The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Witness, were any of the bodies which were examined by
the members of this delegation exhumed in your presence?

A. The corpses which we dissected were selected from the top
layers of the graves which had been already opened. They
were taken out of the graves and given to us for dissection.

Q. Was there anything in your opinion to show that the
corpses had not been buried in those graves?

A. As far as traces are concerned, and as far as the layers
of corpses were preserved, they were stuck to each other; so
that if they had been transferred, I do not believe that
this could have been done recently. This could not have been
done immediately before our arrival.

Q. You mean that you think the corpses had been buried in
those graves?

A. I cannot say whether they were put into those graves
immediately after death had come, as I have no data to
confirm this, but they did not look as if they had just been
put there.

Q. Is it possible, in your opinion as an expert, to fix the
date of March or April or such a short period as that, three
years before the examination which you have made?

A. I believe that if one relies exclusively on medical data,
that is to say, on the state and condition of the corpses,
it is impossible - when it is a question of years - to
determine the date with such precision and say accurately
whether they were killed in March or in April; therefore,
apparently, the months of March and April were not based on
the medical data - for that would be impossible - but on the
testimony of the witnesses and on the documents which we
were shown.

Q. When you got back to Sofia, you said that the protocol
was sent to you for your observations and for your
corrections and that you made none. Why was that?

A. We are concerned with the individual protocol which I
compiled. I did not supplement it by making any conclusion,
I did not add any conclusion because it was sent to me by
the Germans and because in general at that moment the
political situation in our country was such that I could not
declare publicly that the German version was not a true one.

Q. Do you mean that your personal protocol alone was sent to
you at Sofia?

A. Yes, only my personal protocol was sent to Sofia. As to
the collective protocol, I brought it back myself to Sofia
and handed it over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Q. Is your personal protocol, in the words that you drew it
up, incorporated in the whole protocol and signed by all the

A. In my personal protocol, there is only a description of
the corpse and of the clothing of the corpse which I

Q. That is not the question I asked.

A. In the general protocol a rough description only is made,
concerning the clothing and the degree of decomposition.

                                                   [Page 15]

Q. Well, do you mean that your personal protocol -

A.  I consider that the personal protocols are more accurate
regarding the condition of the corpses - all the more as
they were compiled during the dissection and were dictated
on the spot to the stenographers.

Q. Just listen to the question, please. Is your personal
protocol, in the words in which you drew it up, incorporated
in the collective protocol in the same words?

A. My own protocol is not included in the general record but
it is included in the "White Book" which the Germans
published together with the general record.

Q. It is there, then, in the report, is it? It is in the
"White Book"?

A. Yes, quite right. It is included in this book.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire. Yes, Colonel Smirnov,
do you have another witness?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President. I beg you to allow me
to call as a witness Professor of Medical Jurisprudence

PROSOROVSKI, VICTOR ILICH, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please.

A. Prosorovski, Victor Ilich.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I, citizen of the USSR, called as a witness in this case,
solemnly promise and swear before the High Tribunal, to say
all that I know about this case, and to add and withhold

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, just before questioning you, I beg you to adhere
to the following order: After my question, please pause in
order to allow the interpreters to make the translation, and
speak as slowly as possible. Will you give the Tribunal very
briefly some information about your scientific activity, and
your past work as a doctor of forensic medicine.

A. I am a doctor by profession; Professor of Medical
Jurisprudence and a Doctor of Medical Science. I am the
Chief Medical Expert of the Ministry of Public Health of the
Soviet Union. I am the Director of the Scientific Research
Institute for Medical Jurisprudence at the Ministry of
Public Health of the USSR; in the main, in scientific
activity, I am President of the Medico-Forensic Commission
of the Scientific Medical Council of the Ministry of Public
Health of the USSR.

Q. What is your past experience as a medico-forensic expert?

A. I practised for seventeen years in that sphere.

Q. What kind of participation was yours in the investigation
of the mass crimes of the Hitlerites against the Polish
officers in Katyn?

A. The President of the Special Commission for investigation
and ascertaining of the circumstances of the shootings, by
the German Fascist aggressors, of Polish officers,
Academician Nicolai Nilych Burdenko, offered me, in the
beginning of January, 1944, the chairmanship of the Medico-
Forensic Experts Commission. Apart from this organisational
activity, I participated personally in the exhumations and
examination of these corpses.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, perhaps that would be a good
time to break off.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

                                                   [Page 16]

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the defendants
Hess, Fritzsche and von Ribbentrop are absent.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I continue the examination of this
witness, Mr. President?





Q. Please tell me, how far from the town of Smolensk were
the burial grounds where the corpses were discovered?

A. A commission of medico-forensic experts, together with
members of the Special Commission, Academician Burdenko,
Academician Potemkin, Academician Tolstoi, and other members
of this Commission, betook themselves on 14th January, 1944,
to the burial grounds of, the Polish officers in the so-
called forest of Katyn. This spot is about fifteen
kilometres from the town of Smolensk. The burial grounds
were situated on a rather steep slope at a distance of about
200 metres from the Vitebsk high road. One of these graves
was about sixty metres long by sixty metres wide; the other
one, situated a small distance away, was about seven metres
long by six metres wide.

Q. How many corpses were exhumed by the Commission you

A. In the Katyn forest the Commission of Medical Experts
exhumed and examined, from various graves and from various
depths, a total of 925 corpses.

Q. How was the work of exhumation organized and how many
collaborators were called by you for this work?

A. Specialists, medico-forensic experts, participated in the
work of this Commission. In September and October, 1943,
they had exhumed and examined the corpses of the victims of
the Germans and -

Q. At what spot did they examine the corpses?

A. They examined them in the town and neighbourhood of
Smolensk. Among the members of this Commission were myself,
Professor Smolianinov, my senior assistant Dr. Semenovski,
Professor of Pathological Anatomy Woropaev, and Professor of
Legal Chemistry Schwaikowa, who was invited for
consultations on chemico-legal subjects. To assist this
Commission, they called also medico-forensic experts from
the forces. Among them were Nikolski, Dr. Soubbotine -

Q. I doubt whether the Tribunal is interested in all these
names. I ask you to answer the following question: What
method of examination was chosen by you? I mean: Did you
investigate the clothes of the corpses? Did you carry out a
superficial examination or did you carry out a complete
medical dissection of all nine hundred corpses?

A. After exhumation of the corpses, they were subjected to a
thorough examination, particularly their clothing. Then an
exterior examination was carried out and then they were
subjected to a complete medico-forensic dissection of all
three parts of the body; that is to say, the skull, the
bronchia, and the trunk, as well as all the inner organs.

Q. Please tell me whether the corpses exhumed from these
burial grounds bore traces of medical examination carried
out previously?

A. Out of the 925 corpses which we examined, only three had
already been examined, and even then it had only been a
partial examination of the skulls; but no other traces of
previous medical examination could be ascertained, for they
were clothed and the overcoats were buttoned, their trousers
were also buttoned, as well as the shirts, the belts were
strapped, the knots of ties had not been undone, and neither
in the heads nor in the bodies were there any traces of cuts
or other signs of post-mortem examination. Therefore, this
excludes the possibility of their having been subjected to
any medico-forensic examination.

                                                   [Page 17]

Q. During the examination which was carried out by your
Commission, did you open the skulls?

A. Of course. In every case the skull was opened and all the
parts of the skull were examined.

Q. Are you acquainted with the expression "pseudo-callus"?

A. I heard of it when I received a book in 1945 in the
Institute of Medico- Forensic Science. Before that, in the
Soviet Union, not one medico-forensic expert observed any
similar phenomena.

Q. Among the 925 skulls which you examined, were there many
cases of "pseudo-callus"?

A. Not one of the medico-forensic experts who were examining
these 925 corpses observed lime deposits on the skull

Therefore, there was no case of "pseudo-callus" on any of
the skulls?

A. No.

Q. Was the clothing also examined?

A. As already stated, the clothing was thoroughly examined.
Upon the request of the Special Commission, and in the
presence of its members, of Metropolitan Nikolai,
Academician Burdenko, and others, the medico-forensic
experts examined this clothing, turned out the pockets of
the trousers, of the coats, and of the overcoats. As a rule,
the pockets were either torn open or cut open, and this
testified to the fact that they had already been searched.
The clothing itself, the overcoats, the jackets and the
trousers as well as the shirts, were moist with corpse
liquids. This clothing could not be torn asunder,
notwithstanding violent effort.

Q. Therefore, the tissue of the clothing was solid?

A. Yes, the tissue was very solid, and of course, it was
smeared with earth.

Q. During the examination, did you look into the pockets of
the clothing and did you find any documents in them?

A. As I said, most of the pockets were turned out, but some
of them had remained untouched. In these pockets, and also
under the lining of the overcoats and of the trousers we
discovered, for instance, notes, papers, closed and open
letters and postcards, cigarette paper, cigarette holders,
pipes, and so forth, and even valuables were found, such as
ingots of gold and gold dollars.

Q. These details are not very relevant, and therefore I beg
you to refrain from giving them. I would like you to answer
the following question:

Did you discover in the clothing documents dated the end of
1940 and also dated 1941?

A. Yes. I myself discovered certain documents, and my
colleagues also discovered them. Professor Smolianinov
discovered on one of the corpses a letter written in
Russian, and it was sent by Sophie Zigon, addressed to the
Red Cross in Moscow, with the request to communicate to her
the address of her husband, Thomas Zigon. The date of this
letter was 12th September, 1940.

In addition, on the envelope there was the stamp of a postal
office in Warsaw for the month of September, 1940, and also
the stamp of the Moscow post office, dated 28th September,

Another document of the same sort was discovered. It was a
postcard addressed from Tarnopol, with the post office
cancellation: "Tarnopol, 13th November, 1940."

Then we discovered receipts with dates, one in particular
with the name - if I am not mistaken - of Orashkevitch,
certifying to the receipt of money, with the date of 6th
April, 1941, and another receipt in his name, also referring
to a money deposit, was dated 5th May, 1941.

Then, I myself discovered a letter with the date of 20th
June, 1941, with the name of Irene Tutchinski, as well as
other documents of the same sort.

Q. During the medico-forensic examination of the corpses,
were any bullets or cartridge-cases discovered? If so,
please tell us what was the mark on these cartridge-cases?
Were they of Soviet firms or of foreign firms, and if they
were foreign firms, which one, and what was the calibre?

                                                   [Page 18]

A. The cause of death was bullet wounds in the nape of the
neck. In the tissues of the brain or in the bone of the
skull we discovered bullets which were more or less
deformed. As to the cartridge-cases, we did indeed discover,
during the exhumation, pistol cartridge-cases of German
origin, for on their bases we found the mark G-e-c-o. Geco.

Q. One minute, witness.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I will now read an original German document
and I beg the permission of the Tribunal to submit a series
of documents which have been offered us by our American
colleague and are submitted as Exhibit USSR 507. It concerns
German correspondence and telegrams on Katyn, and these
telegrams are sent by an official of the Government General,
Heinrich, to the Government General.

I am going to read only one document, a very short one, in
connection with the cartridge-cases discovered in the mass
graves. The telegram is addressed to the Government of the
Government General and to the First Administrative
Counsellor in Krakow. It is marked "Urgent, to be delivered
at once -Secret."

  "Part of the Polish Red Cross returned yesterday from
  Katyn. The employees of the Polish Red Cross have brought
  with them the cartridge-cases which were used in shooting
  the victims of Katyn. It appears that these are German
  munitions. The calibre is 7.65. They are from the firm
  'Geco.' Letter follows."

Signed: "Heinrich."


Q. Were the cartridge-cases which were discovered by you of
the same calibre and did they bear the mark of the same

A. As I have already stated, the bullets discovered in the
bullet wounds were 7.65 calibre. The cases discovered during
the exhumation did indeed bear the trademark of the firm

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