speaking, people did not wash for 6 months and were overrun by enormous quantities of vermin. In the hot summer months the prisoners suffered from the heat. They were left without drinking water for 3 to 5 days on end."

The regime in the camp organised in the region of Stalinozavodsk was, as is clear from the extracts read into the record, precisely the same as the regime in other German prisoner of war camps. This has been proved beyond all doubt by the discovery of general directives.

The following excerpt shows that, over and above these directives, camp commanders had opportunities for committing atrocities themselves, each man according to his own particular method without risk of punishment.

On Page 105 of your document book you will find the following extract which I am now quoting:

"Prisoners of war were beaten up with sticks and rifle butts on the slightest provocation, and a punishment of 720 strokes with the lash was imposed for any attempt at escape; the strokes were administered over a period of 8 days -- 30 strokes of the lash at a time -- morning, noon, and evening. At the same time, the culprits were deprived of their bread ration, while the liquid ration was halved."
Mortality in the camp following on this regime was very high. In winter, up to 200 persons died every day. Epidemics broke out in the camp. Numerous cases of oedema -- the result of hunger and death by starvation -- were registered. The guards derived much pleasure in degrading the prisoners of war by setting one against the other.

Thus Shatzky testified that he was flogged by German policemen, receiving 120 strokes with the lash and 15 with sticks, for disobeying the order to flog his fellow prisoners of war. The floggings were supervised by German officers.

Provisions brought by civilians for handing to the prisoners of war did not reach them. The Commission came to the conclusion that no fewer than 25,000 Soviet prisoners of war were buried in the grounds of the camp and of the central polyclinic. This conclusion is based on the measurement and number of graves and on the evidence of witnesses.

Mass killings and murders of prisoners of war were also organised by the German Fascist invaders in another town in the Don Basin, Artyemovsk. A special commission, consisting of the Military Prosecutor of the town of

[Page 329]

Artyemovsk, of the priest of the Pokrovskaya Church, Ziumin, of representatives of the intelligentsia, public organisations, and Army units, drew up an official report on the mass murders of Soviet prisoners of war organised by the Fascist invaders. This official report is on Page 4 of Exhibit USSR 2(a). It is also on Page 105 of your document book. It is said in the report:
"In November, 1941, soon after the occupation of the town of Artyemovsk by German Fascist invaders, a prisoner of war camp was established, in the territory of the small military town lying beyond the Northern Station, housing 1,000 captured Red Army prisoners of war."
I omit one paragraph and pass on to the question of living conditions in the camp:
"In the spring of 1942, prisoners of war, driven desperate by hunger, used to leave the camp and, creeping on all fours like animals, plucked and ate grass. In order to deprive the men even of this modicum of food, the Germans fenced off the camp building by a double row of barbed-wire, with a distance of 2 metres between the rows and bared-wire [sic] entanglements placed between them."
I omit one paragraph and am preparing to read the conclusions into thr record:
"Twenty-five graves were discovered near the camp -- 3 of them mass graves. The first grave measured 20 by 15 metres; it contained the remains of about 1,000 corpses. The second grave measured 27 km. [sic] by 14 metres and contained the remains of about 900 corpses; in the third grave, 20 metres by 1, the remains of up to 500 corpses were discovered; and there were from 25 to 30 in each of the remaining graves, making up, all told, a total of some 3,000 corpses."
In the neighborhood of the small farm of Vertyatchy, in the Goroditschtchensky region of the Stalingrad area, the Hitlerites established a prisoner of war camp. Here, as in other camps, and with their customary and characteristic sadism, they exterminated the warrior prisoners of the Red Army.

I present to you, as evidence, our Exhibit USSR 63/3/3, which contains an official report of 21st June, 1943. It is duly drawn up and certified and contains the following information This is on Page 110 of the document book:

"As a result of the atrocious regime, at least 1,500 Soviet prisoners of war perished of starvation, torture, sickness and executions in the camp near Vertyatchy, during the three and a half months of its existence.

The Germans forced the prisoners to work from 14 to 16 hours per day, and fed them once a day, the ration consisting of 3 to 4 spoonfuls of stewed rye or a ladleful of unsalted rye soup together with a piece of horse carrion.

A few days before the arrival of the Red Army the Germans ceased to feed the prisoners altogether and condemned them to death by starvation. Nearly all the prisoners suffered from dysentery. Many had open wounds, but the prisoners received no medical assistance whatsoever."

I omit one paragraph and pass on to the next, which deals with the humiliating treatment of prisoners of war:
"Germans mocked the patriotism of the Soviet prisoners of war by forcing them to work on German military constructions, to dig trenches and dugouts, and to build mud-huts and shelters for military technical equipment. The Hitlerites systematically humiliated Soviet prisoners of war by making them kneel before the Germans."
It is noted in the official report that the Commission examined material evidence -- tools used for the torture of Soviet prisoners of war, a leather thong and dagger, picked up among the disarmed bodies, with the well-known Hitlerite slogan "Blood and Honor ("Blut und Ehre").

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The circumstances in which the dagger was discovered give every possibility of understanding what was meant by "German Honour" and for whose "Blood" the dagger was intended.

The documents of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union relating to the town of Kerch describe the characteristic crimes of the Hitlerite invaders. I submit to the Tribunal the documents of the Extraordinary State Commission as Exhibit USSR 63/6 and I shall read several extracts into thr records. In your copy they are all marked so as to enable the Tribunal to follow the text quoted (Page 115).

THE PRESIDENT: I think we might break off now.

(A recess was taken.)

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