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-Seventh Day: Monday, 25nd February, 1946
(Part 7 of 8)

[Page 296]

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Colonel Smirnov.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May it please your Honours, it is my duty to submit to the Tribunal evidence on the last count of the Indictment.

"Crimes Against Humanity" are dealt with in Count 4 of the Indictment and by Article 6, and particularly sub-paragraph "c" of Article 6, of the Charter.

I will submit evidence of crimes which the Hitlerites committed on the territories of the temporarily occupied areas of the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Greece.

The Crimes Against Humanity (just as the other crimes of the German fascists for which evidence has been submitted to the Tribunal by my colleague) originated in the criminal nature of fascism in its endeavour to dominate the world by predatory seizure of whole States in the East and in the West, and in the enslavement and mass extermination of people. These crimes were a transmutation and a working projection of the cannibalistic theories of German fascism.

Elements forming the concept of "Crimes Against Humanity" are to be found in nearly all the criminal acts of the German fascists For instance, a considerable amount of probative facts in corroboration of the gravity of the crimes committed by the German fascists has already been submitted to the Tribunal during the presentation of the Count concerning War Crimes against the civilian population.

The criminal violation by the Hitlerites of the laws and customs of war, as well as the mass extermination of the prisoners of war, are some of the gravest Crimes Against Humanity. At the same time, the concept "Crimes Against Humanity"

[Page 297]

is considerably broader in scope than any definition of German fascists' crimes, of which proofs have been hitherto submitted to the Tribunal.

Together with the arrival of German forces and the appearance of the swastika on official buildings, the inhabitants of the temporarily occupied Eastern European countries entered, so to speak, the ante-chamber of death. The merciless fascist machine tried forcibly to deprive them of all that which, as a result of centuries of human development, had become an integral part of humanity.

Thus, death hung over them constantly, but on their way to death they were forced to pass through numerous and agonising phases, insulting to human dignity, which constitute, in their entirety, the charge entitled in the Indictment "Crimes Against Humanity".

Attempts were made to force them to forget their own names by hanging a number around their necks or by sewing a classification mark on their sleeves. They were deprived of the right to speak or to read in their mother tongue. They were deprived of their homes, their families, their motherland, and forcibly deported hundreds and thousands of kilometres away. They were deprived of the right to procreate. They were scoffed at and insulted. Their feelings and beliefs were jeered at and ridiculed. Finally, they were deprived of their last right - to live.

The numerous investigations not only noted the state of extreme physical exhaustion of the victims of German fascist atrocities but also usually mentioned the state of deep moral depression of those who, by the hazards of fate escaped the fascist hell.

A long period of time is necessary for these victims of German fascism to return once again to a world of normal conceptions and activities and to man's conventions for human society. All this is very hard to express in legal formulas, but, in my opinion, is very important in the indictment of the major war criminals.

I ask the Tribunal to refer to the report of the Polish Government, which has already been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 93. The quotation which I should like now to refer to is on Page 10 of the document book. On Page7O of the Russian text of this report, there is a quotation from the statement of Jacob Vernic, a carpenter from Warsaw, who spent a year's internment in the extermination camp of Treblinka 2. Sometimes the official German documents refer to "Treblinka 2" as "Treblinka B", but it is one and the same. This was one of the most terrible centres created by German fascism for mass extermination. In my statement, I will submit to your Honours evidence Connected with the existence of this camp.

This is what Vernic said in presenting a report on Treblinka to the Polish Government; a report which, as he stressed in the foreword, was his only reason "to continue his pitiful life":

"Awake or asleep I see terrible visions of thousands of people calling for help, begging for life and mercy.

I have lost my family, I have myself led them to death, I have myself built the death chambers in which they were murdered.

I am afraid of everything, I fear that what I. have seen is written on my face. An old and broken life is a heavy burden, but I must carry on and live to tell the world what German crimes and barbarism I have seen."

Those who came to Treblinka entered, as I said, the ante- chamber of death. But were they the only victims of this fate? An analysis of probative facts connected with the crimes of the German fascists irrefutably testifies to the fact that the same fate was shared not only by those who were sent to special extermination camps, but also by all those who became the victims of these criminals in the temporarily occupied countries of Eastern Europe.

I ask the Tribunal's permission to put in evidence a short quotation from a document already submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 46: the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes Committed in the City and

[Page 298]

Region of Orel. In the text of this document there is a special communication of a distinguished Russian scientist, a doctor, the president of the Academy of Medical Science and member of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Bourdenko. The Tribunal will find his communication on Page 14 of the document book, paragraph 6.
"The scenes I had to witness", says Bourdenko, "surpassed the wildest imagination. Our joy at the sight of the delivered people was dimmed by the expression of stupor on their faces.

This led one to reflect - what was the matter? Evidently, the sufferings they had undergone had created, in their eyes, equality between life and death. I observed these people during three days. I bandaged them, I evacuated them, but their psychical stupor did not change. Something similar could be noticed during the first days on the faces of the doctors."

I shall not, your Honours, waste time in drawing attention to the long and well-known extracts from "Mein Kampf" or the "Myth of the Twentieth Century". We are interested in the first place, in the criminal practices of the German fascist fiends.

I have already said above, that death constantly hung over the people who became the victims of fascism. Death could come unexpectedly, simultaneously with the appearance in one or another place of a Sonderkommando, but, at the same time, a death sentence would be pronounced for any action by these special acts so mockingly called "German Fascist Laws".

I and other members of the Soviet prosecution have already given numerous examples of these terroristic laws, directives and decrees of the German fascist authorities. I do not wish to repeat myself, but I beg the Tribunal's permission to quote one of these documents, as it concerns all the temporarily seized Eastern territories.

The only justification for the publication of this document was for its author, the defendant Rosenberg, the fact that these temporarily occupied districts were not populated by Germans. This characteristic document is evidence of the persecution of people on racial or political grounds. I beg the Tribunal to enter in the record, as Exhibit USSR 395, the photostat of the so-called order supplementing the penal directives for the Eastern territories which was issued by Alfred Rosenberg on 17 February, 1942. I will read this document in full, beginning with paragraph 1.

"The death penalty, or, in lesser cases, penal servitude will be inflicted upon those who:-

(1) Use violence against the German Reich or against the supreme authority established in the occupied territories;

(2) Commit violence against a German subject or a person of German nationality for his or her being of this German nationality;

(3) Use violence against a member of the German Army or a non-military organisation or its followers including the German police, and the auxiliary forces, the Reich Labour Service, a German authority or institution, or the organisations of the N.S.D.A.P.;

(4) Encourage or incite to disobedience of orders or directives issued by the German authorities;

(5) With intent impede the actions of the German authorities and institutions, or damage the materials and equipment used by the latter for public work or welfare;

(6) Collaborate in anti-German movements or conspire to support groups prohibited by the German authorities;

(7) Participate in or incite hostile activity and thus reveal anti-German views;

(8) By their behaviour lower or injure the authority or the welfare of the German State and people;

(9) Of intent commit arson and thereby compromise the Pan- Germanic interests or..."

[Page 299]

THE PRESIDENT: Have you read this before?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I checked the transcript, and I do not think that this has been read into the record.


COLONEL SMIRNOV: It may be that similar orders were read; maybe those of Frank or some other orders. They are all alike. In any case I could not find any mention of this document in the transcript.

I continue:

"... compromise the Pan-Germanic interests or cause damage to the property of both German subjects or persons of German nationality".
Paragraph 2 is very characteristic:-
"Furthermore, the death penalty, and, in lesser cases, penal servitude is to be inflicted upon those who:-

(1) Agree to commit any punishable action as provided by paragraph 1.

(2) Enter into serious negotiations on that subject.

(3) Offer their services or accept such a proposal.

(4) Possess accurate information on such an action or its intention at a time when the danger can still be averted, and wilfully refrain from warning the German authorities or the person threatened in good time".

Paragraph 3:-
"An offence not coming under paragraphs 1 and 2 is to be punished by death, even if this penalty is not provided for by the general German criminal laws and by decrees of German authorities, if the offence is of a particularly base type or for other reasons is to be considered particularly serious. In such cases the death penalty is also permissible for juvenile criminals".
Paragraph 4:-
"If there is no justification for turning the case over to competent courts martial, the 'Special Courts' are competent.

(2) The special instructions issued for the Armed Forces are not hereby affected".

I omit paragraph 5.

This order of Rosenberg's was only one link in the chain of crimes committed by the leaders of the German fascism directed toward exterminating the Slav peoples.

I pass on to the first part of my statement which is entitled "Extermination of Slav Peoples". In this part I will show how this criminal purpose of exterminating the Slav peoples was put into effect. I will quote data from the Report of the Yugoslav Government, which is to be found on Page 56 of the Russian text or on Page 76, paragraph 3, document book:-

"Apart from the thousands of Yugoslavs who died in battle, the occupants exterminated at least one-and-a- half to two million people, mostly women, children and aged persons. Of the fifteen million pre-war Yugoslav population, in the comparatively short period of four years, almost 14 per cent. were exterminated."
In the Report of the Czechoslovak Government, on Pages 36 and 37 of the Russian text, there is proof of a plan conceived by the Hitlerite criminals for the forcible expulsion of all Czechs and the settling of German colonists in Czechoslovakia. The report quotes an excerpt from a statement of Karl Hermann Frank, who admitted the existence of this plan and declared that he, Frank, had compiled a memorandum in which he objected to such a plan. I quote the excerpt from the statement of Hermann Frank, which the Tribunal can find on Page 37 in the document book, fourth paragraph:-

[Page 300]

"I considered this plan senseless as, in my opinion, the vacuum created by these measures would, for geo-political, commercial, technical, industrial, or other reasons, have seriously upset the vital functioning of Bohemia and Moravia, and because the immediate filling of this vacuum with new German settlers would prove impossible."
In Poland a regime of extermination of the Slav population was put into effect by divers criminal methods, among which the most prevalent was that of driving people to an extreme state of exhaustion by excessive labour and subsequent death from hunger. The criminals quite consciously embarked upon the extermination by starvation of millions of people, a fact which is attested by a number of documents already quoted by me and my colleagues in part, from the diary of Hans Frank.

I will quote a few short extracts from this document. Here is an excerpt concerning the minutes of a conference held by the Governor on 7 December, 1942, in Cracow.

The Tribunal will find the passage I wish to quote on Page 89 of the document book, in the first column of the text:

"If the new food supply plan be put into effect, it means that for the city of Warsaw and its surroundings alone, 500,000 people will no longer receive food relief."
And here is another short excerpt from the minutes of the governmental conference held on 24 August, 1942. The Tribunal will find it on page 90 of the document book, first paragraph of the text:
"Dr Frank: With all the difficulties which arise from the illness of workers, or the breaking up of their unions, you must always bear in mind that it is much better for a Pole to collapse than for a German to be defeated. The fact that we shall be consigning 1,200,000 Jews to death by starvation is an incidental matter. It is self- evident, of course, if the Jews do not die from starvation, that anti-Jewish measures will become expedient in the future."
The third short quotation is an excerpt from the minutes of a labour conference held by the political leaders of the Labour Front of the N.S.D.A.P. in the Government General, on 14 December, 1942. The Tribunal will find it on Page 89 of the document book, second paragraph:-
"We are faced with the following problem: Will it or will it not still be necessary for us as from 2 February, to exclude from food allocations two million persons of non- German nationality?"

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