The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/09/05


Q. Consequently, at the beginning of September and the first
part of October, 1941, you were not in the villa of Katyn
woods, and you could not be there, is that true?

A. I cannot remember that exactly. The regimental commander
had reconnoitred the little castle and set it up for his
staff headquarters. When exactly he moved in I do not know,
because I had other jobs to do.

Q. No, I asked whether you personally could have been in the
villa during the first part of September. Could you not
possibly have been there before 20th September?

A. I do not think so.

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

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

DR. STAHMER: Unfortunately, Mr. President, I shall have to
come back to the question of time because it was not brought
out too clearly during these last questions.



Q. When did Regiment 537 move into the castle?

A. I assume it was during September.

Q. Beginning or end of September?

A. Probably rather more towards the end of September.

Q. Until then only the advance party was there, or -

A. The advance party of the regiment was there and my
officers whom I had sent ahead.

Q. How many non-commissioned officers were with the advance

A. I cannot tell you exactly how many the regiment sent. I
personally had sent one officer. The regiment could not have
sent very many as it was still operating at the old command
post in Borossilov and simultaneously it bad to set up the
new post. During this period of regrouping, shall we say of
the forward leap of a command of an army group, there is
always a considerable shortage of men. The old headquarters
still had to be looked after; the new post required men for
its construction so that, as always during such a period,
the number that could be spared for the advance party must
have been small.

                                                  [Page 355]

Q. Can you not even give us an estimate of the figure of
that advance party?

A. Thirty, forty or fifty men.

Q. How many non-commissioned officers?

A. Probably one or two officers, a few non-commissioned
officers and some other ranks.

Q. The regiment was very widely spread out, was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. How far, approximately?

A. In the entire area of the Army Group "Centre," shall we
say, between Orel and Vitebsk - in that  entire area they
were widely dispersed.

Q. How many kilometres was that, approximately?

A. More than 500 kilometres.

Q. Do you know Judge Advocate General Dr. Konrad of the Army
Group "Centre"?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know whether he, in 1943, interrogated the local
inhabitants under oath about the date when the Polish
officers were supposed to have been shot in the wood of

A. No, I do not know.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.


Q. Were there any Einsatzkommandos in the Katyn area during
the time that you were there?

A. Nothing has ever come to my knowledge about that.

Q. Did you ever hear of an order to shoot Soviet commissars?

A. I only knew of that by hearsay.

Q. When?

A. Probably at the beginning of the Russian campaign, I

Q. Before the campaign started or after?

A. I cannot remember having heard anything like that before
the beginning of the campaign.

Q. Who was to carry out that order?

A. Strictly speaking, signal troops are not really fighting
troops. Therefore they really had nothing to do with that,
and therefore we were in no way affected by the order.

Q. I did not ask you that. I asked you who had to carry out
the order.

A. Those who came into contact with these people,

Q. Anybody who came in contact with Russian commissars had
to kill them; is that it?

A. No, I assume that it was the troops, the fighting troops,
the actual fighting troops who were out in front and in
immediate contact with the enemy. It could only be the army
group which was affected. The signal regiment never came
into a position to meet commissars. That is probably why
they were not mentioned in the order or affected by it in
any way.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President. I ask permission to call as
witness the former deputy mayor of the city of Smolensk
during the German occupation, Professor of Astronomy
Bazilevsky Boris.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, let him come in then.

BAZILEVSKY BORIS, a witness, took the stand and testified as


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Professor Bazilevsky Boris.

                                                  [Page 356]

Q. Will you make this form of oath:

I, a citizen of the USSR, called as a witness in this case,
solemnly promise and swear before the High Tribunal to say
all that I know about this case and to add or to withhold

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.


COLONEL SMIRNOV: With the permission of the Tribunal, I
should like to start with my interrogation, Mr. President.



Q. Please tell us, witness, what your activity was before
the German occupation of the city of Smolensk and district
of Smolensk, and where you were living in Smolensk.

A. Before the occupation of Smolensk and the surrounding
region, I lived in the city of Smolensk and was professor
first at the Smolensk University, and then -

Q. Please speak slowly.

A.  - and then of the Smolensk Pedagogical Institute, and at
the same time I was Director of the Smolensk Astronomical
Observatory. For ten years I was the Dean of the Physics and
Mathematics Faculty, and in the last years I was Deputy
Director of the Scientific Department of the Institute.

Q. How many years did you live in Smolensk previous to the
German occupation?

A. From 1919.

Q. Do you know what the so-called Katyn wood was?

A. Yes.

Q. Please speak slowly.

A. Actually, it was a grove, a clearing in which the
inhabitants of Smolensk used to pass their leisure time and

Q. Was this forest before the war a special reservation
which was fenced or guarded by armed patrols, by watch-dogs?

A. During the many years that I lived in Smolensk this place
was never fenced, and no restrictions were ever placed on
access to it. I personally used to go there very frequently.
The last time I was there was in 1940 and in the spring of
1941. In this wood there was also a camp for pioneers. Thus,
there was free access to this place for everybody.

Q. Please tell me in what year there was a pioneer camp?

A. As far as I know, it as there for many years.

Q. Please speak slowly.

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute. Professor, will you wait a
minute, please? When you see that yellow light go on, it
means that you are going too fast, and when you are asked a
question, will you pause before you answer it? Do you



Q. Will you please repeat your answer, and very slowly, if
you please.

A. As far, as I know, the last time the pioneer camp was in
the area of the Katyn wood was in 1941.

Q. Consequently, if I understand you correctly, in 1940 and
1941 before the beginning of the war, at any rate - and you
speak also of the spring of 1941 - the Katyn wood was not a
special reservation and was accessible to everybody?

A. Yes. I say that that was the situation.

                                                  [Page 357]

Do you say this as an eyewitness or from hearsay?

A. No, I say that as an eyewitness, who used to go there

Q. Please tell the Tribunal under what circumstances you
became the Deputy Mayor of Smolensk during the period of the
German occupation. Please speak slowly.

A. I was an administrative employee, and I did not have an
opportunity of leaving the place in time, since I was busy
saving the particularly precious library of the Institute
and the very valuable equipment. In the circumstances I
could not try to escape before the evening of the 15th, but
I did not succeed in catching the train. I was supposed to
leave the city on 16th July in the morning, but during the
night of 15th to 16th the city was unexpectedly occupied by
German troops. All the bridges across the Dnieper were blown
up, and I found myself in captivity.

After a certain time, on 20th July, a group of German
soldiers visited the observatory of which I was the
Director. They recorded that I was the Director and that I
was living there and that there was also a professor of
physics, Efimov, living in the same building.

Q. Please speak even more slowly.

A. In the evening of 20th July, two German officers came to
me and brought me to the headquarters of the unit which had
occupied Smolensk. After checking my identity and after a
short conversation, they suggested that I should become
mayor of the city. I refused, basing my refusal on the fact
that I was a professor of astronomy and that as I had had no
experience in municipal matters, I could not undertake this
duty. They then declared categorically and with threats, "We
are going to force the Russian intelligentsia to work."

Q. Thus, if I understand you correctly, the Germans forced
you by threats to become the Deputy Mayor of Smolensk?

A. That is not all. They told me also that in a few days'
time I would be summoned to the Kommandantur.

THE PRESIDENT: You are spending a lot of time on how he came
to be Mayor of Smolensk.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Will you please allow me to pass to other
questions, Mr. President? Thank you for your observations.


Q. Who was your immediate superior? Who was the Mayor of

A. Menschagin.

Q. What were the relations between this man and the German
administration and particularly the German Kommandantur?

A. These relations were becoming closer and closer every

Q. Is it correct to say that Menschagin was the trustee of
the German administration and that they even gave him same
secret information?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that in the vicinity of Smolensk there were
Polish prisoners of war?

A. Yes, I do very well.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know what this is going to prove.
You presumably do, but can you not come nearer to the point?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: He said that he knew there were Polish
prisoners of war in Smolensk, and with the permission of the
Tribunal, I would like to ask the witness what these
prisoners of war were doing.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well; go on.


Q, Please answer. What were the Polish prisoners of war
doing in the vicinity of Smolensk, and at what time?

A. In the spring of 1941 and at the beginning of the summer
they were working on the restoration of roads, Moscow-Minsk
and Smolensk-Vitebsk.

                                                  [Page 358]

Q. What do you know about the further fate of the Polish
prisoners of war?

A. Thanks to the position that I occupied, I learned very
early about their fate.

Q. Please tell the Tribunal what you know about it.

A. In view of the fact that in the camp for Russian
prisoners of war known as "Gulag 126," the regime was such
that prisoners of war were dying by hundreds every day, I
tried to liberate men whenever I had the slightest reason to
enter this camp. I learned that in this camp there was also
a very well-known pedagogue named Zhiglinski. I asked
Menschagin to make representations to the German
Kommandantur of Smolensk, and in particular to von Schwetz,
and try to liberate Zhiglinski from this camp.

Q. Please do not go into detail and do not waste time, but
tell the Tribunal about your conversations with Menschagin.
What did he tell you?

A. Menschagin answered my request with, "What is the use? We
can save one, but hundreds will die." However, I insisted,
and Menschagin, after a certain amount of hesitation, agreed
to make such a demand upon the German Kommandantur.

Q. Please be short and tell us what Menschagin told you
about the German Kommandantur.

A. Two days later he told me that he was in a difficult
position because of my demand. Von Schwetz refused his
request, referring to an instruction from Berlin to
establish a very severe regime with respect to prisoners of

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