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-Second Day: Tuesday, 19th February, 1946
(Part 1 of 6)

[Page 109]

THE PRESIDENT: I have an announcement to make.

The defence motion for a recess cannot be granted. When a recess at Christmas was decided upon, the Tribunal informed the defence counsel that no further recess would be granted.

As counsel for the prosecution has pointed out, defence counsel have already had several months in which to prepare their defences to a case which depends principally upon documents in the German language, written by the defendants themselves or their associates. They have also had constant assistance from the Tribunal and the prosecution in connection with documentary evidence and witnesses.

The Tribunal has observed that many of the defence counsel have already found it possible, quite properly, to absent themselves from Court, and the Tribunal sees no reason why some of the time which must elapse for the conclusion of the case for the prosecution should not be utilised in preparation of their defence out of Court.

The Tribunal therefore decides that, after the conclusion of the prosecution's case against the individual defendants, the argument on the groups or organisations alleged to be criminal shall take place, and that thereafter applications for documents and witnesses by those defendants whose witnesses and documents have not already been decided upon shall be heard in open session. In this way several days will be occupied in which many of the defence counsel can be absent from court and can prepare their defences out of Court.

That is all. You may continue, Colonel.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honour, you asked me yesterday who, in January, 1942, was the Chief of the Armament and Ordnance Department of the German Army. I could not answer yesterday, but to-day I can report to you that General of the Infantry Thomas held this position.

As to the second question which you put to me, that is, what measures were taken in regard to the correspondence connected with the report of Major Roesler, I requested information from Moscow, where this correspondence is kept. There are only excerpts from this correspondence in the archives there. The rest of the correspondence is in another archive. We requested information from this archive and as soon as the latest disposition of this correspondence is ascertained, I will immediately report to the Tribunal. This will take about a day or two.

Before continuing my statement, I wish to remark that to-day I should conclude the presentation of all the evidence concerned with my statement. I have to submit a considerable number of documents, and therefore my statement will be rather fragmentary. I will not dwell on particulars and will try not to repeat what has already been said by the prosecutors of other countries. This will render my statement somewhat piecemeal, for which I must beg your indulgence.

I will now proceed with my statement.

The medico-forensic experts' report drawn up in the city of Smolensk has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 48. It was signed by a member of the Extraordinary State Commission, President of the Medical Academy and eminent Soviet physician, Academician Burdenko, by the principal medico-forensic expert of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Prozorovsky, and other experts. In addition to the final conclusions which have already been presented by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, I now submit to the Tribunal the actual

[Page 110]

record of these experts' investigation. From this the Tribunal will be able to judge, not only the final conclusion but also the methods used for this investigation. The Tribunal can see for itself the detailed description of each burial ground investigated by experts, as well as the detailed examination of the corpses exhumed from the ditches. I will not repeat those parts of the account which have already been partially quoted by Colonel Pokrovsky. Therefore I omit four pages of my statement and pass on to Page 213. The part which I wish to quote now, your Honours will find on Page 377 of the document book, volume 2, paragraph 2 of the page. The experts describe a typical scene of a burial site of victims of German terror in 1941 and the beginning of 1942. I quote:-
"The ditches from which the corpses were exhumed were not common burial grounds. The corpses were not laid out in a row nor one next to the other, but layer upon layer, a solid mass of women's and men's bodies heaped together in confusion. In this mass of corpses some were bent or half bent, some were lying on their faces, on their sides, or on their backs, some were on their knees, with faces down or up, with legs and arms interlinked. It was impossible to separate the corpses before, they were exhumed from the ditch."
However, this chaotic manner of burial of the corpses appears to characterise only the mass burials of victims of the first mass shootings which were carried out toward the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942.

During subsequent exhumations the medico-forensic experts discovered very many burial grounds where the corpses were laid down in orderly fashion, layer on layer.

A typical scene of such a burial ground the Tribunal can find in the album regarding the Lvov Camp. On Page 15 of this album there is a picture of a burial ground of the later period. The bodies are lying in regular layers, and this can be explained by . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Which album is this?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: It is the album which concerns the Lvov Camp, your Honour. It was submitted to the Tribunal yesterday. The picture I am talking about is on Page 15 of the album. It is a photograph which was discovered in the Gestapo headquarters at Lvov.

The reason that caused this regular disposition of bodies will become clear to the Tribunal from an excerpt of the Extraordinary State Commission's report on atrocities.

THE PRESIDENT: Is this a photograph of the bodies as they lay in the trench or after they had been moved?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, it is a photograph taken by some Gestapo official, your Honour, and was discovered in the archives of the Lvov Gestapo. If you will look at this picture, you will see that the corpses are lying almost in regular rows on the spot of this mass shooting.

What was the reason for this regular laying out of the corpses? The Tribunal will find the answer to this on Page 290 of the document book, paragraph 8. This is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on Atrocities committed by the German fascist invaders in the City and Region of Revno:-

"The witness Kapuk, a worker on a German farm near Belaya. Street, testified:

Several times I saw how the Hitlerites exterminated Soviet citizens, Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Jews. This took place usually in, the following manner:

[Page 111]

The German butchers brought the doomed people to the place of execution, forced them to dig a ditch, and ordered them to undress and to lie down in the ditch, face downward. The Hitlerites fired at the back of the necks of the victims with automatic pistols. Then another group of people lay down on top of the bodies of those shot and were finished off in the same manner, and then a third row, and so on until the ditch was filled. Then they poured quicklime over the corpses and covered them with earth".
How widespread this infamous and cruel method of mass execution was can be judged from an excerpt concerning the executions in Maidanek. I quote from a Soviet-Polish communique, already presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 29. The Tribunal will find this on Page 65 of the document book, paragraph 14:-
"On 3rd November, 1943, 18,400 people were shot in the camp. 8,400 came from the camp itself, and 10,000 were herded there from the city and other camps."
I omit the next sentence.
"The shootings started early in the morning and ceased late in the evening. The S.S. brought the people, stripped naked, to the ditches in groups of fifty or one hundred. They were packed into the bottom of the ditch face down and shot with automatic rifles. Then a new group of people was piled on the corpses and shot in the same manner; and so on until the pits were full".
I especially concerned myself with determining the exact date when this method was used for the first time. According to Soviet documents this was in the second half of 1942. But in general, it may be stated that similar methods of shooting were adopted by the German police detachments in Poland, in 1939.

Thanks to the kindness of our British colleagues, I am able to submit to the Tribunal a document which was received by our delegation from the British prosecution. It is a photostat of the document - the original is in the archives of the British Delegation and I think I am safe in saying that if the Tribunal requires the original copy, it can be presented. The authenticity of the information which is contained in this correspondence cannot be questioned. It is a German report taken from the archives of Hitler's aide de camp. I quote one passage, which the Tribunal may find on Page 391 of the document book, Volume II, paragraph 2. The German staff doctors considered it necessary to report to Hitler about these shootings because "since these shootings were done publicly, enemy propaganda may derive much material ...."

From this correspondence I quote a short excerpt from the record of Corporal Paul Kluge's interrogation. Paul Kluge belonged to a medical detachment stationed in Shwetz. He had heard that an execution of Poles would take place on Sunday, 8th October, 1939, in the Jewish cemetery. Out of curiosity he decided to visit the place of execution. I quote only that part of his interrogation which describes the manner of shooting. The Tribunal will find this quotation on Page 393 of the document book, Volume II, paragraph 2.:-

"We decided that we were the victims of silly rumours and were about to go back to our barracks, when suddenly a large bus full of women and children drove into the cemetery. We returned to the cemetery. Then we saw how a party consisting of a woman and three children, aged from three to eight years, were led to an open grave about two metres wide and eight metres long. The woman was forced to descend into this grave and took the youngest child with her in her arms. Two men, members of the punitive expedition, handed the other two children to her. The woman was forced to lie, face down, in the grave and beside her three children, in the

[Page 112]

same manner, on her left. After that, four men of the detachment also climbed down into the grave and aimed their guns so that the barrels were about 30 centimetres away from the napes of their necks. Thus they shot the woman and her three children.

Then the chief of the detachment called on me to help fill in the grave. I obeyed this order and, being quite near, I was to see how the next party of women and children were shot in the same manner as were the first.

In all, there were nine or ten groups of women and children, all shot in the same way. Four at a time in the same grave."

We can therefore see that this method of mass shooting is of very early origin.

I omit the next page of the report, as it contains the second of another interrogation with similar information, and submit to the Tribunal proof of other, even more cruel methods of mass shootings which the Hitlerite criminals invented, beginning with 1943 and continuing to the end of the war.

The Hitlerite criminals, beginning with 1943, began to adopt different methods to cover the traces of their crimes, in particular, to burn the bodies. It has been proved by documents that the Hitlerites compelled their victims, first to prepare the kindlings, and logs, then to lie down on these wood piles. Then the first group was shot.

The next party of condemned persons brought logs, laid them down on the layer of corpses, then lay down themselves on these logs, and were executed.

I beg your Honours to turn to the album concerning the Auschwitz camp, where the pictures of another camp, Kloga, are also included. You will find there a typical example of this cruel manner of shooting. In order to prove this, I turn to a document which has already been submitted previously to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 39. The excerpt which I wish to quote is on Page 233 of the document book, last paragraph:-

I start the quotation:-

"On the 19th September, 1944, the Germans began the liquidation of the Kloga camp. Unterscharfuehrer of the camp Schwarze, and the chief of the office, Hauptscharfuehrer Max Dalmann, selected three hundred people from among the internees, and made them carry firewood to a clearing in the woods. Seven hundred other men were forced to build pyres. When these pyres were ready the German butchers began mass shootings of the internees.

In the first place, those who carried the wood and built up the pyres were shot, and then the remaining victims. The shooting was carried out in the following manner: At the point of a gun members of the S.D. units forced the prisoners to lie down on the platforms of the pyres and then they shot them with submachine guns or revolvers. The bodies were burned on the pyres."

To save time I omit the next part of the quotation. In order to prove that the methods in other camps were even more cruel, but of the same type as the ones described above, I beg the Tribunal to turn to a document, which has already been submitted as exhibit USSR 38. It is the report on the atrocities of the German invaders in the town of Minsk. I refer to a quotation which the Tribunal will find on Page 215 of the document book, last paragraph.

In the first part of this quotation you will read how, in order to conceal the traces of their crimes, the German Hitlerite invaders built near the camp in Maly Trostianets primitive crematorium installations. I begin my quotation with that passage of the report which speaks of the shootings carried out in the immediate neighbourhood of these primitive crematorium installations. To facilitate the task of the translators, I inform you that I omit three pages of the text and I read now from Page 233 of the Russian text of the speech.

[Page 113]

I begin the quotation with the testimony of the witness Savinsky, who stated as follows:
"Having reached a point ten kilometres from Minsk, near the village of Maly Trostianets, the lorry stopped near one of the barns. We all understood that we were brought here to be shot.... By order of the German butchers the interned women were brought out in groups of four from the lorry. . . .

Seeing it was my turn, together with Anna Gobubevich, Yulia Semashke and another woman, whose name I did not know, I climbed on top of the pile of bodies. Shots were heard. I was slightly injured on the head and fell."

I omit the next part of the quotation which described how this woman saved herself. I quote the last paragraph:
"The medico-forensic experts discovered bullet wounds in the necks of these bodies. In the barn and on the stacks of logs the Germans shot and burned 6,500 persons."
I omit the next three pages of the text and next submit to the Tribunal as proof of the organisation by the German fascist invaders....

THE PRESIDENT: The translation came through to us that sixty- three people were killed. The translation in writing is 6,500.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The translation in writing is absolutely correct, Mr. President. For the confirmation of this, one could turn to the original document - the report of the Extraordinary State Commission. This was a gross error on the part of the interpreters.

I omit the following three pages of the statement and will present evidence of the existence of special places of mass executions where the number of victims was numbered by hundreds of thousands of persons, and where the doomed were brought in not only from the surrounding regions but from many countries of Europe.

By means of brief excerpts I submit to the Tribunal proof of the existence of two such centres, which were among the most infamous: They are the centre of mass executions of Panarai, eight kilometres from Vilnus, and Fort Number 9, the "Fort of Death", in Kaunas, which has acquired a particularly grim reputation.

I quote a report which has been submitted to the Tribunal, the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Atrocities of the Hitlerite Invaders in Lithuania. The Tribunal will find this quotation on page 294, last paragraph. For the convenience of the interpreters I inform you that I am quoting from page 228. I omit the first three paragraphs, which state that the mass execution place at Panarai was established in July, 1941, and existed until June, 1944. I continue the quotation, starting with the fourth paragraph, which describes how the Hitlerites attempted to cover up the traces of their crimes in this place of mass executions.

"In December, 1943," stated witness Saydel Matvey Federevich, " we were forced to exhume and burn the corpses."
I omit the next sentence and continue the quotation
"For this purpose we placed on each pyre about three thousand corpses, poured oil over them, placed incendiary bombs on four sides, and set it on fire."

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