The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/10/21

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel, the Tribunal proposes to adjourn at
4.30 this afternoon, as they have some administrative work
to do.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I return to the "Report of the
Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of
Crimes committed by the German Fascist Invaders in Smolensk
and in the Region of Smolensk." The greater part of this
report is dedicated to the mass annihilation of prisoners of
war by the Germans. I should like to read into thr record
excerpts from this document, submitted to you as Exhibit
USSR 56, Page 6, paragraph 4 from the top; you will find it
on Page 58 of our document book. It reads as follows:

     "The German Fascist invaders systematically
     exterminated the wounded and captured Soviet prisoners.
     Physicians A.N. Smirnov, A.N. Glasunov, A.M. Demidov,
     A.S. Pogrebnov, and others, formerly interned in the
     war prisoners' camp, stated that on the road from
     Vyasma to Smolensk the Hitlerites shot several thousand
     In the autumn of 1941 the German occupational forces
     drove a party of prisoners of war from Vyasma to
     Smolensk. Many of the prisoners were unable to stand,
     as a result of continuous beating and exhaustion.
     Whenever the citizens attempted to give any of the
     prisoners a piece of bread, the German soldiers drove
     the Soviet citizens off, beat them with sticks and
     rifle butts, and shot them dead. On the Bolshaya
     Sovetskaya Street, on the Roslavskoye and Kievskoye
     high roads, the Fascist blackguards opened a disorderly
     fire on a column of prisoners of war. The prisoners
     attempted to escape, but the soldiers overtook and shot
     them up. In that way nearly 5,000 Soviet people were
     shot dead. The corpses were left lying about the
     streets for several days."
It is not difficult to see that this extract fully coincides
with the statement in Document 081-PS, which has already
been read into thr record, the contents of which I have once
again related to the Tribunal very briefly and in my own

We are only completing the document by factual evidence. On
the same Page 6 (which corresponds to Page 58 of the
document book) two lines lower down, it is said:

     "The German military authorities tortured the prisoners
     of war. On the way to Smolensk, and especially at the
     camp, the prisoners were killed by tens and hundreds.
     In Prisoner of War Camp No. 126, the Soviet people were
     subjected to torture; sick people were sent to heavy
     labour; no medical assistance was rendered. The
     prisoners in the camp were tortured, forced to do work
     beyond their strength, and shot. About 150 to 200
     people died every day of torture, by starvation, typhus
     and dysentery epidemics, freezing to death, exhausting
     work, and bloody terror. Over 60,000 peaceful citizens
     and prisoners of war were exterminated in the camp by
     the German Fascist invaders. The facts of the
     extermination of the imprisoned officers and men of the
     Red Army and of the peaceful citizens were confirmed by
     the testimony of physicians imprisoned in the camp;
     Smirnov, Hmyrov, Pogrebnov, Erpylov, Demidov, hospital
                                                  [Page 319]
     Shubina and Lenkovskya, and also by Red Army soldiers
     and inhabitants of the city of Smolensk.
     Thousands of prisoners of war were shot in the camp
     under the directions of `Sonderfuehrer' Eduard Gyss.
     Sergeant Gatlyn brutally avenged himself on the
     prisoners. Being aware of the fact, they tried to keep
     out of his way. So Gatlyn dressed in the uniform of a
     Red Army soldier, mixed with the crowd, and, having
     picked himself a victim, would beat him half-dead.
     Private Rudolf Radtke, a former wrestler from the
     German circuses, himself prepared a special lash made
     of aluminum wire, with which he beat the prisoners
     black and blue. On Sundays he would come to the camp
     drunk, throw himself on the first prisoner he met,
     torture and kill him.
     Emaciated and exhausted Soviet invalids were forced by
     the Fascists to work at the Smolensk power plant. Many
     occasions were observed when prisoners, worn out by
     starvation, would collapse under the strain of work
     beyond their strength and were immediately shot by
     `Sonderfuehrer' Szepalsky, `Sonderfuehrer' Bram,
     Hofmann Mauser, and `Sonderfuehrer' Wagner.
     There was, in Smolensk, a hospital for prisoners of
     war; Soviet doctors working at that hospital stated:
     "Up to July, 1942, the patients lay un-bandaged on the
     floor. Their clothes and bedding were covered not only
     with dirt but with pus. The rooms were unheated and the
     floors of the corridors coated with ice."
A report of a medico-legal examination is appended, Your
Honours, to the statement of the Extraordinary State
Commission which I have just quoted. Experts such as
Academician Burdenko, member of the Extraordinary
Commission, Dr. Prosorovsky, chief medico-forensic expert of
the People's Commissariat for the Care of Public Health in
the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, Doctor of
Medical Sciences, Smolianov, Professor of Forensic Medicine
at the Second Moscow Medical Institute, and other
specialists conducted -- from 1st to 16th October, 1943 --
numerous exhumations and medico-legal autopsies on the
corpses in Smolensk and the vicinity of Smolensk.

I shall read into thr record only such excerpts from the
findings of the experts' investigation as have a direct
bearing on my subject.

You will find the paragraph which I am now quoting on Page
61 of your document book, corresponding to Page 9 of our
Exhibit USSR 56:

     "The corpses found in the pits were for the most part
     either partially or completely naked, or else clothed
     in worn-out underwear; only in the minority of cases
     did the bodies disinterred wear clothes or military
It is stated, in paragraph 2 on the next page of the
document book:

     "Identity documents were found in 16 cases only (3
     passports, 1 Red Army book and 12 military identity
     'medallions'). By 'medallions' I mean the small tub-
     like cases, not unlike a needle-case in appearance,
     issued to each soldier in the Red Army. A document
     giving the soldier's name, patronymic, surname, and
     rank, together with his home address, is slipped into
     this tube.
     In some cases partly preserved articles of clothing and
     tattoo marks alone could help in establishing the
     identity of the deceased."
This circumstance confirms the fact that the Germans
endeavored to make the identification of their victims
impossible, as demanded in special German directives. The
first paragraph on Page 11 of this exhibit, corresponding to
your Page 63 in the document book, says:

                                                  [Page 320]

     "The autopsies performed on corpses taken from graves
     in the area of the large and small concentration camps
     at Plant 35, of the former German hospital for
     prisoners of war, of a sawmill and of concentration
     camps near the villages of Becherskaya and Rakytna,
     revealed that according to the data of the autopsies,
     death, in an overwhelming majority of cases, could be
     ascribed to hunger, starvation and acute infectious
     An objective proof of death from starvation, over and
     above the total absence of all subcutaneous fatty
     tissues, as disclosed during the autopsies, was the
     discovery, in a number of cases, of grassy substances,
     remains of rough leaves and plant stalks in the
     abdominal cavity."

On the same page, but rather lower down, in paragraph 4, we

     "The considerable number of burial-pits opened (87),
     filled with masses of corpses, together with the
     estimated differences in the time of burial,
     differences ranging from the second half of 1941 to
     1943, testify to the systematic extermination of Soviet
     The victims, in an overwhelming majority of cases, were
     men, and men mostly in the prime of life, that is,
     between the ages of 20 and 40."
Somewhat lower, on the same page:

     "Special attention was attracted by the fact that the
     exhumed corpses, with few exceptions, regularly lacked
     footwear. Clothing, too, was absent as a rule, or
     consisted of worn-out underwear or parts of outer
     garments. The natural conclusion drawn from these facts
     is that the removal of clothes and footwear of any
     value had become the usual and officially recognized
     procedure preceding the extermination of Soviet
In conclusion, the Commission deals with the means of
extermination, i.e., shooting, asphyxiation by gas and so
forth. All this is not new to us and it is not necessary, at
present, to part of the conclusion.

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