Friday, December 11, 2020

No, Germans were not accused of, sentenced or executed for the Katyn massacre in the Leningrad trial.

 On David Irving's site we find the following message:

Innocent executed

Doing my reading on the history of German war crimes, German war criminals and their adjudication by the victors after World War II, I came across a most interesting passage. In November 1945, seven officers of the German Wehrmacht (and I think it is reasonable to mention their names -- K.H. Strueffling, H. Remlinger, E. Böhom, E. Sommerfeld, H. Jannike, E. Skotki and E. Geherer) were tried by a court of the victorious allies, the Americans, the English, the French and the Russians. They were condemned to death for war crimes and subsequently hanged.

Three more were tried on the same charges (E.P. Vogel, F. Wiese, A. Diere), received sentences of 20 years of hard labor, were turned over to the Russians and never heard of again.

Most interesting about this particular war trial is the charge. The officers were charged and hanged for having shot thousands of Polish officers in the forest of Katyn after the defeat of Poland in 1939.

Now, with glasnost and all, it has been officially established and admitted by the Russians themselves that the murder of thousands of the gallant Polish officer corps in the forest near Katyn was committed by the bolsheviks of Stalin, not by the murderous Nazis, years before the German army invaded. The poor above-mentioned soldiers never got near the scene of the crime.

What evidence was used to hang these innocent soldiers? Who fabricated the "facts" that convinced the court that these men were guilty? Murderers? What do the judges, if they are still alive, have to say for themselves? What of the prosecutors? What were these people hanged for?

H. Famira

Professor of German

Concordia University


This claim is moderately popular among the Holocaust deniers. One finds it in places "high" and "low". There are messages at the CODOH forum making the claim. 

It is repeated by the denier Georges M. Theil in his Heresy in Twenty-First Century France, 2006, pp. 65-66:

Although the Allied intelligence services (notably the British) had known from the start that it was the Soviets who had put thousands of captive Polish officers to death in Katyn forest in 1940, they subsequently let the rumour spread that the Germans were the authors of that massacre. Afterwards, the Soviets were to hang seven German officers and men for the crime: Ernst Böhm, Ernst Geherer, Herbard Janicke, Heinrich Remmlinger, Erwin Skotki, Eduard Sonnenfeld and Karl Strüffling. They sentenced another three innocent Germans to twenty years’ hard labour: Arno Diere, Erich Paul Vogel and Franz Weiss.

By Joachim Nolywaika in Die Sieger im Schatten ihrer Schuld, 1994, p. 246:

Im Winter 1945/46 wurde in Leningrad mehreren deutschen Offizieren als angeblich für die Katyn-Morde Verantwortlichen der Prozeß gemacht, worüber die sowjetische Agentur „Tass" am 30. Dezember 1945 berichtete. Zum Tode durch den Strang wurden verurteilt Karl Hermann Strüffling, Heinrich Remmlinger, Ernst Böhm, Eduard Sonnenfeld, Herberd Janike. Erwin Skotki und Ernst Geherer. Zwanzig beziehungsweise fünfzehn Jahre Zwangsarbeit erhielten Erich Paul Vogel, Franz Wiese und Arno Diere.

The claim also appears in the neo-Nazi "encyclopedia" Der Grosse Wendig and in the neo-Nazi wiki Metapedia and the Holocaust denying fraudster Germar Rudolf simply swallows and then regurgitates the latter's claim in his Garrison and Headquarters Orders of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, 2020, p. 2:

Ernst Böhm (born 1911 in Oschersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, died on 5 January 1946) was one of the seven German officers of the Wehrmacht who were convicted and executed/murdered in the Soviet Union after a show trial. They had been wrongly accused of having participated in the Katyn massacre. For me, the choice of this name as a pseudonym is a declaration of solidarity for those innocently persecuted. Metapedia writes in the entry about Ernst Böhm (accessed on March 27, 2020): ...

One of the dishonest denier gurus, Walter Lüftl, also repeated the claim.

Predictably, most of the claim is false. But first let's address the core of truth (I. S. Yazhborovskaja, A. Yu. Yablokov, V. S. Parsadanova, Katynskij sindrom v sovetsko-pol'skikh i rossijsko-pol'skikh otnoshenijakh, Moscow, 2001, pp. 336, 337):

Two people were prepared as "German witnesses who were participants in the Katyn provocation" - Professor Butz's assistant Ludwig Schneider and soldier Arno Düre. Military prosecutors [investigating the Katyn crime] found the archive criminal case of general of the German army H. Remlinger, who carried out punitive actions on the territory of Leningrad region. As it turned out, from December 28, 1945 to January 4, 1946, the criminal case against Remlinger, Düre and five other German soldiers was considered by the military tribunal of the Leningrad military district in the presence of a large number of Soviet and foreign correspondents. A. Düre, who had shot people with a machine gun in several villages, escaped the death penalty because, answering the prosecutor's leading questions, he confirmed that he had allegedly participated in the burial of 15-20 thousand Polish prisoners of war in Katyn. For this, the security organs let the "witness" live (he received 15 years of hard labor), but still did not dare to use him as a witness at Nuremberg: he was not able to play the role assigned to him properly. Düre gave absurd answers to many questions of the prosecutor and the court, which unambiguously exposed the false plot. For example, allowing his fantasy to run wild, he claimed that the Katyn Forest was in Poland, that the depth of the ditch in which the Poles had been buried was 15-20 m, that they had strengthened the walls of the ditch with tree branches, etc. Later, in a statement of November 29, 1954, Düre recanted his testimony about his participation in the burial of the Poles in Katyn, and declared that he had been forced to say so during the investigation.

Now let's turn to the indictment of the trial from 25.12.1945 (TsA FSB, f. K-72, op. 1, por. 28, l. 247–258). We see that nobody was accused of anything to do with Katyn and specifically Düre was accused as follows (p. 18 of the indictment):

The accused DÜRE, while a soldier of the 2nd company of the 2nd battalion for "special purposes" on 20.07.1944, while retreating with the battalion, took part in the burning of a village near the town of Ostrov and at that time shot 25 peaceful Soviet citizens.

That's all.

Now let's look at the verdict (ibid., l. 221-246). Katyn is not mentioned at all. Nobody was convicted for participating in the Katyn massacre. About Düre the verdict has only the following to say (p. 6 of the verdict):

Wiese, while the commander of the 1st company of the 2nd battalion for special purposes, and Düre and Vogel being soldiers of this same battalion in July of 1944 in the vicinity of the town of Ostrov took part in the burning of villages, incl. the village of Yudino, and in shooting and robbery of peaceful citizens.

Düre's sentencing (p. 6v of the verdict):

... exile for hard labor for the duration of 15 years.

Vogel and Wiese were sentenced to 20 years of hard labor, the rest were sentenced to death. There's no evidence whatsoever any of them were innocent.

So let's sum up. While Düre was a false witness about Katyn and probably provided his testimony during the trial in exchange for a more lenient sentence, contrary to the deniers the trial wasn't about Katyn, nobody was accused of participating in the Katyn massacre or sentenced for it. (And, I should add, Düre recanting his false testimony was pretty typical and makes a mockery of the deniers' claims that the Nazis who confessed in a much more free environment of West Germany would have upheld their allegedly false testimonies until their deaths).

So much for the "revisionist" "research".


  1. Hey Sergey, i really enjoy your website, just i wanted to ask for your qualifications since i see many neo-Nazis doubting your credibility

    1. Neo Nazis doubt everyone's credibility. They live on confirmation bias and assume everyone is out to get them.

    2. Gabriel, remind them that in general ad hominem is a poor argument, but doubly/laughably so coming from neo-Nazis.


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