The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/10/11

Allow me to present to the Tribunal Chief Counsellor L. N.
Smirnov, who will submit to the Tribunal the documentation
pertaining to the crimes committed against the civilian
population of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland, and

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honours: my problem to-day consists of
presenting to you the written documents and other judicial
evidence testifying to the very grievous crimes committed by
the Hitlerian conspirators against the peaceful population
in the territories of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland and
Czechoslovakia when under temporary occupation.

The number of such depositions at the disposal of the Soviet
Prosecution is unusually great.

Suffice it to say that in the reports of the Extraordinary
State Commission for the Determination and Investigation of
the Crimes of the German Fascist Invaders and the
Accomplices, there are 54,784 reports of the crimes by the
Hitlerite criminals, directed against the peaceful citizens
of the Soviet Union.

But even these documents do not by a long way cover all the
crimes perpetrated by these war criminals against the
peaceful population.

The Soviet Prosecution asserts, and I submit to the Tribunal
evidence to this effect, that along the entire length of the
far-flung front, from the Barentz to the Black Sea, and
throughout the entire depths of the infiltration of the
German hordes into my Motherland, wherever the German
soldier or the men of the S.S. set foot, crimes of
unspeakable cruelty were committed and the victims of these
crimes were the women, the children, and the aged.

The crimes of the German fascist criminals became apparent
as and when the Red Army units moved west. The reports on
these Hitlerite crimes against the peaceful population were
made by officers of the advance units of the Red Army, by
local authorities, and public organisations.

                                                   [Page 25]

The Soviet people did not, at the very beginning, learn of
the crimes of the German fascist invaders from circulars of
the German Command, from the notices posted up by the Reich
leaders, or from the directives issued by the S.S.
Obergruppenfuehrers both in incoming and outgoing bulletins
of the competent German chancelleries, although such
documents were captured in very large quantities by the
advance units of the Red Army and are currently in the
possession of the Soviet prosecution.

Far different were the sources of their information.
Returning to their native haunts the soldiers of the Army of
Liberation saw the many villages, towns, and cities which
had been reduced to so much "waste land".

At the foot of the communal graves where rest the bodies of
the Soviet people murdered by "typical German methods" (I
shall, later on, present to the Tribunal evidence of these
methods and of the regularity of their application); at the
foot of the gallows where the feet of the adolescents danced
on the air; at the ovens of the gigantic crematoriums where
the murdered internees from the extermination camps were
burned; at the sight of the dead women and girls -- victims
of some sadistic whim of the fascist bandits; and of
children who had been torn in half. By all this evidence did
the Soviet people recognize the mighty chain of crime
extending, as the Chief Prosecutor of the USSR so aptly
said, "from the ministerial armchair to the hands of the

All these monstrous crimes had a definite system of their
own; there was uniformity in the murder methods. One and the
same system prevailed in the construction of the gas
chambers, in the mass production of the round tins
containing the poisonous substances "Cyclone A" or "Cyclone
B". The ovens of the crematoriums were all built on the same
typical lines, and one was the plan extending over all the
camps of destruction. There was uniformity in the
construction of the evil-smelling death machines, which the
Germans referred to as "Gaswagen", but which our people
called the "Soul Destroyers", and there was the same
technical elaboration in the construction of mobile mills
for grinding human bones. All this indicates one sole and
evil will, uniting all the individual assassins and

It became obvious that German thermotechnicians and
chemists, architects, toxicologists, mechanics and
physicians were engaged in this rationalisation of mass
murder on instructions received from Hitler's Government and
from the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces.

It was also evident that the "death factories" brought into
existence an entire series of auxiliary industries.

But the unity of this deliberate evil was not only apparent
there, where a special technique had been evolved to serve
the purpose of murder most foul.

The unity of this deliberate evil was also apparent from the
similarity of the methods employed by the murderers, from
the uniformity of type in the murder technique evolved, as
well as from the fact that in cases where no special
technique was employed, use was made of ordinary weapons of
the German Armed Forces.

From the evidence which I shall submit later on, you will
see that the sites where the Germans buried their victims
were opened up by Soviet doctors in the North and South of
the country. These sites were separated from each other by
thousands of kilometers and it is quite evident that the
crimes were perpetrated by entirely different people. But
the methods employed were absolutely identical. The wounds
were invariably inflicted on the same parts of the body.
Identical, too, were the preparations for camouflaging the
gigantic graves as anti-tank ditches and trenches.
Everywhere the unarmed and defenceless people, on their
arrival at the execution ground, were ordered, in
practically the same terms, to undress and lie, face
downwards in previously prepared pits. As soon as the first

                                                   [Page 26]
was shot, whether in the swamps of Bielorussia or the
foothills of the Caucasus, the row was covered with
quicklime and the second batch of unarmed and defenceless
people, of people about to die, was ordered by the murderers
to undress and lie down on that corrosive, blood-soaked mass
which covered the first batch of victims.

This is testified to not only by the uniformity of
instructions and orders received from high quarters, but by
the similarity of the methods employed, which made it clear
that execution squads were being trained in special schools
which had systematised and provided for every eventuality,
from the order to undress prior to the shooting, right down
to the shooting itself. These conclusions, based on an
analysis of assembled facts, were later confirmed by
documents captured by the Red Army and by the testimony of
prisoners of war.

From the very first months of the war it became clear to the
Soviet Government that the innumerable crimes of the German
fascist aggressors against the peaceful citizens of my
Motherland represented, not the excesses of undisciplined
military units, or the isolated crimes of individual
officers and soldiers, but a system prepared in advance, not
merely sanctioned by the criminal Nazi Government, but
consciously planned and encouraged by this Government.

I submit to the Tribunal in evidence, according to Article
21 of the Charter, one of the official notes of V. M.
Molotov, National Commissar for Foreign Affairs in the USSR,
dated as early as 6th January, 1942. This document is
registered as Exhibit USSR 51. It is on the first page of
your document book, beginning at the third paragraph after
the heading:--

     "As and when the Red Army, in the course of its
     continued and victorious counter-offensive,
     liberated numerous cities and rural communities
     which had, for a certain time, been in the hands
     of the German invader, an incredible picture
     emerged more clearly with every passing day -- a
     picture of the looting which took place in every
     community, of general devastation, of revolting
     acts of rape, ill-treatment, and mass murder, all
     committed against peaceful citizens by the fascist
     German occupational forces during their advance,
     during the occupation and during their withdrawal.
     The great amount of documentary material which the
     Soviet Government has at its disposal testifies to
     the plundering and despoiling of the population,
     accompanied by bestial acts of violence and mass
     murders, carried out in all territories which came
     under the heel of the German invader.
     Unquestionable facts prove that the regimes of
     robbery and of bloody terror inflicted on the
     peaceful population of the occupied villages and
     cities did not consist of certain excesses of
     individual undisciplined military units, or
     individual German officers and soldiers. Rather
     does it point to a definite system, planned far in
     advance and encouraged by the German Government
     and the German Army Command, a system which
     intentionally unleashed within their army the
     lowest animal instincts among the officers and
     Every step of the German fascist army and its
     allies in the invaded Soviet territories of the
     Ukraine and Moldavia, of Bielorussia and
     Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, in the Karelian-
     Finnish lands, in the Russian zones and regions,
     led to annihilation and to the destruction of
     priceless material and cultural treasures -- the
     property of the nation; for the civilian
     population it led to the loss of hard-won
     property, famine, and bloody massacre before whose
     horror the most savage crimes in history have
     The Soviet Government and its organisations record
     all these 11 infamous crimes of the Hitler army
     for which the indignant Soviet people justifiably
     demand and will obtain retribution."
                                              [Page 27]
The Soviet Government considers it a duty to bring to
the notice of all civilised mankind, of honest men all
the world over, its declaration concerning the
monstrous crimes perpetrated against the peaceful
people of all occupied territories by the Hitlerite

I now proceed to read into the record Paragraphs 2, 4 and 5
of the concluding statement of this note. Your Honours will
find the place in question on the reverse side of Page 4 of
the document quoted, Paragraph 5:--

     "The Hitlerite Government in Germany which had so
     treacherously attacked the Soviet Union, pays no
     heed, in warfare, to any standards of
     International Law or to any of its moral
     requirements. It wages war primarily against the
     peaceful and unarmed populations, against women,
     children and old men, thereby revealing its own
     essential vileness. This government of robbers,
     which recognizes only violence and rapine, must be
     crushed by the all-powerful strength of the
     freedom loving peoples, in whose ranks the Soviet
     nation will carry out its mighty task of
     liberation to the end.
     In bringing all the atrocities committed by the
     German invaders to the knowledge of all the
     governments with which the Soviet Union maintains
     diplomatic relations, the Soviet Government
     announces that it holds Germany's criminal
     Hitlerite Government responsible for all the
     inhuman and rapacious acts perpetrated by the
     German Armed Forces.
     At the same time the Government of the Soviet
     Union declares with unshakable conviction that the
     Soviet Union's fight for liberation is a fight for
     the rights and liberty not only of the peoples of
     the Soviet Union, but also for the rights and
     liberty of all freedom-loving peoples of the
     world, and that this war can only end with the
     complete destruction of the Hitler armies and with
     complete victory over the Hitlerite tyranny."
The large quantity of the materials and facts which I have
to submit to the Tribunal makes it necessary for me to be
strictly systematic in my presentation.

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