The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Fourth Day: Friday, 8th February, 1946
(Part 11 of 22)


The names have already been mentioned here of the camps of Maidanek and Auschwitz with their gas-chambers, in which over 5,500,000 completely innocent people, citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Great Britain, France, and other democratic countries, were killed. I must name the concentration camps of Smolensk, Stavropol, Kharkov, Kiev, Lwow, Poltava, Novgorod, Orel, Rovno, Dniepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kamenetz-Podolsk, Gomel, Kerch, of the Stalingrad region, of Kaunas, Riga, Mariampol (Lithuanian S.S.R.) of Kloga (Estonian S.S.R.) and many others, in which hundreds of thousands of Soviet nationals belonging to the civilian population, as well as soldiers and officers of the Red Army, were tortured to death by the Hitlerites.

The Germans also carried out mass shootings of Soviet citizens in the Lisenitz forest, which is on the outskirts of Lwow in the direction of Tarnopol. It was to this forest that the Germans daily drove, or brought in motor vehicles, large parties of Soviet prisoners of war from the camp "Citadel," internees from the Yanov camp and from the Lwow prison, as well as peaceful Soviet citizens who had been seized on the squares and streets of Lwow in the course of numerous round-ups.

Investigations made by the Extraordinary State Commission established the fact that the Germans shot over 200,000 people in the Lisenitz forest.

These mass murders, this arbitrary regime of terror, was fully approved by the defendant Rosenberg in his speech at the meeting of the German Labor Front in November, 1942:

"Apparently," declared Rosenberg, "if we are to subjugate all these peoples (i.e., peoples inhabiting the territory of the U.S.S.R.), then arbitrary rule and tyranny will be an extremely suitable form of government."

[Page 185]

Later, when the Red Army began to clear out the German Fascist hordes from the Soviet Union territory they had occupied, and when the organs of the Soviet authorities began to discover the abominable crimes perpetrated by the Fascist monsters and to find numerous graves of Soviet citizens, soldiers and officers tortured to death by the Fascists, the German Command took urgent measures to conceal and destroy all traces of their crimes. For this purpose, the German Command organised everywhere exhumations of corpses from their graves and their cremation. A special order of the Obersturmfuehrer, dated "Rovno, 3rd August, 1943 -- IV A.I. No. 35/43c," addressed to the Regional Leader of Gendarmerie in Kamen-Kashirsk, prescribed "immediately to supply information concerning location and number of graves (common) of persons to whom special repressive measures were applied in the district.

Among the documents discovered in the Gestapo building of the Rovno district has been found a report concerning the execution of the above-mentioned order, with the enumeration of about 200 localities, where such graves were registered. One can see from this list that the German Fascist henchmen primarily chose inaccessible and isolated spots for the interment of their victims.

At the end of the list we read, "the list includes all the graves, including those of the Commandos who worked here previously."

I will now quote an extract of the appeal to the public opinion of the world from the representatives of several thousand former internees at Auschwitz:

"The gassing of unbelievable numbers of people took place upon the arrival of `transports' from various countries, including: France, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, the U.S.S.R., Norway and others. The new arrivals had to pass before an S.S. doctor or else before the S.S. commandant of the camp. The latter pointed his finger to the right or left. The `left' meant death by gas. Out of a transport of 1,500, an average of 1,200 to 1,300 were immediately to be gassed. Now and then, the quota of people sent to this camp was a little higher. It often occurred that the S.S. doctors Mengele and Thilo performed this 'selection' while whistling a lively tune. The people destined to be gassed were obliged to strip in front of the gas chambers, after which they were whipped into the gas chambers. Then the door of the underground gas chamber was closed, and the people were gassed.... Death occurred approximately four minutes later. After eight minutes the gas chamber was opened, and workmen belonging to a 'special outfit,' the so-called 'Sonderkommando,' transported the bodies to the cremation ovens, which burned day and night.

"There was a shortage of ovens at the time of the arrival of transports from Hungary, consequently enormous ditches were dug for the purpose of burning the bodies. Fires made of wood soaked in petrol were laid in these ditches and the bodies were thrown into them. However, the S.S. men frequently hurled live children and adults into those ditches, where these hapless victims died a terrible death. To effect a saving in petrol, the fats and oils necessary for cremations were partly derived from the bodies of gassed peoples. Fats and oils for technical purposes and for the manufacture of soap were also obtained from the corpses."

The petition ends with the following words:
"Together with 10,000 rescued inmates of all nationalities, we demand that the crimes and the inconceivable atrocities of the Hitlerites should not remain unpunished."
This just demand is supported by the entire civilised world and by all freedom-loving people.

[Page 186]

The organised mass annihilation of prisoners of war constitutes one of the vilest crimes of the Hitlerite conspirators

Numerous facts of murders, tortures, and ill treatment to which prisoners of war were subjected have been definitely established. They were tortured with red-hot irons, their eyes were gouged out, their extremities severed, etc.

The systematic atrocities and short shrift justice against captured officers and men of the Red Army were not chance episodes or the results of criminal activities of individual officers of the German Army and of German officials.

The Hitlerite Government and the High Command of the German Army ruthlessly exterminated prisoners of war. Numerous documents, orders, and decrees of the Fascist Government and orders of the German Supreme Command testify to this fact.

As early as March, 1941 -- as the German Lieutenant-General Osterreich testified during his interrogation -- a secret conference took place at the headquarters of the High Command in Berlin, where measures were planned for the organisation of camps for Russian prisoners of war, and "rules" laid down for their treatment. According to Osterreich's evidence, these "rules" and "measures" for Soviet prisoners of war were essentially a plan for their extermination.

Many Soviet prisoners of war were shot or hanged, while others perished from hunger and infectious diseases, from cold and from torture systematically employed by the Germans according to a plan which was developed beforehand and had as its object the mass extermination of Soviet persons.

In Appendix 3 to Order No. 8 for the Chief of the Security Police and S.D., dated 17th July, 1941, a list is given of prisoner-of-war camps set up in the area of the 1st Military District and of the so-called Government General. In the 1st Military District camps were set up in particular in Prokuls, Heidegrug, Schierwind, Schutzenrode (Ebenrode) in Prostken, Suwalki, Fischbor-Tursen and Ostrolyenko. In the so-called Government General, camps were set up at Ostrov- Mesovetzky, Sedlitz, Byelopedlasko, Kholm, Jaroslav, etc. In the appendix to Operational Order No. 9, issued in development of Order No. 8 of 17th July, 1942, lists are given of the camps for Soviet prisoners of war situated in the territory of Military Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 13, at Hammerstein, Schneidemuehle and many other places.

(A recess was taken.)

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