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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Ninth Day: Tuesday, 2nd July, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[COLONEL SMIRNOV continues his direct examination of MARKO ANTONOVA MARKOV]

[Page 5]


Q. I would ask you, witness, to break off your reply to this question and to answer the following one. At the time you signed this general report of the entire Commission, was it quite clear to you that the murders were perpetrated in Katyn not earlier than the last quarter of 1941, and that 1940, in any case, was excluded?

A. Yes, this was absolutely clear to me and that is why I did not make any deductions in the minutes which I made on my findings in the Katyn woods.

Q. Why, then, did you sign this general report, which, according to you, was incorrect?

A. In order to make it quite clear under what conditions I signed this report, I should like to say a few words on how it was made up and how it was signed.

Q. Excuse me, I would like to put to you a question which defines more accurately this matter. Was this report actually signed on 30th April in the town of Smolensk or was it signed on, another date and at another place?

A. It was not signed in Smolensk on 30th April but was signed on 1st May at noon, at the airport which was called "Bela."

Q. Will you please tell the Tribunal under what conditions it was signed.

A. The writing of this record was to be done at the same conference which I already mentioned and which took place in the laboratory of Butz in the afternoons of 30th April. Present at this conference were all the delegates, all the German who had arrived with us from Berlin, Butz and his assistants. Generalstabsarzt (General Staff Physician) Holm, the chief physician of the Smolensk sector, and also other German Army officials who were unknown to me. Butz stated that

[Page 6]

the Germans were only present as hosts but actually the most important place was occupied by Generalstabsarzt Holm and the work was performed under the direction of Butz. The secretary of the conference was the personal secretary of Butz who took down the report; however, I never saw these minutes. Butz and Orsos came with a draft to this conference, a sort of protocol; however, I was not aware that somebody entrusted to them the writing of such a protocol. This protocol was read by Butz and then a question was raised regarding the state and the age of the young pines which were in the clearings of the Katyn woods. Butz considered that graves were also located in these clearings.

Q. Excuse me for interrupting you. Did you have any evidence that the graves were actually found in these clearings?

A. No. During the time we were there, no new graves were excavated. As some of the delegates said they were not competent to express their opinion regarding the age of these trees, General Holm gave an order to bring a German to this place who was an expert on forestry. He showed us the cut of the trunk of a tree and from the number of circles in this trunk, he deduced the trees were five years old.

Q Excuse my interrupting you again. You, yourself, can you state here that this tree was actually cut down from the grave and not from any other place in the forest?

A. I can only say that in the Katyn forest there were some clearings with small trees and that, while driving back to Smolensk, a little tree was carried in the bus with us, but I do not know whether there were any graves on the place where this tree was cut off. As I have already stated, there were no excavations of graves in our presence.

Q. I would request you to continue your reply but very briefly and not to detain the attention of the Tribunal with unnecessary details.

A. Some editorial notes were made in connection with this protocol, but I do not remember what they were. Then Orsos and Butz were entrusted to write the record in its final form. The signing of the record had to take place on the same night at a banquet which was organized on the same evening in a German army hospital. At this banquet Butz arrived with the minutes and he started reading them, but the actual signing did not take place for reasons which are still not clear to me. It was stated that this record would have to be re-written, so the banquet lasted until three or four o'clock in the morning. Then Professor Palmieri told me that the Germans were not pleased with the contents of the protocol and that they were carrying on telephone conversations with Berlin and that perhaps there would not even be a protocol at all.

Indeed, having spent the night in Smolensk without having signed the record, we took off from Smolensk in the morning of 1st May. I personally had the impression that no protocol at all would be issued and I was very pleased at that. On the way to Smolensk, as well as on our way back, some of the delegates asked to stop in Warsaw in order to see the city, but we were told that it was impossible because of military reasons.

Q. This has nothing to do with the subject matter. Please keep to the facts.

A. Around noon we arrived at the airport which was called "Bela." The airport was apparently a military airfield as these were the temporary military barracks there. We had dinner there and immediately after dinner, notwithstanding the fact that we were not told that the signing of the minutes would take place on the way to Berlin, we were given copies of the protocol to be signed. During the signing many military persons were present, as there were no other people except military personnel on this airfield. I was rather struck by the fact that the records were ready but had not been submitted to us for signing in Smolensk, and on the other hand that they did not wait till we arrived in Berlin a few hours later. They were submitted to us for signing at this isolated military airfield. This was the reason why I signed the report, in spite of the conviction I had acquired during the autopsy which I had performed at Smolensk.

[Page 7]

Q. That is to say, the date and the locality which are shown in the protocol are incorrect?

A. Yes, that is true.

Q. And you signed it because nothing else remained for you to do?

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smimov, I do not think it is proper for you to put leading questions to him. He has stated the fact. It is useless to go on stating conclusions about it.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Very well, Mr. President. I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Does anyone want to cross-examine him?

DR. STAHMER (defence counsel for Goering):

Mr. President, I should like to ask a question concerning the legal proceeding first. Each side was to call three witnesses before the Tribunal. This witness, as I understand it, has not only testified to facts but has also made statements which can be called an expert judgement. He has not only expressed himself as an expert witness, as we say in German law, but also as an expert. If the Tribunal is to listen to these statements made by the witness as an expert, I should like to have the opportunity for the defence also to call experts.

THE PRESIDENT: No, Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal will not hear more than three witnesses on either side. You could have called any expert you wanted or any member of the experts who made the German examination. It was your privilege to call any of them.


Q. Witness, how long have you been active in the field of medical jurisprudence?

A. I have been working in the field of medical jurisprudence since the beginning of 1927 in the Faculty for Medical Jurisprudence of the University in Sofia, first as an assistant, and now I am Professor of Medical Jurisprudence. I am not a staff professor at the University. My position can be designated by the German word "Ausserordentlicher Professor" (University lecturer).

Q. Before your visit to Katyn, did your government tell you that you were to participate in a political action without consideration of your scientific knowledge?

A. I was not told so literally, but I read in the Press about the Katyn question as a political one.

Q. Did you feel free in regard to your scientific "conscience" at that time?

A. At what time?

Q. At the time when you went to Katyn?

A. The question is not quite clear to me, I should like you to explain it.

Q. Did you consider the task you had to carry out there a political one or a scientific one?

A. I understood this task from the very first moment as a political one and therefore I tried to evade it.

Q. Did you realize the outstanding political importance of this task?

A. Yes; from everything I read in the Press.

Q. In your examination yesterday you said that when you arrived at Katyn, the graves had already been opened and certain corpses had been carefully laid out.

Do you mean to say that these corpses were not taken from the graves at all?

A. No, I should not say that, inasmuch as it was obvious that corpses were taken out of the graves and I saw that some corpses were still in them.

Q. Then, in order to state this positively, you had no reason to think that the corpses inspected by the Commission were not taken from these mass graves?

THE PRESIDENT: He did not know where they came from, did he?

THE WITNESS: Evidently from the graves which were open.

[Page 8]


Q. You have already made statements to the effect that, as a result of the medico-forensic examination of this International Commission, a protocol, a record was taken down. You have furthermore stated that you signed this protocol.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, this protocol is contained in its full text in the official data published by the German Government on this incident. I ask that this evidence, this so-called White Book, be admitted as evidence. I will submit it to the Tribunal later.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal rules that you may cross-examine this witness upon the report, and the protocol will be admitted in evidence, if you offer it in evidence, under Article 19 of the Charter. That, of course, involves that we do not take judicial notice of the report under Article 21 of the Charter, but that it is offered under Article 19 of the Charter, and therefore it will either come through the earphones in cross-examination, or such parts of the protocol as you wish to have translated.


Q. Witness, was the protocol or the record signed by you and the other experts compiled in the same way in which it is included in the German White Book?

A. Yes, the record of the protocol which is included in the German White Book is the same protocol which I compiled. A long time after my return to Sofia I was sent two copies of the protocol by Director Dietz. These two copies were typewritten, and I was requested to make necessary corrections and additions if I deemed it necessary, but I left it without corrections and it was printed without any comments on my part.

Q. Just now -

COLONEL SMIRNOV (interposing): Mr. President, I believe that there is a slight confusion here. The witness is answering in regard to the individual protocol, whereas Dr. Stahmer is questioning him on the general record. Thus the witness does not answer the proper question.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I would have cleared this matter up on my own account.


Q. Do you mean your autopsy protocol?

A. I mean the protocol I compiled myself and not the general record.

Q. Now, what about this general protocol or record?

When did you receive a copy of it?

A. I received a copy of the general record in Berlin where as many copies had been signed as there were delegates present.

Q. Just a little while ago you stated that Russian witnesses had been taken before the Commission in the forest of Katyn, but that, however, there had been no opportunity afforded the experts to talk with these witnesses concerning the question at hand.

Now, in this protocol, in this record, the following remark is found, and I quote:

"The Commission interrogated several local Russian witnesses personally. Among other things, these witnesses confirmed that in the months of March and April, 1940, almost daily, large railway transport trains containing Polish officers arrived at the station near Katyn called Gnjesdova. These railway trains were emptied; the inmates were taken in lorries to the forest of Katyn, and they were never seen afterwards. Furthermore, official notice was taken of the testimony and statements, and the documents containing the evidence were inspected."

[Page 9]

A. As I already stated during the questioning which occurred on the spot, the two questioned witnesses spoke to Orsos. They actually said that they saw Polish officers brought to the railway station of Gnjesdova and that later they no longer saw them.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks the witness ought to be given an opportunity of seeing the report when you put passages in it to him.


THE PRESIDENT: Have you not got another copy of it?

DR. STAHMER: I am sorry, Mr. President, I have no additional copy, no.

THE PRESIDENT: Can the witness read German?

THE WITNESS: Not perfectly, but I can understand the contents of the record.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean you can read it?

THE WITNESS: Yes, I can read it.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, may I make a suggestion?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, if you have only got one copy, I think you had better have it back. You cannot have the book passing to and fro like that.

DR. STAHMER: I should like to make a suggestion, that the cross-examination be interrupted and the other witness be called, and I will have this material typed. That would be a solution. But there are only a few sentences -

THE PRESIDENT: You can read it. Take the book back.

DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I propose to read only a few short sentences.


Yesterday you testified, witness, that the experts restricted or limited themselves to making an autopsy on one corpse only. In this report the following is set down:

"The members of the Commission personally performed an autopsy on nine corpses and numerous selected cases were submitted for inspection."
Is that right?

A. That is right. Each of those members of the Commission who were medical experts, with the exception of Professor Neville, performed an autopsy on a corpse. Hajek carried out two autopsies.

Q. In this instance we are not interested in the autopsy, but in the examination (Leichenschau) of the corpses.

A. They were examined but only superficially during an inspection which we carried out very hastily on the first day. No individual autopsy was carried out but the corpses were inspected as they lay side by side.

Q. I should like to ask you now what is meant in medical science by the concept, post-mortem examination.

A. We differentiate between an exterior inspection, when the corpse has to be undressed and minutely examined externally, and an internal inspection, when the inner organs of the corpse are examined. This was not done to the hundreds of bodies which were laid out there, as it was a physical impossibility. We were there only one forenoon. Therefore, I consider that there was no actual medico-forensic expert examination of these corpses in the real sense of the word.

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