|Alfred M. de Zayas is an American lawyer and graduate of the Harvard Law School. A former Fulbright scholar, he holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Göttingen in West Germany. His works include Nemesis at Potsdam: The Expulsion of the Germans from the East, also available as a Bison Book.|
War is not a relation between men, but between states; in war individuals are enemies wholly by chance, not as men, not even as citizens, but only as soldiers; not as members of their country, but only as its defenders. In a word, a state can have as an enemy only another state, not men, because there can be no real relation between things possessing different intrinsic natures....|
Since the aim of war is to subdue a hostile state, a combatant has the right to kill the defenders of that state while they are armed; but as soon as they lay down their arms and surrender, they cease to be either enemies or instruments of the enemy; they become simply men once more, and no one has any longer the right to take their lives. It is sometimes possible to destroy a state without killing a single one of its members, and war gives no right to inflict any more destruction than is necessary for victory. These principles were not invented by Grotius, nor are they founded on any authority of the poets; they are derived from the nature of things; they are based on reason.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
The Social Contract, Book I, chapter 4
The Brygidky prison ... was still burning. There I met a young Ukrainian, aged about 24 years.... He claimed that 24 hours before, shortly before he was to be executed, he had succeeded in escaping from cell 3 of the left wing; he guided me through the cellars, the ground floor, and the first floor of the prison. The people who rushed in through the main entrance wailed and lamented while asking to see their relatives, with whom they had been in contact two days before by shouting from outside the prison. We discovered ... in the first four cellars a considerable number of bodies, the upper layer being relatively fresh and the lower layers in the pile already in advanced decomposition. In the fourth cellar the bodies were covered by a thin layer of sand. In the first courtyard we found several stretchers stained with blood. On one of the stretchers I saw the body of a male who had been killed by a bullet through the back of the head.... I ordered that the cellars should be immediately cleared, and in the course of the next three days 423 corpses were brought out to the courtyard for identification. Among the bodies there were young boys aged 10, 12, and 14 and young women aged 18, 20, and 22, besides old men and women....|
From there I continued to the former OGPU prison.... We broke the door leading to the lower prison rooms and saw there 4 corpses at the foot of the stairway, among them a young woman aged about 20 years, who apparently was shot at the very last minute; in the first large room the corpses were piled up to about half the height of the room.... In the courtyard were two mounds of earth from which parts of corpses stuck out. There too the recovery of the corpses was immediately begun, and they were carried to the main courtyard.... In the second courtyard of the OGPU prison I found at one of the gates a Luftwaffe cap and a parachute belt....
[At] the military prison in the northern part of the town ... the stench of decomposition was so strong and there was so much blood under the mountains of corpses that we had to wear a Polish gas mask in order to enter the cellar and carry out the necessary investigations. Young women, men and older women were piled up layer upon layer all the way to the ceiling.... The third and fourth cellars were only about three-fourths full. Over 460 corpses were taken out of these cellars. Many of the bodies showed evidence of serious torture, mutilations of arms and legs, and shackling. The recovery of the remaining bodies was stopped upon orders of the commander because as a consequence of the heat the decomposition of the bodies was already advanced, and there was no possibility of identifying the scantily dressed corpses.
|The body lying on the left bed next to the window had a superficial skin wound on the right chest, the size of the palm of my hand. The wound was several days old and had been freshly dressed. Moreover, there was a more recent bullet wound inflicted by a 6.5-mm bullet through the skull slightly over the left ear; the exit wound was about one centimeter in diameter through the right temple, which was considerably destroyed.... The body on the middle bed had a broken jaw that had been professionally bandaged ... the examination also established a fresh bullet wound on the left chest, fourth centimeters down from the nipple, in the area of the heart. The body on the third bed next to the wall had a large wound in the under side of the lower leg ... a fresh bullet wound of the same caliber as that seen in the other corpses had been inflicted on the right side of the victim's stomach, some six centimeters under the costal arch.|
On the evening of [1 July 1941] I went to the Brygidky prison and observed that already a substantial number of corpses had been taken out of the cells and brought out into the courtyard. I estimated the number of corpses at about 200.... On the same night I arranged for the burial of 50 more bodies. They were carried to the Ukrainian cemetery and interred in a mass grave.... In the course of the next day some 300 bodies were buried.... But there were still countless bodies in the cellar. They had been piled up layer upon layer all the way to the ceiling. The floor of the cellar was flooded with blood. It was not possible to carry out an orderly removal ... because of the advanced decomposition of the corpses. It was not possible to enter the cellar without an oxygen apparatus. Upon orders of the city commander lime chloride was poured over the bodies, and the openings of the cellars were bricked up. I estimate the number of bodies still remaining in the cellar at about 1,000. It is possible that there were further cellars into which we were not able to go....|
Late in the afternoon of 2 July 1941 I began the task of clearing up the NKVD prison.... I estimate that there were some 150 corpses in the courtyard.... There were also corpses in the cellars which had been covered with sand. I cannot estimate how many.... the entrances were bricked up by order of the city commander of Lvov. The bodies ... in the courtyard were taken to the Ukrainian cemetery for burial.
I had nothing to do with the clearing up of the Samarstinov prison. But I heard that the cellars ... were similarly full of corpses.... On Friday, 4 July 1941, I went to the prison of the local courthouse.... According to the prison administrator there was a mass grave in the courtyard. I myself saw a grave mound of about 4 by 6 meters. The administrator further informed me that a large number of corpses remained in the cellars.
|On 7 August 1940 I was arrested in my home by members of the NKVD on account of my links with the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] ... on the second day after the outbreak of the war I noticed a lot of movement in the prison.... around five or six in the morning the door of my cell was opened and seven NKVD men came in with the prison director.... Someone shouted: "Lie down, you whores!" And at that very moment the shooting began. Twelve of us were immediately killed, two were seriously wounded, three ... were not hit. I survived the massacre because one of the victims fell on top of me.... The NKVD men then rushed from cell to cell and shot down the detainees. After the last shots had been fired, I stood up.... Suddenly I heard them coming back. I crept under a corpse and smeared blood on my face.... The men again entered our cell and fired three more times. They continued from cell to cell, and then I heard, "Come quickly to the courtyard, the cars are ready to go." I remained a while longer in my cell waiting to see whether the NKVD men would come again.|
|In every city in western Ukraine in the first days of the war, the NKVD and its agents shot all of the political prisoners, except a mere handful who were miraculously saved. One of those, Valentyna Nahirnyak, who had been connected with the theater in Rivne, has given a graphic account of her escape. She had been in a cell with seven other women.... A band of the murderers came into the cell and shot with their automatics at the group until they fell. All but three were dead. A little later a man entered the cell and bayoneted all three of these, but Miss Nahirnyak's wounds were still not mortal, although she had received six bullet wounds and two bayonet cuts. The same process continued as the German armies advanced into the Eastern Ukraine. Here the Communists had more time than in the extreme west, but even in Vinnitsa some 700 bodies were found near the railroad station. In Kharkiv, one of the main prisons was closed and set on fire, while the NKVD remained on guard to prevent any assistance until the interior was destroyed and the inmates were all dead.|
|In the fall of 1940 I was arrested by the NKVD in Lvov because of my membership in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. I was detained in the Samarstinov prison ... until the beginning of June 1941. I was then transferred to the Brygidky prison because I was sick and I was supposed to be hospitalized for treatment of jaundice and kidney problems. But instead ... I was thrown into the cellar of the prison. When the German-Soviet war broke out on 22 June 1941 I was detained in a cell in the cellar. The cell was bursting with other women detainees.... At short intervals the guards ... called out individual prisoners or small groups, who then had to go out in the hallway with all their possessions. They kept calling people from Tuesday until Friday.... In the early hours of Saturday the voices of other prisoners from the higher floors became audible.... Right then we realized that there were no more guards in the prison, and so the detainees broke the door open and rushed into the halls.... I then went toward the Samarstinov prison, and on my way I met another woman with whom I had been interned ... she told me that according to another Samarstinov detainee my brother had been murdered there.... I went to look for his body. Upon arrival I saw that a great many people were already standing outside the gate.... The bodies were laid out in four rows. I counted 40 corpses, among them 13 women. I was able to identify three women with whom I had shared a cell.... I saw that the corpses had many broken bones. Among the male corpses I could not find my brother, perhaps because I did not know what clothing he had been wearing in prison. I asked whether there were more bodies at the prison and received a positive answer. I was told, however, that the rest of the corpses ... were unrecognizable as a result of advanced decomposition.|