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-Fourth Day: Thursday, 21st February, 1946
(Part 4 of 8)


[Page 186]

On Page 23 of the report, corresponding to Page 278 of the document book, we find, for instance, the following facts concerning Belgrade. I quote:-
"Without there being any military need, the Germans destroyed deliberately and burned a great number of public buildings and cultural institutions, such as the New University, the People's University 'Koloraz,' the first High School for boys, the second High School for girls, the ancient royal palace, the broadcasting station, the Russian Home of Culture, the sanatorium of Dr. Jivkovich, and so forth. In the university building valuable and highly important collections of scientific works and research matter were destroyed."
As is established by the report of the Yugoslav State Commission, which is Document 39-J (a), and which I submit as Exhibit USSR 364 (Page 313a of the document book), the Hitlerites razed to the ground the National Library in Belgrade and burned hundreds of thousands of books and manuscripts, which constituted the nucleus of Serbian culture. They completely destroyed seventy-one and partially destroyed forty-one scientific institutes and laboratories of Belgrade University. They razed to the ground the State Academy of Art, and they burned and looted thousands of schools. Your Honours will find this passage on Page 303 of the document book.

During the four years of German domination, the people of Yugoslavia experienced great suffering and sorrow.

The Germans looted the economic wealth of the country and caused great material damage. But the damage they caused to the culture of the people of Yugoslavia was even greater.

In concluding this chapter of my report, I consider it essential, your Honours, to quote yet another excerpt from the diary of the defendant Frank. I have in mind the calico- bound volume of the diary entitled "Conferences of the Leaders of Departments of 1939-1940", which contains an entry regarding the conference of the Departmental Leaders of 19 January, 1940, in Cracow. This excerpt in on Page 169 of the document book. I read:-

"On 15 September, 1939, I was entrusted with the administration of the conquered Eastern Territories, and received a special order to devastate this district pitilessly, to regard it as a combat zone and a prize of war, and to reduce its economic, social and political structure to a heap of ruins."
To this statement of Frank's, we need only add that the defendant Frank zealously performed this task in Poland and that the Reichs- and Gauleiter acted with equal zeal in the occupied territories of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

The Destruction and Spoliation of Cultural Treasures in the USSR.

I am now going to present, your Honours, proof of crimes committed by the defendants against the culture of the peoples of the Soviet Union.

We have heard in this Court what brutality was used and on how vast a scale the Hitlerites conducted the destruction and spoliation of the cultural wealth of the peoples of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia.

[Page 187]

The crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerite conspirators in the occupied territories of the USSR were graver still.

The criminal Organisation known as the Nazi Government aimed not only at plundering the people of the Soviet Union, at destroying their towns and villages and at extirpating the culture of the peoples of the USSR, but also at enslaving the people of the Soviet Union and of transforming our native country into a fascist colony of serfs.

In the second part of my statement I have proved how the destruction of the cultural monuments of the peoples of the USSR was planned and perpetrated.

In the Note of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, V. M. Molotov, dated 27 April, 1942, which was presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 31/3, documents and facts are quoted which establish, beyond dispute, that the destruction of historic and cultural monuments and the vile mockery of national feelings, beliefs and convictions, constituted a part of the monstrous plan evolved and put into practice by the Hitlerite Government, which strove to liquidate the national culture of the peoples of the USSR.

Later I shall refer again to this document, but at present I wish, with your permission, to read into the record the following excerpt which is on Page 321 of the document book. I omit the first and quote the second paragraph:-

"The desecration and destruction of historical and cultural memorials in occupied Soviet territories, as well as the devastation of the numerous cultural establishments set up by the Soviet authorities, are a part of the monstrous and senseless plan conceived and pursued by the Hitlerite Government, which strives to liquidate Russian national culture and the national cultures of the peoples of the Soviet Union, to Germanise by force the Russian, Ukrainian, Bielorussian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Esthonian and other peoples of the USSR."
In Order No. 097341, General Hodt, Commander of the 17th German Army, demands that his subordinates thoroughly assimilate that misanthropic notion so typical of the thick- skulled fascists, that the "sound feeling of vengeance and revulsion towards everything Russian should not be suppressed among the men, but, on the contrary, encouraged in every way".

True to their custom of destroying universally recognised cultural treasures, the Hitlerites, everywhere on the Soviet territory occupied by them, devastated and generally burned libraries, from the small club and school libraries up to and including the most valuable collections of manuscripts and books, containing unique bibliographical treasures.

I omit a paragraph and continue the quotation:-

"The Hitlerites looted and then set on fire the famous Borodion Museum, the historical exhibits of which related to the struggle against the armies of Napoleon in 1812, particularly dear to the Russian people. The invaders looted and set fire to the Pushkin House and Museum in the hamlet of Polotnyany Zavod.

In Kaluga, the Hitlerites assiduously destroyed the exhibits in the House Museum in which the eminent Russian scientist Tsiolkovsky, whose services in the field of aeronautics enjoy world-wide fame, lived and worked.

The fascist vandals used Tsiolkovsky's portrait as a target for revolver practice. Extremely valuable models of dirigibles, together with plans and instruments, were trampled underfoot. One of the museum rooms was turned into a hen coop and the furniture burned. One of the oldest agricultural institutions in the USSR, the Shatilov Selection Station in the Orel District, was destroyed by the invaders who blew up and consigned to the flames fifty-five buildings of this station, including the agro-chemical and other laboratories, the museum, the library containing 40,000 volumes, the school and other buildings. Even greater frenzy was shown by the Hitlerites

[Page 188]

when looting the cultural institutions and historical monuments of the Ukraine and of Bielorussia".
I omit two paragraphs and pass on to the last paragraph of this quotation:-
"There was no limit to the desecration by the Hitlerite vandals of the monuments and homes representing Ukrainian history, culture and art. Suffice to mention, as an example of the constant attempts to humiliate the national dignity of the Ukrainian people, that after plundering the Korolenko Library in Kharkov, the occupants used the books as paving stones for the muddy street in order to facilitate the passage of German motor vehicles."
The German barbarians treated with particular hatred those cultural monuments which were most dear to the Soviet people. I will quote several instances:-

The Hitlerites plundered Yasnaja Polyana, where one of the greatest writers, Leo Tolstoy, was born, lived and worked.

They plundered and despoiled the house where the great Russian composer Tschaikovsky lived and worked. In this house Tschaikovsky created the world-famous operas "Eugen Onegin" and "The Queen of Spades".

In Taganrog they destroyed the house where the great Russian writer Chekhov lived; in Tikhvin they destroyed the residence of the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.

As evidence, your Honours, I will read into the record an excerpt from the Note of Foreign Commissar Molotov, dated 6 January, 1942. This document has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 51/2. This excerpt is on Page 3 17 of the document book.

I quote :

"For a period of six weeks, the Germans occupied the world-famous property of Yasnaya Polyana where Leo Tolstoy, one of the greatest geniuses of mankind, was born, lived and worked. This glorious memorial to Russian culture was wrecked, profaned and finally set on fire by the Nazi vandals. The grave of the great writer was desecrated by the invaders. Irreplaceable relics relating to the life and work of Leo Tolstoy, including rare manuscripts, books and paintings, were either plundered by the German soldiers or thrown away and destroyed. A German officer named Schwartz declared, in reply to a request of one of the museum's staff collaborators to stop using the personal furniture and books of the great writer for firewood and to use wood available for this purpose: 'We do not need firewood; we shall burn everything connected with the name of your Tolstoy'. When the town of Klin was liberated by the Soviet troops on 15th December, it was ascertained that the house in which P. I. Tschaikovsky, the great Russian composer, had lived and worked, and which the Soviet State had turned into a museum, had been wrecked and plundered by Fascist officers and soldiers. In the museum building proper, the Germans set up a garage for motor-cycles, heating this garage with manuscripts, books, furniture and other museum exhibits, part of which had in any case been stolen by the German invaders. In doing this, the Nazi officers knew perfectly well that they were defiling one of the finest monuments of Russian culture.

During the occupation of the town of Istra, the German troops established an ammunition dump in the famous ancient Russian monastery known as the New Jerusalem Monastery, founded as far back as 1654. The New Jerusalem Monastery was an outstanding historical and religious monument of the Russian people and was known as one of the most beautiful examples of religious architecture. This did not, however, prevent the German fascist vandals from blowing up their ammunition dump in the New Jerusalem Monastery on their retreat from Istra, thereby reducing this irreplaceable monument of Russian church history to a heap of ruins."

[Page 189]

Acting upon directions of the German Military Command, the Hitlerites destroyed and annihilated the cultural and historic monuments of the Russian people connected with the life and work of the great Russian poet, Alexander Sergeivitch Pushkin.

The Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, the original copy of which is now submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 40, reads as follows:-

"To preserve the cultural and historical memorials of the Russian people connected with the life and creations of the gifted Russian poet and genius, Alexander Sergeivitch Pushkin, the Soviet Government, on 17 March, 1922, declared the poet's estate at Michailovskoye, as well as his tomb at the monastery of Svyatogorsky, and the neighbouring villages of Trigorskoye, Gorodischtsche and Voronitsch, a State Reservation.

The Pushkin Reservation, especially the poet's estate at Michailoskoye, was very dear to the Russian people. Here Pushkin finished the third and created the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters of "Eugen Onegin". Here, too, he finished his poem "Gypsies", and wrote the drama "Boris Godunov', as well as a large number of epic and lyrical poems.

In July, 1941, the Hitlerites forced their way into the Pushkin Reservation. For three years they made themselves at home there, ruined everything and destroyed the Pushkin memorials."

I will omit the beginning of Page 1 of the report.
"The plundering of the museum had already begun in August, 1941."
I will also omit the next paragraph. I read on:-
"In the autumn of 1943 the Commander of the Pushkin Military Kommandantur, Treibholtz, urged K, V. Afanassiev to prepare for the evacuation of all the museum valuables. All these valuables were packed into cases by the German authorities, loaded into trucks and sent to Germany."
I omit the following paragraph.
"At the end of February, 1944, the Germans turned Michailovskoye into a military objective and into one of the strong-points of the German defence. The park area was dug up for combat and communication trenches; shelters were constructed. The cottage of Pushkin's nurse was knocked down and next to it, and partly on its former site, the Germans constructed a large dugout, protected by five layers of timber. The Germans built a similar dug-out near the former museum building.

Prior to their retreat from Michailovskoye, the Germans completed the destruction and desecration of the Pushkin estate. The House Museum erected on the foundation of Pushkin's former residence was burnt down by the Germans and nothing remained but a heap of ruins. The marble plate of the Pushkin monument was smashed to pieces and thrown on to the pile of ashes. Of the other two houses standing at the entrance to the Michailovskoye estate, one was burnt down by the Germans, the other severely damaged. The German vandals put three bullets into the large portrait of Pushkin hanging in an archway at the entrance to the Michailovskoye park then they destroyed the archway.

After their retreat from Michailovskoye, the fascists bombarded the village with mortars and artillery fire. The wooden stairs leading to the river Soret were destroyed by German mines. The old lime trees of the circular alley leading to the house were broken down; the giant elm tree in front of the house was damaged by shell fire and splinters."

I omit the end of this page and pass on to Page 41 of the report
"In the village of Voronitsch, the wooden church which dated back to Pushkin's time and in which Pushkin had a requiem sung on 7 April, 1925, to commemorate the death of the great English poet, Byron, was burned down. The churchyard near the church where V. P. Hannibal, one of

[Page 190]

Pushkin's relatives, and the priest, Ragevsky, close friend of the poet, lay buried, was criss-crossed by trenches, mined and devastated. The historical aspect of the reservation, in which the Russian people saw a symbol of Pushkin, was disfigured beyond all recognition.

The sacrileges perpetrated by the Germans against the national sanctuaries of the Russian people are best demonstrated by the desecration of Pushkin's tomb. In attempts to save the Pushkin Reservation from destruction, the units of the Red Army did not defend this district, but withdrew to Novorzhev. Nevertheless, on 2 July, 1941, the Germans bombarded the monastery of Svyatiye-Gory, under the adjoining walls of which is Pushkin's tomb.

In March, 1943, long before the battle line approached the Pushkin Hills, the Germans began the systematical demolition of the Svyatiye-Gory monastery."

I omit the rest of this page, and I pass on to Page 42:-
"The poet's tomb was found completely covered with refuse. Both stairways leading down to the grave were destroyed. The platform surrounding the grave was covered with refuse, rubble, wooden fragments of ikons and pieces of sheet metal."
I omit a paragraph and quote further:-
"The marble balustrade surrounding the platform was damaged by fragments of artillery shells and by bullets.

The monument itself inclined at an angle of 10 to 12 degrees eastwards, as a result of a landslide following the shelling, and of the shocks caused by the explosions of German mines....

.... The invaders knew perfectly well that, on entering the Pushkin Hills, the officers and soldiers of the Red Army would first of all visit the grave of the poet, and therefore converted it into a trap for the patriots. Approximately 3,000 mines were discovered and removed from the grounds of the monastery and its vicinity by the engineers of the Soviet Army."

The destruction of works of art and architecture in the towns of Pavlovsk, Tzarskoe-Selo and Peterhof, figure among the worst anti-cultural crimes of the Hitlerites.

The magnificent monuments of art and architecture in these towns, which had been turned into "Museum-towns", are known throughout the civilised world. These art and architectural monuments were created in the course of two centuries. They commemorated a whole series of outstanding events in Russian history.

Celebrated Russian and foreign architects, sculptors and artists created masterpieces which were kept in these "Museum-towns" and, together with valuable masterpieces of Russian and foreign art, they were blown up, burned or destroyed by the German vandals.

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