THE PRESIDENT: I have an announcement to make.
The Tribunal orders that any of the evidence taken on commission which the Defense Counsel or the Prosecution wish to use shall be offered in evidence by them. This evidence will then become a part of the record, subject to any objections.
Counsel for the organizations should begin to make up their document books as soon as possible and put in their requests for translations.
That is all.
DR. STAHMER: With reference to the events at Katyn, the Indictment contains only the remark: “In 9/1941 11000 Polish officers, prisoners of war, were killed in the Katyn woods near Smolensk.” The Russian Prosecution only submitted the details at the session of 2/14/1946. Document USSR-54 was then submitted to the Tribunal. This document is an official report by the Extraordinary State Commission, which was officially authorized to investigate the Katyn case. This commission, after questioning the witnesses . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal are aware of the document and they only want you to call your evidence; that is all.
DR. STAHMER: I wanted only to add, Mr. President, that according to this document, there are two accusations: One, that the period of the shooting of the Polish prisoners of war was the autumn of 1941; and the second assertion is, that the killing was carried out by some German military authority, camouflaged under the name of “Staff of Engineer Battalion 537.”
THE PRESIDENT: That is all in the document, is it not? I have just told you we know the document. We only want you to call your evidence.
DR. STAHMER: Then, as my first witness for the Defense, I shall call Colonel Friedrich Ahrens to the witness stand.
DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I have a request to make before the evidence is heard in the Katyn case. The Tribunal decided that three witnesses should be heard, and it hinted that in the interests of equality, the Prosecution could also produce only three witnesses, either by means of direct examination or by means of an affidavit. In the interests of that same principle of equality, I should be grateful if the Soviet Delegation, in the same way as the Defense, would state the names of their witnesses before the hearing of the evidence. The Defense submitted the names of their witnesses weeks ago. Unfortunately, up to now, I note that in the interests of equality and with regard to the treatment of the Defense and the Prosecution, the Soviet Delegation has so far not given the names of the witnesses.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, were you going to give me the names of the witnesses?
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, Mr. President. Today we notified the General Secretary of the Tribunal that the Soviet Prosecution intends to call three witnesses to the stand: Professor Prosorovsky, who is the Chief of the Medico-Legal Experts Commission; the Bulgarian subject, Professor of Legal Medicine at Sofia University Markov, who at the same time was a member of the so-called International Commission created by the Germans; and Professor Bazilevsky, who was the deputy mayor of Smolensk during the time of the German occupation.
[The witness Ahrens took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name?
FRIEDRICH AHRENS (Witness): Friedrich Ahrens.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, did you, as a professional officer in the German Armed Forces, participate in the second World War?
AHRENS: Yes, of course; as a professional officer I participated in the second World War.
DR. STAHMER: What rank did you hold finally?
AHRENS: At the end as colonel.
DR. STAHMER: Were you stationed in the eastern theater of war?
DR. STAHMER: In what capacity?
AHRENS: I was the commanding officer of a signal regiment of an army group.
DR. STAHMER: What were the tasks of your regiment?
AHRENS: The signal regiment of an army group had the task of setting up and maintaining communications between the army group and the neighboring units and subordinate units, as well as preparing the necessary lines of communication for new operations.
DR. STAHMER: Did your regiment have any special tasks apart from that?
AHRENS: No, with the exception of the duty of defending themselves, of taking all measures to hinder a sudden attack and of holding themselves in readiness to defend themselves with the forces at their disposal, so as to prevent the capture of the regimental battle headquarters.
This was particularly important for an army group signal regiment and its battle headquarters because we had to keep a lot of highly secret material in our staff.
DR. STAHMER: Your regiment was the Signal Regiment 537. Was there also an Engineer Battalion 537, the same number?
AHRENS: During the time when I was in the Army Group Center I heard of no unit with the same number, nor do I believe that there was such a unit.
DR. STAHMER: And to whom were you subordinated?
AHRENS: I was directly subordinated to the staff of the Army Group Center, and that was the case during the entire period when I was with the army group. My superior was General Oberhauser.
With regard to defense, the signal staff of the regiment with its first battalion, which was in close touch with the regimental staff, was at times subordinated to the commander of Smolensk; all orders which I received from that last-named command came via General Oberhauser, who either approved or refused to allow the regiment to be employed for a particular purpose.
In other words, I received my orders exclusively from General Oberhauser.
DR. STAHMER: Where was your staff accommodated?
AHRENS: I prepared a sketch of the position of the staff headquarters west of Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: I am having the sketch shown to you. Please tell us whether that is your sketch.
AHRENS: That sketch was drawn by me from memory.
DR. STAHMER: I am now going to have a second sketch shown to you. Will you please have a look at that one also, and will you tell me whether it presents a correct picture of the situation?
AHRENS: May I briefly explain this sketch to you? At the right-hand margin, that large red spot is the town of Smolensk. West of Smolensk, and on either side of the road to Vitebsk, the staff of the army group was situated together with the Air Force corps, that is south of Krasnibor. On my sketch I have marked the actual area occupied by the Army Group Center.
That part of my sketch which has a dark line around it was very densely occupied by troops who came directly under the army group; there was hardly a house empty in that area.
The regimental staff of my regiment was in the so-called little Katyn wood. That is the white spot which is indicated on the sketch; it measures about 1 square kilometer of the large forest and is a part of the entire forest around Katyn. On the southern edge of this small wood there lay the so-called Dnieper Castle, which was the regimental staff headquarters.
Two and a half kilometers to the east of the staff headquarters of the regiment there was the first company of the regiment. which was the operating company, which did teleprinting and telephone work for the army group. About 3 kilometers west of the regimental staff headquarters there was the wireless company. There were no buildings within the radius of about 1 kilometer of the regimental staff headquarters.
This house was a large two-story building with about 14 to 15 rooms, several bath installations, a cinema, a rifle range, garages, Sauna (steam baths) and so on, and was most suitable for accommodating the regimental staff. Our regiment permanently retained this battle headquarters.
DR. STAHMER: Were there also any other high-ranking staff headquarters nearby?
AHRENS: As higher staff headquarters there was the army group, which I have already mentioned, then a corps staff from the Air Force, and several battalion staffs. Then there was the delegate of the railway for the army group, who was at Gnesdovo in a special train.
DR. STAHMER: It has been stated in this Trial that certain events which have taken place in your neighborhood had been most secret and most suspicious. Will you please, therefore, answer the following questions with particular care?
How many Germans were there in the staff personnel, and what positions did they fill?
AHRENS: I had 3 officers on my staff to begin with, and then 2, and approximately 18 to 20 non-commissioned officers and men; that is to say, as few as I could have in my regimental staff, and every man in the staff was fully occupied.
DR. STAHMER: Did you have Russian personnel in your staff?
AHRENS: Yes, we had four auxiliary volunteers and some female personnel living in the immediate vicinity of the regimental staff quarters. The auxiliary volunteers remained permanently with the regimental staff, whereas the female personnel changed from time to time. Some of these women also came from Smolensk and they lived in a separate building near the regimental staff.
DR.STAHMER: Did this Russian personnel receive special instructions from you about their conduct?
AHRENS: I issued general instructions on conduct for the regimental headquarters, which did not solely apply to the Russian personnel.
I have already mentioned the importance of secrecy with reference to this regimental headquarters, which not only kept the records of the position of the army group, but also that of its neighboring units, and on which the intentions of the army group were clearly recognizable. Therefore, it was my duty to keep this material particularly secret. Consequently, I had the rooms containing this material barred to ordinary access. Only those persons were admitted generally officers who had been passed by me, but also a few noncommissioned officers and other ranks who were put under special oath.
DR. STAHMER: To which rooms did this “no admission” order refer?
AHRENS: In the first place, it referred to the telephone expert’s room, it also referred to my own room and partly, although to a smaller degree, to the adjutant’s room. All remaining rooms in the house and on the site were not off limits.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, how is this evidence about the actual conditions in these staff headquarters relevant to this question?
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, in the Russian document the allegation is contained that events of a particularly secret nature had taken place in this staff building and that a ban of silence had been imposed on the Russian personnel by Colonel Ahrens, that the rooms had been locked, and that one was only permitted to enter the rooms when accompanied by guards. I have put the questions in this connection in order to clear up the case and to prove that these events have a perfectly natural explanation on account of the tasks entrusted to the regiment and which necessitated quite obviously, a certain amount of secrecy.
For that reason, I have put these questions. May I be permitted…
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
DR. STAHMER: I have almost finished with these questions.
[Turning to the witness.] Was the Katyn wood cordoned of, and especially strictly guarded by soldiers?
Mr. President, may I remark with reference to this question that here also it had been alleged that this cordon had only been introduced by the regiment. Previously, there had been free access to the woods, and from this conclusions are drawn which are detrimental to the regiment.
AHRENS: In order to secure anti aircraft cover for the regimental staff headquarters, I stopped any timber from being cut for fuel in the immediate vicinity of the regimental staff headquarters. During this winter the situation was such that the units cut wood wherever they could get it.
On 22 January, there was a fairly heavy air attack on my position during which half a house was torn away. It was quite impossible to find any other accommodation because of the over… crowding of the area, and I therefore took additional precautions to make sure that this already fairly thin wood would be preserved r so as to serve as cover. Since, on the other hand, I am against the !;. putting up of prohibition signs, I asked the other troop units by way of verses to leave us our trees as anti aircraft cover. The wood was not closed off at all, particularly as the road had to be kept open for heavy traffic, and I only sent sentries now and then into the wood to see whether our trees were left intact.
DR. STAHMER: The Prosecution . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, at a time that is convenient to you, you will, of course, draw our attention to the necessary dates, the date at which this unit took over its headquarters and the date at which it left.
DR. STAHMER: Very well.
[Turning to the witness.] When did your unit, your regiment, move into this Dnieper Castle?
AHRENS: As far as I know, this house was taken over immediately after the combat troops had left that area in 8/1941, and it was confiscated together with the other army group accommodations and was occupied by advance parties. It was then permanently occupied by the regimental headquarters as long as I was there up to 8/1943.
DR. STAHMER: So, if I understand you correctly, it was first of all in 8/1941 that an advance party took it over?
AHRENS: Yes, as far as I know.
DR. STAHMER: When did the staff actually arrive?
AHRENS: A few weeks later.
DR. STAHMER: Who was the regimental commander at that time?
AHRENS: My predecessor was Colonel Bedenck.
DR. STAHMER: When did you take over the regiment?
AHRENS: I joined the army group during the second half of 11/1941, and after getting thoroughly acquainted with all details I took over the command of the regiment, at the end of November, if I remember rightly, on 30 November.
DR. STAHMER: Was there a proper handing over from Bedeck to you?
AHRENS: A very careful, detailed, and lengthy transfer took place, on account of the very considerable tasks entrusted to this regiment. Added to that, my superior, General Oberhauser, was an extraordinarily painstaking superior, and he took great pains to convince himself personally whether, by the transfer negotiations and the instructions which I had received, I was fully capable of taking over the responsibilities of the regiment.
DR. STAHMER: The Prosecution further alleges and claims that it was suspicious that shots were often fired in the forest. Is that true, and to what would you attribute that?
AHRENS: I have already mentioned that it was one of the main tasks of the regiment to take all the necessary measures to defend themselves against sudden attack. Considering the small number of men which I had in my regimental staff, I had to organize and take the necessary steps to enable me to obtain replacements in the shortest time possible. This was arranged through wireless communication with the regimental headquarters. I ordered that defensive maneuvers should be carried out and that defense works should be prepared around the regimental headquarters sector and that there should be maneuvers and exercises in these works together with the members of the regimental headquarters. I personally participated in these maneuvers at times and, of course, shots were fired, particularly since we were preparing ourselves for night fighting.
DR. STAHMER: There is supposed to have been a very lively and rather suspicious traffic to and around your staff building. Will you please tell us quite briefly what this traffic signified?
AHRENS: There was an extraordinary lively traffic around staff headquarters which still increased in the spring of 1941 as I was having the house rebuilt. I think I mentioned that it had been destroyed through air attacks. But, of course, the traffic increased also through the maneuvers which were held nearby. The battalions in the front area operating at 300 and 400 kilometers distance had to, and could perform their job only by maintaining personal contact with the regiment and its staff headquarters.
DR. STAHMER: There is supposed to have been considerable truck traffic which has been described as suspicious.
AHRENS: Besides our supplies, which were relatively small, the Kommandos, as I have just mentioned, were brought in by trucks; but so was, of course, all the building material which I required. Apart from that, the traffic was not unusually heavy.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know that about 25 kilometers west of Smolensk there were three Russian prisoner-of-war camps, which had originally been inhabited by Poles and which had been abandoned by the Russians when the German troops approached in 7/1941?
AHRENS: At that time I had not yet arrived. But never during the entire period I served in Russia did I see a single Pole; nor did I hear of Poles.
DR. STAHMER: It has been alleged that an order had been issued from Berlin according to which Polish prisoners of war were to be shot. Did you know of such an order?
AHRENS: No. I have never heard of such an order.
DR. STAHMER: Did you possibly receive such an order from any other office?
AHRENS: I told you already that I never heard of such an order and I therefore did not receive it, either.
DR. STAHMER: Were any Poles shot on your instructions, your direct instructions?
AHRENS: No Poles were shot on my instructions. Nobody at all was ever shot upon my order. I have never given such an order in all my life.
DR. STAHMER: Well, you did not arrive until 11/1941. Have you heard anything about your predecessor, Colonel Bedenck, having given any similar orders?
AHRENS: I have not heard anything about it. With my regimental staff, with whom I lived closely together for 21 months, I had such close connections, I knew my people so well, and they also knew me, that I am perfectly convinced that this deed was not perpetrated by my predecessor nor by any member of my former regiment. I would undoubtedly have heard rumors of it at the very least.
THE PRESIDENT: This is argument, you know, Dr. Stahmer. This is not evidence; it is argument. He is telling you what he thinks might have been the case.
DR. STAHMER: I asked whether he had heard of it from members of his regiment.
THE PRESIDENT: The answer to that would be “no,” I suppose, that he had not heard not that he was convinced that he had not done it.
DR. STAHMER: Very well.
[Turning to the witness.] After your arrival at Katyn, did you notice that there was a grave mound in the woods at Katyn?
AHRENS: Shortly after I arrived the ground was covered by snow one of my soldiers pointed out to me that at a certain spot there was some sort of a mound, which one could hardly describe as such, on which there was a birch cross. I have seen that birch cross. In the course of 1942 my soldiers kept telling me that here in our woods shootings were supposed to have taken place, but at first I did not pay any attention to it. However, in the summer of 1942 this topic was referred to in an order of the army group later commanded by General Von Harsdorff. He told me that he had also heard about it.
DR. STAHMER: Did these stories prove true later on?
AHRENS: Yes, they did turn out to be true and I was able to confirm, quite by accident, that there was actually a grave here. During the winter of 1943I think either January or February quite accidentally I saw a wolf in this wood and at first I did not believe that it was a wolf; when I followed the tracks with an expert, we saw that there were traces of scratchings on the mound with the cross. I had investigations made as to what kind of bones these were. The doctors told me “human bones.” Thereupon I informed the officer responsible for war graves in the area of this fact, because I believed that it was a soldier’s grave, as there were a number of such graves in our immediate vicinity.
DR. STAHMER: Then, how did the exhumation take place?
AHRENS: I do not know about all the details. Professor Dr. Butz arrived one day on orders from the army group, and informed me that following the rumors in my little wood, he had to make exhumations, and that he had to inform me that these exhumations would take place in my wood.
DR. STAHMER: Did Professor Butz later give you details of the result of his exhumations?
AHRENS: Yes, he did occasionally give me details and I remember that he told me that he had conclusive evidence regarding the date of the shootings. Among other things, he showed me letters, of which I cannot remember much now; but I do remember some sort of a diary which he passed over to me in which there were dates followed by some notes which I could not read because they were written in Polish. In this connection he explained to me that these notes had been made by a Polish officer regarding events of the past months, and that at the end the diary ended with the spring of 1940the fear was expressed in these notes that something horrible was going to happen. I am giving only a broad outline of the meaning.
DR. STAHMER: Did he give you any further indication regarding the period he assumed the shooting had taken place?
AHRENS: Professor Butz, on the basis of the proofs which he had found, was convinced that the shootings had taken place in the spring of 1940 and I often heard him express these convictions in my presence, and also later on, when commissions visited the grave and I had to place my house at the disposal of these commissions to accommodate them. I personally did not have anything to do whatsoever with the exhumations or with the commissions. All I had to do was to place the house at their disposal and act as host.
DR. STAHMER: It was alleged that in 3/1943 lorries had transported bodies to Katyn from outside and these bodies were buried in the little wood. Do you know anything about that?
AHRENS: No, I know nothing about that.
DR. STAHMER: Would you have had to take notice of it?
AHRENS: I would have had to take notice of it at least my officers would have reported it to me, because my officers were constantly at the regimental battle headquarters, whereas I, as a regimental commander, was of course, frequently on the way. The officer who in those days was there constantly was First Lieutenant Hodt, whose address I got to know last night from a letter.
DR. STAHMER: Were Russian prisoners of war used for these exhumations?
AHRENS: As far as I remember, yes.
DR. STAHMER: Can you tell us the number?
AHRENS: I cannot say exactly as I did not concern myself any further with these exhumations on account of the dreadful and revolting stench around our house, but I should estimate the number as being about 40 to 50 men.
DR. STAHMER: It has been alleged that they were shot afterward; have you any knowledge of that?
AHRENS: I have no knowledge of that and I also never heard of it.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
FLOTTENRICHTER OTTO KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for Defendant Donitz): Colonel, did you yourself ever discuss the events of 1940 with any of the local inhabitants?
AHRENS: Yes. At the beginning of 1943 a Russian married couple were living near my regimental headquarters; they lived 800 meters away and they were beekeepers. I, too, kept bees, and I came into close contact with this married couple. When the exhumations had been completed, approximately in 5/1943, I told them that, after all, they ought to know when these shootings had taken place, since they were living in close proximity to the graves. Thereupon, these people told me it had occurred in the spring of 1940, and that at the Gnesdovo station more than 200 Poles in uniform had arrived in railway trucks of 50 tons each and were then taken to the woods in lorries. They had heard lots of shots and screams, too.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Was the wood off limits to the local inhabitants at the time?
AHRENS: We have…
THE PRESIDENT: That is a leading question. I do not think you should ask leading questions.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Do you know whether the local inhabitants could enter the woods at the time?
AHRENS: There was a fence around the wood and according to the statements of the local inhabitants, civilians could not enter it during the time the Russians were there. The remains of the fence were still visible when I was there, and this fence is indicated on my sketch and is marked with a black line.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: When you moved into Dnieper Castle did you make inquiries as to who the former owners were?
AHRENS: Yes, I did make inquiries because I was interested. The house was built in a rather peculiar way. It had a cinema installation and its own rifle range and of course that interested me; but I failed to ascertain anything definite during the whole time I was there.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Apart from mass graves in the neighborhood of the castle, were there any other graves found?
AHRENS: I have indicated by a few dots on my sketch, that in the vicinity of the castle there were found a number of other small graves which contained decayed bodies; that is to say, skeletons which had disintegrated. These graves contained perhaps six, eight, or a few more male and female skeletons. Even I, a layman, could recognize that very clearly, because most of them had rubber shoes on which were in good condition, and there were also remains of handbags.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: How long had these skeletons been in the ground?
AHRENS: That I cannot tell you. I know only that they were decayed and had disintegrated. The bones were preserved, but the skeleton structure was no longer intact.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Thank you, that is all.
DR. HANS LATERNSER (Counsel for General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces): Mr. President . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you know the Tribunal’s ruling.
DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you have no right to ask any questions of the witness here.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr.President, I just wanted to ask you, in this unusual case, to allow me to put questions…
THE PRESIDENT: I said to you that you know the Tribunal’s ruling and the Tribunal will not hear you. We have already ruled upon this once or twice in consequence of your objections and the Tribunal will not hear you.
DR.LATERNSER: Mr.President, the Katyn case is one of the most serious accusations raised against the group.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is perfectly well aware of the nature of the allegations about Katyn and the Tribunal does not propose to make any exceptional rule in that case and it therefore will not hear you and you will kindly sit down.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I wish to state that on account of this ruling I feel myself unduly handicapped in my defense.
THE PRESIDENT: As Dr. Laternser knows perfectly well, he is entitled to apply to the Commission to call any witness who is called here, if his evidence bears upon the case of the particular organizations for which Dr. Laternser appears. I do not want to hear anything further.
DR.LATERNSER: Mr. President, the channel you point out to me is of no practical importance. I cannot have every witness who appears here called by the Commission.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, you are appearing for the Defendant Donitz, or is it Raeder?
DR. SIEMERS: Defendant Raeder.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, unless the questions you are going to ask particularly refer to the case of the Defendant Raeder, the Tribunal is not prepared to hear any further examination. The matter has been generally covered by Dr. Stahmer and also by Dr. Kranzbuhler. Therefore, unless the questions which you want to ask have some particular reference to the case of Raeder, the Tribunal will not hear you.
DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I had merely assumed that there were two reasons on the strength of which I could put a few questions: First, because the Tribunal itself has stated that within-the framework of the conspiracy all defendants had been participants; and second, that according to the statements by the Prosecution Grossadmiral Raeder, too, is considered a member of the alleged criminal organizations, the General Staff and the OKW. It was for that reason I wanted to ask one or two supplementary questions.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, if there were any allegations that in any way bore on the case against Defendant Raeder, the Tribunal would of course allow you to ask questions, but there is no allegation which in any way connects the Defendant Raeder with the allegations about the Katyn woods.
DR. SIEMERS: I am grateful to the Tribunal for that statement, Mr. President.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, may r be allowed to ask something else? May I have the question put to the Prosecution, who is to be made responsible for the Katyn case?
THE PRESIDENT: I do not propose to answer questions of that sort.
The Prosecution may now cross-examine if they want to.
CHIEF COUNSELLOR OF JUSTICE L. N. SMIRNOV (Assistant Prosecutor for the U.S.S.R.): Please tell me, Witness, since when, exactly, have you been in the Smolensk district territory?
AHRENS: I have already answered that question: since the second half of 11/1941.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer me further, where were you prior to the second part of 1941? Did you in any way have anything to do with Katyn or Smolensk or this district in general? Were you there personally in September and 10/1941?
AHRENS: No, I was not there.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is to say that you were -not there, either in September or in 10/1941, and therefore do not know what happened at that time in the Katyn forest?
AHRENS: I was not there at that time, but I mentioned earlier on that…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, I am actually only interested in a short question. Were you there personally or not? Were you able to see for yourself what was happening there or not?
THE PRESIDENT: He says he was not there.
AHRENS: No, I was not there.
THE PRESIDENT: He said he was not there in September or 10/1941.
MR.COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thank you, Mr. President.
Turning to the witness. Maybe you recall the family names of the Russian women workers who were employed at the country house in the woods?
AHRENS: Those female workers were not working in different houses. They merely worked as auxiliary kitchen personnel in our Dnieper Castle. I have not known their names at all.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That means that the Russian women workers were employed only in the villa situated in Katyn forest where the staff headquarters were located?
AHRENS: I believe that question was not translated well. I did not understand it.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I asked you whether the Russian women workers were employed exclusively in the villa in Kosig Gory where the staff headquarters were located? Is that right?
AHRENS: The women workers worked for the regimental headquarters as kitchen help, and as kitchen helpers they worked on our premises; and by our premises I mean this particular house with the adjoining houses for instance, the stables, the garage, the cellars, the boiler room.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I will mention a few names of German military employees. Will you please tell me whether they belonged to your unit? First Lieutenant Rex?
AHRENS: First Lieutenant Rex was my regimental adjutant.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell me, was he already assigned to that unit before your arrival at Katyn?
AHRENS: Yes, he was there before I came.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: He was your adjutant, was he not?
AHRENS: Yes, he was my adjutant.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Lieutenant Hodt? Hodt or Hotht
AHRENS: Lieutenant Hodt is right; but what question are you putting about Lieutenant Hodt?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am only questioning you about whether he belonged to your unit or not.
AHRENS: Lieutenant Hodt was a member of the regiment. Whether . . .
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, that is what I was asking. He belonged to the regiment which you commanded, to your army unit?
AHRENS: I did not say by that that he was a member of the regimental staff, but that he belonged to the regiment. The regiment consisted of three units.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: But he lived in the same villa, did he not?
AHRENS: That I do not know. When I arrived he was not there. I ordered him to report to me there for the first time.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I will enumerate a few other names. Corporal Rose, Private Giesecken, Oberfeldwebel Krimmenski, Feldwebel Lummert, a cook named Gustav. Were these members of the Armed Forces who were billeted in the villa?
AHRENS: May I ask you to mention the names individually once again, and I will answer you individually.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Feldwebel Lummert?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Corporal Rose?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, Storekeeper Giesecke.
AHRENS: That man’s name was Giesecken.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, that is right. I did not pronounce this name quite correctly. These were all your people or at least they belonged to your unit, did they not?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And you assert that you did not know what these people were doing in September and 10/1941?
AHRENS: As I was not there, I cannot tell you for certain.
THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.
[A recess was taken.]
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: May I continue? Mr. President, since the witness has stated that he cannot give any testimony concerning the period of September to 10/1941, I will limit myself to very short questions.
[Turning to the witness.] Witness, would you please point out the location of the villa and the forest with respect to the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway? Did the estate cover a large area?
AHRENS: My sketch is on a scale of 1 to 100000 and is drawn from memory. I estimate, therefore, that the graves were situated 200 to 300 meters directly west of the road to our Dnieper Castle, and 200 to 300 meters south of the Smolensk-Vitebsk road so that the Dnieper Castle lay a further 600 meters away.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat that?
AHRENS: South of the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, approximately 15 kilometers west of Smolensk. According to the scale 1 to 100000, as far as one is able to draw such a sketch accurately from memory, the site of these graves was 200 to 300 meters to the south, and a further 600 meters to the south, directly on the northern bend of the Dnieper, was situated our regimental staff quarters, the Dnieper Castle.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, the villa was approximately 600 meters away from the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway?
AHRENS: No, that is not correct. What I said…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please give a more or less exact figure. What was the distance between the highway and the villa, please?
AHRENS: I just mentioned it in my testimony, that is to say, the graves were about 200 to 300 meters away, and there were a further 600 meters to the castle, therefore, in all about 900 to 1000 meters. It might have been 800 meters, but that is the approximate distance as can also be seen by this sketch.
THE PRESIDENT: I am not following this. Your question, Colonel Smirnov, was: How far was it from the road to what you called the country house? Was it not?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President, I asked how far was the villa from the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you mean by the “Villa”?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: The headquarters of the unit commanded by the witness in 1941 was quartered in a villa, and this villa was situated not far from the Dnieper River, at a distance of about 900 meters from the highroad. The graves were nearer to the highway. I would like to know how far away were the headquarters from the highway, and how far away from the highway were the graves in Katyn forest.
THE PRESIDENT: What you want to know is: How far was the house in which the headquarters was situated from the highway? Is that right?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, that is exactly what wanted to know, Mr. President.
AHRENS: You put two questions to me: first of all, how far were the graves from the highway; and secondly, how far was the house from the highway. I will repeat the answer once more, the house was 800 to 1000 meters south of the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: One minute, please. I asked you primarily only about the house. Your answer concerning the graves was given on your own initiative. Now I will ask you about the. graves, how far were these mass graves from the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway?
AHRENS: From 200 to 300 meters. It might also have been 350 meters.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, the graves were 200 or 300 meters from the main road which connected two important centers? Is that right?
AHRENS: Yes, indeed. They were at a distance of 200 to 300 meters south of this, and I may say that at my time this was the most frequented road I ever saw in Russia.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That was just what I was asking you. Now, please tell me: Was the Katyn wood a real forest, or was it, rather, a park or a grove?
AHRENS: Up to now I have only spoken about the wood of Katyn. This wood of Katyn is the fenced-in wooded area of about 1 square kilometer, which I drew in my sketch. This wood is of mixed growth, of older and younger trees. There were many birch trees in this little wood. However, there were clearings in this wood, and I should say that from 30 to 40% was cleared. One could see this from the stumps of newly felled trees.
Under no circumstances could you describe this wood as a park at any rate one could not come to such a conclusion. Fighting had taken place in this wood, as one could still see trenches and fox holes.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, but anyway, you would not call Katyn wood a real forest since it was relatively a small grove in the immediate vicinity of the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway. Is that right?
AHRENS: No, that is not right. It was a forest. The entire Katyn forest was a regular forest which began near our grove and extended far beyond that. Of this Katyn forest, which was a mixed forest, part of it had been fenced in, and this part, extending over 1 square kilometer, was what we called the little Katyn wood, but it did belong to this entire wooded region south of the highway. The forest began with our little wood and extended to the west.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am not interested in the general characteristics of the wood. I would like you to answer the following short question: Were the mass graves located in this grove?
AHRENS: The mass graves were situated directly west of our entrance drive in a clearing in the wood, where there was a growth of young trees.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, but this clearing, this growth of young trees, was located inside this small grove, near the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, is that correct?
AHRENS: It was 200 to 300 meters south of the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway, and directly west of the entrance drive leading from this road to the Dnieper Castle. I have marked this spot on my sketch with, a fairly large white dot.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: One more question. As far as you know did the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway exist before the German occupation of Smolensk, or was it constructed only after the occupation?
AHRENS: When I arrived in Russia at the end of 11/1941, everything was covered with snow. Later I got the impression that this was an old road, whereas the road Minsk-Moscow was t newer. That was my impression.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I understand. Now tell me, under what circumstances, or rather, when did you first discover the cross in the grove?
AHRENS: I cannot tell the exact date. My soldiers told me about it, and on one occasion when I was going past there, about the beginning of 1/1942it could also have been at the end of 12/1941I saw this cross rising above the snow.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: This means you saw it already in 1941 or at the latest the beginning of 1942?
AHRENS: That is what I have just testified.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, certainly. Now, please be more specific concerning the date when a wolf brought you to this cross. Was it in winter or summer and what year?
AHRENS: It was the beginning of 1943.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: In 1943? And around the cross you saw bones, did you not?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No?
AHRENS: No, at first I did not see them. In order to find out whether I had not been mistaken about seeing a wolf, for it seemed rather impossible that a wolf should be so near to Smolensk, I examined the tracks together with a gamekeeper and found traces of scratching on the ground. However, the ground was frozen hard, there was snow on the ground and I did not see anything further there. Only later on, after it had been thawing my men found various bones. However, this was months later and then, at a suitable opportunity I showed these bones to a doctor and he said that these were human bones. Thereupon I said, “Then most likely it is a grave, left as a result of the fighting which has taken place here,” and that the war graves registration officer would have to take care of the graves in the same way in which we were taking care of other graves of fallen soldiers. That was the reason why I spoke to this gentleman but only after the snow had melted.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: By the way, did you personally see the Katyn graves?
AHRENS: Open or before they were opened?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Open, yes.
AHRENS: When they were open I had constantly to drive past these graves, as generally they were approximately 30 meters away from the entrance drive. Therefore, I could hardly go past without taking any notice of them.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am interested in the following: Do you remember what the depth of the layer of earth was, which covered the mass of human bodies in these graves?
AHRENS: That I do not know. I have already said that I was so nauseated by the stench which we had to put up with for several weeks, that when I drove past I closed the windows of my car and rushed through as fast as I could.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: However, even if you only casually glanced at those graves, perhaps you noticed whether the layer of earth covering the corpses was deep or shallow? Was it several centimeters or several meters deep? Maybe Professor Butz told you something about it?
AHRENS: As commander of a signal regiment I was concerned with a region which was almost half as large as Greater Germany and I was on the road a great deal. My work was not entirely carried out at the regimental battle headquarters. Therefore, in general, from Monday or Tuesday until Saturday I was with my units. For that reason, when I drove through, I did cast an occasional glance at these graves; but I was not especially interested in the details and I did not speak to Professor Butz about such details. For this reason I have only a faint recollection of this matter.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: According to the material submitted to the High Tribunal by the Soviet Prosecution, it has been established that the bodies were buried at a depth of 1/2 to 2 meters. I wonder where you met a wolf who could scratch the ground up to a depth of 2 meters.
AHRENS: I did not meet this wolf, but I saw it.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Tell me please, why you started the exhumation on these mass graves in 3/1943 only, after having discovered the cross and learned about the mass graves already in 1941?
AHRENS: That was not my concern, but a matter for the army group. I have already told you that in the course of 1942 the stories became more substantial. I frequently heard about them and spoke about it to Colonel Von Gersdorff, Chief of Intelligence, Army Group Center, who intimated to me that he knew all about this matter and with that my obligation ended. I had reported what I had seen and heard. Apart from that, all this matter did not concern me and I did not concern myself with it. I had enough worries of my own.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And now the last question. Please tell me who were these two persons with whom you had this conversation, and maybe you can recollect the names of the couple who told you about the shootings in the Katyn woods?
AHRENS: This couple lived in a small house about 800 to 1000 meters north of the entrance to our drive leading to the Vitebsk road. I do not recall their names.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: So you do not remember the names of this couple?
AHRENS: No, I do not recall the names.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: So you heard about the Katyn events from a couple whose names you do not remember, and you did not hear anything about it from other local inhabitants?
AHRENS: Please repeat the question for me.
MR COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, you heard about these Katyn events only from this couple, whose names you do not remember? From none of the other local inhabitants did you hear anything about the events in Katyn?
AHRENS: I personally heard the facts only from this couple, whereas my soldiers told me the stories current among the other inhabitants.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you know that during the investigation of the Katyn affair, or rather of the Katyn provocation, posters were placarded by the German Police in the streets of Smolensk, promising a reward to anyone giving any information in connection with the Katyn event? It was signed by Lieutenant Voss.
AHRENS: I personally did not see that poster. Lieutenant Voss is known to me by name only.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And the very last question. Do you know of the report of the Extraordinary State Commission concerning Katyn?
AHRENS: Do you mean the Russian White Paper when you mention this report?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, I mean the report of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, concerning Katyn, the Soviet report.
AHRENS: Yes, I read that report.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, you are acquainted with the fact that the Extraordinary State Commission names you as being one of the persons responsible for the crimes committed in Katyn?
AHRENS: It mentions a Lieutenant Colonel Arnes.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I have no further questions Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?
DR. STAHMER: Witness, just a little while ago you said that you did not know when First Lieutenant Hodt joined your staff. Do you know when he joined the regiment?
AHRENS: I know that he belonged to the regiment during the Russian campaign and actually right from the beginning.
DR. STAHMER: That is, he belonged to the regiment from the beginning?
AHRENS: Yes. He belonged to this regiment ever since the beginning of the Russian campaign.
DR.STAHMER: Just one more question dealing with your discussion with Professor Butz. Did Professor Butz mention anything about the last dates on the letters which he found?
AHRENS: He told me about the spring of 1940. He also showed me this diary and I looked at it and I also saw the dates, but I do not recall in detail just which date or dates they were. But they ended with the spring of 1940.
DR. STAHMER: Therefore no documents were found of a later date?
AHRENS: Professor Butz told me that no documents or notes were found which might have given indications of a later date, and he expressed his conviction that these shootings must have taken place in the spring of 1940.
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I have no further questions to put to the witness.
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen.Nikitchenko): Witness, can you not remember exactly when Professor Butz discussed with you the date at which, the corpses were buried in the mass graves?
AHRENS: May I ask to have the question repeated?
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): When did Professor Butz speak to you about the mass graves and assert that the burial of the corpses must have taken place in the spring of 1940?
AHRENS: I cannot tell you the date exactly, but it was in the spring of 1943, before these exhumations had started I beg your pardon he told me that he had been instructed to undertake the exhumation and during the exhumations he was with me from time to time; therefore it may have been in May or the end of April. In the middle of May he gave me details of his exhumations and told me among other things that which I have testified here. I cannot now tell you exactly on which days Professor Butz visited me.
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): So far as I can remember, you stated that Professor Butz arrived in Katyn. When did he actually arrive there?
AHRENS: In the spring of 1940 Professor Butz came to me and told me that on instructions of the army group, he was to undertake exhumations in my woods. The exhumations were started, and in the course of…
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): You say 1940? Or perhaps the translation is wrong?
AHRENS: 1943, in the spring of 1943. A few weeks after the beginning of the exhumations. Professor Butz visited me, when I happened to be there, and informed me; or, rather, he discussed this matter with me, and he told me that to which I have testified here. It may have been the middle of 5/1943.
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): According to your testimony I understood you to say in answer to a question put by the defense counsel, that Professor Butz asserted that the shootings had taken place in the spring of 1940 before the arrival of the commission for the exhumations. Is that correct?
AHRENS: May I repeat once more that Professor Butz…
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): It is not necessary to repeat what you have already said. I am only asking you, is it correct or not? Maybe the translation was incorrect, or maybe your testimony was incorrect at the beginning.
AHRENS: I did not understand the question just put to me. That is the reason why I wanted to explain this once more. I do not know just what is meant by this last question. May I ask this question be repeated?
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen. Nikitchenko): At the beginning, when you were interrogated by the defense counsel, I understood you to say that Professor Butz told you that the shooting had taken place in the spring of 1940, that is before the arrival of the commission for the exhumations.
AHRENS: No, that has not been understood correctly. I testified that Professor Butz came to me and told me that he was to make exhumations since it concerned my woods. These exhumations then took place, and approximately 6 to 8 weeks later Professor Butz came to me of course, he visited me on other occasions as well but approximately 6 to 8 weeks later he came to me and told me that he was convinced that, as a result of his discoveries, he was now able to fix the date of the shootings. This statement which he made to me, refers approximately to the middle of May.
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen.Nikitchenko): Were you present when the diary and the other documents which were shown to you by Professor Butz were found?
THE TRIBUNAL (Gen.Nikitchenko): You do not know where he found the diary and other documents?
AHRENS: No, that I do not know.
THE PRESIDENT: When did you first report to superior authority the fact that you suspected that there was a grave there?
AHRENS: At first, I was not suspicious. I have already mentioned that fighting had taken place there; and at first I did not attach any importance to the stories told to me and did not give this matter any credence. I believed that it was a question of soldiers who had been killed thereof war graves, like several in the vicinity.
THE PRESIDENT: You are not answering my question. I am asking you, when did you first report to superior authority that there was a grave there?
AHRENS: In the course of the summer 1942 I spoke to Colonel Von Gersdorff about these stories which had come to my knowledge. Gersdorff told me that he had heard that too, and that ended my conversation with Von Gersdorff. He did not believe it to be true; in any case he was not thoroughly convinced. That I do not know, however.
Then in the spring of 1943, when the snow had melted, the bones which had been found there were brought to me, and I then telephoned to the officer in charge of war graves and told him that apparently there were some soldiers’ graves here. That was before Professor Butz had visited me.
THE PRESIDENT: Did you make any report in writing?
AHRENS: No, I did not do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Never?
AHRENS: No, I was not in any way concerned with this matter.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.
DR. STAHMER: Then, as another witness, I should like to call Lieutenant Reinhard von Eichborn.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
[The witness Von Eichborn took the stand.]
Will you state your full name please.
REINHARD VON EICHBORN (Witness): Reinhard von Eichborn.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, what is your occupation?
VON EICHBORN: Assistant judge.
DR. STAHMER: Were you called up for service in the German Armed Forces during this war?
VON EICHBORN: Yes, in 8/1939.
DR. STAHMER: And what was your unit?
VON EICHBORN: Army Group Signal Regiment 537.
DR. STAHMER: And what was your rank?
VON EICHBORN: At the outbreak of the war, platoon leader and lieutenant.
DR. STAHMER: And at the end?
VON EICHBORN: First lieutenant.
DR. STAHMER: Were you on the Eastern Front during the war?
VON EICHBORN: Yes, from the beginning.
DR.STAHMER: With your regiment?
VON EICHBORN: No, from 1940 onward, on the staff of Army Group Center.
DR. STAHMER: Apart from this Regiment 537, was there an Engineer Battalion 537?
VON EICHBORN: In the sphere of the Army Group Center there was no Engineer Battalion 537.
DR. STAHMER: When did you arrive with your unit in the vicinity of Katyn?
VON EICHBORN: About 20 September the staff of Army Group Center transferred its headquarters to Smolensk, that is to say in the Smolensk region.
DR. STAHMER: Where had you been stationed before?
VON EICHBORN: How am I to understand this question?
DR.STAHMER: Where did you come from?
VON EICHBORN: We came from Borisov.
THE PRESIDENT: One moment. The witness said 20 September. That does not identify the year.
DR. STAHMER: In what year was this 20 September?
VON EICHBORN: 9/20/1941.
DR. STAHMER: Was Regiment 537 already there at that time?
VON EICHBORN: The staff of Regiment 537 was transferred at about the same time together with the staff of the army group to the place where the headquarters of the army group was. Advance units had already been stationed there previously, in order to set up communication facilities.
DR. STAHMER: And where was this staff accommodated?
VON EICHBORN: The staff of Army Group Signal Regiment 537 was accommodated in the so-called Dnieper Castle.
DR. STAHMER: Where was the advance unit?
VON EICHBORN’: The advance unit may have occupied this building, too or at least a part of this advance unit did to safeguard this building for the regimental staff.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know who was in command of this advance unit?
VON EICHBORN: Lieutenant Hodt was in command of this advance unit.
DR. STAHMER: When did this advance unit come to Katyn?
VON EICHBORN: Smolensk fell on about 7/17/1941. The army group had planned to put up its headquarters in the immediate vicinity of Smolensk, and, after this group had selected its quarters, this region was seized immediately after the fall of the city. The advance unit arrived at the same time as this area was seized, and that was probably in the second half of 7/1941.
DR. STAHMER: Therefore the advance unit was there from 7/1941 until 9/20/1941?
VON EICHBORN: Yes.
DR. STAHMER: And the entire staff was there from 9/20/1941?
VON EICHBORN: Yes. It may be that part of the staff arrived somewhat later, but the majority of the staff arrived on 20 September.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you speaking of the staff of the army group or the staff of the signal regiment?
VON EICHBORN: I am speaking of both staffs, because the moving of large staffs such as that of an army group could not be undertaken in 1 day; usually 2 to 3 days were needed for that. The operations of the signal corps had to be assured, and therefore the regiment had to leave some of the staff behind until the entire staff had been moved.
DR. STAHMER: Where was the advance unit accommodated?
VON EICHBORN: At least part of the advance unit was accommodated in the Dnieper Castle. Some of the others were in the neighborhood of those places where later on the companies were billeted. The reason for that was to keep the billets ready for this regiment until the bulk of it had been moved.
DR. STAHMER: How about the Regimental Staff 537?
VON EICHBORN: That was in the Dnieper Castle.
DR. STAHMER: Can you give us the names of the officers who belonged to the regimental staff?
VON EICHBORN: At that time there was Lieutenant Colonel Bedenck, the commanding officer; Lieutenant Rex, adjutant; Lieutenant Hodt, orderly officer; and a Captain Schafer, who was a telephone expert. It may be that one or two others were there as well, but I can no longer remember their names.
DR. STAHMER: The preceding witness has already told us about the tasks of the regimental staff. How were the activities of the regimental staff controlled?
VON EICHBORN: The regiment, which consisted of 10 to 12 companies, had to give an exact report each evening as to what work had been allotted to the various companies. This was necessary as we had to know what forces were available in case of emergency, for undertaking any new tasks.
DR. STAHMER: How far away from the Dnieper Castle were you billeted?
VON EICHBORN: Approximately 4 to 5 kilometers. I cannot give you the exact distance as I always made it by car, but it would be about 4 to 5 kilometers.
DR. STAHMER: Did you frequently go to Dnieper Castle?
VON EICHBORN: Very frequently when I was off duty, as I had belonged to this regiment and knew most of the officers, with whom I was on friendly terms.
DR. STAHMER: Can you tell us about the kind and extent of the traffic to the Dnieper Castle?
VON EICHBORN. In order to judge this you have to differentiate between persons and things. So far as people were concerned, the traffic was very lively because the regiment had to be very centrally organized in order to be equal to its tasks. Therefore, many couriers came and commanders of the various companies frequently came to visit the regimental staff.
On the other hand there was a heavy traffic of trucks and passenger cars, because the regiment tried to improve its billets there; and since we remained there for some time all sorts of building alterations were carried out in the house.
DR. STAHMER: Did you hear anything about there being three Russian camps with captured Polish officers, 25 to 45 kilometers west of Smolensk, which had allegedly fallen into German hands?
VON EICHBORN: I never heard anything about any kind of Polish officers’ camps or Polish prisoner-of-war camps.
DR. STAHMER: Did your army group receive reports about the capture of such Polish officers?
VON EICHBORN: No. I would have noticed that, since the number of prisoners, and especially the number of officers, was always submitted to me in the evening reports of the armies which took these prisoners. It was our responsibility to receive these signal reports and we therefore saw them every evening.
DR. STAHMER: You did not receive a report to that effect?
VON EICHBORN: I neither saw such a report from an army, which would have issued it, nor did I ever receive a report from an army group which would have had to transmit this report in their evening bulletin to the High Command of the Army (OKH).
DR. STAHMER: Could a report like that have been handed in from another source or been sent to another office?
VON EICHBORN: The official channel in the Army was very stringent, and the staffs saw to it that official channels were strictly adhered to. In any case the armies were always required to make the detailed reports, following the lines stipulated in the form sheets and this applied especially to the figures concerning prisoners. Therefore, it is quite out of the question that if such a number of officers had fallen into the hands of an army, it would not have reported the matter through the appropriate channel.
DR. STAHMER: You said, just a little while ago, that you were in particularly close relationship with the officers of this regiment. Did you ever hear that Polish prisoners of war, officers, were shot at some time or other in the Katyn forest at the instigation of Regiment 537 under Colonel Bedenck or under Colonel Ahrens?
VON EICHBORN: I knew nearly all the officers of the regiment, as I myself had been over a year with the regiment, and I was on such-familiar terms with most of the officers that they told me everything that took place, even anything of an unofficial nature. Therefore, it is quite out of the question that such an important matter should not have come to my knowledge. From the nature of the whole character moulding in the regiment, it is quite impossible that there should not have been at least one who would have come to tell me about it immediately.
DR. STAHMER: Were all the operational orders for Regiment 537 officially known to you?
VON EICHBORN: The operational orders for this army group Signal regiment were twofold: The orders which concerned only the wireless company and those which applied to the nine telephone companies. Since I was a telephone expert, it was quite natural for me to draft these orders and submit them to my superior, General Oberhauser. Therefore, each order which was issued had either been drafted by me or I had seen it beforehand.
DR. STAHMER: Was there ever at any time an order given out by your office to shoot Polish prisoners of war?
VON EICHBORN: Such an order was neither given to the regiment by our office nor by any other office. Neither did we receive a report to this effect, nor did we hear about things like that through any other channel.
DR. STAHMER: If an order like that came through official channels, it could come only through you?
VON EICHBORN: This order would have necessitated a great many members of the regiment being taken away from their own duties, which were to safeguard the system of communications. As we were very short of signallers, we had to know what almost every man in the regiment was doing. It would have been quite out of the question for any member of the regiment to have been taken away from such a duty without our knowledge.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kranzbuhler, whom are you appearing on behalf of?
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: For Grossadmiral Donitz, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: There is no charge made against Grossadmiral Donitz in connection with this offense at all.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, the exhumations and the propaganda connected with them occurred during the period when Grossadmiral Donitz was Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Prosecution alleges that at that time Grossadmiral Donitz was a member of the Cabinet and had participated in all acts taken by the Government. Therefore, I must consider him as being implicated in all the problems arising out of the Katyn case.
THE PRESIDENT: That would mean that we should have to hear examination from everybody who was connected with the Government. And the Tribunal has already pointed out, with reference to Admiral Raeder, that his case was not connected with this matter. It is only when a case is directly connected with the matter that counsel for the individual defendants are allowed to cross examine, in addition to the defendant’s counsel who calls the witness. If there is any suggestion that you want to make to the counsel who is calling the witness, you can make it to him, but you are not entitled…
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: But I am asking your permission to put two or three questions to this witness.
THE PRESIDENT: If you have any special questions to put, you may suggest them to Dr. Stahmer, and Dr. Stahmer will put them. Dr. Kranzbuhler, if you want to put any questions, you may put them to Dr. Stahmer, and he will put them to the witness.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Mr. President, I did not quite understand. Shall I propose to Dr. Stahmer to put the questions or…
THE PRESIDENT: If you cannot do it verbally, you may do it in writing, and you may do it later on. But I really do not think there can be any questions which are so difficult to suggest to Dr. Stahmer as all that.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: They can also be put through Dr. Stahmer. I was only thinking that I would save some time by putting the questions myself.
THE PRESIDENT: I told you if you wish to ask any questions, you must ask them through Dr. Stahmer.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: In the meantime, the Tribunal will go on with the cross-examination, and any questions which you wish to put can be put in re-examination.
Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Witness, I am interested to know your exact function in the army. Were you in charge of teleprinter communications at the headquarters of Army Group Center or were you a wireless expert?
VON EICHBORN: No, Mr. Prosecutor, you are wrong. I was the telephone expert of Army Group Center, not the wireless expert.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is exactly what I am asking you. The translation was evidently incorrect. So you were in charge of telephone communications, were you not?
VON EICHBORN: Yes; you are right.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Ordinary telegrams, or ciphered telegrams?
VON EICHBORN: The task of a telephone expert connected with an army group consisted in keeping the telephone lines intact . . .
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, I am not interested in the tasks in a general way. I would like to know whether these were secret ciphered telegrams or the ordinary army mail, army communications which were not secret.
VON EICHBORN: There were two kinds of telegrams, open and secret.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were secret telegrams transmitted by you, too?
VON EICHBORN: Both came through me.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, all communications between the Wehrmacht, between Army units and the highest police authorities also passed through you; is that correct?
VON EICHBORN: The most important telegrams, and especially the secret ones were submitted to the telephone expert.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes. Consequently, the correspondence between the police authorities and the Armed Forces units passed through you; is that correct? I am asking you this question for a second time.
VON EICHBORN: I must answer with the reservation that the messages did not pass through the telephone expert, but only the most important secret teletype matters were submitted to him not the whole correspondence, because that went also through the mail as well as by courier service.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is clear. Do you know in this case that in September and 10/1941 there were special detachments in Smolensk whose duty, in close co-operation with the Army, was to carry out the so-called purge of the prisoner-of-war camps and the extermination of prisoners of war?
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I must decisively object to this questioning of the witness. This questioning can have only the purpose of determining the relations between the General Staff and the OKW and any commands of the Security Service. Therefore, they are accusing the General Staff and the OKW; and if I, Mr. President, as defense counsel for the General Staff and the OKW am not permitted to put questions, then on the basis of equal treatment, the same rules must apply to the Prosecution as well.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: May I, Mr. President, make a short statement?
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, the question is competent.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I beg your pardon.
THE PRESIDENT: I said the question was competent. You may ask the question.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I would like to ask you the following question, Witness. Since all secret teletypes passed through you, did you ever encounter among these telegrams any from the so-called 1st Einsatzgruppe “That was the so-called first commander from the Special Command “Moscow” which at that time was located at Smolensk and kept in reserve in anticipation of better times? The latter had the order to perpetrate mass murders in Moscow. Both commands were located at Smolensk at that time.
VON EICHBORN: No such reports came into my hands. I can fully explain this to you, Mr. Prosecutor. When any detachments of this sort had been established in the area of Army Group Center, these detachments had their own wireless stations. It was only later on in the course of the Russian campaign that these posts had teletype facilities as well; then they used the army group network. However, that only happened later
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, the telegrams of those special units which, by order of high police authorities, were assigned to carry out special actions in co-operation with military units, did not pass through your hands in September and 10/1941?
VON EICHBORN: That is correct. At that time, there were no teletype facilities and offices for such special units, even if they were in that area at all.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr. President, this document was already presented to the Court together with the Extraordinary State Commission Report, Document Number USSR-3. If the High Tribunal will permit it, I should like to present to the Tribunal and to the Defense photostatic copies of one of the documents which was attached to the report of the Extraordinary State Commission. If the Tribunal will look at Page 2 of this document, it w-ill see that the Special Command “Moscow” and the Einsatzgruppe “B” were both located in Smolensk. It says on the first page that these detachments together with units of the Armed Forces, were assigned to carry out mass killings in the camps. If the Tribunal will permit me, I shall submit this document now…
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, that is a matter of argument. We shall take judicial notice of it, of course, of everything which is in the Soviet Government’s publication. And I understand You to say that this document is a part of the Soviet Government communication or Soviet Government report.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President; but I would like to ask permission to present an original German document, a secret document, which states that in the Smolensk area there were two large special commands whose duties were to carry out mass murders in the camps, and that these actions had to be carried out together with the Armed Forces units which had to co-operate with them.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, is this document which you have just handed up to us a part of the report USSR-3?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr.President, it is a part of the report, Document USSR-3, called “Special Directives of the Hitler Government Concerning the Annihilation of Prisoners of War.” I would like to ask the Tribunal to allow me to present one of the original documents even if the report, USSR-3, has been already submitted in full.
It says there that these special units were located in Smolensk and were assigned together with the Armed Forces units to carry out mass killings in the camps.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Colonel Smirnov. This document is already in evidence, if the Tribunal understands correctly.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thank you, Mr. President.
[Turning to the witness.] Consequently, we may consider it as an established fact that the correspondence, the telegraphic messages of these special detachments did not pass through your hands; is that correct?
THE PRESIDENT: He has said that twice already.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me, Mr. President.
[Turning to the witness.] Why did you assert with such certainty that there were no reports about the killing of the Poles? You know that the killing of the Polish prisoners of war was a special action, and any report about this action would have to pass through your hands? Is that correct?
VON EICHBORN: I answered the prosecutor rather, I answered Dr. Stahmer that if in the area of Army Group Signal Regiment 537 killings of that sort had taken place, I would undoubtedly have known about them. I did not state what the prosecutor is now trying to ascribe to me.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, the Tribunal think you had better read this passage from this document, which is in the German language, to the Tribunal so that it will go into the record.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: In this document, Mr. President, it is stated…
THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Colonel Smirnov.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thank you, Mr. President.
This document is dated “Berlin, 10/29/1941.” It is headed, “The Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service.” It has a classification, “Top Secret; Urgent letter; Operational Order Number-14.” Reference is made to decrees of 7/17/1941 and 9/12/1941. I shall now read a few short sentences, and I shall begin with the first sentence:
“In the appendix, I am sending directions for the evacuation of Soviet civilian prisoners and prisoners of war out of permanent prisoner-of-war camps and transit camps in the rear of the Army…
“These directives have been worked out in collaboration with the Army High Command. The Army High Command has notified the commanders of the armies in the rear as well as the local commanders of the prisoner-of-war camps and of the transit camps.
“The task force groups, depending on the size of the camp in their territory, are setting up special commands in sufficient strength under the leadership of an SS leader. The commands are instructed immediately to start work in the camps.”
I break off here, and will continue reading the last paragraph:
I emphasize especially that Operational Orders Number 8 and 14 as well as the appendix are to be destroyed immediately in the case of immediate danger.”
I shall finish my reading and now I shall only mention the distribution list. On Page 2 I quote the part concerning Smolensk. It says here that in Smolensk the Einsatzgruppe “B” was located, consisting of Special Commands 7a, 7b, 8, and 9; and in addition to this, there was already located in Smolensk a special command, which had been rather prematurely named “Moscow” by its organizers.
These are the contents of the document, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal directs that the whole document shall be translated. We will now recess until 5 minutes past 2 o’clock.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1405 hours.]
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I have no more questions to put to this witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, do you know who owned that little castle near the Dnieper before the occupation by German troops? Who owned it, who lived there?
VON EICHBORN: I cannot say that for certain. We noticed that the little castle was astonishingly well furnished. It was very well laid out. It had two bathrooms, a rifle range, and a cinema. We drew certain conclusions therefrom, when the facts became known, but I do not know anything about the previous owner.
DR. STAHMER: The Russian Prosecutor submitted to you a document dated 10/29/1941, “Directives to the Chief of the Sipo for the Detachments in the Stalags.” With reference to that document, I want to ask you whether you had an opportunity personally to ascertain the attitude of Field Marshal Kluge, your commander of Army Group Center, regarding the shooting of prisoners of war?
VON EICHBORN: By chance I became the ear-witness of a conversation between the Commanders Bock and Kluge. That conversation took place about 3 or 4 weeks before the beginning of the Russian campaign. I cannot tell you the exact time. At the time Field Marshal Von Bock was the commander of Army Group Center, and Field Marshal Von Kluge was commander of the 4th Army. The army group was in Posen and the 4th Army at Warsaw. One day I was called by the aide-de-camp of Field Marshal Von Bock, who was Lieutenant Colonel Count Hardenberg. He gave me the order…
THE PRESIDENT: These details are entirely irrelevant, aren’t they. All you want to ask him is: What was the attitude of Von Kluge? That is all.
DR. STAHMER: The answer did not come through. I did not understand what you said, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: What I said was that all these details about the particular place where Von Kluge met some other army group commander are utterly irrelevant. All you are trying to ask him is: What was Von Kluge’s attitude toward the murder of war prisoners? Isn’t that all?
DR. STAHMER: Yes.
[Turning to the witness.] Will you answer the question briefly, Witness. Please just tell us what Von Kluge said.
VON EICHBORN: Von Kluge told Von Bock, during a telephone conversation, that the order for the shooting of certain prisoners of war was an impossibility and could not be carried out, with regard to the discipline of the troops. Von Bock shared this point of view and both these gentlemen talked for half an hour about the measures which they wanted to adopt against this order.
DR. STAHMER: According to the allegations of the Prosecution, the shooting of these 11000 Polish officers is supposed to have been carried out sometime in 9/1941. The question now is: Do you consider it possible, in view of local conditions, that such mass shootings and burials could have been carried out next door to the regimental headquarters without you yourself having heard about it?
VON EICHBORN: We were very busy in preparation for the move of the army group to Smolensk. We had assigned a great number of signal troops for setting up perfect installations. On the entire site there was a constant going and coming of troops laying cables and telephone lines. It is out of the question that anything of this kind could have occurred in that particular area without the regiment and I getting knowledge of it.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions to put to the witness, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, before calling my third witness, Lieutenant General Oberhauser, may I ask your permission to make the following remarks?
The Prosecution has up to now only alleged that Regiment Number 537 was the one which had carried out these shootings and that under Colonel Ahrens’ command. Today again, Colonel Ahrens has been named by the Prosecution as being the perpetrator. Apparently this allegation has been dropped and it has been said that if it was not Ahrens then it must have been his predecessor, Colonel Bedenck; and if Colonel Bedenck did not do it, then apparently and this seems to be the third version it was done by the SD. The Defense had taken the position solely that Colonel Ahrens was accused as the perpetrator and it has refuted that allegation. Considering the changed situation and the attitude adopted by the Prosecution, I shall have to name a fourth witness in addition. That is First Lieutenant Hodt, who has been mentioned today as the perpetrator and who was with the regimental staff right from the beginning and who was, as we have told, the senior of the advance party which arrived at the Dnieper Castle in July. I got the address of First Lieutenant Hodt by chance yesterday. He is at Glucksburg near Flensburg, and I, therefore, ask to be allowed to name as a witness First Lieutenant Hodt, who will give evidence that during the time between July and September such shootings did not occur.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal will consider your application, when they adjourn at half past 3, with reference to this extra witness.
DR. STAHMER: Yes, Sir. Then I shall now call Lieutenant General Oberhauser as witness.
[The witness Oberhauser took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name, please?
EUGEN OBERHAUSER (Witness): Eugen Oberhauser.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. STAHMER: General, what position did you hold during the war?
OBERHAUSER: I was the signal commander in an army group, first of all during the Polish campaign, in Army Group North; then, in the Western campaign Army Group B; and then in Russia Army Group Center.
DR. STAHMER: When did you and your staff reach the neighborhood of Katyn?
OBERHAUSER: Sometime during 9/1941.
DR. STAHMER: Where was your staff located?
OBERHUSER: My staff was located in the immediate vicinity of the commander of the army group; that is to say, about 12 kilometers west of Smolensk, near the railroad station of Krasnibor.
DR. STAHMER: Was Regiment Number 537 under your command?
OBERHAUSER: Regiment 537 was directly under my command.
DR. STAHMER: What task did that regiment have?
OBERHAUSER: That regiment had the task of establishing both telegraph and wireless communications between the command of the army group and the various armies and other units which were directly under its command.
DR. STAHMER: Was the staff of the regiment stationed near you?
OBERHAUSER: The staff of that regiment was located about 3, perhaps 4 kilometers west from my own position.
DR. STAHMER: Can you give us more detailed information regarding the exact location of the staff headquarters of Number 537?
OBERHAUSER: The staff headquarters of 537 was in a very nice Russian timber house. Commissars were supposed to have been living there before. It was on the steep bank of the Dnieper River. It was somewhat off the road, perhaps 400 to 500 meters away. It was, from my place, 4 kilometers west of the main highway Smolensk to Vitebsk.
DR. STAHMER: Who was the commanding officer of the regiment after the capture of Smolensk?
OBERHUSER: After the capture of Smolensk, Colonel Bedenck was the commander of the regiment.
DR. STAHMER: For how long?
OBERHAUSER: Until about 11/1941.
DR. STAHMER: Who was his successor?
OBERHAUSER: His successor was Colonel Ahrens.
DR. STAHMER: How long?
OBERHAUSER: Approximately until September it may have been August1943.
DR. STAHMER: Were you near Katyn as long as that, too?
OBERHAUSER: I was there until the command of the army group transferred its headquarters farther west.
DR. STAHMER: What were your relations with the commanders of this regiment?
OBERHAUSER: My relations with the regimental commanders were most hearty, both officially and privately, which is due to the fact that I had been the first commander of that regiment. I myself had formed the regiment and I was most attached to it.
DR. STAHMER: Did you personally visit the little Dnieper Castle frequently?
OBERHAUSER: I went to the Dnieper Castle frequently; I can well say in normal times once or twice a week.
DR. STAHMER: Did the commanders visit you in the meantime?
OBERHAUSER: The commanders came to see me more frequently than I went to see them.
DR. STAHMER: Did you know anything about the fact that near Smolensk, about 25 to 45 kilometers to the west, there were three Russian camps which contained Polish prisoners of war…
OBERHAUSER: I knew nothing of that.
DR. STAHMER: . . . who had fallen into the hands of the Germans?
OBERHAUSER: I never heard anything about it.
DR. STAHMER: Was there an order, which is supposed to have come from Berlin, that Polish officers who were prisoners of war were to be shot?
OBERHAUSER: No, such an order was never issued.
DR. STAHMER: Did you yourself ever give such an order?
OBERHAUSER: I have never given such an order.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know whether Colonel Bedenck or Colonel Ahrens ever caused such shootings to be carried out?
OBERHAUSER: I am not informed, but I consider it absolutely impossible.
DR. STAHMER: Why?
OBERHUSER: First, because such a decisive order would necessarily have gone through me, for I was the direct superior of the regiment; and second, because if such an order had been given, for a reason which I could not understand, and transmitted to the regiment through some obscure channel, then the commanders would most certainly have rung me up or they would have come to see me and said, “General, they are asking something here which we cannot understand.”
DR. STAHMER: Do you know First Lieutenant Hodt?
OBERHAUSER: Yes, I know him.
DR. STAHMER: What position did he have in Regiment 537?
OBERHAUSER: Hodt held various posts in the regiment. Usually, he was sent ahead because he was a particularly qualified officer especially in regard to technical qualifications in order to make preparations when headquarters was being changed. He was therefore used as advance party of the so-called technical company in order to establish the new command posts; and then he was the regimental expert for the telephone system, dealing with all matters relating to the telephone and teletype system with the command headquarters of the army group. In my staff he was occasionally detailed to fill the positions of any of my officers when they were on leave.
DR. STAHMER: Was he also in charge of the advance party during the advance on Katyn?
OBERHAUSER: That I cannot say. I can only say that I personally heard from my staff signal commander that he had sent an officer ahead, after it had been ascertained how the headquarters were to be laid out, that this officer was acting on my behalf, as at the time I still remained in the old quarters, and he was preparing things in the way I wanted them from the point of view of the signal commander. I do not know who was in charge of that advance party at the time, but it is quite possible that it was First Lieutenant Hodt.
DR. STAHMER: Were you in Katyn or the vicinity during the period after the capture of Smolensk, which was, I believe, on or about 7/20/1941, and up to the transfer of your staff to Katyn on 20 September?
OBERHAUSER: I was in the vicinity. I was where the headquarters of the army group wanted to settle down; that is, in the woods west of Smolensk, where Katyn is located.
DR. STAHMER: Were you frequently there during that time?
OBERHAUSER: I should say three or four times.
DR. STAHMER: Did you talk to Hodt on those occasions?
OBERHUSER: If he was the officer in charge of the advance party, which I cannot say today, then I must certainly have talked to him. At any rate, I did talk to the officer whom I had sent ahead and also to the one from my regiment.
DR. STAHMER: Did you hear anything about shootings occurring during that time?
OBERHAUSER: I heard nothing, nor did I hear anything at all except in 1943, when the graves were opened.
DR. STAHMER: Did you or Regiment 537 have the necessary technical means, pistols, ammunition, and so on, at your disposal which would have made it possible to carry out shootings on such a scale?
OBERHAUSER: The regiment, being a signal regiment in the rear area, was not equipped with weapons and ammunition as well as the actual fighting troops. Such a task, however, would have been something unusual for the regiment; first, because a signal regiment has completely different tasks, and secondly it would not have been in a position technically to carry out such mass executions.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know the place where these graves were discovered later on?
OBERHAUSER: I know the site because I drove past it a great deal.
DR. STAHMER: Can you describe it more accurately?
OBERHUSER: Taking the main road Smolensk-Vitebsk, a path led through wooded undulating ground. There were sandy spaces, which were, however, covered with scrub and heather, and along that narrow path one got to the Dnieper Castle from the main road.
DR. STAHMER: Were the places where these graves were later discovered already overgrown when you got there?
OBERHAUSER: They were overgrown just like the surrounding ground, and there was no difference between them and the rest of the surroundings.
DR. STAHMER: In view of your knowledge of the place, would you consider it possible that 11000 Poles could have been buried at that spot, people who may have been shot between June and 9/1941?
OBERHAUSER: I consider that it is out of the question, for the mere reason that if the commander had known it at the time he would certainly never have chosen this spot for his headquarters, next to 11000 dead.
DR. STAHMER: Can you tell me how the graves were discovered?
OBERHAUSER: Officially I had nothing to do with that. I only heard that through local inhabitants or somebody else it had become known that large-scale executions had taken place there years ago.
DR. STAHMER: From whom did you hear that?
OBERHAUSER: Quite probably from the commander himself, who, because he was located on the spot, had heard more about it than I had. But I cannot remember exactly now.
DR. STAHMER: So you did not receive official notice about the discovery of the graves, did you?
OBERHAUSER: No, I never did.
DR. STAHMER: After the opening of the graves, did you talk to the German or foreign members of the commission?
OBERHUSER: I have never talked to any members of that commission.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Witness, you arrived in the region of Katyn in 9/1943?
OBERHAUSER: 1941, not 1943.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me, I meant 9/1941. Is that correct?
OBERHAUSER: Yes, 9/1941.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And you contend that you did not know anything either about the camps for Polish prisoners of war or the prisoners in the hands of the German troops, is that so?
OBERHAUSER: I have never heard anything about Polish prisoners of war being in the hands of German troops.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I understand that this had no relation to your official activity as the commander of a signal regiment. But in spite of this you may perhaps have witnessed that various German troops combed the woods in the vicinity of the Smolensk-Vitebsk highway to capture Polish prisoners of war who had escaped from the camps?
OBERHAUSER: I never heard anything about troops going there in order to, shall we say, recapture escaped Polish prisoners of war. I am hearing this here for the first time.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer me. Have you perhaps seen German military units escorting Polish prisoners of war who were captured in the woods?
OBERHAUSER: I have not seen that.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer the following question: You were on good terms with Colonel Ahrens, were you not?
OBERHAUSER: I have had good relations with all commanders of the regiment.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And in addition to that, you were his immediate superior?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Colonel Ahrens found out about the mass graves at the end of 1941 or at the beginning of 1942. Did he tell you anything about his discovery?
OBERHAUSER: I cannot believe that Colonel Ahrens could have discovered the graves in 1941. I cannot imagine that I especially cannot imagine that he would tell me nothing about it.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: In any case do you contend that neither in 1942 nor in 1943 did Colonel Ahrens report to you in regard to this affair?
OBERHAUSER: Colonel Ahrens never told me anything about it, and he would have told me if he had known.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am interested in the following answer which you gave to a question by defense counsel. You remarked that the signal regiment had not enough weapons to carry out shootings. What do you mean by that? How many, and what kind of weapons did the regiment possess?
OBERHAUSER: The signal regiment were mostly equipped with pistols and with carbines. They had no automatic arms.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Pistols? Of what caliber?
OBERHAUSER: They were Parabellum pistols. The caliber, I think, was 7.65, but I cannot remember for certain.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Parabellum pistols, 7.65, or were there Mauser pistols or any other kind of weapons?
OBERHUSER: That varied. Noncommissioned officers, as far as I know, had the smaller Mauser pistols. Actually, only noncommissioned officers were equipped with pistols. The majority of the men had carbines.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I would like you to tell us some more about the pistols. You say that they were 7.65 caliber pistols, is that so?
OBERHAUSER: I cannot now, at the moment, give you exact information about the caliber. I only know that the Parabellum pistol was 7.65 or some such caliber. I think the Mauser pistol had a somewhat smaller caliber.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And Walter pistols?
OBERHUSER: There were also Walters. I think they had the same caliber as the Mauser. It is a smaller, black pistol; and it is better than the somewhat cumbersome Parabellum pistol which is heavier.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, that is quite correct. Please tell me whether in this regiment the noncommissioned officers possessed those small pistols.
OBERHAUSER: As a rule, noncommissioned officers had pistols but not carbines.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I see. Perhaps you can tell us about how many pistols this signal regiment possessed?
OBERHUSER: Of course I cannot tell you that now. Let us assume that every noncommissioned officer had a pistol…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And how many noncommissioned officers were there? How many pistols in all were there in your regiment if you consider that every noncommissioned officer had a pistol?
OBERHAUSER: Assuming that every noncommissioned officer in the regiment had a pistol that would amount to 15 per company, a total of 150. However, to give a definite statement about that figure retrospectively now is impossible. I can only give you clues.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Why do you consider that 150 pistols would be insufficient to carry out these mass killings which went on over a period of time? What makes you so positive about that?
OBERHAUSER: Because a signal regiment of an army group deployed over a large area as in the case of Army Group Center is never together as a unit. The regiment was spread out from Kolodov as far as Vitebsk, and there were small detachments everywhere, and in the headquarters of the regiment there were comparatively .few people; in other words, there were never 150 pistols in one and the same place.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: The main part of the signal regiment was located in the Katyn woods, was it not?
OBERHUSER: I did not understand your question.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: The main portions of your regiment were located in the Katyn woods, were they not?
OBERHUSER: The first company was mainly located between the regimental staff quarters and the actual command post of the army group. That was the company which was handling the communications, the telephone and teleprinted communications for the army group. It was the company, therefore, which was nearest.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: One more question. The officers of your regiment were obviously armed with pistols and not with carbines?
OBERHAUSER: Officers had pistols only, and as a rule they only had small ones. Possibly one or the other may have had a Parabellum pistol.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is to say either a Walter or a Mauser?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did you frequently visit the villa where the headquarters of Regiment 537 was located?
OBERHAUSER: Yes, I was there at least once, sometimes twice, a week.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were you ever interested as to why soldiers from other military units visited the villa in Kozy Gory and why special beds were prepared for them as well as drinks and food?
OBERHUSER: I cannot imagine that there were any large scale visits of other soldiers or members of other units. I do not know anything about that.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am not speaking about a great number. I am speaking of 20 or sometimes 25 men.
OBERHUSER: If the regimental commander summoned his company and detachment commanders for an officers’ meeting, then, of course, there would be a few dozen of such officers who normally would not be seen there.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, I am not talking about officers who belonged to the unit. I would like to ask you another somewhat different question. Would the number 537 appear on the shoulder straps of the soldiers belonging to that regiment?
OBERHAUSER: As far as I recollect the number was on the shoulder straps, but at the beginning of the war it could be concealed by a camouflage flap. I cannot remember whether during that particular period these covers were used or not. At any rate at the street entrance to the regimental headquarters there was a black-yellow-black flag, which bore the number 537.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I am speaking of soldiers who came to the villa in Kozy Gory, and who did not have the number 537 on their shoulder straps. Were you ever interested in finding out what those soldiers did there in September and 10/1941? Did the commander of the unit report to you about this?
OBERHAUSER: May I ask what year this was supposed to be, 1941?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, 1941, that is the year which is concerned.
OBERHAUSER: I do not think that at that time there was much coming and going of outsiders at staff headquarters because during that period everything was in course of construction and I cannot imagine that other units, even small groups of 20 or 25 people should have been there. I personally, as I have told you, was there only once or twice weekly, and not before September or October.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Beginning with what date of September did you start visiting there? You said it was in September but not from what date.
OBERHAUSER: I cannot tell you. The commander of the army group moved at the end of September from Borossilov, shortly before the battle of Vyazma, which was on 2 October, into that district.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, you could start visiting this villa for instance only at the end of September or the beginning of 10/1941?
OBERHAUSER: It was only then that the little castle was finally occupied, for the regiment did not arrive much earlier than we from the command of the army group.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, is it necessary to go into this detail? Have you any particular purpose in going into so much detail?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr.President, I ask this question for the following reasons: Later we shall interrogate witnesses for the Soviet Prosecution on the same point and particularly the chief of the medico-legal investigation. That is why I would like to ask the permission of the Court to clarify this point concerning the time when the witness visited the villa. That will be my last question to this point.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, very well. Do not go into greater detail than you find absolutely necessary.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, at the beginning of September and the first part of 10/1941 you were not in the villa of Katyn woods and you could not be there at the time, is that true?
OBERHAUSER: I cannot remember that exactly. The regimental commander had spotted the little castle and set it up for his staff headquarters. When exactly he moved in I cannot know, because I had other jobs to do.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: No, I asked whether you personally could not have been in the villa during the first part of September. Could you not possibly have been there before 20 September?
OBERHAUSER: I do not think so.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to re-examine, Dr. Stahmer?
DR. STAHMER: Unfortunately, Mr. President, I shall have to come back to the question of time because it was not brought out too clearly during these last questions.
When did Regiment 537 move into the castle?
OBERHAUSER: I assume it was during September.
DR. STAHMER: Beginning or end of September?
OBERHAUSER: Probably rather more toward the end of September.
DR. STAHMER: Until then only the advance party was there, or . . .
OBERHAUSER: The advance party of the regiment was there and my officers whom I had sent ahead.
DR. STAHMER: How many noncommissioned officers were with the advance party?
OBERHAUSER: I cannot tell you exactly how many the regiment sent. I personally had sent one officer. Generally the regiment could not have sent very many. As a rule, as is always the case, the regiment was still operating at the old command post in Borossilov and simultaneously it had to set up the new post. Consequently, during this period of regrouping, on the point of moving a command of an army group, there is always a considerable shortage of men. The old headquarters still has to be looked after, the new post requires men for its construction, so that as always during this period there were certainly too few people.
DR. STAHMER: Can you not even give us an estimate of the figure of that advance party?
OBERHUSER: There were 30, 40, or 50 men.
DR. STAHMER: How many noncommissioned officers?
OBERHUSER: Probably one or two officers, a few noncommissioned officers, and some men.
DR. STAHMER: The regiment was very widely spread out, was it not?
DR. STAHMER: How far, approximately?
OBERHUSER: In the entire area of Army Group Center, shall we say between Orel and Vitebskin that entire area they were widely dispersed.
DR. STAHMER: How many kilometers was that, approximately?
OBERHAUSER: More than 500 kilometers.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know Judge Advocate General Dr. Konrad of Army Group Center?
DR. STAHMER: Do you know whether, in 1943, he interrogated the local inhabitants under oath about the date when the Polish officers were supposed to have been shot in the woods of Katyn?
OBERHUSER: No, I do not know.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Were there any Einsatzkommandos in the Katyn area during the time that you were there?
OBERHUSER: Nothing has ever come to my knowledge about that.
THE PRESIDENT: Did you ever hear of an order to shoot Soviet commissars?
OBERHUSER: I only knew of that by hearsay.
THE PRESIDENT: When?
OBERHUSER: Probably at the beginning of the Russian campaign, I think.
THE PRESIDENT: Before the campaign started or after?
OBERHAUSER: I cannot remember having heard anything like that before the beginning of the campaign.
THE PRESIDENT: Who was to carry out that order?
OBERHUSER: Strictly speaking, signal troops are not really fighting troops. Therefore, they really had nothing to do with that at all, and therefore we were in no way affected by the order.
THE PRESIDENT: I did not ask you that. I asked you who had to carry out the order.
OBERHUSER: Those who came into contact with these people, presumably.
THE PRESIDENT: Anybody who came in contact with Russian commissars had to kill them; is that it?
OBERHUSER: No, I assume that it was the troops, the fighting troops, the actual fighting troops at the front who first met the enemy. That could only have applied to the army group. The signal regiment never came into a position to meet commissars. That is probably why they were not mentioned in the order or affected by it in any way.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I ask permission to call as witness the former deputy mayor of the city of Smolensk during the German occupation, Professor of Astronomy, Boris Bazilevsky.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, let him come in then.
[The witness Bazilevsky took the stand.]
Will you state your full name, please?
BORIS BAZILEVSKY (Witness): Boris Bazilevsky.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you make this form of oath: I, a citizen of the USSR called as a witness in this case solemnly promise and swear before the High Tribunal to say all that I know about this case and to add or to withhold nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: With the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to start with my interrogation, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Certainly.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell us, Witness, what your activity was before the German occupation of the city and district of Smolensk and where you were living in Smolensk.
BAZILEVSKY: Before the occupation of Smolensk and the surrounding region…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please speak slowly.
BAZILEVSKY: . . . I lived in the city of Smolensk and was professor first at the Smolensk University and then of the Smolensk Pedagogical Institute, and at the same time I was director of the Smolensk Astronomical Observatory. For 10 years I was the dean of the physics and mathematics faculty, and in the last years I was deputy to the director of the scientific department of the Institute.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How many years did you live in Smolensk previous to the German occupation?
BAZILEVSKY: From 1919.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you know what the so-called Katyn wood was?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please speak slowly.
BAZILEVSKY: Actually, it was a grove. It was the favorite resort of the inhabitants of Smolensk who spent their holidays and vacations there.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Was this wood before the war a special reservation which was fenced or guarded by armed patrols, by watch dogs?
BAZILEVSKY: During the many years that I lived in Smolensk, this place was never fenced; and no restrictions were ever placed on access to it. I personally used to go there very frequently. The last time I was there was in 1940 and in the spring of 1941. In this wood there was also a camp for engineers. Thus, there was free access to this place for everybody.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell me in what year there was an engineer camp?
BAZILEVSKY: As far as I know, it was there for many years.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please speak slowly.
THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. Professor, will you wait a minute, please? When you see that yellow light go on, it means that you are going too fast; and when you are asked a question, will you pause before you answer it? Do you understand?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Will you please repeat your answer, and very slowly, if you please.
BAZILEVSKY: The last time I know that the engineer camp was in the area of the Katyn wood was in 1941.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently, if I understand you correctly, in 1940 and 1941 before the beginning of the war at any rate and you speak of the spring of 1941the Katyn wood was not a special reservation and was accessible to everybody?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes. I say that that was the situation.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you say this as an eyewitness or from hearsay?
BAZILEVSKY: No, I say it as an eyewitness who used to go there frequently.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell the Tribunal under what circumstances you became the first deputy mayor of Smolensk during the period of the German occupation. Please speak slowly.
BAZILEVSKY: I was an administration official; and I did not have an opportunity of leaving the place in time, because I was busy in saving the particularly precious library of the Institute and the very valuable equipment. In the circumstances I could not try to escape before the evening of the 15th, but then I did not succeed in catching the train. I therefore decided to leave the city on 16 July in the morning, but during the night of 15 to 16 the city was unexpectedly occupied by German troops. All the bridges across the Dnieper were blown up, and I found myself in captivity.
After some time, on 20 July, a group of German soldiers came to the observatory of which I was the director. They took down that I was the director and that I was living there and that there was also a professor of physics, Efimov, living in the same building.
In the evening of 20 July two German officers came to me and brought me to the headquarters of the unit which had occupied Smolensk. After checking my personalia and after a short conversation, they suggested that I become mayor of the city. I refused, basing my refusal on the fact that I was a professor of astronomy and that, as I had no experience in such matters, I could not undertake this post. They then declared categorically and with threats, “We are going to force the Russian intelligentsia to work.”
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thus, if I understand you correctly the Germans forced you by threats to become the deputy mayor of Smolensk?
BAZILEVSKY: That is not all. They told me also that in a few days I would be summoned to the Kommandantur.
On 25 July a man in civilian clothes appeared at my apartment, accompanied by a German policeman, and represented himself as a lawyer Menschagin. He declared that he came by order of the military headquarters and that I should accompany him immediately to headquarters.
THE PRESIDENT: You are spending a lot of time on how he came to be mayor of Smolensk.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Will you please allow me to pass to other questions, Mr. President? Thank you for your observations.
[Turning to the witness.] Who was your immediate superior? Who was the mayor of Smolensk?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What were the relations between this man and the German administration and particularly with the German Kommandantur?
BAZILEVSKY: These relations were very good and became closer and closer every day.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Is it correct to say that Menschagin was the trustee of the German administration and that they even gave him secret information?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you know that in the vicinity of Smolensk there were Polish prisoners of war?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes, I do very well.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Do you know what they were doing?
THE PRESIDENT: I do not know what this is going to prove. You presumably do, but can you not come nearer to the point?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: He said that he knew there were Polish prisoners of war in Smolensk; and, with the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to ask the witness what these prisoners of war were doing.
THE PRESIDENT: Very well; go on.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer. What were the Polish prisoners of war doing in the vicinity of Smolensk, and at what time?
BAZILEVSKY: In the spring of 1941 and at the beginning of the summer they were working on the restoration of the roads, Moscow-Minsk and Smolensk-Vitebsk.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What do you know about the further fate of the Polish prisoners of war?
BAZILEVSKY: Thanks to the position that I occupied, I learned very early about the fate of the Polish prisoners of war.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell the Tribunal what you know about it.
BAZILEVSKY: In the camp for Russian prisoners of war known “Gulag 126” there prevailed such a severe regime that prisoners war were dying by the hundreds every day; for this reason I tried to free all those from this camp for whose release a reason could be given. I learned that in this camp there was also a very well-known pedagogue named Zhiglinski. I asked Menschagin to make representations to the German Kommandantur of Smolensk, and in particular to Von Schwetz, and to plead for the release of Zhiglinski from this camp.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please do not go into detail and do not waste time, but tell the Tribunal about your conversation with Menschagin. What did he tell you?
BAZILEVSKY: Menschagin answered my request with, “What is the use? We can save one, but hundreds will die.” However, I insisted; and Menschagin, after some hesitation, agreed to put this request to the German Kommandantur.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please be short and tell us what Menschagin told you when he came back from the German Kommandantur.
BAZILEVSKY: Two days later he told me that he was in a very difficult situation on account of my demand. Von Schwet had refused the request by referring to an instruction from Berlin saying that a very severe regime should prevail with respect to prisoners of war.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What did he tell you about Polish prisoners of war?
BAZILEVSKY: As to Polish prisoners of war, he told me that Russians would at least be allowed to die in the camps while there were proposals to exterminate the Poles.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What else was said?
BAZILEVSKY: I replied, “What do you mean? What do you want to say? How do you understand this?” And Menschagin answered “You should understand this in the very literal sense of these words. He asked me not to tell anybody about it, since it was a great secret.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: When did this conversation of yours take place with Menschagin? In what month, and on what day?
BAZILEVSKY: This conversation took place at the beginning of September. I cannot remember the exact date.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: But you remember it was the beginning of September?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did you ever come back again to the fate of Polish prisoners of war in your further conversations with Menschagin?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Can you tell us when?
BAZILEVSKY: Two weeks later that is to say, at the end of September I could not help asking him, “What was the fate of the Polish prisoners of war?” At first Menschagin hesitated, and then he told me haltingly, “They have already died. It is all over for them.”
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did he tell you where they were killed?
BAZILEVSKY: He told me that they had been shot in the vicinity of Smolensk, as Von Schwetz told him.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did he mention the exact place?
BAZILEVSKY: No, he did not mention the exact place.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Tell me this. Did you, in turn, tell anybody about the extermination, by Hitlerites, of the Polish prisoners of war near Smolensk?
BAZILEVSKY: I talked about this to Professor Efimov, who was living in the same house with me. Besides him, a few days later I had a conversation about it with Dr. Nikolski, who was the medical officer of the city. However, I found out that Nikolski knew about this crime already from some other source.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did Menschagin tell you why these shootings took place?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes. When he told me that the prisoners of war had been killed, he emphasized once more the necessity of keeping it strictly secret in order to avoid disagreeable consequences. He started to explain to me the reasons for the German behavior with respect to the Polish prisoners of war. He pointed out that this was only one measure of the general system of treating Polish prisoners of war.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did you hear anything about the extermination of the Poles from the employees of the German Kommandantur?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes, 2 or 3 days later.
THE PRESIDENT: You are both going too fast, and you are not pausing enough. You are putting your questions whilst the answers are coming through. You must have longer pauses, and go slower.
R. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thank you, Mr. President.
[Turning to the witness.] Please continue, but slowly.
BAZILEVSKY: I do not know where I was.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I asked you whether any of the employees of the German Kommandantur told you anything about the extermination of the Poles.
BAZILEVSKY: Two or three days later, when I visited the office of Menschagin, I met there an interpreter, the Sonderfuhrer of the 7th Division of the German Kommandantur who was in charge of the Russian administration and who had a conversation with Menschagin concerning the Poles. He came from the Baltic region.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Perhaps you can tell us briefly what he said.
BAZILEVSKY: When I entered the room he was saying, “The Poles are- a useless people, and exterminated they may serve as fertilizer and for the enlargement of living space for the German nation.”
THE PRESIDENT: You are doing exactly what I said just now. You are asking the questions before the translation comes through.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me, Mr. President, I will try to speak more slowly.
[Turning to the witness.] Did you learn from Menschagin anything definite about the shooting of Polish prisoners of war?
BAZILEVSKY: When I entered the room I heard the conversation with Hirschfeld. I missed the beginning, but from the context of the conversation it was clear that they spoke about this event.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did Menschagin, when telling you about the shooting of Polish prisoners of war, refer to Von Schwetz?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes; I had the impression that he referred to Von Schwetz. But evidently and this is my firm belief he also spoke about it with private persons in the Kommandantur.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: When did Menschagin tell you that Polish prisoners of war were killed near Smolensk?
BAZILEVSKY: It was at the end of September.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I have no further questions to put to this witness, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.
[A recess was taken.]
MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, the Defendant Hess is absent.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, in your testimony, just before recess, you read out your testimony, if I observed correctly. Will you tell me whether that was so or not?
BAZILEVSKY: I was not reading anything. I have only a plan of the courtroom in my hand.
DR.STAHMER: It looked to me as though you were reading out your answers. How can you explain the fact that the interpreter already had your answer in his hands?
BAZILEVSKY: I do not know how the interpreters could have had my answers beforehand. The testimony which I am giving was, however, known to the Commission beforehand that is, my testimony during the preliminary examination.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know the little castle on the Dnieper the little villa? Did you not understand me or hear me? Do you know the little castle on the Dnieper, the little villa on the Dnieper?
BAZILEVSKY: I do not know which villa you mean. There were quite a number of villas on the Dnieper.
DR. STAHMER: The house which was near the Katyn wood on the steep bank of the Dnieper River.
BAZILEVSKY: I still do not quite understand which house you mean. The banks of the Dnieper are long, and therefore your question is quite incomprehensible to me.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know where the graves of Katyn were found, in which 11000 Polish officers were buried?
BAZILEVSKY: I was not there. I did not see the Katyn burial grounds.
DR. STAHMER: Had you never been in the Katyn wood?
BAZILEVSKY: As I already said, I was there not once but many times.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know where this mass burial site was located?
BAZILEVSKY: How can I know where the burial grounds were situated when I could not go there since the occupation?
DR. STAHMER: How do you know that the little wood was not fenced in?
BAZILEVSKY: Before the occupation of the Smolensk district by the German troops, the entire area, as I already stated, was not surrounded by any barrier; but according to hearsay I knew that after the occupation access to this wood was prohibited by the German local command.
DR. STAHMER: Therefore you have no knowledge of the fact that here in the Katyn wood a sanitarium or a convalescent home of the GPU was located?
BAZILEVSKY: I know very well; that was known to all the citizens of Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: Then, of course, you also know exactly which house I referred to in my question?
BAZILEVSKY: I, myself, had never been in that house. In general, access to that house was only allowed to the families of the employees of the Ministry of the Interior. As to other persons, there was no need and no facility for them to go there.
DR. STAHMER: The house, therefore, was closed of?
BAZILEVSKY: No, the house was not forbidden to strangers; but why should people go there if they had no business there or were not in the sanitarium? The garden, of course, was open to the public.
DR. STAHMER: Were there not guards stationed there?
BAZILEVSKY: I have never seen any.
DR. STAHMER: Is this Russian witness who reported to you about the matter concerning the Polish officers, is this witness still alive?
BAZILEVSKY: Mr. Counsel, you probably mean Mayor Menschagin, if I understand you rightly?
DR. STAHMER: When you read your testimony off, it was not easy for me to follow. What was the mayor’s name? Menschagin? Is he still alive?
BAZILEVSKY: Menschagin went away together with the German troops during their retreat, and I remained, and Menschagin’s fate is unknown to me.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, you are not entitled to say to the witness, when you read your testimony off,” just now, because he denied that he read his testimony off and there is no evidence that he has read it off.
DR. STAHMER: Did this Russian witness tell you that the Polish officers had come from the camp at Kosielsk?
BAZILEVSKY: Do you mean the camp at Kosielsk? Yes?
DR. STAHMER: Yes.
BAZILEVSKY: The witness did not say that.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know that place and locality?
BAZILEVSKY: Do you mean Kosielsk? I do, yes. In 1940, in the month of August at the end of August I spent my leave there with my wife.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know whether there were Polish officers at that place in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes, I know that.
DR. STAHMER: Until what time did these prisoners of war remain there?
BAZILEVSKY: I do not know that for sure but at the end of 8/1940 they were there. I am quite sure about that.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know whether this camp, together with its inmates, fell into German hands?
BAZILEVSKY: Personally, that is, from my own observation, I do not know it; but according to rumors, it appears to have been the case. That is, of course, not my own testimony; I myself did not see it, but I heard about it only.
DR. STAHMER: Did you hear what happened to these prisoners?
BAZILEVSKY: Yes, I heard, of course, that they remained there and could not be evacuated.
DR. STAHMER: Did you hear what became of them?
BAZILEVSKY: I have already testified in my answers to the prosecutor that they were shot on the order of the German Command.
DR. STAHMER: And where did these shootings take place?
BAZILEVSKY: Mr. Defense Counsel, you have apparently not heard my answers. I already testified that Mayor Menschagin said that they were shot in the neighborhood of Smolensk, but where he did not tell me.
DR. STAHMER: How many prisoners were involved?
BAZILEVSKY: Do you mean to say, how many were mentioned in the conversation with Menschagin? I do not understand your question. Do you mean to say according to the reports of Menschagin?
DR. STAHMER: What was the figure given to you by Menschagin?
BAZILEVSKY: Menschagin did not tell me any number. I repeat that this conversation took place on the last days of 9/1941.
DR. STAHMER: Can you give us the name of an eyewitness who was present at this shooting or anyone who saw this shooting?
BAZILEVSKY: I believe that these executions were carried out under such circumstances that I think it scarcely possible that any Russian witnesses could be present.
THE PRESIDENT: Witness, you should answer the question directly. You were asked, “Can you give the names of anybody who was there?” You can answer that “yes” or “no” and then you can add any explanations necessary.
BAZILEVSKY: I will follow your instructions, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Can you give the name of anybody who saw the executions?
BAZILEVSKY: No, I cannot name any eyewitness.
DR. STAHMER: What German unit is supposed to have carried out the shootings?
BAZILEVSKY: I cannot answer that exactly. It is logical to assume that it was the construction battalion which was stationed there; but of course I could not know the exact organization of the German troops.
DR. STAHMER: Did the Poles involved here come from the camp at Kosielsk?
BAZILEVSKY: In general, this was not mentioned in the conversations of that time, but I certainly do not know that; besides these might have been any other Polish prisoners of war who had not been at Kosielsk previously.
DR. STAHMER: Did you yourself see Polish officers?
BAZILEVSKY: I did not see them myself, but my students saw them, and they told me that they had seen them in 1941.
DR. STAHMER: And where did they see them?
BAZILEVSKY: On the road where they were doing repair work at the beginning of summer, 1941.
DR. STAHMER: In what general area or location?
BAZILEVSKY: In the district of the Moscow-Minsk highway, somewhat to the west of Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: Can you testify whether the Russian Army Command had a report to the effect that Polish prisoners at the camp at Kosielsk had fallen into the hands of the Germans?
BAZILEVSKY: No, I have no knowledge of that.
DR.STAHMER: What is the name of the German official or employee with whom you talked at the Kommandantur?
BAZILEVSKY: Not in the Kommandantur, but in Menschagin’s office. His name was Hirschfeld.
DR. STAHMER: What was his position?
BAZILEVSKY: He was Sonderfuhrer of the 7th Detachment of the German Kommandantur in the town of Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President just another question or two, Mr. President.
[Turning to the witness.] Were you punished by the Russian Government on account of your collaboration with the German authorities?
BAZILEVSKY: No, I was not.
DR. STAHMER: Are you at liberty?
BAZILEVSKY: Not only am I at liberty; but, as I have already stated, I am still professor at two universities.
DR. STAHMER: Therefore, you are back in office.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, do you wish to re-examine?
MR. COUNSELLOR 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?
BAZILEVSKY: From Menschagin’s own words, I understood quite definitely that he had heard those things himself at the Kommandantur, particularly from Von Schwetz, who was the commander from the beginning of the occupation.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.
MR. COUNSELLOR 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 interpreter Valev and the witness Markov took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Are you the interpreter?
LUDOMIR VALEV (Interpreter): Yes, Sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us your full name?
VALEV: Ludomir Valev.
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.]
THE PRESIDENT: [To the witness.] Will you give us your full name, please?
DR. MARKO ANTONOV MARKOV (Witness): Dr. Marko Antonov Markov.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear as a witness in this case that I will speak only the truth being aware of my responsibility before God and the Law and that I will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
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 went: How did it happen that the interpreters had the questions and the answers to your questions if you didn’t 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 courtroom. If it is not a fact, I wish to withdraw my statement. I was informed outside the courtroom 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 be made by counsel until they have verified them.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: May I begin the examination of this witness, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: The examination, yes.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: 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 4/1943 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 own answer.
MARKOV: This occurred at the end of 4/1943. While working in the Medico-Legal Institute, where I am still working, I was called to the telephone by Dr. Guerow.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness must stop before the interpreter begins. Otherwise, the voices come over the microphone together. So the interpreter must wait until the witness has finished his answer before he repeats it.
Now the witness has said at least this is what I heard that in 4/1943 he was called on the telephone.
MARKOV: I was called to the telephone by Dr. Guerow, the secretary of Dr. Filoff who was then Prime Minister of Bulgaria. I was told that I was to take part, as representative of the Bulgarian Government, in the work of an international medical commission which had to examine the corpses of Polish officers discovered in the Katyn wood. Not wishing to go, I answered that I had to replace 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 replace 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. Guerow took me to the first secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Schuchmanov. Schuchmanov 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 Schuchmanov 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 Legation, to Counsellor Mormann, who arranged all the technical details of the trip. This was on Saturday; and on Monday morning, 26 April, I flew to Berlin. There I was met by an official of the Bulgarian Legation and I was lodged at the Hotel Adlon.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer the next question:
Who took part in this so-called International Commission, and when did they leave for Katyn?
MARKOV: On the next day, 27 April, we stayed in Berlin and the other members of the commission arrived there too.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Who were they?
MARKOV: 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. Qiloslavich, 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. Hajek, 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 investigations of the commission, a Dr. Costeduat was missing; he declared that he could attend only as a personal representative of President Laval. Professor Piga from Madrid also arrived, an elderly gentleman 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.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were all these persons flown to Katyn?
MARKOV: All these persons arrived at Katyn with the exception of Professor Piga.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Who besides the members of the commission left for Katyn with you?
MARKOV: On the 28th we took off from Tempelhof Airdrome, Berlin, for Katyn. We took off in two airplanes which carried about 15 to 20 persons each.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Maybe you can tell us briefly who was there?
MARKOV: Together with us was Director Dietz, who met us and accompanied us. He represented the Ministry of Public Health. There were also press representatives, and two representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I beg you to stop with these details and to tell me when the commission arrived in Katyn?
MARKOV: The commission arrived in Smolensk on 28 April, in the evening.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How many work days did the commission stay in Smolensk? I stress work days.
MARKOV: We stayed in Smolensk 2 days only, 4/29/1943 and 4/30/1943, and on 1 May, in the morning, we left Smolensk.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How many times did the members of the commission personally visit the mass graves in the Katyn wood?
MARKOV: We were twice in the Katyn wood, that is, in the forenoon of 29 and 30 April.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I mean, how many hours did you spend each time at the mass graves?
MAROV: I consider not more than 3 or 4 hours each time.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were the members of the commission present at least once during the opening of one of the graves?
MARKOV: No new graves were opened in our presence. We were shown only several graves which had already been opened before we arrived.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, you were shown already opened graves, near which the corpses were already laid out, is that right?
MARKOV: Quite right. Near these opened graves were exhumed corpses already laid out there.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were the necessary conditions for an objective and comprehensive scientific examination of the corpses given to the members of the commission?
MARKOV: The only part of our activity which could be characterized as a scientific, medico-legal examination were the autopsies carried out by certain members of the commission who were themselves medico-legal 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 opened. Each of us operated on one corpse, except Professor Hajek, who dissected two corpses. Our further activity during these 2 days consisted of a hasty inspection under the guidance 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 kilometers distant from the.Katyn wood, 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.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were you actually present when these papers were taken from the corpses or were they shown to you when they were already under glass in display cabinets?
MARKOV: The documents which we saw in the glass cases had already been removed from the bodies before we arrived.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were you allowed to investigate these documents, to examine these documents, for instance, to see whether the papers were impregnated with any acids which had developed by the decay of the corpses, or to carry out any other kind of scientific examination?
MARKOV: 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.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: But I would like you nevertheless to answer me briefly with “yes” or “no,” a question which I have already put to you. Were the members of the commission given facilities for an objective examination?
MARKOV: In my opinion these working conditions can in no way be qualified as adequate for a complete and objective scientific examination. The only thing which bore the character of the scientific nature was the autopsy which I carried out.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: But did I rightly understand you, that from the 11000 corpses which were discovered only 8 were dissected by members of the commission.
MARKOV: Quite right.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please answer the next question. 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, et cetera.
MARKOV: 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 dissected. 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 color and on some parts there were blue markings from the clothes. The nails and hair, mostly, 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 pulpy substance remained of the brain. The muscles were still so well preserved that one could even see the fibers of the sinews of heart muscles and valves. The inner organs were also mainly in a good state of preservation. But of course they were dried up, displaced, and of a dark color. The stomach showed traces of some sort of contents. A part of the fat had turned into wax. We were impressed by the fact that even when pulled with brute force, no limbs had detached themselves.
I dictated a report, on the spot, on the result of my investigation. A similar report was dictated by the other members of the commission who examined corpses. This report was published by the Germans under Number 827, in the book which they published.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I would like you to answer the following question. Did the medico-legal investigations testify to the fact that the corpses had been in the graves already for 3 years?
MARKOV: As to that question I could judge only 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 removed 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 shorter period of time than 3 years. I considered that the corpse which I dissected had been buried for not more than 1 year or 18 months.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, applying the criteria of the facts which you ascertained to your experiences in Bulgaria that is, in a country of a more southern climate than Smolensk and where decay, therefore, is more rapidone must come to the conclusion that the corpses that were exhumed in the Katyn forest had been lying under the earth for not more than a year and a half? Did I understand you correctly?
MARKOV: Yes, quite right. I had the impression 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 7/2/1946 at 1000 hours.]
[The witness Markov resumed the stand.]
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Witness, when did you, together with the other members of the commission, perform the autopsies of these eight corpses? What date was it exactly?
MARKOV: That was on 30 April, early in the day.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And, on the basis of your personal observations, you decided that the corpses were in the ground 1 year or 18 months at the most?
MARKOV: That is correct.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Before putting the next question to you, I should like you to give me a brief answer to the following question: Is it correct that in the practice of Bulgarian medical jurisprudence the protocol about the autopsy contains two parts, a description and the deductions?
MARKOV: Yes. In our practice, as well as in the practice of other countries, so far as I know, it is done in the following way: First of all, we give a description and then the deduction.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Was a deduction contained in the record you made regarding the autopsy?
MARKOV: My record of the autopsy contained only a description without any conclusion.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Why?
MARKOV: Because from the papers which were given to us there I understood that they wanted us to say that the corpses had been in the ground for 3 years. This could be deduced from the papers which were shown to us in the little peasant hut about which I have already spoken.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: By the way, were these papers shown to you before the autopsy or afterward?
MARKOV: Yes, the papers were given us 1 day before the autopsy.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: So you were . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, you are interrupting the interpreter all the time. Before the interpreter has finished the answer, you have put another question. It is very difficult for us to hear the interpreter.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Thank you for your indication, Mr. President.
MARKOV: Inasmuch as the objective deduction regarding the autopsy I performed was in contradiction with this version, I did not make any deductions.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Consequently you did not make any deduction because the objective data of the autopsy testified to the fact that the corpses had been in the ground, not 3 years, but only 18 months?
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, you must remember that it is a double translation, and unless you pause more than you are pausing, your voice comes in upon the interpreter’s and we cannot hear the interpreter.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Very well, Mr. President.
MARKOV: Yes, that is quite correct.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Was there unanimity among the members of the commission regarding the time the corpses had been in the graves?
MARKOV: Most of the members of the delegation who performed the autopsies in the Katyn wood made their deductions without answering the essential question regarding the time the corpses had been buried. Some of them, as for instance, Professor Hajek, spoke about immaterial things; as for instance, that one of the killed had had pleurisy. Some of the others, as for instance, Professor Birkle from Bucharest, cut off some hair from a corpse in order to determine the age of the corpse. In my opinion that was quite immaterial. Professor Palmieri, on the basis of the autopsy that he performed, said that the corpse had been in the ground over a year but he did not determine exactly how long.
The only one who gave a definite statement in regard to the time the corpses had been buried was Professor Miloslavich from Zagreb, and he said it was 3 years. However, when the German book regarding Katyn was published, I read the result of his impartial statement regarding the corpse on which he had performed the autopsy. I had the impression that the corpse on which he had performed the autopsy did not differ in its stage of decomposition from the other corpses. This led me to think that his statement that the corpses had been in the ground for 3 years did not coincide with the facts of his description.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I would like to ask you to reply to the following question. Were there many skulls found by the members of the commission with signs of so-called pseudo-callus? By the way, inasmuch as this term is not known in the usual books on medical jurisprudence and in general criminalistic terminology, I should like you to give us an exact explanation of what Professor Orsos, of Budapest, means by the term pseudo-callus.
THE PRESIDENT: Would you repeat that question?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were there many skulls with signs of so-called pseudo-callus which were submitted to the members of the commission? Inasmuch as this term is not known in the usual books on medical jurisprudence, I should like you to give us a detailed explanation of what Professor Orsos means by the term pseudo-callus.
THE PRESIDENT: What are you saying the skulls had? You asked if there were many skulls with something or other.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I see this term for the first time, myself, Mr. President. It is pseudo-callus. It seems to be a Latin term of some sort of corn which is formed on the outer surface of the cerebral substance.
THE PRESIDENT: Can you spell the word in Latin?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President.
[The prosecutor submitted a paper to the President.]
THE PRESIDENT: What you have written here is p-s-e-r-d-o. Do you mean p-s-e-u-d-o, which means false?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, that is right, pseudo.
THE PRESIDENT: Now then, put your question again, and try to put it shortly.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes.
[Turning to the witness.] Were there many skulls with signs of so-called pseudocallus shown to the members of the commission? Will you please give an exact explanation of this term of Professor Orsos.
MARKOV: Professor Orsos spoke to us regarding pseudocallus at a general conference of the delegates. That took place on 30 April, in the afternoon, in the building where the field laboratory of Dr. Butz in Smolensk was located.
Professor Orsos described the term pseudocallus as meaning some sediment of indissoluble salt, of calcium, and other salts on the inside of the cranium. Professor Orsos stated that, according to his observations in Hungary, this happened if the corpses have been in the ground for at least 3 years. When Professor Orsos stated this at the scientific conference, none of the delegates said anything either for or against it. I deduced from that that this term pseudocallus was as unknown to the other delegates as it was to me.
At the same conference Professor Orsos showed us such a pseudocallus on one of the skulls.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I should like you to answer the following question: What number did the corpse have from which this skull with signs of pseudocallus was taken?
MARKOV: The corpse from which the skull was taken and which was noted in the book bore the Number 526. From this I deduced that this corpse was exhumed before our arrival at Katyn, inasmuch as all the other corpses on which we performed autopsies on 30 April had numbers which ran above 800. It was explained to us that as soon as a corpse was exhumed it immediately received a consecutive number.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Tell me this, please. Did you notice any pseudocallus on the skulls of the corpses on which you and your colleagues performed autopsies?
MARKOV: On the skull of the corpse on which I performed an autopsy, there was some sort of pulpy substance in place of the brain, but I never noticed any sign of pseudocallus. The other delegates after the explanation of Professor Orsos likewise did not state that they had found any pseudocallus in the other skulls. Even Butz and his co-workers, who had examined the corpses before our arrival, did not mention any sign of pseudocallus.
Later on, in a book which was published by the Germans and which contained the report of Butz, I noticed that Butz referred to pseudocallus in order to give more weight to his statement that the corpses had been in the ground for 3 years.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is to say, that of the 11000 corpses only one skull was submitted to you which had pseudocallus?
MARKOV: That is quite correct.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I should like you to describe to the Tribunal in detail the state of the clothing which you found on the corpses.
MARKOV: In general the clothing was well preserved, but of course it was damp due to the decomposition of the corpses. When we pulled off the clothing to undress the corpses, or when we tried to take off the shoes, the clothing did not tear nor did the shoes fall apart at the seams. I even had the impression that this clothing could have been used again, after having been cleaned.
There were some papers found in the pockets of the clothing of the corpse on which I performed the autopsy, and these papers were also impregnated with the dampness of the corpse. Some of the Germans who were present when I was performing the autopsy asked me to describe those papers and their contents; but I refused to do it, thinking that this was not the duty of a doctor. In fact I had already noticed the previous day that with the help of the dates contained in those papers, they were trying to make us think that the corpses had remained in the ground for 3 years.
Therefore, I wanted to base my deductions only on the actual condition of the corpses. Some of the other delegates who performed autopsies also found some papers in the clothing of the corpses. The papers which had been found in the clothing of the corpse on which I performed the autopsy were put into a cover which bore the same number as the corpse, Number 827. Later on, in the book which was published by the Germans, I perceived that some of the delegates described the contents of the papers which were found on the corpses.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I should like to ask you to reply to the following question. On what impartial medico-judicial data did the commission base the deduction that the corpses had remained in the earth not less than 3 years?
THE PRESIDENT: Will you put the question again? I did not understand the question.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I asked on what impartial medico-judicial data were the deductions of the protocol of the International Medical Commission based, which stated that the corpses had remained in the ground not less than 3 years?
THE PRESIDENT: Has he said that that was the deduction he made not less than 3 years?
THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): He has not said that.
THE PRESIDENT: He has not said that at all. He never said that he made the deduction that the corpses remained in the ground not less than 3 years.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: He did not make this deduction; but Professor Markov, together with the other members of the commission, signed a report of the International Commission.
THE PRESIDENT: I know; but that is why I ask you to repeat your question. The question that was translated to us was: On what grounds did you make your deduction that the corpses had remained in the ground not less than 3 years which is the opposite of what he said.
Now will you put the question again?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Very well.
[Turning to the witness.] I am not asking you about your personal minutes, Witness, but about the general record of the entire commission. I am asking you on what impartial medico-judicial data were the deductions of the entire commission based, that the corpses had remained in the earth not less than 3 years. On the record of the deductions your signature figures among those of the other members of the commission.
THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. Now, then, Colonel Smirnov, will you put the question again.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President.
[Turning to the witness.] I was asking you on what impartial medico-judicial data were the deductions of the commission based not the individual report of Dr. Markov, in which there are no deductions but the deductions of the entire commission, that the corpses had remained not less than 3 years in the ground?
MARKOV: The collective protocol of the commission which was signed by all the delegates was very scant regarding the real medico-judicial data. Concerning the condition of the corpses, only one sentence in the report was stated, namely that the corpses were in various stages of decomposition, but there was no description of the real extent of decomposition. Thus, in my opinion, this deduction was based on the papers found on the corpses and on testimony of the witnesses, but not on the actual medico-judicial data. As far as medical jurisprudence is concerned, they tried to support this deduction by the statement of Professor Orsos regarding the finding of pseudocallus in the skull of corpse Number 526.
But, according to my conviction, since this skull was the only one with signs of pseudocallus, it was wrong to arrive at a definite conclusion regarding the stage of decomposition of thousands of corpses which were contained in the Katyn graves. Besides, the observation of Professor Orsos regarding pseudocallus was made in Hungary; that is to say, under quite different soil and climatic conditions, and withal in individual graves and not in mass graves, as was the case in Katyn.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: You spoke about the testimony of witnesses. Did the members of the commission have the opportunity personally to interrogate those witnesses, especially the Russian witnesses?
MARKOV: We did not have the opportunity of having any contact with the indigenous population. On the contrary, immediately upon our arrival at the hotel in Smolensk, Butz told us that we were in a military zone, and that we did not have the right to walk around in the city without being accompanied by a member of the German Army, or to speak with the inhabitants of the place, or to make photographs. In reality, during the time we were there, we did not have any contact with the local inhabitants.
On the first day of our arrival in the Katyn wood, that is to say on 29 April, in the morning, several Russian civilians were brought under German escort to the graves. Immediately upon our arrival at Smolensk some of the depositions of the local witnesses were submitted to us. The depositions were typed. When these witnesses were brought to the Katyn wood, we were told that these witnesses were the ones who gave the testimonies which had been submitted to us. There was no regular interrogation of the witnesses which could have been recorded, or were recorded. Professor Orsos started the conversation with the witnesses and told us that he could speak Russian because he had been a prisoner of war in Russia during the first World War. He began to speak with a man, an elderly man whose name, so far as I can remember, was Kiselov. Then he spoke to a second witness, whose last name so far as I can remember was Andrejev. All the conversation lasted a few minutes only. As our Bulgarian language is rather similar to the Russian, I tried also to speak to some of the witnesses…
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t you think that should be left to cross examination? Can’t these details be left to cross-examination?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President.
I would ask you, Witness, to interrupt the reply to this question and to answer the following one: At the time you signed this general report of the commission, was it quite clear to you that the murders were perpetrated in Katyn not earlier than the last quarter of 1941, and that 1940, in any case, was excluded?
MARKOV: Yes, this was absolutely clear to me and that is why I did not make any deductions in the minutes which I made on my findings in the Katyn wood.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Why did you sign then this general report, which was incorrect in your opinion?
MARKOV: In order to make it quite clear under what conditions I signed this report, I should like to say a few words on how it was made up and how it was signed.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me, I would like to put a question to you which defines more accurately this matter. Was this report actually signed on 4/30/1941 in the town of Smolensk or was it signed on another date and at another place?
MARKOV: It was not signed in Smolensk on 30 April but was Signed on 1 May at noon, at the airport which was called Bela.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Will you please tell the Tribunal under what conditions it was signed.
MARKOV: The compilation of this record was to be done at the same conference which I already mentioned and which took place in the laboratory of Butz in the afternoon of 30 April. Present at this conference were all the delegates and all the Germans who had arrived with us from Berlin: Butz and his assistants, General Staff Physician Holm, the chief physician of the Smolensk sector, and also other German Army officials who were unknown to me. Butz stated that the Germans were only present as hosts, but actually the conference was presided over by General Staff Physician Holm and the work was performed under the direction of Butz. The secretary of the conference was the personal lady secretary of Butz who took down the report. However, I never saw these minutes. Butz and Orsos came with a prepared draft to this conference, a sort of protocol; but I never learned who ordered them to draw up such a protocol. This protocol was read by Butz and then a question was raised regarding the state and the age of the young pines which were in the clearings of the Katyn wood. Butz was of the opinion that in these clearings there were graves too.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me for interrupting you. Did you have any evidence that any graves were actually found in these clearings?
MARKOV: No. During the time we were there, no new graves were opened. As some of the delegates said they were not competent to express their opinion regarding the age of these trees, General Holm gave an order to bring a German who was an expert on forestry. He showed us the cut of the trunk of a small tree and from the number of circles in this trunk, he deduced the trees were 5 years old.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Excuse me; I interrupt you again. You, yourself can you state here that this tree was actually cut down from the grave and not from any other place in the clearing?
MARKOV: I can say only that in the Katyn wood there were some clearings with small trees and that, while driving back to Smolensk, we took a little tree with us in the bus, but I do not know whether there were any graves where these trees were standing. As I have already stated, no graves were laid open in our presence.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I would request you to continue your reply, but very briefly and not to detain the attention of the Tribunal with unnecessary details.
MARKOV: Some editorial notes were made in connection with this protocol, but I do not remember what they were. Then Orsos and Butz were entrusted with the final drafting of the record. The signing of the record was intended to take place on the same night at a banquet which was organized in a German Army hospital. At this banquet Butz arrived with the minutes and he started reading them, but the actual signing did not take place for reasons which are still not clear to me. It was stated that this record would have to be rewritten, so the banquet lasted until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. Then Professor Palmieri told me that the Germans were not pleased with the contents of the protocol and that they were carrying on telephone conversations with Berlin and that perhaps there would not even be a protocol at all.
Indeed, having spent the night in Smolensk without having signed the record, we took off from Smolensk on the morning of 1 May. I personally had the impression that no protocol at all would be issued and I was very pleased about that. On the way to Smolensk, as well as on our way back, some of the delegates asked to stop in Warsaw in order to see the city, but we were told that it was impossible because of military reasons.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: This has nothing to do with the subject. Please keep to the facts.
MARKOV: Around noon we arrived at the airport which was called Bela. The airport was apparently a military airfield because of the temporary military barracks I saw there. We had dinner there and immediately after dinner, notwithstanding the fact that we were not told that the signing of the minutes would take place on the way to Berlin, we were submitted copies of the protocol for signature. During the signing a number of military persons were present, as there were no other people except military personnel on this airfield. I was rather struck by the fact that on the one hand the records were already completed in Smolensk but were not submitted to us for signing there, and on the other hand that they did not wait till we arrived in Berlin a few hours later. They were submitted to us for signing at this isolated military airfield. This was the reason why I signed the report, in spite of the conviction I had acquired during the autopsy which I had performed at Smolensk.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: That is to say, the date and the locality which are shown in the protocol are incorrect?
MARKOV: Yes, that is so.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: And you signed it because you felt yourself compelled to?
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, I don’t think it is proper for you to put leading questions to him. He has stated the fact. It is useless to go on stating conclusions about it.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Very well, Mr. President. I have no further questions to put to the witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Does anyone want to cross-examine him?
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I should like to ask a question concerning the legal proceedings first. Each side was to call three witnesses before the Court. This witness, as I understand it, has not only testified to facts but has also made statements which can be called an expert judgment. He has not only expressed himself as an expert witness, as we say in German law, but also as an expert. If the Court is to listen to these statements made by the witness as an expert, I should like to have the opportunity for the Defense also to call in an expert.
THE PRESIDENT: No, Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal will not hear more than three witnesses on either side. You could have called any expert you wanted or any member of the experts who made the German examination. It was your privilege to call any of them.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, how long have you been active in the field of medical jurisprudence?
MARKOV: I have been working in the field of medical jurisprudence since the beginning of 1927 in the faculty for medical jurisprudence of the University in Sofia, first as an assistant and now I am professor of medical jurisprudence. I am not a staff professor at the university. My position can be designated by the German word “Ausserordentlicher Professor” (university lecturer).
DR. STAHMER: Before your visit to Katyn did your government tell you that you were to participate in a political action without consideration of your scientific qualification?
MARKOV: I was not told so literally, but in the press the Katyn question was discussed as a political subject.
DR. STAHMER: Did you feel free in regard to your scientific “conscience” at that time?
MARKOV: At what time?
DR. STAHMER: At the time when you went to Katyn?
MARKOV: The question is not quite clear to me; I should like you to explain it.
DR. STAHMER: Did you consider the task you had to carry out there a political one or a scientific one?
MARKOV: I understood this task from the very first moment as a political one and therefore I tried to evade it.
DR. STAHMER: Did you realize the outstanding political importance of this task?
MARKOV: Yes; from everything I read in the press.
DR. STAHMER: In your examination yesterday you said that when you arrived at Katyn the graves had already been opened and certain corpses had been carefully laid out. Do you mean to say that these corpses were not taken from the graves at all?
MARKOV: No, I should not say that, inasmuch as it was obvious that corpses were taken out of these graves and besides I saw that some corpses were still in the graves.
DR. STAHMER: Then, in order to state this positively, you had no reason to think that the corpses inspected by the commission were not taken from these mass graves?
THE PRESIDENT: He did not know where they came from, did he?
MARKOV: Evidently from the graves which were open.
DR. STAHMER: You have already made statements to the effect that. as a result of the medico-judicial examination by this International Commission, a protocol, a record was taken down. You have furthermore stated that you signed this protocol.
Mr. President, this protocol is contained in its full text in the official data published by the German Government on this incident. I ask that this evidence, this so-called White Book, be admitted as evidence. I will submit it to the Court later.
THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.
[A Recess was taken.]
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal rules that you may cross-examine this witness upon the report, and the protocol will be admitted in evidence, if you offer it in evidence, under Article 19 of the Charter. That, of course, involves that we do not take judicial notice of the report under Article 21 of the Charter but that it is offered under Article 19 of the Charter and therefore it will either come through the earphones in cross-examination or such parts of the protocol as you wish to have translated.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, was the protocol or the record signed by you and the other experts compiled in the same way in which it is included in the German White Book?
MARKOV: Yes, the record of the protocol which is included in the German White Book is the same protocol which I compiled. A long time after my return to Sofia I was sent two copies of the protocol by Director Dietz. These two copies were typewritten, and I was requested to make necessary corrections and additions if I deemed it necessary, but I left it without corrections and it was printed without any comments on my part.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Just a moment Dr. Stahmer . . .
Mr. President, I believe that there is a slight confusion here. The witness is answering in regard to the individual protocol, whereas Dr. Stahmer is questioning him on the general record. Thus the witness does not answer the proper question.
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I would have cleared this matter up on my own account.
[Turning to the witness.] Do you mean your autopsy protocol?
MARKOV: I mean the protocol I compiled myself and not the general record.
DR. STAHMER: Now, what about this general protocol or record? When did you receive a copy of it?
MARKOV: I received a copy of the general record in Berlin where as many copies were signed as there were delegates present.
DR. STAHMER: Just a little while ago you stated that Russian witnesses had been taken before the commission in the wood of Katyn, but that, however, there had been no opportunity afforded the experts to talk with these witnesses concerning the question at hand.
Now, in this protocol, in this record, the following remark is found, and I quote:
“The commission interrogated several indigenous Russian witnesses personally. Among other things, these witnesses confirmed that in the months of March and 4/1940 large shipments of Polish officers arrived almost daily at the railroad station Gnjesdova near Katyn. These trains were emptied, the inmates were taken in lorries to the wood of Katyn and never seen again. Furthermore, official notice was taken of the proofs and statements, and the documents containing the evidence were inspected.”
MARKOV: As I already stated during the questioning, two witnesses were interrogated on the spot by Orsos. They actually said that they saw how Polish officers were brought to the station of Gnjesdova and that later they did not see them again.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks the witness ought to be given an opportunity of seeing the report when you put passages in it to him.
DR. STAHMER: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Haven’t you got another copy of it?
DR. STAHMER: I am sorry, Mr. President, I have no second copy; no.
THE PRESIDENT: Can the witness read German?
MARKOV: No, but anyhow I can understand the contents of the record.
THE PRESIDENT: You mean you can read it?
MARKOV: Yes, I can also read it.
THE PRESIDENT: Can the witness read German, do you mean?
MARKOV: Yes, I can read German.
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, may I make a suggestion?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, if you have only got one copy, I think you had better have it back. You can’t have the book passing to and fro like that.
DR. STAHMER: I should like to make the suggestion that the cross-examination be interrupted and the other witness be called, and I will have this material typed in the meantime. That would be a solution. But there are only a few sentences…
THE PRESIDENT: You can read it. Take the book back.
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, I propose to read only a few short sentences.
[Turning to the witness.] Yesterday you testified, Witness, that the experts restricted or limited themselves to making an autopsy on one corpse only. In this report the following is set down I quote:
“The members of the commission personally performed an autopsy on nine corpses and numerous selected cases were submitted for post-mortem examination.” Is that right?
MARKOV: That is right. Those of the members of the commission who were medical experts, with the exception of Professor Naville, performed each an autopsy on a corpse. Hajek made two autopsies.
DR. STAHMER: In this instance we are not interested in the autopsy, but in the post-mortem examination.
MARKOV: The corpses were examined but only superficially during an inspection which we carried out very hastily on the first day. No individual autopsy was carried out, but the corpses were merely looked at as they lay side by side.
DR. STAHMER: I should like to ask you now what is meant in medical science by the concept “post-mortem examination.”
MARKOV: We differentiate between an exterior inspection, when the corpse has to be undressed and minutely examined externally, and an internal inspection, when the inner organs of the corpse are examined. This was not done with the hundreds of bodies at Katyn, as it was not physically possible. We were there only one forenoon. Therefore, I consider that there was no actual medico-judicial expert examination of these corpses in the real sense of the word.
DR. STAHMER: A little while ago you talked about the trees that were growing there on these graves, and you said that an expert explained the age of the trees by the rings counted on a trunk. In the protocol and the report the following is set down. I quote:
“According to the opinion of the members of the commission and the testimony of forest ranger Von Herff, who was called in as an expert on forestry, they were small pine trees of at least 5 years of age, badly developed because they had been standing in the shade of large trees and had been transplanted to this spot about 3 years ago.”
Now, I would like to ask you, is it correct that you undertook a local inspection and that you convinced yourself on the spot whether the statements made by the forestry expert were actually correct?
MARKOV: Our personal impression and my personal conviction in this question only refer to the fact that in the wood of Katyn there were clearings where small trees were growing and that the afore-mentioned expert showed us a cross section of a tree with its circles. But I do not consider myself competent and cannot give an opinion as to whether the deductions which are set forth in the record are correct or not. Precisely for that reason it was judged necessary to call in a forestry expert, for we doctors were not competent to decide this question. Therefore, these conclusions are merely the conclusions of a competent German expert.
DR. STAHMER: But after having had a first-hand view, did you doubt the truth of these statements?
MARKOV: After the German expert had expressed his opinion at the conference of the delegates, neither I nor the other delegates expressed any opinion as to whether his conclusions were correct or not. These conclusions are set down in the record in the form in which the expert expressed himself.
DR. STAHMER: According to your autopsy report the corpse of the Polish officer which you dissected was clothed and you described the clothing in detail. Was this winter or summer clothing that you found?
MARKOV: It was winter clothing including an overcoat and a woollen shawl around the neck.
DR. STAHMER: In the protocol it says further and I quote:
“Furthermore, Polish cigarettes and matchboxes were found with the dead; in some cases tobacco containers and cigarette holders, and ‘Kosielsk’ was inscribed thereon.” The question is, did you see these objects?
MARKOV: We actually saw these tobacco boxes with the name “Kosielsk” engraved thereon. They were exhibited to us in the glass case which was shown to us in the peasant hut not far from the Katyn wood. I remember them because Butz drew our attention to them.
DR. STAHMER: In your autopsy report, Witness, there is the following remark, and I quote:
“In the clothing documents were found and they were put in the folder Number 827.”
Now, I should like to ask you: How did you discover these documents? Did you personally take them out of the pockets?
MARKOV: These papers were in the pockets of the overcoat and of the jacket. As far as I can remember they were taken out by a German who was undressing the corpse in my presence.
DR. STAHMER: At that time were the documents already in the envelope?
MARKOV: They were not yet in the envelope, but after they had been taken out of the pockets they were put into an envelope which bore the number of the corpse. We were told that this was the usual method of procedure.
DR. STAHMER: What was the nature of the documents?
MARKOV: I did not examine them at all, as I have already !t said, and I refused to do so, but according to the size. I believe that they were certificates of identity. I could distinguish individual letters, but I do not know whether one could read the inscription, for I did not attempt to do so.
DR. STAHMER: In the protocol the following statement is made, and I quote:
“The documents found with the corpses (diaries, letters, and newspapers) were dated from the fall of 1939 until March and 4/1940. The latest date which could be ascertained was the date of a Russian newspaper of 4/22/1940.”
Now, I should like to ask you if this statement is correct and whether it is in accordance with the findings that you made?
MARKOV: Such letters and newspapers were indeed in the glass cases and were shown to us. Some such papers were found by members of the commission who were dissecting the bodies, and if I remember rightly, they described the contents of these documents but I did not do so.
DR. STAHMER: In your examination just a little while ago you stated that only a few scientific details were contained in this protocol and that this was probably done intentionally. I should like to quote from this record as follows:
“Various degrees and types of decomposition were caused by the position of the bodies to one another in the grave. Aside from some mummification on the surface and around the edges of the mass of corpses, some damp maceration was found among the center corpses. The sticking together of the adjacent corpses and the soldering together of corpses through cadaverous acids and fluids which had thickened. and particularly the deformations that obtained from the pressure among the corpses, show that the corpses were buried there right from the beginning.
“Among the corpses, insects or remains of insects which might date back to the time of burial are entirely lacking, and from this it may be gathered that the shooting and the burial took place at a season which was cold and free from insects.”
Now, I should like to ask you if these statements are correct and if they are in line with your findings.
MARKOV: I stated that little was said on the condition of the corpses, and indeed as can be judged by the quotation which I had in mind, only a general phraseology is used concerning the various degrees of decomposition of the corpses, but no concrete or detailed description of the condition of the corpses is made.
As to the insects and their larvae, the assertion of the general report that none were discovered is in flagrant contradiction to the conclusions of Professor Palmieri, which are recorded in his personal minutes concerning the corpse which he himself dissected. In this protocol, which is published in the same German White Book, it is said that there were traces of remains of insects and their larvae in the mouths of the corpses.
DR. STAHMER: Just a little while ago you spoke of the scientific examination of skulls undertaken by Professor Orsos. The record also refers to this matter, and I quote:
“A large number of skulls were examined with respect to the changes they had undergone, which, according to the background and experience of Professor Orsos, would be of great value in fixing the date of death. In this connection, we are concerned with stratified encrustations on the surface of the mush found in the skull as a residue of the brain. These symptoms are not to be found among corpses which have been in their graves for less than 3 years. Such a condition, among other things, was found in a very decided form in the skull of corpse Number 526, which was found near the surface of a large mass grave.”
I should like to ask you now if it is correct that, according to the report of Professor Orsos, such a condition was discovered not only as is said here on the skull of one corpse, but among other corpses also.
MARKOV: I can answer this question quite categorically. We were shown only one skull, the one precisely mentioned in the record under the Number 526. I do not know that other skulls were examined, as the record seems to imply. I am of the opinion that Professor Orsos had no possibility of examining many corpses in the Katyn wood, for he came with us and left with us. That means he stayed in the Katyn wood just as long as I and all the other members of the commission did.
DR. STAHMER: Finally, I should like to quote the conclusion of the summarizing expert opinion, in which it is stated: “From statements made by witnesses, from the letters and correspondence, diaries, newspapers, and so forth, found on the corpses, it may be seen that the shootings took place in the months of March and 4/1940. The following are in complete agreement with the findings made with regard to the mass graves and the individual corpses of the Polish officers, as described in the report.” Is this statement actually correct?
THE PRESIDENT: I did not quite understand the statement. As I heard you read it, it was something like this: From the statements of witnesses, letters, and so forth . . .
DR. STAHMER: “. . . in complete agreement with the findings made with regard to the mass graves and the individual corpses of the Polish officers and described in the report.” That is the end of the quotation.
THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t say that the following persons are in complete agreement, but that the following facts are in complete agreement. Is that right?
DR. STAHMER: No. My question is: “Is this statement approved by you? Do you agree with it?”
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, but you read out certain words, which were these: “The following are in complete agreement.” What I want to know is whether that means that the following persons are in complete agreement, or whether the following facts are in complete agreement.
DR. STAHMER: Special facts had been set down, and this is a summarizing expert opinion signed by all the members of the commission. Therefore, we have here a scientific explanation of the real facts.
THE PRESIDENT: Would you just listen to what I read out from what I took down? “From the statements of witnesses, letters, and other documents, it may be seen that the shooting took place in the months of March and 4/1940. The following are in complete agreement.” What I am asking you is this…
[Dr. Stahmer attempted to interrupt.]
Just a moment, Dr. Stahmer, listen to what I say. What I am asking you is: Does the statement mean that the following persons are in complete agreement, or that the following facts are in complete agreement?
DR. STAHMER: No, no. The following people testify that this fact, the fact that the shootings took place in the months of March and 4/1940, agrees with the results of their investigations of the mass graves and of individual corpses. That is what is meant and that is the conclusion. What has been found here is in agreement with that which has been set down and determined scientifically. That is the meaning.
THE PRESIDENT: Go on.
DR. STAHMER: Is this final deduction in accord with your scientific conviction?
MARKOV: I have already indicated that this statement regarding the condition of the corpses is based on the date resulting from testimony by the witnesses and from the available documents, but it is in contradiction to the observations I made on the corpse which I dissected. That means I did not consider that the results of the autopsies corroborated the presumable date of death to be taken from the testimony or the documents. If I had been convinced that the condition of the corpses did indeed correspond to the date of decease mentioned by the Germans, I would have given such a statement in my individual protocol.
When I saw the signed protocol I became suspicious as to the last sentence of the record the sentence which precedes the signatures. I always had doubts whether this sentence was contained in that draft of the protocol which we saw at the conference in Smolensk.
As far as I could understand, the draft of the protocol which had been elaborated in Smolensk only stated that we actually were shown papers and that we heard witnesses; and this was supposed to prove that the killings were carried out in March or 4/1940. I was of the opinion that the fact that the conclusion was not based on medical opinion and not supported absolutely by medical reports and examination, was the reason why the signing of the protocol was postponed and why the record was not signed in Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, at the beginning of my examination you stated that you were fully aware of the political significance of your task. Why, then, did you desist from protesting against this report which was not in accord with your scientific conviction?
MARKOV: I have already said that I signed the protocol as I was convinced that the circumstances at this isolated military airfield offered no other possibility, and therefore I could not make any objections.
DR. STAHMER: Why did you not take steps later on?
MARKOV: My conduct after the signing of the protocol corresponds fully to what I am stating here, I repeat. I was not convinced of the truth of the German version. I was invited many times to Berlin by Director Dietz. I was also invited to Sofia by the German Embassy. And in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Foreign Office also invited me to make a public statement over the radio and to the press; and I was requested to say what conclusions we had come to during our investigation. However, I did not do so, and I always refused to do so. Because of the political situation in which we found ourselves at that moment, I could not make a public statement declaring the German version was wrong.
Concerning that matter there were quite sharp words exchanged between me and the German Embassy in Sofia. And when, a few months later, another Bulgarian representative was asked to be sent as a member of a similar commission for the investigation of the corpses in Vinnitza in the Ukraine, the German Ambassador Beckerly stated quite openly to the Bulgarian Foreign Office that the Germans did not wish me to be sent to Vinnitza.
That indicated that the Germans very well understood my behavior and my opinion on that matter. Concerning this question, Minister Plenipotentiary Saratov, of our Foreign Office, still has shorthand records about conversations which, if the Honored Tribunal considers it necessary, can be sent here from Bulgaria.
Therefore, all my refusals, after I had signed the protocol, to carry on any activity for the purpose of propaganda, fully correspond to what I said here, namely that the conclusions laid down in the collective protocol do not answer my personal conviction. And I will repeat that if I had been convinced that the corpses were buried for 3 years, I would have testified this after having dissected a corpse. But I have left my personal protocol incomplete and this is a quite unusual thing in the case of medico-judicial examination.
DR. STAHMER: The protocol was not signed by you alone, but on the contrary it carries the signatures of 11 representatives of science, whose names you gave yesterday, some of them of world renown. Among these men we find a scientist of a neutral country, Professor Naville.
Did you take the opportunity to get in touch with one of these experts in the meantime with a view of reaching a rectification of the report?
MARKOV: I cannot say on what considerations the other delegates signed the protocol. But they also signed it under the same circumstances as I did. However, when I read the individual protocols, I notice that they also refrained from stating the precise date of the killing of the man whose corpse they had dissected. There was one exception only, as I have already said. That was Professor Niloslavich, who was the only one who asserted that the corpse which he had dissected was that of a man buried for at least 3 years. After the signing of the protocol, I did not have any contact with any of the persons who had signed the collective protocol.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, you gave two versions, one in the protocol which we have just discussed, and another here before the Court. Which version is the correct one?
MARKOV: I do not understand which two versions you are speaking about. Will you please explain it?
DR. STAHMER: In the first version, in the protocol, it is set forth that according to the conclusion which had been made, the shooting must have taken place 3 years ago. Today you testified that the findings were not correct, and between the shooting and the time of your investigations there could only be a space of perhaps 18 months.
MARKOV: I stated that the conclusions of the collective protocol do not correspond with my personal conviction.
DR. STAHMER: “Did not correspond” or “do not correspond with your conviction”?
MARKOV: It did not and it does not correspond with my opinion then and now.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I have no further questions to put to this witness.
THE PRESIDENT: Witness, were any of the bodies which were examined by the members of this delegation exhumed from the ground in your presence?
MARKOV: The corpses which we dissected were selected among the top layers of the graves which had been already exhumed. They were taken out of the graves and given to us for dissection.
THE PRESIDENT: Was there anything to indicate, in your opinion, that the corpses had not been buried in those graves?
MARKOV: As far as traces are concerned, and as far as the layers of corpses were preserved, they were stuck to each other; so that if they had been transferred, I do not believe that this could have been done recently. This could not have been done immediately before our arrival.
THE PRESIDENT: You mean that you think the corpses had been buried in those graves?
MARKOV: I cannot say whether they were put into those graves immediately after death had come, as I have no data to confirm this, but they did not look as if they had just been put there.
THE PRESIDENT: Is it possible, in your opinion as an expert, to fix the date of March or April or such a short period as that, 3 years before the examination which you have made?
MARKOV: I believe that if one relies exclusively on medical data, that is to say, on the state and condition of the corpses, it is impossible, when it is a question of years, to determine the date with such precision and say accurately whether they were killed in March or in April. Therefore, apparently the months of March and April were not based on the medical data, for that would be impossible, but on the testimony of the witnesses and on the documents which were shown
THE PRESIDENT: When you got back to Sofia, you said that the protocol was sent to you for your observations and for your corrections and that you made none. Why was that?
MARKOV: We are concerned with the individual protocol which I compiled. I did not supplement it by making any conclusion, I did not add any conclusion because it was sent to me by the Germans and because in general at that time the political situation in our country was such that I could not declare publicly that the German version was not a true one.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean that your personal protocol alone was sent to you at Sofia?
MARKOV: Yes, only my personal protocol was sent to Sofia.
As to the collective protocol, I brought that back myself to Sofia and handed it over to our Foreign Minister.
THE PRESIDENT: Is your personal protocol, in the words that you drew it up, incorporated in the whole protocol and signed by all the delegates?
MARKOV: In my personal protocol there is only a description of the corpse and of the clothing of the corpse which I dissected.
THE PRESIDENT: That is not the question I asked.
MARKOV: In the general protocol a rough description only is made, concerning the clothing and the degree of decomposition.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, do you mean that your personal protocol . . .
MARKOV: I consider that the personal protocols are more accurate regarding the condition of the corpses, because they were compiled during the dissection and were dictated on the spot to the stenographers.
THE PRESIDENT: Just listen to the question, please. Is your personal protocol, in the words in which you drew it up, incorporated in the collective protocol in the same words?
MARKOV: My own protocol is not included in the general record, but it is included in the White Book which the Germans published together with the general record.
THE PRESIDENT: It is there then, in the report, is it? It is in the White Book?
MARKOV: Yes, quite right. It is included in this book.
THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire. Yes, Colonel Smirnov, do you have another witness?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Yes, Mr. President. I beg you to allow me to call as a witness, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence Prosorovski.
[The witness Prosorovski took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name, please.
VICTOR IL’ICH PROSOROVSKI (Witness): Prosorovski, Victor Il’ich.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:
I, citizen of the U.S.S.R.called as a witness in this case solemnly promise and swear before the High Tribunal to say all that I know about this case and to add and withhold nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Witness, just before questioning you, I beg you to adhere to the following order. After my question, please pause in order to allow the interpreters to make the translation, and speak as slowly as possible.
Will you give the Tribunal very briefly some information about your scientific activity, and your past work as a medico-judicial doctor.
PROSOROVSKI: I am a doctor by profession; professor of medical jurisprudence and a doctor of medical science. I am the Chief Medical Expert of the Ministry of Public Health of the Soviet Union. I am the Director of the Scientific Research Institute for Medical Jurisprudence at the Ministry of Public Health of the U.S.S.R.; my business is mainly of a scientific nature; I am President of the Medico-Judicial Commission of the Scientific Medical Council of the Ministry of Public Health of the U.S.S.R.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How long did you practice as a medico-judicial expert?
PROSOROVSKI: I practiced for 17 years in that sphere.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What kind of participation was yours in the investigation of the mass crimes of the Hitlerites against the Polish officers in Katyn?
PROSOROVSKI: The President of the Special Commission for investigation and ascertaining of the circumstances of the shootings by the German Fascist aggressors of Polish officers, Academician Nicolai Ilych Burdenko, offered me in the beginning of 1/1944 the chairmanship of the Medico-Judicial Commission of experts.
Apart from this organizational activity, I participated personally in the exhumations and examination of these corpses.
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, perhaps that would be a good time to break off.
[The Tribunal recessed until 1400 hours.]
THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the Defendants Hess, Fritzsche, and Von Ribbentrop are absent.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: May I continue the examination of this witness, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell me, how far from the town of Smolensk were the burial grounds where the corpses were discovered?
PROSOROVSKI: A commission of medico-legal experts, together with members of the special commission, Academician Burdenko, Academician Potemkin, Academician Tolstoy, and other members of this commission, betook themselves on 1/14/1944 to the burial grounds of the Polish officers in the so-called Katyn wood. This spot is located about 15 kilometers from the town of Smolensk. These burial grounds were situated on a slope at a distance of about 200 meters from the Vitebsk high road. One of these graves was about 60 meters long and 60 meters wide; the other one, situated a small distance from this first grave, was about 7 meters long and 6 meters wide.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How many corpses were exhumed by the commission you headed?
PROSOROVSKI: In the Katyn wood the commission of medical experts exhumed and examined, from various graves and from various depths, altogether 925 corpses.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How was the work of exhumation done and how many assistants were employed by you on this work?
PROSOROVSKI: Specialists and medico-legal experts participated in the work of this commission. In September and 10/1943 they had exhumed and examined the corpses of the victims shot by the Germans…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Where was the examination of the corpses performed?
PROSOROVSKI: They examined them in the town and the neighborhood of Smolensk. Among the members of this commission were Professor Prosorovski; Professor Smolianinov; the eldest and most learned collaborator of the Medico-Legal Research Institute, Dr. Semenovski; Professor of Pathological Anatomy Voropaev; Professor of Legal Chemistry Schwaikova, who was invited for consultations on chemico-legal subjects. To assist this commission, they called also medico-legal experts from the forces. Among them were the medical student Nikolski, Dr. Soubbotin . . .
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I doubt whether the Tribunal is interested in all these names. I ask you to answer the following question: What method of examination was chosen by you? What I mean is, did you strip the corpses of their clothes and were you satisfied with the customary post mortem examination or was every single one of these 925 corpses thoroughly examined?
PROSOROVSKI: After exhumation of the corpses, they were thoroughly searched, particularly their clothing. Then an exterior examination was carried out and then they were subjected to a complete medico-legal dissection of all three parts of the body; that is to say, the skull, the chest, and the abdomen, as well as all the inner organs of these corpses.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Please tell me whether the corpses exhumed from these burial grounds bore traces of a previous medical examination?
PROSOROVSKI: Out of the 925 corpses which we examined, only three had already been dissected; and that was a partial examination of the skulls only. On all the others no traces of previous medical examination could be ascertained. They were clothed; and the jackets, trousers, and shirts were buttoned, the belts were strapped, and the knots of ties had not been undone. Neither on the head nor on the body were there any traces of cuts or other traces of medico-legal examination. Therefore this excludes the possibility of their having been subjected to any previous medico-legal examination.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: During the medico-legal examination which was carried out by your commission, did you open the skulls?
PROSOROVSKI: Of course. At the examination of quite a number of corpses the skull was opened and the contents of the skull were examined.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Are you acquainted with the expression pseudocallus?”
PROSOROVSKI: I heard of it when I received a book in 1945 in the Institute of Medico-Legal Science. Before that not a single medical legal expert observed any similar phenomena in the Soviet Union.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Among the 925 skulls which you examined were there many cases of pseudocallus?
PROSOROVSKI: Not one of the medico-legal experts who were examining these 925 corpses observed lime deposits on the inner Side of the cranium or on any other part of the skull.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, there was no sign of pseudocallus on any of the skulls.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Was the clothing also examined?
PROSOROVSKI: As already stated, the clothing was thoroughly examined. Upon the request of the Special Commission, and in the presence of its members and of the Metropolitan Nikolai, Academician Burdenko, and others, the medico-legal experts examined the clothing, the pockets of the trousers, of the coats, and of the overcoats. As a rule, the pockets were either turned, torn open, or cut open, and this testified to the fact that they had already been searched. The clothing itself, the overcoats, the jackets, and the trousers as well as the shirts, were moist with corpse liquids. This clothing could not be torn asunder, in spite of violent effort.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, the tissue of the clothing was solid?
PROSOROVSKI: Yes, the tissue was very solid, and of course, it was besmeared with earth.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: During the examination, did you look into the pockets of the clothing and did you find any documents in them?
PROSOROVSKI: As I said, most of the pockets were turned out or cut; but some of them remained intact. In these pockets, and also under the lining of the overcoats and of the trousers we discovered, for instance, notes, pamphlets, papers, closed and open letters and postcards, cigarette paper, cigarette holders, pipes, and so forth, and even valuables were found, such as ingots of gold and gold coins.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: These details are not very relevant, and therefore I beg you to refrain from giving them. I would like you to answer the following question: Did you discover in the clothing documents dated the end of 1940 and also dated 1941?
PROSOROVSKI: Yes. I discovered such documents, and my colleagues also found some. Professor Smolianinov, for instance, discovered on one of the corpses a letter written in Russian, and it was sent by Sophie Zigon, addressed to the Red Cross in Moscow, with the request to communicate to her the address of her husband, Thomas Zigon. The date of this letter was 9/12/1940. Besides the envelope bore the stamp of a post office in Warsaw of 9/1940, and also the stamp of the Moscow post office, dated 9/28/1940.
Another document of the same sort was discovered. It was a postcard sent from Tarnopol, with the post office cancellation: “Tarnopol, 9/12/1940.”
Then we discovered receipts with dates, one in particular with the name if I am not mistaken of Orashkevitch, certifying to the receipt of money with the date of 4/6/1941, and another receipt in his name, also referring to a money deposit, was dated 5/5/1941. Then, I myself discovered a letter with the date 6/20/1941, with the name of Irene Tutchinski, as well as other documents of ‘the same sort.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: During the medico-legal examination of the corpses, were any bullets or cartridge cases discovered?
Please tell us what was the mark on these cartridge cases? Were .they of Soviet make or of foreign make; and if they were foreign make, which one, and what was the caliber?
PROSOROVSKI: The cause of death of the Polish officers was bullet wounds in the nape of the neck. In the tissue of the brain or in the bone of the skull we discovered bullets which were more or less deformed. As to cartridge cases, we did indeed discover, during the exhumation, cartridge cases of German origin, for on their bases we found the mark G-e-c-o, Geco.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: One minute, Witness.
I will now read an original German document and I beg the permission of the Tribunal to submit a series of documents which have been offered us by our American colleagues, Document Number 402-PS, Exhibit USSR-507. It concerns German correspondence and telegrams on Katyn, and these telegrams are sent by an official of the Government General, Heinrich, to the Government of the Government General.
I submit the original document to the Court. I am only going to read one document, a very short one, in connection with the cartridge cases discovered in the mass graves. The telegram is addressed to the Government of the Government General, care of First Administrative Counsellor Weirauch in Krakow. It is marked: “Urgent, to be delivered at once, secret.
“Part of the Polish Red Cross returned yesterday from Katyn. The employees of the Polish Red Cross have brought with them the cartridge cases which were used in shooting the victims of Katyn. It appears that these are German munitions. The caliber is 7.65. They are from the firm Geco. Letter follows.” signed “Heinrich.”
.[Turning to the witness.] Were the cartridge cases and cartridges which were discovered by you of the same caliber and did they bear the mark of the same firm?
PROSOROVSKI: As I have already stated, the bullets discovered the bullet wounds were 7.65 caliber. The cases discovered during the exhumation did indeed bear the trademark of the firm Geco.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I now ask you to describe in detail the condition of the body tissues and of the inner organs of the corpses exhumed from the graves of Katyn.
PROSOROVSKI: The skin and the inner organs of the corpses were well preserved. The muscles of the body and of the limbs had kept their structure. The muscles of the heart had also kept their characteristic structure. The substance of the brain was, in some cases, putrefied; but in most cases, it had kept its structural characteristics quite definitely, showing a clear distinction between the gray and white matters. Changes in the inner organs were mainly a sagging and shrinking. The hair from the head could be easily pulled out.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: From the examination of the corpses, to what conclusion did you come as to the date of death and date of burial?
PROSOROVSKI: On the basis of the experience I have gained and on the experiences of Smolianinov, Semenovski, and other members of the commission…
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: One moment, Witness. I would like you to tell the Tribunal briefly what these experiences were and how many corpses were exhumed. Did you personally exhume them or were they exhumed in your presence?
PROSOROVSKI: In the course of the great War, I was often medico-legal expert during the exhumation and the examination of corpses of victims who were shot by the Germans. These executions occurred in the town of Krasnodar and its neighborhood, in the town of Kharkov and its neighborhood, in the town of Smolensk and its neighborhood, in the so-called extermination camp of Maidanek, near Lublin, so that all told more than 5000 corpses were exhumed and examined with my personal co-operation.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Considering your experience and your objective observations, to what conclusions did you arrive as to the date of the death and the burial of the victims of Katyn?
PROSOROVSKI: What I have just said applies to me as well as to many of my colleagues who participated in this work. The commission came to the unanimous conclusion that the burial of the Polish officers in the Katyn graves was carried out about 2 years before, if you count from January, the month of 1/1944that is to say that the date was autumn 1941.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Did the condition of the corpses allow the conclusion that they were buried in 1940, objectively speaking?
PROSOROVSKI: The medico-legal examination of the corpses buried in the Katyn wood, when compared with the modifications, changes which were noticed by us during former exhumations on many occasions and also material evidence, allowed us to come to the conclusion that the time of the burial could not have been previous to the autumn of 1941.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Therefore, the year 1940 is out of question?
PROSOROVSKI: Yes, it is completely excluded.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: If I understood you rightly you were also medico-legal expert in the case of other shootings in the district of Smolensk?
PROSOROVSKI: In the district of Smolensk and its environs I have exhumed and examined together with my assistants another 1,173 corpses, besides those of Katyn. They were exhumed from 87 graves.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: How did the Germans camouflage the common graves of the victims which they had shot?
PROSOROVSKI: In the district of Smolensk, in Gadeonovka, the following method was used:
The top layer of earth on these graves was covered with turf, and in some cases, as in Gadeonovka, young trees were planted as well as bushes; all this with a view to camouflaging. Besides, in the so-called Engineers’ Garden of the town of Smolensk, the graves were covered with bricks and paths were laid out.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: So you exhumed more than 5000 corpses in various parts of the Soviet Union.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: What were the causes of death of the victims in most cases?
PROSOROVSKI In most cases the cause of death was a bullet wound in the head, or in the nape of the neck.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Were the causes of death at Katyn similar to those met with in other parts of the Soviet Union? I am speaking of mass-shootings.
PROSOROVSKI: All shootings were carried out by one and the me method, namely, a shot in the nape of the neck, at point-blank range. The exit hole was usually on the forehead or in the face.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I will read the last paragraph f your account on Katyn, mentioned in the report of the Extraordinary Soviet State Commission:
“The commission of the experts emphasizes the absolute uniformity of the method of shooting the Polish prisoners of war with that used for the shootings of Soviet prisoners of war and Soviet civilians. Such shootings were carried out on a vast scale by the German Fascist authorities during the temporary occupation of territories of the U.S.S.R., for instance, in the towns of Smolensk, Orel, Kharkov, Krasnodar and Voroneszh.”
Do you corroborate this conclusion?
PROSOROVSKI: Yes, this is the typical method used by the Germans to exterminate peace-loving citizens.
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: I have no further questions to put to this witness, Mr. President.
DR. STAHMER: Where is your permanent residence, Witness?
PROSOROVSKI: I was born in Moscow and have my domicile there.
DR. STAHMER: How long have you been in the Commissariat for Health?
PROSOROVSKI: I have been working in institutions for public health since 1931 and am at present in the Ministry of Public Health. Before that I was a candidate for the chair of forensic medicine at Moscow University.
DR. STAHMER: In this commission were there also foreign scientists?
PROSOROVSKI: In this commission there were no foreign medico-legal experts, but the exhumation and examination of these corpses could be attended by anybody who was interested. Foreign journalists, I believe 12 in number, came to the burial grounds and I showed them the corpses, the graves, the clothing, and so on in short everything they were interested in.
DR. STAHMER: Were there any foreign scientists present?
PROSOROVSKI: I repeat again that no one was present apart from Soviet experts of the medico-legal commission.
DR. STAHMER: Can you give the names of the members of the press?
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, he was giving a long-list of names before and he was stopped by his counsel.
Why do you shake your head?
DR. STAHMER: I did not understand, Mr. President, the one list of names. He gave a list of names of the members of the commission. My question is that: The witness has just said that members of the foreign press were present and that the results of the investigation were presented to them. I am now asking for the names of these members of the foreign press.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, go on.
DR. STAHMER: Will you please give me the names of the members of the press, or at least the names of those who were present and to whom you presented the results of the examination?
PROSOROVSKI: Unhappily I cannot give you those names now here; but I believe that if it is necessary, I would be able to find them. I shall ascertain the names of all those foreign correspondents who were present at the exhumation of the corpses.
DR. STAHMER: The statement about the number of corpses exhumed and examined by you seems to have changed somewhat according to my notes, but I may have misunderstood. Once you mentioned 5000 and another time 925. Which figure is the correct one?
PROSOROVSKI: You did not hear properly. I said that 925 corpses had been exhumed in the Katyn wood, but in general I personally exhumed or was present at the exhumation of over 5000 in many towns of the Soviet Union after the liberation of the territories from the Germans.
DR. STAHMER: Were you actually present at the exhumation?
DR. STAHMER: How long did you work at these exhumations?
PROSOROVSKI: As I told you, on 14 January a group of medico-legal experts left for the site of the burial grounds together with the members of a special commission.
THE PRESIDENT: Can you not just say how long it took the whole exhumation? In other words, to shorten it, can you not say how long it took?
PROSOROVSKI: Very well. The exhumation and part of the examination of the corpses lasted from 1/16/1944 to 1/23/1944.
DR. STAHMER: Did you find only Polish officers?
PROSOROVSKI: All the corpses, with the exception of two which were found in civilian clothing, were in Polish uniforms and were therefore members of the Polish Army.
DR. STAHMER: Did you try to determine from what camp these Polish officers came originally?
PROSOROVSKI: That was not one of my duties. I was concerned only with the medico-legal examination of the corpses.
DR. STAHMER: You did not learn in any other way from what camp they came?
PROSOROVSKI: In the receipts which were found, dated 1941, it was stated that the money was received in camp 10-N. It can therefore be assumed that the camp number was obviously of particular importance.
DR. STAHMER: Did you know of the Kosielsk Camp?
PROSOROVSKI: Only from hearsay. I have not been there.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know that Polish officers were kept prisoners there?
PROSOROVSKI: I can say only what I heard. I heard that Polish officers were there, but I have not seen them myself nor have I been anywhere near there.
DR. STAHMER: Did you learn anything about the fate of these officers?
PROSOROVSKI: Since I did not make the investigations, I cannot say anything about the fate of these officers. About the fate of the officers, whose corpses were discovered in the graves of Katyn, I have already spoken.
DR. STAHMER: How many officers did you find altogether in the burial grounds at Katyn?
PROSOROVSKI: We did not separate the corpses according to their rank; but, in all, there were 925 corpses exhumed and examined.
DR. STAHMER: Was that the majority?
PROSOROVSKI: The coats and tunics of many corpses bore shoulder straps with insignia indicating officers’ rank. But even to-day I could not distinguish the insignia of rank of the Polish officers.
DR. STAHMER: What happened to the documents which were found on the Polish prisoners?
PROSOROVSKI: By order of the special commission the searching of the clothing was done by the medico-legal experts. When these experts discovered documents they looked them through, examined them, and handed them over to the members of the special commission, either to Academician Burdenko or Academician Tolstoy, Potemkin, or any other members of the commission. Obviously these documents are in the archives of the Extraordinary State Commission.
DR. STAHMER: Are you of the opinion that from the medical findings regarding the corpses the time when they were killed can be determined with certainty?
PROSOROVSKI: In determining the date on which these corpses had presumably been buried, we were guided by the experience which we had gathered in numerous previous exhumations and also found support by material evidence discovered by the medico-legal experts. Thus we were able to establish beyond doubt that the Polish officers were buried in the fall of 1941.
DR. STAHMER: I asked whether from the medical findings you could determine this definitely and whether you did so.
PROSOROVSKI: I can again confirm what I have already said. Since we had great experience in mass exhumations, we came to that conclusion, in corroboration of which we also had much material evidence, which enabled us to determine the autumn of 1941 as the time of the burial of the Polish officers.
DR. STAHMER: I have no more questions to put to this witness. Mr. President, an explanation regarding the document which was just submitted; I have here only a copy signed by Heinrich; I have not seen the original.
THE PRESIDENT: I imagine the original is there.
DR. STAHMER: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Colonel Smirnov, do you want to reexamine?
MR. COUNSELLOR SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I have no further questions to put to this witness; but with the permission of the Tribunal, I would like to make a brief statement.
We were allowed to choose from among the 120 witnesses whom we interrogated in the case of Katyn, only three. If the Tribunal is interested in hearing any other witnesses named in the reports of the Extraordinary State Commission, we have, in the majority of cases, adequate affidavits which we can submit at the Tribunal’s request. Moreover, any one of these persons can be called to this Court if the Tribunal so desires.
That is all I have to say upon this matter.
Source: Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945 – 1 October 1946. Nuremberg, Germany: William S. Hein & Co., 1947-1949.