The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Eighth Day: Wednesday, February 13, 1946
(Part 13 of 19)


Towards the end of summer 1941, the Sonderkommando of the Security Police in this camp exterminated Russian prisoners of war daily for a whole month. Paul Ludwig Gottlieb Waldmann testified (you will find the excerpt I am quoting on Page 82) that:

"The Russian prisoners of war had to walk about one kilometer from the station to the camp. In the camp they stayed one night without food. The next night they were led away for execution. The prisoners were constantly being transferred from the inner camp on three trucks, one

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of which was driven by me. The inner camp was approximately 1 3/4 kilometres from the execution grounds. The execution itself took place in the barracks which had recently been constructed for this purpose.

One room was reserved for undressing and another for waiting; in one of them a radio played rather loudly. It was done purposely so that the prisoners could not guess that death awaited them. From the second room they went, one by one, through a passage into a small fenced-in room with an iron grid let into the floor. Under the grid was a drain. As soon as a prisoner of war was killed, the corpse was carried out by two German prisoners while the blood was washed off the grid.

In this small room there was a slot in the wall, approximately 50 centimetres in length. The prisoner of war stood with the back of his head against the slot and a sniper shot at him from behind the slot. In practice this arrangement did not prove satisfactory, since the sniper often missed the prisoner. After 8 days a new arrangement was made. The prisoner, as before, was placed against the wall; an iron plate was then slowly lowered onto his head. The prisoner was under the impression that he was being measured for height. The iron plate contained a ramrod which shot out suddenly and poleaxed the prisoner with a blow on the back of the head. He dropped down dead. The iron plate was operated by a foot lever in a corner of the room. The personnel working in the room belonged to the above-mentioned Sonderkommando.

By request of the execution squad, I was also forced to work this apparatus. I shall refer to the subject later. The bodies of prisoners thus murdered were burned in four mobile crematoriums transported in trailers and attached to motor-cars. I had to ride constantly from the inner camp to the execution yard. I had to make 10 trips a night with 10 minutes' interval between trips. It was during these intervals that I witnessed the executions."

It is a long way from these individual murders to the death factories of Tremblinck, Dachau and Auschwitz, but the tendency, the line of action, are identical.

Methods and extent of the killings varied. The Nazis endeavored to discover ways and means for the rapid mass extermination of human beings. They spent much time on the solution of this problem. To realise their ambition they began to work on the solution even prior to their attack on the Soviet Union, by inventing different implements and instruments of murder, whilst peaceful inhabitants and prisoners of war alike ended up as victims of Hitler's executioners.

I present to the Tribunal the report of the Extraordinary Commission on the German Atrocities in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. This is Exhibit USSR 7. Here, as in other places, the mass extermination of Soviet prisoners of war formed part of the savage plan of the Fascist aggressors.

I shall quote a few sentences from Page 6 of this document. In your copy it is marked in red pencil, on Page 86 of the document book:

"In Kaunas, in Fort No. 6, there was a camp, No. 336, for Soviet prisoners of war. The prisoners in the camp were subjected to cruel torture and insult, in strict accordance with the inhuman 'directions to the supervisors and escorts attached to labour detachments.' The prisoners of war in Fort No. 6 were doomed to inanition and death from starvation.

The witness, Medishevskaja, informed the Commission: 'The prisoners of war were terribly starved; I saw them pluck grass and eat it."'

I omit a few sentences and read on:
"At the entrance to Camp No. 336, there still exists a board with the following inscription in German, Lithuanian and Russian: 'All those who

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maintain contact with prisoners of war, especially those who try to give them food, cigarettes, or civilian clothes, will be shot!'

There was in the camp at Fort No. 6 a 'hospital' for prisoners of war which in reality served as a point of transfer from the camp to the grave. The prisoners of war thrown into this 'hospital' were doomed to death.

According to monthly statistics of sickness among the prisoners of war in Fort No. 6, from September, 1941, to July, 1942, i.e., over a period of 11 months only, the number of dead Soviet prisoners amounted to 13,936."

I shall abstain from reading the list of graves opened: I shall merely quote the sentence indicating the sum total of the graves.
"All told, 35,000 prisoners of war were buried in these graves, according to the camp documents."
Besides Camp No. 336, in the same town of Kaunas, there existed another unnumbered camp on the South-western border of the airfield. It is stated, in connection with this camp, that:
"As in Fort No. 6, starvation, the lash and the truncheon reigned in this camp. Exhausted prisoners of war, no longer able to move, were carried out every day beyond the precincts of the camp, placed alive in previously prepared pits, and covered with earth."
The last three lines of the left column, on Page 6 of the Exhibit USSR 7 (Page 86 of your document book) state as follows:
"The records, documents, and testimonies of witnesses enabled the Commission to establish that here, within the precincts of the airfield, nearly 10,000 Soviet prisoners had been tortured to death and buried."
The report mentions one more camp, No. 133, near the town of Alitus, and a few more which had been established in July, 1941, and existed up to April, 1943. In these camps the prisoners froze to death. When unloaded from the railway coaches, such prisoners of war who were unable to walk were shot out of hand. The remaining prisoners were tortured until they lost consciousness, hanged by their feet on chains, brought back to consciousness by having cold water dashed over them, then the whole process would be repeated all over again.

Giving the sum total of prisoners murdered on the territory of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic, the Commission writes (the few lines which I am about to quote are likewise on the same page, 86, of the document book):

"It had been established that no less than 165,000 Soviet prisoners of war were executed by the Germans in the abovementioned camps of the Lithuanian S.S.R."
The extermination of Soviet prisoners of war was, quite literally, carried out in every camp. Thousands of Soviet soldiers likewise perished in the extermination camp of Majdanek. The second paragraph of Page 5 of the joint Polish and Soviet communique of the Extraordinary Commission, which is presented to you as Exhibit USSR 29 (corresponding to your Page 92 of the document book), states that:
"The entire bloodstained history of this camp begins with the mass shooting of Soviet prisoners of war, organised by the S.S. in November and December, 1941. Out of a group of 2,000 Soviet war prisoners, only 80 remained alive. All the rest were shot except a few who were racked and tortured to death."
Between January and April, 1942, more transports of Soviet prisoners of war were brought to the camp and shot. Nedzeliak Jan, hired to work in the camp as a truck driver, testified:
'About 5,000 Russian prisoners of war were exterminated by the Germans in the winter of 1942 by the following method: they were taken

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from their barracks in trucks and driven to the pits of a former stone quarry, and in these pits they were shot.'

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