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 6 of 8)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 63]

Witness A. Kamenev stated:-
"The driver stopped the car behind the aerodrome and we saw Germans shooting people near the ditch. We were dragged out of the car and pushed toward the ditch in batches of ten. My son and I were among the first ten. We reached the ditch. We were lined up facing it and the Germans began their preparations to shoot us in the nape of the neck.

My son turned to them and shouted: 'Why are you shooting the peaceful population?' But the shots rang out and my son instantly jumped into the ditch, I threw myself in after him. Dead bodies began to fall upon me in the ditch.

About 3 p.m. an eleven-year-old boy stood up from among the pile of corpses and began to call, 'Little Fathers, those of you who are still alive, get up. The Germans have gone'. I was afraid to do so since - I thought that the boy was shouting by order of the policeman.

The boy called out a second time and then my son answered him. He

[Page 64]

stood up and asked: 'Dad, are you alive?' I could not answer anything and merely nodded. My son and the other boy dragged me out from under the bodies. We saw some others who were still alive and who were shouting 'Help us'. Some were wounded. All the time, while I had been lying in the ditch, under the bodies of the dead, I could hear the shrieks and wails of the women and children. The Germans had started shooting old men, women and children after shooting us".
I here conclude this quotation. Although the subsequent text does deal with many other appalling atrocities committed by the Germans, it is, in substance, analogous to the passages which I have already read into the record, relating to crimes perpetrated by the Germans in the town of Kerch. I would, however, invite the Tribunal's attention to the part referring to the ill-treatment of children. On the whole, these crimes are highly characteristic of the German fascist terror. I quote:-
"The German barbarians, in their atrocious ill-treatment of the Soviet people, did not even spare the children. A schoolteacher, M. N. Kolossnikova, stated that the Germans killed a thirteen-year-old boy for taking an old car tyre and trying to swim in it while bathing in the sea.

The following fact transpired from the testimony of E. N. Sabelnikova: Maria Bondarenko, who lived in the village of Adjimushkaya, in an attempt to save her three children from starvation, appealed to some Germans working in the kitchen, for a little food. They poured some thin gruel into a small bowl. The Bondarenko family ate it greedily. A few hours later the mother and all three children were dead. The fascist henchmen had poisoned them.

It has been ascertained from the testimony of N. K. Shoumilova, that in July a German officer shot a six- year-old boy merely because he was singing a Soviet song in the streets of the town.

Practically all summer long the dead body of a nine-year old boy dangled in the 'Sacco and Vanzetti' garden; the child had been hanged for picking some apricots from a tree."

Here I end my quotation from the report on the town of Kerch.

In my statement I have dwelt on the example of Kerch, not because the atrocities committed by the Hitlerites in this town were on a particularly large scale, or because they stood out by reason of their cruelty among the other crimes perpetrated by the Germans (the documents relevant to these latter crimes are at our disposal). Certainly not. On the contrary, I have quoted the report of the Extraordinary State Commission only because it gives a detailed and objective record of Hitlerite military crimes committed against peaceful citizens of one of the many towns which, as the result of a monstrous war unleashed by the German fascist criminals, were doomed to become the victims of a terrorist regime. Such atrocities were perpetrated by the Hitlerites in all the temporarily occupied places of the Soviet Union.

In confirmation of this statement I now turn to a document of a general nature which has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 51, but parts of which have not yet been read into the record. I am referring to the Note of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, V. M. Molotov, of 27 April, 1942.

In their introduction to this note, the Soviet Government made the following statement (I start my quotation from paragraph 2, of the reverse side of the Russian text, paragraph 3 after the heading of the document book). There you will find the following remarks:-

"Fresh information and documents are being submitted to the Soviet Government to the effect that the Hitlerite invaders are carrying on a wholesale looting of the Soviet population and do not shrink from any crimes, or acts of cruelty or violence on the territories which they temporarily occupied,

[Page 65]

or which they still continue to occupy. The Soviet Government has already declared that these atrocities do not represent incidental excesses perpetrated by undisciplined military units or by individual German officers or men. The Soviet Government is now in possession of documents recently seized in the headquarters of routed German formations, which prove that the carnage and atrocities committed by the German Fascist army were perpetrated in accordance with carefully elaborated plans, issued by the German Government, and in pursuance of orders from the German High Command."
I omit the subsequent parts and continue with Section 5 of the Note. The Tribunal will find the passage which I am about to quote on Page 8 of the document book, paragraph 5. I should like to add a few introductory words to the quotation.

It is quite evident from the text of this note how the orders of the Reich leadership concerning the establishment of a regime of terror were executed, in the occupied territories, by the various "Commissars of the Occupied Territories," by the Gauleiter and by the Commanders of German military units. I quote the beginning of Section 5 of this Note - Page 8 of your document book, paragraph 5:-

"The inhuman cruelty which the Hitlerite clique - born in violence and against the will of the German people - displayed against the inhabitants of the European countries temporarily occupied by the German army, was multiplied a hundred-fold by the enemy forces after their invasion of the territory of the Soviet Union.

The carnage to which the Hitlerites exposed the peaceful population of the Soviet Union has far overshadowed the most blood-stained pages of the annals of mankind, as well as of the current world war, and fully reveals the bloodthirsty and criminal plans of the fascists, aimed at the extermination of the Russian, Ukrainian, Bielorussian and other nationals of the Soviet Union.

These monstrous fascist plans inspired the orders and instructions of the German High Command for the extermination of the peaceful Soviet citizens.

Thus, for instance, the instructions of the German Supreme Command, entitled 'Treatment of the Civilian Population and of Enemy Prisoners of War' reads to the effect that: 'Officers are responsible that the treatment of the civilian population be absolutely merciless; and commands that 'force be used against the entire mass of the population'.

The instructions issued by the German High Command as a directive for the occupying authorities on Bielorussian territory read as follows: 'All hostile behaviour on the part of the population toward the German Armed Forces and their organisations will be punished by death. Whosoever shelters Red Army soldiers or Partisans will be punished by death. If the Partisan cannot be found, hostages must be taken from among the population."

THE PRESIDENT: What is the exhibit number of what you are reading now? What is the USSR number of what you are reading now?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: This document was submitted as Exhibit USSR 51. It is one of the Notes of the Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov dated 27 April, 1942. Altogether four notes have been submitted to the Tribunal under this number. The beginning of the note which I am now quoting is on Page 4 of your document book. The quotation which I am now reading into the record is on Page 8 of your document book.

THE PRESIDENT: It is thought that this is part of the document you read yesterday. Are you sure that it is not?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President. Yesterday I read into the record a note dated 6 January, 1942, and the note which I am quoting now is dated 27 April. Have I your permission to continue?


[Page 66]

COLONEL SMIRNOV: "These hostages must be hanged if the guilty parties or their accomplices are not found within 24 hours. During the following 24 hours, double the number of hostages will be hanged on the same spot."

Point 7 of Order No. 431/41, of the German Commandant of the town of Theodosia, Captain Eberhardt, states:-

"During an alarm every citizen appearing on the street must be shot. Groups of citizens who appear must be surrounded and mercilessly shot. Leaders and inciters are to be publicly hanged".

In a directive addressed to the 26oth German Infantry Division concerning the treatment of the civilian population it is pointed out to individual officers that "sufficient severity is not being applied everywhere".

Orders posted by the occupants in the Soviet towns and villages announce the death penalty for the following various reasons: "for being in the streets after 17.00 hours; for offering lodging for the night to strangers; for not handing over Red Army soldiers to the authorities; for failing to hand over property; for attempting to put out a fire in an inhabited spot intended to be burned down; for travelling from one inhabited spot to another; for refusing to do forced labour, and so on".

I continue this quotation on Page 8, paragraph 2:-
"The German fascist High Command not only tolerates but actually orders the murder of women and children. Organised infanticide in some of the orders is suggested as a means for fighting the Partisan movement. Thus, an order of the Commander of the 254th German Division, Lt.- General von Beschnitz, dated 2 December, 1941, considers the fact that 'Old people, women and children of all ages' move about behind the German lines as proof of 'careless good nature,' and orders to shoot without warning 'every civilian person regardless of age or sex approaching our front lines'.

It also orders that the 'Mayors be made responsible for reporting immediately the appearance of any unknown persons, and especially of children, to the local Kommandantur' and to 'shoot immediately any person suspected of espionage'."

Some data regarding the directives received by the fascist authorities in the temporarily occupied territories from the Reich authorities are also contained in the Note. I quote from Page 9 of your document book, paragraph 3:-
"Some of the crimes of the German occupants committed by them during the very first weeks of their piratical attack on the USSR, and their savage extermination of the civilian population of Bielorussia, Ukraine and the Baltic Soviet Republics, have only now been documentarily established. Thus, when units of the Red Army in the district of the town of Toropetz, in January, 1942, smashed a German S.S. cavalry brigade, among the documents captured was found a report of the First Cavalry Regiment of this brigade concerning the 'pacification' by this unit of the Starobinsk District in Byelorussia. The Commander of the regiment reports that besides 239 prisoners, a detachment of his regiment has also shot 6,504 civilians. The report also states that the detachment acted in pursuance of order No. 42 issued to the regiment, dated 27 July, 1941. The Commander of the Second Regiment of this Brigade, von MacGill, states in his 'Report concerning the execution of repressive operations on the river Pripyat between 27 July and 11 August, 1941' the following:-
'We drove the women and children into the swamp, but that did not produce the desired result, since the swamp was not deep enough for them to drown. One can usually touch bottom at a depth of one metre'."

[Page 67]

In the same headquarters a telegram, No. 37, was found sent by the Commander of the S.S. Cavalry Brigade.

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we adjourn now for ten minutes?

(A recess was taken.)

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Court, regarding the defendant Hess, he will be absent until further notice on account of illness.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I continue the quotation:

"In the same headquarters there was discovered a telegram, No. 37, from the Commander of the Cavalry Brigade, an S.S. Standartenfuehrer to a cavalry unit of the above-mentioned 2nd Cavalry Regiment, dated 2 August, 1941. It mentioned that the Reichsfuehrer of the S.S. and Police, Himmler, considers the number of the exterminated civilians far too insignificant; and points out that 'it is necessary to take radical measures' and that 'the unit commanders conduct the operations too mildly'. He also orders a daily report on the number of people shot."
In this connection we cannot abstain from mentioning the criminal activities of the defendant Rosenberg in carrying out the general instructions of the Reich Leadership for establishing a regime of terror in the Eastern Occupied Territories, or rather if we wish to be more accurate, for issuing, in his capacity as chief author of these instructions, a series of laws in "Ostland" (this, as we know, was the name given to the occupied regions of the Baltic States), while similar orders and instructions of a terroristic nature were also issued by high ranking officials of the fascist administration set up by Rosenberg.

I submit to the Tribunal Exhibit USSR 39, Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the atrocities of the German-Fascist invaders in the territory of the Esthonian SSR. I quote an excerpt which your Honours will find on Page 232 of the document book, paragraph 3. It begins as follows:-

"On 17 July, 1941, Hitler issued a decree, turning over the legislative powers of the territory of Esthonia to Reichsminister Rosenberg, who later turned over this legislative power to the German district authorities.

Despotism was introduced into Esthonia and the peace- loving population subjected to brutal terrorism. Reichsminister Rosenberg, Reichskommissar for the Baltic regions Lose, and Kommissar General of Esthonia, Litzmann completely deprived the Esthonian people of all political rights. On the basis of Hitler's decree of 17 July, 1941, Reichsminister Rosenberg promulgated, on 17 February, 1942, a special law for people of non-Germanic nationality, providing capital punishment for the slightest resistance against Germanisation and for any act of violence against German nationals.

For workers and employees of Esthonian origin the occupants introduced corporal punishment. On 20 February, 1942, an official of the railroad administration, in Riga, Walk, sent the following telegram to the Administration of the Esthonian Railroads:

'Every violation of discipline on the part of a native employee, especially absenteeism, being late for work, coming drunk to work, disobeying orders and so forth, shall from now on be punished with the utmost severity:

(a)For the first offence-15 strokes with a lash on the bare body;
(b) If the offence is repeated, 20 strokes with a lash on the bare body.'
On 12 January, 1942, Reichsminister Rosenberg established 'Special Courts' consisting of a police officer as president and two subordinate policemen. The procedural rules were determined by this court at its own discretion. These courts invariably pronounced death sentences with confiscation of property. No other 'penalty' was ever imposed. No appeal against the sentences was admitted. In addition to the 'Courts' established by Rosenberg,

[Page 68]

death sentences were pronounced by the German political police, and these sentences were carried out on the very same day.

For the examination of criminal and civilian cases Kommissar General Litzmann introduced local courts. Judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates, public notaries and lawyers were all, without exception, personally appointed by Litzmann.

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