The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/05

Q. According to the material submitted to the High Tribunal
by the Soviet prosecution, it is obvious that the bodies
were buried at a depth of one and a half to two metres. I
wonder where you found such a wolf which could scratch the
ground up to a depth of two metres.

A. I did not find this wolf, but I saw it.

Q. Tell me, please, why, after having discovered the cross
and learned about the mass graves in 1941, you only started
the exhumation on these mass graves in March, 1943?

A. 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 widespread. I frequently heard about
them and spoke about it to Colonel von Gersthoff of the
Central Army Group, who intimated to me that he knew all
about this matter, and with that my obligation ended. I
reported what I had seen and heard. Apart from that, this
entire matter did not concern me, and I did not concern
myself with it. I had enough worries of my own.

Q. And now the last question. Please tell me who were these
two persons with whom you had this conversation, and perhaps
you can recollect the names of the couple who told you about
the shootings in the Katyn woods?

A. This couple lived in a small house about 800 to 1,000
metres north of the entrance to our drive leading to the
Vitebsk road. I do not recall their names.

Q. So you do not remember the name of this couple?

A. No, I do not recall the name.

Q. So you heard about the Katyn events from a couple whose
name you do not remember, and you did not hear anything
about it from other local inhabitants?

A. Please repeat the question for me.

Q. Consequently, you heard about these Katyn events only
from this couple, whose name you do not remember. From none
of the other local inhabitants did you hear anything about
the events in Katyn.

A. I personally only heard this story from this couple; my
soldiers told me the stories current amongst the other

Q. Do you know that during the investigation of the Katyn
affair, posters were put up by the German police in the
streets of Smolensk promising a reward to anyone giving any
information in connection with the Katyn events? They were
signed by Lieutenant Voss.

A. I personally did not see these posters. Lieutenant Voss
is known to me by name only.

                                                  [Page 339]

Q. And the very last question. Do you know of the report of
the Extraordinary State Commission concerning Katyn?

A. Do you mean the Russian White Paper?

Q. No, I mean the report of the Soviet Extraordinary
Commission, concerning Katyn, the Soviet report.

A. Yes, I read that report.

Q. Therefore, you know also that the Extraordinary State
Commission names you as being one of the persons responsible
for the crimes committed in Katyn?

A. It mentions a Lt.-Colonel Ames.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: I have no further questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, do you wish to re-examine?


Q. Witness, just a little while ago you said that you did
not know when Lieutenant Hodt joined your staff. Do you know
when he joined the regiment?

A. I know that he belonged to the regiment during the
Russian campaign and actually right from the beginning.

Q. That is, he belonged to the regiment from the beginning?

A. Yes. He belonged to this regiment from the beginning of
the Russian campaign.

Q. Just one more question dealing with your discussion with
Professor Butz. Did Professor Butz mention anything about
what were the last dates on the letters which he found?

A. 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.

Q. Therefore no documents were found of a later date?

A. 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.

BY THE TRIBUNAL (General Nikitchenko):

Q. Witness, can you not remember exactly when Professor Butz
discussed with you the date at which the corpses were buried
in the mass graves?

A. May I ask to have the question repeated?

Q. 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?

A. 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, it may have been in Mayor the end
of April. In the middle of May he gave me details of his
work of exhumation. I cannot now tell you exactly on which
days Professor Butz visited me.

Q. When did Professor Butz arrive at Katyn?

A. He arrived in the spring of 1940, and told me that, on
instructions of the army group, he was to undertake
exhumations in my forest. The exhumations were started, and
in the course of -

Q. You say 1940? Or perhaps the translation is wrong.

A. 1943, in the spring of 1943. A few weeks after the
beginning of the exhumations, Professor Butz visited me, and
informed me, or rather, he discussed this matter with me. It
may have been the middle of May, 1943

Q. According to your testimony, I understood you to say in
answer to a question put by the defence counsel that
Professor Butz asserted, before the arrival of the
Commission for the exhumation, that the shootings had taken
place in the spring of 1940. Is that correct?

A. May I repeat once more than Professor Butz -

                                                  [Page 340]

Q. 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.

A. 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
that this question be repeated?

Q. At the beginning, when you were interrogated by the
defence 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

A. No, that has not been understood correctly. I testified
that Professor Butz came to me and told me that he was to
undertake exhumations. These exhumations then took place,
and approximately six to eight weeks later, Professor Butz
came to me - of course, he visited me on other occasions as
well - but approximately six to eight 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. He made this statement to me, approximately, in
the middle of May.

Q. Were you present when the diary and the other documents
were found - which were shown to you by Professor Butz?

A. No.

Q. You do not know where he found the diary and other

A. No, that I do not know.


Q. When did you first report to superior authority the fact
that you suspected that there was a grave there?

A. 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 there; of war
graves, as there were several in the vicinity.

Q. You are not answering my question. I am asking you, when
did you first report to superior authority that there was a
grave there?

A. In the course of the summer, 1942, I spoke to Colonel von
Gersthoff about these stories which had come to my
knowledge. Gersthoff told me that he himself had heard
similar stories, and my conversation with von Gersthoff was
thereby concluded. I believe that he did not give any
credence to these stories. At least I do not think he was
thoroughly convinced. That I do not actually know, however.

Then, in the spring of 1943, when the snow had melted, and
the bones were found and brought to me, I telephoned to the
officer in charge of war graves, and informed him that
apparently there were some soldiers' graves here. That was
before Professor Butz had visited me.

Q. Did you make any report in writing?

A. No, I did not do that.

Q. Never?

A. No, I was not in any way concerned with this matter.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. STAHMER: Then, as an additional witness, I should like
to call Lieutenant Reinhard von Eichborn.


REINHARD VON EICHBORN, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name please?

A. Reinhard von Eichborn.

                                                  [Page 341]

Q. 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.

DIRECT EXAMINATION of the witness Reinhard von Eichborn


Q. Witness, what is your occupation?

A. Court assessor.

Q. Were you called up for service in the German Wehrmacht
during the war?

A. Yes, in August, 1939.

Q. And what was your unit?

A. Army Group Signal Regiment 537.

Q. And what was your rank?

A. At the outbreak of the war, platoon commander and second

Q. And at the end?

A. Lieutenant.

Q. Were you on the Eastern Front during the war?

A. Yes, from the beginning.

Q. With your regiment?

A. No, from 1940 onward, on the staff of the Central Army

Q. Apart from this Regiment 537, was there a pioneer
battalion 537?

A. In the command of the Central Army Group, there was no
pioneer battalion 537.

Q. When did you arrive with your unit in the vicinity of

A. About 20th September, the staff of the Central Army Group
transferred its headquarters to Smolensk, that is to say
into the Smolensk region.

Q. Where had you been stationed before?

A. How am I to understand this question?

Q. Where did you come from?

A. We came from Borrisov.

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. The witness said 20th September.
That does not identify the year.


Q. In what year was this 20th September?

A. 20th September, 1941.

Q. Was the Regiment 537 already there at that time?

A. The staff of the 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.
Advanced units had already been stationed there in order to
set up communications.

Q. And where was the staff accommodated?

A. The staff of Army Group Signal Regiment 537 was
accommodated in the so-called Dnieper Castle.

Q. Where was the advance unit?

A. The advance unit may have occupied this building - or at
least a part of this advance unit did - to safeguard this
building for the regimental staff.

Q. Do you know who was in command of this advance unit?

A. Lieutenant Hodt was in command of this advance unit.

Q. When did this advance unit come to Katyn?

A. Smolensk fell on about 17th July, 1941. The army group
had planned to put 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 July, 1941.

                                                  [Page 342]

Q. Therefore the advance unit was there from July, 1941,
until the 20th September, 1941?

A. Yes.

Q. And the entire staff was there from 20th September, 1941?

A. Yes. It may be that part of the staff arrived somewhat
later, but the bulk of the staff arrived on 20th September.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you speaking of the staff of the army
group or the staff of the signal regiment?

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