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

Sixty-First Day: Monday, 18th February, 1946
(Part 4 of 7)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 91]

I quote this document which the Tribunal will find on Page 318 of the document book:-
"Subject : Atrocities perpetrated on the civilian population of the East. With regard to the news of mass executions in Russia, which we are receiving, I was at first convinced that they had been unduly exaggerated. I am forwarding herewith a report from Major Roesler which fully confirms these rumours."
The last sentence is also typical:-
"If these things are done openly, they will become known in the Fatherland and give rise to criticism.

(Signed) Schirwindt."

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, do you know who was the Deputy Commander of the IX Army Corps and Commander of the 9th Military District, and do you know who was the Chief of the Armament and Equipment Department in Berlin? Do you know whether any reply was made to this report?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I can give an answer on this subject only at a later date. I shall shortly clarify the position by giving the Tribunal additional information and will submit the documents dealing with this matter.

I beg to be allowed, in presenting this evidence, to submit to the Tribunal a photostatic copy of a document. I present two albums certified by the Extraordinary State Commission; they will be submitted to each member of the Tribunal (Exhibits USSR 387 and 391).

I beg the permission of the Tribunal to show certain photographs of documents on the screen. I must admit these documents have not been selected on the basis of the impressiveness of the atrocities shown, for the Tribunal will find reports of even more monstrous atrocities in the document book. These photographs have, rather, been selected because of their typical character.

Before presenting these documentary photographs I ask the permission of the Tribunal to submit, as Exhibit USSR 297, another German document. It is a certified photostatic copy of one of the reports of the chief of the Security Police, prohibiting the photographing of mass executions. It is very typical that in many of these cases the photographs were taken by the Germans themselves. This attracted the attention of the Chief of Police and photographing was prohibited in consequence.

I quote only a short excerpt from this report (Page 231 of the Document Book):-

"The Reichsfuehrer S.S. has forbidden the photographing of executions by an order of 12 November, 1941, Journal Number 1 1461/41 Ads., and has ordered that, in so far as such pictures are needed for official purposes, all the negatives be collected in archives."

[Page 92]

I omit the following paragraph and quote the third paragraph:-
"The leader of the task force and special commandos or the company commander of the Waffen S.S. and the section leader of the war correspondents are charged with the responsibility that plates, film and prints of these photographs do not remain in the hands of individual members of these task force units."
I omit the following part of the document in its entirety as I consider that the quotations which have been presented are sufficient proof that the police authorities were uneasy about the fact that frequent photographing of mass executions by the German fascists furnished confirmation of these executions.

I beg the Tribunal for permission to start the showing of several of these photodocuments. Would you permit me to do so, Mr. President?

(A very long pause, the lights are not switched off.)

THE PRESIDENT: What are you waiting for, Colonel Smirnov?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The lights should be turned off but apparently there are some technical difficulties which are beyond me. Therefore I cannot start with the showing of the photo-documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think you can go on with your statement and do the photographs after the adjournment ? How long do you think the photographs will take?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I fully agree with you, Mr. President. I beg your permission to present evidence concerning the second part of the statement, namely:-

"The Mass Annihilation by the German fascists of the Citizens of the USSR, Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia."
The mass extermination of peaceful populations of the Soviet Union and of the countries of Eastern Europe was carried out by the German fascist criminals everywhere, as can be seen from both the official orders and the directives with the following objectives in mind:-
1. Physical elimination of those sections of the population which were capable of resistance.

2. For racial reasons, i.e., for the materialisation. of racial theories inculcating hatred of mankind.

3. For purposes of retaliation.

4. Supposedly "for the fight against the partisans" whom the German fascists could neither catch nor destroy. So the Germans vented the full force of their retaliatory measures on the peaceful population.

The execution of children was a particularly cruel method of German terrorism. The use especially of torture-devices for killing children was one of the prime and most despicable characteristics of the Hitlerite terror regime in the temporarily occupied territory of the USSR.

Immediately after the seizure of power by the fascists, Hermann Goering began to issue laws against vivisection. He pitied dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits subjected to scientific experiments for the benefit of humanity. In confirmation I refer to Goering's book "Speeches and Articles," published in 1940 by Erich Grisbach (Exhibit USSR 377). On Page 80 of this book we find Goering's speech, "The Fight Against Vivisection". I shall not quote any lengthy extract from this book and shall only mention one sentence which testifies that for motives, so to speak, of love for animals, Hermann Goering widely exercised his right to intern in concentration camps those who continued to think that animals could be considered suitable material for experiments.

[Page 93]

At a certain meeting of S.S. Gruppenfuehrer at Poznan, as the Tribunal knows, Himmler stated, Document 1919-PS: "We Germans are the only people who treat animals kindly."

But these criminals who sentimentally discussed the tortures of animals, persistently instructed their subordinates to exterminate children senselessly, inhumanly and cruelly. At the meeting in question Himmler also stated - your Honours will find this statement on Page 201, paragraph 2 of the document book:-

"If anyone would come to me and say, 'You cannot build anti-tank trenches with children and women, it is inhuman since they will die,' I should reply, 'You are the murderers of your own blood.'"
I take the liberty of referring to a very short excerpt from an official document which has already been submitted to the Tribunal, in order to prove that in the course of butchering the Soviet people, the German fascists hurled children into pits alive.

I invite the attention of the Tribunal to a document which has already been submitted by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, as Exhibit USSR 46. It is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the crimes of the German fascist invaders in the city and region of Orel. The Tribunal will find it on Page 334 of the document book; the last three lines of the page, and on Page 335:-

"Those shot in the city were collected and thrown into ditches, preferably in forest areas. In jail the executions took place as, follows: The men had to stand facing a wall while the gendarme fired his pistol into the nape of their necks. The shot penetrated the vital centres and death was instantaneous. In most cases women had to lie face downward on the ground and the gendarme shot them through the base of the neck. A second method was to herd people in groups into a ditch, with their faces turned to one side. Then they were killed likewise by shots in the nape of the neck. In the trenches corpses of children were discovered who, according to the testimony of witnesses, had been buried alive."
Furthermore, I refer to a document which has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 1, a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes of the German fascist Occupants in the area of Stavropol. I quote from Page 271 of the document book, paragraph 3, beginning as follows:-
"During the inspection of a ravine in the vicinity of Koltso Hill and a distance of 250 metres from the High Road" - I omit the next sentence - "a discarded grave was discovered, ten metres in depth, from which protruded separate parts of human bodies. As from 29 July, 1943, excavations were carried out at this spot and, as a result, 130 corpses were exhumed. The medico- forensic examination proved that the corpse of a four- months-old girl showed no traces of violence. The child had been thrown alive into the ditch where it perished from suffocation."
I omit the next phrase and quote from the next paragraph:-
"The autopsy performed on bodies of dead infants by the medico-forensic investigation proved that they had been thrown into the ditch alive, together with their mothers, who had been shot. All the other corpses showed traces of torture."
I will now refer to the verdict of the Military Tribunal of the 4th Ukrainian Front, which I have already submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 32.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better break off.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 94]

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Have I your permission to continue?


COLONEL SM1RNOV : Continuing the presentation of evidence on atrocities of German fascist criminals against children, I refer to the testimony of the witness Bespalov included in the document previously presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 32. The members of the Tribunal will find the place which I refer to on Page 33, paragraph 5 of the document. Bespalov testified-:

"At the end of June last year I myself saw how up to 300 girls and women were brought on 10-12 trucks to the forest clearing. The unfortunate women were throwing themselves this way and that, weeping, tearing their hair and rending their clothes. Many fainted, but the German fascists paid no attention to this. By kicks and beatings with rifle butts and sticks they forced them to get up; those who did do so, the executioners themselves stripped and threw into the pits. Several girls - among them children - tried to run away, but were killed.

I saw how, after a burst of machine-gun fire, some of the women, swaying and helplessly flinging up their arms staggered toward the Germans with heartrending cries. At this time the Germans were shooting them with pistols. Maddened with terror and grief, mothers clutched their children to their breasts, running with terrible wails into the forest clearing, seeking for help.

The Gestapo members snatched the children from them, seizing by the arms or legs and threw them alive into the pit; when the mothers ran after them to the pit, they were shot."

I quote one paragraph from Exhibit USSR 9, already presented to the Tribunal. This is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes of the German fascist Invaders in the City of Kiev. The members of the Tribunal will find this document on Page 238, paragraph six.
"On 19 September, 1941, Hitler's bandits drove thousands of peaceful Soviet citizens to the corner of Melnik and Doktorovskaya Streets and from there to Babi-Yar, where they shot them, after taking all their valuables from them.

Citizens Petrenko and Gorbacheva, who lived near Babi- Yar, stated that they had seen how the Germans threw babies at the breast into graves and buried them alive with their dead or wounded parents. 'One could see the surface of the ground moving over the buried people who were still alive.'"

These were not individual occurrences, but a systematic plan. This inhuman terror was practised on children, since the chiefs of German fascism understood that this form of terrorism would be particularly frightful for the survivors. Compassion for the weak and the defenceless is an inalienable human trait. By applying their particularly barbarous methods to children, the German fascist criminals showed the rest of the population that there was no crime, no cruelty at which they would stop, for the purpose of "pacifying" the occupied territories.

Children did not simply share the fate of their parents. The so-called "actions" were frequently directed against the children themselves. They were taken forcibly from their parents, concentrated in one place, then done away with.

I refer to a very brief report of the Extraordinary Commission, already submitted to the Tribunal, entitled "Concerning the Crimes of the German Conspirators in Latvia". The members of the Tribunal will find the place I refer to on Page 286, paragraph 5. Here it states:-

[Page 95]

"In the main jail in Riga they murdered over 2,000 children who had been torn from their parents, and in the Salaspil Camp more than 3,000."
From the report of the Extraordinary Commission on the Crimes of the Hitlerites in Lithuania, the Tribunal will learn of the brutal methods employed by the Germans to separate children from their parents, incarcerated in prisons, concentration camps or ghettos - these methods usually preceded the murder of the children. - This document has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 7. The members of the Tribunal will find the place referred to on Page 295, paragraph six, of the document book. I omit the first paragraph which mentions the organisation of the camp. This has no direct relation to children, and I begin with the second paragraph, which shows what was done with them:-
"In the beginning of 1944 the Germans in this camp forcibly took children from 6 to 12 years old and carried them off. An inhabitant of the city of Kovno, Vladislav Blum, testified: 'Heartrending scenes occurred under my eyes. The Germans took the children away from their mothers and sent them nobody knows where. Many children perished, having been shot with their mothers.'

On the walls of the camp buildings inscriptions were discovered concerning the crimes of the Hitlerite monsters. Here are some of them:

'Avenge us! Let the whole world know and understand how savagely our children were exterminated! Our days are already counted! Farewell! Let the whole world know and let it not forget to avenge our innocent children! Women of all the world, remember and understand all the atrocities which befell our innocent children in the 20th century! My child is already dead, I am indifferent to everything!"

Further I refer to the document which has already been presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 63. This is an official report on the torture and shooting of children in the Domachev Children's Asylum of the Brest Region in the Bielorussian S.S.R. The members of the Tribunal will find this document on the reverse side of Page 223, fifth paragraph. I shall quote three or four paragraphs of this document, omitting the remainder.
"By order of the German occupying authorities of the district, the Chief of the Prokonehuk District ordered the principal of the Children's Home, A. P. Pavliuk, to poison a sick 12-year-old child, Lena Renklach. After Pavliuk had refused to carry out the order, the child was shot by policemen in the vicinity of the Children's Home, allegedly 'while trying to escape'.

In order to save the children from starvation and death, eleven of them were distributed among the local population in 1942, and 16 children were taken by their relatives."

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