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

Sixty-First Day: Monday, 18th February, 1946
(Part 3 of 7)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 86]

I draw the attention of the Tribunal to the following text, where we find details on certain methods of murder adopted by the criminals

Mass shootings, as shown in the following sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), took place in 1941.

The extermination of peaceful citizens in the gas wagons occurred in 1943, as shown in sub-paragraph (d).

I omit the next page, and draw the attention of the Tribunal to that part of the document which is on Page 240; a description of the methodical destruction of the inmates in Rovno prison.

I dwell on this point because similar methods of extermination of Soviet people are typical of the terrorist regime established by the Hitlerites in the temporarily occupied territories of the USSR.

I begin my quotation on Page 240 of the document book:-

"On 18th March, 1943, the paper 'Volyn' of the German occupation troops, published the following announcement:-
'On 8th March, 1943, inmates of Rovno prison while attempting to escape, killed one German prison official and one guard. The escape was thwarted by the energetic action of the prison guard. By order of the commandant of the German S.P. (Schutzpolizei) and S.D. (Sicherheitsdienst), all the prison inmates were shot on that same day.'
In November, 1943, the German District Judge was murdered by a person unknown. As a measure of retaliation, the Hitlerites again shot over 350 inmates of Rovno prison."
I will not quote any further examples of the executions in the prisons, since in those documentary films which will be submitted to the Tribunal, your Honours will find a series of similar crimes committed by the Hitlerite invaders on the territories of the USSR.

I pass on to the following part of my statement:-

"The retaliatory destruction of village populations."
In the endless chain of German fascist crimes, there are some which will remain for a long time, perhaps forever, in the memory of indignant mankind, even though mankind will have learned about still graver crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. One of the crimes that will thus be remembered is the destruction of a small Czechoslovak village called Lidice and the merciless annihilation of the population of that village.

[Page 87]

Many times, and in even more cruel forms, the fate of Lidice was suffered on the territory of the Soviet Union, of Yugoslavia and Poland; but mankind will never forget Lidice, for this little village became a symbol of Nazi criminality.

The destruction of Lidice was a retaliation by the Nazis for the just execution of the Protector of Czechia, Heydrich, by Czechoslovak patriots.

The Chief Prosecutor of the USSR, when speaking of Lidice, quoted a German report concerning this act of terror, which was published in the paper "Der Neue Tag" on 11th June, 1942.

I will quote a very short extract from the report of the Czechoslovak Government, which the Tribunal will find on Page 172 of the document book:-

"On 9 June, 1942, the village of Lidice was surrounded, on the order of the Gestapo, by soldiers who arrived from the hamlet of Slany in ten large trucks. They allowed everyone to enter the village, but no one was permitted to leave. A twelve-year-old boy tried to escape; a soldier shot him on the spot. A woman tried to escape; a bullet in the back killed her, and her corpse was found in the fields after the harvest.

The Gestapo dragged the women and children to the school.

The 10 June was the last day of Lidice and of its inhabitants. The men were locked up in the cellar, the barn and the stable of the Horak family farm. They foresaw their fate and awaited it calmly. The seventy- three year old priest, Steribeck, strengthened their spirit by his prayers.

I omit the following two paragraphs and continue my quotation:-
"The men were led out of the Horak farm into the garden behind the barn, in batches of ten, and shot. The murders went on from early morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Afterwards the executioners were photographed, with the corpses at their feet."
I omit the following four paragraphs and pass on to the fate of the population of Lidice:
"The fate of the men of Lidice has been described. One hundred and seventy-two adult men and youths from sixteen years upwards were shot on 10 June, 1942. Nineteen men who worked in the Kladno mines were arrested later on in the collieries or nearby woods, taken to Prague and shot.

Seven women from Lidice were shot in Prague as well. The remaining one hundred and ninety-five women were deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Forty- two died of ill-treatment; seven were gassed; three disappeared. Four of these women were taken from Lidice to a maternity hospital in Prague where their newly born infants were murdered; then the mothers were sent to Ravensbruck.

The children of Lidice were taken from their mothers a few days after the destruction of the village; ninety children were sent to Lodz, in Poland, and thence to Gneisenau concentration camp, in the so-called 'Wartheland.' So far no trace of these children has been found. Seven of the youngest, less than a year old, were taken to a German hospital in Prague. After examination by 'racial experts' they were sent to Germany, there to be brought up as Germans and under German names. Every trace of them has been lost.

Two or three infants were born in Ravensbruck concentration camp. They, were killed at birth."

[Page 88]

The fate of Lidice was repeated in many Soviet villages. Many peaceful citizens of these villages perished in even greater torment: they were burned alive, or died victims of still more brutal forms of execution.

I have considerably reduced the volume of the examples which I wished to quote, and I omit the next page of the text, drawing the attention of the Tribunal to the text on Page 295. This document, already submitted to the Tribunal by my colleague, Colonel Pokrovsky, is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes of the Hitlerite Invaders in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. I quote one paragraph only:-

"On the third of June, 1944, in the village of Perchape, of the Trakai district, the Hitlerites broke into the village and plundered it completely, after which, having driven all the men into one house and the women and children into three others, they set fire to the buildings. Those who attempted to flee were caught by the fascist monsters and thrown back into the burning houses. In this manner the entire population of the village, 119 souls in all, 21 men, 29 women (and I stress), 69 children, were burned to death."
I close the quotation and beg the Tribunal to turn to another document, which I submit as Exhibit USSR 279. It is a communique of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes of the German fascist Invaders in the cities of Viazma, Gjatsk, and Sychev of the Smolensk region, and also in the city of Rjev in the Kalinin region.

I would have liked to dwell more fully on this report but I will now summarise it in order to shorten my statement.

I omit two pages of the text and pass on to Page 145 - I quote the sixth paragraph:-

"In the village of Zajtschiki, members of the Gestapo drove into one house the following persons: Michael Zaikhov, age 61; Nikifar Belyahov, age 69; Catherine Jegorava, age 70; Catherine Golubyera, age 70; Jegor Dadonov, age 5; Myra Zernova, age 7; and others - 23 persons all told. The Gestapo set fire to the house and burned all the victims alive."
I omit two paragraphs and quote one more:-
"In retreating from the village of Gratschevo in the District of Gesclizatsk, in March, 1943, the Assistant Chief of the German Field Police, Lt. Boss, drove two hundred inhabitants of the Chistyakov Communal Farm into a house. (The names of the victims are then given.) He locked the doors, set fire to the house and all the two hundred were burned alive."
I will not enumerate the names of the people, but I wish to draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that some of them were 63 and 70 years old, some of the children were 3, 4 or 5 years old.

I omit two paragraphs and quote another excerpt:-

"The fascists burned all the inhabitants, both young and old, of the villages of Kuliekovo and Kolesniki, of the Geschzatsk district, in one farm-house."
That concludes the reading of this document.

I now ask the Tribunal to accept in evidence a German document, submitted in evidence as Exhibit USSR 119. This is a certified photostat of an operational report and other documents of the 15th Police Regiment. Among them we find one entitled "Summary of a Punitive Expedition to the village of Borysowka, 22 and 26 September, 1942". The Tribunal will find this document on Page 309 of the document book.

[Page 89]

I quote in brief from this document, which proves beyond doubt that under the guise of anti-partisan warfare the Hitlerite criminals mercilessly annihilated the population of the Soviet villages.

I quote the first part under the heading:-

"1. Mission: The 9th Company must destroy the village of Borysovka, which is overrun by partisans.

2. Forces: Two platoons of the 9th Company of the 15th Police Regiment, one platoon of gendarmes of the 16th Motorised Regiment, and one tank platoon from Beresy- Kartuska." (I emphasise, your Honours, that the expedition included a tank platoon from Beresy-Kartuska. Against whom were these tanks and the two platoons supposed to operate ?)

We find an answer to this question in the following item of this report:-
"3. Execution of Mission: The company assembled in the evening of 22 September, 1942, in Dyvyn. During the night from 22 to 23 September, 1942, they marched from Dyvyn in the direction of Borysovka. The village was encircled from the north to the south by two platoons at 4 a.m. . . . At daybreak the entire population of the village was assembled by the village elder. After an investigation of the population with the assistance of the Security Police and the S.D. from Dyvyn, five families were resettled in Dyvyn. The remainder were shot by an especially detailed squad, and buried five hundred metres to the north-east of Borysovka. Altogether, 169 persons were shot, consisting of 49 men, 97 women and 23 children."
I consider that these quotations are so eloquent that I can conclude the reading of this document and, omitting two pages, pass on to the next part of my statement.

I beg the Tribunal to look at Page 119 of the document book, which contains the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the "Destruction caused by the German fascist invaders in the Stalinsk Region".

Hitherto I have submitted proof of the fact that in the villages the German fascist invaders criminally exterminated the Soviet population by burning their victims alive. In this report we find a confirmation of the fact that people were burned alive equally in the cities and towns. This document has been submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 2. I quote from Page 116 of the document book:-

"In the city of Stalino, the German invaders drove all the residents of the professor's house into a barn, closed the entrance, blocked it, poured oil on it and set it on fire. All those in the barn lost their lives, with the exception of two little girls, who saved themselves by pure chance."
I omit the next part of the report of this Commission.
"On 11 November, 1943, the members of this Commission made excavations on the site of the barn and while investigating it, they discovered 41 charred human corpses."
From the very first days of the war against the USSR, the German fascist terror toward the civilian population, assumed monstrous proportions. This was noted in the reports of several German officers, who had participated in the First World War and who stressed the fact that even in the cruel First World War they had never witnessed anything similar.

I again refer to a German document and submit to the Tribunal, as Exhibit USSR 293, an authenticated photostat of a report from the former Commander of the 528th Regiment, Major Roesler, and a report by Schirwindt, who was Chief

[Page 90]

of the 9th Military District. Since this document is of sufficient interest I will read it into the record in full. You, your Honours, will find the extract on Page 319 of the document book:-
"Kassel, 3 January, 1942.
Major Roesler.

The report passed on to me by the 52nd Reserve Regiment on the attitude towards the Civilian Population in the East prompts me to state the following:-

At the end of July, 1941, the 58th Infantry Regiment, then under my command, was on its way from the West to its rest billets in Zhitomir. After I had moved with my staff into the staff quarters, on the afternoon of the day of our arrival, we heard rifle volleys, at a short distance from us, at regular intervals, followed a little later by pistol shots. I decided to find out what was happening and started out with my adjutant and the courier (1st Lieutenant von Bassewitz and Lieutenant Muller-Brodmann) in the direction of the rifle shots.

We soon got the impression that something was happening, since after some time we saw numerous soldiers and civilians streaming towards the railway embankment. We could not reach the other side of the embankment for a long time. After a certain interval, however, we heard the sound of a whistle followed by a volley of about ten rifles, which in turn was followed some time later by pistol shots.

When we finally scrambled over the embankment a picture of horror was revealed to us. A pit, about seven to eight metres long and perhaps four metres wide, had been dug in the ground. The upturned earth was piled on one side of the pit. This pile of earth and the side of the pit were completely soaked in human blood. The pit itself was filled with numerous corpses of all ages and sexes. There were so many corpses that one could not even ascertain the depth of the pit.

Behind the pile of earth stood a police detachment under the command of a police officer. The uniforms of the police bore traces of blood. Many soldiers from the troops just billeted in the area stood around. Some of them wore shorts and lounged about as spectators. There was also a number of civilians, women and children.

This sight was so appalling that I cannot forget it even now, I remember particularly clearly the following scene. In this grave lay, among others, an old man with a white beard, clutching a cane in his left hand. Since this man, judging from his sporadic breathing, still showed signs of life, I ordered one of the policemen to kill him off. He smilingly replied. 'I have already shot him seven times in the stomach. He can die on his own now.'

The bodies lay in the grave, not in rows, but as they had fallen from the top of the pit. All these people had been killed by rifle shots in the nape of the neck and then in the pit were granted the coup de grace of a pistol shot.

I have never seen anything of the kind, either in the First World War, in the Russian or in the French campaigns of the present war. I have witnessed many disagreeable things in the volunteer detachments in 1919, but I have never witnessed a similar scene."

I omit one paragraph and continue:-
"I wish to add that according to the testimony of soldiers who have

[Page 91]

often watched these executions, apparently several hundred persons were shot by these methods every day.

(Signed) Roesler."

Characteristic is the comment in the covering note from the Deputy Commander of the IX Army Corps and Officer Commanding the 9th Military District, who forwarded Roesler's report to the Chief of the Army Armament and Equipment Department, Berlin.

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