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 12 of 15)

[Page 30]

But the fascist training school for murderers acknowledged other forms of education as well, forms specially dedicated to the technique of destroying all traces of the crimes committed. The Tribunal has already received the document registered as Exhibit USSR 6-c(8). This document is one of the appendices to the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on German atrocities perpetrated on the territory of the region of Lvov.

The document is the testimony of the witness, Manusevitch, interrogated by the senior assistant to the prosecutor of the Lvov region, at the special request of the Extraordinary State Commission. The minutes of the interrogatory are recorded in conformity with the legal code of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Tribunal will find these minutes on Page 48 of the document book.

Manusevitch was imprisoned by the Germans in Yanov camp, where he worked in the prisoners' squad for burning corpses of murdered Soviet citizens. After the 40,000 corpses murdered in Yanov camp were burned, the squad was transferred for similar purposes to the camp in Lisenitz Wood.

I now quote from the record of the interrogation, which the Tribunal will find on Page 52 of the document book, Paragraph 2, from the top, Line 26:-

"In the death factory of this camp special, ten- day courses on corpse burning were organised, which twelve men attended. Pupils attending these courses came from the camps of Lublin, Warsaw, and others of which the names escape me. I do not know the surnames of the pupils, but they were officers, from colonels to sergeant majors, not rank and file. The instructor at these courses was the officer in command of crematoriums, Colonel Schallok.

[Page 31]

On the site where the bodies were burned he explained the practical manner of burning them and how to set up the machine for bone crushing."
(Later on photographs of this machine will be submitted to the Tribunal together with a certificate of its examination, or rather, I should say, of its technical examination).
"Schallock further explained the manner in which the pit was levelled over, the earth sifted, and trees planted over it, and how the ashes of the human corpses were scattered and concealed. Courses of this kind continued for a considerable period. During my stay, i.e., during the five and a half months that I worked in the camps of Yanov and Lisenitz, ten groups of military students graduated successfully."
For the education of adolescents, the German fascists created a special organisation, the so-called Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend).

The Defendant Baldur von Schirach was for quite a long time the head of this organisation.

What kind of methods were used for the education of German youth by the fascist criminals is described by a French subject, Ida Vasso, the manageress of a hostel for aged Frenchmen in Lvov. During the German occupation of Lvov, she had an opportunity of visiting the Lvov ghetto. In her statement to the Extraordinary State Commission, Vasso described the local system for the extermination of human beings.

From Vasso's statement it is obvious that the Germans educated the Hitler Youth by training these young fascists to shoot at living targets - at children specially handed over to the Hitler Youth to serve as targets.

Vasso's statement was checked by the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union and fully confirmed. In confirmation of this evidence I will submit to the Court Exhibit USSR. 6, which is a report by the Extraordinary State Commission, entitled, "German Atrocities Perpetrated in the Territory of the Lvov Region."

I now quote from Vasso's statement in this connection. It is included in the text of the report as a certified document, on Page 6/c of the document book. The Tribunal will find Vasso's statement on the reverse side of Page 59, Paragraph 5, beginning from Line 14 from the beginning of the paragraph:-

"...the little children were martyrs. They were handed over to the Hitler Youth who used them as living targets while learning how to shoot. No mercy for others, all for themselves - this was the motto of the Germans. The whole world must learn of their methods. We, who were the helpless witnesses of these revolting scenes, must speak of those horrors in order that everybody should know of them and, what is more important, should never forget them since no vengeance will ever bring the millions of dead back to life again."
Your Honours can turn to the same Page 59 of the document book, Line 10 from the beginning of the second paragraph. Here the Tribunal will find the official confirmation of Vasso's statement. The Extraordinary State Commission established that, in Lvov, the Germans:-
"Spared neither men, women or children. The adults were simply killed out of hand; the children were given to the Hitler Youth for target practice."
In this manner were created, educated and trained the amoral monsters

[Page 32]

who were called upon to implement the programme of the major war criminals for the actual destruction of the population in the Eastern European countries.

The fascist government had no need to fear that the "Standard Bearers of the National Socialist Revolution" in the East would show any traces of humanity at all.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, I hope you will forgive my interrupting you, but as I had to point out to Colonel Pokrovsky just now, we really don't want any comment upon each one of these documents. The passage you have just read to us now is nothing but comment upon the frightful document which you have just read. It all takes time. If you could find your way to cut out the comment after these documents and simply to present us with the documents, it will save time.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I will now quote an excerpt from the testimony of the witness Manusevitch, previously submitted as Exhibit USSR 6/c(8), the passage where he speaks of the activities of the Yanov camp administration. He was a witness of these activities when working in a special squad of prisoners employed for burning the corpses of people murdered in this camp - Page 3 of the minutes of the interrogation. The Tribunal will find this document on Page 50 of the document book, Line 25 from the top. I quote this passage as an illustration of the execution squads formed by the Hitlerites and of some of the atrocities perpetrated by them:-

"Apart from the shooting in Yanov camp various forms of torture were practiced, namely, in winter a barrel would be filled with water and a man, with hands and feet tied, would be thrown into the barrel, where he froze to death. Yanov camp was surrounded by a barbed wire entanglement consisting of two rows of barbed wire 120 centimeters apart. A man would be thrown in and left there for several days on end. He could not extricate himself from the wire and he eventually perished from hunger and thirst. But prior to being thrown into the barbed wire, Hitlerites would very nearly beat him to death. A man would be strung up by the neck, hands and feet. Dogs would be set on him and the dogs would tear him to pieces. Human beings were used as targets for shooting practice. This was mostly done by the following members of the Gestapo: Heine, Mueller, Blum, Camp Commandant Willhaus, and others whose names escape me. People would be beaten till they nearly died, dogs would then be set on them to tear them to pieces. A man was given a glass to hold and was then made to stand up as a target in shooting practice; if the glass was hit, the man was spared, but if he was shot in the hand he was immediately killed after being told that he was no longer fit for work. Men would be taken by the legs and torn in two. Infants from one month to three years old were thrown into buckets of water and left to drown. A man would be tied to a post facing the sun and kept there till he died of sun- stroke. In addition, before sending men to work, they were subjected to a so-called examination for physical fitness. The men were made to run a distance of 50 meters and if one of them ran well, i.e., rapidly and without stumbling, he remained alive while the rest were shot. There was, in the same camp, a small, grass-covered plot. Here, too, footraces were run and anybody who stumbled in the grass and fell was promptly shot. The grass grew higher than a man's knee. Women were strung up by the hair, after first having been stripped naked, swung in the air, and left to hang till they died.

There was also the following case: a Gestapo man, Heine, made a young lad stand up and cut pieces of flesh from his body. Another man was wounded twenty-eight times in the shoulders (with a knife). The wounds healed and

[Page 33]

he worked in a death brigade. He was subsequently shot. Near the kitchen, during the distribution of coffee, the executioner Heine, whenever he was on duty, would go up to the first man in the line and ask, 'Why are you standing in front of the others?' and shoot him dead. In this way he shot quite a lot of people. He would then go to the end of the queue and ask, 'Why are you the last in the line?' and shoot him as well. I personally witnessed these atrocities during my imprisonment in Yanov camp...."
The testimony of the witness Manusevitch, which I have read into the record, was fully confirmed by the official report of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union entitled, "German Atrocities Perpetrated in the Lvov Region." Further on Manusevitch speaks mainly about the activities of officials in the lower and middle rank of the camp administration. It is evident from the official report of the Extraordinary State Commission that a system of the vilest ill-treatment practiced upon the helpless people was initiated and organised by the upper ranks of the camp administration, who invariably set their subordinates personal examples of inhuman behavior.

I will not make any comment on this document, although I do beg the Tribunal to take note of a certain Obersturmfuehrer Willhaus mentioned in it.

The Tribunal will find the excerpt which I will now read into the record on Page 58 of the document book (on the reverse side of the page.)

I quote:-

"SS 'Hauptsturmfuehrer' Hebauer established in Yanov camp a savage system of murder which, after his transfer to another post, was 'perfected' by the camp commandant, S.S. 'Obersturmfuehrer' Gustav Willhaus and S.S. 'Hauptsturmfuehrer' Franz Wartzok.

A former inmate of the camp told the commission: 'I have seen with my own eyes how Captain Fritz Gebauer strangled women and children and froze men to death in barrels filled with water. The hands and feet of the victims were shackled before they were lowered into the water. Those doomed to die remained in the barrels until they froze to death.'

According to the testimonies of numerous Soviet prisoners of war and also of French citizens held in German camps, it was established that the German thugs `invented' the most vicious methods for exterminating human beings, a fact which they considered as particularly praiseworthy and in which they were encouraged both by the higher military command and by the government.

SS 'Hauptsturmfuehrer' Franz Wartzok, for instance, loved to hang internees by both feet on posts and leave them in this position until they died; `Obersturmfuehrer' Rokita personally slashed open the bellies of the prisoners. The chairman of the investigation section of the Yanov camp, Heine, pierced the bodies of internees with sticks or a piece of iron, he would tear out the finger nails of women with pliers, then he would strip his victims, hang them up by their hair, swing them out and shoot at the 'moving targets'.

The commandant of the Yanov camp, 'Obersturmfuehrer' Willhaus, systematically shot with an automatic rifle from the balcony of his office the prisoners employed in the workshops, partly for sheer love of 'sport' and partly to amuse his wife and daughters. He would then hand his rifle to his wife and she too had a shot at the prisoners. Sometimes to please his nine-year- old daughter, he had children between the ages of two and four years tossed in the air and then took pot shots at them, while his daughter applauded and shrieked, 'Papa, do it again; do it again, Papa!' And he did it again.

[Page 34]

The internees of this camp were exterminated for no reason at all, often as a result of a bet. A woman witness, Kirschner, informed the Investigating Commission that a Gestapo Commissar, Wepke, bet the other camp executioners that he could cut a boy in half with one stroke of the axe. They did not believe him. So he caught a 10- year-old boy on the road, made him kneel down, told him to hide his face in the folded palms of his hands, made one test stroke, placed the child's head in a more convenient position and with one single stroke cut the boy in half. The Hitlerites heartily congratulated Wepke, shaking him warmly by the hand.

In 1943, for Hitler's birthday - his 54th - the commandant of the Yanov camp, Obersturmfuehrer Willhaus, picked out fifty-four prisoners of war and shot them himself.

A special hospital for prisoners was organised in the camp. The German hangmen Brambauer and Birman checked up the patients on the 1st and 15th day of each month; and, if they discovered that among the patients there were some who had been in the hospital for over 14 days, they shot them on the spot. Six or seven people were killed during each investigation.

The Germans executed their tortures, ill- treatments and shooting to the accompaniment of music. For this purpose they formed a special orchestra selected from among the prisoners. They forced Professor Stricks and the famous conductor Mund to conduct this orchestra. They requested the composers to write a special tune, to be called the 'Tango of Death'. Shortly before dissolving the camp the Germans shot every member of the orchestra."

Later on I will present to the Tribunal, as a photo- document, photographs of this "orchestra of death".

What took place in Yanov Camp was in no way exceptional. In exactly the same manner the German fascist administration behaved in all concentration camps in the occupied area of the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, and other Eastern European countries.

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