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-Fifth Day: Friday, 22nd February, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)


[Page 213]

"Hermann Verholtz, a corporal from the 597th Infantry Regiment of the 306th Division of the German Army, deposes as follows:'

'As a member of a demolition squad I took part in setting fire to and blowing up government buildings and dwellings on First Line, the main street of Stalino. My job was to place the explosives which I then ignited, and thus blew up the buildings. Altogether I participated in the demolition of five large houses and in the burning of several others.'"
Your Honours, one could go on with the same kind of quotations. I repeat that scores of them are contained in the documents and testimonies which we presented

[Page 214]

to the Tribunal, but I consider that there is no necessity to do that. What has already been read into the record permits us to conclude that the premeditated and deliberate devastations which were carried out by the Hitlerites in the occupied territories were really systematic and not individual acts, and that those devastations were not perpetrated only at the hand of individual officers and soldiers of the German Army, but on the orders of the German Supreme Command.

In this connection, I omit Page 11 of my report, and I begin with Page 12.

In the criminal plans of the fascist conspirators, the devastation of the capitals of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Poland occupied a particular place. Among these plans the destruction of Moscow and Leningrad received special attention.

Intoxicated by their first military successes, the Hitlerites elaborated insane plans for the destruction of the greatest cultural and industrial centres dear to the Soviet people. For this purpose they prepared special Sonderkommandos. They even advertised their "decision" in advance to refuse the capitulation of the cities which never even took place.

It is necessary to note that such expressions as "raze to the ground" or "wipe from the face of the earth" were used quite frequently by the Hitlerite conspirators. These were not only threats but criminal acts as well. As we shall see from the subsequent presentation, in some places they did succeed in razing flourishing towns and villages to the ground.

I omit one paragraph of my presentation.I shall now present two documents which reveal the intentions of the Hitlerite conspirators.

The first document is a secret directive of the Naval Staff, numbered Ia 1601/41, dated 22 September, 1941. It is entitled "The Future of the City of Petersburg". This document has already been presented by our American colleagues. Therefore, while we are also in possession of the original of this document, which was distributed in several copies, I believe that it does not have to be read into the record. With your permission, Mr. President, I shall remind the Tribunal of the contents of this directive. In this directive it is stated: "The Fuehrer has decided to wipe the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth"; that it is planned to blockade the city securely, to subject it to artillery bombardment of all calibres and by means of constant bombing from the air to raze the city to the ground. It is also decreed in the order that should there be a request for capitulation, such a request should be turned down by the Germans. Finally, it is stated in this document that this directive emanates not only from the Naval Staff, but also from the O.K.W.

I omit Page 13 of my report and begin with the last paragraph of the page.

The second document, bearing the number 123C, presented to the Court as Exhibit USSR 114, is also a secret directive of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces dated 7th October, 1941, No. 44 1675/44, and signed by the defendant Jodl. This document, your Honours, is to be found on Pages 69 and 70 in the document book. I read into the record the text of this document or rather a few excerpts from this letter on Page 14 of my presentation. I read the first paragraph of the letter:

" . . . The Fuehrer again came to the conclusion that a capitulation of Leningrad or later of Moscow is not to be accepted even if it is offered by the enemy . . ."
And further, the next to the last paragraph of this page:

" . . . Therefore, no German soldier is to enter these cities. By the fury of our fire we must force all who try to leave the city through our lines to turn back. The exodus of the population through the smaller, unguarded gaps toward the interior of Russia is to be allowed. Before the cities are taken, they are to

[Page 215]

be weakened by artillery fire and air bombing, and their population should be forced to flee.We cannot take the responsibility of endangering our. soldiers' lives in order to save in their entirety all Russian cities, nor that of feeding the population of these cities at the expense of the German Homeland. All commanding officers should be informed of this wish of the Fuehrer."
The Hitlerite conspirators began to put their criminal ideas regarding the destruction of Leningrad into effect with unprecedented ferocity.

In the Report of the Leningrad City Commission for the Investigation of the Atrocities of the German fascist Invaders, the monstrous crimes of the Hitlerites are described in detail.

This document had been presented to the Court as Exhibit USSR 85.

I shall read into the record only a general summary of the data which is presented on Page 1 of the report, which is on Page 71 of the document book. I read:

"As a result of the barbarous activities of the German fascist invaders in Leningrad and its suburbs, 8,961 household and adjoining buildings - sheds, baths, etc. - with a total volume of 5,192,427 cubic metres, were completely destroyed, and 5,869 buildings with a total volume of 14,308,288 cubic metres were partially destroyed. Completely destroyed were 20,627 dwellings, with a total volume of 25,492,780 cubic metres, and 8,788 buildings, with a total volume of 10,081,035 cubic metres were partially demolished. Completely destroyed were 295 buildings of cultural importance, with a total volume of 844,162 cubic metres, and 1,629 buildings with a total volume of 4,798,644 cubic metres were partially ruined. Six buildings dedicated to religious sects were completely, and 66 such buildings partially, destroyed. The Hitlerites destroyed, ruined and damaged various kinds of buildings valued at over 718,000,000 roubles, as well as industrial equipment and agricultural machinery and implements worth over 1,043,000,000 roubles."
This document establishes that the Hitlerites bombed and shelled, methodically and according to plan, day and night, streets, dwelling-houses, theatres, museums, hospitals, kindergartens, military hospitals, schools, institutes and street cars, and ruined the most valuable monuments of culture and art. Many thousands of bombs and shells hammered the historical buildings of Leningrad, and its quays, gardens and parks.

I omit the end of Page 16.

In conclusion, I shall permit myself to quote one of the many German testimonies which are referred to in the document, namely paragraph 4 on Page 14. Your Honours will find the testimony I am quoting on Page 84 of the document book. I quote:

"Sergeant Fritz Kepke, commanding No. 2 gun of the end battery of the 2nd detachment of the 910th Artillery Regiment, stated:
'For the bombardment of Leningrad, there was in the batteries a special stock of munitions supplied over and above the average, to an unlimited amount ...All the gun crews knew that the bombardment of Leningrad was aimed at ruining the town and annihilating its civilian population. They therefore regarded the bulletins of the German Supreme Command which spoke of shelling the "Military objectives" of Leningrad with irony.'"
The Hitlerite conspirators aimed at the complete destruction of the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade.I remind you of Document 1746-PS, presented to the Tribunal on 7 December, 1945, which is an order by Hitler, dated 27 March, 1941, dealing with the attack on Yugoslavia. It is known that this order, entitled "Directive No. 25", gives in detail the military strategy for the attack, and, besides, decrees that all the Yugoslav land defences and the city of Belgrade shall be destroyed by means of continuous day and night air raids.

[Page 216]

I omit the first paragraph of Page 18 of my report, inasmuch as the facts which are mentioned in this paragraph had been read into the record on 11 February. I shall read a few excerpts from page 22 and 23 of the official Report of the Yugoslav Government. This corresponds to Page 111 and 112 in the document book. I read:
"The planned and systematic execution of these crimes based on the orders of the Government of the Reich and of the O.K.W. is best proved by the fact that the destruction of the inhabited localities and of the population was not halted even at the time of the retreat of the German troops from Yugoslavia.

Typical for thousands of such cases is the attempted destruction of Belgrade and extermination of its citizens in October, 1944. The fighting for the liberation of Belgrade lasted from 15 to 20 October, 1944. Even before the fighting started, the Germans had prepared a plan for the systematic destruction of the city. They sent into the city a large number of specially trained units whose duties consisted of mining houses and killing the population. Although, because of the swift advance of the Red Army and of the Yugoslav National Liberation Forces, they failed to carry out their task in its entirety, they succeeded in destroying a large number of houses in the southern part of the city, and in killing a considerable number of inhabitants.

This happened to a still greater extent in the northern part of the city, on the rivers Sava and Danube. The Germans went from house to house, herded the inhabitants, unclothed and unshod, into the streets, sprayed inflammable chemicals and explosives into every apartment, and set fire to all the buildings. If a house happened to be made of a very solid material, they mined it. They fired at the inhabitants, killing defenceless people; in several large houses the inhabitants were locked in and were destroyed by fire and by mine explosions. The total damage thus caused in the city of Belgrade is estimated at the total sum of 1,127,129,069 dinars at pre- war value."

Thus, the destruction of Belgrade was prescribed by Hitler's order of 27 March, 1941, and was carried out on direct orders of the defendant Goering; in October, 1944, it was carried out by the same methods as those employed by the Hitlerites in the occupied territories of the USSR.

I shall now present evidence of the intentional and unexampled destruction by the Hitlerites of the capital of the Polish nation - Warsaw.I shall quote three documents which reveal the criminal intentions of the fascist conspirators to raze this town.

As the first document, Exhibit USSR 128, I present to the Tribunal a telegram, No. 13265, addressed to the defendant Frank, and signed by the Governor of the Warsaw District, Dr. Fischer, This document can be found on Page 148 of the document book. I read into the record the text of this telegram:

"To the Governor General and Reich Minister Dr. Frank:
At Cracow:
Warsaw, No. 13265. 11.X.44. 10/40, NS.
Subject: New Policy with Regard to Poland.

As a result of the declaration of S.S.-Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach to the Reichsfuehrer S.S., I wish to inform you of the following :

S.S. Lieutenant General von dem Bach again received an order to pacify Warsaw - that is, to raze Warsaw to the ground while the war is still on, if there is nothing against this measure from the military point of view (using the city as a fortress). Prior to destruction, all raw materials, textiles and furniture should be taken out of Warsaw. The main role in performing this task should be played by the civilian administration.

[Page 217]

I am informing you of these facts because this new order of the Fuehrer regarding the destruction of Warsaw is of the greatest importance for clarifying the future policy toward Poland.

The Governor of the Warsaw District
temporarily at Soehaczew.
signed: Dr. Fischer."

Von dem Bach mentioned in the telegram just read into the record is already known to you, your Honours; he testified at the afternoon session of the Tribunal on 7 January.

How Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach of the S.S. carried out Hitler's order regarding the destruction of Warsaw can be seen from the written evidence given by him on oath on 28 January, 1946, during his interrogation by the Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic, M. Savitzky.

I present to the Court as Exhibit USSR 313 the original record of the interrogation in German, duly signed by von dem Bach. I shall read two extracts from this record:

"When I spoke with Reinfarth and told him that such actions are detrimental to the morale and a shock to reason, Reinfarth referred to the order issued by Hitler and Himmler. This order . . ."
THE PRESIDENT: We will hear the objection.

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for the defendant Frank) : I object to the reading of the interrogation of the witness von dem Bach. The witness was heard before the Court, and it would have been possible at that time to question the witness about the matter of the interrogation here, before the Court.

Should the Soviet prosecution not wish to forego the presentation of this material, then I request that the witness von dem Bach-Zelewsky, who is still here in Nuremberg, be summoned before the Tribunal again, so that the defence may have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, do you want to say anything?

GENERAL RAGINSKY : Mr. President, this record of the interrogation of von dem Bach-Zelewsky was given under oath, and it was presented to the Soviet Delegation by the representatives of the Polish Government. The record of the interrogation is formulated according to laws of procedure, and was given under oath. Therefore, we consider it imperative and possible to present it to the Tribunal, without calling von dem Bach-Zelewsky for a second interrogation before the Tribunal. If the Tribunal decides that the testimony of Bach-Zelewsky cannot be read into the record without his being called again before the Tribunal, then, in the interests of expediting the trial, and in order not to protract the presentation of our evidence, we agree not to read this testimony into the record inasmuch as evidence regarding these facts is contained in other documents which I shall later present to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: May I ask you then, General: If the evidence given before the Polish Commission is the same as the evidence which Bach-Zelewsky gave in Court, it would be cumulative; if it is different, then surely the defendants' counsel ought to have the opportunity of cross-examining him upon it.

GENERAL RAGINSKY: The testimony which was given by Bach- Zelewsky to the Prosecutor of the Polish Republic is supplementary. Bach-Zelewsky was Dot examined before the Tribunal regarding the devestations.

THE PRESIDENT: General Raginsky, the Tribunal understood you to say that you would be prepared to withdraw this evidence in view of the fact that the witness had given evidence already and the Tribunal considers that that is the proper course to take. So then the evidence will be withdrawn and struck from the record so far as it had been put on the record.

I think this would be a good time to adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 218]

GENERAL RAGINSKY: As a result of the decision of the Tribunal I exclude Page 21 from my report and pass on to Page 22.

I will read into the record an extract from the diary of the defendant Frank, which was presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 223. This extract is on Page 45 of the document book. I have in mind the file which runs from 1 August, 1944, to 14 December, 1944, entitled " Diary," where there is a note which mentions the contents of a telegram sent by Frank to Reichminister Lammers. I read:

"On 5 August, 1944, the Governor-General sent the following telegram to Reich Minister Dr. Lammers:
'The city of Warsaw is, for the most part, engulfed in flames. Burning of the houses is the surest way to rob the insurgents of any shelter. After this uprising and its suppression, Warsaw will justly be committed to its deserved fate of being completely destroyed.'"
These documents prove that the fascist conspirators set for themselves the aim of razing to the ground the capital of the Polish State, Warsaw, and that the defendant Frank played an active part in this crime.

In all the territories of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece and Czechoslovakia which they occupied, the German fascist invaders systematically destroyed inhabited localities according to plan, under the pretence of fighting the partisans. Punitive expeditions, detachments and commandos, specially detailed by the German military command, burned down and blew up tens of thousands of villages, hamlets, and other inhabited localities.

I omit a paragraph of my report.

From the numerous documents in the possession of the Soviet Prosecution, I will quote, as examples, a few excerpts which are typical and which characterise the whole system developed by the Hitlerites.

The report of Captain Kasper, a company commander, dated 27 September, 1942, and entitled "Conclusive Report on the Results of the Punitive Expedition carried out in the Village of Borisovka from 22 to 26 September, 1942," begins as follows:

"Tasks : Company 9 must destroy the band-infested village of Borisovka".
This document has been presented to the Tribunal as Exhibit USSR 119.

(I omit the beginning of Page 42 of the report.)

In January, 1942, in the Reseknen District of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Germans destroyed the village of Audriny with its entire population, ostensibly for having aided members of the Red Army. In the towns of Latvia a notice to this effect was posted by the Chief of the German State Security Police in Latvia S.S. Obersturmbannfuehrer Strauch, in German, Latvian and Russian.

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