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-Eighth Day: Tuesday, 26th February, 1946
(Part 4 of 7)

[The direct examination of Dr. Eugene Alexandrovich Kivelisha by COLONEL POKROVSKY continues]

[Page 318]

Q. What do you know about the treatment applied by the Germans to Red Army soldiers who were captured by the Hitlerite troops? What was the position of these prisoners of war?

A. I know only too well every form of barbarous ill- treatment applied to the Soviet prisoners of war by the Hitlerite authorities and the Army, because I was a prisoner of war myself, for a very long time. On the day I was captured, I was sent in a large convoy of prisoners of war to one of the transit camps. En route, talking to the prisoners with whom I marched (I stress the fact that this was on the very first day), I learned that the greater part of the prisoners had been captured three or four days before the small group to which I myself belonged. During these three or four days the prisoners had been kept in a shed, under a reinforced German guard, and had been given nothing at all to eat or drink. Later, when we passed through the villages, the prisoners, on seeing wells and water, passed their tongues

[Page 319]

over their parched lips and made involuntary swallowing movements. We finished the march toward night time, and the column of prisoners, 5,000 strong, was billeted in a farm- yard where we had no possibility of resting after the long journey and were forced to spend the night in the open.

This continued on the following day, and on this day, too, we were deprived of food and water.

Q. Was there no case when the prisoners, passing by water tanks or wells, stepped two or three paces out of line and tried to get at the water themselves?

A. Yes, I remember a few such cases and shall tell you in details of one particular incident which occurred on the first day of our march. It happened like this: We were passing the outskirts of a little village. The peaceful civilian population came to meet us, and tried to supply us with water and bread. However, the Germans would not allow us to approach the citizens, nor would they let them approach us. One of the prisoners stepped five or six metres out of the column and without any warning was killed by a German soldier shooting with a tommy gun. Several of his comrades rushed to help him thinking that he was still alive, but they, too, were immediately fired at without warning. Some of them were wounded and two of them were killed.

Q. Was that the only incident you witnessed, or, during your transfer from one place to another, did you observe other cases of a similar nature?

A. No, this was not an isolated occurrence. Almost every transfer from one camp to another was accompanied by the same kind of shootings and murders.

Q. Did they shoot only the prisoners of war, or were measures of repression used against the peaceful citizens as well, toward the citizens who had tried to give bread and water to the captives?

A. Measures of repression were used not only against the prisoners of war, but against the peaceful citizens as well. I remember once, during one of our transfers, a group of women and children attempted to give us bread and water, like the others, only the Germans would not allow them to come anywhere near us. Then one woman sent a little girl, about five years old, evidently her daughter, to the prisoners' column. This little child came quite close to the place where I had passed and when she was five or six steps away from the column, she was killed by a German soldier.

Q. But perhaps the prisoners of war did not need the food which the people tried to give them; perhaps they were sufficiently well fed by the German authorities?

A. No! They suffered severely from hunger. The Germans provided no food whatsoever en route from one camp to the other.

Q. These gifts from the local population were, therefore, the only practical means to sustain the strength of the soldiers in German captivity?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the Germans shoot them?

A . You understand me correctly.

Q. In which prisoner-of-war camps were you interned? Name some of them.

A. The first camp in which I was interned was in the open, in a field, in the district of the small hamlet of Tarnovka.

The second camp was situated on the site of a brick-field and poultry farm on the outskirts of the town of Uman.

The third camp was situated in the suburbs of Ivan-Gora.

[Page 320]

The fourth camp was on ground belonging to the stables of some military unit or other in the region of the town of Giessen.

The fifth camp was in the region of the small garrison town of Vinnitza.

The sixth camp was in the suburbs of the small town of Dzemerinka and the last camp, where I stayed the longest time, was seven kilometres from the town of Proskurov, in the Kamenetz-Podolsk district.

Q. You yourself, then, from your own personal experience, could realise what usually went on in these camps?

A. Yes, in all the camps I was personally and completely acquainted with all the routine conditions.

Q. Are you a physician by profession?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell the Tribunal how matters stood as regards medical attention and food for the prisoners of war in the camps you have just enumerated.

A. When I was transported in convoy to the hamlet of Tarnovka, I was, for the first time and in company with other Russian doctors, separated from the rest of the prisoners' column, and sent to the so-called Infirmary. This infirmary was in a shed with a concrete floor, without any equipment for the care of the wounded. On this concrete floor lay a large number of wounded Soviet prisoners, mostly officers. The majority had been captured 10 to 12 days before my arrival at Tatnovka. During all that time they had received no medical attention, although many of them were in need of surgical aid, frequent dressings, and drugs. They were systematically left without water; food too was given without any system at all; at least, at the time of my arrival in the camp there was no equipment to prove that food had ever been prepared or cooked for these wounded soldiers.

There were about 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners in Uman camp where I found myself on the second day after my arrival in Tarnovka. They were all lying in the open, dressed in their summer uniforms, and a great many of them were incapable of moving. Food and water were supplied to them in the same way as to the other prisoners in the camp, There they lay, without any medical attention, their dust-covered dressings soaked in blood, often in pus. Dressings, surgical instruments, equipment for an operating theatre just did not exist in that camp.

In Heissen the prisoners of war, the sick and the wounded were herded in one of the stables. This stable had wooden floors, lacked every facility and was absolutely unfit for human habitation. The prisoners of war were lying on the earthen floor, and here, too, as in Uman camp, they did not even have an iota of medical attention. As before, dressings, drugs and surgical instruments were unobtainable.

Q. You mentioned the Uman camp. Look at this photograph and tell me, is it a photograph of one of the camps where you were interned?

A. I see on this photograph the camp which was situated in the grounds of the brick-field at Uman. I know this camp very well.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I must report to the Tribunal that the photograph I have just shown the witness is a photograph of Uman camp, and was submitted by me to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 345. It shows the camp concerning which witness Bingel has already testified.


Q. This means that you recognise Uman camp situated in the grounds of the brick-field from this photograph?

A. Yes, in the grounds of the brick-field. It is a part of the camp.

[Page 321]

Q. What was the regime prevailing in Uman camp? Tell us just the main points, very briefly.

A. Almost all the captives in the camp were kept in the open air. The food was extremely bad. In the grounds of the Uman camp, where I spent eight days, twice a day a few fires would be lit out of doors and a thin pea soup was cooked in vats over them. There was no special routine for distributing food to the prisoners of war, and so the boiled soup would then be set down amongst the whole mass of them, no control whatsoever being exercised over the distribution. The starving prisoners rushed up in the hope of obtaining even a minute portion of this thin, unsalted soup, cooked without fat and served without bread. The result was disorder and crowding, and the German guards, all armed with clubs as well as with rifles and automatic guns, beat up everyone within reach, in an attempt to maintain order. The Germans would often intentionally set down a small barrel of soup among a great number of people and then, to restore order, would beat up the absolutely innocent people with jeers, oaths, insults and threats.

Q. Please tell me witness; in the camp situated in the village of Rakovo, was the quality of the food better or was it approximately the same as in other camps; and how did the food situation affect the health of the prisoners?

A. In the camp of Rakovo the food was exactly the same in quality as that of the other camps, where I had been interned. It consisted of beets, cabbage and potatoes frequently served half-cooked. Owing to this poor quality of food the prisoners developed severe gastric trouble accompanied by dysentery which rapidly exhausted them, and resulted in a very high rate of mortality from inanition.

Q. You talked about the guards often beating the prisoners on the slightest provocation and time and again without any provocation at all.

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of injuries did the prisoners get as a result of these beatings? Were there any cases of severe injuries caused by heavy beatings or was it only a matter of a few kicks.

A. In Rakovo camp I was in the so-called hospital, where I worked in the surgical section. Frequently, after dinner or supper in the hospital, prisoners were brought in with grievous physical injuries. I frequently had to do all I could to help people who were so terribly injured by these beatings that they died without regaining consciousness. I remember a case when two prisoners were beaten over the head with some hard object till the brains oozed out from the gaping head wound. I remember yet another incident, only too well, when an athlete from Moscow had an eye knocked out with a whip. The athlete then contracted meningitis and died soon after.

Q. How high was the mortality rate among the prisoners of war in Rakovo camp?

A. The history of Rakovo camp can be divided into two periods. There was the first which lasted about two years and ended in November, 1941. At that time the number of prisoners was not very great and consequently the rate of mortality was not so high. Then there was the second period, from November, 1941, to March, 1942, at which time I was in Ravoko myself. During this second period the mortality rate was exceptionally high: there were days when 700, 800 and even 950 persons died in the camp.

Q. What disciplinary measures were there in Rakovo, camp and for what reasons were the prisoners punished? Do you know?

A. Yes. I know that there was, in the camp grounds, a cell for prisoners condemned to solitary confinement. Prisoners of war guilty of attempting to escape from the terrible conditions created for them in captivity, or of stealing food from the kitchen, were locked up in this cell. It was in the cellar, it had a cement floor, and windows with iron bars instead of panes. The prisoner was stripped to the skin, deprived of food and water and locked up in solitary

[Page 322]

confinement for 14 days. I do not know of a single case where a prisoner survived this confinement; all of them died in that particular cell.

Q. Evidently the conditions which you have described to the Tribunal increased the number of persons suffering from exhaustion.

A. Yes.

Q. Did this condition result in there being fewer prisoners able to work ? What was done to those prisoners who could not work?

A. An immense number of prisoners were kept, in Rakovo camp, in stables which were quite unfit for human beings to live in during the winter period. At first everybody was made to work. I can safely say that most of this work was entirely aimless, since it consisted in pulling down houses and then paving the camp grounds with bricks from the demolished buildings. After some time, when severe gastric troubles had set in, troubles which I have already mentioned, fewer and fewer prisoners came out to work. Many of them, who had lost all control of their movements, never even left the stables for the appointed meal times, and if a great many people were discovered to have lost their strength, a so-called quarantine was established. In such a stable all the exits and entries would be blocked and the patients would be completely isolated from the outer world. Having kept them locked up for four or five days on end, the stable would be opened and the dead brought out in their hundreds.

Q. Can you tell us, witness, on what medical or sanitary work you and the other doctors were employed in the camp by the Germans?

A. In the camps we were not employed by the Germans on any work connected with the prisoners. All the Germans were interested in was the separation of people who could work from those who could not. We could not render the prisoners any purely medical services because of our own conditions.

Q. Did your duties in any of these camps include sanitary supervision and what exactly was understood by that expression?

A. The duties of sanitary supervision were entrusted to us in the camp of the town of Gaisli. It only meant that we, the captured army doctors, had to be on duty in the vicinity of the camp latrine, which was nothing more than a ditch dug for this purpose, and as and when the ditch was filled up with excrement, we were forced to clean up the ground.

Q. The doctors?

A. Yes, the doctors.

Q. Did you really consider this function as a form of sanitary supervision, or did you consider it as blatant mockery by the Germans at the expense of the captured Soviet army doctors?

A. I consider that it was blatant mockery at the expense of the captured Soviet doctors.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Mr. President, I have no more questions to ask this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Have any of the other prosecutors got any questions to ask?


THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions?


Q. Witness, you have stated that in August, 1941 -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly announce your name and for whom you appear.


Dr. Laternser, defence counsel for the General Staff and the High Command.



Q. Witness, you have just stated that in August, 1941, you were brought as a prisoner to the district of Uman. Do you know whether the Germans had taken many prisoners at that time?

[Page 323]

A. Yes, I do know. About 100,000 prisoners were captured at that time.

Q. Do you know whether German troops had advanced very rapidly into Russian territory by that time?

A. I cannot say anything about that. The German armies moved very rapidly, but before our units were surrounded we fought obstinately and we retreated, fighting, right up to the 9th of August.

Q. How great was the number of prisoners in the column in which you marched?

A. 4,000 to 5,000.

Q. When did you first get any food from the German troops?

A. I personally, for the first time, received food from the German troops when I reached the town of Uman.

Q. How much time had passed between the moment you were captured and your first meal?

A. When I was first fed I had been a prisoner of war for about four or five days.

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