The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Fifty-Ninth Day: Thursday, 14th February 1946
(Part 2 of 15)


[Page 3]

On 24th December, 1942, seventy-eight prisoners of war from the Berdichev section of the "Educational Labor Camp" were to be subjected to "special treatment." All the seventy- eight prisoners were Soviet prisoners. There is, in the correspondence, a report addressed to the authorities by S.S. Obersturmfuehrer Kunze, of 27th December, 1942. You will find it on Page 170 of your document book. At the end of the first paragraph there is one sentence which, for greater clarity, has been marked with a red pencil. It says:-
"There is no proof that these prisoners of war had ever participated in any communistic activities during the time of the Soviet regime."
Kunze's next sentence fully elucidates the question of how and why these prisoners of war entered the Educational Labor Camp. He states:-
"It seems that the Wehrmacht had, at the time, placed these prisoners of war at the disposal of our local authorities, for special treatment."
We became convinced that they had been directed to this Stalag by the military authorities. The specialist - in this case undoubtedly Obersturmfuehrer Kunze - states that they were sent here especially to be subjected to the treatment of the "special regime."

In an attempt to shorten, if ever so slightly, the very abundant documentation which forms the correspondence, I will tell you, in my own words, that the seventy-eight people in question were all that remained of a far larger group. Sturmbannfuehrer S.S. Friedrich Knopp reports (Page 163 of your document book):-

"Some of the prisoners at that time were transported in a lorry, to some place in the neighbourhood. Later on, further transportations of prisoners of war were suspended, following objections raised by the Army."
A little later I will be more explicit when dealing with the nature of these transfers and the objections raised by the Army.

Please permit me now to pass over to a brief summary of the gist of the matter. It appears to me more useful to describe it in the words of one of the documents. I quote:--

"Commander of the Security Police and S.D. in Djitomir:


24th December, 1942.

When summoned to appear, S.S. Sturmbannfuehrer and Chief Secretary of the Kripo, Friedrich Knopp, complied. He was born in January, 1897, at Neuklinz, in the district of Koeslin. Friedrich Knopp testified as follows:

'As from the middle of August I was head of the Berdichev Office of the Commander of the Security Police and S.D. in the town of Djitomir. On 23rd December, 1942, the Deputy Commander, Hauptsturmfuehrer of the S.S., Kallbach, inspected the local office and also the Educational Labor Camp (Arbeitserziehungslager), supervised by my office. In this Educational Labor Camp, as from the end of October or the beginning of November, there were seventy-eight former prisoners of war who had been transferred from the permanent Stalag (Stalag) in Djitomir as being unfit for work. A considerable number of prisoners of war had, in the past, been handed over and placed at the disposal of the Commander of the Security Police and S.D.'"

[Page 4]

I think there is no necessity to explain in detail that the transfer of the prisoners of war and the placing of them at the disposal of the Security Police had been provided for by special directives of the S.S. and the S.D., especially referring to persons condemned to physical extermination.

I quote further (on the same page of your document book - 163):-

"In Djitomir a few of them, who up to a certain point were fit for work, had been set aside. The remaining seventy-eight persons were transferred to the local Educational Labor Camp."
Omitting two more extracts:-
"The seventy-eight prisoners of war in the local Stalag were, one and all, severely wounded men. Some had lost both legs; others - both arms; others again had lost one or the other of their limbs. Only a few of them had both arms and legs, although they were so mutilated by other kinds of wounds that they were totally unfit for work; they had to nurse the wounded. At the time he was inspecting the Educational Labor Camp on 23rd December, 1942, S.S. Hauptsturmfuehrer Kallbach issued an order to the effect that the surviving sixty-eight or seventy prisoners of war (the others having died in the meantime) should this very day be subjected to special treatment. For this purpose he assigned a motor truck, driven by S.S. Mann Schaefer from the command division, who arrived here to-day at 1130 hours. I entrusted the preparations for the execution early this morning, to my colleagues in the local administration, S.S. Unterscharfuehrer Paal, S.S. Rottenfuehrer Kesselbach, and S.S. Sturmmann Vollbrecht."
I will, with your permission, omit a further part of the quotation which, in any case, already figures in your files. I think I may safely do so in order to save time. It is a description of the technical preparations for the execution. One passage, however, does appear to me to be of interest; and I quote:-
"Usually the execution of the Jews was carried out in the precincts of the labour Stalag. For this particular execution I issued orders to choose a site outside the Stalag. Concerning the three above-mentioned persons whom I entrusted with the shooting of the prisoners of war, I knew that they had, in Kiev, participated in the mass executions of many thousands of persons and that they had previously, that is during my time of service, been entrusted by the local administration with the shooting of many hundreds of victims."
I should like to invite your attention to another instance which again shows the meaning which the Hitlerites usually attached to the words "execution" and "treatment by special regime." Here, in one sentence alone, the words "mass execution" and "shooting" are definitely used as synonymous terms, while a little higher up it is made quite clear to us what "transportation by trucks to some place in the neighbourhood" and "treatment by special regime" mean. Unquestionably, these four terms have an identical significance.

After this digression I continue my quotation: Having made a few more omissions from the passage already printed in your document book, I proceed to the following paragraph (your Page 156) if only to carry on the description:-

"They (the German executioners) were armed with a German submachine gun, a Russian automatic rifle, an 0.8 pistol, and a carbine. I would point out that I had intended to give these three persons, as an assistant, S.S. Hauptscharfuehrer Wenzel, but S.S. Sturmmann Vollbrecht declined, remarking that three men were perfectly able to execute this order.

Concerning the indictment - it never entered my head to ensure the smooth procedure of an ordinary execution to send a larger detachment, since the execution ground was hidden from public view and the captives were..."

THE PRESIDENT: These words "Concerning the indictment," are they in the original document?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: It is the text of the explanation, of the evidence

[Page 5]
which the signatory of the document handed to his police chief. I, with the permission of the Tribunal, will quote the original German documents of the inquiry. The persons responsible for carrying out the execution were accused of provoking, by their indiscretion and carelessness, that which they called an "incident" and they produced an explanation of the cause of this incident.
"Concerning the charge, it never entered my head, to ensure the smooth procedure of an ordinary execution, to send a larger detachment, since the execution ground was hidden from public view and the captives were unable to escape by reason of their physical infirmities.

At about 1500 hours I received a telephone call from the Stalag to the effect that one of the co- workers in my department, in charge of this special task, had been wounded and that one man had run away. I promptly sent S.S. Hauptscharfuehrer Wenzel and S.S. Oberscharfuehrer Fritsch to the execution ground in a horse-cart. Some time later I received another telephone call from the Stalag, informing me that the co-workers of my Department had been killed."

I think it useless to read into the record details of a purely technical nature. I shall omit, at this point, a considerable part of those references which I had, previously, intended to quote, and I will proceed to that part of Knopp's evidence which he had handed to his police chief. You will find the passage in question on Page 166.
"I wish to point out that the `incident' I have described took place during the second execution. It had been preceded by the shooting of approximately twenty prisoners of war which had passed without any incident at all. As soon as I returned, I informed the command headquarters at Djitomir accordingly...

I cannot give any further evidence. I declare that my evidence is absolutely true and I am aware that any false evidence on my part would result in punishment and in exclusion from the S.S.

(signed) Friedrich Knopp, S.S. Oberscharfuehrer;
(certified) Kunze, S.S. Obersturmfuehrer."

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