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 5 of 8)


[Page 190]

I read into the record Exhibit USSR 49, which includes a statement of the Extraordinary State Commission dated 3 September, 1944. The excerpts, which I will quote, your Honours, are on Pages 330-332 of the document book.

I omit the end of Page 43 and the whole of Page 44 of this statement, and begin my quotation in the middle of Page 45.

"At the time the German invaders broke into Petrodvoretz (in Peterhof) there still remained, after the evacuation, 34,214 museum exhibits (pictures, works of art and sculptures), as well as 11,700 extremely valuable books from the palace libraries. The ground floor rooms of the Ekaterinsky and Alexandrovsky palaces in the town of Pushkin (Tzarskoe-Selo), contained various suites of furniture, of Russian and French workmanship, of the middle of the eighteenth century, 600 pieces of porcelain of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as a large number of marble busts, small sculptures and about 35,000 volumes from the palace libraries.

[Page 191]

On the basis of documentary material, the statements and testimony of eye witnesses, the evidence of German prisoners of war, and as a result of careful investigation, it has been established that: Breaking into Petrodvoretz on 23rd September, 1941, the German invaders immediately proceeded to loot the treasures of the palace-museums and in the course of several months removed the contents of these palaces.

From the Big, Marly, Monplaisir and Cottage Palaces, they looted and removed to Germany some 34,000 museum exhibits, among them 4,950 unique pieces of furniture of Italian, English, French and Russian workmanship from the periods of Catherine the Great, Alexander I and Nicholas I, as well as many rare sets of porcelain, of foreign and Russian manufacture, of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The German barbarians stripped the walls of the palace rooms of the silks, Gobelin tapestries and other decorative materials which adorned them.

In November, 1941, the Germans removed the bronze statue of Samson, the work of the sculptor Kozlovoky, and sent it to Germany. Having looted the museum treasures, the Hitlerites set fire to the Big Palace, created by the famous and gifted architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

"Upon their withdrawal from Petrodvoretz," I have omitted a paragraph, "the Germans wrecked the Marly Palace by delayed action mines. This palace contained very delicate carvings and stucco mouldings, The Germans wrecked the Monplaisir Palace of Peter the Great. They destroyed all the wooden parts of the pavilion and galleries, the interior decorations of the study, the bedroom and the Chinese room. During their occupation, they turned the central parts of the palace, i.e., the most valuable from the historical and artistic viewpoint, into bunkers. They turned the Western pavilion of the palace into a stable and a latrine. In the premises of the Assembly Building the Germans tore up the floor, sawed through the beams, destroyed the doors and window-frames and stripped the panelling off the ceiling."

I omit one paragraph and quote the last one on this page.
"In the Northern part of the park, in the so-called Alexander Park, they blew up the villa of Nicholas II, completely destroyed the frame cottage which served as billets for officers, the Alexander gates, the pavilions of the Adam fountain, the pylons of the main gates of the Upper Park and the Rose pavilion."
I omit one paragraph on Page 47.
"The Germans wrecked the fountain system of the Petrodvoretz Parks. They damaged the entire pipeline system for feeding the fountains, a system extending from the dam of the Rose pavilion to the Upper Park ....

After the occupation of New Petrodvoretz, units of the 291st German Infantry Division, using heavy artillery fire, completely destroyed the famous English Palace at Old Petrodvoretz, built on the orders of Catherine II by the architect Quarengi. The Germans fired 9,000 rounds of heavy artillery shells; together with the palace they destroyed the picturesque English park and all the park pavilions."

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal has appreciated the successful efforts which the other members of the Soviet Delegation have made to shorten their addresses, and they would be glad if you could possibly summarise some of the details with which you have to deal in the matter of destruction and spoliation and perhaps omit some of the details.

That is all for this morning.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL RAGINSKY: The looting and destruction of historical and artistic palaces in the town of Pushkino (Tzarskoe-Selo) was carried out with malice aforethought by order of the highest German authorities.

[Page 192]

I omit the end of Page 47 and the beginning of Page 48:-
"A considerable part of the Ekaterinsky Palace was burnt down by the Germans. The famous Ceremonial Hall, 300 metres long and designed by Rastrelli, perished in the flames. The famous antechambers decorated by Rastrelli were likewise ruined."
I omit one paragraph and continue:-
"The Great Hall - outstanding creation of the genius of Rastrelli - presented a terrible spectacle. The unique ceilings, work of Torelli, Giordano, Brullov and other famous Italian and Russian masters, were destroyed."
I omit another paragraph.
"Equally ruined and pillaged was the Palace Church, one of Rastrelli's masterpieces, famous for the exquisite workmanship of the interior decorations."
I omit one more paragraph.
"In January, 1944, the retreating German invaders prepared the complete destruction of all that was left of the Catherine Palace and adjoining buildings. For this purpose, on the ground floor of the remaining part of the palace, as well as under the Cameron Gallery, eleven large delayed-action aerial bombs were laid, weighing from one to three tons.

In Pushkino the Hitlerite bandits destroyed the famous Alexandrovsky Palace, constructed at the end of the eighteenth century by the famous architect Giacomo Quarengi."

I omit a paragraph:
"All the museum furniture, stored in the basements of the Ekaterinsky and Alexandrovsky palaces, porcelain pieces and books from the palace libraries were sent to Germany.

The famous painted ceiling 'Feast of the Gods on Olympus' in the main hall of the 'Hermitage' pavilion was, removed and shipped to Germany."

I omit two paragraphs.
"Great destruction was caused by the Hitlerites in the magnificent Pushkino Parks, where thousands of age-old trees were cut down.

Destruction of the Pavlovsky Palace in the town of Pavlovsk.

Ribbentrop's 'Special Purposes Battalion' and the commandos of 'Staff Rosenberg' shipped to Germany from the Pavlovsky Palace extremely valuable palace furniture, designed by Veronikhin and by the greatest masters of the eighteenth century."

I omit the end of Page 49 and the beginning of Page 50 of the report:-
"During their retreat the fascist invaders set fire to the Pavlovsky Palace. The greater part of the palace building was entirely burned down."
I omit the next two paragraphs and quote the last paragraph which concludes this document.
"The Extraordinary State Commission established that the destruction of art monuments in Petrodvoretz, Pushkino and Pavlovsk was carried out by the officers and soldiers of the German Army on the direct instructions of the German Government and the Military High Command."
Destruction of Historical Monuments in the Ancient Russian Cities.

Many large towns were destroyed by the German fascist invaders in the occupied USSR territories. But they destroyed with particular ruthlessness the ancient Russian cities containing monuments of ancient Russian art.

I quote as an example the destruction of the cities of Novgorod, Pskov and Smolensk.

"Novgorod and Pskov belong to those historical centres where the Russian people laid the foundation of their State; here, in the course of centuries flourished a highly developed and individual culture. It left a rich heritage which constitutes a valuable possession of our people. Thanks to the survival of numerous monuments of ecclesiastic and civil architecture, murals, paintings,

[Page 193]

sculpture and handicraft, Novgorod and Pskov were rightly considered the seat of Russian history."
The Hitlerite barbarians destroyed, in Novgorod City, many valuable monuments of Russian and foreign art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They not only destroyed the monuments but they reduced the entire city to a heap of ruins.

By way of proof, I shall read into the record some excerpts from the document presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 50. You will, your Honours, find these excerpts on Pages 333 and 334 of the document book. I read:-

". . . . The ancient Russian city of Novgorod was reduced to a heap of ruins by the German fascist invaders. They destroyed the historical monuments and dismantled some of them for use in the construction of defence fortifications ...

The German- fascist vandals destroyed and obliterated, in Novgorod, the greatest monuments of ancient Russian art. They destroyed the vaults, walls and towers of the St. George Cathedral of the Yuryev Monastery. This cathedral was built in the early part of the twelfth century, and was decorated by twelfth century frescoes.

The Cathedral of St. Sophia, built in the eleventh century, was one of the oldest monuments of Russian architecture and an outstanding monument of world art. The Germans destroyed the cathedral building. . . . They robbed it entirely of all its interior decorations; they carried off all the icons from the iconostasis and the ancient incense burners, including one which belonged to Boris Godunov. . . .

The Church of the Annunciation on the Arkage, of twelfth century foundation, was converted by the Germans into a fortified position and barracks."

I omit one paragraph:-
"The Church of the Assumption on Volotov Field, a monument of Novgorod architecture of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, was turned by the Germans into a heap of stones and bricks."
I omit one paragraph:-
"The Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord, in the Ifyin Street, was destroyed. It was one of the finest specimens of Novgorod architecture of the fourteenth century, particularly famed for its frescoes, painted in the same period by the great Byzantine master, Theofan the Greek."
I omit the rest of this page and pass on to Page 54 of the report.
"Over two years of Hitlerite misrule in Novgorod brought about the ruin of many other wonderful ancient Russian monuments....

By order of the commanding general of the 18th German Army, Lieut.-General Lindemann, the German barbarians dismantled and prepared for removal to Germany the monument to 'Thousand years of Russia'. This monument was erected in the Kremlin Square in 1862 and represented, in artistic images, the main stages of the development of our native land up to the sixties of the nineteenth century. . . .

The Nazi barbarians dismantled the monument and smashed the statuary. They did not, however, succeed in shipping it off and melting down the metal."

Citizen Dimitriev, Youri Nikolaevich, in his affidavit, gives a very detailed account of the barbarous destruction by the Germans of the monuments of ancient Russian art in the cities of Novgorod and Pskov. Dimitriev, since 1937, was the custodian of the Ancient-Russian Art section of the Russian State Museum in Leningrad.

He began the study of the historical monuments of Novgorod and Pskov in 1926. As a great expert in this particular sphere of art, he was asked by the Extraordinary State Commission to participate in the investigation of the crimes of the German fascist invaders.

[Page 194]

I submit to the Tribunal the original of Dimitriev's depositions, duly certified, in accordance with legal procedure in the USSR, as Exhibit USSR 312. You will find it, your Honours, on Pages 335 and 347 in your document book.

In submitting his affidavit, I will omit facts already known to the Tribunal from the report of the Extraordinary State Commission previously read into the record. I quote only a few short excerpts which will be found on Pages 336 and 339. Dimitriev stated as follows (I read):-

"The greater part of Novgorod is razed to the ground; only a few districts were left in existence by the Germans, and even these were in ruins. Pskov was also left in ruins by the Germans; during their retreat they blew up the buildings and monuments. Of eighty-eight buildings of historical and artistic value in Novgorod, two buildings alone are merely slightly damaged. . . . Only a few isolated monuments in Pskov were left undamaged. In Novgorod and Pskov the Germans deliberately destroyed monuments of historical and artistic value."
And further:-
"The German Army, while destroying and damaging monuments of historical and artistic value, plundered and carried off many works of art and valuable objects which formed part of, or were contained in, these monuments.

At the same time the German troops profaned and desecrated many ecclesiastical monuments of historic and artistic value in Novgorod and Pskov."

Day by day, for twenty-six months, the Hitlerites systematically destroyed one of the most ancient Russian cities - Smolensk.

The Soviet prosecution has presented to the Tribunal a document as Exhibit USSR 56, containing the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission.

I shall not quote this document, but shall only refer to it and endeavour, in my own words, to emphasise the fundamental points of this document, dealing with the related theme now.

In Smolensk, the German fascist invaders plundered and destroyed the most valuable collections in the museums They desecrated and burned down ancient monuments. They destroyed schools and institutes, libraries, and sanatoriums. The report also mentions the fact that in April, 1943, the Germans needed gravel and bricks to pave the roads. For this purpose, they blew up the building of one of the high schools.

The Germans burned down all the libraries of the city and twenty-two schools. 646,000 volumes perished in the library fires.

I now pass on to Page 57 of the report.

"Prior to the German occupation, Smolensk contained four museums with extremely valuable collections.

The museum of Art, built up since 1898, possessed one of the most extensive collections, primarily of Russian historo -artistic, historo -sociological, ethnographic and other valuables: paintings, icons, bronzes, porcelains, metal castings and textiles. These collections were of international value and had been exhibited in France. The invaders destroyed the museums and took the most valuable exhibits to Germany."

I shall quote only one last paragraph on page 57.
"General Staff Rosenberg" for the confiscation and export of valuables from the occupied regions of the East, had a special branch in Smolensk, headed by Dr. Norling, the organiser for the plunder of museums and historical monuments."

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