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 6 of 6)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 131]

I quote this passage, as Bikerneksky Forest will be shown in the documentary film.
"The latter were situated about 4 kilometres from the suburbs of Riga in the Bikerneksky Forest (in the record the name of the Bikemeksky Forest was spelled wrong) there were about 10,000 or 12,000 corpses. A fresh group of fifty or sixty internees was brought there, and in the middle of June, 1944, work began on the exhumation and burning of corpses in the

[Page 132]

same way as I described at the beginning. This work was completed by the end of July, 1944. I believe that at that period the front was only about 300 kilometres, away. The 10,000 to 12,000 corpses were those of men, women and children of all ages and had been buried about two years ago".
I remind your Honours that the extracts from the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, which I quoted, mentioned the date of the shooting as 1942; and this proves that these two testimonies concur with each other once again. I continue the quotation:-
"The policemen believed that these people had been shot by the S.S. However, this was only a supposition. A fresh group of fifty to sixty internees were murdered at the end of July, 1944."
I omit the following part of the document and will only quote the conclusion of Gerhard Adamitz's record, page 359, paragraph 4:-
"Afterwards, we were of the opinion that the Nazis were actually afraid that the mass graves would be discovered by the advancing Russians and that these mass killings would become known to the civilised world. I believe that about 100,000 corpses were exhumed from mass graves by the S.D., serving with the Sonderkommando 1005 A and 1005 B. I believe also that similar Kommandos were engaged on the same work, but I do not know how many. If I had thought or known that I would ever be compelled to carry out this dirty and degrading work I would have emigrated somewhere."
I omit the last part; the record concludes with the text of the oath, signed "Gerhard Adamitz". Before submitting to the Tribunal evidence of another crime of the Hitlerites, I beg the Tribunal to allow me to make a few introductory remarks. The murder of several million people was carried out by the German fascists from motives dictated by their inhuman, barbarian "theories" of nazism and of the right of the "master race" to exterminate peoples. All these murders were planned in cold blood. All these crimes, unprecedented in scale, were carried out at exact dates set for this purpose. Moreover, as I have shown many times before, a special technique was invented for the mass killings and for the concealment of the traces of their crimes.

But, besides this, there is another characteristic in the many crimes committed by the German fascists, which makes them even more detestable.

In many cases, the Germans, having killed their victims, did not stop there, but made the corpses objects of jeers and mockery.

Mockery of the dead bodies of victims was common practice in all extermination camps. I remind the Tribunal that the bones which had not been calcinated were sold by the German fascists to the firm Strem. The hair of the murdered women was cut off, packed in sacks, pressed and sent to Germany.

The crimes on which I shall now submit evidence are similar in character. On numerous occasions, I have already pointed out that the principal method used to cover up the traces was to burn the corpses, but the same base, rationalised, technical S.S. minds which created gas chambers and murder vans, began devising such methods of complete annihilation of human bodies, as would not only conceal the traces of their crimes, but also serve in the manufacture of certain products.

Anatomical Institute experiments in the production of soap from human bodies and the tanning of human skin for industrial purposes were already carried out on a large scale. I submit to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 197 the testimony of one of the direct participants in the production of soap from human fat - Sigmund Mazur - who was a laboratory assistant at the Danzig anatomical institute.

I omit two pages of the statement and turn to Page 363. I begin the quotation it is rather long, but I think I shall have the necessary time for the presentation

[Page 133]

of the evidence and I beg to draw the attention of your Honours to this quotation:-
"Q. Tell us how the soap was made out of human fat at the Danzig Anatomical Institute.

A. In the courtyard of the Anatomical Institute a one- storey stone building of three rooms was built during the summer of 1943. This building was erected for the utilisation of human bodies and for the boiling of bones. This was officially announced by Professor Spanner. This laboratory was called a laboratory for the fabrication of skeletons, the burning of meat and unnecessary bones, but during the winter of 1943-44 Professor Spanner ordered us to collect human fat, and not to throw it away. This order was given to Reichert and Borkmann.

In February, 1944, Professor Spanner gave me the recipe for the preparation of soap from human fat. According to this recipe 5 kilos of human fat are mixed with 10 litres of water and 500 or 1,000 grams of caustic soda. All this is boiled two or three hours and then cooled. The soap floats to the surface while the water and other sediment remain at the bottom. A pinch of salt and soda is added to this mixture. Then fresh water is added, and the mixture is again boiled for two or three hours. After having cooled the soap is poured into moulds ".

I will present to the Tribunal these moulds into which the soap was poured. Further I shall prove that this half finished sample of human soap was really discovered in Danzig.
"The soap had an unpleasant odour. In order to destroy this, Bilzo was added".
I omit the next part of the quotation, which shows from where they received this preparation. This is of no importance at this stage, and I continue the quotation on Page 364, paragraph 4.
"The fat of the human bodies was collected by Borkmann and Reichert. I boiled the soap from the bodies of women and men. The process of boiling alone took from three to seven days. During two manufacturing processes, in which I directly participated, more than 25 kilograms of soap were produced. The amount of human fat necessary for these two processes was 70 to 8o kilograms, collected from some forty bodies. The finished soap then went to Professor Spanner, who kept it personally.

The work for the production of soap from human bodies has, as far as I know, also interested Hitler's Government. The Anatomical Institute was visited by the Minister of Education, Rust; the Minister for Health, Doctor Cort ; the Gauleiter of Danzig, Albert Forster; as well as professors from other medical institutes.

I took 4 kilograms of this soap for my personal needs, for toilet and for laundering.

I omit one paragraph and continue the quotation:-
"Reichert, Borkmann, von Bargen, and our chief professor, Spanner, also personally used this soap".
I omit the following paragraphs and conclude the quotation on Page 365, from where I shall read one paragraph which concerns the industrial utilisation of human skin.
"In the same way as for human fat, Professor Spanner ordered us to collect human skin, which after having been cleaned of fat was treated with certain chemical products. The work on human skin was carried out under the direction of the chief assistant, von Bargen and Professor Spanner

[Page 134]

himself. The 'finished' skin was packed in boxes and used for special purposes of which I have no knowledge."
I now submit to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 196 the copy of the recipe for soap I produced from the corpses of the executed. I will not dwell on this recipe, which is identical to that already described in Mazur's testimony. But the proof of the fact that this recipe is correct, your Honours, can be found in Mazur's record, which has already been submitted to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 197. I will not quote this record. In order to prove that the record of Mazur's interrogation is a true one, I shall now submit to the Tribunal two documents which have been kindly put at out disposal; they are records of sworn statements by two British prisoners of war; in particular that of John R. Tony, a soldier of the Essex Regiment. The document is submitted to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 264. The members of the Tribunal will find this quotation in paragraph 5, page 495 of the document book. I quote a very short excerpt from this record.

This is Page 367:-

"The corpses were brought to us, seven to eight every day. All of them had been decapitated and stripped. Sometimes they were brought to us by Red Cross cars, in wooden cases, which contained five to six, sometimes three to four corpses. Some were brought to us in small trucks."
I omit the next sentence.
"The corpses were usually unloaded as quickly as possible and taken down into the cellar, which was entered from a side door of the main entrance hall of the Institute."
I omit the next sentence.
"They were then put into large metal containers where they were left for approximately four months."
Continuing the quotation.
"Owing to the special mixture by which the corpses were treated, the tissues separated from the bones very easily. The tissue was then put into a boiler about the size of a small kitchen table. The liquid obtained after the boiling process was put into white vessels about twice the size of a sheet of foolscap and some three centimetres deep."
These were the moulds which I have already shown the Tribunal. The daily output was about 3 to 4 moulds.

This witness did not personally see the making of the soap, but I submit to the Tribunal, as exhibit USSR 272, the written testimony of a British citizen, William Anderson Nealey, a corporal of the Royal Signals. The members of the Tribunal will find this excerpt on Page 498 of the document book, volume 2.

I begin the quotation:

"The corpses arrived at the rate of two or three per day. All of them were naked and most of them had been beheaded. . . .

The construction of the machine for the preparation of soap was completed some time in March or April, 1944. The construction of the building for this machine was completed in June, 1942. The machine itself was installed by a Danzig firm of the name of Arrd, a firm not connected with war production. As far as I remember, when some kind of acid had been put in this machine, it dissolved the bones of corpses.

This process of dissolution took about twenty-four hours. The fat portions of the corpses and particularly those of women were put into an enamel vat, heated by a couple of petrol burners. Some acids were also used in this

[Page 135]

process. I believe that one of the acids used was caustic soda. Upon the completion of the boiling process, the mixture was allowed to cool and was then poured into special moulds.

I cannot estimate exactly the quantity produced but I saw it used in Danzig for cleaning tables in the dissecting room. The people who used this soap assured me that it was the best soap for this purpose."

I submit some semi-finished and some finished soap as exhibit USSR 393. Here you can see a small piece of finished soap, which on the outside, after lying about for a few months, reminds you of ordinary household soap. I hand it to the Tribunal. In addition I now submit to the Tribunal the samples of semi-tanned human skin (exhibit USSR 394). These samples of soap prove that the process of manufacture was already completely worked out by the Danzig Institute; as to the skin, it still looks like a semi-finished product. The skin which resembles most the leather used in manufacture is the one you see on top at the left. One can say, then, that the experiments in the industrial fabrication of soap from human fats were completed in the Danzig Institute, while experiments on the tanning of human skin were still incomplete, though only the victorious advance of the Red Army put an end to this new crime of the Nazis.

Gentlemen, I have now only to submit to you one more piece of evidence, which is the last among the proofs concerning war crimes against the peaceful population presented by the USSR prosecution. Certain witnesses may arrive here from the Soviet Union to testify to the points which I have submitted. I will beg the permission of the Tribunal to examine these witnesses, when further evidence will be presented by our prosecution.

Before submitting my last proof, I beg the Tribunal to allow me to make a few conclusive remarks.

The lengthy list of crimes against the peaceful inhabitants of the temporarily occupied areas of the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Greece, cannot be completed even in the most detailed statement. One can only point out a few very typical cases of cruelties, of base and systematic methods adopted by the major criminals who had conceived these crimes, as well as those who executed them. Those who are now in the dock have freed from "the chimera of the so-called conscience" hundreds of thousands and millions of criminals. They trained these criminals and created for them an atmosphere of impunity, and drove these blood thirsty hounds against peaceful citizens. They mocked at human conscience and self-respect. But those who were poisoned in murder vans and gas chambers, those who were torn to shreds, those whose bodies were burned in the ovens of crematoria and whose ashes strewn to the winds, appeal to the conscience of the world. We cannot now name, or even number many of the burial places where millions of innocent people were vilely murdered. But on the damp walls of the gas chambers, in the places of the shootings, in the extermination camps, on the stones and casemates of the prisons, we can still read brief messages of the doomed, full of agony, calling for retribution. Let the living ones remember these voices of the victims of German fascist terror, who before dying appealed to the conscience of the world for justice and for retribution.

As a last proof I submit to the Tribunal the script and the sworn affidavit of the persons who assembled and made this documentary film. I beg the Tribunal to accept it as evidence. It will become exhibit USSR 81. I also beg the Tribunal to allow, if possible, a short recess of about ten minutes, for the technical preparation for the demonstration.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 136]

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honour, may I have permission to present now the documentary evidence?

(The documentary film entitled, " The Atrocities by the German fascist Aggressors in the USSR" was then projected on the screen in the Court Room.)

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, have you finished your address?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I have finished the presentation of my evidence, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you inform the Tribunal how much longer the Soviet Delegation is likely to be?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I find it difficult to give you an answer to this question. I will ask my colleague, General Rudenko, to do this.

GENERAL RUDENKO: To-morrow we shall begin the presentation of evidence on spoliation and pillage of communal and private property, and we think that the speaker on this question will conclude it the same day. Then there will be presented to the Tribunal the evidence as to destruction of cities, villages, monuments of national culture and art. That will take approximately a day and a half. In other words, I mean half of Thursday's or Friday's session, and a half of the following day's session, taking into account that on this question we shall also have to present a documentary film.

Then there will be presented evidence concerning "Deportation to Slave Labour." This will take approximately three to four hours. The final presentation deals with evidence on "Crimes against Humanity." During the presentation of the evidence in all the sections we shall, with the permission of the Tribunal, call several witnesses. I could not present to the Tribunal to-day the names of the witnesses who will appear, because there are technical difficulties in bringing them here to Nuremberg. This list will be formulated to-morrow towards the end of the session.

To sum up, I think that altogether the Soviet prosecution will have concluded the presentation of evidence by either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 20th February, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.