The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 267th February, 1946

Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 14th February 1946
(Part 9 of 15)


[Page 21]

A certain number of prisoners of war who had escaped immediate annihilation were moved into special camps where they were gradually killed off by hunger and by exhausting labour. I will now read into the record the last paragraph on Page 37 of the report of the Yugoslav Government, which was previously mentioned by me and offered in evidence as Exhibit USSR 36. It is on Page 340 of the document book.
"One such camp was established in 1942 at Boten, near Rognan. Nearly 1,000 Yugoslav prisoners of war were brought into this camp and in the course of a few months all of them, to the last man, died of illness, hunger, physical torture, or execution by shooting. They were forced every day to do the very hardest work on a road and some dams. Their working hours lasted from dawn until 1800 hours, under the worst possible climatic conditions in this far northern part of Norway. During their work, the prisoners were beaten incessantly and in the camp itself, were exposed to terrible ill- treatment.

Thus, for example, in August, 1942, the prisoners were ordered by the German staff of the camp to have all their hair removed from their armpits and around their genitals, as otherwise they would be shot. Not one prisoner received any razors from the Germans, though the Germans knew well that they had none. The prisoners spent the whole of the night plucking out their hair with their hands and assisting one another. However, in the morning the guards killed four prisoners and wounded three by rifle fire.

On 26th November, 1943, German soldiers, in the middle of the night, broke into the hospital and dragged out into the courtyard eighty sick prisoners; after they had been forced to strip in the bitter cold, they were all shot. On 26th January, 1943, fifty more prisoners died in torment from the beatings received. Throughout the winter many prisoners were killed in the following manner: they would be buried up to their waist in the snow, and water poured over them, so that they formed statues of ice. It was established that 880 Yugoslav prisoners of war were killed in the above- mentioned camp in various ways."

Further, on Page 38, Exhibit USSR 36, information is contained of the shooting of Yugoslav prisoners of war in the camp at Bajsfjord (Norway). After 10th July,

[Page 22]

1942, when an epidemic of typhus (spotted fever) broke out in the camp and spread to six other camps, the Germans found no other way of fighting this epidemic than by a wholesale shooting of all the patients. This was done on 17th July, 1942. On the same page - 38 - there is a reference to a Norwegian report of 22nd January, 1942, compiled on a basis of statements made by Norwegian guards of this camp who had fled. It is stated in this report that of 900 Yugoslav prisoners of war, 320 were shot, while the remainder, with a view to isolating them, were transferred to another camp, Bjerfjel. I will read into the record Page 38 of Exhibit USSR 36, beginning with the fifth paragraph from the bottom, Page 341 of your document book.
"When an epidemic of typhus broke out in the new camp, an average of 12 men a day were shot in the course of the following five to six weeks. By the end of August, 1942, 350 only of these prisoners were returned to Bajsfjord, where German S.S. troops continued to exterminate them. In the end only 200 men remained alive and were transferred to camp Osen."
I will now omit two paragraphs and pass to the last paragraph of the same report:-
"On 22nd June, 1943, a transport containing 900 Yugoslav prisoners arrived in Norway. Most of them were intellectuals, workers and peasants, prisoners from the ranks of the former Yugoslav Army or else captured Partisans or men seized as so-called 'politically suspicious elements.' Some of them - about 400 - were placed in the still unfinished camp at Korgen, while the other group of about 500 was sent ten to twenty kilometers further on to Osen. The commandant of both camps, from June, 1942, until the end of March, 1943, was the S.S. Sturmbannfuehrer Dolps....

Men were constantly dying of hunger. Forty-five were placed in a hut which normally accommodated six men only.... There was no medicine.... They worked under most difficult conditions on road building, in the bitter cold, without clothing or caps, in the wind and rain, twelve hours a day.

The prisoners in the camp at Osen used to sleep in their shirts without any underpants, without any cover whatsoever, on the bare boards. Dolps personally visited the huts and carried out inspections. The prisoners who were caught sleeping in their underpants were killed on the spot by Dolps with his submachine gun. In the same manner he killed all those who appeared on parade, which he reviewed personally, in soiled underwear.... By the end of 1942, only ninety still remained alive of the first group of 400 in Korgen. Out of about 500 prisoners who were taken to the camp of Osen by the end of June, 1942 there were, in March, 1943, only thirty men left alive."

I will read into the record an excerpt from Page 39, Exhibit USSR 36, beginning with the third paragraph from the bottom, Page 342 of your document book:-
"Besides this terrible treatment of the captured soldiers of the Yugoslav National Army of Liberation and the Partisan Detachments, the Germans also treated prisoners of war from the ranks of the old Yugoslav Army in complete contravention of International Law and contrary to the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 1929. In April 1941, immediately after the occupation of the Yugoslav territory, the Germans drove into captivity in Germany about 300,000 noncommissioned officers and men. The Yugoslav State Commission has at its disposal much evidence of the unlawful ill- treatment of these prisoners. We will give here a few examples only.

On 14th July, 1943, in the officers' S.S. camp at Osnabrueck, 740 captured Yugoslav officers were separated from the remainder and placed in a special

[Page 23]

penitentiary camp called camp D. Here they were all crowded together in four huts; all contact with the rest of the camp was prohibited. The treatment of these officers directly contravened the provisions of the Geneva Convention, even more so than the treatment of the other prisoners. In this penitentiary camp were placed all those whom the Germans considered as supporters of the National Liberation Movement and against whom they very frequently applied measures of mass punishments.

The Germans gambled with the lives of the prisoners and frequently shot them from sheer caprice. Thus, for instance, at the aforesaid camp at Osnabrueck, on 11th January, 1942, a German guard fired at a group of prisoners, severely wounding Captain Peter Nozinic. On 22nd July, 1942, a guard fired on a group of officers. On 2nd September, 1942, a guard fired on the Yugoslav Lieutenant, Vladislav Vajs, who was incapacitated by the wound he received for a very long time. On 22nd September, 1942, a guard from the prison tower again fired on a group of officers. On 18th December, 1942, the guard fired on a group of officers because, from their huts, they were watching some English prisoners passing by. On 20th February, 1943, a guard fired on an officer merely because this officer was smoking. On 11th March, 1943, a guard opened fire on the doors of a hut and killed General Dimitri Pavlovic. On 21st June, 1943, a guard fired at the Yugoslav Lieutenant-Colonel, Branko Popandic. On 26th April, 1944, a German non-commissioned officer, Richards, fired on Lieutenant Vladislav Gaider, who subsequently died of his wounds. On 26th June, 1944, the German captain, Kunze, fired on two Yugoslav officers, severely wounding Lieutenant Djorjevic. All these shootings were carried out without any serious reason or pretext, and only as a result of brutal orders issued by the German camp commandants, who threatened that firearms would be used even in the case of the most insignificant offenses. All these incidents occurred in one single camp. But this was the treatment applied in all the remaining camps for Yugoslav officers and soldiers - captives in the hands of the Germans."

A certain incident is described in the Czechoslovak Government report which I should like to mention here. Its importance lies not in the fact that it throws a new light on the methods employed in fascist crimes, but that it took place at the time when the Hitlerites clearly realised that their days were numbered. This incident is described in Appendix 4 to the Czechoslovak Government's report, and I will describe it briefly and in my own words.

There was an airfield at Gavlichkov Brod at which various military installations were located, while the former lunatic asylum was used as an S.S. hospital. When the question arose regarding the formalities for the surrender of the German military units at the airfield (in 1945), Staff Captain Sula with one of his fellow officers of the Czechoslovak Army betook himself to the airfield. Neither of them ever came back. Later the airfield and the hospital were occupied by the Czech National Units and an investigation was carried out. It showed that the negotiators, together with six other persons who had previously disappeared at Gavlichkov Brod, were taken by the Germans to the S.S. hospital where they were subjected to cruel tortures. In the case of Captain Sula the Germans cut out his tongue, gouged out his eyes and cut his chest open. The others suffered similar treatment. Most of them had been castrated.

I am in possession of photographic evidence in support of this fact which I am submitting to the Tribunal. My presentation has lasted several hours. But surely, neither time nor any word of living human speech will ever suffice to describe even a thousandth part of the sufferings borne by the soldiers of my Motherland and of the other democratic countries who had the misfortune of falling into the hands of the fascist executioners.

[Page 24]

I have only been able to show the Tribunal, in a very condensed form, the manner in which the monstrous fascist directives regarding the ill-treatment of prisoners of war and their mass extermination were carried out, an ill- treatment before which the horrors of the Middle Ages pale.

We will here attempt, if only quite briefly, to fill in the gaps. In tens of thousands the witnesses will pass before your eyes. They have been called before the Tribunal to testify in this case. I cannot summon them by name, no oath will you ever administer to them and yet their evidence will never be denied - for the dead do not lie. Most of the films pertaining to German atrocities, which will be presented by the Soviet prosecution, pertain to crimes against prisoners of war. The silent testimony of the helpless prisoners burned alive in hospitals, of prisoners mutilated beyond all recognition, of prisoners tortured and starved to death will, I am certain, be far more eloquent than any word of mine.

Blood drips from the hands of the accused - the blood of the victims of Rostov and Kharkov, the martyrs of Auschwitz and all the extermination camps created by the Hitlerites.

Treacherously the enemy attacked our country. The people rose in arms to defend their Motherland, her freedom and her independence, the honour and lives of their families. They joined the ranks of the fighting men. They fell into the hands of the enemy. Now see how the enemy dishonoured them when they stood helpless and unarmed.

So may these major criminals - who bear the main responsibility for the evil deeds of the fascists - be forced to answer to the martyrs to the full extent of the law of international justice for the indescribable atrocities which you will see with your own eyes, and for the many other crimes which will forever remain unknown.

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