The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What do you know about the treatment applied by the
Germans to Red Army soldiers who were captured by the
Hitlerite troops? What was the position of these prisoners
of war?

A. I know only too well every form of barbarous ill-
treatment applied to the Soviet prisoners of war by the
Hitlerite authorities and the Army, because I was a prisoner
of war myself, for a very long time. On the day I was
captured, I was sent in a large convoy of prisoners of war
to one of the transit camps. En route, talking to the
prisoners with whom I marched (I stress the fact that this
was on the very first day), I learned that the greater part
of the prisoners had been captured three or four days before
the small group to which I myself belonged. During these
three or four days the prisoners had been kept in a shed,
under a reinforced German guard, and had been given nothing
at all to eat or drink. Later, when we passed through the
villages, the prisoners, on seeing wells and water, passed
their tongues

                                                  [Page 319]

over their parched lips and made involuntary swallowing
movements. We finished the march toward night time, and the
column of prisoners, 5,000 strong, was billeted in a farm-
yard where we had no possibility of resting after the long
journey and were forced to spend the night in the open.

This continued on the following day, and on this day, too,
we were deprived of food and water.

Q. Was there no case when the prisoners, passing by water
tanks or wells, stepped two or three paces out of line and
tried to get at the water themselves?

A. Yes, I remember a few such cases and shall tell you in
details of one particular incident which occurred on the
first day of our march. It happened like this: We were
passing the outskirts of a little village. The peaceful
civilian population came to meet us, and tried to supply us
with water and bread. However, the Germans would not allow
us to approach the citizens, nor would they let them
approach us. One of the prisoners stepped five or six metres
out of the column and without any warning was killed by a
German soldier shooting with a tommy gun. Several of his
comrades rushed to help him thinking that he was still
alive, but they, too, were immediately fired at without
warning. Some of them were wounded and two of them were

Q. Was that the only incident you witnessed, or, during your
transfer from one place to another, did you observe other
cases of a similar nature?

A. No, this was not an isolated occurrence. Almost every
transfer from one camp to another was accompanied by the
same kind of shootings and murders.

Q. Did they shoot only the prisoners of war, or were
measures of repression used against the peaceful citizens as
well, toward the citizens who had tried to give bread and
water to the captives?

A. Measures of repression were used not only against the
prisoners of war, but against the peaceful citizens as well.
I remember once, during one of our transfers, a group of
women and children attempted to give us bread and water,
like the others, only the Germans would not allow them to
come anywhere near us. Then one woman sent a little girl,
about five years old, evidently her daughter, to the
prisoners' column. This little child came quite close to the
place where I had passed and when she was five or six steps
away from the column, she was killed by a German soldier.

Q. But perhaps the prisoners of war did not need the food
which the people tried to give them; perhaps they were
sufficiently well fed by the German authorities?

A. No! They suffered severely from hunger. The Germans
provided no food whatsoever en route from one camp to the

Q. These gifts from the local population were, therefore,
the only practical means to sustain the strength of the
soldiers in German captivity?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the Germans shoot them?

A . You understand me correctly.

Q. In which prisoner-of-war camps were you interned? Name
some of them.

A. The first camp in which I was interned was in the open,
in a field, in the district of the small hamlet of Tarnovka.

The second camp was situated on the site of a brick-field
and poultry farm on the outskirts of the town of Uman.

The third camp was situated in the suburbs of Ivan-Gora.

                                                  [Page 320]

The fourth camp was on ground belonging to the stables of
some military unit or other in the region of the town of

The fifth camp was in the region of the small garrison town
of Vinnitza.

The sixth camp was in the suburbs of the small town of
Dzemerinka and the last camp, where I stayed the longest
time, was seven kilometres from the town of Proskurov, in
the Kamenetz-Podolsk district.

Q. You yourself, then, from your own personal experience,
could realise what usually went on in these camps?

A. Yes, in all the camps I was personally and completely
acquainted with all the routine conditions.

Q. Are you a physician by profession?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell the Tribunal how matters stood as regards medical
attention and food for the prisoners of war in the camps you
have just enumerated.

A. When I was transported in convoy to the hamlet of
Tarnovka, I was, for the first time and in company with
other Russian doctors, separated from the rest of the
prisoners' column, and sent to the so-called Infirmary. This
infirmary was in a shed with a concrete floor, without any
equipment for the care of the wounded. On this concrete
floor lay a large number of wounded Soviet prisoners, mostly
officers. The majority had been captured 10 to 12 days
before my arrival at Tatnovka. During all that time they had
received no medical attention, although many of them were in
need of surgical aid, frequent dressings, and drugs. They
were systematically left without water; food too was given
without any system at all; at least, at the time of my
arrival in the camp there was no equipment to prove that
food had ever been prepared or cooked for these wounded

There were about 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners in Uman camp
where I found myself on the second day after my arrival in
Tarnovka. They were all lying in the open, dressed in their
summer uniforms, and a great many of them were incapable of
moving. Food and water were supplied to them in the same way
as to the other prisoners in the camp, There they lay,
without any medical attention, their dust-covered dressings
soaked in blood, often in pus. Dressings, surgical
instruments, equipment for an operating theatre just did not
exist in that camp.

In Heissen the prisoners of war, the sick and the wounded
were herded in one of the stables. This stable had wooden
floors, lacked every facility and was absolutely unfit for
human habitation. The prisoners of war were lying on the
earthen floor, and here, too, as in Uman camp, they did not
even have an iota of medical attention. As before,
dressings, drugs and surgical instruments were unobtainable.

Q. You mentioned the Uman camp. Look at this photograph and
tell me, is it a photograph of one of the camps where you
were interned?

A. I see on this photograph the camp which was situated in
the grounds of the brick-field at Uman. I know this camp
very well.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I must report to the Tribunal that the
photograph I have just shown the witness is a photograph of
Uman camp, and was submitted by me to the Tribunal as
Exhibit USSR 345. It shows the camp concerning which witness
Bingel has already testified.


Q. This means that you recognise Uman camp situated in the
grounds of the brick-field from this photograph?

A. Yes, in the grounds of the brick-field. It is a part of
the camp.

                                                  [Page 321]

Q. What was the regime prevailing in Uman camp? Tell us just
the main points, very briefly.

A. Almost all the captives in the camp were kept in the open
air. The food was extremely bad. In the grounds of the Uman
camp, where I spent eight days, twice a day a few fires
would be lit out of doors and a thin pea soup was cooked in
vats over them. There was no special routine for
distributing food to the prisoners of war, and so the boiled
soup would then be set down amongst the whole mass of them,
no control whatsoever being exercised over the distribution.
The starving prisoners rushed up in the hope of obtaining
even a minute portion of this thin, unsalted soup, cooked
without fat and served without bread. The result was
disorder and crowding, and the German guards, all armed with
clubs as well as with rifles and automatic guns, beat up
everyone within reach, in an attempt to maintain order. The
Germans would often intentionally set down a small barrel of
soup among a great number of people and then, to restore
order, would beat up the absolutely innocent people with
jeers, oaths, insults and threats.

Q. Please tell me witness; in the camp situated in the
village of Rakovo, was the quality of the food better or was
it approximately the same as in other camps; and how did the
food situation affect the health of the prisoners?

A. In the camp of Rakovo the food was exactly the same in
quality as that of the other camps, where I had been
interned. It consisted of beets, cabbage and potatoes
frequently served half-cooked. Owing to this poor quality of
food the prisoners developed severe gastric trouble
accompanied by dysentery which rapidly exhausted them, and
resulted in a very high rate of mortality from inanition.

Q. You talked about the guards often beating the prisoners
on the slightest provocation and time and again without any
provocation at all.

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of injuries did the prisoners get as a result
of these beatings? Were there any cases of severe injuries
caused by heavy beatings or was it only a matter of a few

A. In Rakovo camp I was in the so-called hospital, where I
worked in the surgical section. Frequently, after dinner or
supper in the hospital, prisoners were brought in with
grievous physical injuries. I frequently had to do all I
could to help people who were so terribly injured by these
beatings that they died without regaining consciousness. I
remember a case when two prisoners were beaten over the head
with some hard object till the brains oozed out from the
gaping head wound. I remember yet another incident, only too
well, when an athlete from Moscow had an eye knocked out
with a whip. The athlete then contracted meningitis and died
soon after.

Q. How high was the mortality rate among the prisoners of
war in Rakovo camp?

A. The history of Rakovo camp can be divided into two
periods. There was the first which lasted about two years
and ended in November, 1941. At that time the number of
prisoners was not very great and consequently the rate of
mortality was not so high. Then there was the second period,
from November, 1941, to March, 1942, at which time I was in
Ravoko myself. During this second period the mortality rate
was exceptionally high: there were days when 700, 800 and
even 950 persons died in the camp.

Q. What disciplinary measures were there in Rakovo, camp and
for what reasons were the prisoners punished? Do you know?

A. Yes. I know that there was, in the camp grounds, a cell
for prisoners condemned to solitary confinement. Prisoners
of war guilty of attempting to escape from the terrible
conditions created for them in captivity, or of stealing
food from the kitchen, were locked up in this cell. It was
in the cellar, it had a cement floor, and windows with iron
bars instead of panes. The prisoner was stripped to the
skin, deprived of food and water and locked up in solitary

                                                  [Page 322]

confinement for 14 days. I do not know of a single case
where a prisoner survived this confinement; all of them died
in that particular cell.

Q. Evidently the conditions which you have described to the
Tribunal increased the number of persons suffering from

A. Yes.

Q. Did this condition result in there being fewer prisoners
able to work ? What was done to those prisoners who could
not work?

A. An immense number of prisoners were kept, in Rakovo camp,
in stables which were quite unfit for human beings to live
in during the winter period. At first everybody was made to
work. I can safely say that most of this work was entirely
aimless, since it consisted in pulling down houses and then
paving the camp grounds with bricks from the demolished
buildings. After some time, when severe gastric troubles had
set in, troubles which I have already mentioned, fewer and
fewer prisoners came out to work. Many of them, who had lost
all control of their movements, never even left the stables
for the appointed meal times, and if a great many people
were discovered to have lost their strength, a so-called
quarantine was established. In such a stable all the exits
and entries would be blocked and the patients would be
completely isolated from the outer world. Having kept them
locked up for four or five days on end, the stable would be
opened and the dead brought out in their hundreds.

Q. Can you tell us, witness, on what medical or sanitary
work you and the other doctors were employed in the camp by
the Germans?

A. In the camps we were not employed by the Germans on any
work connected with the prisoners. All the Germans were
interested in was the separation of people who could work
from those who could not. We could not render the prisoners
any purely medical services because of our own conditions.

Q. Did your duties in any of these camps include sanitary
supervision and what exactly was understood by that

A. The duties of sanitary supervision were entrusted to us
in the camp of the town of Gaisli. It only meant that we,
the captured army doctors, had to be on duty in the vicinity
of the camp latrine, which was nothing more than a ditch dug
for this purpose, and as and when the ditch was filled up
with excrement, we were forced to clean up the ground.

Q. The doctors?

A. Yes, the doctors.

Q. Did you really consider this function as a form of
sanitary supervision, or did you consider it as blatant
mockery by the Germans at the expense of the captured Soviet
army doctors?

A. I consider that it was blatant mockery at the expense of
the captured Soviet doctors.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Mr. President, I have no more questions
to ask this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Have any of the other prosecutors got any
questions to ask?


THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel wish to ask
any questions?


Q. Witness, you have stated that in August, 1941 -

THE PRESIDENT: Will you kindly announce your name and for
whom you appear.


Dr. Laternser, defence counsel for the General Staff and the
High Command.



Q. Witness, you have just stated that in August, 1941, you
were brought as a prisoner to the district of Uman. Do you
know whether the Germans had taken many prisoners at that

                                                  [Page 323]

A. Yes, I do know. About 100,000 prisoners were captured at
that time.

Q. Do you know whether German troops had advanced very
rapidly into Russian territory by that time?

A. I cannot say anything about that. The German armies moved
very rapidly, but before our units were surrounded we fought
obstinately and we retreated, fighting, right up to the 9th
of August.

Q. How great was the number of prisoners in the column in
which you marched?

A. 4,000 to 5,000.

Q. When did you first get any food from the German troops?

A. I personally, for the first time, received food from the
German troops when I reached the town of Uman.

Q. How much time had passed between the moment you were
captured and your first meal?

A. When I was first fed I had been a prisoner of war for
about four or five days.

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