The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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"Hermann Verholtz, a corporal from the 597th Infantry
Regiment of the 306th Division of the German Army, deposes
as follows:'As a member of a demolition squad I took part in
setting fire to and blowing up government buildings and
dwellings on First Line, the main street of Stalino. My job
was to place the explosives which I then ignited, and thus
blew up the buildings. Altogether I participated in the
demolition of five large houses and in the burning of
several others.'"Your Honours, one could go on with the same
kind of quotations. I repeat that scores of them are
contained in the documents and testimonies which we
                                                  [Page 214]

to the Tribunal, but I consider that there is no necessity
to do that. What has already been read into the record
permits us to conclude that the premeditated and deliberate
devastations which were carried out by the Hitlerites in the
occupied territories were really systematic and not
individual acts, and that those devastations were not
perpetrated only at the hand of individual officers and
soldiers of the German Army, but on the orders of the German
Supreme Command.

In this connection, I omit Page 11 of my report, and I begin
with Page 12.

In the criminal plans of the fascist conspirators, the
devastation of the capitals of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia
and Poland occupied a particular place. Among these plans
the destruction of Moscow and Leningrad received special
attention.Intoxicated by their first military successes, the
Hitlerites elaborated insane plans for the destruction of
the greatest cultural and industrial centres dear to the
Soviet people. For this purpose they prepared special
Sonderkommandos. They even advertised their "decision" in
advance to refuse the capitulation of the cities which never
even took place.It is necessary to note that such
expressions as "raze to the ground" or "wipe from the face
of the earth" were used quite frequently by the Hitlerite
conspirators. These were not only threats but criminal acts
as well. As we shall see from the subsequent presentation,
in some places they did succeed in razing flourishing towns
and villages to the ground.I omit one paragraph of my
presentation.I shall now present two documents which reveal
the intentions of the Hitlerite conspirators.

The first document is a secret directive of the Naval Staff,
numbered Ia 1601/41, dated 22 September, 1941. It is
entitled "The Future of the City of Petersburg". This
document has already been presented by our American
colleagues. Therefore, while we are also in possession of
the original of this document, which was distributed in
several copies, I believe that it does not have to be read
into the record. With your permission, Mr. President, I
shall remind the Tribunal of the contents of this directive.
In this directive it is stated: "The Fuehrer has decided to
wipe the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth";
that it is planned to blockade the city securely, to subject
it to artillery bombardment of all calibres and by means of
constant bombing from the air to raze the city to the
ground. It is also decreed in the order that should there be
a request for capitulation, such a request should be turned
down by the Germans. Finally, it is stated in this document
that this directive emanates not only from the Naval Staff,
but also from the O.K.W.I omit Page 13 of my report and
begin with the last paragraph of the page.The second
document, bearing the number 123C, presented to the Court as
Exhibit USSR 114, is also a secret directive of the Supreme
Command of the Armed Forces dated 7th October, 1941, No. 44
1675/44, and signed by the defendant Jodl. This document,
your Honours, is to be found on Pages 69 and 70 in the
document book. I read into the record the text of this
document or rather a few excerpts from this letter on Page
14 of my presentation. I read the first paragraph of the
  " . . . The Fuehrer again came to the conclusion that a
  capitulation of Leningrad or later of Moscow is not to be
  accepted even if it is offered by the enemy . . ."

  And further, the next to the last paragraph of this
  page:" . . . Therefore, no German soldier is to enter
  these cities. By the fury of our fire we must force all
  who try to leave the city through our lines to turn back.
  The exodus of the population through the smaller,
  unguarded gaps toward the interior of Russia is to be
  allowed. Before the cities are taken, they are to
                                                  [Page 215]
  be weakened by artillery fire and air bombing, and their
  population should be forced to flee.We cannot take the
  responsibility of endangering our. soldiers' lives in
  order to save in their entirety all Russian cities, nor
  that of feeding the population of these cities at the
  expense of the German Homeland.
All commanding officers should be informed of this wish of
the Fuehrer."The Hitlerite conspirators began to put their
criminal ideas regarding the destruction of Leningrad into
effect with unprecedented ferocity.

In the Report of the Leningrad City Commission for the
Investigation of the Atrocities of the German fascist
Invaders, the monstrous crimes of the Hitlerites are
described in detail.

This document had been presented to the Court as Exhibit
USSR 85.

I shall read into the record only a general summary of the
data which is presented on Page 1 of the report, which is on
Page 71 of the document book. I read:

"As a result of the barbarous activities of the German
fascist invaders in Leningrad and its suburbs, 8,961
household and adjoining buildings - sheds, baths, etc. -
with a total volume of 5,192,427 cubic metres, were
completely destroyed, and 5,869 buildings with a total
volume of 14,308,288 cubic metres were partially destroyed.
Completely destroyed were 20,627 dwellings, with a total
volume of 25,492,780 cubic metres, and 8,788 buildings, with
a total volume of 10,081,035 cubic metres were partially
demolished. Completely destroyed were 295 buildings of
cultural importance, with a total volume of 844,162 cubic
metres, and 1,629 buildings with a total volume of 4,798,644
cubic metres were partially ruined. Six buildings dedicated
to religious sects were completely, and 66 such buildings
partially, destroyed. The Hitlerites destroyed, ruined and
damaged various kinds of buildings valued at over
718,000,000 roubles, as well as industrial equipment and
agricultural machinery and implements worth over
1,043,000,000 roubles."This document establishes that the
Hitlerites bombed and shelled, methodically and according to
plan, day and night, streets, dwelling-houses, theatres,
museums, hospitals, kindergartens, military hospitals,
schools, institutes and street cars, and ruined the most
valuable monuments of culture and art. Many thousands of
bombs and shells hammered the historical buildings of
Leningrad, and its quays, gardens and parks.I omit the end
of Page 16.In conclusion, I shall permit myself to quote one
of the many German testimonies which are referred to in the
document, namely paragraph 4 on Page 14. Your Honours will
find the testimony I am quoting on Page 84 of the document
book. I quote:
  "Sergeant Fritz Kepke, commanding No. 2 gun of the end
  battery of the 2nd detachment of the 910th Artillery
  Regiment, stated:
    'For the bombardment of Leningrad, there was in the
    batteries a special stock of munitions supplied over
    and above the average, to an unlimited amount ...All
    the gun crews knew that the bombardment of Leningrad
    was aimed at ruining the town and annihilating its
    civilian population. They therefore regarded the
    bulletins of the German Supreme Command which spoke of
    shelling the "Military objectives" of Leningrad with

The Hitlerite conspirators aimed at the complete destruction
of the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade.I remind you of Document
1746-PS, presented to the Tribunal on 7 December, 1945,
which is an order by Hitler, dated 27 March, 1941, dealing
with the attack on Yugoslavia. It is known that this order,
entitled "Directive No. 25", gives in detail the military
strategy for the attack, and, besides, decrees that all the
Yugoslav land defences and the city of Belgrade shall be
destroyed by means of continuous day and night air raids.
                                                  [Page 216]
I omit the first paragraph of Page 18 of my report, inasmuch
as the facts which are mentioned in this paragraph had been
read into the record on 11 February. I shall read a few
excerpts from page 22 and 23 of the official Report of the
Yugoslav Government. This corresponds to Page 111 and 112 in
the document book. I read:"The planned and systematic
execution of these crimes based on the orders of the
Government of the Reich and of the O.K.W. is best proved by
the fact that the destruction of the inhabited localities
and of the population was not halted even at the time of the
retreat of the German troops from Yugoslavia.Typical for
thousands of such cases is the attempted destruction of
Belgrade and extermination of its citizens in October, 1944.
The fighting for the liberation of Belgrade lasted from 15
to 20 October, 1944. Even before the fighting started, the
Germans had prepared a plan for the systematic destruction
of the city. They sent into the city a large number of
specially trained units whose duties consisted of mining
houses and killing the population. Although, because of the
swift advance of the Red Army and of the Yugoslav National
Liberation Forces, they failed to carry out their task in
its entirety, they succeeded in destroying a large number of
houses in the southern part of the city, and in killing a
considerable number of inhabitants.This happened to a still
greater extent in the northern part of the city, on the
rivers Sava and Danube. The Germans went from house to
house, herded the inhabitants, unclothed and unshod, into
the streets, sprayed inflammable chemicals and explosives
into every apartment, and set fire to all the buildings. If
a house happened to be made of a very solid material, they
mined it. They fired at the inhabitants, killing defenceless
people; in several large houses the inhabitants were locked
in and were destroyed by fire and by mine explosions. The
total damage thus caused in the city of Belgrade is
estimated at the total sum of 1,127,129,069 dinars at pre-
war value."Thus, the destruction of Belgrade was prescribed
by Hitler's order of 27 March, 1941, and was carried out on
direct orders of the defendant Goering; in October, 1944, it
was carried out by the same methods as those employed by the
Hitlerites in the occupied territories of the USSR.

I shall now present evidence of the intentional and
unexampled destruction by the Hitlerites of the capital of
the Polish nation - Warsaw.I shall quote three documents
which reveal the criminal intentions of the fascist
conspirators to raze this town.

As the first document, Exhibit USSR 128, I present to the
Tribunal a telegram, No. 13265, addressed to the defendant
Frank, and signed by the Governor of the Warsaw District,
Dr. Fischer, This document can be found on Page 148 of the
document book. I read into the record the text of this
  "To the Governor General and Reich Minister Dr. Frank:At
  Cracow:Warsaw, No. 13265. 11.X.44. 10/40, NS.Subject: New
  Policy with Regard to Poland.As a result of the
  declaration of S.S.-Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach to
  the Reichsfuehrer S.S., I wish to inform you of the
  following :
  S.S. Lieutenant General von dem Bach again received an
  order to pacify Warsaw - that is, to raze Warsaw to the
  ground while the war is still on, if there is nothing
  against this measure from the military point of view
  (using the city as a fortress). Prior to destruction, all
  raw materials, textiles and furniture should be taken out
  of Warsaw. The main role in performing this task should
  be played by the civilian administration.
                                                  [Page 217]
  I am informing you of these facts because this new order
  of the Fuehrer regarding the destruction of Warsaw is of
  the greatest importance for clarifying the future policy
  toward Poland.The Governor of the Warsaw District
  temporarily at Soehaczew.
  signed: Dr. Fischer."Von dem Bach mentioned in the
  telegram just read into the record is already known to
  you, your Honours ; he testified at the afternoon session
  of the Tribunal on 7 January.

How Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach of the S.S. carried out
Hitler's order regarding the destruction of Warsaw can be
seen from the written evidence given by him on oath on 28
January, 1946, during his interrogation by the Public
Prosecutor of the Polish Republic, M. Savitzky.

I present to the Court as Exhibit USSR 313 the original
record of the interrogation in German, duly signed by von
dem Bach. I shall read two extracts from this record:
  "When I spoke with Reinfarth and told him that such
  actions are detrimental to the morale and a shock to
  reason, Reinfarth referred to the order issued by Hitler
  and Himmler. This order . . ."

THE PRESIDENT: We will hear the objection.

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Frank) : I object to
the reading of the interrogation of the witness von dem
Bach. The witness was heard before the Court, and it would
have been possible at that time to question the witness
about the matter of the interrogation here, before the

Should the Soviet prosecution not wish to forego the
presentation of this material, then I request that the
witness von dem Bach-Zelewsky, who is still here in
Nuremberg, be summoned before the Tribunal again, so that
the defence may have an opportunity to cross-examine the

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, do you want to say anything

GENERAL RAGINSKY : Mr. President, this record of the
interrogation of von dem Bach-Zelewsky was given under oath,
and it was presented to the Soviet Delegation by the
representatives of the Polish Government. The record of the
interrogation is formulated according to laws of procedure,
and was given under oath. Therefore, we consider it
imperative and possible to present it to the Tribunal,
without calling von dem Bach-Zelewsky for a second
interrogation before the Tribunal. If the Tribunal decides
that the testimony of Bach-Zelewsky cannot be read into the
record without his being called again before the Tribunal,
then, in the interests of expediting the trial, and in order
not to protract the presentation of our evidence, we agree
not to read this testimony into the record inasmuch as
evidence regarding these facts is contained in other
documents which I shall later present to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: May I ask you then, General: If the evidence
given before the Polish Commission is the same as the
evidence which Bach-Zelewsky gave in Court, it would be
cumulative; if it is different, then surely the defendants'
counsel ought to have the opportunity of cross-examining him
upon it.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: The testimony which was given by Bach-
Zelewsky to the Prosecutor of
the Polish Republic is supplementary. Bach-Zelewsky was Dot
examined before the Tribunal regarding the devestations.

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, the Tribunal understood you
to say that you would be prepared to withdraw this evidence
in view of the fact that the witness had given evidence
already and the Tribunal considers that that is the proper
course to take. So then the evidence will be withdrawn and
struck from the record so far as it had been put on the

I think this would be a good time to adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

                                                  [Page 218]

GENERAL RAGINSKY: As a result of the decision of the
Tribunal I exclude Page 21 from my report and pass on to
Page 22.

I will read into the record an extract from the diary of the
defendant Frank, which was presented to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 223. This extract is on Page 45 of the document
book. I have in mind the file which runs from 1 August,
1944, to 14 December, 1944, entitled " Diary," where there
is a note which mentions the contents of a telegram sent by
Frank to Reichminister Lammers. I read:
  "On 5 August, 1944, the Governor-General sent the
  following telegram to Reich Minister Dr. Lammers:
    'The city of Warsaw is, for the most part, engulfed in
    flames. Burning of the houses is the surest way to rob
    the insurgents of any shelter.
    After this uprising and its suppression, Warsaw will
    justly be committed to its deserved fate of being
    completely destroyed.'"

These documents prove that the fascist conspirators set for
themselves the aim of razing to the ground the capital of
the Polish State, Warsaw, and that the defendant Frank
played an active part in this crime.

In all the territories of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland,
Greece and Czechoslovakia which they occupied, the German
fascist invaders systematically destroyed inhabited
localities according to plan, under the pretence of fighting
the partisans. Punitive expeditions, detachments and
commandos, specially detailed by the German military
command, burned down and blew up tens of thousands of
villages, hamlets, and other inhabited localities.

I omit a paragraph of my report.

From the numerous documents in the possession of the Soviet
Prosecution, I will quote, as examples, a few excerpts which
are typical and which characterise the whole system
developed by the Hitlerites.

The report of Captain Kasper, a company commander, dated 27
September, 1942, and entitled "Conclusive Report on the
Results of the Punitive Expedition carried out in the
Village of Borisovka from 22 to 26 September, 1942," begins
as follows:

  "Tasks : Company 9 must destroy the band-infested village
  of Borisovka".

This document has been presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit
USSR 119.

(I omit the beginning of Page 42 of the report.)

In January, 1942, in the Reseknen District of the Latvian
Soviet Socialist Republic, the Germans destroyed the village
of Audriny with its entire population, ostensibly for having
aided members of the Red Army. In the towns of Latvia a
notice to this effect was posted by the Chief of the German
State Security Police in Latvia S.S. Obersturmbannfuehrer
Strauch, in German, Latvian and Russian.

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