The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: May it please the Tribunal, I wonder
if the Tribunal would allow me to make a very short
explanation as to the source of the document with regard to
Stalag Luft 3, which the Tribunal discussed yesterday.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The position was that when evidence
for this trial was being collected, each government that
might be concerned was written to, and asked if they would
produce government reports, and they have produced
government reports which have been put before the Tribunal
by the various sections of the prosecution.

The document with regard to the shooting of the prisoners in
Stalag Luft 3 was a British Government report of the same
type. It was compiled from various information which is
included in the appendices; that information included the
interrogation of General Westhoff, which had been sent to
the United Nations War Crimes Commission, as thousands of
other documents were sent, for that Commission to consider
whether any action should be taken from the matters

That document was then sent from the United Nations War
Crimes Commission to the British Government and dealt with
as part of the material on which the British Government
report was based.

The British Government report is certified by myself to be a
Government report, and I have specific authority from His
Majesty's Government in Britain to perform such

It is very short, and it might be convenient if I read it so
that it appears in the record. I have the copy, which was
sent to me on the official Cabinet paper, and purporting to
be signed by Sir Edward Bridges, the Secretary to the
Cabinet. The original was sent to the Attorney-General, and
the document jointly to us both, but there is no doubt as to
its  authenticity, and the original can be produced, if

The document reads:

  "His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom of Great
  Britain and Northern Ireland has authorised the Right
  Honourable Sir Hartley Shawcross, K.C., M.P., the Chief
  Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, appointed under
  Article 14 of the Charter, annexed to the agreement dated
  the 8th day of August, 1945, and the Right Honourable Sir
  David Maxwell Fyfe, K.C., M.P., the Deputy Chief
  Prosecutor for the United Kingdom, to certify those
  documents to be produced at the trial of war criminals
  before the International Military Tribunal, which are
  documents of His Majesty's Government in the United

My respectful submission is, therefore, that on my
certification the document becomes a governmental document
within Article 21, and it is thereupon a mandatory
injunction to the Tribunal that it shall take judicial
notice of such a document. At that point the document, in my
respectful submission to the Tribunal, should be taken into
evidence. And it is then, of course, a matter for the
defence, if

                                                    [Page 2]

they wish to call any witness, to make such application as
they desire, and for the Tribunal to rule on it.

But as a point of construction, I respectfully submit that
once a document is certified as a government document, as
all these government reports are, the Charter enjoins the
Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

THE PRESIDENT: Sir David, the Tribunal did admit the
document yesterday, but it is glad of your explanation.
Nothing in the order that it made is in any way inconsistent
with what you have now said.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I continue, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Colonel Smirnov.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honours, I would like to recall to you
certain figures which I mentioned yesterday afternoon. I was
speaking about the number of Jews who were exterminated in
Poland and Czechoslovakia.

I allow myself to remind the Tribunal that the figures I
mentioned yesterday, which were based on the report of the
Polish Government, show that in Poland 3,000,000 Jews have
been exterminated. In Czechoslovakia, out of 118,000 Jews
only 6,000 remain.

I would now like to pass on to the report of the Yugoslav
Government, and will quote one paragraph, which the Tribunal
will find on Page 75 of the document book, third paragraph:-

  "Out of 75,000 Yugoslav Jews and about 5,000 Jewish
  emigrees from other countries who were in Yugoslavia at
  the time of the German attack - that is to say, out of a
  total number of about 80,000 Jews - only some 10,000
  persons survived the German occupation."

I beg the Tribunal to call a witness who will confirm these
data. He is Abram Gerzevitch Suzkever, a Jewish writer, who,
together with his family, became a victim of the German
fascist criminals who had temporarily occupied the territory
of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic. I beg the Tribunal to
allow me to question this witness.



Q. What is your name?

A. Suzkever.

Q. Are you a Soviet citizen?

A. Yes.

Q. Will you repeat after me?

I - and mention your name - citizen of the Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics, summoned as a witness in this trial, do
promise and swear, in the presence of the Court, to tell the
Court nothing but the truth about everything I know in
regard to this case.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down, if you wish.



Q. Please tell me, witness, where were you at the time of
the German occupation.

A. In the town of Vilna.

Q. You stayed in this town for a long time during German

A. I stayed there from the first to nearly the last day of
the occupation.

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Q. You witnessed the persecution of the Jews in that city?

A. Yes.

Q. I would like you to tell the Court about this.

A. When the Germans seized my city, Vilna, about 80,000 Jews
lived there. Immediately the so-called Sonderkommando was
set up at 12 Vilenskaia Street, under the command of
Schweineberg and Martin Weiss. The manhunters of the
Sonderkommando, or, as the Jews called them, "grabbers,"
broke into the Jewish houses at any time of day or night,
dragged away the men, instructing them to take a piece of
soap and a towel and herded them into certain buildings near
the village of Panarai, about eight kilometres from Vilna.
From there hardly one returned. When the Jews found out that
their kin were not coming back, a large part of the
population went into hiding. However, the Germans tracked
them with police dogs. Many were found and any who were
averse to going with them were shot on the spot.

I have to say that the Germans declared that they were
exterminating the Jewish race as though such action were

On 8th July an order was issued which stated that all Jews
should wear a special patch on their back; afterwards they
were ordered to wear it on their chest. This order was
signed by the Commandant of the town of Vilna, Zehnpfennig.
But two days later some other Commandant named Neumann
issued a new order that they should not wear these patches,
but must wear the "yellow star of David."

Q. And what did this yellow star of David mean?

A. It was a six-pointed patch worn on the chest and on the
back, in order to distinguish the Jews from the other
inhabitants of the town. On another day they were ordered to
wear a blue band with a white star. The Jews did not know
which insignia to wear as very few lived in the town. Those
who did not wear this sign were immediately arrested and
never seen again.

On 17th July, 1941, I witnessed a large pogrom in Vilna in
Novgorod Street. The instigators of this pogrom were
Schweineberg and Martin Weiss, Goering and Schonhaber, the
Chief of the Gestapo. They surrounded this district with
Sonderkommandos. They drove all the men  into the street,
told them to take off their belts and to put their hands on
their heads. When that order had been complied with all the
Jews were driven along towards the Lukshinoia prison. When
the Jews started to march off their trousers fell down and
they could not walk. Those who tried to hold up their
trousers with their hands were shot there and then. When we
walked in a column down the street, I saw with my own eyes
the bodies of about 100 or 150 persons who had been shot.
Blood streamed through the street as if a red rain had

In the first days of August, 1941, a German seized me in the
Dokumenskaia Street. I was then going to visit my mother.
The German said to me: "Come with me, you will act in the
circus". As I went along I saw that another German was
driving along an old Jew, the old Rabbi of this street,
Kassel, and a third German was holding a young boy. When we
reached the ancient synagogue I saw that wood was piled up
there in the shape of a pyramid. A German drew out his
revolver and told us to take off our clothes. When we were
naked, he lit a match and set fire to this stack of wood.
Then another German brought out of the synagogue three rolls
of the Torah, gave them to us, and told us to dance around
this bonfire and sing Russian songs. Behind us stood the
three Germans; with their bayonets they forced us toward the
fire and laughed. When we were almost unconscious, they

I must say that the mass extermination of the Jewish people
in Vilna began at the moment when District Commissar Hans
Hincks arrived, as well as the expert on Jewish questions,

On 31st of August, under the direction of Hincks -

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THE PRESIDENT: Which year?



A. Under the direction of Hincks and Muhrer, the Germans
surrounded the old Jewish quarter of Vilna, taking in
Rudnitskai and Jewish Street, Galonsky Alley, the Shabelsky
and Strashynsky streets, where some 8,000 to 10,000 Jews
were living.

I was ill at the time and asleep. Suddenly I felt the lash
of a whip on me. When I jumped up from my bed, I saw
Schweineberg standing in front of me. He had a big dog with
him. He was beating everybody and shouting that we must all
run out into the courtyard. When I was out in the courtyard
I saw there many women, children and aged persons, all the
Jews who lived there. Schweineberg and the Sonderkommando
surrounded all this crowd and said that they were taking us
to the ghetto. But, of course, like all their statements,
this was also a lie. We went through the town in columns and
were led toward Lutischeva prison. All knew that we were
going to our death. When we arrived at Lutischeva prison,
near the so-called Lutishkina market, I saw a whole double
line of German soldiers with white sticks, standing there to
receive us. While we had to pass between them they beat us
with these sticks. If a Jew fell down, the one next to him
was told to pick him up and carry him through the large
prison gates which stood open. Near the prison I took to my
heels. I swam across the river Vilia and hid in my mother's
house. My wife, who was put in prison and then managed to
escape later on, told me that there she saw the well-known
Jewish scientist Moloch Prilotzky who was almost dead, the
president of the Jewish Society of Vilna, Dr. Jacob
Wigotzky, and the young Jewish historian, Pinkus Kohn. The
famous artists Hash and Kadisch were lying dead. The Germans
flogged, robbed, then drove away all their victims to

On 6th September, at six o'clock in the morning, thousands
of Germans, led by District Commissar Hincks, Muhrer,
Schweineberg, Martin Weiss and others, surrounded the whole
town, broke into the Jewish houses and told the inhabitants
to take only what they could carry in their hands and get
out into the street. Then they were driven off to the
ghetto. When they were passing by Wilkomirowskaia Street,
where I was, I saw the Germans had brought sick Jews from
the hospitals. They were all in blue hospital garb. They
were all forced to stand, while a German newsreel operator,
who was driving in front of the column, filmed this scene.

I must say that not all the Jews were driven into the
ghetto. Hincks did this on purpose. He drove the inhabitants
of one street to the ghetto, and the inhabitants of another
street to Panarai. Previously, the Germans had set up two
ghettos in Vilna. In the first were 29,000 Jews, and in the
second some 15,000 Jews. About half the Jewish population of
Vilna never reached the ghetto; they were shot on the way. I
remember how, when we arrived at the ghetto -

COLONEL SMIRNOV: just a moment, witness.

Did I understand you correctly; that before the ghetto was
set up, half the Jewish population of Vilna was already

A. Yes, that is right. When I arrived at the ghetto I saw
the following scene. Martin Weiss came in with a young
Jewish girl. When we went in farther, he took out his
revolver and shot her on the spot. The girl's name was
Gitele Tarlo.

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