The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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The burning of corpses continued from the end of 1943 to
June, 1944. During this period, more than one hundred
thousand corpses were dug out from nine pits of a total
volume of 21,179 cubic metres and were burnt on pyres. The
last days before their retreat the Hitlerites did not have
time to bum the bodies of the shot. . . .

I omit the next few paragraphs and quote the conclusion of
the medico-forensic Expert Commission:-

                                                  [Page 114]

  "The corpses that were examined were, for the most part,
  those of civilians. A small number of corpses was found
  dressed in military uniforms. On some of the corpses were
  found objects of religious worship of the Catholic and
  Greek Orthodox faith. According to the objects and
  documents found, it has been established that among those
  shot were physicians, engineers, students, chauffeurs,
  mechanics, railroad workers, tailors, watchmakers,
  tradesmen, etc."

I omit the next three paragraphs and pass on to the
concluding sentence:-

  "The Medico-Forensic Expert Commission has established
  that the German fascist butchers shot and burned in
  Panerai not less than 100,000 people."

I quote further proof concerning the "Fort of Death" in

  "Fort No. 9 was called by the residents of Kaunas the
  'Fort of Death'. This fort, located six kilometres north-
  west of the city, is an old iron reinforced concrete
  fortification. Inside, there are numerous casemates,
  which were used by the Germans as cells for prisoners.
  This fort is surrounded by a concrete wall and barbed
  In the very first days after their arrival in Kaunas, the
  Hitlerites drove some 1,000 Soviet war prisoners into the
  fort and forced them to dig ditches in a field of over
  five hectares in area, at the western wall of the fort.
  During the months of July and August, 1941, fourteen
  ditches were dug, each of them three metres wide, over
  200 metres long and over two metres in depth. All those
  who entered the Fort No. 9 perished. In columns of
  several thousand people, the Hitlerites drove into this
  Fort women, children, adolescents, men and aged persons
  to shoot them and to burn their bodies."

I omit the next three paragraphs and continue my quotation:-

  "In Fort No. 9 people of different nationalities were
  shot: Russians, Ukrainians, Bielorussians, Lithuanians
  Poles and Jews. The following people were shot in this
  fort: a deputy to the Supreme Soviet Council of the USSR
  Bydzhinskiena, a deputy to the Supreme Soviet Council of
  the Lithuanian S.S.R., Zhibertas and others. Besides
  Soviet citizens the Hitlerites exterminated French,
  Austrian and Czechoslovak citizens in Fort No. 9.

A former supervisor of Fort No. 9, the witness Naudjunas,

  "The first group of foreigners, numbering 4,000, arrived
  at the fort in December, 1941. I talked to one of the
  women, who said that they had been transported to Russia,
  allegedly for work. On 10 December, 1941, the
  extermination of foreigners began. They were ordered to
  leave the fort in groups of 100, allegedly for
  inoculations. Those who left for  inoculations did not
  return. All 4,000 foreigners were shot. On 15 December,
  1941, another group arrived, numbering approximately
  3,000, who were also exterminated."

I omit the next paragraph on this page, and nearly the whole
of the following page and quote only the conclusive data:-

  "The Investigation Commission ascertained that the
  Hitlerites had exterminated in Fort No. 9 over 70,000
  peaceful inhabitants. In numerous cases the German
  fascists used methods full of cruel cunning for the mass
  extermination of peaceful Soviet citizens."

In order to prove this statement, I refer to the Report of
the Extraordinary State Commission for the Stavropol region,
which has already been submitted to the Tribunal as exhibit
USSR 1. The Tribunal will find this excerpt on page 268 of
the document book, I quote one paragraph - the second
paragraph of the text:-

  "It is established that before retreating from the city
  of Geozgievsk on 9th and 10th January of this year, by
  order of the Chief Physician of the German hospitals in
  the city, Baron von Heiman, the German soldiers sold
                                                  [Page 115]
  alcohol and soda water at the city market, which proved
  to be methylated spirit and oxalic acid. This was
  intentionally done to poison the Soviet people."

Mass poisoning of the citizens of the town occurred.

Among the crimes perpetrated by the German fascists on
Soviet territory I must mention especially the treatment to
which they subjected the inhabitants of Leningrad. I have
already mentioned this when speaking of the Leningrad
children yesterday.

In order to shorten my quotation from the Extraordinary
State Commission's report on Leningrad - although, being a
citizen of Leningrad myself, I would like the Court to have
an accurate picture of the sufferings endured by the great
city as a result of the German fascist terror - I will quote
only general data regarding the German destruction and
crimes in that city. The Tribunal will find this quotation
on Page 345 of the document book, second volume:-

  "During the 900-day siege of Leningrad when the Germans
  were in possession of its suburbs, they perpetrated
  countless atrocities on the peaceful civilians.
  The Germans dropped on Leningrad 107,000 demolition and
  incendiary bombs and 150,000 heavy artillery shells.
  Every minute throughout the siege each Leningrad resident
  was in the same danger as if he had been on the
  battlefield. Every instant he was threatened with death
  or mutilation. Bombing and artillery fire killed a total
  of 16,747 and wounded 33,782 persons."

I interrupt my quotation, omit the next page of my
statement, and beg the Tribunal to notice page 347 of the
second volume of the document book, an excerpt from the
diary of the German artillerists who shelled Leningrad.
These notes are most cynical and cruel.

I will now state the number of persons who died of hunger in
Leningrad in the terrible winter of 1941-1942. I quote only
one line: "As a result of the hunger blockade of Leningrad
632,253 people perished".

I omit the following two pages and pass on to evidence
concerning the adoption by the Hitlerites of special
machines for the extermination of people: by monoxide gas,
in special machines, "Sondermaschinen", by "gas vans" or
"murder vans" (dushagubki), as the Soviet people rightly
named them.

The very fact of employing such machines for the mass murder
of people constitutes a very heavy charge against the
leaders of German fascism. The special equipment for mass
extermination of people in hermetically closed automobiles,
in which the exhaust pipes were connected to the bodies of
the cars by means of special movable tubes, was utilised by
the German fascists for the first time in the USSR in 1942.

I would like to remind the Tribunal that these machines of
death were mentioned for the first time in a report which I
have already submitted to the Tribunal concerning the
atrocities of the German fascist aggressors in the town of
Kerch. This document was submitted as exhibit USSR 63 and
refers to the spring of 1942.

I remind the Tribunal of an excerpt from the statements of
the witness Darya Dernchenko, who saw how from two "murder
vans" German military personnel in Kerch dragged out the
bodies of the murdered and dumped them into an antitank

It cannot be contested that the mass extermination of people
in gas vans was ascertained for the first time in the Report
of the Extraordinary State Commission on atrocities of the
German occupants in the Stavropol region.

This document was submitted to the Tribunal by me earlier as
exhibit USSR 1.

Investigation of the crimes committed by the German fascists
in the Stavropol

                                                  [Page 116]

region was directed by a prominent Soviet writer and member
of the Extraordinary State Commission, Academician Alexey
Nikolaievitch Tolstoy, since deceased.

This very thorough investigation was undertaken with the
assistance of the most prominent specialists in forensic
medicine, inasmuch as human imagination, having set definite
logical limits to any crime, could only with difficulty
accept the existence of these machines.

However, the results of the investigation corroborate the
testimony of witnesses regarding the murder vans, tortures
and mass murders of peaceful citizens.

The report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the
Stavropol region gives the first detailed description of the
mechanism of these murder vans, and I am reading a quotation
which the Tribunal will find on Page 268 of the document
book, paragraph 4. I quote this excerpt in full, as the
technical matter detailed here tally with those technical
details which the American prosecution so fully reported to
the Tribunal. This is corroborative evidence, and is
therefore important:-

   "It has been established that the Germans engaged in the
   mass extermination of peaceful citizens of the USSR by
   poisoning them with carbon monoxide in specially
   constructed machines or 'murder vans.' Prisoner of war
   Fenchel testified:-
     'While working as a motor mechanic, I had the
     opportunity of studying in detail the van construction
     especially adopted for suffocating and exterminating
     people with exhaust gases. There were several such
     vans in the town of Stravopol at the disposal of the
     Their construction was as follows: The body was
     approximately five metres long, two and half metres
     wide, and approximately two and a half metres in
     height. It was shaped like a railway car without
     windows. Inside, it was lined with galvanised sheet
     iron; on the floor, also covered with galvanised iron,
     was a wooden grating. The door of the body was lined
     with rubber and was tightly closed with an automatic
     lock. On the floor of the van under the grating, were
     two metal pipes.'"

I omit the end of the sentence.

     "'These pipes were connected with a transverse pipe of
     equal diameter.'"

I omit the next part of the sentence.

     "'These pipes had at short intervals holes of half a
     centimetre in width.  From the transverse pipe down
     through a hole in the galvanised iron floor went a
     rubber hose with a hexagonal screw at the end,
     threaded so as to fit the thread on the end of the
     engine exhaust pipe. This hose was screwed on to the
     exhaust pipe and when the engine was running, all the
     exhaust gas went into the body of this hermetically
     closed van. From the accumulation of these gases, a
     man inside the van died within a short period of time.
     The van could contain approximately seventy to eighty
     people. The motor usually bore the trademark

I omit the following part of the quotation, because the data
contained therein are already known to the Tribunal, and I
beg the Tribunal to pay attention to Page 270 of the
document book, first paragraph, which says that in the
Stavropol region the murder van was used for the killing of
660 people who were patients of the local hospital. Further,
I draw the attention of the Tribunal to the Report of the
Extraordinary State Commission regarding the Crimes of the
German fascist criminals in Krasnodar. I submit this
document to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 42. It concerns the
mass killing of people in murder vans. I will not quote this
document. I pass on to Page 243. I submit to the Tribunal as
exhibit USSR 55 the verdict of the military tribunal of the
North Caucasian Front. I wish only to quote a short excerpt
from this verdict in order to save time. The Tribunal will
find this on Page 439 of the document book, Volume II,
paragraph 2:-

                                                  [Page 117]

The legal investigation has also ascertained as facts of the
systematic torture and burning in the cellars of the Gestapo
by the Hitlerite criminals of many arrested Soviet
citizens, as well as the extermination by carbon-monoxide
gases in specially built cars ('murder vans '), that is, the
asphyxiation, of approximately 7,000 innocent Soviet people,
including more than 700 patients from the hospitals of
Krasnodar and other places in that district; among them were
forty-two children, from five to sixteen years old."

I omit some pages of the text and next submit to the
Tribunal a Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on
the Atrocities of the German Fascist Invaders in the town of
Kharkov and the Kharkov Region. I submit this document to
the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 43. I will not quote this
document, but will go over to another, namely, the verdict
of the military tribunal of the 4th Ukrainian Front which
was pronounced in this case. This document has been
introduced to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 32. The Tribunal
will find the excerpt which I would like to quote on Page
222 of the document book, first paragraph:-

   "For the mass executions of Soviet citizens, the German
   fascist invaders  used the so-called 'gas wagons':
   large, closed cars which were known to the Russians as '
   murder vans.' Into these gas wagons the German fascist
   invaders drove Soviet citizens and murdered them by
   special poisonous gas - carbon-monoxide. In order to
   conceal the traces of the monstrous crimes committed and
   the mass extermination of Soviet people by way of
   asphyxiation with carbon-monoxide in these ' gas
   wagons,' the German fascists burned the bodies of their

I conclude this quotation and omit the next page of the text
and another page, and go on to Page 252 of my statement.

In order to prove that the murder vans were used not only at
the places I mentioned, I now refer to a report of the
Extraordinary State Commission which has already been
submitted to the Tribunal as exhibit USSR 9, on the
atrocities committed in the town of Kiev. The Tribunal will
find there a proof of the fact that murder vans were used in

THE PRESIDENT: We have just had handed up to us, in the
written translation of your address, Page 234, We already
had Page 234. Do you want this to be 234a? Is it just one
page that you are handing up now?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: There is a different numbering in the
English text, Mr. President, and it is difficult for me to
talk about the text which is in your possession, because I
simply do not know the numbering of the English translation.

THE PRESIDENT: Maybe it is 234a ?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I am on page 251 of the Russian text.

THE PRESIDENT: I think the better course will be to adjourn
now and perhaps the slight muddle in these translations can
be cleared up.

(A recess was taken.)

COLONEL SMIRNOV: In confirmation of the wide application of
murder vans in the temporarily occupied regions, I refer to
the series of Reports of the Extraordinary State Commission
for Investigation of War Crimes in Rowna and the Rowna
Region. The members of  the Tribunal will find reference to
this on Page 291, paragraph 10 of the document book. I limit
myself to one paragraph only:-

   "The extermination of peaceful citizens and prisoners of
   war in the town of Rowna used to take place by means of
   mass shooting with tommy-guns and machine guns, or
   murder with carbon-monoxide in murder vans; while in
   some instances people were thrown into pits and buried
   alive. Some of the victims, particularly those executed
   at the quarries near the village of Wydumka, were burned
   on special platforms prepared in advance."

I end my quotation and go over to Page 253 of the text,
paragraph 3. Further,

                                                  [Page 118]

in conjunction with the same matter, I refer to the Report
of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes in
Minsk. The members of the Tribunal will find this quotation
on Page 215 of the document book, second paragraph. I read
one quotation from this report:-

   "Thousands of Soviet citizens have perished in
   concentration camps at the hands of the German

I omit the following four sentences and pass on to the
testimony of witness Moiseivitch. He says:-

"I was an eye-witness to the manner in which the Germans
killed people in their murder vans. From seventy to eighty
people were forced into a murder van and then driven away to
an unknown destination."

That ends my quotation, and I ask the Tribunal's permission
to draw its attention to the fact that in Minsk, the
principle of the murder van was used for stationary gas
chambers, usually bath houses. It is also mentioned in this
report of the State Commission.

Further, I refer to the verdict of the courts martial of
Smolensk Military Region, dated 15th-19th December, 1945,
which the Tribunal will find on Page 72 of the document
book. There it is related that in Smolensk the Germans also
employed special gas automobiles, the so-called "murder vans
" for killing Soviet people with carbon-monoxide. It seems
to me that it is not merely coincidence that murder vans
appeared in the territory of the USSR in the  year of 1942.
At the time the chief criminals were still quite convinced
of victory and started carrying out into practice their
premeditated plans for the extermination of the people of
Europe. They were not then afraid of responsibility for
these crimes. That is why in 1942 there appeared new links
in the long chain of the crimes committed by the leaders of
German fascism. The fascist technique of extermination was
once again in full swing. It created murder vans, gas
chambers and concentration camps, special electrical
appliances for the mass murder of the doomed, crematoria,
and also "Zyklon" banks.

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