Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dividing the Dead – or not (Part 2)

Author: Roberto Muehlenkamp
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

In this article, the Soviet prosecution’s case at Nuremberg regarding War Crimes will be addressed, with a focus on how the Soviet prosecutors addressed the genocide of Europe’s Jews by Nazi Germany.

3. The Soviet Prosecution Case

The Soviet prosecutors also mentioned crimes against the Jews in their presentations, but rather as a component of policies of exploitation, enslavement and extermination pursued by Nazi Germany against other peoples (especially the Soviet peoples) than as the Nazi regime’s quintessential evil. The relevant presentations in this context were the following:

• The opening statement by Chief Prosecutor General Rudenko on 8 February 1946.[22]
• The presentation on "crimes against the peaceful population of the U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia" by Chief Counsellor of Justice Smirnov. [23]
• The presentation on Crimes against Humanity by Counsellor Smirnov. [24]

3.1 General Rudenko’s opening statement

In Chief Prosecutor General Rudenko’s opening statement, the record of which covers about 50 pages, the following part focused on the extermination of the Jews: [25]
The fascist conspirators planned the extermination to the last man of the Jewish population of the world and carried out this extermination throughout the whole of their conspiratorial activity from 1933 onwards.
My American colleague has already quoted Hitler's statement of 24 February 1942, that "the Jews will be annihilated." In a speech by the Defendant Frank, published in the Kraków Gazette on 18 August 1942, it is stated:
"Anyone who passes through Kraków, Lvov, Warsaw, Radom, or Lublin today must in all fairness admit that the efforts of the German administration have been crowned with real success, as one now sees hardly any Jews."
The bestial annihilation of the Jewish population took place in the Ukraine, in Bielorussia, and in the Baltic States. In the town of Riga some 80,000 Jews lived before the German occupation. At the moment of the liberation of Riga by the Red Army there were 140 Jews left there.

The above statements (which are the only of their kind in Rudenko’s introductory speech) suggest that Rudenko lent the same weight to the genocide of the Jews as his American colleagues, but the context of these statements shows otherwise. For Rudenko, as becomes apparent from (among others) the statements quoted below, what the Nazis did to the Jews (mass extermination) was no different from what they did to other segments of the Soviet population and the population of other Slavic nations. Emphases in the quotes below are mine.
This New Order was a regime of terror by which, in the countries seized by the Hitlerites, all democratic institutions were abolished and all civil rights of the population were abrogated, while the countries themselves were plundered and rapaciously exploited. The population of these countries, and of the Slav countries above all others-especially Russians, Ukrainians, Bielorussians, Poles, Czechs, Serbians, Slovenes, Jews-were subjected to merciless persecution and mass extermination.[26]

On 1 September 1939 the fascist aggressors invaded Polish territory in treacherous violation of existing treaties. The Polish people were subjected to mass extermination, and their cities and villages were mercilessly destroyed. [27]

The appendices to Order Number 8, as well as Orders Number 9 and 14 and the appendices thereto, make it evident that the systematic extermination of Soviet people in fascist concentration camps in the territories of U.S.S.R. and other countries occupied by the fascist aggressors was carried out under the form of "filtration," "cleansing measures," "purges," "extraordinary measures," "special treatment," "liquidation," "execution," and soon. [28]

Among the means employed by the Hitlerites for the extermination of Soviet citizens were also intentional infection with spotted typhus and murdering by poison gas in gas vans which were called the "murderess" in Russian, et alia.[29]

The names have already been mentioned here of the camps of Maidanek and Auschwitz with their gas-chambers, in which over 5.500,000 completely innocent people, citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Great Britain, France, and other democratic countries were killed. I must name the concentration camps of Smolensk, Stavropol, Kharkov, Kiev, Lvov, Poltava, Novgorod, Owl, Rovno, Dniepropetrovsk, Odessa, Ramenetz-Podolslk, Gomel, Kerch, of the Stalingrad region, of Kaunas, Riga, Mariampol (Lithuanian) of Kloga (Estonian) and many others, in which hundreds of thousands of Soviet nationals belonging to the civilian population, as well as soldiers and officers of the Red Army, were tortured to death by the Hitlerites.[30]

A special place among the unheard-of crimes of the Hitlerites is occupied by the bloody butchery of the Slavic and Jewish peoples.[31]

If Your Honors please, you have already heard the testimony of the witness, Eric Von dem Bach-Zelewski, about Himmler's aims, as given by him in his speech at the beginning of 1941.
In answer to a question by a representative of the Soviet Prosecution, the witness declared, "Himmler mentioned in his speech that it was necessary to cut down the number of Slavs by 30 million."[32]

Even before the attack on the U.S.S.R., directives were prepared regarding the merciless annihilation of Soviet people for political and racial reasons.[33]

3.2 Counsellor Smirnov on War Crimes against Civilians

In his presentation on "crimes against the peaceful population of the U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia", Chief Counsellor of Justice Smirnov followed along the same lines as Rudenko. In the record of this presentation the term "Jew" appears on relatively few occasions.

The first is a quote from a note dated 6 January 1942 by Soviet foreign minister Molotov (Exhibit Number USSR-51), whereby "Hitler’s thugs", on the day after entering the city of Lvov, "started a massacre under the slogan, 'Kill the Jews and the Poles.'" No distinction between the two victim groups is mentioned. [34]

The second mention of Jews occurs in another quote from the same note, which refers to the Babi Yar massacre and provides details of a massacre of a "large number of Jews". However, these Jews were not killed just because they were Jews, according to the note. They were murdered, along with Ukrainians and Russians, because they had in some way "displayed their loyalty to the power of the Soviet." [35]

The third mention of Jews is the following:
This fascist specialist on legal questions [General Governor Frank] annihilated 3 million Jews in the territory under his jurisdiction which fell only temporarily into the hands of the fascist invaders. On this occasion Frank said-I quote his speech at a business meeting of the NSDAP orators in Kraków on 4 March 1944. The Tribunal will find this excerpt on Page 93 of the document book, second paragraph, second column of the text; I begin the quotation of Dr. Frank:
"If there are any woebegone souls today who bemoan the fate of the Jews and say with tears in their eyes, 'Isn't it awful what is being done to the Jews,' we should ask them if they are still of the same opinion now. If we had there 2 million Jews carrying on their activities and opposed to them the few German men in the country today, we would no longer have control of the situation. .. . Jews are a race which must be eradicated. When we catch one of them, it is the end of him."[36]

Seen in isolation, the above quote may be used to support an argument against the "ecumenical" Soviet presentation of Nazi crimes. However, in the context in which it was inserted it looks almost like a "by the way" mention of something that was not of primary interest. In the record of the proceedings the quote can be read on the fourth page of commented quotes from Frank’s diary (Document Number 2233-PS, submitted by the Americans), of which all but one (the one quoted above) refer to the treatment of and crimes against Poles. The reference to the extermination of the Jews is preceded by the following quote from Frank’s diary:
"18 March 1944, Speech at the Reichshof. "Dr. Frank: 'If I had gone to the Führer and said, "My Führer, I have to report that I have destroyed a further 150,000 Poles," he would say, "All right, if it was necessary."'"[37]

Following the brief mention of Jewish extermination victims, Smirnov’s presentation then returned to crimes against Poles, a subject that Smirnov seems to have been more interested in than in what happened to the Jews. Following a recess he took up the subject again as follows:
I am quoting now from Frank's diary at the place which the Tribunal will find on Page 93 of the document file, in the second column of the text, second paragraph below the title, "Meeting of Political Leaders of NSDAP in Krakbw, on 15 January 1944." It begins thus, Dr. Frank, "I did not hesitate to say that for every German killed, up to a hundred Poles would be shot."
In these dark days the Polish people regarded the victims of Frank and of his henchmen as martyrs. That is the reason it seems to me that, on 16 December 1942, at a government meeting in Kraków, Frank stated-I am quoting excerpts from the diary on Page 92 in the document book, third paragraph after the heading, the first column of the text. I begin the quotation:
"We must consider whether, for practical reasons, executions should be carried out as far as possible on the spot where the murder of a German was attempted. It might also be as well to consider whether special places for execution should be set up, as it has been established that the Polish population streams to the places of execution, which are accessible to everyone, for the purpose of filling vessels with the blood- stained earth, and taking them to church."[38]

Smirnov’s statements reproduced on the next about 8 pages of the record were wholly dedicated to Polish acts of resistance and heroism, reprisal killings and anti-Polish legislation. Jews were just briefly mentioned in a reference to a decree "which virtually outlawed all Poles and Jews in the incorporated Polish territories".[39] The next subject was the "Judicial Terror of the German Fascists in Czechoslovakia".[40] Counsellor Smirnov left no doubt as to where he set his accents.

The next mention of Jews occurs more than seventy pages later in the record, in the context of reprisal killings in Kragujevac, Yugoslavia. On 18 October 1941, "all male Jews were arrested, as well as all persons who were considered Communists". On 20 October, 60 of those arrested were killed. On the same day, the reprisal was extended to "the entire male population of Kragujevac", whose massacre is described in some detail, [41] followed by other German atrocities in Yugoslavia, then by atrocities in Greece, followed by "evidence of mass exterminations of the peaceful population in the territory of the U.S.S.R. by the Germans". There is no further mention of Jews in either context, until they show up as part of an "ecumenical" community of atrocity victims in the city and region of Rovno, Ukraine: "The witness Karpuk, a worker on a German farm near Belaya Street, testified: "'Several times I saw how the Hitlerites exterminated Soviet citizens, Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, and Jews."[42]

Jews are next mentioned in the record regarding the mass killings at Fort IX in Kaunas, Lithuania. But again, they are counterfactually[43] mentioned as if they had been victims killed along with members of other nationalities in similar proportions:
"In Fort Number 9 people of different nationalities were shot: Russians, Ukrainians, Bielorussians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Jews." [44]

The distortion of facts becomes especially egregious as concerns victims from outside the Soviet Union:
Besides Soviet citizens the Hitlerites exterminated French, Austrian, and Czechoslovak citizens in Fort Number 9. [45]

French citizens were in fact exterminated in Kaunas. 878 arrived there on a transport from Drancy, France departing on 15 May 1944. All of them were Jews. [46]

There were also Austrian, German and possibly Czechoslovak citizens among those killed at Kaunas. These were Jewish deportees mentioned in the 2nd Jäger Report as "resettled" from Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt a.M. (2,934, thereof 1159 men, 1600 women and 175 children, killed on 25.11.1941) and from Vienna and Breslau (2,000 Jews, thereof 693 men, 1,155 women and 152 children, killed on 29.11.1941). [47]

The first (and only) reference to Sobibór extermination camp (spelled "Sobibur") in the record reads that this camp was founded during "the first and second liquidation" of an unnamed Jewish ghetto, but "the extermination on a large scale in this camp really started at the beginning of 1943". That the victims of this large-scale extermination were all Jews is not mentioned. Bełżec (spelled "Belsen" in the record) gets just a little more attention as a mistaken description of the killing method (electrical current) is provided, but there’s no hint that the camp’s victims were all Jews. Treblinka is also briefly mentioned without such precision. [48] Regarding Majdanek there is a quote from the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission's report, whereby the camp’s victims were "1.5 million persons: Soviet prisoners of war, prisoners of war of the former Polish Army, and nationals of various countries, Poles, Frenchmen, Italians, Belgians, Dutch, Czechs, Serbs, Greeks, Croats, and a great number of Jews." [49] The enormous exaggeration of the death toll aside, the text doesn’t suggest that Jews made up the overwhelming majority of the camp’s victims.[50]

Whereas Jewish victims are mentioned only occasionally in the record of Smirnov’s presentation on war crimes against civilians, the mentions of "Soviet citizens", "peaceful citizens" or "peaceful civilians" are legion. The term "peaceful" (in connection with "citizens", "Soviet citizens", "civilians", "inhabitants", "people", "population" or "populations") occurs about 83 times in the presentation by my count. "Soviet citizens", in connection or not with the terms "peaceful" and "innocent", are mentioned 39 times. Abundantly quoting from Soviet official communiqués and reports of the Extraordinary State Commission, Smirnov passionately recited a long list of horrors (so long that the President of the Tribunal felt compelled to request a shortening of the presentation), from individual killings to enormous massacres, with gritty details about incomprehensible acts of gratuitous, sadistic violence and his own condemnatory, sometimes hyperbolic comments (which the President eventually asked him leave out). The impression that the presentation conveys is that of an extermination program directed against the population at large (as opposed to certain population groups). Even massacres and camps whose victims are known from other evidence to have been exclusively or predominantly Jews are described without a mention of the victims’ Jewish ethnicity, as if the Germans had wantonly murdered the general population outside the context of any reprisals or suppression of resistance. The following quotes may illustrate the gist of Smirnov’s presentation. Emphases are mine.
From the very first months of the war it became clear to the Soviet Government that the innumerable crimes of the German fascist aggressors against the peaceful citizens of my mother country represented, not the excesses of undisciplined military units or the isolated crimes of individual officers and soldiers, but that they represented a system prepared in advance, not merely sanctioned by the criminal Hitler Government, but consciously planned and encouraged by this government.[51]

Manusevitch was imprisoned by the Germans in Yanov Camp, where he worked in the prisoners' squad for burning corpses of murdered Soviet citizens. After the 40,000 corpses murdered in Yanov Camp were burned, the squad was transferred for similar purposes to the camp in Lissenitzky Wood.[52]

A document was already submitted to the Tribunal which establishes that the legalization of mass murders and extermination of the peaceful population of the Soviet Union carried out by the Army with a view to terrorizing the population was begun by Hitler and his clique as early as 13 May 1941, that is, over a month before the beginning of the war.[53]

Having launched their criminal war, the Hitlerites directed it towards a mass extermination of the peaceful citizens of the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe.[54]

The carnage to which the Hitlerites exposed the peaceful population of the Soviet Union has far overshadowed the most bloodstained pages of the annals of mankind, as well as of the current world war, and fully reveals the bloodthirsty and criminal plans of the fascists, aimed at the extermination of the Russian, Ukrainian, Bielorussian, and other nationals of the Soviet Union.[55]

"In the same headquarters there was discovered a telegram, Number 37, from the commander of the Cavalry Brigade, an SS-Standartenfuhrer, to a cavalry unit of the above-mentioned 2d Cavalry Regiment, dated 2 August 1941. It mentioned that the Reichsfuhrer of the SS and the Police, Himmler, considers the number of the exterminated peaceful civilians far too insignificant; and it points out that 'it is necessary to take radical measures' and 'the unit commanders conduct the operations too mildly.' He also orders to report every day on the number of people shot." [56]

I quote one paragraph out of Exhibit Number USSR-9 (Document USSR-9), already presented to the Tribunal. This is a report of the Extraordinary State Commission of the Soviet Union of the crimes of the German fascist invaders in the city of Kiev. The members of the Tribunal will find this document on Page 238, second column of the text, sixth paragraph:
"On 29 September 1941 Hitler's bandits drove thousands of the peaceful Soviet citizens to the corner of Melnik and Doktorovskaya Streets and from there to Baybe-yar, where they shot them, after taking all their valuables from them.
"Citizens N. F. Petrenko and N. T. Gorbacheva, who lived near Baybe-yar, stated that they had seen how the Germans threw babies at the breast into graves and buried them alive with their dead or wounded parents. One could see the surface of the ground moving over the buried people who were still alive." [57]

The first mass "action" of the Germans, when tens of thousands of innocent and peaceful people were murdered at a time, was the "Kiev action." In order to realize the extent of these atrocities I refer Your Honors to a communication of the Extraordinary State Commission already submitted to the Tribunal as Document Number USSR-9. I quote from Page 238, on the reverse side of the document book, at the end of the third paragraph from the top.
I quote: "In Kiev, over 195,000 Soviet citizens were tortured to death, shot, and poisoned in the gas vans, as follows: "(1) In Baybe-yar, over 100,000 men, women, children, and old people.
"(2) In Darnitza, over 68,000 Soviet prisoners of war and peaceful citizens.
"(3) In the antitank trench in the vicinity of Syretzk Camp and in the camp proper, over 25,000 peaceful Soviet citizens and prisoners of war.
"(4) In the grouna of the Hospital of St. Cyril, 800 insane patients.
"(5) In the grounds of the Kiev-Pechersk Abbey, about 500 peaceful citizens.
"(6) In the cemetery of Ljukjanousk, about 400 peaceful citizens.[58]

The murder of insane patients was a case apart, but Jews were murdered just like other "peaceful citizens", in the Extraordinary State Commission’s parlance.

The war crimes presentation ended with the screening of the documentary "The Atrocities committed by German Fascists in the USSR". Although the documentary includes footage of killing sites whose victims were wholly or mainly Jews (Kerch, Barvenkovo, Nalchik, Pyatigorsk, Drobitsky Yar, Makeyevka, Taganrog, Osipenko, Babi Yar, Iziaslav, Kremenets and Vishnevets near Ternopol, Slonim, Klooga, Majdanek, Auschwitz), this is nowhere mentioned in the documentary. [59]


[22] IMT Vol. VII, pp. 146 – 197.
[23] As above, pp. 437 – 602. The cited passage is on p. 197, where Rudenko announced Smirnov’s presentations along with those of State Counsellor Zorya about the aggression against the U.S.S.R. and Colonel Pokrovsky about crimes against (mainly Soviet) prisoners of war.
[24] IMT Vol. VIII, pp. 238 – 344.
[25] IMT Vol. VII, pp. 192-193.
[26] IMT, Vol. VII, p. 153.
[27] As above, p. 156.
[28] As above, p. 170.
[29] As above, p. 171.
[30] As above, p. 173.
[31] As above, p. 191.
[32] As above, p. 192.
[33] As above.
[34] As above, p. 454.
[35] As above, p. 458.
[36] As above, p. 470.
[37] As above.
[38] As above, p. 471.
[39] As above, p. 477.
[40] As above, p. 478.
[41] As above, pp. 552-553.
[42] As above, pp. 564.
[43] According to my adding 23,203 people killed at Kauen are mentioned in the 2nd Jäger Report. Of these 23,175 were Jews and 28 were non-Jews.
[44] As above p. 570.
[45] As above.
[46] This transport is mentioned in the chronology of deportations from France featured in the online presentation of the German Federal Archives’ Gedenkbuch Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945 ("Memorial Book of the Victims of the Persecution of the Jews under the National Socialist Rule of Violence in Germany 1933-1945").
[47] See note 1. The execution of the "resettled" Jews is mentioned on page 5 of the report.
[48] IMT Vol. VII, pp. 576-577.
[49] As above, p. 590.
[50] The camp’s death toll is currently held to be in the order of 78,000, thereof 59,000 Jews.
[51] IMT Vol. VII, p. 440. This statement is followed by quotes from "one of the official notes of V. M. Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs in the U.S.S.R., dated as early as 6 January 1942." There is no mention of Jews in these quotes.
[52] As above, p. 446.
[53] As above, p. 483. The document referred to is the Barbarossa Decree, concerning the German military’s conduct in relation to Soviet civilians and Soviet partisans.
[54] As above, p. 487.
[55] As above, p. 498. This a quote from a note by Molotov dated 27 April 1942.
[56] As above, p. 500. This is also from Molotov’s note dated 27 April 1942. What it refers to is Himmler’s order on August 1, 1941: "All Jews must be shot. Drive the female Jews into the swamp." (quoted in Christopher Browning, Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution, Expert Opinion, Chapter IV, online.
[57] As above, pp. 540-541. All of these "peaceful Soviet citizens" were Jews.
[58] As above, pp. 555-556.
[59] See my series about this documentary, starting with The Atrocities committed by German-Fascists in the USSR (1) (the article links to the two following articles of the series).

1 comment:

Jonathan Harrison said...

More details on the Kaunas transport