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 26th February, 1946

Sixtieth Day: Friday, 15th February, 1946
(Part 4 of 8)

[Page 56]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal feels that if a document has already been read, it should not be read again.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: It seems to me that this particular excerpt was not read into the record. The document was submitted on 19 December, 1945, as 1919-PS. But this particular excerpt which I wished to quote now, was not read into the record. It contains only six lines.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, of course, if you have verified that and can state that with certainty, then you can certainly read it.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I perused the transcript and could not find this excerpt. Therefore it seems to me that it was not read into the record. I shall confine myself literally to six lines.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you had better go on and quote it then because these interruptions take up a very long time.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: This is the quotation: "Whether other nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture. Otherwise I am not interested. I am not interested whether 10,000 Russian females die of exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch, as long as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished."

A document was already submitted to the Tribunal which establishes that the legalisation of mass murders and extermination of the peaceful population of the Soviet Union carried out by the Army with a view to terrorising the population was begun by Hitler and his clique as early as 13 May, 1941, that is, over a month before the beginning of the war.

In this case I refer to a directive already well known to the Tribunal. This directive emanates from Keitel and is entitled: "Application of military jurisdiction in the Barbarossa Region and special army measures". This document was already read into the record as Exhibit USA 50 by the American prosecution on 7 January, 1946. I shall not quote from it because I think that it is well known to the Tribunal. I merely wish to remind the Tribunal that it categorically denies the necessity for establishing guilt; suspicion alone was sufficient for the application of a death sentence. An official system of joint responsibility and mass repressions was set up. Furthermore, it was stated that the "suspect" should be exterminated in any case.

This is plainly said in paragraph 5 of the first section of the directive.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1400 hours.)

COLONEL SMIRNOV: In accordance with your instructions, Mr. President, I am omitting documents which have already been submitted to the Tribunal and quote a document presented to the Tribunal yesterday by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, as Exhibit USSR 3. It is the report of the Extraordinary State Commission, entitled "Directives and orders of the Hitlerite Government and the German Military Command regarding the Extermination of the Soviet people".

My colleague read into the record yesterday a short excerpt from the fourth edition of this document concerning the mass executions, the so-called "executions" in camps, where both peaceful citizens and prisoners of war were interned. As this section has already been read into the record, I omit it and proceed to the other sections of this report, dealing with the organisation by the German fascist criminals, from the very first days of the war with the Soviet Union, of the so-called "Sonderkommandos", special commandos.

The document which I am quoting refers to the organisation of Sonderkommandos in the camps, where prisoners of war and peaceful citizens were interned.

[Page 57]

I quote this excerpt because the term "Sonderkommando" acquired a terrible meaning for the civilian population of the temporarily occupied territories of the Soviet Union. It was one of the most cruel and most brutal organisations ever created by the German fascists for the wholesale slaughter of human beings.

I request the Tribunal to refer to Page 207 of the document book, column 1 of the text:

"It is evident, from the documents discovered, that even before the attack on the USSR, Hitler's butchers had compiled lists and index files and collected the necessary information about such leading Soviet workers as their bloodthirsty plans had doomed to extermination. In this manner they prepared the following: 'Special Index Files for the USSR'; 'The German Index File'; lists for establishing domiciles; and other index files and lists of the same kind which would facilitate the work of the Hitlerite murderers in the extermination of progressive circles within the. population of the USSR."
However, the document entitled "Appendix No. 2 to Operational Order No. 8 of the Chiefs of the Sipo and S.D., Berlin," dated 17 July, 1941, and signed by Heydrich who was, at that time, acting as Himmler's deputy, emphasises the lack of such lists and index files and stresses the importance of not hampering the initiative of those who perpetrated the murders. The document states:-
"There is no possibility of lending any assistance to the 'Kommandos' for the execution of your tasks. The 'German Index File', 'Lists for Establishing Domiciles'; and 'Special Index Files for the USSR' will only prove useful in a few cases. The 'Special Index Files for the USSR' are therefore insufficient, as only an insignificant number of Soviet Russian nationals, considered as dangerous, have been entered in these files."
I omit one paragraph and continue:
"For the realisation of their criminal plans the German occupying authorities created 'Sonderkommandos', both in the transit and permanent camps for prisoners of war, on German territory, in the so-called Polish 'Government General' and in the temporarily occupied territory of the Soviet Union.
I omit the next seven paragraphs and continue the quotation on Page 207 of the account book, paragraph 6, column 2 of the text:-
"The procedure in the formation of the 'Sonderkommando' is described in Appendix No. 1 to Operational Order No. 14 of the Chief of the Sipo and S.D. (marked State Top Secret, copy No. 15).

The formation of the 'Sonderkommandos' of the Sipo and S.D. is carried out in accordance with the agreement of 7 October, 1941, reached between the Chief of the Sipo and S.D. on the one hand, and the O.K.W. on the other hand.

By virtue of special powers the 'Kommandos' will act independently in conformity with general directives, within the scope of the camp regulations. The 'Kommandos', of course, maintain close contact with the camp commandants and the officers of the Intelligence Service."

I omit the following text and continue the quotation as from Page 208 of the document book, paragraph 1. The Tribunal will observe how great was the importance attached by the Reich Leadership to the creation of these highly dangerous police organisations. The "Sonderkommandos" were organised all the way from the town of Krasnogvardeisk (a suburb of Leningrad) to the town of Nikolaiev on the Black Sea. I now continue with my quotation:-
"The order of the Chief of the Sipo and S.D., of 29 October, 1941 regarding the organisation of the 'Sonderkommandos', was sent to the operational groups in Krasnogvardeisk, Smolensk, Kiev and Nikolaiev, and for information to Riga, Moghiliev and Krivoy Rog."
I would also point out that during their attack on Moscow, the Hitlerites

[Page 58]

organised in Smolensk a special "Sonderkommando Moscow," entrusted with the mass murder of Moscow citizens.

Mention has previously been made of the wide range of authoritative power granted to the "Sonderkommandos". In the document which I am quoting it is said:-

"The tasks of the 'Sonderkommandos' are outlined in the Appendix to Operational Order No. 8 directives attached to Decree No. 8 of the Chiefs of the Sipo and S.D. dated 'Berlin, 17 July, 1941,' which, under the pretext of a 'careful screening of civilians and prisoners of war captured in the Eastern Campaign' indicate that:-
The special nature of the Eastern campaign calls for special measures, to be carried out on personal responsibility and beyond the range of any bureaucratic influences."
I omit the next extract from this document since it is merely a repetition of the basic rules which I have already read into the record.

Having launched their criminal war, the Hitlerites directed it towards a mass extermination of the peaceful citizens of the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. I have already read into the record several documents depicting the character of the Hitlerite murderers and the nature of their crimes. These included the formation of large criminal units, specially trained by the leaders of the Hitlerite gang. It will, however, be clear to any criminologist that it is not sufficient to create these foul and criminal gangs - it is essential that once the crime has been perpetrated, the criminal should feel that he has acted with complete impunity. In order that the crimes envisaged by the major criminals be committed in their monstrous entirety, it became necessary to create, for the minor criminals, an atmosphere of complete impunity. In accordance with your wishes, Mr. President I shall not quote the document previously read into the record as C-50 by the American prosecution, entitled "Instructions Governing the Application of Martial Law and Special Measures to be adopted by the Army in the 'Barbarossa' Area". But it appears to me that the content of this document should be firmly borne in mind, for unless its meaning is clearly understood it is quite impossible to envisage the series of wholesale crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerite criminals on the territory of the Soviet Union.

This order, signed by Keitel, though issued in Hitler's name, was accepted by all the soldiers and all the officers of the fascist Army as a personal order from Hitler. What conclusions the German soldiery drew from this order of Keitel's is confirmed by a communication of the Extraordinary State Commission, to which I shall now refer; it deals with the atrocities committed in the city of Minsk by the German fascist invaders.

I submit this document to the Tribunal, as Exhibit USSR 38. It contains an excerpt from the testimony of the President of the Military Tribunal of the 267th German Rifle Division, Captain Julius Reich. I would ask the Tribunal to turn to Page 215 of the document book.

I quote from the communication of the Extraordinary State Commission on the subject of Julius Reich's testimony:-

"According to an order issued by Hitler, German soldiers could not be committed to trial by court martial for acts committed against Soviet citizens. The soldier could be punished only by the commander of his own unit, should the latter deem the punishment necessary. This same order granted even more extensive rights to all German army officers. They could destroy the Russian population according to their own discretion.

The commander had full right to apply punitive measures to the peaceful population: he was allowed to burn down whole villages and towns, rob the population of supplies and livestock and, on his own responsibility, deport Soviet citizens to Germany for slave labour. Hitler's order was brought to the

[Page 59]

attention of every single soldier of the German Army on the eve of the attack on the Soviet Union ... In accordance with Hitler's order, the German soldiers under the leadership of their officers committed all sorts of atrocities."
But even this appeared insufficient to the Hitlerite leaders. In 1942 they considered it necessary to reconfirm, by a sharp directive brooking no exception, that any crime perpetrated by the German fascist soldiery against the peaceful citizens of the Soviet Union should go completely unpunished. The Reich and military leaders particularly emphasised the fact that atrocities committed should so remain unpunished, even if the victims of these atrocities happened to be women and children.

THE PRESIDENT: What was the reference to what you called "sharp directive"?

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