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-Fourth Day: Thursday, 21st February, 1946
(Part 7 of 8)


[Page 199]

Before their retreat from Mariupol:-
"The German Occupational Authorities burned down all the sixty-eight schools of the city, seventeen kindergarten schools ... and the Palace of the Pioneers."
I shall now quote a few excerpts from the document presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 45. These excerpts are found on Page 378 of your document book. The document deals with the Hitlerite crimes in Rovno and the Region of Rovno.

The city of Rovno was of special importance. It was the residence of Reichsminister Erich Koch, the closest collaborator of the defendant Rosenberg. Numerous conferences of the Hitlerite leaders for elaborating their plan for the enslavement of the Ukrainian people took place in this city.

This report of the Extraordinary State Commission, from which I now quote, established the following facts-:

"The Hitlerites, on the Ukrainian territory they had seized, endeavoured to establish a regime of slavery and serfdom and to annihilate the Ukrainian sovereignty and culture.

The vast material in possession of the Extraordinary State Commission, based on documents, testimonies of witnesses and personal inspection by members of the Commission, and their acquaintance with conditions prevailing in various cultural and educational establishments on Ukrainian territory liberated by the Red Army, leave no doubt that the German fascist barbarians had, for their aim, the destruction of Ukrainian culture and the extermination of the finest representatives of Ukrainian art and science who had fallen into their hands."

[Page 200]

I omit two paragraphs, and I quote the penultimate paragraph on this page:-
"The German fascist aggressors closed down nearly all the cultural and educational establishments in Rovno. On 3oth November, 1941, the closing down of schools in the General Kommissariat of Volyn and Podolia was officially announced in the newspaper 'Volyn'."
I omit the end of page 70, and I quote the last paragraph on Page 71 of this report:-
"The fact that all these crimes were committed in the town where the former Reichskommissar for the Ukraine, Erich Koch, was living, serves as an additional proof that all the crimes of the Hitlerite bandits were perpetrated in execution of a plan for the extermination of the Soviet people and the devastation of the Soviet territories temporarily occupied by the Hitlerites, a plan conceived and executed by the Hitlerite Government."
Destruction and Plunder of Cultural Valuables of the Capital of the Bielorussian Republic, the City of Minsk

In Section 5 of his opening statement, General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the USSR, quoted an extract from a letter of the German commissar for Bielorussia Kube, addressed to the defendant Rosenberg.

This document is a typewritten letter, signed in ink by Kube. It has several notations in pencil, evidently by Rosenberg, and it is stamped " Ministerial Bureau", and dated 3rd October, 1941. This document, identified as 1099- PS, I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 379 in evidence of the enormous proportions assumed by the plundering of historical treasures, carried out everywhere by the Hitlerites. With your permission I shall now take the liberty of quoting some additional extracts from this document, which discloses the fact that not only were the plundered treasures sent to Germany, but that they had also been stolen by individual generals of Hitler's Army.

Kube's letter reveals at the same time the existence of a previously elaborated plan for the plunder of the cultural treasures in Leningrad, Moscow and the Ukrainian cultural centres. The vandalism of the Hitlerites reached such proportions that even Kube, that hangman of the Bielorussian people, was roused to indignation. He was afraid of allowing a profitable deal to slip through his hands and sought compensation from Rosenberg.

I quote the second paragraph from the beginning of the letter:-

"Minsk possessed a large and, in part, a very valuable collection of art treasures and paintings which have now been removed almost in their entirety from the city. By order of Reichsfuehrer S.S., Reichsminister Heinrich Himmler, most of the paintings, some even during my term of office, were packed by members of the S.S. and sent to the Reich. They are worth several millions of marks and they were all taken from the General District of Bielorussia. The paintings were supposedly sent to Linz and to Konigsberg in East Prussia. I beg to have this valuable collection placed once more at the disposal of the General District of Bielorussia or, in any case, to place the monetary value of these collections with the Ministry of the Occupied Eastern Territories."
Kube, as well as the defendant Rosenberg, likewise decided that he had the right to monopolise the stolen treasures and complained that (and I quote the second part of the second paragraph of this letter):-
"General Stubenrauch has taken a valuable part of this collection and has carried it off to the area of military operations. 'Sonderfahrers', whose names have not yet been reported to me, have carried off three truck-loads of furniture, paintings and works of art."

[Page 201]

Having, along with other fascist leaders, robbed the people of Bielorussia, and taken a direct part in the mass ill- treatment and extermination of the Soviet population, Kube hypocritically declared (I quote the last paragraph of this letter):-
"Bielorussia, already rather impoverished, has suffered heavy loss through these actions."
And Kube recommended to Rosenberg, I quote:
"It is possible that specialists will be appointed beforehand for directing these measures in Leningrad and Moscow, as well as in some of the ancient Ukrainian cultural centres."
That was the ultimate goal of their desires. It is now universally known what meaning the Hitlerites attached to the word "measures" when applied to the occupied territories. It meant a regime of bloody terror, arbitrary blackguardism, violence and unrestricted plunder.

On breaking into Minsk, capital of the Bielorussian Republic, the German fascist invaders attempted to destroy the culture of the Bielorussian people and turn the Bielorussians into obedient German slaves.

As has been established by special investigations, the Hitlerite military authorities acting on direct orders from the German Government, ruthlessly destroyed scientific research institutes and schools, theatres and clubs, hospitals and polyclinics, kindergartens and day nurseries.

I am reading into the record an excerpt from the document which was presented by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit USSR 38.

"For three years the German fascist invaders in Minsk set out to destroy systematically the scientific research institutes, institutions of higher education, libraries, museums, institutions of the Academy of Sciences, theatres and clubs.

It took more than twenty years to build up the Lenin library in Minsk. In 1932 this work was completed by the construction of a special new building with a large and well-equipped depository for storing books. From this library the Germans carried off to Berlin and Konigsberg 1,500,000 extremely valuable books on the history of Bielorussia."

I omit the end of page 73 of the report.
"In their attempt to eradicate the culture of the Bielorussian people, the German fascist invaders destroyed every cultural and educational institution in Minsk . . . The libraries of the Academy of Science, containing 300,000 volumes, of the State University, the Polytechnic Institute, and the Medico- Scientific library and the public library of the city ('A. S. Pushkin') were carried away to Germany.

The Hitlerites destroyed the Bielorussian State University together with the Zoological, the Geological and Mineralogical, the Historical and Archaeological Museums as well as the Medical Institute with all its clinics. They also demolished the Academy of Aciendes with its nine institutes."

I omit the remainder of this paragraph.
"They destroyed the State Art Gallery and carried away to Germany paintings and sculptures by Russian and Bielorussian masters . . . They plundered the Bielorussian State Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the First Bielorussian Dramatic Theatre, the House of National Creative Art, together with the Houses of the Unions of Writers, Artists and Composers.

In Minsk the fascists destroyed forty-seven schools, twenty-four kindergarten schools, the Palace of the Pioneers, two maternity hospitals, three children's hospitals, five city polyclinics, twenty-seven nurseries and four children's welfare centres; the Institution of Infant and Maternity Welfare was reduced to a heap of ruins."

[Page 202]

The prosecution has at its disposal document 076-PS which is a report entitled "On Minsk Libraries," by a German corporal, Abel. This corporal had investigated all the libraries in Minsk and stated in his report that nearly all of them had been destroyed.

I present this report as Exhibit USSR 375. I consider, Mr. President, that it will be quite sufficient to read into the record individual excerpts from this report. There is no need to read the report in its entirety. It is stated, on page 75 of my report, that:-

"The Lenin library was the central library of Bielorussia. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of volumes, but the number of works is approximately 5,000,000 . . . The depositories for storing books present a desolate picture . . ."
I omit two paragraphs of my report, and I quote further:-
"The library of the Polytechnical Institute in the basement of the left wing, as well as a great number of laboratories, was devastated on a considerable scale and left in complete disorder."
The report concludes with the following sentence, which I quote:-
"The purpose of this report" - wrote the German corporal - "can only be achieved if presented for consideration to the Supreme Command, and when the Command will issue the necessary orders plainly forbidding the German soldier from behaving like a barbarian."
But such an order never followed and never could follow, since fascism and barbarism are inseparable; fascism, in fact, means barbarism.

THE PRESIDENT: What were you proposing to do after the adjournment this afternoon?

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL RAGINSKY: After the recess I will present several written documents pertaining to the destruction of cultural valuables in the Lithuanian, Esthonian and Latvian Republics and later, with the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to present a documentary film, so that at the close of the session all presentation of evidence would be completed and my report finished.

THE PRESIDENT: How long will the film take ?

LIEUTENANT- GENERAL RAGINSKY: The presentation of the documentary film will take about thirty to thirty-five minutes.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you not think that, after the vast amount of damage and spoliation to which you have drawn our attention in some detail, it would be sufficient if you were to summarise by telling us the countries in which similar spoliation had taken place? It is difficult to assimilate all this vast amount of detail.

LIEUTENANT- GENERAL RAGINSKY: I have in mind, Mr. President, to present to the Tribunal the documents which will serve as a summary and in which all the general totals will be given.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

LIEUTENANT- GENERAL RAGINSKY: I wish to draw the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that before presenting the conclusion of this report I would like to read into the record a German document referring to the same subject.

Having occupied the Lithuanian, Esthonian, and Latvian Soviet Republic, the German fascist invaders attempted to reduce the Soviet Baltic Provinces to the status of a German colony, and to enslave the people of these republics. This

[Page 203]

criminal design of the Hitlerite Government found its full expression in universal plunder, general ruin, violence, degradation, and in the mass murder of old men, women and children.

In order to Germanise the people of the Lithuanian, Esthonian and Latvian Soviet Socialist Republics, the Hitlerites destroyed by all possible means the culture of the peoples of these Republics.

I omit the remainder of page 76, 77 and 78, and from page 79. I quote one paragraph only:-

"The capital of Soviet Latvia, Riga, was declared by the occupational authorities the capital of 'Ostland' (Eastern Territory) and the seat of 'Staff Rosenberg.'"
Among the documents presented to the Tribunal by the Soviet Prosecution as Exhibit USSR 7, Exhibit USSR 39 and Exhibit USSR 41, there are a number of facts which do not and cannot exhaust the crimes perpetrated by the Hitlerites in the Soviet Baltic provinces.

Among the monstrous crimes against the peoples of the Baltic provinces, the defendant Rosenberg, the former Reichsminister, played a major part.

I read from page 81:-

"Even at the time when it was quite evident that the downfall of fascist Germany was fast approaching, when the hour of just and stem retribution was facing the Hitler criminals, the defendant Rosenberg still continued in his plundering.

As late as the end of August, 1944, Rosenberg organised and executed the plundering of cultural resources in Riga and Reval, in Dorpat and in a number of towns in the Esthonian Republic."

I draw the attention of the Tribunal to document 16i-PS dated the 23 August, entitled "Assignment" and signed by Rosenberg's Chief of Staff, Utikal.

This document is submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 376, which your Honours will find on page 400. I quote:-

"On 21 August, 1944, Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg requested Friedrich Schuller, from the headquarters of the Chief of Staff, to report on the possibilities existing for the evacuation of cultural treasures from the Eastern territories. On the basis of this report the Reichsleiter has ruled that the most precious cultural riches of the Ostland should still be removed by his staff, in so far as this can be done without interfering with the interests of the fighting forces. The Reichsleiter specified the following cultural things as having particular value:
From Riga:
the City Archives, the State Archives (the major part of these were in Edwahlen),

From Reval:
the City Archives, the Esthonian Literary Society and small collections from the town hall,

From Dorpat:
Works from the Evangelical Lutheran Consistory, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the University Library.

Collections located on Esthonian estates Jerlep, Wodja, Weissenstein and Lachmess.

Head Task Force Leader Schuller, in his capacity as acting director of the main labour group for the East, is commissioned with the carrying out of their removal and shipment.

[Page 204]

He is advised to maintain special contact with group 'North' in order to co-ordinate the execution of this mission for the Reichsleiter, with the transportation requirements of the field forces."

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