The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Sixty-Ninth Day: Wednesday, 27th February, 1946
(Part 2 of 9)

[The direct examination of ABRAM GERZEVITCH SUZKEVER by COLONEL SMIRNOV continues]

[Page 4]

Q. Tell us, how old was this girl?

A Eleven. I must state that the Germans had established the ghetto only to exterminate the Jewish population with greater ease. The head of the ghetto was the expert on Jewish questions, Muhrer, and he issued a series of mad orders. For instance, Jews were forbidden to wear whiskers. The Jews could not pray in the ghetto. When a German entered, they had to take off their hats, but were not allowed to look at him.

[Page 5]

Q. Were these official orders?

A. Yes, issued by Muhrer.

Q. Were they posted?

A. Yes, they were posted in the ghetto. The same Muhrer, when he visited the ghetto, went into the shops where the Jews were working for him and ordered all workers to fall down on the ground and bark like dogs. On Atonement Day in 1941, Schweineberg and the same Sonderkommando broke into the second ghetto and seized all the elders who were in the synagogues, and drove them to Panarai. I remember when Schweineberg went to the second ghetto and the "grabbers" seized the Jews.

Q. Who were these hunters?

A. The soldiers of the Sonderkommando who seized the Jews and whom the population called the "grabbers".

Q. So they were soldiers of the Sonderkommando, whom the population called "grabbers"?

A. Yes, that is so. These grabbers dragged the Jews out of the cellars and tried to drive them away. But the Jews knew that nobody returned alive and did not want to go. Then Schweineberg began to shoot at the inhabitants of the ghetto. I remember that there was a big dog at his side, and when this dog heard the shots, it jumped at Schweineberg and began to bite his throat like a mad dog. Then Schweineberg killed this dog, and told the Jews to bury it and to cry over its grave. We really cried then - we cried because it was not Schweineberg but the dog that had been buried.

At the end of December, 1941, an order was issued in the ghetto, which stated that the Jewish women must not bear children.

Q. I would like you to tell us how, or in what form, this order was issued by the German fascists.

A. Muhrer came to the hospital in Street No. 6 and said that an order had come from Berlin to the effect that Jewish women should not bear children, and that if the Germans found out that a Jewish woman had given birth, the child would be killed.

Towards the end of December, in the ghetto, my wife gave birth to a child, a boy, I was not in the ghetto at that time, having escaped from one of these so-called "actions". When I came to the ghetto later I found that my wife had had a baby in a ghetto hospital. But I saw the hospital surrounded by Germans and a black car standing before the door. Schweineberg was standing near the car and the grabbers of the Sonderkommando were dragging sick and old people out of the hospital and throwing them like logs into the truck. Among them, I saw the well-known Jewish writer and editor, Grodninsky, who was also dragged and dumped into this truck.

In the evening when the Germans had left I went to the hospital and found my wife in tears. It seems that when she had had her baby, the Jewish doctors of the hospital had already received the order that Jewish women must not give birth and they had hidden the baby, together with others newly born, in one of the rooms. But when this commission with Muhrer came to the hospital, they heard the cries of the babies. They broke open the door and entered the room. When my wife heard that the door had been broken, she immediately got up and ran to see what was happening to the child. She saw one German holding the baby and smearing something under its nose. Afterwards he threw it on the bed and laughed. When my wife picked up the child, there was something black under his nose. When I arrived at the hospital, I saw that my baby was dead. It was still warm.

On the next day, I went to my mother in the ghetto and I found her room empty. A prayer book was still open on the table and a glass of tea, not yet touched. I learned that in the night the Germans had surrounded this house, seized all the inhabitants and driven them off to Panarai. In the last days of December, 1941, Muhrer gave a present to the ghetto. A carload of shoes belonging to the Jews

[Page 6]

executed at Panarai was brought into the ghetto. He sent these old shoes as a gift to the ghetto. Among them I recognised my mother's.

Shortly afterwards, the second ghetto was liquidated and the German newspaper in Vilna announced that the Jews from this district had died of an epidemic.

On 23rd October, 1941, in the night, Muhrer came to the ghetto and distributed among the population of the ghetto three thousand yellow tickets, the so-called "Ausweise". Those who had these tickets were allowed to register their relatives; that meant some 9,000 persons. At that time about eighteen to twenty thousand people lived in the ghetto. Those who had these yellow tickets went to work the next day, and the others, not having these tickets, were slaughtered in the ghetto itself or driven away to Panarai.

I have a document which I found after the liberation of the city of Vilna, concerning the Jewish clothing from Panarai. If this document interests you I can show it to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you the document?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I do not know this document either, Mr. President.

A. (continuing). This document reads as follows. I will read only a few lines. (Reads in German. At the beginning there is no translation.)

"Raw Materials Centre of Vilna.
Vilna, 3rd November, 1941.
To District Commissar in Vilna:
Pursuant to your order ."
COLONEL SMIRNOV: Witness, as you have read this document, you must hand it over to the Tribunal, as otherwise we cannot assess it.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell us first of all where the document was found?

A. I found this document at the District Commissar's building in Vilna, in July 1944, when our city had been already liberated from the German invaders.

BY THE PRESIDENT: Where did you say it was found?

A. In the building of the District Commissar in Vilna in Gedemino Street.

Q. Was that the building occupied by the Germans?

A. Yes, it was the headquarters of the German District Commissar of Vilna. Hans Hincks and Muhrer lived there.

Q. Well, read the part of the document you were reading just now; we did not hear it.

A. Certainly.

"To District Commissar in Vilna

Pursuant to your order, the old Jewish clothing from Panarai is at present being disinfected by this establishment and delivered to the administration of Vilna."

THE PRESIDENT: Will you hand it in, please? (identified as Exhibit USSR 444).


Q. Please, witness, I am interested in the following question. You said that at the beginning of the German occupation 80,000 Jews lived in Vilna. How many remained after the German occupation?

A. After the occupation about 6oo Jews remained in Vilna.

Q. Thus, 79,400 persons were exterminated?

A. Yes.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Your Honours, I have no further questions to ask of the witness.

THE PRESIDENT : Does any other Chief Prosecutor want to ask any questions?


MR. DODD: No questions.

[Page 7]

THE PRESIDENT: Does any member of the defendants' counsel wish to ask any questions? No? Then the witness can retire.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I would like to modify the plan of my statement and leave out that chapter of my statement which is entitled "Religious Persecutions" to which I shall come back a little later. I would now like, with your permission, to take up that part of my statement which is entitled "Experiments on Living Persons". It is on Page 47 of the Russian text.

Before reading this part of my statement, I would like to quote only a few short extracts from a document, which have not as yet been read into the record by our American colleagues, because the main part of this document refers to experiments which were described in detail by the American Prosecution with the help of other documents. This document presented by the American Prosecution and registered as Document 400-PS is Exhibit USSR 435. It refers to experiments by Dr. Rascher. It is submitted to the Tribunal as a photostat copy, which includes a series of documents. I quote two paragraphs only from this Document 400-PS. These two paragraphs testify to the very particular interest taken by Dr. Rascher in the Auschwitz Camp. This extract is on Page 149 of the document book, last paragraph:-

"It would be simpler if I were transferred to the Waffen- SS and could visit the Auschwitz Camp with Neff, where I could by a series of large-scale experiments, solve the problem of reviving people who had been frozen on land. For these experiments Auschwitz is in every respect better adapted than Dachau, for the climate is colder there and as the camp area is larger, less attention will be attracted. The victims sometimes yell when they are being frozen."
This is a letter to the Reichsfuehrer SS.
"If it is agreeable to you, Reichsfuehrer, to have these experiments, so important for our land-forces, quickly carried out at Auschwitz (in Lublin or any other Eastern camp) I would respectfully beg you to give the necessary orders for my transfer in the near future, so that we could still profit by the cold winter weather.

"With most respectful greeting, I am, in sincere gratitude, with Heil Hitler, your always devoted ever- obedient servant, S. Rascher."

I would like to remind the Tribunal that this special interest of Dr. Rascher in the Auschwitz Camp was not accidental. In Auschwitz cruel experiments on live persons were carried out on a scale greatly exceeding all that was done in Dachau or other concentration camps of the Reich.

Our Exhibit USSR 8 has already been added to the file of the case. It is the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the Monstrous Crimes of the German Government in Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The introductory part of this report contains the following excerpt, which the members of the Tribunal will find on Page 196 of the document book. I read one paragraph only:

"Special hospitals, surgical blocks, histological laboratories and other departments were set up in the camp. But they were intended not for the treatment but for the extermination of people. Here the German professors and doctors carried out mass experiments on men, women, and children, who were in perfectly good health. They carried out experiments in sterilisation of women, in castration of men, experiments on children, artificial infection of masses of people with cancer, typhus and malaria, who were afterwards subjected to observation. They tested the action of poisonous substances on living persons."
I would like to stress that experiments in the sterilisation and castration of women and men were carried out on a particularly large scale. Whole blocks in the camp were especially designated for experiments using particularly effective methods of sterilisation and castration.

[Page 8]

I will read two short excerpts from the Report of the Extraordinary State Commission, which the Tribunal will find on the back of Page 196 of the document book, paragraph five:-
"Experiments on women were carried out in the hospital blocks of the Oswiecim Camp. Up to four hundred women were detained simultaneously in Block 10 of the camp, and experiments in sterilisation were carried out on them by means of X-rays and subsequent removal of the ovaries, experiments in inoculation of cancer in the neck of the uterus and forced abortion, and in testing contrasting substances for X-raying the uterus."
I omit three sentences and proceed with the quotation:-
"In Block 21 - that is another block, the women's block was No. 10 - mass experiments in castration of men were carried out for the purpose of studying the possibility of sterilisation by X-ray. The castration itself was carried out some time after the X-raying process. These experiments in X-raying and castration were carried out by Professor Schumann and Dr. Diering. It frequently happened that after the X-raying, one or both testicles of the subject were removed for examination."
I beg the Tribunal to allow me, in order to show the extent of these experiments, to read short excerpts from the testimony of the Dutch doctor, De Vind. It is contained in Exhibit USSR 52 already presented to the Court. I will not read the testimony in full, but will just quote the statistics, which the Tribunal may find on the back of Page 203 of the document book, last paragraph. I repeat that these numbers refer only to one block, Block 10. The following women were interned in this block:-
"50 women of different nationalities who arrived in March 1943; 100 Greek women who arrived in March 1943; 110Belgian women who arrived in April 1943; 50 French women who arrived in July 1943; 40 Dutch women who arrived in August 1943; 100 Dutch women who arrived on 15th September, 1943, and 100 Dutch women who arrived one week later, and finally 112 Polish women."

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