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 6 of 15)


[Page 13]

As regards the technical difficulties, I cannot, at present, undertake to give the Tribunal a precise description of all the technical difficulties reported to me by my collaborators, since I can no longer remember them. But I do know that, when they were working on this matter, establishing the existence of the witness, searching for him, bringing him here, they - my collaborators - declared that they could do this once but that they would not be able to do it a second time. Consequently, Dr. Wengler, a free agent, was here in Nuremberg, not for one day, but for many days, precisely for the time needed adequately to clear up all the questions which were of interest to us and to interrogate him, since we foresaw the impossibility of summoning him a second time.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know where the deponent, the witness, was brought from when he was brought to Nuremberg.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: From Berlin. He was brought the last time from Berlin.

THE PRESIDENT: Then is he now in Berlin?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I do not undertake to answer this question now without making further inquiries. He is not interned.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, Dr. Nelte, do you want to say anything?

DR. NELTE: I would just like to refer to the last page of the minutes, where the address is given: Dr. Wilhelm Wengler, Berlin-Hermsdorf, Ringstrasse No. 32. We are simply concerned with the question: Which technical difficulties are involved to bring this witness from Berlin to Nuremberg a second time? Of course, I do not know whether the witness is in Berlin, but I assume that he is there.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will allow the deposition to be put in evidence, should the Soviet Prosecutor decide to do so. If the document is put in evidence, the Tribunal will desire that the Prosecutor should secure the attendance of the deponent as a witness for cross-examination. If the Prosecution is unable to secure the attendance of the deponent as a witness, then the Tribunal will itself attempt to secure the attendance of the deponent as a witness, for cross-examination.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I can report to the Tribunal that attempted to employ the time spent by the Tribunal in deliberating this problem, in discovering if we could bring this witness back again, and that I did not receive a conclusive reply from my organisation. According to the wish of the Tribunal, I will omit

[Page 14]

the topic of his cross-examination and shall only refer to it again if I am informed by my collaborators that we can once more bring the witness before the Tribunal. This would seem to me in accordance with the wishes of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Pokrovsky, I am not quite sure that you quite appreciate what I said. What I said was that you are at liberty to put in the document now, if you wish to do so. That is one thing. But, if you do so, you must attempt to secure the attendance of the witness, and should you fail to do so, the Tribunal will attempt to secure his attendance; the document will still be in evidence and will not be struck out, although of course, it will be open to the criticism that it is only a deposition or an affidavit, and that the witness has not been produced for cross- examination and therefore the weight that attaches to the testimony will not be so great as it would be if the witness had been produced for cross-examination.

Is that clear?

COLONEL POKROVSKY: Yes. Wengler was interrogated by me -

THE PRESIDENT: I fear I used inaccurately the word "affidavit." It is only an interrogation. It is not made upon oath and that, of course, will be taken into consideration. But the point is that you can put in the document now if you decide to do so. That is a matter for your discretion. If you do so, you must attempt to secure the attendance of the witness for cross-examination. If you are unable to get him, then the Tribunal will attempt to get him here for cross-examination.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: When reporting to the Tribunal on the measures we had adopted, I started from the point of view that the Tribunal desired that each witness, whose testimony had been read into the record, could, if necessary, be summoned to appear before the Tribunal for a supplementary cross-examination. That is why I have already attempted to find out whether we can call up this witness now, and since I have not yet received any definite answer from our organisation, I wish to invite the attention of the Tribunal to the possibility that we will simply abstain from mentioning these minutes now, as we only need them for the confirmation of one point, already confirmed by a document which has just been presented to the Tribunal. This is the report signed by Canaris. What is the meaning of Wengler's interrogation? The meaning of Wengler's interrogation is that it shows that the O.K.W. knew of the treatment meted out to the Soviet prisoners. Canaris said the same.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you must decide, Colonel Pokrovsky, whether you wish to put in the document or not. If you wish to put in the document, you may do so, but I do not think it is right for you to state the contents of the document and at the same time not to put it in. If you wish to put it in, you may do so. I have already added the condition that, if you do put it in, then you must try to secure the attendance of the witness, and if you cannot secure the attendance, the Tribunal will try to secure it.

COLONEL POKROVSKY: I consider that Wengler's testimony is not important enough for us to pay so very much attention to it. If we can find this witness, we will examine him at a later date.


COLONEL POKROVSKY: In the light of the documents read into the record, and also in view of the protest of the German prisoners of war in Camp 78, which shows how humanely the Soviet authorities treated German military prisoners of the German Army, the sentence from Appendix I of Operations Order No. 14 of the Chief of the Security Police and the S.D., concerning the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, is nothing less than a brazen insult. This sentence can be found in paragraph 3, on Page 7 of the document submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 3. You will find it on Page 204 of your document book:-

"The Bolshevik soldier has lost his right to be treated as an honest soldier and in accordance with the rules of the Geneva Convention."

[Page 15]

I beg the Tribunal to recollect that the following directive, dated 7th November, 1941, appears in Appendix II of Order No. 11 of the General Staff Headquarters of the O.K.W. I quote from Exhibit No. USSR 3, extracts from which appear on Page 233 of your document book (last paragraph in the right-hand column of Page 5).
"The work of the Special Squad, by sanction of the rear area commander (officer in charge of prisoner of war affairs of the district) must be done in such a way that the selecting and sorting-out is practically unnoticeable. Executions must be carried out without delay, and at sufficient distance from the camp and from habitations to keep them secret from the other prisoners and the population."
These are the transfers of prisoners "to some place in the neighbourhood" that Kunze, the expert executioner, had in mind, when he reported to his chiefs on the incidents which occurred during the execution of the twenty-eight crippled prisoners of war.

Among the documents submitted to the Tribunal by the Soviet Delegation, are data regarding the shooting, on 7th April, 1945, at the Seelhorst Cemetery in Hannover, of 150 Soviet prisoners of war and civilians. We submit these data as Exhibit USSR 112. You will find the data in question on Page 207 of your document book. They have been placed at our disposal by the American Investigation authorities. They consist of a number of testimonies, including that of Peter Palnikov, a Red Army officer who had fortuitously escaped the execution. You will find the minutes to which I refer on the same page, 207, of your document book. We have also the testimonies of other members of the local population who had been questioned under oath by the American Investigation Authorities. Their evidence is corroborated by medical reports on bodies exhumed from the graves at Seelhorst Cemetery. In addition, we submit duly certified photographs.

I shall not read all these documents into the record but shall merely point out that the 167 corpses thus exhumed were specially noted in the concluding report of the Commission, as enabling the Commission to judge, from their appearance, of the "pronounced degree of insufficient nourishment."

This circumstance must be stressed so that the Tribunal may have a perfectly clear picture of the food situation prevalent among Soviet prisoners of war in the various camps. Regardless of the territory in which the camp was located, all Soviet prisoners of war were exposed to a regime of hunger with the same sustained and systematic cruelty.

While I am thus reporting on the Hitlerian atrocities perpetrated on the prisoners, I find that we now have at our disposal several court verdicts pronounced on the fascist criminals who committed their crimes in the temporarily occupied territories.

In accordance , with Article 21 of the Charter, I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 87, the verdict of the District Military Tribunal. You will find the entire verdict on Pages 214, 215 and 221 of the document book. It was pronounced in Smolensk on 19th December, 1945. The Tribunal inflicted penalties varying from 12 years' hard labour to death by hanging, on ten Hitlerites directly guilty of the numerous crimes committed in the city and region of Smolensk.

I will not quote the document, but will merely mention that on Pages 4, 5 and 6 of the verdict, in passages marked in your copies - these pages, i.e., 4, 5 and 6 of the verdict, are to be found in your document book on Pages 218, 219 and 222 - there is information showing that, as a result of pseudo-scientific experiments on prisoners of war by persons who, to the undying shame of German medicine, were known - in Germany - as professors and doctors, prisoners were tortured and murdered by blood poisoning.

[Page 16]

The sentence presents further evidence that, as a result of savage ill-treatment by the German escort conveying Soviet prisoners of war, some 10,000 exhausted, half-dead captives perished between Vyazma and Smolensk.

It is precisely this passage, this information, which you will find in sub-paragraph 3 of the verdict. It appears on Page 218 of your document book. The verdict reflects the systematic mass shooting of prisoners of war in Camp 126, in the city of Smolensk, Dulag-126-South, during the transfer of the prisoners to the camp and to the hospital. The verdict particularly emphasizes the fact that prisoners of war, too exhausted to work, were shot out of hand.

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