The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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On Page 23 of the report, corresponding to Page 278 of the
document book, we find, for instance, the following facts
concerning Belgrade. I quote:-

  "Without there being any military need, the Germans
  destroyed deliberately and burned a great number of
  public buildings and cultural institutions, such as the
  New University, the People's University 'Koloraz,' the
  first High School for boys, the second High School for
  girls, the ancient royal palace, the broadcasting
  station, the Russian Home of Culture, the sanatorium of
  Dr. Jivkovich, and so forth. In the university building
  valuable and highly important collections of scientific
  works and research matter were destroyed."

As is established by the report of the Yugoslav State
Commission, which is Document 39-J (a), and which I submit
as Exhibit USSR 364 (Page 313a of the document book),  the
Hitlerites razed to the ground the National Library in
Belgrade and burned hundreds of thousands of books and
manuscripts, which constituted the nucleus of Serbian
culture. They completely destroyed seventy-one and partially
destroyed forty-one scientific institutes and laboratories
of Belgrade University. They razed to the ground the State
Academy of Art, and they burned and looted thousands of
schools. Your Honours will find this passage on Page 303 of
the document book.

During the four years of German domination, the people of
Yugoslavia experienced great suffering and sorrow.

The Germans looted the economic wealth of the country and
caused great material damage. But the damage they caused to
the culture of the people of Yugoslavia was even greater.

In concluding this chapter of my report, I consider it
essential, your Honours, to quote yet another excerpt from
the diary of the defendant Frank. I have in mind the calico-
bound volume of the diary entitled "Conferences of the
Leaders of Departments of 1939-1940", which contains an
entry regarding the conference of the Departmental Leaders
of 19 January, 1940, in Cracow. This excerpt in on Page 169
of the document book. I read:-

  "On 15 September, 1939, I was entrusted with the
  administration of the conquered Eastern Territories, and
  received a special order to devastate this district
  pitilessly, to regard it as a combat zone and a prize of
  war, and to reduce its economic, social and political
  structure to a heap of ruins."

To this statement of Frank's, we need only add that the
defendant Frank zealously performed this task in Poland and
that the Reichs- and Gauleiter acted with equal zeal in the
occupied territories of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and

The Destruction and Spoliation of Cultural Treasures in the

I am now going to present, your Honours, proof of crimes
committed by the defendants against the culture of the
peoples of the Soviet Union.

We have heard in this Court what brutality was used and on
how vast a scale the Hitlerites conducted the destruction
and spoliation of the cultural wealth of the peoples of
Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia.

                                                  [Page 187]

The crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerite conspirators in the
occupied territories of the USSR were graver still.

The criminal Organisation known as the Nazi Government aimed
not only at plundering the people of the Soviet Union, at
destroying their towns and villages and at extirpating the
culture of the peoples of the USSR, but also at enslaving
the people of the Soviet Union and of transforming our
native country into a fascist colony of serfs.

In the second part of my statement I have proved how the
destruction of the cultural monuments of the peoples of the
USSR was planned and perpetrated.

In the Note of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs,
V. M. Molotov, dated 27 April, 1942, which was presented to
the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 31/3, documents and facts are
quoted which establish, beyond dispute, that the destruction
of historic and cultural monuments and the vile mockery of
national feelings, beliefs and convictions, constituted a
part of the monstrous plan evolved and put into practice by
the Hitlerite Government, which strove to liquidate the
national culture of the peoples of the USSR.

Later I shall refer again to this document, but at present I
wish, with your permission, to read into the record the
following excerpt which is on Page 321 of the document book.
I omit the first and quote the second paragraph:-

   "The desecration and destruction of historical and
   cultural memorials in occupied Soviet territories, as
   well as the devastation of the numerous cultural
   establishments set up by the Soviet authorities, are a
   part of the monstrous and senseless plan conceived and
   pursued by the Hitlerite Government, which strives to
   liquidate Russian national culture and the national
   cultures of the peoples of the Soviet Union, to
   Germanise by force the Russian, Ukrainian, Bielorussian,
   Lithuanian, Latvian, Esthonian and other peoples of the

In Order No. 097341, General Hodt, Commander of the 17th
German Army, demands that his subordinates thoroughly
assimilate that misanthropic notion so typical of the thick-
skulled fascists, that the "sound feeling of vengeance and
revulsion towards everything Russian should not be
suppressed among the men, but, on the contrary, encouraged
in every way".

True to their custom of destroying universally recognised
cultural treasures, the Hitlerites, everywhere on the Soviet
territory occupied by them, devastated and generally burned
libraries, from the small club and school libraries up to
and including the most valuable collections of manuscripts
and books, containing unique bibliographical treasures.

I omit a paragraph and continue the quotation:-

  "The Hitlerites looted and then set on fire the famous
  Borodion Museum, the historical exhibits of which related
  to the struggle against the armies of Napoleon in 1812,
  particularly dear to the Russian people. The invaders
  looted and set fire to the Pushkin House and Museum in
  the hamlet of Polotnyany Zavod.
  In Kaluga, the Hitlerites assiduously destroyed the
  exhibits in the House Museum in which the eminent Russian
  scientist Tsiolkovsky, whose services in the field of
  aeronautics enjoy world-wide fame, lived and worked.
  The fascist vandals used Tsiolkovsky's portrait as a
  target for revolver practice. Extremely valuable models
  of dirigibles, together with plans and instruments, were
  trampled underfoot. One of the museum rooms was turned
  into a hen coop and the furniture burned. One of the
  oldest agricultural institutions in the USSR, the
  Shatilov Selection Station in the Orel District, was
  destroyed by the invaders who blew up and consigned to
  the flames fifty-five buildings of this station,
  including the agro-chemical and other laboratories, the
  museum, the library containing 40,000 volumes, the school
  and other buildings. Even greater frenzy was shown by the
                                                  [Page 188]
  when looting the cultural institutions and historical
  monuments of the Ukraine and of Bielorussia".

I omit two paragraphs and pass on to the last paragraph of
this quotation:-

  "There was no limit to the desecration by the Hitlerite
  vandals of the monuments and homes representing Ukrainian
  history, culture and art. Suffice to mention, as an
  example of the constant attempts to humiliate the
  national dignity of the Ukrainian people, that after
  plundering the Korolenko Library in Kharkov, the
  occupants used the books as paving stones for the muddy
  street in order to facilitate the passage of German motor

The German barbarians treated with particular hatred those
cultural monuments which were most dear to the Soviet
people. I will quote several instances:-

The Hitlerites plundered Yasnaja Polyana, where one of the
greatest writers, Leo Tolstoy, was born, lived and worked.

They plundered and despoiled the house where the great
Russian composer Tschaikovsky lived and worked. In this
house Tschaikovsky created the world-famous operas "Eugen
Onegin" and "The Queen of Spades".

In Taganrog they destroyed the house where the great Russian
writer Chekhov lived; in Tikhvin they destroyed the
residence of the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.

As evidence, your Honours, I will read into the record an
excerpt from the Note of Foreign Commissar Molotov, dated 6
January, 1942. This document has already been submitted to
the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 51/2. This excerpt is on Page 3
17 of the document book.

I quote :

  "For a period of six weeks, the Germans occupied the
  world-famous property of Yasnaya Polyana where Leo
  Tolstoy, one of the greatest geniuses of mankind, was
  born, lived and worked. This glorious memorial to Russian
  culture was wrecked, profaned and finally set on fire by
  the Nazi vandals. The grave of the great writer was
  desecrated by the invaders. Irreplaceable relics relating
  to the life and work of Leo Tolstoy, including rare
  manuscripts, books and paintings, were either plundered
  by the German soldiers or thrown away and destroyed. A
  German officer named Schwartz declared, in reply to a
  request of one of the museum's staff collaborators to
  stop using the personal furniture and books of the great
  writer for firewood and to use wood available for this
  purpose: 'We do not need firewood; we shall burn
  everything connected with the name of your Tolstoy'. When
  the town of Klin was liberated by the Soviet troops on
  15th December, it was ascertained that the house in which
  P. I. Tschaikovsky, the great Russian composer, had lived
  and worked, and which the Soviet State had turned into a
  museum, had been wrecked and plundered by Fascist
  officers and soldiers. In the museum building proper, the
  Germans set up a garage for motor-cycles, heating this
  garage with manuscripts, books, furniture and other
  museum exhibits, part of which had in any case been
  stolen by the German invaders. In doing this, the Nazi
  officers knew perfectly well that they were defiling one
  of the finest monuments of Russian culture.
  During the occupation of the town of Istra, the German
  troops established an ammunition dump in the famous
  ancient Russian monastery known as the New Jerusalem
  Monastery, founded as far back as 1654. The New Jerusalem
  Monastery  was an outstanding historical and religious
  monument of the Russian people and was known as one of
  the most beautiful examples of religious architecture.
  This did not, however, prevent the German fascist vandals
  from blowing up their ammunition dump in the New
  Jerusalem Monastery on their retreat
  from Istra, thereby reducing this irreplaceable monument
  of Russian church history to a heap of ruins."

                                                  [Page 189]

Acting upon directions of the German Military Command, the
Hitlerites destroyed and annihilated the cultural and
historic monuments of the Russian people connected with the
life and work of the great Russian poet, Alexander
Sergeivitch Pushkin.

The Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, the
original copy of which is now submitted to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 40, reads as follows:-

   "To preserve the cultural and historical memorials of
   the Russian people connected with the life and creations
   of the gifted Russian poet and genius, Alexander
   Sergeivitch Pushkin, the Soviet Government, on 17 March,
   1922, declared the poet's estate at Michailovskoye, as
   well as his tomb at the monastery of Svyatogorsky, and
   the neighbouring villages of Trigorskoye, Gorodischtsche
   and Voronitsch, a State Reservation.
   The Pushkin Reservation, especially the poet's estate at
   Michailoskoye, was very dear to the Russian people. Here
   Pushkin finished the third and created the fourth, fifth
   and sixth chapters of "Eugen Onegin". Here, too, he
   finished his poem "Gypsies", and wrote the drama "Boris
   Godunov', as well as a large number of epic and lyrical
   In July, 1941, the Hitlerites forced their way into the
   Pushkin Reservation. For three years they made
   themselves at home there, ruined everything and
   destroyed the Pushkin memorials."

I will omit the beginning of Page 1 of the report.
   "The plundering of the museum had already begun in
   August, 1941."

I will also omit the next paragraph. I read on:-

   "In the autumn of 1943 the Commander of the Pushkin
   Military Kommandantur, Treibholtz, urged K, V.
   Afanassiev to prepare for the evacuation of all the
   museum valuables. All these valuables were packed into
   cases by the German authorities, loaded into trucks and
   sent to Germany."

I omit the following paragraph.

   "At the end of February, 1944, the Germans turned
   Michailovskoye into a military objective and into one of
   the strong-points of the German defence. The park area
   was dug up for combat and communication trenches;
   shelters were constructed. The cottage of Pushkin's
   nurse was knocked down and next to it, and partly on its
   former site, the Germans constructed a large dugout,
   protected by five layers of timber. The Germans built a
   similar dug-out near the former museum building.
   Prior to their retreat from Michailovskoye, the Germans
   completed the destruction and desecration of the Pushkin
   estate. The House Museum erected on the foundation of
   Pushkin's former residence was burnt down by the Germans
   and nothing remained but a heap of ruins. The marble
   plate of the Pushkin monument was smashed to pieces and
   thrown on to the pile of ashes. Of the other two houses
   standing at the entrance to the Michailovskoye estate,
   one was burnt down by the Germans, the other severely
   damaged. The German vandals put three bullets into the
   large portrait of Pushkin hanging in an archway at the
   entrance to the Michailovskoye park then they destroyed
   the archway.
   After their retreat from Michailovskoye, the fascists
   bombarded the village with mortars and artillery fire.
   The wooden stairs leading to the river Soret were
   destroyed by German mines. The old lime trees of the
   circular alley leading to the house were broken down;
   the giant elm tree in front of the house was damaged by
   shell fire and splinters."

I omit the end of this page and pass on to Page 41 of the

   "In the village of Voronitsch, the wooden church which
   dated back to Pushkin's time and in which Pushkin had a
   requiem sung on 7 April, 1925, to commemorate the death
   of the great English poet, Byron, was burned down. The
   churchyard near the church where V. P. Hannibal, one of
                                                  [Page 190]
   Pushkin's relatives, and the priest, Ragevsky, close
   friend of the poet, lay buried, was criss-crossed by
   trenches, mined and devastated. The historical aspect of
   the reservation, in which the Russian people saw a
   symbol of Pushkin, was disfigured beyond all
   The sacrileges perpetrated by the Germans against the
   national sanctuaries of the Russian people are best
   demonstrated by the desecration of Pushkin's tomb. In
   attempts to save the Pushkin Reservation from
   destruction, the units of the Red Army did not defend
   this district, but withdrew to Novorzhev. Nevertheless,
   on 2 July, 1941, the Germans bombarded the monastery of
   Svyatiye-Gory, under the adjoining walls of which is
   Pushkin's tomb.
   In March, 1943, long before the battle line approached
   the Pushkin Hills, the Germans began the systematical
   demolition of the Svyatiye-Gory monastery."

I omit the rest of this page, and I pass on to Page 42:-

   "The poet's tomb was found completely covered with
   refuse. Both stairways leading down to the grave were
   destroyed. The platform surrounding the grave was
   covered with refuse, rubble, wooden fragments of ikons
   and pieces of sheet metal."

I omit a paragraph and quote further:-

   "The marble balustrade surrounding the platform was
   damaged by fragments of artillery shells and by bullets.
   The monument itself inclined at an angle of 10 to 12
   degrees eastwards, as a result of a landslide following
   the shelling, and of the shocks caused by the explosions
   of German mines....
   .... The invaders knew perfectly well that, on entering
   the Pushkin Hills, the officers and soldiers of the Red
   Army would first of all visit the grave of the poet, and
   therefore converted it into a trap for the patriots.
   Approximately 3,000 mines were discovered and removed
   from the grounds of the monastery and its vicinity by
   the engineers of the Soviet Army."

The destruction of works of art and architecture in the
towns of Pavlovsk, Tzarskoe-Selo and Peterhof, figure among
the worst anti-cultural crimes of the Hitlerites.

The magnificent monuments of art and architecture in these
towns, which had been turned into "Museum-towns", are known
throughout the civilised world. These art and architectural
monuments were created in the course of two centuries. They
commemorated a whole series of outstanding events in Russian

Celebrated Russian and foreign architects, sculptors and
artists created masterpieces which were kept in these
"Museum-towns" and, together with valuable masterpieces of
Russian and foreign art, they were blown up, burned or
destroyed by the German vandals.

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