The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I would like to draw the attention of the Tribunal to
another peculiar circumstance.

In this case, too, the looting was carried out by Rosenberg
together with the High Command, and even in the autumn of
1944, "Future Chiefs" of "Staff Rosenberg" were selected.
An analysis of all these circumstances permits us to
reassert categorically that the destruction and looting of
cultural treasures was inspired, directed and executed by
one central Organisation, and that this central Organisation
was the criminal Hitlerite Government and the High Command,
the representatives of which, in the persons of all the
defendants in these Trials, should suffer punishment in
accordance with Article 6 of the Charter of the
International Military Tribunal.

May it please your Honours, when we deal with a system of
wholesale destruction and plunder, it is impossible, and
scarcely necessary, to enumerate all the facts, even if
these facts are, per se, of great importance.

In the occupied territories of the Soviet Union the
Hitlerites carried out precisely such a system of wholesale
and manifold destruction and plunder of the cultural
treasures of its peoples. At this moment it is not yet
possible to draw up an exhaustive balance of the defendants'

But I shall, with the permission of the Tribunal, quote a
document containing data which, although only of a
preliminary nature, is absolutely accurate and bears witness
to the tremendous damage inflicted by the Hitlerites.

I have before me the Report of the Extraordinary State
Commission, submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 35.
This document is on Pages 404 and 405 of the document book.
From this I will only quote individual excerpts concerning
the subject which I am presenting and which have not yet
been read into the record.

  "Destruction of Cultural-Social Institutions, Communal
  Organisations and Co-operatives.
  The German plunderers destroyed various establishments,
  clubs, stadiums, rest homes and sanatoria belonging to
  consumer and industrial co-operatives, trade unions and
  other public organisations . . . in the occupied
  territory of the USSR. They destroyed over 87,000
  industrial buildings . . . belonging to co-operatives,
  trade unions and other social organisations; 10,000
  residential buildings and 1,839 cultural and social
  They carried off to Germany ... about 8,000,000 books ...
  Of the property of the trade unions the German invaders
  completely destroyed 120 sanatoria and 150 rest homes in
  which over 3,000,000 workers, engineers, technicians and
  other workers and employees spent their annual rest
  leave. Of this, total figure they destroyed, in the
  Crimea, fifty-nine sanatoria and rest homes . . . in the
  spas of the Caucasus;  thirty-three sanatoria and rest
  homes in the Leningrad area; eighty-eight sanatoria and
  rest homes . . . in the Ukraine . . . The German fascist
  invaders destroyed the buildings of forty-six pioneer
  camps and children's convalescent institutions belonging
  to the trade unions. They destroyed 189 clubs and Palaces
  of Culture."
I omit one paragraph and quote the last paragraph on this

  "In the territory of the Soviet Union which was occupied
  by the Germans,  at the beginning of 1941, there were
  82,000 elementary and secondary schools with 15,000,000
  pupils. All the secondary schools possessed libraries,
                                                  [Page 205]
  with from 2,000 to 25,000 volumes; many schools possessed
  laboratories for physics, chemistry, biology and other
  subjects . . .
  The German fascist invaders burnt, destroyed and
  plundered these schools with their entire property and
  equipment . . ."

I omit the end of this paragraph.

  "The German fascist invaders entirely or partially
  destroyed 334 universities at which 233,000 students were
  studying; they removed to Germany the equipment of the
  laboratories and lecture rooms together with the
  exhibits, unique of their kind, from the collections of
  the universities, institutes and libraries . . .
  Great damage was inflicted on the medical colleges .
  The occupational authorities destroyed or looted 137
  pedagogical institutions and teachers colleges . . . They
  removed from the special libraries historical archives
  and ancient manuscripts, and stole or destroyed over 100
  million volumes in the public libraries."

I omit the next paragraph.

  "They destroyed altogether 605 scientific research

I omit the end of Page 85 of the report and the first
paragraph of Page 86.

  "Enormous damage was inflicted by the Germans on the
  Medical Establishments of the Soviet Union. They
  destroyed or plundered 6,000 hospitals, 33,000
  polyclinics, dispensaries and out-patient departments,
  976 sanatoria and 656 rest homes."

I omit the next three paragraphs.

  "Destruction of Museums and Historical Monuments.
  In the occupied territories the German fascist invaders
  destroyed 427 out of a total of 992 museums of the Soviet

I omit the end of this page and quote the beginning of Page
87 of the report.

  "The Germans also destroyed the museum of the peasant
  poet S. D. Drozhzhin, in the village of Zavidovo, the
  museum of the people's poet I. S. Nikitin, in Voronezh,
  and the museum of the famous Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz,
  at Novogrudek in the Bielorussian SSR. At Alagir they
  burned the manuscripts of the Ossetian national singer,
  Kosta Khetagurov.
  The German Fascist invaders destroyed 44,000 theatres,
  clubs and so-called 'Red Corners.'"

Now with the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to
submit a documentary film and a certificate testifying to
the documentary character of this film. The film is
entitled, "Destruction of Art and Museums of National
Culture perpetrated by the Germans on the Territory of the

This film and the documents testifying to the documentary
nature of these reels are submitted to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 98.

In this film, besides documentary photographs taken between
1941-1945, there are also extracts from a film made in 1908,
showing "Yasnaya Polyana" and Leo Tolstoy. Subsequent
photographs show what the German invaders did to this
cultural relic of the Soviet people.

May I proceed with the presentation of the film, your

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, of course.

(The film was shown on the screen in the court room.)

LIEUTENANT- GENERAL RAGINSKY: I must dwell, your Honours, on
one more category of crimes committed by the Hitlerites-the
spoliation and destruction of churches, convents and other
places of, religious worship.

                                                  [Page 206]

While destroying monasteries, churches, mosques and
synagogues, and robbing their property, the German invaders
sadistically mocked the religious feelings of the people.

These blasphemous crimes assumed a general form in all the
territories which were under German rule.

Soldiers and officers organised bloody orgies in places of
worship, kept horses and dogs in the churches, donned the
church vestments and made sleeping bunks out of the icons.

I will not trespass on your time by reading all the numerous
documents at the disposal of the Soviet Prosecution and
shall merely dwell on some of these, in particular on the
documentary photographs, an album of which I present to the
Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 99.

With your permission, I would like to read a few more
documents and particularly a short extract from the
document, which has already been presented to the Tribunal
as Exhibit USSR 51/3. You can find this extract in your
Document Book on the back of Page 391. I quote:-

  "Neither do the Hitlerite invaders spare the religious
  sentiments of the believing section of the Soviet
  population. They have burnt, looted, blown up and
  desecrated hundreds of churches on Soviet territory,
  including several irreplaceable monuments of ancient
  church architecture."

I omit two paragraphs, and I quote the next one.

  "The Reverend Amvrosy Ivanov writes from the village of
  Jklinskoye, in the Moscow region:
     'Before the arrival of the Germans the church was in
     complete order. A German officer ordered me to take
     everything out of the church ... The troops arrived at
     night, occupied the church, brought in their horses ...
     Then they began to smash and break everything in the
     church and to build bunks. They threw out everything;
     the altar, the Holy Gates and Banners, and the Holy
     Shroud. In a word, the church was turned into a
     robbers' den.'"

I omit the remaining part of Page 88, and I read Page 89 of
the report:-

  "In the village of Gosteshevo, the Germans plundered the
  church, tore up the Holy Banners, threw the books about,
  robbed the Reverend Mikhail Strakhov and carried him off
  with them to another district. In the village of Kholm,
  near Mozhaisk, the Germans robbed and beat up the eighty-
  two-year-old local priest. In retreating from Mozhaisk,
  the Germans blew up the Church of the Ascension, the
  Church of the Holy Trinity and the Cathedral of Nicholas,
  the Miracle Worker. As a rule, before retreating, the
  Germans would drive part of the population of the
  villages destroyed by fire into the churches, lock them
  up, and then set fire to these churches."

I am now reading into the record a short excerpt from
Exhibit USSR 312, submitted to the Tribunal:

  "In a north side-chapel of the Znamensky Cathedral, the
  Germans set up a latrine for the soldiers living in the
  crypt of the Cathedral.
  The Church of the Prophet Elijah on the Slavna was
  transformed into a stable.
  Stables were built in the following Pskov churches:
  Bogoyavlenie on Zapskovie, Kozma and Demian on the
  Gremiatchy Hill, Constantine and Helen, and the Church of
  St. John the Evangelist."

The document which was presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit
USSR 279, describes acts of blasphemous mockery which took
place in the town of Gjatsk,

                                                  [Page 207]

where the churches were transformed by the Germans into
stables and warehouses. In the Church of the Annunciation
the Germans set up a slaughter-house.

The document which I am now presenting to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 246 is a report of the Extraordinary State
Commission and contains general data relating to the
churches, chapels and other buildings of religious worship
which have been destroyed or damaged. This document states:-
  "The German fascist invaders completely destroyed or
  partly damaged 1,670 Orthodox Russian churches, 69
  chapels, 237 Roman Catholic churches, 4 mosques, 532
  synagogues and 254 other buildings for religious

You will find in the document, submitted to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 35, further general data on the subject. I will
not burden the Tribunal's attention by reading the document
into the record in full, but I should like to quote a few
very short excerpts from it. I quote:-

  "No material compensation by the Germans can make
  complete amends or the destruction of ecclesiastical
  buildings, and of the more ancient historical monuments;
  the majority of these can never be restored."

Omitting the remainder of the page, as well as the first
four paragraphs of page 91 of the report, I read the last
paragraph of this page:-

  "Many churches, historical monuments of the past, were
  destroyed by the German invaders in Bielorussia. Thus in
  the city of Vitebsk, they destroyed the Church of the
  Nativity, an interesting monument of Bielorussian
  architecture of the twelfth century. They completely
  destroyed the wooden Bogoslovskaya and Nikolskaya
  churches, built in the eighteenth century.
  Almost irreparable damage was done to the Voskresenko-
  Zaruchivsky church, built in the eighteenth century. This
  church was an interesting example of the Bielorussian
  classic style of architecture. In the same area, in the
  city of Vitebsk, the Germans destroyed a Roman Catholic
  church built in the eighteenth century....
  In the town of Disna, of the Polotsk region, the Germans
  burnt a Roman Catholic church founded in the seventeenth
  century, after plundering its property.
  Timoshal Rudolf, German Garrison Commandant of the town
  of Rozhnyatov, in the Stanislav region, used three
  synagogues for barracks and later on destroyed the
  buildings after plundering the property contained

I omit the next paragraph.

  "Before destroying buildings of various religious cults
  the Germans plundered and destroyed all their
  furnishings. A great quantity of icons and church plate
  was removed from ecclesiastical buildings to Germany....
  The Yossifo-Volokalamsky monastery was plundered, and the
  ancient shrouds of the monastery, together with the
  personal belongings of Joseph Volotsky, founder of the
  monastery, have disappeared....
  In 1941 German soldiers and officers stole from the
  historical Staritzki Church all the vessels, altar
  crosses, crowns, mitres and tabernacles.
  In the town of Dokshitza, in the Polotzk region, the
  Germans looted and took away all the property of the
  local mosque. The same fate was shared by nearly all the
  churches in the territories occupied by the Germans.
  Everywhere the Germans plundered churches, synagogues,
  mosques and other buildings of religious worship."

The Hitlerite conspirators not only actually plundered,
tortured and murdered, but they also strove to humiliate the
believers morally, and to rob them of their spiritual

                                                  [Page 208]
Such, your Honours, is the conclusive evidence concerning
the crimes against culture, committed by Rosenberg, Frank,
Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel and the other participants in
the conspiracy.

The crimes of the defendants against culture are terrible
indeed in their consequences.

Even though it be possible, by a tremendous effort, to
rebuild the cities and villages destroyed by the Hitlerites;
even though it be possible to restore the factories and
plants blown up or burnt down by them, mankind has lost for
all time the irreplaceable art treasures which the
Hitlerites so ruthlessly destroyed, as it has lost forever
the millions of human beings sent to their death in
Auschwitz, Treblinka, Babi Yar or Kertch.

Having inherited their savage hatred of all mankind from the
dim ages of the past, the modern Huns have far surpassed, in
cruelty and vandalism, the darkest pages of history.

While arrogantly challenging the future of mankind, they
trampled underfoot the finest heritage of mankind's past.

Themselves without faith or ideals, they sacrilegiously
destroyed both the churches and the relics of the Saints.

But in this unparalleled struggle between culture and
obscurantism, between civilisation and barbarism, culture
and civilisation prevailed in the end.

The Hitlerite conspirators who had aspired to world
domination, who had dreamt to destroy the culture of the
Slavs and of all other nations, now stand in the defendants'

May a just punishment be theirs.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 22nd February, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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