The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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


It is difficult to say whether or not that what the Hitlerites did to the Soviet prisoners of war at the so- called "Grosslazarett" of the town of Slavuta, in the Kamenetsk-Podolsk region, should be considered as the limit of human vileness. Be that as it may, the extermination of Soviet prisoners of war by the Hitlerites at the "Grosslazarett" is one of the darkest pages in the annals of Fascist crime.

I submit to the Tribunal, as Exhibit USSR 5, the report of the Extraordinary State Commission, and I shall read into the record several excerpts from the report itself, as well as from the appendices thereto.

On the expulsion of the Fascist hordes from the town of Slavuta, units of the Red Army discovered, on the site of the restricted military area, the establishment which the Germans called the "Grosslazarett" for Soviet prisoners of war. Over 500 emaciated, critically sick men were found in the "Lazarett." The interrogation of these men and the special investigation carried out by medico-forensic experts and by experts of the Central Institute for Food, of the People's Commissariat for Health in the U.S.S.R., led to a detailed reconstruction of the extermination of an immense number of Soviet prisoners of war in that appalling institution.

You will find the passage I am about to quote on Page 153 of the document book:

"In the autumn of 1941, German Fascist invaders occupied the town of Slavuta, where they organised a "Lazarett" for wounded and sick officers and men of the Red Army, under the name of 'Grosslazarett, Slavutu,'"
The "Lazarett" was located about 1 1/2 to 2 kilometres to the South-east of Slavuta and occupied 10 three-storied stone buildings. The Hitlerites surrounded all these buildings by a strong barbed-wire fence. All along the

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barbed wire 10 metres apart, towers were built, in which guns, searchlights and guards were placed.

The administrative staff, the German doctors and the guard of the "Grosslazarett," the latter represented by the Commanding Officer, Captain Plank (later replaced by Major Pavlisk), the Deputy Commander, Captain Kronsdorfer, Captain Noe, Staff-Surgeon Borbe, with his deputy, Dr. Sturm, Master- Sergeant Ilseman and Technical-Sergeant Bekker, carried out a mass extermination of Soviet prisoners of war by imposing a special regime of hunger, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, by torture and direct murder, by depriving the sick and wounded of all medical assistance, and by subjecting utterly exhausted men to heavy labour.

The Extraordinary State Commission refers to the "Grosslazarett" as the "Hospital of Death." I shall quote a short excerpt from a section under the same name. It is on Page 3 of the Russian original and on Page 153 of the document book:

The German authorities, at the "Grosslazarett," concentrated 15,000 to 18,000 severely and slightly wounded Soviet prisoners of war together with prisoners suffering from various contagious and noncontagious diseases.

To replace the ranks of the dead, fresh batches of sick and wounded prisoners of war were continually brought in. On the journey the captives were tortured, starved and murdered. The Hitlerites threw out hundreds of corpses from each car of the incoming transports as they reached the "Lazarett."

According to data received from the Investigating Commission, 800 to 900 dead bodies would be thrown out of each train as it unloaded at a branch line. A further report of the Commission states:

"Thousands of Soviet prisoners on the march perished from hunger, thirst, lack of care and the savage club- law of the German guards... as a routine practice the Hitlerites would greet a group of prisoners at the "Lazarett" gates with blows from rifle butts and rubber truncheons, after which the new arrivals would be stripped of their leather footwear, warm clothing and personal belongings."
In the next section, on the same page, the State Commission reports that infectious diseases were deliberately spread among the prisoners of war by German medical officers in the "Lazarett,"
"In the 'Grosslazarett' the German medical officers artificially created an incredible state of overcrowding. The prisoners were forced to stand close to each other; they succumbed to exhaustion, dropped down, and died."
The Fascists resorted to various methods for reducing the living space in the "Lazarett". A former prisoner of war, I.Y. Chuazhev, reported that:
"The Germans, by firing off sub-machine guns, reduced the floor space in the 'Lazarett', since the prisoners, perforce, pressed more closely to each other; then the Hitlerites pushed in more sick and wounded and the door was closed."
The premeditated spreading of infectious diseases in this death camp, derisively named a "Lazarett," was achieved by extremely primitive means:
"Patients suffering typhus, tuberculosis, or dysentery, severely and lightly wounded cases, were one and all put in the same block and the same ward."
In a ward intended, under normal conditions, to hold not more than 400 patients, the number of typhus and tuberculosis cases alone amounted to 1800.
"The rooms were never cleaned. The sick remained, for months on end, in the same underlinen in which they were captured. They slept on the bare

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boards. Many were half-dressed, others entirely naked. The buildings were unheated and the primitive stoves, constructed by the prisoners themselves, fell to pieces. There was no water for washing, not even for drinking. As a result of these unsanitary conditions, the "hospital" was, to a monstrous extent, overrun by lice."
Annihilation by the premeditated spreading of diseases went hand in hand with starvation. The daily food ration consisted of 250 grams of "Ersatz" bread and two litres of so-called "Balanda." The flour used for baking the bread for sick and wounded prisoners of war was brought from Germany. Fifteen tons of flour were discovered in one of the "Lazarett" storerooms. The factory-packed paper bags containing 40 kilos each, bore a label with the word "Spelmehl." Samples of this "Ersatz" flour were sent for analysis to the Central Food Institute of the People's Commissariat for Public Health of the U.S.S.R.

I present the document dealing with the annihilation of Soviet prisoners of war by the Hitlerites in the "Grosslazarett" as Exhibit USSR 5(a). On Pages 9, 10 and 11 of this document the Tribunal can see the photostat of the Central Food Institute's report.

This report was established on the one hand, on the basis of an analysis made by the Field Military Labouratory and, on the other hand, on the basis of an analysis carried out in the Central Food Institute itself. Sample bakings of bread were made from the "Ersatz" flour and from the "Ersatz" flour mixed with a small addition of real flour. It seems that it was impossible to bake a loaf with "Ersatz" flour alone. The Institute's report states:

"It is evident that the bread was made with the addition of a certain quantity of natural flour for binding the dough. A diet of this so-called 'bread,' in the absence of all other food and food products of a full dietetic value, inevitably led to starvation and acute inanition."
The analysis proved that the "flour" consisted of nothing but straws chopped evenly though rather roughly. Some particles were 2 and some 3 millimetres in length. Under the microscope, in every optical field of vision (according to the report) we discovered:
"Together with food and vegetable fiber, minute quantities of grains of starch, resembling grains of oats."
The Institute came to the conclusion that:
"The use of this bread, owing to the irritant action of the soft crumb, resulted in diseases of the digestive tract."
Anticipating a little, I should like to report the results of the medico-forensic autopsies performed on 112 corpses exhumed from Site No. 1 and of the external examination of approximately 500 bodies. In the first instance, inanition was proved to have caused the death of 96 victims. In the second case, as stated in the findings (see Page 7) mentioned in Exhibit USSR 5(a):
"The fact that inanition was the fundamental cause of mortality in the prisoners' camp was likewise proved by the results of the external examinations of some 500 corpses when it was disclosed that the proportion of victims, dead of acute inanition, had approached 100 per cent ."
A little further on, in the same report, in sub-paragraph (g) of paragraph 5, the experts, supported by numerous witnesses, state that the diet in the Slavuta "Grosslazarett" can be characterized as completely useless for human consumption. I quote:
"Bread contained 64 per cent. of sawdust; 'Balanda' was made of rotten potatoes with the addition of refuse, rat-droppings, etc."
Such prisoners of war who had survived the tyranny of the Hitler hangmen and had lived to see the liberation of Slavuta declared (I quote an excerpt from Page 4 of Exhibit USSR 5, Page 153 of the document book):

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"In the 'Grosslazarett' we periodically observed outbreaks of a mysterious disease of an unknown nature, referred to as 'para-cholera' by the German doctors. The appearance of 'para-cholera' was the result of barbarous experiments by the German doctors. As suddenly as these outbreaks would appear, as suddenly would they vanish. The mortality rate in 'para-cholera' rose to 60-80 per cent. German physicians performed autopsies on the bodies of some of the victims, and no captured Russian medical officers were admitted to these autopsies."
In conclusion, it is stated in sub-paragraph 8 of the medico- forensic expert report (Page 7 of Exhibit USSR 5(a), Page 159 of the document book) that:
"No objective circumstances can justify the conditions under which the prisoners of war were housed in the camp. All the more, since it has been revealed by thoroughgoing investigations that there were enormous food supplies in the German military depots at Slavuta and that both medical supplies and surgical bandages abounded in the military dispensaries."
The "Grosslazarett" staff included a considerable number of medical personnel. Nevertheless, according to the statement of the Government Commission, sick and wounded officers and men of the Red Army did not receive even the most elementary medical attention. And how could there be any talk of medical attention when the entire object of the "Grosslazarett" was directly opposed to such assistance? The administration of the "Grosslazarett" not only strove to destroy the prisoners of war physically, but they also endeavored to fill the last days of the sick and wounded with suffering and anguish.

One part of the Commission's statement is entitled "Torture and shooting of Soviet prisoners of war." I shall read into the record a passage taken from this part. It is on Page 4, Exhibit USSR 5, Page 153 of the document book:

"Soviet prisoners of war in the 'Grosslazarett' were subjected to torture and torment, beaten up when food was distributed and again when setting out to work. Even the dying were not spared by the Fascist murderers. The medico-forensic examination of the exhumed corpses revealed, among a number of other bodies of prisoners of war, the body of a prisoner who, in his death agony, had been wounded in the groin with a knife. He had been thrown into his grave while still alive, with the knife sticking in the wound, and was then covered over with earth.

One method of mass torture in the 'Lazarett' consisted in locking the sick and wounded in a detention cell -- a room without heat and with a concrete floor. The prisoners in this cell were left without food for days on end and many died there. In order to exhaust the prisoners still further, the Hitlerites forced the sick and enfeebled patients to run round the 'Lazarett' building; those who could not run were flogged almost to death. There were many cases where the German guards murdered the prisoners just for fun.

A former prisoner of war, Buchtichyuk, reported how the Germans threw the intestines of dead horses on the barbed wire surrounding the interior of the camp. When the prisoners, maddened with hunger, ran up to the barbed wire, the guards opened fire on them with sub- machine guns. The witness, Kirsanov, saw one prisoner of war bayonetted for picking up a potato tuber. A former prisoner of war, Shatalov, was an eye-witness to the shooting of a prisoner by his escort merely for trying to obtain a second helping of 'Balanda.'

In February, 1942, Shatalov saw a sentry wound a prisoner who was searching the garbage heap for remnants of food left over from the kitchen of the German personnel; the wounded man was immediately brought to the pit, stripped, and executed."

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 14th February, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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