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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
20th June to 1st July 1946

One Hundred and Sixty-Eighth Day: Monday, 1st July, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[Page 362]

DR. STAHMER: I have only one or two more questions, Mr. President.


Q. Because of your collaboration with the German authorities, were you punished by the Russian Government?

[Professor Bazilevsky Boris] A. No, I was not.

Q. Are you at liberty?

A. Not only am I at liberty, but, as I have already stated, I am at the present time a professor at two high schools.

Q. Therefore, you are back in office.

A. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, do you wish to re-examine?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President, I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, do you know whether the man, whose name I understand to be Menschagin, was told about these matters, or whether he himself had any direct knowledge of them?

THE WITNESS: From Menschagin's own words, I understood quite definitely that he had heard these things himself at the Kommandantur, particularly from von Schwetz who was the Kommandant from the beginning of the occupation.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness may retire.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I beg the Tribunal to allow me to call as witness Marko Antonov Markov, a Bulgarian citizen, Professor at the University of Sofia.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you the interpreter?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us your full name?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear before God and the law that I will interpret truthfully and to the best of my skill the evidence to be given by the witness.

(The interpreter repeated the oath.)

[Page 363]

MARKO ANTONOV MARKOV, a witness, took the stand and testified through the interpreter as follows:


Q. Will you give us your full name, please?

A. Dr. Marko Antonov Markov.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear, as a witness in this case, that I will speak only the truth, being aware or my responsibility before God and the law, and that I will withhold and add nothing.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, before this witness is examined, I would like to call to the attention of the Tribunal the fact that Dr. Stahmer asked the preceding witness a question which I understood to be as follows: How did it happen that the interpreters had the questions and the answers to your questions if you did not have them before you. Now that question implied that Dr. Stahmer had some information that the interpreters did have the answers to the questions, and I sent a note up to the interpreters, and I have the answer from the Lieutenant in charge that no one there had any answers or questions, and I think it should be made clear on the record.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think so, too.

DR. STAHMER: I was advised of this fact outside the Court. If it is not a fact, I wish to withdraw my statement. I was informed outside the Court from a trustworthy source. I do not recall the name of the person who told me, I shall have to ascertain it.

THE PRESIDENT: Such statements ought not to be made by counsel until they have verified them.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I begin the cross-examination of this witness, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: The examination, yes.



Q. Witness, I beg you to tell us briefly, without taking up the time of the Tribunal with too many details, under what conditions you were included in the so-called International Medical Commission set up by the Germans in the month of April, 1943, for the examination of the graves of Polish officers in the Katyn woods.

I beg you, when answering me, to pause between the question I put to you and your answer.

A. This occurred at the end of April, 1943. While working in the Medico-Forensic Institute, where I am still working, I was called to the telephone by Dr. Guerow, a secretary of Dr. Filoff, who was then Prime Minister of Bulgaria. I was told that as a representative of the Bulgarian Government I was to take part in the work of an international medical commission which would examine certain corpses discovered in the forest of Katyn, the corpses of Polish officers.

Not wishing to go, I answered that I had to deputise for the director of my Institute who was away in the country. Dr. Guerow told me that, according to an instruction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs who had sent the telegram, it was precisely in order to deputise for him that I would have to go there. Guerow told me to come to the Ministry. There I asked him if I could refuse to comply with this order. He answered that we were in a state of war, and that the Government could send anybody wherever and whenever they deemed it necessary.

[Page 364]

Guerow took me to the principal secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Schuchmarnov. Schuchmarnov repeated this order and told me that we were to examine the corpses of thousands of Polish officers. I answered that to examine thousands of corpses would take several months, but Schuchmarnov said that the Germans had already exhumed a great number of these corpses, and that I would have to go together with other members of the commission in order to see what had already been done, and in order to sign, as Bulgarian representative, the report of the proceedings which had already been drafted.

After that, I was taken to the German Embassy, to Councillor Mormann, who arranged all the technical details of the trip.

This was on Saturday; and on Monday morning, 26th April, I flew to Berlin. There I was met by an official of the Bulgarian Legation, and I was taken to the Hotel Adlon.

Q. Who took part in this so-called "International Commission," and when did they leave for Katyn?

A. On the next day, 27th April, we stayed in Berlin and the other members of the commission arrived there.

Q. Who were they?

A. They were the following, besides myself: Dr. Birkle, chief doctor of the Ministry of Justice and first assistant of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Bucharest; Dr. Miloslawich, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Zagreb University, who was representative for Croatia; Professor Palmieri, who was Professor for Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Naples; Dr. Orsos, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Budapest; Dr. Subik, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Bratislava, and chief of the State Department for Health for Slovakia; Dr. Haja, Professor for Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Prague, who represented the so- called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; Professor Naville, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Geneva, representative for Switzerland; Dr. Speleers, Professor for Ophthalmology at Ghent University, who represented Belgium; Dr. De Burlett, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Groningen, representing Holland; Dr. Tramsen, Vice-Chancellor of the Institute for Forensic Medicine at Copenhagen University, representing Denmark; Dr. Saxen, who was Professor for Pathological Anatomy at Helsinki University, Finland.

During the entire work of the commission, a Doctor Costedodt was missing; i he declared that he could attend only as a personal representative of President Laval.

Professor Piga from Madrid also arrived, an aged man who did not take any part in the work of the commission. It was stated later that he was ill as a result of the long journey.

Q. Did all these persons fly to Katyn?

A. All these persons came to Katyn with the exception of Professor Piga.

Q. Who besides the members of the commission left for Katyn with you?

A. On the 28th we took off from Tempelhof Aerodrome, Berlin, for Katyn. We took off in two aeroplanes; about fifteen to twenty persons were in each.

Q. Maybe you can say who exactly was there?

A. Together with us was Director Dietz, who met us and accompanied us, representing the Ministry of Public Health. There were also representatives of the Press as well as representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Q. Will you tell us now when the commission arrived in Katyn?

A. The commission arrived at Smolensk on 28th April, in the evening.

Q. How many working days did the commission stay in Smolensk, I stress working days?

A. We stayed in Smolensk two days only, 29th and 30th April, 1943, and on the 1st of May, in the morning, we left Smolensk.

Q. How many times did the members of the commission personally visit the mass graves in the Katyn Forest?

[Page 365]

A. We were twice m the Katyn Forest, in the forenoon of 29th and 30th April.

Q. I mean how many hours did you spend each time near the mass graves?

A. I think not more than three or four hours each time.

Q. Were the members of the commission present at least once during the opening of one of the graves?

A. No new graves were opened in our presence. We were shown only several graves which had already been opened before we arrived.

Q. Therefore, you were shown already opened graves, near which the corpses were already laid out, is that right?

A. Quite right. Near these opened graves were exhumed corpses already laid out there.

Q. Were the necessary conditions for an objective and comprehensive scientific examination of the corpses afforded to the members of the commission?

A. The only part of our activity which could be characterised as a scientific, medico-forensic examination was the autopsy carried out by certain members of the commission who were themselves medico-forensic experts; but there were only seven or eight of us who could lay claim to that qualification, and as far as I recall only eight corpses were cut open. Each of us operated on one corpse, except Professor Heicker, who cut open two corpses. Our further activity during these two days consisted in a rapid visit under the direction of Germans. It was like a tourists' walk during which we saw the open graves and we were shown a peasant's house, a few kilometres distant from the Katyn Forest, where, in showcases, papers and objects of various sorts were kept. We were told that these papers and objects had been found in the clothes of the corpses which had been exhumed.

Q. Were you actually present when these papers were discovered, or were they shown to you when they were already in glass cases?

A. The documents which we saw in the glass cases had already been removed from the bodies before we arrived.

Q. Were you allowed to investigate these documents, to examine these documents; for instance, to see whether the papers were impregnated with any acids coming from the corpses, from the decomposing corpses, or to carry out any other kind of scientific examination?

A. We did not carry out any scientific examination of these papers. As I have already told you, these papers were exhibited in glass cases, and we did not even touch them.

Q. But I would like you nevertheless to answer me shortly, by yes or no, a question which I have already put to you briefly. Were the facilities which were given to you and to the other members of the commission, and the conditions under which you worked, quite adequate for a scientific examination?

A. In my opinion, these working conditions can in no way be described as adequate for a complete and objective scientific examination. The only thing which bore the character of a scientific nature was the autopsy which I carried out.

Q. Did I rightly understand you, that from the 11,000 corpses which were discovered, only eight were dissected by members of the commission?

A. Quite right.

Q. In what condition were these corpses? I would like you to describe the state in which they were and also the state of the inner organs, the tissues, etc. -

A. As to the condition of the corpses in the Katyn graves, I can only judge according to the state of the corpse which I myself cut open. The condition of this corpse was, as far as I could ascertain, the same as that of all the other corpses. The skin was still well preserved, was in part leathery, of a brown-red colour, and some parts there were blue markings from the clothes. Most of the nails and hair had already fallen out. In the head of the corpse I dissected, there was a small hole, a bullet wound in the back of the head. Only a shapeless mass remained of the brain. The muscles were still preserved to such an extent that one could even see the sinews of heart muscles and valves. The inner organs were also

[Page 366]

mainly in a good state of preservation. But, of course, they were dried up, displaced and of a dark colour. The stomach bore the trace of some sort of contents. A part of the fat had turned into wax. We were impressed by the fact that, even strongly pulled, no limbs had detached themselves. I dictated a report on the spot where the examination was made. A similar report was dictated by the members of the commission who examined the corpses. This memorandum was published by the Germans, under No. 827, in the book which they published.

Q. I would like you to answer the following question. Did the medico-forensic experts testify to the fact that the corpses had been in the graves as long as three years?

A. As to that question, I could also only judge from the corpse on which I myself had held a post-mortem. The condition of this corpse, as I have already stated, was typical of the average condition of the Katyn corpses. These corpses were far from the stage of disintegration of the soft parts, since the fat was only beginning to turn into wax. In my opinion, these corpses were buried for a far shorter period of time than three years. I considered that the corpse which I cut open had been buried for not more than a year or eighteen months.

Q. Therefore, applying the criteria of the facts you had learned in Bulgaria - that is, in a country of a more southern climate than Smolensk, and where decay therefore is more rapid - you considered that the corpses that were exhumed in the Katyn Forest had been lying under the ground for not more than a year and a half? Did I understand you correctly?

A. Yes, quite right. I considered that they had been buried for not more than a year and a half.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 2nd July, 1946.)

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