The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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   (e) Destruction and Plunder of Cultural and Scientific
            Treasures, Monasteries, Churches and
        Other Institutions for Religious Observances
In their fierce hatred of the Soviet people and their
culture, the invaders destroyed scientific and artistic
institutions, historical and cultural monuments, schools and
hospitals, clubs and theatres.

"No historic or artistic treasures in the East", Field
Marshal Reichenau decreed in his order, "are of any

The destruction of historical and cultural treasures carried
out by the Hitlerites assumed vast proportions. Thus, in a
letter of 20th September, 1941, from the Plenipotentiary
General for Byelorussia to Rosenberg, it is stated:

     "According to the report of the major of the 707th
     Division, who to-day handed over to me the remaining
     treasures, the S.S. men left the rest of the
                                                  [Page 194]
     pictures and works of art to be plundered by the Armed
     Forces; these included extremely valuable pictures and
     furniture dating from the 18th and l9th century, vases,
     marble sculptures, etc....
     ...the Museum of History was also completely destroyed.
     From the geographical section, valuable precious and
     semiprecious stones were looted. In the university,
     scientific instruments to a total value of hundreds of
     thousands of marks were senselessly smashed or stolen."
In the territory of those districts of the Moscow province
which were temporarily occupied by the Fascists, the
occupants destroyed and looted 112 libraries, 4 museums and
54 theatres and cinemas. The Hitlerites looted and burnt the
famous museum at Borodino, whose historical relics
pertaining to the patriotic war of 1812 are particularly
dear to the Russian people. In the small village of
Polotnyanny Zavod the occupants looted and burnt Pushkin's
house, which had been turned into a museum. The Germans
destroyed manuscripts, books and pictures which had belonged
to Leo Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana. The German barbarians
desecrated the grave of the great author.

The occupants looted the Byelorussian Academy of Science,
housing extremely rare collections of historic documents and
books, and destroyed hundreds of schools, clubs, and
theatres in Byelorussia (White Russia).

From the Pavlovsk Palace in the town of Slutzk the extremely
valuable palace furniture, made by outstanding craftsmen of
the 18th century, was removed to Germany. From the Peterhof
palaces the Germans removed all the remaining sculptured and
carved ornaments, carpets, pictures and statues. The Great
Palace of Peterhof, constructed in the reign of Peter I, was
barbarously burnt after it had been looted.

The German vandals destroyed the State Public Library at
Odessa, containing over 2,000,000 volumes.

At Tchernigov a famous collection of Ukrainian antiquities
was looted. At the Kievo-Petchersk Monastery the Germans
seized documents from the archives of the Metropolitans of
Kiev and books from the private library of Peter Mogilla,
who had collected extremely valuable works on world
literature. They looted the precious collections of the Lvov
and Odessa museums and removed to Germany or partially
destroyed the treasures of the libraries of Vinnitza and
Poltava, where extremely rare copies of medieval
manuscripts, the first printed editions of the 16th and the
17th centuries, and ancient missals were kept.

The wholesale plunder in the occupied regions of the
U.S.S.R., carried out on direct orders of the German
Government, was not only directed by the defendants Goering
and Rosenberg and by the various staffs and detachments
subordinated to them, but the Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
with the defendant Ribbentrop at its head also took part in
the looting through a special organisation.

The statement by Obersturmfuehrer, Dr. Norman Foerster of
the 4th Company, Special Task Battalion of the S.S. Troops
(Waffen S.S.), published by the Press at that time, bears
witness of the fact.

Foerster stated in his deposition:

     "In August, 1941, while I was in Berlin, I was detached
     from the 87th Antitank Division and assigned to the
     Special Purpose Battalion of the Ministry for Foreign
     Affairs, through the help of Dr. Focke, an old
     acquaintance of mine at Berlin University, who was then
     working in the Press Division of the Ministry for
     Foreign Affairs. This battalion was formed on the
     initiative of Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, and acted
     under his direction. The task of the Special Task
     Battalion consisted in seizing, immediately after the
     fall of large cities, their cultural and historical
     treasures, libraries of scientific institutions,
     selecting valuable editions of books and films, and
     then sending all these to Germany."
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And further:

     "We obtained rich trophies in the library of the
     Ukrainian Academy of Science, housing the rarest
     manuscripts of Persian, Abyssinian, and Chinese
     literature, Russian and Ukrainian chronicles, the
     initial copies of books printed by the first Russian
     printer, Ivan Fedorov, and rare editions of works by
     Shevtchenko, Mitzkevitch and Ivan Franko."
Side by side with the barbarous destruction and looting of
villages, towns, and national cultural monuments, the
Hitlerites also mocked the religious feelings of the
believers among the Soviet population.

They burnt, looted, destroyed and desecrated on Soviet
territory 1,670 Greek-Orthodox churches, 237 Roman Catholic
churches, 69 chapels, 532 synagogues, and 258 other
buildings belonging to religious institutions.

They destroyed the Uspensky Church of the famous Kievo-Petchersky
Monastery, built in 1073, and with it eight monastery buildings.

At Tchernigov, the German Fascist armies destroyed the
ancient Borisoglebsky Cathedral, built at the beginning of
the 12th century, the Cathedral of the Efrosiniev Monastery
of Polotzk, built in 1160, and the Church of Paraskeva-
Piatniza-in-the-Market, an extremely valuable monument of
12th century Russian architecture.

At Novgorod the Hitlerites destroyed the Antoniev,
Khutynsky, Zverin, Derevyanitzky and other ancient
monasteries, the famous church of Spas-Nereditza, and a
series of other churches.

The German soldiers scoffed at the religious feelings of the
people. They dressed up in church vestments, kept horses and
dogs in the churches, and made bunks out of the icons.

In the ancient Staritzky Monastery, units of the Red Army
found the naked bodies of tortured Red Army prisoners of
war, stacked in piles.

The damage inflicted on the Soviet Union as a result of the
destructive and predatory activities of German army units is
extremely great.

The German armies and occupying authorities, carrying out
the order of the criminal Hitlerite Government and of the
Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, destroyed and looted
Soviet towns and villages and industrial establishments and
collective farms seized by them; destroyed works of art,
demolished, stole, and removed to Germany machinery, stocks
of raw and other materials and finished goods, art and
historic treasures, and carried out the general plundering
of the urban and rural population. In the territories of the
Soviet Union which suffered under the occupation, 88,000,000
persons lived before the war; gross industrial production
amounted to forty-six billion roubles (at the fixed
Government prices of 1926-27). There were 109,000,000 head
of livestock, including 31,000,000 head of horned cattle and
12,000,000 horses; 71,000,000 hectares of cultivated land
and 122,000 kilometers of railway lines.

The German Fascist invaders completely or partially
destroyed or burned 1,710 cities and more than 70,000
villages and hamlets; they burned or destroyed over
6,000,000 buildings and rendered some 25,000,000 persons
homeless. Among the damaged cities which suffered most were
the big industrial and cultural centers of Stalingrad,
Sevastopol, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Odessa, Smolensk,
Novgorod, Pskov, Orel, Kharkov, Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don and
many others.

The German Fascist invaders destroyed 31,850 industrial
establishments employing some 4,000,000 workers; they
destroyed or removed from the country 239,000 electric
motors and 175,000 metal-cutting machines.

The Germans destroyed 65,000 kilometers of railway tracks,
4,100 railway stations, 36,000 post and telegraph offices,
telephone exchanges and other installations for

                                                  [Page 196]
The Germans destroyed or devastated 40,000 hospitals and
other medical institutions, 84,000 schools, technical
colleges, universities institutes for scientific research,
and 43,000 public libraries.

The Hitlerites destroyed and looted 98,000 collective farms,
1,876 State farms, and 2,890 machine and tractor stations;
they slaughtered, seized or drove into Germany 7,000,000
horses, 17,000,000 head of horned cattle, 20,000,000 pigs,
27,000,000 sheep and goats and 110,000,000 head of poultry.

The total damage caused to the Soviet Union by the criminal
acts of the Hitlerite armies has been estimated at 679
billion roubles at the Government prices of 1941.

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