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-Third Day: Wednesday, 20th February, 1946
(Part 5 of 8)

[L. R. SHENIN continues]

[Page 154]

Your Honours, I will not take up your time, by reading the whole text of the "Green File." I shall limit myself to enumerating its remaining sections, which bear the following titles (Page 77 in the document book):
"Execution of individual economic tasks.
Economic transport.
Problems of military protection of economy.
Procuring of supplies for the troops from the resources of the country.
Utilisation of manpower, particularly of the local population.
War booty, paid labour, captured material, prize courts.
Economic objectives of war industries. Raw materials and utilisation of goods available.
Finance and credit.
Foreign trade and clearings.
Price control."
Thus the plunder of all branches of the USSR's national economy was foreseen.

To conclude, I will read into the record Keitel's order, dated 16th June, 1941, six days before the attack on the USSR, in which he instructed all military units of the German Army to be ready to execute all the directives of the "Green File".

I will now read this order (you will find it, your Honours, on Page 89 of the document book):

"By the Fuehrer's order, the Reichsmarschall has issued 'Directives for the Economic Administration of the territories to be occupied'.

These directives ("Green File") were intended for the guidance of the military command and economic authorities in the economic task within the Eastern territories to be occupied. They contain directives for meeting army requirements from the resources of the country and orders to army units to assist the economic authorities.

Army units must comply with these directives and orders. The immediate and thorough exploitation of the occupied territories in the interest of Germany's war economy, especially in the fields of fuel and food supply, is of the highest importance for the further conduct of the war."

I omit the second part of this order, which contains instructions as to how the directives of the "Green File" should be executed, and I read only the last paragraph of Keitel's order:
"The exploitation of the country must be carried out on a wide scale, with the help of field and local headquarters, in the most important agricultural and oil producing districts.


[Page 155]

The concluding provision of this document, which says that "the exploitation of the country must be carried out on a wide scale", was strictly observed by units of the German Army, and the occupied regions of the USSR from the very first day of the war were subjected to the most merciless plunder.

In confirmation of this, I shall later present to the Tribunal a series of original German documents, orders, directives, instructions, decrees, and so forth, issued by German military authorities.

Meanwhile, to finish with the "Green File", I may state in conclusion that this striking document is definite evidence of the remarkable qualifications for plunder and the vast experience in brigandage of the Hitlerite conspirators.

"The execution of the programme of pillage and brigandage".
The programme for plundering the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, conceived on a wide scale and elaborated in detail by the conspirators, was put into practice by the Hitlerite aggressors from the very first days of their attack on the USSR.

Apart from the organised plunder carried out by the vast machine specially formed for this purpose, consisting of all kinds of "agricultural leaders", "inspectors", "specialists in economics", "technical and intelligence battalions and companies", "economic groups and detachments", "military agronomists", and so forth, the so- called "material interest" of the German soldiers and officers, who had unlimited possibilities of robbing the civilian population and sending their booty to Germany, was widely encouraged by the Hitlerite Government and the Supreme Command of the German Army.

The universal plundering of the population of the towns and villages of the occupied territories of the USSR and the mass removal to Germany of the personal property of Soviet citizens, of the property taken from collective farms and co- operative unions and of the property of the State itself, was carried out according to a prearranged plan wherever the German fascist aggressors appeared.

I turn, your Honours, to the presentation of individual Soviet Government documents on this question.

Notes of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs: A few months after Hitlerite Germany's treacherous attack on the USSR, the Soviet Government had already received irrefutable data about the war crimes committed by the Hitlerite armies in the Soviet territories they occupied.

My colleagues have already presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 51 a Note of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Molotov, dated 6 January, 1942.

In order to avoid repetition and to save time, I shall read only a few excerpts from this Note, which have a direct bearing on the subject of my presentation. You will find the quoted extracts underlined on Page 99 of the document book:

"Every step which the German fascist army and its allies took on the occupied Soviet territory of the Ukraine and Moldavia, Bielorussia and Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia, the Karelo-Finnish territory and the Russian districts and regions, is marked by the ruin or destruction of countless objects or material and cultural value."
The last paragraph of this quotation
"In the villages occupied by German authorities, the peaceful peasant population is subjected to unrestrained depredation and robbery. The farmers are robbed of their property, acquired through whole decades of persistent toil, robbed of their houses, cattle, grain, clothing - of everything, down to their children's last little garments and the last handful of grain. In many cases, the Germans drive the rural population, including old people,

[Page 156]

women and children, out of their dwellings as soon as the village is occupied, and they are compelled to seek shelter in mud huts, dugouts, forests, or even under the open sky. In broad daylight the invaders strip the clothing and footwear from anyone they meet on the road, including children, savagely ill-treating those who try to protest against or offer any kind of resistance to such highway robbery.

In the villages liberated by the Red Army in the Rostov and Voroshilovgrad Regions in the Ukraine, the peasants were plundered again and again by the invaders. As successive German Army units passed through these areas each of them renewed their searches, lootings, and executions for failure to deliver up provisions. The same thing took place in the Moscow, Kalinin, Tula, Orel, Leningrad, and other regions, from which the remnants of the German troops are now being driven by the Red Army."

In order to save time I shall not read the next paragraphs of this Note, but will give an account of them to the Tribunal in my own words. They contain a whole series of concrete facts of the looting of the peaceful population in different regions of the Soviet Union, and the names of the victims as well as the list of such things and belongings as were taken from these peaceful citizens. Further on, this Note reads as follows:
"The marauding proclivities of the German officers and soldiers have spread to all the Soviet areas they have seized. The German authorities have legalised marauding in their armies and encouraged looting and violence. The German Government sees in this practice the realisation of their bandit principle that every German combatant must have 'a personal interest in the war'. Thus, in a confidential Order of 17th July, 1941, addressed to all commanders of propaganda squads in the German Army, and discovered by Red Army units when the 68th German Infantry Division was routed, explicit instructions are given to 'foster in every officer and soldier of the German Army the feeling that he has a material interest in the war'. Similar orders inciting the army to mass looting and murder of the civil population are issued to the armies of the countries fighting on the German side.

... On the German-Soviet front, and especially in the vicinity of Moscow, more and more fascist officers and soldiers can be met dressed in pilfered clothes, their pockets crammed with stolen goods and their tanks stuffed with women's and children's wearing apparel torn from their victims' bodies. The German Army is becoming more and more an army of ravenous thieves and marauders, who are looting and sacking flourishing towns and villages of the Soviet Union, ravaging and destroying the property and belongings of the working population of our villages and towns, the fruit of its honest toil. These are facts testifying to the extreme moral depravity and degeneracy of Hitlerite army, whose looting, thievery and marauding have earned it the contempt and the curses of the entire Soviet nation."

Several months later, on 27 April, 1942, in connection with the information which continued to come in regarding the crimes committed by the German fascist armies, Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R., published for the second time a Note on the monstrous crimes, atrocities and acts of violence of the German Fascist invaders in occupied Soviet territories and on the responsibility of the German Government and the High Command for these crimes.

This second Note is also submitted to the Tribunal....

THE PRESIDENT: General, what do you mean by "published" ?

L. R. SHENIN: What I mean is that this Note was first sent to all the Governments with which the USSR Government maintained diplomatic relations. The text of the Note was also published in the Soviet official Press.

[Page 157]

This document has already been presented by the Soviet prosecution as Exhibit USSR 51.

I shall read a few brief excerpts from this document which have a direct bearing on the subject of my presentation.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we had better adjourn now, and you can read it after the adjournment.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE MARSHAL: May it please the Court: I desire to announce that the defendant Streicher will be absent on account of illness.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken owing to a breakdown in the sound- recording system.)

THE PRESIDENT: Owing to the delay, the Tribunal will sit until half past five tonight without further adjournment.

Yes, Colonel.

L. R. SHENIN: I am reading into the record excerpts from the Note of the People's Commissar dated 27 April, 1942, and in order to save time I shall, with your permission, quote only a few of the most important excerpts from this Note. They are very short. In this Note, attention was drawn to the fact that the documents captured by the Soviet authorities and put at the disposal of the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs are evidence of the premeditated nature of the plunder carried out by the Hitlerites.

I read the following excerpts; last paragraph on Page 44 of my statement, Russian text:

"The appendix to Special Order No. 43761/41 of the Operative Department of the German Army, states:

'It is urgently necessary that articles of clothing be acquired by means of compulsory levies on the population of the occupied regions, enforced by every possible means. It is necessary above all to confiscate woollen and leather gloves, coats, vests and scarves, padded vests and trousers, leather and felt boots, and puttees'.

In several places liberated in the districts of Kursk and Orel, the following orders have been found:

'Property such as scales, sacks, grain, salt, kerosene, benzine, lamps, pots and pans, oilcloth, window blinds, curtains, rugs, phonographs and records must be turned into the Commandant's office. Any one violating this order will be shot'.

In the town of Iftra, in the Moscow region, the invaders 'confiscated' decorations for Christmas trees and toys. In the Shakhovskaya railway station they organised the 'delivery' by the inhabitants of children's underwear, wall clocks and samovars. In the districts still under the rule of the invaders, these searches are still going on, and the population, already reduced to the utmost poverty by the thefts which have been perpetrated continually since the first appearance of the German troops, is still being robbed".

I omit the rest of the quotation from M. Molotov's Note and conclude with the last paragraph:-
"The general character of the campaign of robbery planned by the Hitler government, and on which the German Command tried to base its plans for supplying its army and the districts in its rear, is indicated by the following facts: In 25 districts of the Tula Region alone the invaders robbed Soviet citizens of 14,048 cows, 11,860 hogs, 28,459 sheep, 213,678 chickens, geese and ducks, and destroyed 25,465 beehives".

[Page 158]

I omit the remainder of this quotation which gives an inventory of all property, cattle and fowls confiscated by the invaders from 25 districts of the Tula Province.

Your Honours, the Notes which I have read mention only a few of the innumerable crimes and cases of plunder committed by the Hitlerites on Soviet soil.

With the permission of the Tribunal I shall now present several German documents from which you will see how the German commanders and officials themselves described their soldiers' behaviour.

Later I shall read candid statements by the German fascist leaders saying that German soldiers and officers must not be hindered in their marauding activities. It is natural that under these conditions the moral disintegration of the German fascist armies should reach its culminating point. Things reached such a point that the Hitlerites began to plunder each other, thereby proving the truth of the well- known Russian proverb, "A thief stole a cudgel from a thief".

May I now quote from the document which I present to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 285.

This is an extract from a report of the German District Commissar of Zhitomir to the Commissar-General of Zhitomir, dated 30 November, 1943. You will find the document to which I refer on Page 93 in the document book.

"... Even before the German administration left Zhitomir, troops stationed there were seen to break into the apartments of Reich Germans and to appropriate everything that had any value. Even the personal luggage of Germans still working in their offices was stolen. When the town was reoccupied it was established that the houses where the Germans lived had hardly been touched by the local population, but that the troops just entering the town had already started to loot the houses and business premises..."
I read the second excerpt from the same document:
"The soldiers are not satisfied with taking the articles they can use, but they destroyed some of the remaining items; valuable furniture was used for fires; although there was plenty of wood ..."
Now I shall read into the record an excerpt from a report of the German District Commissar of the town of Korostyshev to the Commissar-General of Zhitomir. The members of the Tribunal will find this excerpt on Page 94 of the document book:
" ...Unfortunately the German soldiers behaved badly. Unlike the Russians they broke into the storehouses even when the front line was still far away. Enormous quantities of grain were stolen, including large quantities of seed. That might have been tolerated in the case of combat units. . . .Upon the return of our troops to Popelnaya, the storehouses were again broken into immediately. The 'Gebiets-und Kreislandwirt' nailed up the doors again, but the soldiers broke in once more".

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