The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                                                  [Page 128]


MONDAY, 4th MARCH, 1946

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Sir. A few days ago the Tribunal issued
instructions concerning the expedience of reading into the
record the official British report on the responsibility for
the slaying of fifty officers of the Royal Air Force
coincidentally, as far as possible, with the proposed
interrogatory of General Westhoff and the senior criminal
counsel Wisling. May I read into the record some of the more
essential passages from this report of the British
Government. I shall read into the record those parts of the
document which, on the one hand, testify to the general
character of this criminal act and, on the other hand,
establish the responsibility for the crime.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, you are offering the
document, are you, as evidence? You are seeking to put the
document in evidence?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: This document has already been presented in
evidence and has already been accepted by the Tribunal. I
only wished to read into the record certain extracts from
this document. It has been submitted as Exhibit USSR 413.


COLONEL SMIRNOV: I am quoting Paragraph 1 of the official
British report.

  "1. On the night of 24/25th March, 1944, 76 R.A.F.
  Officers escaped from Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan in Silesia
  where they had been confined as prisoners of war. Of
  these, 15 were recaptured and returned to the camp, 3
  escaped altogether, 8 were detained by the Gestapo after
  recapture. Of the fate of the remaining 50 officers the
  following information was given by the German
     (a) On 6th April, 1944, at Sagan the acting Commandant
     of Stalag Luft 3 (Oberstleutnant Cordes) read to the
     Senior British Officer (Group-Captain Massey) an
     official communication of the German High Command that
     41 officers (unnamed) had been shot 'some of them
     having offered resistance on being arrested, others
     having tried to escape on the transport back to their
     (b)On 15th April, 1944, at Sagan, a member of the
     German camp staff (Hauptmann Pieber) produced to the
     new Senior British Officer (Group-Captain Wilson) a
     list of 47 names of the officers who had been shot.
     (c)On the 18th May, 1944, at Sagan, the Senior British
     Officer was given three additional names, making a
     total of 50.
     (d) On or about the 12th June, 1944, the Swiss Minister
     in Berlin received from the German Foreign Office, in
     reply to his inquiry into the affair, a note to the
     effect that 37 prisoners of British nationality and 13
     prisoners of non-British nationality were shot when
     offering resistance when found or attempting to re-
     escape after capture. This note also referred to the
     return of urns containing the ashes of the dead to
     Sagan for burial."

The official German version, the official version of the
German authorities, indicated that these officers were shot
allegedly while attempting to escape. As a matter of fact,
as definitely proved by the documentation of the

                                                  [Page 129]

carried out by the British Authorities, the officers were
murdered, and murdered by members of the Gestapo on direct
orders from Keitel and with the full knowledge of Goering.

I shall, with your permission, read into the record in
confirmation of this fact two paragraphs, or rather - two
points - from the official British report, i.e., Point 7 and
Point 8.

  "7. General-Major Westhoff at the time of the escape was
  in charge of the 'General' Department relating to
  Prisoners of War, and on 15th June, 1945, he made a
  statement in the course of which he said that he and
  General von Graevnitz, the Inspector of the German P.O.W.
  Organization, were summoned to Berlin a few days after
  the escape and there interviewed by Keitel. The latter
  told them that he had been blamed by Goering in the
  presence of Himmler for having let the prisoners of war
  escape. Keitel said, 'Gentlemen, these escapes must stop.
  We must set an example. We shall take very severe
  measures. I can only tell you that the men who have
  escaped will be shot; probably the majority of them are
  dead already.' When von Graevnitz objected, Keitel said,
  'I do riot care a damn; we discussed it in the Fuehrer's
  presence and it cannot be altered'."

Point 8: I begin the quotation of the official British

  "Max Ernst Gustav Friedrich Wielen was then the officer
  in charge of the Criminal Police (Kripo) at Breslau, and
  he also made a statement dated 26th August, 1945, in the
  course of which he said that as soon as practically all
  the escaped R.A.F. officers had been recaptured he was
  summoned to Berlin where he saw Arthur Nebe, the Chief of
  the Kripo Head Office, who showed him a teleprint order
  signed by Kaltenbrunner which was to the effect that on
  the express order of the Fuehrer over half of the
  officers who had escaped from Sagan were to be shot after
  their recapture. It was stated that Muller had received
  corresponding orders and would give instructions to the
  Gestapo. According to Wielen the Kripo, who were
  responsible for collecting and holding all the recaptured
  prisoners, handed over to the Gestapo the prisoners who
  were to be shot, having previously provided the Gestapo
  with a list of the prisoners regarded by the Camp
  authorities as 'troublesome'."

I would also ask the Tribunal's permission to read into the
record that part of the text of the official report of the
British Government which deals with the methods of
investigation in regard to individual officers. This
documentation has been systematized and divided into three
parts. I take the liberty of reading into the record the
data of the findings referring to the three separate parts.
I quote Page 3 of the Russian text, beginning from Paragraph

  "F/Lts. Wernham, Kiewnarski, Pawluk and Skanizklas.
  On or about 26th March, 1944 . . ."

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, are you going to read now
some of the evidence upon which the report is based?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I should like to read out
only from the text proper and particularly those parts of
the report which testify to the methods of investigation
applied in the case of individual officers. I should like to
begin reading from the paragraph dealing with the three
groups of officers.

THE PRESIDENT: Paragraph 4?



COLONEL SMIRNOV: "On or about the 26th of March, 1944, these
officers were interrogated at the Police Station in
Hirschberg and were then moved to the civil gaol in that
town. On the morning of the 29th March, Pawluk and
Kiewnarski were taken away, and later in the day Skanizklas
and Wernham. left.

                                                  [Page 130]

Both parties were escorted but their destination was
unknown. They have not been seen since and the urns later
received at the Stalag showing their names bear the date
30th March, 1944."

And now the next group of British officers.

  "Squadron-Leader Cross, Flight-Lieutenants Casey, Wiley
  and Leigh and Flight-Officers Pohe and Hake.
  Between 26th and 30th March, 1944, these officers were
  interrogated at the Kripo H.Q. in Goerlitz and then
  returned to the gaol there. During the interrogation
  Casey was told that 'he would lose his head,' Wiley that
  'he would be shot' and Leigh that 'he would be shot'.
  Hake was suffering from badly frost-bitten feet and was
  incapable of travelling for any distance on foot. On 30th
  March the officers left Goerlitz in three motor cars
  accompanied by ten German civilians of the Gestapo type.
  The urns later received at the Stalag bear their names
  and show them to have been cremated at Goerlitz on 31st
  March, 1944.
  Flight-Lieutenants Humpreys, McGill, Swain, Hall,
  Langford and Evans, Flight-Officers Valenta, Kolanowski,
  Stewart and Birkland.
  " These officers were interrogated at the Kripo H.Q. in
  Goerlitz between 26th and 30th March. Swain was told that
  'he would be shot,' Valenta was threatened and told that
  'he would never escape again'. Kolanowski was very
  depressed after his interview. On 31st March these
  officers were collected by a party of German civilians,
  at least one of whom was in the party which had come on
  the previous day. The urns later received at the Stalag
  bore their names and show them to have been cremated at
  Liegnitz on a date unspecified."

I wish to draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact
that similar data also relate to different groups of British
officers slain by the Germans in Stalag Luft 3.

The following page of the text includes identical data
relating to Flight-Lieutenants Grisman, Gunn, Williams and
Milford, Flight-Officer Street and Lieutenant McGarr.
Similar information is given concerning Flight-Lieutenant
Long, Squadron-Leader J. E. Williams, Flight-Lieutenants
Bull and Mondschein, and Flight-Officer Kierath. The same
information is given with reference to Flight-Officer
Stower, Flight-Lieutenant Tobolski, Flight-Officer Krol,
Flight-Lieutenants Wallen, Marcinkus and Brettell, Flight-
Officer Picard, and Lieutenants Gouws and Stevens, Squadron-
Leader Bushell and Lieutenant Scheidhauer, Flight-Officer
Cochran, Lieutenants Espelid and Fugelsang, Squadron-Leader
Kirby-Green and Flight-Officer Kidder, Squadron-Leader
Catanach and Flight-Officer Christensen, and Flight-
Lieutenant Hayter.

I shall, with your permission, read into the record one more
paragraph from this official report. I refer to Paragraph 6
of the official British report and also to Paragraph 5,
because it is of essential importance.

THE PRESIDENT: I was going to suggest you should read
Paragraph 5.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I am going to read Paragraph 5 of the
English text.

  "According to the evidence of the survivors there was no
  question of any officers having resisted arrest or of the
  recaptured officers having attempted a second escape. All
  were agreed that the weather conditions were against them
  and that such an attempt would be madness. They were
  anxious to be returned to the Stalag, take their
  punishment and try their luck at escaping another time.
  6. The Swiss representative (M. Gabriel Naville) pointed
  out on 9th June, 1944, in his report on his visit to
  Sagan that the cremation of deceased prisoners of war was
  most unusual (the normal custom being to bury them in a
  coffin with military honours) and that was the first case
  known to him where the bodies of deceased prisoners had
  been cremated. Further it may be noted that if, as the
  Germans alleged, these fifty officers who were
                                                  [Page 131]
  recaptured in widely scattered parts of Germany had
  resisted arrest or attempted a second escape, it is
  probable that some would have been wounded and most
  improbable that all would have been killed. In this
  connection it is significant that the German Foreign
  Office refused to give to the Protecting Power the
  customary details of the circumstances in which each
  officer lost his life."

Those are the parts of the official report of the British
Government which I had the honour to communicate to the

THE PRESIDENT: I think it would perhaps be better if you
also read the Appendix so as to show the summary of the
evidence upon which the report proceeded, Paragraph 9.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I refrained from reading the Appendix
because it had already been read by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe.
I shall read it once more with pleasure.

  "9. The Appendix attached hereto gives a list of the
  material upon which this Report is based. The documents
  referred to are annexed to this Report.
  (1) Material upon which the foregoing Report is based:-
  Proceedings of Court of Inquiry held at Sagan by order of
  the Senior British Officer in Stalag Luft 3 and forwarded
  by the Protecting Power.
  (2) Statements of the following Allied witnesses:-
     (a) Wing-Commander Day.
     (b) Flight-Lieutenant Tonder.
     (c) Flight-Lieutenant Dowse.
     (d) Flight-Lieutenant van Wymeersch.
     (e) Flight-Lieutenant Green.
     (f) Flight-Lieutenant Marshall.
     (g) Flight-Lieutenant Nelson.
     (h) Flight-Lieutenant Churchill.
     (i) Lieutenant Neely.
     (k) P.S.M. Hicks.
  (3) Statements taken from the following Germans
     (a) Major-General Westhoff.
     (b) Oberregierungs- und Kriminalrat Wielen (two
     (c) Oberst von Lindeiner.
  (4) Photostat copy of the official list of dead
  transmitted by the German Foreign Office to the Swiss
  Legation in Berlin on or about 15th June, 1944.
  (5) Report of the Representative of the Protecting Power
  on his visit to Stalag Luft 3 on 5th June, 1944."
THE PRESIDENT: Then, for the purposes of the record, you had
better read in the signature and the department at the

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The document is signed by H. Chapcott,
Brigadier, Military Deputy, and is certified by the Military
Department, Judge Advocate General's Office, London, 25th
September, 1945.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, so far as the Russian Chief
Prosecutor is concerned, does that conclude the case for the



DR. NELTE (counsel for the defendant Keitel): Mr. President,
Paragraph 9 of the report which has just been read by the
prosecution mentions the documents

                                                  [Page 132]

which served as a basis and says that they are attached to
the report. The individual documents on which the report is
based are listed in the Appendix. I ask the Tribunal to
decide whether Exhibit USSR 413 satisfies the requirements
of Article 21 of the Charter, since the material on which it
was based, and which is expressly mentioned in the report,
has not been produced along with it. I request that the
prosecution be asked to make the Appendix available to the
defence as well.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Nelte, do you mean that you have only had
the report made by the Brigadier and you have not seen any
part of the other evidence upon which the report proceeds?

DR. NELTE: Mr. President, the Tribunal decided during an
earlier phase of this trial...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing) : Yes, but I did not ask you
what we had decided. I asked what you had received. Have you
received from the prosecution the whole of this document or
only the report made by the Brigadier?

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