The following presentation is Count Three from the International Military Tribunal of Major War Criminals. This section deal the Eastern Counties of Europe under occupation.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL J. A. OZOL (Assistant Prosecutor for the U.S.S.R.):
COUNT THREE-WAR CRIMES.
All the defendants committed War Crimes between 1 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 in Germany and in all those countries and territories occupied by the German Armed Forces since 1 September 1939, and in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and on the High Seas.
All the defendants, acting in concert with others, formulated and executed a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit War Crimes as defined in Article 6 (b) of the Charter. This plan involved, among other things, the practice of “total war” including methods of combat and of military occupation in direct conflict with the laws and customs of war, and the commission of crimes perpetrated on the field of battle during encounters with enemy armies, and against prisoners of war, and in occupied territories against the civilian population of such territories.
The said War Crimes were committed by the defendants and by other persons for whose acts the defendants are responsible (under Article 6 of the Charter) as such other persons when committing the said War Crimes performed their acts in execution of a common plan and conspiracy to commit the said War Crimes, in the formulation and execution of which plan and conspiracy all the defendants participated as leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices.
These methods and crimes constituted violations of international conventions, of internal penal laws, and of the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal law of all civilized nations, and were involved in and part of a systematic course of conduct.
(A) Murder and ill-treatment of civilian populations of or in occupied territory and on the High Seas.
Throughout the period of their occupation of territories overrun by their armed forces the defendants, for the purpose of systematically terrorizing the inhabitants, murdered and tortured civilians, and ill-treated them, and imprisoned them without legal process.
The murders and ill-treatment were carried out by divers means, including shooting, hanging, gassing, starvation, gross overcrowding, systematic undernutrition, systematic imposition of labor tasks beyond the strength of those ordered to carry them out, inadequate provision of surgical and medical services, kicking’s, beatings, brutality, and torture of all kinds, including the use of hot irons and pulling out of fingernails and the performance of experiments by means of operations and otherwise on living human subjects.
In some occupied territories the defendants interfered with religious services, persecuted members of the clergy and monastic orders, and expropriated church property. They conducted deliberate and systematic genocide, viz. the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people, and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies and others.
Civilians were systematically subjected to tortures of all kinds, with the object of obtaining information.
Civilians of occupied countries were subjected systematically to “protective arrests” whereby they were arrested and imprisoned without any trial and any of the ordinary protections of the law, and they were imprisoned under the most unhealthy and inhumane conditions.
In the concentration camps were many prisoners who were classified “Nacht und Nebel”. These were entirely cut off from the world and were allowed neither to receive nor to send letters. They disappeared without trace and no announcement of their fate was ever made by the German authorities.
Such murders and ill-treatment were contrary to international conventions, in particular to Article 46 of the Hague Regulations, 1907, the laws and customs of war, the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws of all civilized nations, the internal penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed, and to Article 6 (b) of the Charter.
The following particulars and all the particulars appearing later in this Count are set out herein by way of example only, are not exclusive of other particular cases, and are stated without prejudice to the right of the Prosecution to adduce evidence of other cases of murder and ill-treatment of civilians.
[2.] In the U.S.S.R., i.e. in the Bielorussian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Karelo-Finnish, and Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republics, in 19 regions of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, and in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the Balkans (hereinafter called the “Eastern Countries”).
From the 1st September 1939, when the German Armed Forces invaded Poland, and from the 22nd June 1941, when they invaded the U.S.S.R., the German Government and the German High Command adopted a systematic policy of murder and ill-treatment of the civilian populations of and in the Eastern Countries as they were successively occupied by the German Armed Forces. These murders and ill-treatfnents were carried on continuously until the German Armed Forces were driven out of the said countries.
Such murders and ill-treatments included:
(a) Murders and ill-treatments at concentration camps and similar establishments set up by the Germans in the Eastern Countries and in Eastern Germany including those set up at Maidanek and Auschwitz.
The said murders and ill-treatments were carried out by divers means including all those set out above, as follows:
About 1-1/2 million persons were exterminated in Maidanek and about 4 million persons were exterminated in Auschwitz, among whom were citizens of Poland, the U.S.S.R., the United States of America, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, and other countries.
In the Lwow region and in the city of Lwow the Germans exterminated about 700,000 Soviet people, including 70 persons in the field of the arts, science, and technology, and also citizens of the USA., Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Holland, brought to this region from other concentration camps.
In the Jewish ghetto from 7 September 1941 to 6 July 1943 over 133,000 persons were tortured and shot.
Mass shooting of the population occurred in the suburbs of the city and in the Livenitz forest.
In the Ganov camp 200,000 citizens were exterminated. The most refined methods of cruelty were employed in this extermination, such as disemboweling and the freezing of human beings in tubs of water. Mass shootings took place to the accompaniment of the music of an orchestra recruited from the persons interned.
Beginning with June 1943 the Germans carried out measures to hide the evidence of their crimes. They exhumed and burned corpses, and they crushed the bones with machines and used the for fertilizer.
At the beginning of 1944, in the Ozarichi region of the Bielorussian S.S.R., before liberation by the Red Army, the Germans established three concentration camps without shelters, to which they committed tens of thousands of persons from the neighbouring territories. They intentionally brought many people to these camps from typhus hospitals, for the purpose of infecting the other persons interned and for spreading the disease in territories from which the Germans were driven by the Red Army. In these camps there were many murders and crimes.
In the Estonian S.S.R. they shot tens of thousands of persons and in one day alone, 19 September 1944, in Camp Kloga, the Germans shot 2,000 peaceful citizens. They burned the bodies on bonfires.
In the Lithuanian S.S.R. there were mass killings of Soviet citizens, namely: in Panerai at least 100,000; in Kaunas more than 70,000; in Alitus about 60,000; at Prenai more than 3,000; in Villiampol about 8,000; in Mariampol about 7,000; in Trakai and neighbouing towns 37,640.
In the Latvian S.S.R. 577,000 persons were murdered.
As a result of the whole system of internal order maintained in all camps, the interned persons were doomed to die.
In a secret instruction entitled “The Internal Regime in Concentration Camps”, signed personally by Himmler in 1941 severe measures of punishment were set forth for the internees. Masses of prisoners of war were shot, or died from the cold and torture.
(b) Murders and ill-treatments at places in the Eastern Countries and in the Soviet Union, other than in the camps referred to in (a) above, included, on various dates during the occupation by the German Armed Forces:
The destruction in the Smolensk region of over 135,000 Soviet citizens.
Among these, near the village of Kholmetz of the Sychev region, when the military authorities were required to remove the mines from an area, on the order of the commander of the 101st German Infantry Division, Major General Fisler, the German soldiers gathered the inhabitants of the village of Kholmetz and forced them to remove mines from the road. All of these people lost their lives as a result of exploding mines.
In the Leningrad region there were shot and tortured over 172,000 persons, including 20,000 persons who were killed in the city of Leningrad by the barbarous artillery barrage and the bombings.
In the Stavropol region in an anti-tank trench close to the station of Mineralniye Vodi, and in other cities, tens of thousands of persons were exterminated.
In Pyatigorsk many were subjected to torture and criminal treatment, including suspension from the ceiling and other methods. Many of the victims of these tortures were then shot.
In Krasnodar some 6,700 civilians were murdered by poison gas in gas vans, or were shot and tortured.
In the Stalingrad region more than 40,000 persons were killed and tortured. After the Germans were expelled from Stalingrad, more than a thousand mutilated bodies of local inhabitants were found with marks of torture. One hundred and thirty-nine women had their arms painfully bent backward and held by wires. From some their breasts had been cut off and their ears, fingers, and toes had been amputated. The bodies bore the marks of burns. On the bodies of the men the five-pointed star was burned with an iron or cut with a knife. Some were disemboweled.
In Orel over 5,000 persons were murdered.
In Novgorod and in the Novgorod region many thousands of Soviet citizens were killed by shooting, starvation, and torture.
In Minsk tens of thousands of citizens were similarly killed.
In the Crimea peaceful citizens were gathered on barges, taken out to sea and drowned, over 144,000 persons being exterminated in this manner.
In the Soviet Ukraine there were monstrous criminal acts of the Nazi conspirators. In Babi Yar, near Kiev, they shot over 100,000 men, women, children, and old people. In this city in January 1941, after the explosion in German headquarters on Dzerzhinsky Street the Germans arrested as hostages 1,250 persons -old men, minors, women with nursing infants.
In Kiev they killed over 195,000 persons.
In Rovno and the Rovno region they killed and tortured over 100,000 peaceful citizens.
In Dnepropetrovsk, near the Transport Institute, they shot or threw alive into a great ravine 11,000 women, old men, and children.
In Kamenetz-Podolsk region 31,000 Jews were shot and exterminated, including 13,000 persons brought there from Hungary.
In the Odessa region at least 200,000 Soviet citizens were killed.
In Kharkov about 195,000 persons were either tortured to death, shot, or gassed in gas vans.
In Gomel the Germans rounded up the population in prison, and tortured and tormented them, and then took them to the center of the city and shot them in public.
In the city of Lyda in the Grodnen region, on 8 May 1942, 5,670 persons were completely undressed, driven into pens in groups of 100, and then shot by machine guns. Many were thrown in the graves while they were still alive.
Along with adults the Nazi conspirators mercilessly destroyed even children. They killed them with their parents, in groups and alone. They killed them in children’s homes and hospitals, burying the living in the graves, throwing them into flames, stabbing them with bayonets, poisoning them, conducting experiments upon them, extracting their blood for the use of the German Army, throwing them into prison and Gestapo torture chambers and concentration camps, where the children died from hunger, torture, and epidemic diseases.
From 6 September to 24 November 1942, in the region of Brest, Pinsk, Kobren, Dyvina, Malority, and Berezy-Kartuzsky about 400 children were shot by German punitive units.
In the Yanov camp in the city of Lwow the Germans killed 8,000 children in two months.
In the resort of Tiberda the Germans annihilated 500 children suffering from tuberculosis of the bone, who were in the sanatorium for the cure.
On the territory of the Latvian S.S.R. the German usurpers killed thousands of children, which they had brought there with their parents from the Bielorussian S.S.R., and from the Kalinin, Kaluga, and other regions of the R.S.F.S.R.
In Czechoslovakia as a result of torture, beating, hanging, and shooting, there were annihilated in Gestapo prisons in Brno, Seim, and other places over 20,000 persons. Moreover many thousands of internees were subjected to criminal treatment, beatings, and torture.
Both before the war as well as during the war thousands of Czech patriots, in particular Catholics and Protestants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, et cetera, were arrested as hostages and imprisoned. A large number of these hostages were killed by the Germans.
In Greece in October 1941 the male populations between 16 and 60 years of age of the Greek villages Amelofito, Kliston, Kizonia Mesovunos, Selli, Ano-Kerzilion, and Kato-Kerzilion were shot –in all 416 persons.
In Yugoslavia many thousands of civilians were murdered. Other examples are given under Paragraph (D), “Killing of Hostages”, below.
THE PRESIDENT: Paragraph (B) on Page 16 was read by the Chief Prosecutor for the French Republic. Paragraph 2 on Page 17 was omitted by him. So had you better not go on at Paragraph 2 at Page 17?
LT. COL. OZOL: 2. From the Eastern Countries:
The German occupying authorities deported from the Soviet Union to slavery about 4,978,000 Soviet citizens.
Seven hundred fifty thousand Czechoslovakian citizens were taken away from Czechoslovakia and forced to work in the German war machine in the interior of Germany.
On June 4, 1941 in the city of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, a meeting of German representatives was called with the Councilor Von Troll presiding. The purpose was to set up the means of deporting the
Yugoslav population from Slovenia. Tens of thousands of persons were deported in carrying out this plan.
Murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and of other . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Will you read Paragraph 2 at page 18?
LT. COL. OZOL: 2. In the Eastern Countries:
At Orel prisoners of war were exterminated by starvation, shooting, exposure, and poisoning.
Soviet prisoners of war were murdered en masse on orders from the High Command and the headquarters of the SIPO and SD. Tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were tortured and murdered at the “Gross Lazaret” at Slavuta.
In addition, many thousands of the persons referred to in Paragraph VIII (A) 2, above, were Soviet prisoners of war.
Prisoners of war who escaped and were recaptured were handed over to SIPO and SD for shooting.
Frenchmen fighting with the Soviet Army who were captured were handed over to the Vichy Government for “proceedings.” In March 1944, 50 R.A.F. officers who escaped from Stalag Luft III at Sagan were murdered when captured.
In September 1941, 11,000 Polish officers who were prisoners of war were killed in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk.
In Yugoslavia the German Command and the occupying authorities in the person of the chief officials of the police, the SS troops (Police Lieutenant General Rosener) and the Divisional Group Command (General Kubler and others) in the period 1941-43 ordered the shooting of prisoners of war.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, Paragraph 2 of (D).
CAPTAIN V. V. KUCHIN (Assistant Prosecutor for the U.S.S.R.) [Continuing the reading of the Indictment]: 2. In the Eastern Countries:
At Kragnevatz in Yugoslavia 2,300 hostages were shot in October 1941. At Kraljero in Yugoslavia 5,000 hostages were shot.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you turn now to (E), Paragraph 2, Page 21?
CAPT. KUCHIN: 2. Eastern Countries:
During the occupation of the Eastern Countries the German Government and the German High Command carried out, as a systematic policy, a continuous course of plunder and destruction including:
On the territory of the Soviet Union the Nazi conspirators destroyed or severely damaged 1,710 cities and more than 70,000 villages and hamlets, more than 6 million buildings and rendered homeless about 25 million persons.
Among the cities which suffered most destruction are Stalingrad, Sevastopol, Kiev, Minsk, Odessa, Smolensk, Novgorod, Pskov, Orel, Kharkov, .Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don, Stalino, and Leningrad.
As is evident from an official memorandum of the German Command, the Nazi conspirators planned the complete annihilation of entire Soviet cities. In a completely secret order of the Chief of the Naval Staff (SKL Ia No. 1601f41, dated 29 September 1941) addressed only to Staff officers, it was said:
“The Führer has decided to erase Petersburg from the face of the earth. The existence of this large city will have no further interest after Soviet Russia is destroyed. Finland has also said that the existence of this city on her new border is not desirable from her point of view. The original request of the Navy that docks, harbor, et cetera, necessary for the fleet be preserved is known to the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces, but the basic principles of carrying out operations against Petersburg do not make it possible to satisfy this request.”
“It is proposed to approach near to the city and to destroy it with the aid of an artillery barrage from weapons of different calibers and with long air attacks…”
“The problem of the lives of the population and of their provisioning is a problem which cannot and must not be decided by us.
“In this war . . . we are not interested in preserving even a part of the population of this large city.”
The Germans destroyed 427 museums, among them the wealthy museums of Leningrad, Smolensk, Stalingrad, Novgorod, Poltava, and others.
In Pyatigorsk the art objects brought there from the Rostov museum were seized.
The losses suffered by the coal mining industry alone in the Stalin region amount to 2 billion rubles. There was colossal destruction of industrial establishments in Makerevka, Carlovka, Yenakievo, Konstantinovka, Mariupol, from which most of the machinery and factories were removed.
Stealing of huge dimensions and the destruction of industrial, cultural, and other property was typified in Kiev. More than 4 million books, magazines, and manuscripts (many of which were very valuable and even unique) and a large number of artistic productions and divers valuables were stolen and carried away.
Many valuable art productions were taken away from Riga.
The extent of the plunder of cultural valuables is evidenced by the fact that 100,000 valuable volumes and 70 cases of ancient periodicals and precious monographs were carried away by Rosenberg’s staff alone.
Among further examples of these crimes are:
Wanton devastation of the city of Novgorod and of many historical and artistic monuments there; wanton devastation and plunder of the city of Rovno and of its province; the destruction of the industrial, cultural, and other property in Odessa; the destruction of cities and villages in Soviet Karelia; the destruction in Estonia of cultural, industrial, and other buildings; the destruction of medical and prophylactic institutes; the destruction of agriculture and industry in Lithuania; the destruction of cities in Latvia.
The Germans approached monuments of culture, dear to the Soviet people, with special hatred. They broke up the estate of the poet Pushkin in Mikhailovskoye, desecrated his grave, and destroyed the neighboring villages and the Svyatogor monastery.
They destroyed the estate and museum of Leo Tolstoy, “Yasnaya Polyana” and desecrated the grave of the great writer. They destroyed, in Klin, the museum of Tchaikovsky and, in Penaty, the museum of the painter Repin and many others.
The Nazi conspirators destroyed 1,670 Greek Orthodox churches, 237 Roman Catholic churches, 67 chapels, 532 synagogues, et cetera.
They also broke up, desecrated and senselessly destroyed the most valuable monuments of the Christian Church, such as the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, Novy Jerusalem in the Istrin region, and the most ancient monasteries and churches.
Destruction in Estonia of cultural, industrial, and other premises; burning down of many thousands of residential buildings; removal of 10,000 works of art; destruction of medical and prophylactic institutions; plunder and removal to Germany of immense quantities of agricultural stock including horses, cows,c pigs, poultry, beehives, and agricultural machines of all kinds.
Destruction of agriculture, enslavement of peasants, and looting of stock and produce in Lithuania.
In the Latvian Republic destruction of the agriculture by the looting of all stock, machinery, and produce.
Carrying away by Rosenberg’s headquarters of 100,000 valuable volumes and 70 cases of ancient periodicals and precious monographs; wanton destruction of libraries and other cultural buildings.
The result of this policy of plunder and destruction was to lay waste the land and cause utter desolation. The over-all value of the material loss which the U.S.S.R. has borne, is computed to be 679 billion rubles, in State prices of 1941.
Following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939 the defendants seized and stole large stocks of raw materials, copper, tin, iron, cotton, and food; caused to be taken to Germany large amounts of railway rolling stock, and many engines, carriages, steam vessels and trolley buses; robbed libraries, laboratories, and art museums of books, pictures, objects of art, scientific apparatus, and furniture; stole all gold reserves and foreign exchange of Czechoslovakia, including 23,000 kilograms of gold, of a nominal value of 5,265,000 Pounds; fraudulently acquired control and thereafter looted the Czech banks and many Czech industrial enterprises; and otherwise stole, looted, and misappropriated Czechoslovak public and private property. The total sum of defendants’ economic spoliation of Czechoslovakia from 1938 to 1945 is estimated at 200 billion Czechoslovak crowns.
(G) Wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages, and devastation not justified by military necessity.
The defendants wantonly destroyed cities . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Will you go to Paragraph 2 of (G)? The French read the first paragraph. Do you want to go to Paragraph 2 of (G)?
CAPT. KUCHIN: I have begun . . .
THE PRESIDENT: I thought we had read Paragraph 1.We might take up at Paragraph 2, beginning “In the Eastern Countries the defendants pursued . . .”
CAPT. KUCHIN: 2. Eastern Countries:
In the Eastern Countries the defendants pursued a policy of wanton destruction and devastation; some particulars of this, without prejudice to the production of evidence of other cases, are set out above under the heading “Plunder of Public and Private Property”.
In Greece in 1941 the villages of Amelofito, Kliston, Kizonia, Messovunos, Selli, Ano-Kerzilion, and Kato-Kerzilion were utterly destroyed.
In Yugoslavia on 15 August 1941 the German military command officially announced that the village of Skela was burned to the ground and the inhabitants killed on the order of the command.
On the order of the Field Commander Hoersterberg a punitive expedition from the SS troops and the field police destroyed the villages of Machkovats and Kriva Reka in Serbia and all the inhabitants were killed.
General Fritz Neidhold (369 Infantry Division), on 11 September 1944, gave an order to destroy the villages of, Zagniezde and Udora, hanging all the men and driving away all the women and children.
In Czechoslovakia the Nazi conspirators also practiced the senseless destruction of populated places. Lezaky and Lidice were burnt to the ground and the inhabitants killed.
(H) Conscription of civilian labor.
Throughout the occupied territories the defendants conscripted and forced the inhabitants to labor and requisitioned their services.
THE PRESIDENT: I think Paragraph (H) has been read, the first paragraph of it. There only remains for you to read Paragraph 2 of (H).
CAPT. KUCHIN: 2. Eastern Countries:
Of the large number of citizens of the Soviet Union and of Czechoslovakia referred to under Count Three VIII (B) 2 above, many were so conscripted for forced labor.
IX. Individual, group and organization responsibility for the offense stated in Count Three.
Reference is hereby made to Appendix A of this Indictment for a statement of the responsibility of the individual defendants for the offense set forth in this Count Three of the Indictment. Reference is hereby made to Appendix B of this Indictment for a statement of the responsibility of the groups and organizations named herein as criminal groups and organizations for the offense set forth in this Count Three of the Indictment.
THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®
SOURCE: International Military Tribunal of the Major War Criminals (LOC)
CONTRIBUTOR: Eddy Toorall