Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 7
COL. POKROVSKY: […] This circumstance must be stressed so that the Tribunal may have a perfectly clear picture of the food situation prevalent among Soviet prisoners of war in the various camps. Regardless of the
14 Feb. 46
territory in which the camp was located, all Soviet prisoners of war were exposed to a regime of hunger with the same sustained and systematic cruelty.
While I am thus reporting on the Hitlerian atrocities perpetrated on the prisoners, I find that we now have at our disposal several court verdicts pronounced on the fascist criminals who committed their crimes in the temporarily occupied territories. In accordance with Article 21 of the Charter, I submit to the Tribunal as Exhibit Number USSR-87 (Document Number USSR-87) the verdict of a district military tribunal. You will find the entire verdict on Page 214 up to Page 221. It was pronounced in Smolensk, on 19 December 1945. The Tribunal inflicted penalties varying from 12 years hard labor to death by hanging, on 10 Hitlerites directly guilty of the numerous crimes committed in the city and region of Smolensk.
I shall not quote the document, but shall merely mention that on Pages 4, 5, and 6 of the verdict, in passages marked in your copies-these pages, that is, 4, 5, and 6 of the verdict, are to be found in your document book on Pages 218, 219, and 222-information is contained how, as a result of pseudo-scientific experiments on prisoners of war by persons who, to the undying shame of German medicine, were known in Germany as professors and doctors, tortured and murdered the prisoners by blood poisoning. The sentence presents further evidence that, as a result of savage ill-treatment by the German escort conveying Soviet prisoners of war, some 10,000 exhausted, half-dead captives perished between Vyasma and Smolensk.
It is precisely this passage, this information, which you will find in Subparagraph 3 of the verdict. It appears on Page 218 of your document book. The verdict reflects the systematic mass shooting of prisoners of war in Camp 126, in the city of Smolensk-'`in Transit Camp 126 South"-during the transfer of the prisoners to the camp and to the hospital. The verdict particularly emphasizes the fact that prisoners of war, too exhausted to work, were shot.
I should now like to turn to the brutalities committed by the Hitlerites towards members of the Czechoslovakian, Polish, and Yugoslavian Armies. We find, in the Indictment, that one of the most important criminal acts for which the major war criminals are responsible was the mass execution of Polish prisoners of war, shot in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk by the German fascist invaders.
I submit to the Tribunal, as a proof of this crone, official documents of the special commission for the establishment and the investigation of the circumstances which attended the executions. The commission acted in accordance with a directive of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union. In addition to
14 Feb. 46
members of the Extraordinary State Commission-namely Academicians Burdenko, Alexis Tolstoy, and the Metropolitan Nicolas- this commission was composed of the President of the Pan-Slavonia Committee, Lieutenant General Gundorov; the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Kolesnikov; of the People's Commissar for Education in the R.S.S.F.R., Academician Potemkin; the Supreme Chief of the Medical Department of the Red Army, General Smirnov; and the Chairman of the District Executive Committee of Smolensk, Melnikov. The commission also included several of the best known medicolegal experts.
It would take too long to read into the record that precise and detailed document which I now submit to you as Exhibit Number USSR-54 (Document Number USSR-54), which is a result of the investigation. I shall read into the record only a few comparatively short excerpts. On Page 2 of the document, which is Page 223 in your document book, we read-this passage is marked in your file:
"According to the estimates of medico-legal experts, the total number of bodies amounts to over 11,000. The medico-legal experts carried out a thorough examination of the bodies exhumed, and of the documents and material evidence found on the bodies and in the graves. During the exhumation and examination of the corpses, the commission questioned many witnesses among the local inhabitants. Their testimony permitted the determination of the exact time and circumstances of the crimes committed by the German invaders."
I believe that I need not quote everything that the Extraordinary Commission ascertained during its investigation about the crimes of the Germans. I only read into the record the general conclusions, which. summarize the work of the commission. You will find the lines read into the record on Page 43 of Exhibit Number USSR-54 if you turn to the original document, or on Page. 264 of your document book:
"On perusal of all the material at the disposal of the special communion, that is, the depositions of over 100 witnesses questioned, the data of the medico-legal experts, the documents and the material evidence and belongings taken from the graves in Katyn Forest, we can arrive at the following definite conclusions:
"1. The Polish prisoners of war imprisoned in the three camps west of Smolensk and engaged in railway construction before the war, remained there after the occupation of Smolensk by the Germans, right up to September 1941.
14 Feb. 46
"2. In the autumn of 1941, in Katyn Forest, the German occupational authorities carried out mass shootings of the Polish prisoners of war from the above-mentioned camps.
"3. Mass shootings of Polish prisoners of war in Katyn Forest were carried out by German military organizations disguised under the specific name, 'Staff 537, Engineer Construction Battalion,' commanded by Oberleutnant Arnes and his colleagues, Oberleutnant Rex and Leutnant Hott.
"4. In connection with the deterioration, for Germany, of the general military and political machinery at the beginning of 1943, the German occupational authorities, with a view to provoking incidents, undertook a whole series of measures to ascribe their own misdeeds to organizations of the Soviet authorities, in order to make mischief between the Russians and the Poles.
"5. For these purposes:
"a. The German fascist invaders, by persuasion, attempts at bribery, threats, and by barbarous tortures, endeavored to find 'witnesses' among the Soviet citizens from whom they obtained false testimony, alleging that the Polish prisoners of war had been shot by organizations of the Soviet authorities in the spring of 1940.
"b. The German occupational authorities, in the spring of 1943, brought from other places the bodies of Polish prisoners of war whom they had shot, and laid them in the turned up graves of Katyn Forest with the dual purpose of covering up the traces of their Own atrocities and of increasing the numbers of 'victims of Bolshevist atrocities' in Katyn Forest. "c. While preparing their provocative measures, the German occupational authorities employed up to 500 Russian prisoners of war for the task of digging up the graves in Katyn Forest. Once the graves had been dug, the Russian prisoners of war were shot by the Germans in order to destroy thus all proof and material evidence on the matter.
"6. The date of the legal and medical examination determined, without any shadow of doubt:
"a. That the time of shooting was autumn 1941.
"b. The application by the German executioners, when shooting Polish prisoners of war, of the identical method-a pistol shot in the nape of the neck-as used by them in the mass murders of the Soviet citizens in other towns, especially in Orel, Voronetz, Krasnodar and in Smolensk itself."
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will now recess.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 Hours.]
14 Feb. 46
COL.POKROVSKY: Point 7 of the general conclusions of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union, on which I reported in the preceding session, states:
"The conclusions reached, after studying the affidavits and medico-legal examinations concerning the shooting of Polish military prisoners of war by Germans in the autumn of 1941, fully confirmed the material evidence and documents discovered in the Katyn graves.
"8. By shooting the Polish prisoners of war in Katyn Forest, the German fascist invaders consistently realized their policy for the physical extermination of the Slav peoples."
Here follow the signatures of all the members of the Commission.
The Katyn massacres did not exhaust the Hitler crimes against the soldiers of the Polish Army. In the report of the Polish Government, submitted by me to the Tribunal as Exhibit Number USSR-93 (Document Number USSR-93), we find a series of proofs confirming the breach by the Hitlerite conspirators of the elementary rules of international law governing the customs and laws of war; on Page 36 of this report by the Polish Government-it is on Page 285 of your document book-we find, as an outstanding part of the material collected, the ill-treatment of prisoners of war and their extermination. It is said in the report-and I quote:
"As and when the Polish officers and other ranks returned from German prisoner-of-war camps, we learn further details concerning conditions prevailing in the German camps. All these details undeniably prove the existence of a line of policy, instructions, and orders concerning the Polish prisoners of war. Ill-treatment, hardship, and inhuman conditions were of common occurrence. Murders and grievous bodily injuries were frequently encountered. A few examples confirmed by witnesses under oath are submitted later on."
I take the liberty of reading into the record some of the examples quoted in the Polish report. As a first example, I shall quote the description of an incident which occurred in a temporary prisoner-of-war camp in the city of Belsk. This material figures on Page 285 of your document book:
"On 10 October 1939 the camp commandant assembled all the prisoners and ordered those who had joined the Polish Army as volunteers to raise their hands. Three prisoners obeyed his order. They were immediately led out of the rank and placed at a distance of 25 meters from a detachment of German soldiers armed with machine guns. The commandant gave the