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-Second Day: Tuesday, 19th February, 1946
(Part 4 of 6)

[COLONEL L. N. SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 122]

I refer further to the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes in the City of Kiev. This report describes murders in the camps which will also be shown in the film.

I quote only one excerpt from this report, which shows the methods of extermination of people in the Siretzk Camp. I quote Page 289, paragraph 3, of the Russian text:-

"Radomski and Rieder used all kinds of devices for the extermination of Soviet citizens. For instance, they invented the following method: Several Soviet prisoners would be forced to climb a tree and others had to saw it down, The prisoners would fall together with the tree and be killed ".
Further, I quote a short excerpt from the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on Crimes in the Esthonian S.S.R. This excerpt describes the very

[Page 123]

severe regime in the Esthonian camps. I quote the last paragraph on Page 90:-
"Daily in the camp there were public floggings of the inmates on a bench especially built for this purpose. Besides this, for the smallest offence people were kept without any food for two days; or in the coldest weather, they were forced to stand tied to a post for two or three hours. Not only the S.S. Guards but also the administration of the camp and the German physicians took part in torturing the internees. The German doctor, Bortmann, personally beat two inmates, Dr. Salkinson and Dr. Tzetzov. Beside this, Dr. Bortmann systematically poisoned sick inmates by subcutaneous injections of evipan. The medical attendant Unterscharfuehrer Gent killed twenty-three elderly inmates with an axe. The witness I. M. Ranter testified:' In February, 1944, two children were born in the camp at Kloga. Both of them were thrown alive into the furnace of the crematorium and burned '".
I interrupt my quotation, as I consider that the regime in these concentration camps has already been sufficiently described. I pass on to the presentation of evidence on the camps of extermination, the so-called "Vernichtungslager ". Numerous proofs on this subject have already been presented to the Tribunal and therefore I shall limit myself to the presentation of evidence which is connected with the documentary films which are to be shown to the Tribunal to- day. I consider that the Tribunal has had enough proof of the fact that citizens of all European countries were exterminated in concentration camps. People both from Western Europe and from the countries of Eastern Europe were brought into these camps. This is shown not only by official reports on these camps but also from a board with names of inmates of one of the camp's section which your Honours can find in the album of documents on Auschwitz. Citizens of all European countries can be found.

A special technique was used in the extermination of the people and in connection with this I draw the attention of your Honours to one fact, which I especially investigated when I was analysing the material relating to concentration camps. I decided to ascertain the number of individual firms in the German-fascist State engaged in building crematoria for the concentration camps.

I shall present to the Tribunal the evidence that in fascist Germany there were at least three special firms engaged in building crematoria and crematoria installations for concentration camps. This testifies to the scale of the crimes committed in these camps. I omit the text from pages 295 to 303. I begin the presentation of evidence relating to this section. I ask the Tribunal to refer to the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Crimes of German Fascist Invaders in Auschwitz. I quote the documents, which are on Page 353 in the document book of the Tribunal, and which are quoted in the text of the report. I begin the quotation:-

"Construction of new vast crematoria was entrusted to the German firm of Topf & Sons, of Erfurt, which immediately began to build four powerful crematoria and gas chambers in Birkenau. Berlin demanded with impatience that the construction be expedited and all work completed by the beginning of 1943".
In the office records of the Auschwitz Camp there was discovered a voluminous correspondence between the administration of the camp and the firm Topf & Sons. Among them the following letters:-
"I. A. Topf & Sons, Erfurt,
12th February, 1943.

To Central Construction Office of S.S., and Police, Auschwitz.

Subject: Crematoria 2 and 3 for the camp for prisoners of war.

We acknowledge receipt of your wire of 10th February, as follows:-

You are to deliver the complete installation for Crematorium No- 3. You

[Page 124]

are expected to take steps to ensure the immediate despatch of all the machines complete with parts.

We again acknowledge receipt of your order for five triple furnaces, including two electric lifts for raising the corpses and one emergency lift. A practical installation for stoking coal was also ordered and one for transporting the ashes '".

I omit the next document which deals with bath-houses, and present to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 64, a document which is appended to the report of the Yugoslav Government. This is a certified photostat of a document, outwardly having all the official character of a business document from a "sound business firm". The name of the firm is Didier. The subject of the correspondence - the construction of crematoria "designed for a large camp in Belgrade". The document presented by me characterised the firm Didier as a firm with considerable experience in construction of crematoria for concentration camps and which advertised itself as a firm that understood the demands of its clients. For putting the bodies into the furnace, the firm designed a special conveyor with a two-wheeled shaft. The firm claimed that it could execute this order much better than any other firms, and asked for a small advance, to draw up plans for the construction of a crematorium in the camp.

I quote a few short excerpts from this document - the first two paragraphs:-

"With reference to your son's visit and his conversation with our expert, Herr Storl, we note that the Belgrade S.S. unit intends to build a crematorium for a large camp and that you have received instructions to design and construct the building in co-operation with local architects".
I interrupt my quotation and I shall quote one more excerpt:-
"For putting the bodies into the furnace, we suggest simply a metal fork moving on cylinders.

Each furnace will have an oven measuring only 6oo millimetres in breadth and 450 millimetres in height, as coffins will not be used. For transporting the corpses from the storage point to the furnaces we suggest using light carts on wheels and we enclose diagrams of these drawn to scale".

I interrupt my quotation here and I present to the Tribunal Exhibit USSR 325. This document will be brought to you presently, Mr. President. May I refer to it? It will be presented to you within a few minutes.

I submit the new document as Exhibit USSR 325; it, too, deals with the construction of those crematoria for concentration camps in Belgrade and contains the correspondence of the firm Kori, G.m.b.H. This is a well- known firm, which considered that even every business letter must be ended with "Heil Hitler!" As its clients were well known to it, the firm Kori once again inquired whether "two furnaces would be sufficient". The firm, among other things, mentioned that it had already built four furnaces for Dachau and five for Lublin; it emphasised that its technically perfect furnaces gave full satisfaction in practice. I quote a very short excerpt of this document which the Tribunal will find on Page 471 in volume 2 of the document book. I quote the first paragraph:-

"Following our discussions regarding the delivery of a crematorium installation of simple construction, we suggest our perfect coal-burning furnaces for crematoria which have hitherto given full satisfaction.

We suggest two crematorium furnaces for the building planned, but we advise you to make further inquiries to make sure whether two ovens will be sufficient for your requirements."

I omit the next paragraph and continue the quotation
"The area required for the furnaces, including space for the stokers and other personnel is shown on the attached diagram. Sketch J. Nr. 8998 shows an installation with two furnaces. Sketch J. Nr. 9122 shows the arrangement of four furnaces in the construction projected for Dachau. A further sketch,

[Page 125]

J. Nr. 9080, shows the Lublin installation with five crematorium furnaces and two built-in compartments for stoking."
I omit the next part of the document. The ending is very typical:-
"Awaiting your further news, we will be at your service. Heil Hitler!
C. H. Kori G.m.b.H."
And so we have established that the design and construction of the crematorium ovens for German concentration camps ...

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal would like to know, as they have not these letters before them, to whom they were addressed.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: The letters, Mr. President, were addressed to the S.S. units in Belgrade. These documents were captured by the Yugoslav Government. The S.S. units in Belgrade considered that the methods of extermination practised in Bandetz and Seymeit, which I have already described to the Tribunal, were not adequate and they decided to perfect them. For this purpose they started building, or rather they designed the construction of crematoria in the concentration camps. This was the subject of the lively business correspondence between the S.S. police and the S.S. units in Belgrade and the German firms, part of which I have just presented to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Were the other letters that you referred to also addressed to S.S. units ?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President, they were also addressed to the S.S. units. The first letter, addressed to the administration of the Auschwitz camp was from the firm Topf & Sons.

I shall now present to the Tribunal evidence of the fact that besides the permanent crematoria, there existed also movable crematoria. The Tribunal already knows about the movable gas chambers. These were "murder vans". There were also created transportable crematoria. An S.S. member, Paul Waldmann, testifies to their existence. He was one of the participants in the crime perpetrated by the German fascists when 840,000 Russian prisoners of war in Sachsenhausen were annihilated at one time. Exhibit USSR 52 on Auschwitz has already been presented to the Court. I quote that particular extract from the testimony of the S.S. member, Waldmann, which mentions the mass execution in Sachsenhausen.

"The war prisoners murdered in this way were cremated in four movable crematoria, which ran on car trailers."
I omit the next two pages of my report which deals with gas chambers and crematoria. I think the Tribunal already has a clear idea of this question. But I ask the Tribunal to pay attention to the repugnant methods introduced by the German fascists for industrial utilisation of corpses. Further I shall present to the Tribunal evidence which will testify to even more repulsive utilisation of the corpses. Now I shall quote from a report on Auschwitz, which the Tribunal will find on Page 353, reverse side, of the document book. Beside this I ask the Tribunal to refer to the Auschwitz album, where on Pages 34, 35 and 36 they will see the photographs of seven tons of hair, packed for shipment to Germany, which was taken from dead women. I begin the quotation:-
"From 1943, the Germans, in order to utilise the bones which were no [sic] burned, started to grind them and sell them to the firm 'Strem' for the manufacture of superphosphate. In the camp there were found bills of lading, addressed to the firm 'Strem' of 112 tons and 6oo kilograms of bone meal from human corpses. The Germans also used for industrial purposes hair shorn from women who were doomed for extermination."
I omit the next pages of my statement and I want to draw the Tribunal's attention

[Page 126]

to the findings of a commission of technical experts which the Tribunal will find on Page 165, reverse side of the document book, paragraph 2.

Special research took place in the gas chambers. On the basis of exact chemical reactions it was established that poisoning in gas chambers was done by means of hydrocyanic acid, Cyclone "A" and Cyclone "B," and also carbon monoxide.

I quote only one paragraph from the findings of the technical experts' commission:-

"Technical and medico-chemical analysis of the gas chambers in the concentration camps in Maidanek" - that is on Page 319 of the document book, third paragraph - "confirms and proves that all those chambers, especially the first, second, third and fourth, were designed and used for systematic and mass extermination of people by means of poisonous gases, such as hydrocyanic acid and carbon-monoxide."
I omit the following extracts of my statement which describe the regime in the camps of Auschwitz and Maidanek. I consider that the Tribunal has already a very clear idea of this. The majority of the people were sent immediately to their death in gas chambers, while one fifth or one sixth of them, left in the camp, were subjected to starvation and killed afterwards. I had the intention of presenting many documents and excerpts from documents which confirm this fact, but to save time, I omit them, and pass on to Page 324 of my statement. I mention this for the convenience of the interpreters. I quote several facts which deal with cynical and repugnant plundering of inmates who were killed in Maidanek and Auschwitz. I ask the Tribunal to refer simultaneously with the text I am going to present to the Auschwitz album, where on Page 27 you will see a picture of suitcases, which were the property of the inmates; on Page 28 suitcases with labels of different countries and on Page 39 a colossal warehouse of children's clothes; the same on Page 33.

The document which has not been presented in time, your Honour, is the correspondence with the Kori firm now presented to the Tribunal. I ask to be excused for the delay. I quote only that particular part of the report on Auschwitz, which the Tribunal will find on Page 325, on the reverse side of the document book, where is stated what was discovered by the commission at the warehouses of this camp. I quote one paragraph; this is on Page 325, second paragraph:-

"On the grounds of the Auschwitz Camp there were thirty- five special warehouses for sorting and packing the belongings and clothes. Before the retreat under the pressure of the Red Army, twenty-nine of these warehouses were burned with the things stored in them. In the remaining six were discovered:-
1. Men's clothes and underwear . . . . . . . . . . . 348,820 sets
, 2. Women's clothes and underwear . . . . . . .836,255 sets
3. Women's footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,525 pairs
4. Men's footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38,000 pairs
5. Rugs and carpets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13,964 pieces."
I omit the following two paragraphs and I quote:-

THE PRESIDENT: It is time to adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honours, the same picture of organised plundering of the murdered persons was ascertained by the commission during the investigation of Maidanek. I will not quote this part of the communique of the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, in full, but only one excerpt of the general economical administration of the S.S. which the Tribunal will find on the back of Page 66 of the document book, third paragraph:

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