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Subject: Holocaust Almanac: The Pankov Interrogations 
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Archive/File: holocaust/poland/reinhard/sobibor pankov.001
Last-Modified: 1994/08/11
Source: United States Department of Justice

Copy:

                   Minutes of the Interrogation

                City of Stalino	  October 18,1950

I, the deputy director of the Department of Investigations of the
State Ministry of Defense, in the District of Stalino, Senior Capt.
Klaimanov, interrogated the accused:

Pankov, Vassily Nikolaievitch, year of birth 1915, born in the city of
Krematorsk, District of Stalino, Russian, citizen of the USSR, of
working class origin, employee of the Planning Department of the
Ordzonikiza Machinery Works, is not a party member, married, education
of 5 years' schooling, served in the Soviet army from November 1936 to
October 1938, from July 1939 to August 1940, and from June 23 to July
29, 1941. Has no state decorations. Lives in the city of Krematorsk,
township of Prokatchkov, 3 Molotov Street.

Arrested on October 6, 1950, by the State Ministry of Defense,
District of Stalino.
The interrogation began at 10:00 hours.
Was interrupted from 17:00 - 21:30 hours.
The interrogation ended at 1:50 hours.

Question: In what branches of the Soviet army did you serve in 1941?

Answer: I worked in the technical control department of the Stalin
Machinery Works in Krematorsk. On June 23, 1941, I was conscripted for
service in the Soviet army at the municipal call-up office of
Krematorsk and I was sent to the intelligence battalion No. 305 in the
Arctive Soviet Army No. 27, where I served as an intelligence soldier
until July 23, 1941, i.e. until being captured by the enemy.

Question: Under what circumstances were you captured in 1941 by the
German forces?

Answer: I was captured by the German forces in the following
circumstances:

In the context of Intelligence Battalion No. 305, I had advanced in a
truck in the direction of the front and, when I came close to the city
of Bogoslav in the District of Kiev, our unit was surrounded by the
enemy. All the platoons of the battalion tried to escape from the
noose but at the edge of the forest, mortar fire was aimed at us and,
when German tanks appeared, our platoon fled in various directions. I
was among three soldiers who hid in the grain and German soldiers
found us there, and shouted and signalled to us to fall into
captivity. I, as the other soldiers of the platoon, gave myself up
into German captivity, because I then had no weapon; that is how I was
captured by the enemy.

Question: At which prisoner-of-war camps were you held when you were
in captivity?

Answer: After I was captured the Germans moved me, amongst many other
captives, to the prisoner-of-war camp in the city of Belaya Tserkov,
where I stayed 3-5 days and afterwards we were removed by train to the
prisoner-of-war camp in the city of Chelm, Lublin command (Poland).

At the prisoner-of-war camp in the city of Chelm, I stayed until
October 1941, as the other captives, I was not taken for labor. In
October 1941, I was taken from this camp in a group of 100 captives
for labor in the city of Lublin, to a German company that manufactured
furniture, beds, and undertook partial renovations of the German
military vehicles. At the said company, I worked as an assistant
metal-worker until October 1942 and subsequently I was conscripoted in
a group of 40 captives for service in the S.S. force of the Security
Police at the Trawniki concentration camp, Lublin command.

Question: In what circumstances were you conscripted for service in
the S.S. force of the Security Police?

Answer: In October 1942, a German officer of the S.S. forces and an
interpreter from the German language (I do not know his surname or
forename) arrived in Lublin, where the laborers of the said company
lived, and placed all the captives on parade and selected, as they saw
fit, 40 captives, myself among them. The German interpreter advised
the group of captives who had been seleected that we had been chosen
for service in the Security Police and that we would be taken to the
Trawniki training camp, where we would receive military training. At
this notification of the German interpreter, not one of those chosen,
myself included, objected and we thereby expressed our consent. Thus
was I conscripted to the service of the S.S. force of the Security
Police as a policeman - Wachman of the S.S.

When the 40 people who had been selected, myself among them, were
brought to the S.S. force of the Trawniki concentration camp, we were
given sanitary treatment and located in one of the huts in the area of
the camp, where we were in isolation for about a week.

The day after we arrived, each of us was called to the office of the
camp HQ, where an HQ worker filled in forms - special questionnaires
and asked us about social, demographic details and we were also
photographed. After the questionnaire form had been completed, I, as
the others, signed the form with my surname and, on the same form, a
thumb print from my right hand was taken. Together with this, each one
gave a written undertaking to serve the German command loyally. After
the registration, each of us was accorded the title of Wachman of the
S.S.

We were all given uniforms of German soldiers and each of us was given
a weapon - a rifle of a German model, and afterwards we began military
training.

Question: What were you taught in the S.S. force and for what purpose?

Answer: The Trebnicki concentration camp, Lublin command (Poland) was a
school of the Security Police where Wachmans of the S.S. were trained
for armed guard duty over imprisoned civilians who were held at the
death camps and who were brought by the Germans from various conquered
countries for extermination in special gas chambers through
suffocation gas.

Being a Wachman of the S.S., in the Security Police force at the
Trebnicki concentration camp, I studied from October 1942 until January
1, 1943, at the school for Wachmans of the S.S. the following
subjects:

1. Military order exercises.
2. Use of weapons - a rifle.
3. Rules for guarding detainees at the concentration camps.

We were not taught other subjects.

At the same time as studying, I guarded per rota the Trebnicki camp
itself.

There were no civilian detainees at the time I was at the Trebnicki
camp.

At the end of the studies at the school for Wachmas of the S.S. we
were sent in groups for continued service in the S.S. forces of
various death camps.

Question: In what forces of the concentration camps did you serve at
the end of the school for Wachmans of the S.S. Security Police?

Answer: Through the school for Wachmans, I served in the S.S. forces
of the Security Police at the following concentration camps:

From January 1 to March 27, 1943, I was an S.S. Wachman of the
security policy [sic] at the Sobibor death camp, that was located at a
distance of 10 kms. from the city of Volodowa, Lublin command
(Poland).

From March 29 to September 1943, I served as an S.S. Wachman of the
Security Police at the Auswintchin-Auschwitz concentration camp, about
50 kms. from the city of Krakow (Poland).

From September 1943, I continued to serve as an S.S. Wachman in the
Security Police at the Buchenwald concentration camp - some 7-8 kms.
from the city of Weimar in Germany (District of Torintia), where I
served until April 1945, i.e. until the surrender of the German
forces.

Question: What were the Sobibor, Auswintchin-Auschwitz and Buchenwald
concentration camps were [sic] you served as an S.S. Wachman?

Answer: When I was an S.S. Wachman, as I have testified above, I
served in the S.S. forces of the SEcurity Police at the Sobibor,
Auswintchin-Auschwitz concentration camps in the area of Poland and at
Buchenwald in Germany.

These camps were death camps, in which S.S. forces, myself included,
under the command of officers of the S.S. forces, perpetrated physical
extermination of civilians who were imprisoned for anti-German
activity, that had been brought by the Germans from various conquered
countries.

Question: What did you in fact do as a Wachman of the S.S. of the
death camps of Sobibor, Auswintchin-Auschwitz and Buchenwald?

Answer: My practical activity at the death camps was expressed in the
following ways:

From January 1 to March 27, 1943, being an S.S. Wachman of the
Security Police at the Sobibor death camp, I dealt regularly as an
S.S. Wachman in armed guarding of detained civilians, who were
subsequently exterminated through suffocation gas in the special gas
chambers.

In the S.S. force, there were 40 Wachmans of the S.S. and about 12-15
Germans. The camp commandant was one of them - an officer
Obersturmfuhrer of the S.S. (I do not know his surname or his
forename). A rail line led to the Sobibor camp, by which entered
trains with detainees. Under the command of the Oberstrumfuhrer, I and
other Wachmans surrounded the trains and we would force the detainees
to disembark rapidly, subsequently, under armed guard, we sent the
detainees to a building that was called "dressing room". The men were
referred to one building while the women and the children were sent to
another. There it was suggested to them that they strip naked on the
pretext of washing in the "bath-house" and afterwards we would tell
them that they would be sent for labor. At the same time, we told the
detainees to hand in the valuables - gold, silver, for safekeeping. In
the women's division, the hair of their heads was cut off. These
circumstances gave the detainees a possibility of guessing that they
were about to be exterminated; terrible cries would break out.

When the detainees were naken, I and other Wachmans, under the command
of our German officers, led the people to the "bath-house" - the gas
chambers. As I and the other Wachmans were leading the people to the
gas chambers, the German command at that time would stand behind a
barbed wire fence, fearing an attempt on their lives on the part of
those sentenced to death.

At the camp there were 6 not-large gas chambers, sized about 3 x 4
meters, and 50-70 and even up to 100 detainees were put into each
chamber and then the doors would be hermetially closed and a diesel
motor operated, from which the exhaust fumes would be piped into each
chamber. For an hour or more, the detainees were killed by the gas in
the gas chambers. Subsequently, special groups, selected from among
the detainees, termed "work details" cleared the gas chambers in
special carts, according to the orders of the S.S. Wachman, myself
among them.

During my service at this camp, I, with some other Wachmans, was
suspected by the Germans of an attempt to escape from the S.S. force,
and for 3 months I was in detention. At the end of March 1943, I was
sent for continued service in the S.S. Security Police force at the
Buchenwald death camp, I guarded, weapon in hand, the detainees who
were held at the camp, I accompanied detainees under guard to work in
the forest.

I also went out for guarding missions over detainees who were used by
the Germans for earth works for construction of a tunnel.

In April 1945, with the approach of the front, I accompanied, in the
context of the S.S. force, detainees from the front line to the read,
but when the American forces approached, I, as other Wachmans, fled
from the force and escaped. I threw the rifle away, changed the
uniform for civilian clothes. When the American forces entered, I, as
a captive, was transferred by the Americans to the area of the Soviet
conquest of the area of Germany. Being at a camp for Soviet citizens,
I was placed in the work battalion as part of which I arrived in the
USSR.

I arrived at Donbass in the District of Swedlowsk, where I worked
until the date of arrest.

The minutes have been correctly recorded according to what I have
said, have been read by me, and there I am signing.

The interrogation was conducted by: Deputy director of the
Investigations Department of the State Ministry of Defense, Stalino
District, Senior Captain Klaimanov - signature, Seal.

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