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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Two Hundred and Fifteenth Day: Friday, 30th August, 1946
(Part 12 of 15)

[Page 362]

[GENERAL R. A. RUDENKO, Continued]

A confirmation of this fact can be found in the following brief quotation from the Report No. 6 of the Yugoslav State Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes:

"A group of hostages was hanged in Celje (Zilli) on hooks used by butchers for suspending meat. In Maribor the condemned victims, working in groups of five, placed the bodies of the hostages shot into cases and then loaded them on to trucks. As each team of five finished its task, it was shot, and the next group of five replaced it in the loading job. This went on continuously. The Sodna Street in Maribor was soaked with blood from these lorries. The number given, of 50,000 victims, appears too small, as several hundred were shot each time; in Granz even as many as 500 being murdered at once."
Numerous documents have been submitted to the Tribunal dealing with the mass shooting of hostages and signed by the corresponding regional chiefs of the Gestapo in Yugoslavia. I shall not dwell upon the details of these documents, since I suppose that the Tribunal still bears them clearly in mind.


The legal proceedings have thoroughly revealed those monstrous crimes which the Gestapo had committed in the temporarily occupied territory of the USSR. There the Gestapo personnel functioned either in the operational units, i.e., the Einsatzgruppen, the Einsatzkommandos, and the Sonderkommandos of the SD and of the Security Police, or else it comprised the staff of the Secret Field Police (GFP), which was usually complemented by employees both of the Gestapo and the Criminal Police.

As a rule, it was the Gestapo official who on all these occasions directly carried out the inhuman "executions" and "mass actions," acting under the general political leadership of members of the SD staff and with the assistance of officials of other police organizations, as well as units of the Waffen SS, widely used for these purposes.

Numerous cases of mass murder and torture of peaceful Soviet citizens by the Gestapo have been established at the Tribunal. As an example I shall content myself with the description of individual characteristic acts only. In the small town of Vyasma alone, by order of the chief of the Gestapo, several thousands of peaceful citizens were killed or tortured to death. The Fascist monsters not only killed their victims but made them dig their own graves.

In the village of Zaitchiki, in the Smolensk district, the men of the Gestapo drove into one house 23 old men, women and children, set the house on fire and burned alive all those inside.

In the psychiatric hospitals of Riga the Gestapo men exterminated all the inmates of these asylums.

As stated in the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the crimes of the German Fascist usurpers in the town of Rovno, and in the Rovno district, men of the Gestapo resorted to mass murder as a retaliation for each act of resistance.

When a German judge was killed by an unknown person in November, 1943, in Rovno, the Gestapo shot over 350 prisoners detained in the town prison.

It is known, from the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the crimes of the German Fascist usurpers, that the Gestapo men used death vans for the extermination of Soviet citizens. In the town of Krasnodar, and in the Krasnodar region, the Gestapo people who formed part of operational groups exterminated by carbon monoxide poisoning over 6,700 Soviet citizens, including women, old men and children who were under treatment in Krasnodar hospital, as well as persons held in the Gestapo prison.

[Page 363]

In the outskirts of the town of Krasnodar, in a big anti- tank trench, were buried several thousand bodies of Soviet citizens who had been poisoned by gas and thrown there by the Gestapo.

In the Stavropol region 54 children, who were seriously ill and were being treated at the health resort of Tiberda, were poisoned by gas in the death vans, as were 660 patients of the Stavropol psychiatric hospital.

The evidence given by Kovaltchouk, who lived in the Stavropol region, gives us an idea of the tortures practised by the Gestapo. They interrogated only at night. These interrogations were made in a special room, where special torture devices had been set up, including chains with metal bars fixed in the concrete floor, to which the prisoner's arms and legs were fastened. The arrested person was first of all stripped naked, then laid on the floor, his hands and legs shackled, after which he was beaten with rubber sticks. Sometimes a wooden board was placed on the victim's back and sharp blows were then inflicted with heavy weights on the board.

The torture chamber was so arranged that when an arrested person was tortured, the other arrested people in an adjoining ward awaiting torture were able to follow the scene. After the tortures the unconscious prisoner was temporarily thrown aside by the "modern inquisitors" and the next victim, in most cases already in a half-unconscious condition, was dragged into the room.

These unheard-of tortures were used by the Gestapo even on women.

I shall mention one example only. Such tortures during interrogation were most extensively used throughout the occupied territories of the USSR.

Recourse to medieval tortures during interrogation followed special orders emanating from the RSHA and Muller, chief of the Gestapo. In one of those top secret orders the authorities issued the following instructions: "Third degree can include the following treatment: a very simple diet (bread and water); a hard berth, a dark cell, deprival of sleep, exhausting drill and beating with birch rods."

The intelligentsia, including distinguished men of science and art who were in the Soviet territories temporarily occupied by the Germans, were likewise subjected by the Gestapo to unheard of ill-treatment and persecution.

Persecution by the Gestapo of representatives of the intelligentsia was carried out according to a plan which had been elaborated beforehand. For instance, before the German troops had occupied Lwow, detachments of the Gestapo had in their possession lists of the principal representatives of the Lwow intelligentsia who were to be exterminated. The occupation of Lwow by the Germans immediately marked the beginning of mass arrests and shootings of professors, physicians, lawyers, writers and artists. Paying no heed to the human dignity of their victims, the Gestapo subjected the arrested scientists to the mast refined tortures, after which they shot them.

An investigation carried out by units of the Red Army, after Lwow had been freed from the German occupants, showed that over 70 prominent scientists, technicians and artists had been killed by the Germans, their bodies being subsequently burned by the Gestapo.

Fearing to be held responsible for these acts, the Fascist jackals painstakingly endeavoured to conceal the fact of the extermination of the Lwow intelligentsia.

The Gestapo also took part in the torturing and killing of prisoners of war.

During the court proceedings we heard a directive of Department IV of the Reich Security Main Office, dated 17th June, 1941; it concerned the activities of detachments of the Security Police and SD in the camps of the prisoners of war.

Your Honours also know of the Muller directive dated 9th November, 1941, addressed to all the departments of the Gestapo, which dealt with the disposal of the bodies of such people as had died on their way to the execution ground.

The written testimony of Kurt Lindorf, a former employee of the Gestapo, is at the disposal of the Tribunal. This document concerns the execution of

[Page 364]

Soviet political commissars and military employees of Jewish origin, and also deals with an order of the chief of the Security Police and SD, transmitted to the local organs of the Gestapo, concerning the transfer of certain categories of escaped officers from prisoner-of-war camps to the Mauthausen concentration camp for the carrying out of the "Kugel" (bullet) action.

The Tribunal is acquainted with the order of the commander of the 6th Military District, dated 27th July, 1944, stating that recaptured escaped prisoners of war lose their rights and are to be turned over to the Gestapo, and also with Keitel's order to the armed forces, dated 4th August, 1942, which stated that the adoption of action against individual paratroopers and groups of paratroopers falls under the jurisdiction of the SD and the Gestapo.

The Gestapo actively co-operated in the deportation to German slave labour of thousands of peaceful citizens from the territories temporarily occupied by Germany and inflicted cruel repressive measures upon these persons on their arrival in Germany. In a like manner Muller, the chief of the Gestapo, in his telegram of 16th December, 1942, stated that the Gestapo could arrest some 45,000 Jews to serve as workers in the concentration camps.

In a directive of 17th December, 1942, Muller writes about this in connection with 35,000 Jews.

In the secret order of 18th July, 1941, Muller instructed the Gestapo about the necessary measures to be taken in order to prevent agitation among foreign workers.

The criminal activity of the Gestapo is of particular importance in the extermination of the Jews.

The affidavit of Wilhelm Hoettl dated 7th November, 1945, establishes the fact that the Gestapo exterminated some 6,000,000 Jews.

In the reports of the Extraordinary State Commission set up for the investigation of German Fascist atrocities in the territory of the USSR, and in other documents as well, innumerable facts of torture, of various outrages and mass murder of Jews by the Gestapo are brought forward.

The proceedings of the Court have fully confirmed the charge submitted against the criminal activities of the Gestapo.

As an organization for bloody mass terror, the Gestapo must be recognized as a criminal organization.


The Security: Service or "Sicherheitsdienst" was usually referred to in official Hitlerite police documents under the conventional abbreviation "SD." It originated as a profoundly conspiratorial espionage organization of German Fascism within the Party and the SS. The SD, as well as the SS, was organized by Himmler.

The SD was that secret organization within the SS system which, after the seizure of power by the Hitlerites, had been the first to merge with the police agencies, and had promptly been appointed to leading positions in the secret police, created in the system of the SD and security detachments, playing both before and after the organization of the RSHA - the Reich Security Main Office - the decisive role in the political intelligence system and "preventive annihilation" of elements displeasing to the Hitlerites.

The SD stood in the closest possible proximity to the Central Headquarters at the criminal Nazi conspirators, i.e., the Hitlerite Party Leadership. And that is precisely why the SD participated most actively in planning those police activities which invariably accompanied all the Hitlerite plans of aggression.

As will be shown below, it was the SD which created the first Einsatzgruppen, stood at the head of these predatory organizations of German Fascism, and organized the preparation of those atrocities which were later committed in the occupied territories of Poland, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and other countries.

[Page 365]

In an attempt to exonerate this criminal organization from the responsibilities with which it is charged, the defence started an argument about the meaning of the very term SD.

We understand the reason why the defence started this terminological discussion. The defence needs it in its endeavour to support Kaltenbrunner's version of SD as an organization with functions strictly limited to the "inter- Reich information services," and entirely alien to all police activities.

The defence, having admitted nothing but the more apparent part of the criminal activities of the SD, began this argument in order to conceal by the term "General information concerning trends and tendencies in individual circles" the remaining political and police functions practised by the SD as the peak organization of the police SS machinery.

In reality, however, the SD was a widely spread espionage organization of German Fascism which actively contributed to the realization of the criminal plans of aggression and operated inside Germany, as well as in the occupied regions and abroad.

Along with the Gestapo, it was the SD cadres who formed the backbone of the Einsatzgruppen, where the SD personnel always occupied the principal posts.

The functions of the SD can be subdivided as follows:

(1) "General Information," which literally covered everything, as shown by the SD official documents - the "Lebensgebiete" or spheres vital to the Fascist "Reich," all government offices, and social circles in Fascist Germany.

(2) The "Special Functions" referring to the elaboration of special files and lists of persons (primarily in countries which were to be invaded). The filing cards and lists contained names of people who were to be subjected to the "special treatment," i.e., either to be physically destroyed or confined in concentration camps.

(3) The function of supplying personnel for the special criminal organizations directly concerned with the realization of the Hitlerite plans for the annihilation of the politically undesirable elements and of the intellectuals in the occupied territories, and for conducting savage "executions" and "actions."

The entire staff of the SD consisted of SS men. This is understandable, seeing that the SD was an offspring of the SS and was referred to, up to the very last, as the SD of the Reichsfuehrer SS.

The widespread system of the SD included the following: Department III of the RSHA (i.e., Amt III, which consisted of the Political Intelligence Service at home and in the occupied regions); Department VI of the RSHA (Amt VI, consisting of the Foreign Intelligence Services and headed by one of Himmler's closest associates - Walter Schellenberg - whose testimony is well known to the Tribunal); and Department VII (Amt VII), sometimes called the "Department for Ideological Warfare," which in addition included a number of very important subsidiary institutions which constituted the analytical machinery both for the foreign and domestic espionage activities of the SD.

In order to rebut the statements of the defence, I should like to refer to one of the documents showing the actual position of the SD in the police and SS machinery of Hitlerite Germany.

I am now speaking of the document entitled: "Employment of the SD in the case of Czechoslovakia." The document is marked: "Secret - Of State Importance" and is dated June, 1938, i.e., more than nine months before the actual seizure of Czechoslovakia. It was found by the Red Army in the Berlin files of the SD and has been submitted to the Tribunal by the Soviet prosecution.

The contents of this document leave no doubt, first, as to the facts of the active participation of the SD in the preparation and realization of the criminal Hitlerite plans of aggression, and second, in the fact that it was specifically the SD that both initiated and organized the Einsatzgruppen.

[Page 366]

I quote some excerpts from this document. It is stated there that:
"The SD should be held in readiness to act in case of complications between the German Reich and Czechoslovakia. The SD should follow, whenever possible, on the heels of the entering troops and take over duties similar to those it held in Germany, ensure the security of political life and, as far as possible, the security of all enterprises indispensable for the national as well as for the war economy."
The entire territory of Czechoslovakia, in accordance with the territorial structure of the SD in Germany, was, beforehand, separated into large (Oberabschnitt) and small (Unterabschnitt) territorial units, and for each of these units special Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos were prepared and staffed. In the text of the document we can read that a system of Oberabschnitte for Prague, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and others, was prepared and planned. The staffing of the Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos was entirely a matter within the competence of the SD. In the text of the document we can read in this connection:
"The staffing of the SD agencies should be conducted with the following considerations in mind:

1. Requirements of the SD per se.
2. Requirements of an economy nature."

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