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 8 of 8)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 72]

What occurred in the torture chambers of Stavropol was no exception at all. The same misdeeds were perpetrated everywhere. In confirmation I will refer to the report of the Extraordinary State Commission regarding the "Depredations and Atrocities committed by the German Fascist Aggressors in the City of Kiev". The Tribunal will find this document on Page 238 of the document book, paragraph 2:-
"Murders were often preceded by sadistic torture. The Archimandrite Valerian testified that the Fascists beat sick and feeble people till they were half dead, poured water over them when the temperature was below zero and finally shot them in the torture chamber of the German Police, established in the Kievo-Petchersk Abbey."
I invite the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that the Kievo-Petchersk Abbey is one of the most ancient architectural monuments in the Soviet Union it is a specially cherished cultural treasure, very dear to the heart of the Soviet citizens as a tangible memory of the far distant past. The torture chamber of the police had been purposely established in the Abbey. The Tribunal will learn of its eventual fate from the subsequent reports of my colleagues.

When the city of Odessa was under the rule of the fascist invaders, interrogations were accompanied by tortures of an exceptionally cruel nature.

I refer to one testimony contained in the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, entitled "On the Atrocities committed by the German and

[Page 73]

Roumanian Invaders in the City of Odessa and on the Territory of the Odessa Regions".

I submit this document to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 47and request it be accepted as irrefutable evidence in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter. I shall quote this document, which is on Page 282 of your document book, paragraph 4, line 10. It contains the testimony of Paul Krapyvny, producer of News Reels. I quote this passage from the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, Page 282:-

"The interrogator had a voltage control switch on the table and whenever the person interrogated did not answer the question as the examiner wished, the dial of the voltage control would be mercilessly turned to increase the voltage; the body of the person interrogated would begin to tremble and his eyes to protrude from their sockets."
Or else:
"The person interrogated, with his hands tied behind his back, would be hoisted up to the ceiling ... where he would be spun round and round. After having been rotated 200 times in one direction, the victim, still suspended on the cord, would begin to turn, at a mad speed in the opposite direction. At that particular moment the executioners would beat him on both sides with rubber truncheons. The man became unconscious both from the mad speed of the rotation and from the beating."
I refer to the document already presented by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, Exhibit USSR V, which is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the crimes committed by the German fascist invaders on the Territory of the Latvian S.S.R. I shall quote from this document, beginning on Page 286 on the reverse side of the document book, paragraph 2:
"In the camps and prisons, the German executioners subjected prisoners to ill-treatment, torture and shooting. In the central prison the internees were beaten and tortured. Day and night, shrieks and groans were heard in the torture chambers. Every day, from 30 to 35 people died as a result of the tortures. Whoever survived the ill-treatment and torture would return to his cell absolutely unrecognisable: burned to the bone, with parts of his body torn to pieces. No medical aid was given to the tortured."
The Hitlerites subjected Soviet citizens to ill-treatment and torture in every town of the Latvian S.S.R.

Your Honours will find analogous statements in the text of every report of the Extraordinary State Commission. I shall not delay the proceedings by quoting any further excerpts, I consider the evidence already presented as sufficient.

I shall now proceed to the next section of my report.

Murder of Hostages.

I shall make a few introductory remarks.

One of the most shameful crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerites in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia was the use everywhere by the German fascists of the bestial system of taking hostages.

This system was introduced by the Hitlerites into all the countries that fell victim to their aggression.

The German criminals resorted to particularly ruthless methods when murdering hostages in Eastern Europe, and violated every law and custom of warfare.

However, it is difficult to speak of the murder of hostages where the Soviet Union is concerned since the crimes committed by the Hitlerites everywhere in the temporarily occupied territories of the USSR go even further. The same remarks, to a great extent, apply to Poland and particularly to Yugoslavia.

[Page 74]

Here the Hitlerites, under the pretext of seizing hostages, were really perpetrating immeasurably greater war crimes, whose ultimate aim was the extermination of entire nations.

I shall now present some brief data from documents concerning the different countries of Eastern Europe.

I submit an extract from the report of the government of the Polish Republic The Tribunal will find the passage quoted on Page 128 of the document book, paragraph 6.

"(a) One of the most disgraceful features of the Hitlerite occupation of Poland was the introduction of the taking of hostages. Collective responsibility, payment of collective fines, and the bartering of human life were considered to be the best methods for enslaving the Polish people.

(b) Here are some typical cases of mass reprisals, they illustrate the methods employed by the German occupants.

(c) In November, 1939, an unknown person set fire to a barn filled with grain on the outskirts of Nove Miasto Lubavske. The barn was the property of a German. As a result of this action a certain S.S. Standartenfuehrer, Sperling, received an order from the higher authorities to resort to reprisals. A number of Poles from among the most prominent citizens were arrested. Out of those, 15 were selected and publicly shot by S.S. soldiers. Among the victims were: the two brothers Jankovsky, one a lawyer, the other a priest, the tailor Malkovsky, the blacksmith Zemny, major of the army reserve Vona, the son of an inn keeper, the publisher of a newspaper, and a priest - Bronislav Dembenovsky,

(d) In October, 1939, the German authorities captured a certain number of Poles in the city of Inovrozlav, and imprisoned them as hostages. Then they were brought to the prison courtyard where they were unmercifully flogged and shot, one by one, Altogether, 70 men were killed, including the city mayor and his deputy. Among the victims were the most prominent citizens of the town."

I omit the next sentence. I quote further:
"(e) On 7 March, 1941, the film star, Igo-Sym, who considered himself as being of German nationality (Volksdeutscher), and who was in charge of the German theatres in Warsaw, was murdered in his own apartment. Although the murderers were never found, the Governor of Warsaw, Fischer, said that Sym was murdered by the Poles, and ordered the arrest of a large number of hostages. He also closed the theatres, and imposed a curfew on the Polish population. About 200 people were arrested, including teachers, priests, physicians, lawyers and actors. The population of Warsaw was given three days to find Sym's murderers. After the expiration of the three days, these still remaining unknown, 17 hostages were executed, among them Professor Kopetz, his son, and Professor Zakrzhevsky."
I conclude this quotation from the report of the Polish Government and ask the Tribunal's permission to refer to a short excerpt from the report of the Czechoslovakian Government. There is one part I would like to read into the record. Your Honours will find it on Page 141 of the document book.
"Even before the beginning of the war, thousands of Czech patriots and especially Catholic and Protestant clergymen, lawyers, doctors, teachers and others, were arrested. Furthermore, in every district lists of persons were drawn up who were subject to arrest as hostages at the first sign of any breach of 'public order and security'. At first these were only threats. In 1940, Karl Frank announced, in a speech to the leaders of the movement of National Unity, that 2,000 Czech hostages, interned in concentration camps, would be shot if prominent Czech statesmen refused to sign the declaration of loyalty. Some time after the attempt on Heydrich's life, many of these hostages were executed.

[Page 75]

Threats of reprisals against directors of factories in case of some hitch in the work at the factory were a typical method of Nazi terrorism. Thus, in 1939, the Gestapo summoned all the directors, as well as the managers of warehouses belonging to various industrial firms and informed them that they would be shot if there were a strike. On leaving they had to sign the following declaration: 'I am aware of the fact that I would be shot immediately should my factory cease working without a justifiable reason.'

In the same way school teachers were held responsible for the loyal behaviour of their pupils. Many teachers were arrested only because the pupils in their schools were caught writing anti-German slogans or reading forbidden books."

I now interrupt the quotation from the report of the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic and I begin to read the section recording the killings of hostages in Yugoslavia.

I shall just say a few words by way of introduction. These criminal murders of the peaceful population developed their own particular lines in Yugoslavia. As a matter of fact, it is impossible at this point to speak of the execution of hostages, although the Hitlerites constantly make use of this term in their official documents, which will be presented to the Tribunal at a later date.

Truth to tell, under the alleged killing of hostages, the Hitlerite criminals were carrying out, on an enormous scale, the regime of terroristic extermination of the peaceful citizens, not only for crimes which somebody or other had committed, but also for crimes which, to Hitler's way of thinking, might be committed.

I submit the document that confirms this fact. It contains excerpts from the report of the Yugoslav Government which your Honours will find on Page 259 in the document book (paragraph 1):

"The murder of hostages.

The murder of hostages was one of those methods which were used by military authorities and the Reich Government, on an incredible scale, for the mass extermination of the Yugoslav population.

The Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes has at its disposal an innumerable quantity of concrete details and original evidence taken from the German archives. We submit only a very limited number of such details and evidence, which are, however, sufficient proof that the killing of hostages was merely one item in the common plan and in the systematic method of the Nazi crimes."

Further the report of the Yugoslav Government quotes an order of the Commander of the so-called "Group West," General Brauner. I quote the following excerpt:
"In regions captured by partisans, the seizure of hostages from all classes of the population remains in force as the only really successful means of intimidation."
To confirm the vast scale of the crimes of the Hitlerites in connection with the murder of hostages, the Yugoslav Government presents to the Tribunal six documents which I now submit to your Honours and I ask for them to be incorporated into the record as evidence. I submit the following documents to the Tribunal:

Firstly, as Exhibit USSR 261, a certified photostat of a poster of the Commanding General and the Commander-in-Chief of Serbia, dated 25 December, 1942, in which he announces the shooting of fifty hostages;

Secondly, as Exhibit USSR 319, a certified photostat of a poster of the same Commanding General, dated 19 February, 1943, in which he announces the shooting of 400 hostages which was carried out in Belgrade on the same day;

Thirdly, as Exhibit USSR 320, a certified photostat of a poster of the Regional Commandantur in Pozarevatz, dated 3 April, 1943, announcing the shooting of 75 hostages

[Page 76]

Fourthly, as Exhibit USSR 321, a certified photostat of a poster of the same Regional Commandantur of Pozarevatz, dated 16 April, 1943, announcing the shooting of 30 hostages;

Fifthly, a certified copy of a poster of the Military Commandant of Belgrade, dated 14 October, 1943, in which he announces the shooting of 100 hostages.

I submit this document as Exhibit USSR 322.

I continue my quotation from the report of the Yugoslav Government.

"Planned and systematic murder of hostages is revealed by the following testimonies, collected by the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes on the basis of confiscated German archives and data found in the archives. The testimonies refer to Serbia only.

450 hostages were shot on 3 October, 1941, in Belgrade.

200 hostages were shot on 17 October, 1941, in Belgrade.

50 hostages were shot on 27 October, 1941, in Belgrade.

100 hostages were shot on 3 November, 1941, in Belgrade.

10 hostages shot on 12 December, 1942, in Kraguevatz.

10 hostages shot on 12 December, 1942, in Krusevatz.

30 hostages shot on 15 December, 1942, in Brush.

50 hostages shot on 17 December, 1942, in Petrovatz.

10 hostages shot on 20 December, 1942, in Brush.

50 hostages shot on 25 December, 1942, in Petrovatz.

10 hostages shot on 26 December, 1942, in Brush.

250 hostages shot on 26 December, 1942, in Petrovatz.

25 hostages shot on 27 December, 1942, in Krusevatz."

According to the statement of the Yugoslav Government such figures could be cited ad infinitum. I continue my quotation:
"The shooting of hostages was, as a rule, conducted in a most barbaric fashion. The victims were mostly forced to stand one behind the other in batches, waiting their turn and witnessing the execution of the preceding batch. In this manner the batches were one after another exterminated."
I shall submit further to the Tribunal, as Exhibit USSR 205, the report of the Police Administration of the Quisling Administration of Milan Nedich. It mentions the shooting, on 11 December, 1941, in Leskovatz, of 310 hostages, of whom 293 were gypsies.

I continue to quote the report of the Yugoslav Government:

"By an examination of the site and an interrogation of the gypsies by the Regional Administration for the Investigation of War Crimes in Leskovatz, the methods were established by which this shooting was carried out."
Before reading the excerpt, I submit to the Tribunal the document which was referred to by the Government of the Yugoslav Republic, as Exhibit USSR 226 and request it be incorporated as evidence. In the report of the Yugoslav Government, the following lines of this document are quoted:-
"On 11 December, 1941, from 0600 hours to 1600 hours the Germans transported the arrested hostages in their trucks in batches of about 20 persons each. All of them had their hands bound. They were taken to the foot of Hisar Mountain. From there they were driven on foot across the mountain and then made to stand in ranks near recently dug graves, were shot and then thrown into the graves."
THE PRESIDENT: I think this will be a good time to break off.

Colonel Smirnov, the Tribunal appreciates the efforts that you have made to leave out unnecessary detail and to cut down the length of your address and it hopes that during the adjournment you will continue your efforts in that direction.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Certainly, Mr. President.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 18th February, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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