The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Day: Monday, 27th May, 1946
(Part 6 of 11)

[GENERAL ALEXANDROV continues his cross examination of Baldur von Schirach]

[Page 22]

Q. I understand. To the question put to you by your defence counsel regarding the participation of the Hitler Youth in the atrocities committed in Lvov, you answered that the testimony of the French citizen Ida Vasseau supplied by the Extraordinary State Commission, is not true.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, the Soviet prosecution has had occasion to interrogate the witness Ida Vasseau. The defence counsel for the defendant Schirach also requested an interrogation. I now submit to the Tribunal

[Page 23]

excerpts from the testimony of the witness Vasseau, dated 16th May, 1946, and I would like to submit it as Exhibit USSR 455. I shall now read the excerpts into the record:
"The atrocities against the Jewish and the Soviet population of Lvov were perpetrated not only by adult Germans and old Nazis, but also by the German youth of the fascist youth organisation in Lvov. These youngsters, dressed in uniforms,armed with heavy sticks, hunting knives and often with pistols, ran about the streets, broke into Jewish apartments and destroyed everything in them.They killed all the inhabitants of these a partments, including the children. Very often they stopped children who looked suspicious to them in the streets, shouted: 'Stop you damned Jew !' and shot them on the spot. This Hitlerite youth was often active in locating Jewish apartments, hunting Jews in hiding, setting traps and assaulting innocent people on the streets, killing them if they were Jews and dragging others away to the Gestapo. Often their victims were Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and people of other nationalities. This terror of adult and young Germans continued until the last day of the German occupation of Lvov. The intention of completely annihilating the Jews was especially apparent in the 'Ghetto actions,' in which Jewish children of various ages were systematically killed. They were put into houses specially set up for Jewish children; and when sufficient children had been assembled, the Gestapo accompanied by the Hitler Youth broke in and killed them."
Thus, the Hitler Youth in the service of the German army, SS and the Gestapo, took part in these atrocities. Do you admit that?

A. I do not believe a word of what is contained in this document.

Q. Well, that is your affair.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, I am submitting to the Tribunal another document, Exhibit USSR 454, excerpts from the testimony of the German prisoner of war, Gert Bruno Knittel.

Gert Bruno Knittel a hatter by trade, was born in 1924 in Saxony. After 1938 he was a member of the Hitler Youth. His sister, Ursula, was also a member of the National Socialist League of German girls (BDM). In 1942 - when he was 18 years old - he was called up to the German Army. Thus, he is a typical representative of the Hitler Youth, and his testimony is therefore of interest. This is what he relates about his service in the German army. I quote:

"Not less than twice a week, we were called upon to comb out the forests."
DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I must object against the use of this document of which we have just received a copy. It does not appear from this copy whether the document was actually signed, whether it was sworn or who drew up this document, which seems to be a record. I must object to this document until these questions have been clarified. Perhaps in this connection, Mr. President, I might comment on the other document which contains the testimony of Ida Vasseau; the writing is difficult to read.

I assume that this witness is identical with the French national Ida Vasseau to whom a questionnaire was sent a long time ago with the permission of the Tribunal.We have been constantly waiting for the answers to this questionnaire, and now to-day, we receive this record dated 16th May, 1946, which apparently refers to the same witness. It is obvious that -

THE PRESIDENT:I am not following quite what you are saying. Are you saying that you have issued a questionnaire to the person who is alleged to have made this statement?

DR.SAUTER: I assume that it is the same person. In the record of 16th May, the name is spelled differently, but it would be remarkable -

[Page 24]

THE PRESIDENT: I am not getting the translation. I am not hearing what you are saying. Are you saying that you issued a questionnaire to the person who made this document?

DR. SAUTER: The High Tribunal approved a questionnaire to a French woman, Ida Vasseau; I will spell the name - V-A-S-S-E-A-U. This is the French woman, Ida Vasseau, who was working in an establishment in Lvov, and who is mentioned in the Lvov Commission Report. Perhaps you remember, Mr. President, that one of these reports says, that children were taken from the ghetto and given to the Hitler Youth, and that the Hitler Youth used these children as live targets. That is the statement of the witness Ida Vasseau, and I am sure that she is the same person who is now mentioned in the record of 16th May, 1946. The, remarkable thing is that in the report of 16th May, 1946, she does not answer the questions which are set down in the questionnaire, but makes further allegations which are obviously not contained in the earlier Lvov Commission Report. This is a very mysterious matter, and I believe it would not be just to the defendant von Schirach if I did not call your attention to these contradictions.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: May I give my explanation?

THE PRESIDENT: We would like to hear you in detail, General, in answer to what Dr. Sauter has said.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Ida Vasseau, excerpts from whose statement I have read, is certainly the person of whom Dr. Sauter is speaking. I do not know to whom and through what channels the interrogatory was sent; it was not sent through our office. Ida Vasseau was interrogated on our own initiative and we could do so only on 16th May. A special interrogatory was not received by us, and we could not have sent it because the evidence was given only -

THE PRESIDENT: I have only got this document here in German and it does not appear to be a document signed or made by a person called "Vasseau" at all. I do not know whether it is dealing with something that Ida Vasseau is alleged to have said.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: This document is signed.

THE PRESIDENT: I said it was not signed by Vasseau.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: This document is signed by Ida Vasseau-Thom and also by the interrogating officials, namely the Chief of the Investigation Branch, Public Prosecutor's Department for the Lvov Region, Kryzanowsky, and the Public Prosecutor for the Lvov Region, Kornetog. The interrogation took place on 16th May, 1946.

THE PRESIDENT: Look at this document and see if it is the right document.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Yes, these are excerpts from the interrogation of Ida Vasseau.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that the same document?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Yes, yes, that is the same document which we are now submitting to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that the original you have got before you?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: No, this is an excerpt from the record, certified by the Chief of Documentation of the Soviet Delegation, Colonel Karev. This is not the original record of the interrogatory. These are excerpts from it.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you saying that it is a document which is admissible under Article 21 or what are you saying about it?

[Page 25]

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: We are submitting it. If the Tribunal considers that it is necessary to bring out the original of the record, which at the present moment is at Lvov, we will be able to do so in a short time. If the Tribunal is not satisfied with these excerpts, we will very easily be able to submit the record in full.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell us what the document is? Is it an affidavit? Is it sworn to? Is it made before an official of the Soviet Union?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: There is a note on the record referring to the responsibility for false testimony, as set forth under Article 89 of the Penal Code of the Ukrainian SSR. This warning is in accordance with the requirements for legal procedure in the Soviet Union, and this warning was given to Ida Vasseau, as a special certification on the record shows.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you saying that it is a document which falls within Article 21 of the Charter?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Yes, but if the Tribunal considers it necessary, we will later be able to submit the complete original record. I am now asking the Tribunal to accept the excerpts from this record which have been certified by the chief of our documentation division.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, what is the date on which your interrogatory was allowed by the Tribunal and what was the date on which it was sent out to this person?

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, the interrogatory bears the date of 11th April.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: The interrogatory could not be sent because we did not know where the witness Vasseau was. We only discovered it recently.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean that the interrogatory has not been administered to the person who made this statement?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: This interrogatory could not have reached its destination because, I repeat, until quite recently the whereabouts of the witness Vasseau were unknown.

THE PRESIDENT: When you did find out where the witness was, the interrogatory could have been administered.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Yes, yes, it can be sent to her. It can be done now if it is necessary.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, may I point out the following: This woman, Ida Vasseau, was in Lvov when this statement, which is mentioned in the Commission Report, was made: that is clear from the Report. (I believe it is USSR 6, but I am not quite certain.) Now, on 16th May of this year, this woman, Ida Vasseau, was also at Lvov; and her whereabouts were not unknown, since she was interrogated on that day. I had discussed the interrogatory, which was sent to Vasseau, with the prosecution; it was at first said that the questions were suggestive or that something was not in order. But we came to terms and I altered the questions which I submitted to the High Tribunal, according to the wishes of the prosecution; so if the Soviet Delegation were willing, Ida Vasseau could have been interrogated at any time. It is remarkable that in this later statement, this woman testified on something entirely different from what is set forth in her previous statement, and something entirely different from what she was asked in the interrogatory. I think it would be useful if Ida Vasseau were examined here.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, what previous statement do you mean? What previous statements do you mean?

[Page 26]

DR. SAUTER: The statement in the Commission Report of the City of Lvov. This Commission Report was read here once and it says that the Hitler Youth committed these outages against the children; my questionnaire, which the Tribunal approved, deals with this point.

THE PRESIDENT: General, was the interrogatory submitted by Dr. Sauter shown to the witness Vasseau?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: No, it was not sent to her. May I, to clarify the matter, come back to the history of this interrogatory? The Soviet prosecution submitted a document, the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on German Atrocities in the Lvov Region, and this document contained a statement by the witness Ida Vasseau - no one interrogated her at that time. In this statement she said that she witnessed how the Hitler Youth used small children as targets. That was her statement in the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission. This document was accepted by the Tribunal. Then, on our own initiative - Dr. Sauter's interrogatory did not come to us and we did not send it out - the whereabouts of Ida Vasseau were established. She was examined by interrogating officers and supplemented the testimony which she had given before the Extraordinary State Commission. I am now submitting to the Tribunal excerpts from her interrogation on 16th May in which she dwelt on certain details of the treatment of children by the Hitler Youth.

THE PRESIDENT: We all understand that, General, but the question is: Why, if interrogatories had been allowed by the Tribunal and had been seen by the prosecution and were dated sometime in April, why was the witness interrogated in May without having seen these interrogatories? This document is dated the 16th of May, 1946, is it not, Dr. Sauter? - Dr. Sauter tells us that interrogatories allowed by the Tribunal were dated in April.

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: I do not know where Dr. Sauter sent his interrogatory. He did not send it through our office. I repeat that we did not send this interrogatory and could not have sent it on, for we did not know where Ida Vasseau lived. On our initiative, steps were taken to establish her whereabouts, and when we found her, she was interrogated, namely on 16th May.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: General, the Tribunal will not admit - Can you hear me?


THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will not admit this document at the present time, but it would wish that you should present the original document and at the same time the answers to the interrogatories which the Tribunal has ordered; and the Tribunal will call upon the General Secretary for a report upon the whole matter.



GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Mr. President, during the recess I had a chance to talk this over with Dr. Sauter, and he said that he would send us the interrogatory, and we will take measures to get the necessary answers from the witness -

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid it is not coming through to the interpreter. Will you say what you said again?

GENERAL ALEXANDROV: Very well. I repeat that during the recess I had a chance to talk to Dr. Sauter. He will give me the interrogatory and measures will be taken to get the necessary replies from the witness in the shortest possible time. Besides this the request of the Tribunal to get the original of the document will be complied with as soon as possible.

[Page 27]

May I continue now with my cross-examination?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please.


Q. I stopped at the testimony of Gert Bruno Knittel. Here is what he relates about his service in the German Army:

"Not less than twice a week we were sent to comb the forest, to round up guerrillas and to look for discontent against the German regime, so that these people could be arrested and shot immediately. Our No. 3 Company, Field Depot Battalion 375 caught and shot five persons in the woods. Most possibly these persons were not even partisans or guerrillas, but merely citizens who went into the woods for personal matters. But we had orders to shoot all who crossed our path in the woods. I did this together with the other soldiers of my company.

One day in June, 1943, in a round-up in the village of Lischaysk we surrounded the whole place with 3-4 companies so that no one could leave or enter the village. Outside each house that had to be searched - "

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): You are cross-examining the defendant von Schirach who was in Vienna. What has this document got to do with him?

GENERAL. ALEXANDROV: This is the testimony of one of the members of the Hitler Jugend regarding his participation in atrocities during his service in the German Army in the occupied territory. This document is translated into German. I cannot read it. However, I would like the witness von Schirach to familiarise himself with this document. Did you read this document? I am asking you.


Q. Have you got that document, witness? I am asking you this now, witness, have you read that document?

A. Yes, I have read the document. This man Knittel who is testifying here was not a member of the Hitler Youth, but belonged either to the Labour Service or to a unit of the Army. Earlier in his life, just like all the other young Germans, he had been a member of the Hitler Youth. He states that, but in this case he was acting as a member of some unit of the Armed Forces, not as a member of the Hitler Youth. The entire testimony seems to be of little credibility. For example he mentions a Hitler Youth Party -

Q. Have you read all of the testimony that is given there?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you read all this testimony?

A. Yes, yes.

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