On Case 33, it should be noted that it can be established with certainty that the ring finger of the right hand was only cut off after death, apparently, solely and purely with the intention of stealing the wedding ring.
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Dr. Mauss, Lieutenant Colonel (Medical Corps)
Lieutenant Colonel (Medical Corps) Dr. Mauss was duly sworn.
Concluded: Signed: Koch, Judge Advocate, Signed: Wiediger, Army Justice Inspector; Certified: Secretary.
Gefreiter Ludes (IIIrd Battalion, 463rd Infantry Regiment) received a bullet wound in the left hand south of Wjasma on 7 October 1941 and was taken prisoner by Russian troops after being surrounded. On the next day, the Russians began a hasty withdrawal, in which the wounded man was taken along at first. But when darkness fell, and the Russians noted that they were encircled, the Russian commissar ordered the German prisoner to step out of the line of marching men. Two shots were fired immediately afterwards, knocking the prisoner to the ground and leaving him unconscious. When he awoke, he was alone. The Russians had obviously left him for dead.
First Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Günther R. was taken prisoner on 6 August 1941 at Tschelowka. His body was found later. The expert medical opinion of Second Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Stock (Ist Battalion, 171st Infantry Regiment) established the following:
“The body exhibited the following injuries, which, in my opinion, were inflicted on First Lieutenant (Medical Corps) R. by the Russians while the victim was still alive, since signs of bleeding were visible on the body: both eyes had been gouged out, the nose was cut off, the upper lip was torn to shreds by blows with a blunt object. I observed an incision approximately 2 centimeters wide in the right side of the breast. The left iliac crest was split in half, presumably as the result of a blow with a spade. To the right of the axillary line, between the eleventh and twelfth rib, to the left of the spinal column, were incisions, each approximately 5 centimeters wide.
“The genitals had been cut off. On the left arm, the skin had been separated from the elbow to the finger tips, and was not found at the scene. It is possible that the body also exhibited other, additional injuries, which could not be established with certainty as a result of decomposition and soiling by sand.
“Whether any one of these injuries (especially the incisions) caused R.’s death, or whether he simply bled to death, can no longer be determined with certainty, since I was also unable to determine the order in which the injuries were inflicted.”
The mutilation of the dead or wounded in the battle of the 1st Squadron, 11th Reconnaissance Division on 24 July 1941, near Pup, is described by the sworn record of 27 October 1941.
Corporal Seeling reported on the killing of wounded members of a column of the 59th Baker Company, on 26 August 1941 on the road to Wolna to Wollossowo. Captain F. Lieutenant N. and Feldwebel P. were mistreated by the Russians by blows with rifle butts to the face or kicking with boots, or stab wounds to the back, as they lay defenseless on the ground as a result of their injuries. They all died of their injuries.
Hauptfeldwebel Appel and Gefreiter Riese (7th Company, Infantry Regiment “Grossdeutschland”) found the body of a German Corporal near Woroschilowo on 14 August 1941; the dead man’s trousers had been pulled down below his knees, his eyes gouged out, the testicles cut off and the left arm cut off at the height of the elbow. There were no injuries which could have been inflicted in combat.
Gefreiter Ochs (3rd Company, 72nd Motorized Engineer Battalion) was captured by the Russians after being wounded in the head, leg, buttocks and arm during the attack on Kamary on 21 November 1941. He and a few other comrades were first taken to Kamary, but received no medical treatment. On the evening of 21 November 1941, they were driven further down the road towards Sevastopol. The actions of the Russians caused the men to believe that they were about to be shot. Shortly after Kamary, a shot was fired; one comrade screamed and fell down. Despite his severe injuries, Ochs took flight. He succeeded in reaching the thick woods and remained concealed. He heard several more shots and the screams of his comrades, so it must be assumed that they were all shot.
On 9 November 1941, in the village of Toy-Tebe, two dead German soldiers were found dead after being obviously murdered by the Russians. One of them was found lying on his back with his hands tied behind his back. He had been killed by a gun shot wound to the head from behind; the body had been completely plundered. The other soldier was wounded in the thigh, and had been properly bandaged. He, too, had been killed by a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Specialist Officer Welke, in the record of 25 November 1941, describes the bestial murder of a Corporal and a Gefreiter of the Luftwaffe, about four kilometers from Kamischnia. Welke found the bodies on 21 October 1941. He also describes the murder of Colonel Z. Z.’s Corporal, and a soldier, all killed in the same cruel manner in the house of a Ukrainian doctor. All men were killed by partisans.
The crew of a German combat aircraft forced to make an emergency landing about six kilometers south of the village of Pronosowka, south of the Kremen-Tschug-Skownino road, on 12 September 1941, were, with the exception of Lieutenant Meyeringh, who was able to find his way back to German lines, and Corporal Meier, who was taken away by the Russians during their withdrawal, were all murdered on the same day by soldiers and civilians from the village of Pronosowka. On or about 25 September 1941, Lieutenant Meyeringh made the following observations during the examination of the body of the commandant of the aircraft, Lieutenant O.:
“The back of the body showed clear signs of a beating inflicted with whips and cudgels. The left wrist joint had been crushed flat (perhaps crushed by the heel of a boot), the knuckles of the left hand were completely crushed. The lieutenant had had his nose cut off; there was a hole the size of a man’s fist in the back of his skull; this was not a bullet wound, but was rather apparently inflicted by a blow. Finally, Lieutenant O. had been shot in the heart through the shoulder blade. The overall circumstances, particularly the fact that the flight suit had been cut at the belt line and that his flier’s jacket, boots and socks were missing, indicate that the flight suit had been pulled upwards, and that he had been cruelly mistreated, as indicated by the condition of the body, before being finally murdered by the fatal shot through the shoulder in the heart. In addition to Lieutenant O. the pilot and aerial gunner were also killed by Red Army men and partisans.
On 2 November 1941, Oberfeldwebel Makuschewitz had to leave a seriously wounded member of his assault detachment behind for a while. When the hostile group was finally repulsed, he found the same man, who had previously suffered only a bullet wound, mutilated beyond recognition by bayonet stab wounds. The head had also been crushed by being stomped on with boot heels. Two other members of the assault detachment, who had been killed by bullet wounds, were also found mutilated, one with bayonet thrusts through the right eye, the other with bayonet stab wounds in the back.
Lieutenant Furch (4th Battalion, 51st Fighter Wing) was plundered by Russians and mistreated by blows with rifle butts after being taken prisoner on 13 July 1941, east of Orscha. His hands had been tied together with his own underbelt. A rather high-ranking Russian officer, at gunpoint, attempted to extort military information from him. At a rather large Russian agency, further attempts were made to obtain military information from him. An apparently Jewish emigrant served as interpreter, and an armed woman, who held a pistol before his breast and demanded to know the names of the commanders of the 17th and 18th Tank Division from him, using the German language. He was then delivered into a prison in Smolensk (in Kiev Street), where he and another German soldier were lodged in a completely filthy cell without table, bed or stool, sleeping both together on completely filthy mats. A pan with warm water and a piece of bread were the only things they received to eat in their three-day captivity. He was liberated by advancing German troops on 16 July 1941.
The records of interrogation of Feldwebel Wernert, Chief Riflemann Dellwig and Rifleman Hachenberg, as well as Feldwebel Theussen, of 30 and 31 October 1941, describe another case of mutilation, in this case, of dead members of the 142nd Infantry Regiment on 12 October 1941 in the region of the railway station of Maluksa.
In the record of 27 August 1941, Lieutenant Reimann, a witness under oath, describes the severe mutilation of First Lieutenant von G. and Gefreiter K. by Russian troops.
Gefreiter (Mountain Infantry) Erwin Kaufmann (IIIrd Battalion 137th Company, 137th Mountain Infantry Regiment) observed, on 4 July 1941, in the region of Lica (in the region of Petsamo) during the fighting around the Herzberg, described the manner in which the Russians, during their retreat, picked up a wounded German soldier, apparently, to take him away with them. But the Russians immediately knocked him down with blows with their rifle butts and then shot him several times. The witness was unable to make any further statements on the fate of the wounded man, since the fighting made this impossible.
On 4 October 1941, First Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Sonnleitner was on the march towards Wjasma with the 2nd Medical Company, 23rd Division. In a locality along the direction of their advance, an advance division of artillery was attacked from a forest by the Russians, wounding many men. Many of the wounded were thrown on a truck by the Russians. The Russians then set fire to the truck, in addition to a barn in which German wounded were housed. All the wounded men died, a total of 60 men. Second Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Sonnleitner personally saw the bodies of these wounded men, who had already been lain in a mass grave prior to his arrival, but had not yet been buried.
On or around the beginning of November 1941, a few kilometers beyond Wjasma, at the edge of a forest, Dr. Sonnleitner saw the half-naked body of a man, who was undoubtedly German due to his facial features and haircut. The man’s tongue, ears, and genitals had been cut off.
On 8 or 9 December 1941, Second Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Sonnleitner found a dead German soldier behind a house in Schebrino, whose skull had been split open and whose ears had been cut off.
First Report on the Treatment of German Prisoners of War in the Russian Hinterland
Since the Soviet government has refused all information on captured members of the German armed forces and any inspection of the prisoner of war camps located in the Soviet Union by representatives of the German protecting power or the Red Cross, and since no captured members of the German armed forces had previously succeeded in finding their way back to German lines from the Russian hinterland (as distinguished from the narrower theater of combat operations), the testimony of Gefreiter Strobel, who, as a motorcycle dispatch rider, was captured by the Russians on 8 or 9 August 1941, and was able to find his way back to German lines after approximately two and half months captivity in a large city of the Russian hinterland, is of particular importance.
The light shed by this first detailed report on the fate of Gefreiter Strobel and his comrades bodes no good for the treatment of other German prisoners of war in the Russian hinterland.
Court of the 132nd Infantry Division Divisional Staff Headquarters, 9 March 1942.
Legal Assistance List No. 16/1942
Present: Judge Advocate Dr. Lungwitz, interrogating judge
Feldwebel Brinz, representative documentary official
Subject: Experiences of Gefreiter Philipp Strobel in Russian captivity
Appearing in response to an order there appeared Gefreiter Strobel, as proven by presentation of his paybook. After being acquainted with the object of his interrogation and the significance and sanctity of the oath, he testified as follows:
motorcycle. I knocked at a house in which I had seen a light. I was captured in front of this house by a Russian officer with 4 soldiers. The officer spoke German. I was not at all mistreated by this officer and 4 soldiers. During the same night, I was taken further behind the lines and handed over to two Russian commissars in an isolated house. A man in uniform, obviously a Jew, who spoke broken German, was with them. The commissars now interrogated me and demanded detailed information on the German positions, particularly the location of the divisional staff. When I deliberately gave a false location, which they could not find on a map, the commissar gave me a box on the ear, and I fell to the floor. After a short interrogation, during which I was asked questions which I could not possibly answer, I was locked in a cellar, located outside. I would like to add that the officer who captured me had stolen my field jacket as well as my weapons, so that I was only dressed in underclothing, trousers and boots. They had left me my overcoat. The overcoat contained my divisional orders wrapped up in it. The Russians hadn’t found them, and I tore up all my orders in the cellar, which was really a hole in the ground, and buried them.
“Still on the same morning, I was loaded onto a truck and transported to the eastern bank of the Dnieper and once again handed over to a Russian command post. Once again, I was asked all sorts of questions. Once, I was threatened by a Russian officer with a dagger, but I was not hurt. During this interrogation, however, they tore my insignia of rank off my field cap, spat on the cap, and stuck it back on my head. At the same time, the Russian officer gave a very hard box on the ear. The officers present in the room during the interrogation repeatedly spat on me, and were then imitated by the Russian soldiers also present in the room.
“After the interrogation, I was forced to lay mines near a crossroads and near a small bridge, under the supervision of a Russian soldier. I then had to recover the mined ground with earth and lay phony wagon tracks on top of them. A Russian soldier then reported to a Russian officer, obviously to the effect that I hadn’t done a good job. This soldier than came up to me with a steel spring, obviously from a vehicle, and beat me over the head with this steel spring, so that I bled badly. I had to redo the fake wagon tracks. After completing the work, I was once again transported further east. In one small locality, I met another three German prisoners. One of them was named Johann Grimm and, insofar as I can remember, and was from the 294th Division, but I am no longer absolutely certain. I have forgotten the names of the others. The comrades were also completely impassive and apathetic, so that there was no more detailed conversation between us. I had to load mines onto a truck with these three comrades. Nothing special happened while we were doing that.
“On the afternoon of the same day, we 4 prisoners were loaded into a railway freight car. Before getting on board, we were given a kind of corn bread and each one of us received a loaf of oat bread, which may have weighed about 1 pound. The freight car contained vehicle spare parts. The door was locked from the outside. The only light came from a hole with a grid over it inside the freight car. The trip lasted 3 days and 3 nights, during which time the door was never opened. We received nothing to eat or drink. I had my overcoat with me, while my three comrades had nothing. But they still had their field jackets.
“After 3 days, we were let out of the freight car, at the railway station of a city. We were taken into the cellar of a warehouse on the terrain of the railway station, where we found 16 other German prisoners. The floor of the cellar was covered with a thin layer of straw, but it was not yet entirely trampled down. About half an hour after our arrival, towards evening, a Russian soldier brought a pan with soup into the cellar. It was a kind of rice soup, also containing pieces of cabbage and oats. The soup looked very dirty to us. There were still oat husks in it. There were no containers. Any one of us who had a container got something in it. I had nothing and was instructed to eat from my comrade’s container. The pan in which the soup was brought to us was taken away again by the soldiers. We received no spoons. Fortunately, a few comrades had spoons with them. Each one of us also received a oat bread weighing about 500 g.
“On the following days, we had to work on the terrain of the railway station. For the most part, our job was to load munitions. Sometimes we had to mend rails. While we were doing this, civilians repeatedly spat at us. The guards also repeatedly spat at us and hit us with their rifle butts. It also happened that the Russian soldiers amused themselves by kicking us in the buttocks as we kneeled working on the roadbed, so that the comrade kicked in this manner fell down the embankment. This didn’t happen to me personally, but I saw it happen to other comrades. The food was also very scarce during this period. We only got something warm every third day, a type of thick soup, always without meat. Every second or third day there was a oat bread for each man. We only got water to drink, which we also had to carry some considerable distance. On the days when there was neither soup or bread, we received a greasy, stinking barrel of salted herring, 1 to 3 pieces per man, according to availability. There was no wash water at all.
“We also loaded grain and had to unload Russian wounded during this period.
“When we had worked one week at the railway station, a guard noticed my wedding ring, which I was still wearing. He demanded me to take it off and give it to him. When I refused, the guard called another soldier, also acting as guard. I knew this second soldier, because he was a brute. He had once already given me a box on the ear for no reason. He grabbed me by the thumb and forced the thumb backwards, so that I fell to the ground with the pain. When I saw that further struggle was pointless, I indicated that I was willing to give up the ring. They let me loose and I took it off and gave it to them. That evening, my comrades had to manipulate the thumb back into the joint, since it was dislocated.
“One day, when we were loading munitions from one freight car into another, we heard a pistol shot, and a comrade working about 7 meters away from me received a bullet wound in the abdomen. He fell over and bled very badly. Since I wanted to help him and also had the impression that he wanted to say something, I started to go over to him. A Russian guard kicked me in the side with his boot and adopted a threatening attitude towards me. I had to go on working as before. The other comrades weren’t allowed to help him, either. Towards evening the body of our comrade, who had died in the meantime, was carried away to the side on the guards’ orders, and buried next to the railway embankment.
“2 or 3 days after this incident, a second comrade was shot. A Russian transport train was traveling through the railway station in which we were working. An empty tin can was tossed out of one compartment. One comrade, who had no eating utensils, attempted to pick up the tin, which was rolling along the ground about 30 meters away. Before he reached the tin, he was shot in the back by the guard and was left lying there. We were not allowed to help this comrade in any way, although he lived about another hour and a half, as far as I could tell. Towards evening, again, four German prisoners had to carry the body away and bury it.
“A few days later, during an attack by German stukas, I was able to escape through a cellar with two entrances into a brickyard located in the vicinity. I hid there during the night and was then able to reach the German lines in about 12 days. Naturally, during my escape to the German lines, I was unable to make any observations in the sense of my interrogation as to my German comrades.
Read out, approved and signed. approved and signed. Signed: Dr. Lungwitz, Judge Advocate, Signed: Philipp Strobel
Signed: Brinz, Feldwebel
Gefreiter Strobel was duly sworn.
Plundering of Prisoners of War and the Dead and Wounded
The plundering of dead or wounded German soldiers, as already shown by the majority of the previously mentioned records, forms part of the methods used by Russian troops. The plundering and robbery have already been mentioned in the description of the murder and mutilation of innumerable German soldiers. That even Russian officers and commissars participated in such atrocities for their own benefit has already been repeatedly established. In addition, many documents in the possession of the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau contain proof of robbery and plundering. The Russian tendency in this direction has not even shrunk from robbing the vehicles of the medical corps and the wounded being transported therein.
Desecration of military graves
The documents contain proof of the desecration of graves by Russian soldiers in uniform and, even more frequently, by so-called partisans.
In Case 220, a Russian officer, as proven by the testimony of the Russian woman witness Maria Suchkow on 12 September 1941, did not hesitate to remove and misappropriate the wrist watch of a dead German soldier whose body he had had disinterred.
On 8 October 1941, two military chaplain from the 28th Division found battlefield graves from which the crosses had been removed.
Document to Case 219
Court of the 28th Division Local Bivouac, 9 October 1941
Present: Judge Advocate Lohr, acting judge
Officer Jeretzky, Recording Secretary
In the matter under investigation, i.e. violations of international law by the Bolsheviks, the following persons appeared as witnesses. After being informed of the significance of the oath, they were interrogated as follows:
As to my person: my name is Professor Dr. Johannes Stelzenberger, I am a Catholic military chaplain with the 28th division, I am 43 years old, of the Catholic faith.
As to the facts:
”On 8 October 1941, I was driving with chaplain Bedorf, Lieutenant Gorlitz and a platoon of the 3rd Battalion 28th Engineers on the battlefields of the 3rd Battalion 28th Engineers 4 kilometers northeast of Jarzewo, between Cholm and Nowosselje-South, looking for 64 missing men from the 3rd Battalion 28th Engineers. With the help of eyewitnesses to the battle, between 3 and 5 September 1941, we immediately found the command post of the Company, leader of the 3rd Battalion, 28th Engineers, in a gully, about 2 km southeast of Cholm, and about 100 meters south of there, in the same gully, the graves of members of the 3rd Battalion 28th Engineers who were buried there at that time, which Lieutenant Görlitz and the people from the 3rd Battalion 28th Engineers immediately recognized as the graves dug at that time. The crosses had been removed from all graves and
all trace of them had disappeared. With one exception (Obergefreiter Z.), the plates fixed to the crosses with the names of the dead men had also been removed. I took a photograph of the graves, which can be made available later.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Dr. Johannes Stelzenberger (Signed: in shorthand)
2nd Witness: Military Chaplain Bedorf
“As to my person: my name is Theo Bedorf, Evangelical Military Chaplain with the 28th Division, I am 31 years old, Evangelical religion.
“As to the facts: ‘The interrogation of Professor Stelzenberger has been read out to me. I fully concur with the statements contained therein.’”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Theo Bedorf (signed in shorthand)
The witnesses were duly sworn.
Signed: Lohr. Signed: Jeretzky (Signed in shorthand).
2nd Witness: Dr. Pittler
“As to my person: My name is Dr. Pittler, Veterinary Officer (Medical Service) with the Staff of the 28th Division, I am 43 years old, Evangelical.
“As to the facts: On 3 October 1941, I was on a service mission to the troops, the objective being Kanjutino (approximately 4 km west of Wopj on the map quadrate 20/85 of the 1:100,000 map, Smolensk, sheet no. N-36-V). On the return trip, about 400 meters north of the locality, on a height, I noticed about 6 or 7 graves of German soldiers. A few meters away from the mounds lay wooden crosses, upon which most of the inscriptions had been made illegible by scratching or painting. It was obvious that these crosses had been torn up and thrown about the area at random. The mounds had been largely destroyed. You could recognize them as grave mounds by the edges, some of which were still undamaged. Furthermore, it was clear that efforts had been made to level the mounds. The mounds lay a few meters away from roads, embedded in a hillside covered with grass and were therefore protected. I consider it out of the question that the above described destruction could have occurred as the result of hostile military action or vehicle traffic. The type of destruction, especially the crosses lying around at random, showed that the graves had been deliberately destroyed. The graves were the resting places of German soldiers who were killed during the initial occupation of the terrain. The terrain was later evacuated and left to hostile forces on tactical grounds in September, and was only retaken during the advance which began on 2 October 1941.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Dr. Arnold Pittler (signed in shorthand)
The witness was duly sworn.
Signed: Lohr. Signed: Jeretzky (Signed: in shorthand).
The reproduction concords with the shorthand. Local Bivouac, 9 October 1941.
Signed: Jeretzky, Officer. Recording secretary, Certified: Secretary.
From local residents, it was reported that a body of a German soldier buried near the church had been dug up by the Russians. Among the Russians were two officers, one of whom robbed the body of its wrist watch.
Documents to Case 220
Court of the 10th Infantry (Motorized) Division Divisional Staff Headquarters, 12 September 1941
General List Nr. 38/41
Local residents had immediately related that, in the immediate vicinity of the church, where the vehicles of the Divisional Staff are parked at present, was the grave of a German soldier, who had been dug up by Russian soldiers. The German dead were said to have been plundered.
was found superficially covered in a tarpaulin. After the body was removed, it was established that all the pockets in the soldier’s uniform (field jacket and trousers) had been pulled inside out. It was proven beyond dispute that the dead man had been a medic. The identity tag were missing.
After that, Lieutenant Colonel (Medical Corps) Dr. Schmidt, Divisional Physician with the 10th Infantry (Motorized) division and, after the above named had been called away on service, First Lieutenant (Medical Corps) Dr. Hollstein, Adjutant to the divisional physician of the 10th Infantry Division, made the following expert report on the spot:
The body exhibited a serious shrapnel injury to the right upper arm and the right half of the torso.
The injury must be considered the cause of death. The body had already started to decompose, so that the skin was in the process of becoming separated from the entire body, especially on the hands. There were no visible mutilations of the body. The deformation of the skull was attributed to the swellings phenomena of the soft parts as a result of decomposition.
Signed: Schmidt, Lieutenant Colonel (Medical Corps), Signed: Dr. Hollstein, First Lieutenant (Medical Corps).
Signed: Dr. Arnold, Judge Advocate, Certified: Secretary.
Court of the 10th Infantry (Motorized) division Divisional Staff Headquarters, 12 September 1941
General List no. 38/41
Present: 1. Judge Advocate Dr. Arnold
2. Corporal W. Stohr, documentary official
In the matter under investigation relating to violations of international law, the following persons appeared as witness. The Russian prisoner of war Gabriel Ballach, in service wit the German armed forces at this unit, was also present. He was ordered to interpret truthfully.
The appearing parties were acquainted with the object of the investigation. They were then interrogated as follows:
“My name is Maria Suschkow, I was born on 6 February 1923, without religion (rank, profession), unmarried, collective farm worker (unit, residence) Adjuscha/near Korop.
“I declare that the following forms part of my interrogation:
“When the Germans withdrew to this locality, I saw a newly dug grave of a German soldier in the immediate vicinity of the church. The grave was very properly arranged. There was a white birch cross on it. On the grave was a German steel helmet. The grave was decorated with flowers.
“On the same day as the German withdrawal, several Russian soldiers approached the grave. Three of these Russian soldiers began to disinter the body of the German soldiers. Two other Russian soldiers stood by. The latter two were Russian lieutenants. Several civilians were standing around with me. These people were first ordered by the Russian soldiers to start digging up the graves. Since the civilians refused to obey, we were all driven away from the square in front of the church, where the grave was located.
“From the edge of the square where the civilians, including myself, were standing, I saw one of the two lieutenants remove the wrist watch from the dead body. The lieutenant then put the wrist watch in his pocket. I also saw these two soldiers remove something from the breast of the dead man; whatever it was, I saw them holding it in their hands, examining it very closely. I don’t know what it was. Perhaps it was a cross which the dead man had worn on his breast.”
At this point, the witness was shown an identity tag. Upon being shown the tag, she declared:
“I do not believe that the object taken from the breast of the dead German soldier was an identity tag.
”After the Russian soldiers took the wrist watch and whatever else it was that they took from the breast of the dead man, they reburied the body.
“I don’t know where these Russians came from. They were waiting for their horses, to ride to Korop.
I have not seen any other cases of the plundering of bodies.
“During the reburial, I did not see the Russians throw the birch cross on top of the grave; but they took the steel helmet with them. One of the civilians who were ordered
to dig up the dead was my brother. When he refused, the Russians told him: ‘You really aren’t on the side of the Russians.’”
Read out. The interpreter declared that he had understood the text read out. He further declared that the text read out by him exactly reflected the statements of the witness.
Signed by the witness: Signed: Maria Suschkow, signature of the interpreter. Signed: Gabriel Ballach.
The witness could not be sworn since she did know what an oath was, or what it meant to swear an oath, nor could she understand the explanations of the interpreter, who did not know what an oath was either. Concluded: Signed: Dr. Arnold, Judge Advocate. Signed: W. Stöhr, Corporal.
Another case of the desecration of graves is described in the interrogation of Hauptfeldwebel Gnädig. Three German dead soldiers were plundered by the Russians. They were then buried by members of their unit. A few days later, it was observed that the their graves had been desecrated. Russian officers were involved in this case as well.
Document to Case 221
Court of the 29th (Motorized) Division Local Bivouac, 13 November 1941
Reserve Auxiliary List No. 129/1941
Present: Judge Advocate Dr. Mewes, acting judge
Corporal Ander, Recording Secretary
Hauptfeldwebel Gnädig, 2nd Battalion 29th (Motorized) Reconnaissance Division declared after being informed of the significance of the oath.
“During the fighting around Jampolj (southeast of Nowgorod-Sswesersk), on 13 September 1941, Feldwebel M.. Corporal B. and Obergefreiter R. of the 2nd Battalion, 29th Reconnaissance (Motorized) Division, were killed by ambush after being cut off while riding their motorcycles. When the bodies were found shortly afterwards during the attack by the same company, Obergefreiter R.’s money and watch were missing. I observed this when I got there with Lieutenant Fuchs. Obergefreiter R.’s pockets were turned inside out. We then buried the dead men in an open area in the southeast part of the locality. There were mounds on top of each grave, which were planted with strips of sod with grass growing on them. At the head of each grave we placed birch cross with a name plate. On the middle cross was a steel helmet. We had to evacuate the locality on the next morning. We only reoccupied the village on 17 September 1941. Upon inspecting the graves I noticed that the steel helmet was missing, the name plates had been torn off, the 3 grave mounds were trampled down, the strips of sod with grass in them were partially trampled into the earth, and some of them lay scattered around the grave site. 2 wreathes which we had placed on the graves had been torn off and trampled under foot; the cans in which they had been placed had been kicked away.
“2 women who lived in the village were interrogated by an interpreter. They said that the Russians had rushed to the graves after our withdrawal and had trampled them under foot while screaming. 2 officers were involved in doing this.
“According to the condition of the graves, it was immediately clear that they had not been damaged during the battle, but that they had been deliberately destroyed. The imprints of hobnailed boots prove that the information of the villagers was correct and that the destruction was committed by Russian soldiers.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Martin Gnädig
The witness was sworn.
Concluded: Signed: Mewes. Signed: Ander. Certified: Secretary.
The following witness testimony confirms a case of grave desecration in which the personal information posted on the cross was removed, obviously with deliberate intent.
Document to Case 222
High Command der Wehrmacht Berlin, 30 January 1942
Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau
Present: Judge Advocate of the Support Troop of the Luftwaffe Dr. Hoffmann as legal military justice official
Employee Marie Jaedicke, specially obligated as Recording Secretary
Max Kersten, Medical Assistant at the Reserve Field Hospital 133, Berlin-Buch, Lindenbergerweg 66-68, was interviewed in connection with the matter under investigation, i.e. Russian violations of international law. He was familiarized with the object of the witness interrogation and instructed as to his duty to tell the truth as witness, with reference to the significance of the oath.
“As to my person: My name is Max Kersten. I am 31 years old, married, Medical Assistant, 3rd Battalion, 291st Engineer Division, presently with the reserve field hospital 133, Berlin-Buch.
As to the facts:
”In December 1941, I was with my Company, in the region of Schlüsselberg, on the Maluxa-Olomna railway line and assigned to the village of Pogostje […]
“During the retaking of the village of Pogostje, we noticed that the Russian troops had sawn off the horizontal beams bearing the personal information on six graves of dead German soldiers, obviously to render impossible any subsequent research into the resting place of these comrades. Among the six graves was the grave of Gefreiter K from my Company.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Max Kersten, Medical Assistant.
The witness was sworn
Signed: Dr. Hoffmann. Signed: Marie Jaedicke. Certified: Secretary.
A Russian proclamation found in the region of a German army corps and reproduced here in photocopy form, provides the most precise instructions to the civilian population of the Russian zone on how to act during their struggle. The proclamation provides complete proof for the centralized organization of guerrilla warfare (partisan activity) in the Russian theater of operations.
Of a Soviet leaflet found in the area of operations of the AOK 2
“Instructions for Partisans in the hostile base.
During your struggle, think of the following:
For the correctness of the copy: Signed signature, Lieutenant, Certified: Secretary
Russian proclamation proving the centralized organization of partisan warfare, as against the Soviet historical legend [that partisan activity was spontaneous]
Cases of the partisan activity called into life by the centralized organization by Russian authorities and constantly encouraged by praising mentions in the Russian army reports have already been taken into account in the violations of law described above. Reference is made in this connection to the Welke interrogation record, the murder of Colonel Z. and other members of the German armed forces (Case 223) and the murder of the crew of a German aircraft on 12 September 1941 near Pronosowka (Case 224). Attacks by Russian guerrillas or partisans on individual transports in terrain with poor visibility behind the German front, especially on ambulance transports or smaller dressing stations, have been repeatedly reported and proven.
The following sworn record describes the sadistic murder of a soldier by a 25-man band of partisans.
Document to Case 223
In the field, 25 November 1941
In response to summons, the district farmer specialist officer Fritz Welke. The witness was informed of the significance of the oath. He declared:
“The bridge had been blown up by a mine. The circumstances indicated that the mine used to cause the explosion had been triggered by a trip wire. Left of the road, at a distance of about 6 to 8 meters, lay a motorcycle with side car, exhibited only slight damage, caused by rifle bullets. To the right of the road, immediately at the slope, lay the bodies of 2 members of the Luftwaffe. One of the murdered men had a through and through bullet wound in the head, which must have been immediately fatal. Whether he had any other bullet wounds was impossible to tell. The other body also exhibited only a single bullet wound, in the right side of the breast, which must, however, in my opinion, have been fatal. Both bodies exhibited numerous stab wounds to the breast. From the number of stab wounds, one could only conclude that the partisans involved in the deed had fallen upon the victims of the attack with truly sadistic murderous glee. The body of the soldier who had fallen into the hands of the partisans, moreover, had a deep stabbing or cutting wound in the right side of the neck, near the artery, which a physician, to whom I described the condition of the bodies a few days later, called a kosher slaughter cut. Both the murdered men had had the skin removed from their faces; the eyes had been gouged out and the
ears cut off. These mutilations were carried out in a workmanlike manner, one could even say, with medical precision. In addition, one of the bodies had had the area around the mouth smashed in. I assume that the victims had cried out and were reduced to silence in this bestial manner. Both the murdered men had been robbed of their boots, socks and gloves. We were unable to determine whether other articles were also missing. I forwarded the valuables and identity papers found on the bodies and in the sidecar to the local command headquarters in Mirgorod. I can no longer remember the names of the murdered men. I only still know that they were a Corporal and an Obergefreiter of the Luftwaffe.
“According to the testimony of the villagers the deed must have been committed by a band of partisans with a strength of about 25 men.
“About 8 days ago, I had a chance to examine the bodies of Colonel Z. and his two companions, an officer and a soldier, as well as that of an Ukrainian physician, in whose house Colonel Z. was attacked by partisans. The body of the physician, the Corporal and the soldier exhibited the same fearful mutilations as the two members of the Luftwaffe found by myself. The body of Colonel Z. had had two fingers cut off, on which he had apparently worn rings. All the murdered men had been robbed of all personal property, including their uniforms.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Fritz Welke
The witness was sworn as to his testimony.
Signed: Heinze. Signed: Weiss. Certified: Secretary
The murder of a German aircraft crew forced to make an emergency landing, as well as that of a civilian “self-protection” civilian employed by them, is described by the record of the Secret Field Police as well as by the testimony of Lieutenant Meyeringh.
Documents to Case 224
13th Secret Field Police Group Local Bivouac, 25 September 1941
Report: With reference to the statements of Fedor Sergiejovitsch Skrelj from Krementschug, Lenenska 39/II, a commando of the secret field police Group 13 carried out an investigation on 24 September 1941 in the village of Pronosowka.
On 12 September 1941 (the exact date can no longer be exactly determined), a German aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing sometime during the afternoon on the steppes about 12 kilometers southwest of the village. This incident was observed from the village. Members of the Red Army, together with a few members of the civilian “self-protection” employed by them in the village immediately made their way to the scene. The details of what happened can no longer be precisely established, since naturally all participants in the crime deny having had anything to do with it or knowing anything about it. Inquiries made in the village, as well as the statements of the accused, allow the following conclusion: the crew of the downed aircraft, who had attempted to conceal themselves in the bush not far away, were fetched out from their hiding place by Red cavalry and apparently brought back to the aircraft. Here, one member of the crew was shot. Who shot him can not be established. Finally, the two remaining crew members were taken to the village, where one of them was beaten to death by them in the house of Semen Jefdokimowitsch Skrelj. The third crewmember, who was wounded on the arm, was, according to the unanimous statements of the villagers, taken away from the village the same day, by the withdrawing Red Army men.
On the next day, the village was allegedly occupied by German troops, without resistance.
The commando of Group 13 first of all, arrested all the alleged perpetrators named by the denunciant.
The guilty persons were all arrested with the exception of Pawlow Ewowitsch Skrelj, who fled with the Red Army. Since it was determined through questioning that, in addition to the five named by the denunciant, other villagers were involved in the affair, and/or knew of it, a total of 15 male persons were arrested and imprisoned in the buildings of the collective farm. Furthermore, the location of the German aircraft was also visited. The aircraft had hit the ground in a belly landing in the steppe. It lay, as already stated, about 12 km southwest of the village. The undercarriage was missing. The screws were broken. It was a type He 111 fighter plane. The forward gunner compartment was partially destroyed. What instruments were missing could not be established due to insufficient technical knowledge on our part. The fuselage and wings were undamaged, apart from a few direct hits. The aircraft bore on the sides the designation GIDC. The later rudder bore the number Nr. 4323. The number 87, inside in a yellow-edged triangle, was painted on the side. A few meters away, in front of the forward gunner compartment of the aircraft was a freshly dug grave. The grave was excavated, and found to contain the body of a lieutenant of the Luftwaffe. There were no identity tag or papers on the body. There was a visible bullet wound, which must have hit the heart very exactly. The grave mound was piled up again and a cross was erected at the head of it using parts broken off the aircraft. The grave of the second crew member, who was killed in the village, was located in the graveyard of the village. The dead man, a Gefreiter of the Luftwaffe, bore identity tag no. 202 of Field Headquarters Command Post (E), Biblis. This dead man was properly buried. There were even flowers on the body.
After wearisome and difficult inquiries (there was only one interpreter available) the following 5 persons stand out as presumed perpetrators in the murder of the aircraft crew members:
While the first four were arrested, the arrest of the 5th named person was impossible, since he left the locality with the Red Army. The persons listed under 1 through 4 were found guilty through eyewitness testimony and mutual accusations, of having been at the scene of the emergency landing on the date in question, armed, together with Red Army men. All were members of the “self-protection” deployed by the Red Army.
Furthermore, with the exception of the 2nd person listed, all were members of the Communist party. Participation the crime could not be proven against Semen Jefdokimowitsch Skrelj and Iwan Ewowitsch Skrelj. The principal guilty party among the civilians must have been Pawlow Ewowitsch Skrelj, who fled with the Red Army, who had even bragged in the village about killing the German fliers.
On 14 September 1941, Jakiw Andrejewitsch Tschumak had been appointed village elder by the unit, field post number 33 030. Since this Tschumak had neglected to inform the German troops of the incident, which was known as a result of rumor, and since he was also a member of the Communist party until 1935, and had been expelled from the Communist party for alcoholism in the same year, the responsibilities granted him by Unit 33 030 were taken away from him. The current collective farm overseer Nikita Fedosiewitsch Demtschenko appears suitable for the post.
The arrested persons were transferred to Krementschug and are in the custody of the Secret Field Police Group 13.
Signed signature: Field Police Secretary, f.S.R. [?] S.A. Signed signature: Lieutenant, Certified: Secretary.
Court of the 242nd Field Command Post Local Bivouac, 21 November 1941
Reserve Auxiliary List, no. 29/41
Present: Judge Advocate Dr. Ziehen, Officer Krause, Recording Secretary
There appeared Lieutenant of the Luftwaffe Meyeringh, IInd Battalion 55th Combat Squadron, and declared, after being warned to tell the truth and being informed of the significance of the oath:
After the landing, we brought Meier out of the aircraft and made a emergency dressing for him. We could not remain on the spot, since our landing had undoubtedly been noticed. I was sent forward to secure the way forward. The pilot and aerial gunner followed me with the wounded man. The commandant covered us to the rear with a machine gun. We were soon shot at, obviously with pistols, military weapons and shotguns, in addition to machine guns. I could not see riflemen, except for one, whom I killed with a pistol shot. Our own machine gun gave off two bursts, then jammed. In the course of the gunfight the pilot and I were separated, after the pilot had first fetched me. I couldn’t see my other comrades during the firefight or afterwards.
After three days of wandering around, I reached the German front lines. I filed a detailed report on my experiences during this period with my squad on 20 September 1941.
I can report nothing about the fate of my comrades O. Meier and R, at the time of their overpowering by the Reds from my own experience. The pilot Seuthe found his way back to the squad after several days of wandering around. He has at the time of been commandeered. His interrogation will be undertaken by my squad.
About 10 days after my return to the squad I returned to the scene of our emergency landing. In front of the cockpit of the plane was a grave, with a cross made of airplane parts. In my presence, and in the presence of the field police commissar, Miller, of the Secret Field Police Group 13, as well as a physician of the Luftwaffe, the body of Lieutenant O. was disinterred from this grave. As later established, the grave was dug and arranged by German soldiers, who found O. dead, and half-undressed, near the aircraft.
From O.’s body, we could see that the flight suit had been cut at the belt line. The lower part of the flight suit, flier NCO trousers, boots and socks, had been removed. They had obviously pulled O.’s flight suit up and then severely mistreated him. Many obvious signs of blows were clearly visible on his back. We, including the above named physician, assumed, from the condition of his back, that O. had been beaten with sticks and whips. His left wrist had been crushed flat, apparently with a blunt object. The knuckles of the left hand had been completely crushed. This was obviously an injury caused by beating, not by gunshots. O.’s nose had also been cut off. The rear of the skull exhibited a hole the size of a man’s fist. The physician present during the examination stated, and I concur, that the skull had obviously been smashed in. There were no injuries to the skull caused by gunshot wounds. Otherwise we would have been able to find bullet entry holes.
O.’s body exhibited a bullet wound to the heart, fired from behind, through the left shoulder blade. The bullet exit wound was clearly visible on the left side. There were no visible injuries to the lower part of the body.
In annex I present a copy of a report of the Secret Field Police Group 13. At the same time, I expressly state that a more detailed report from this secret field police-Group was to be written, and was to go to my unit, but did not arrive there. I suggest that this report be demanded, if it has not yet been filed with Berlin.
Gefreiter R. lay buried in the graveyard of the village. I did not see the grave myself, and was not present during the disinterment. Police Inspector Miller of the Secret Field Police Group 13 must have more detailed information on this. I asked him at the time to carry out the disinterment of the body, since I myself had to return with the machine to the assigned airport due to the breaking of dawn. According to Police Inspector Miller’s communication, Gefreiter R. was killed by Red guards and communists. What happened to Corporal Meier cannot be established. According to the statements of commissar Miller, he taken away by the Red guards. The name of the above mentioned physician is not known to me. He was appointed by the flight liaison officer at the 17th AOK.
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Heinz Meyeringh, Lieutenant
The witness was sworn.
Concluded: Signed: Dr. Ziehen, Judge Advocate, Signed: Krause, Officer, Certified: Secretary.
Use of Dum-Dum and Explosive Bullets
(Ammunition Prohibited Under International Law)
The Russians, in the most varied sections of the eastern front, have used infantry ammunition converted into dum-dum ammunition by means of improvised pinching or filing of the bullet tips.
A member of the German Divisional Staff found whole packets of cartridges filled with such ammunition in Russian positions near Sopockninie at the end of July 1941.
In a Russian workshop sheds at the Dubno railway station, approximately 30 Russian cartridges were found, the tips of the bullets of which had been filed down several millimeters. Next to the box containing these cartridges, was another box of 150 cartridges, which were obviously intended to be filed down in the same manner. Both boxes stood on a workbench, close together. Between the two boxes was a vice; next to the vice lay various tools, in particular, files, so that according to the circumstances, there is no doubt that the cartridges were chucked in the vice in order to convert the cartridges into dum-dum bullets.
Stabsfeldwebel (Cavalry) [Stabswachtmeister] Ollesch testified under oath that he found cartridges on dead Russian soldiers, the tip of which had been freshly filed down about one and a half millimeters. He also saw
bullets that at the outset had no tip at all. This testimony was confirmed under oath by First Lieutenant and Company, Leader Walter Hubener. He added that dead German soldiers exhibited bullet wounds which could not have been caused by ordinary infantry or machine gun ammunition. The entry wounds were as large as a five mark piece and sometimes even bigger.
Cartridges of Czech origin, with improvised filing of the tips to convert them into dum-dum bullets were found in an annex of the police station Slawuta in mid-July 1941.
The report of an engineer Company, reports that during a search of Russian prisoners of war a bullet was found that had also been converted into dum-dum bullets by filing.
The Russians also converted English ammunition into improvised dum-dum bullets by filing off the tips and/or exposing the lead core. Ammunition of this type was confiscated by a German Infantry Regiment.
Explosive bullets have also been used against German troops in many cases. On 13 July 1941, an infantry division, that during a low-flying attack by a Soviet aircraft on a German marching column, explosive Russian ammunition – so-called B-ammunition – was used, containing an explosive charge in the front part of the bullet. This explosive charge was detonated when the bullet hit the target so that the bullet was torn apart upon entering the body, causing devastating injuries. Such ammunition was also confiscated in the equipment collection point in Krzemieniecz. An army high command reports such ammunition, having caused remarkably serious injuries among Rumanian troops.
According to the report of a army commando, similar explosive ammunition was also used by the Russians during a Russian low-flying strafing attack on near Kropiwna. In all these cases, the bullets were not used against aerial or tank objectives or similar moving or fixed ground objectives, but, in violation of international law, against German marching or fighting columns.
Rifleman Zimbal (SS police division), during the fighting on the encirclement front south of Leningrad near Krasnogwardaisk, observed the frequent use of explosive bullets by the Russians, in regard to which reports have also been received from other sections of the front. These bullets, systematically manufactured by the Russian army administration and used in accordance with orders also in ground combat, i.e. in combat against living objectives, are characterized, in particular, by the fact that they explode with a slight noise upon hitting the target, causing unusually large wounds. The witness Zimbal also found such ammunition on Russian prisoners and in the ammunition pockets of Russian dead. This ammunition has a black tip of the bullet, but the bullet itself has a red circle on the lower part. The use of these explosive bullets in ground combat represents a serious violation of the “declaration relating to the prohibition of bullets which easily expand or flatten in the human body, of 29 July 1899”.
Document to case 233
High command of the Wehrmacht Berlin, 30 January 1942
Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau
Judge Advocate of the support troop of the Luftwaffe Dr. Hofmann, Legal Military Justice Official
Employee Marie Jaedicke, especially obligated as Recording Secretary.
In the matter under investigation, i.e., Russian violations of international law, Rifleman Zimbal was interviewed in the Reserve Field Hospital 133, Berlin-Buch, Lindenbergerweg 68-88. He was acquainted with the object of his interrogation as a witness and on the duty to tell the truth as witness, being especially informed of the significance of the oath.
He declared: “As to my person: My name is Rifleman Ernst Zimbal, I am 32 years old, married, Ss-Police division, presently with the reserve field hospital Berlin-Buch.
“As to the facts: At the beginning of September 1941 I was assigned to the encirclement front south of Leningrad near Krasnogwardaisk. In combing the forests one day, my comrade Peter H. was hit in the head by a Russian explosive bullet and killed. The fatal shot hit my comrade between the eyes above the nose. The entire side of the forehead was torn out by the shot, a wound which could never have been caused to this size and extent by the use of ordinary infantry bullets. As I established together with my comrades, the Russian rifleman from who the fatal shot originated, was about 25-30 meters away from us, when he fired the shot. Since the fatal shot was given off in a straight shot, there was no question of a ricochet. During further combing of the forests I again established, together with my comrades, that
the Russian infantry men used explosive bullets almost exclusively in ground combat. These explosive bullets are especially characterized by the fact that upon hitting a target with normal resistance they explode with a slight noise. They are therefore easily distinguished from the use of normal infantry ammunition. I have also found such Russian explosive ammunition in the ammunition pockets of Russia prisoners or dead in this region. This ammunition has a black bullet tip, the bullet itself bears a red circle.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Ernst Zimbal, Rifleman
The witness was sworn.
Signed: Dr. Hofmann. Signed: Marie Jaedicke, Certified: Secretary.
The record of 12 September relating to the interrogation of Lieutenant Werner Fett, and the expert opinion of Lieutenant Colonel (Medical Corps) Dr. Panning, the head of the Forensic Medical Institute of the Military Medical Academy in Berlin, provide further proof of the use the characteristics in violation of international law of explosive infantry bullets in ground combat against living objectives in accordance with orders, the effects of which consists of the especially serious and dangerous lacerations of the interior of the body.
Document to Case 234
Report of the AOK 6 12 September 1941
General List no. 401/41
Present: KGR Hermann
In the matter under investigation I sought out Lieutenant Fett in Military Field Hospital 3/541 at Slitornic. Lt. Fett was interrogated as follows after being acquainted with the object under investigation and being informed of the significance of the oath:
As to my person: my name is Werner Fett, born 22 March in Clausthal-Zellerfeld, unmarried, Evangelical, Lt with the Second Battalion, 93rd Rifle Regiment (13th Tank Division).
“As to the facts: I believe, it was on 20 July 1941, when our Battalion attacked a city, in order to form a bridgehead there. The terrain was rather level and without cover. A road ran into the city through the midst of the Battalion section, with relatively deep slopes. We attacked behind tanks; we ran into considerable resistance. The Russians had entrenched themselves in small, narrow anti-tank ditches and fired mainly individual shots aimed at individual soldiers. At the height of the Company, I was advancing in the ditch along the left hand side of the road, as Battalion Adjutant at the side of Commander Lieutenant Colonel Leroux. There was shooting from all over and suddenly I was hit, obviously from very close range. It was as if I had received a heavy blow with a fist against the upper part of my body. I immediately fell on my back. After receiving the hit, I felt nothing remarkable, except for a general sensation of pain. In particular, I didn’t notice any effect of tearing or bursting effect in my body.
“About one minute later, the commander received a smooth through and through bullet wound to the thigh. He told me that the rifleman had been concealed in a covered hole about 4 meters away and that they had captured him. Whether ammunition was confiscated in so doing, I don’t know.”
Read out, approved and signed. Signed: Werner Fett
The witness was sworn.
Signed: Hermann. Judge Advocate. Certified: Secretary.