The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. STAHMER: I have only one or two more questions, Mr.


Q. Because of your collaboration with the German
authorities, were you punished by the Russian Government?

A. No, I was not.

Q. Are you at liberty?

A. Not only am I at liberty, but, as I have already stated,
I am at the present time a professor at two high schools.

Q. Therefore, you are back in office.

A. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Smirnov, do you wish to re-examine?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: No, Mr. President, I have no further
questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, do you know whether the man, whose
name I understand to be Menschagin, was told about these
matters, or whether he himself had any direct knowledge of

THE WITNESS: From Menschagin's own words, I understood quite
definitely that he had heard these things himself at the
Kommandantur, particularly from von Schwetz who was the
Kommandant from the beginning of the occupation.

THE PRESIDENT: Then the witness may retire.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Mr. President, I beg the Tribunal to allow
me to call as witness Marko Antonov Markov, a Bulgarian
citizen, Professor at the University of Sofia.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you the interpreter?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you give us your full name?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear before God and the law that I will interpret
truthfully and to the best of my skill the evidence to be
given by the witness.

(The interpreter repeated the oath.)

                                                  [Page 363]

MARKO ANTONOV MARKOV, a witness, took the stand and
testified through the interpreter as follows:


Q. Will you give us your full name, please?

A. Dr. Marko Antonov Markov.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear, as a witness in this case, that I will speak only
the truth, being aware or my responsibility before God and
the law, and that I will withhold and add nothing.

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, before this witness is examined, I
would like to call to the attention of the Tribunal the fact
that Dr. Stahmer asked the preceding witness a question
which I understood to be as follows: How did it happen that
the interpreters had the questions and the answers to your
questions if you did not have them before you. Now that
question implied that Dr. Stahmer had some information that
the interpreters did have the answers to the questions, and
I sent a note up to the interpreters, and I have the answer
from the Lieutenant in charge that no one there had any
answers or questions, and I think it should be made clear on
the record.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think so, too.

DR. STAHMER: I was advised of this fact outside the Court.
If it is not a fact, I wish to withdraw my statement. I was
informed outside the Court from a trustworthy source. I do
not recall the name of the person who told me, I shall have
to ascertain it.

THE PRESIDENT: Such statements ought not to be made by
counsel until they have verified them.

COLONEL SMIRNOV: May I begin the cross-examination of this
witness, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: The examination, yes.



Q. Witness, I beg you to tell us briefly, without taking up
the time of the Tribunal with too many details, under what
conditions you were included in the so-called International
Medical Commission set up by the Germans in the month of
April, 1943, for the examination of the graves of Polish
officers in the Katyn woods.

I beg you, when answering me, to pause between the question
I put to you and your answer.

A. This occurred at the end of April, 1943. While working in
the Medico-Forensic Institute, where I am still working, I
was called to the telephone by Dr. Guerow, a secretary of
Dr. Filoff, who was then Prime Minister of Bulgaria. I was
told that as a representative of the Bulgarian Government I
was to take part in the work of an international medical
commission which would examine certain corpses discovered in
the forest of Katyn, the corpses of Polish officers.

Not wishing to go, I answered that I had to deputise for the
director of my Institute who was away in the country. Dr.
Guerow told me that, according to an instruction of the
Minister of Foreign Affairs who had sent the telegram, it
was precisely in order to deputise for him that I would have
to go there. Guerow told me to come to the Ministry. There I
asked him if I could refuse to comply with this order. He
answered that we were in a state of war, and that the
Government could send anybody wherever and whenever they
deemed it necessary.

                                                  [Page 364]

Guerow took me to the principal secretary of the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Schuchmarnov. Schuchmarnov repeated this
order and told me that we were to examine the corpses of
thousands of Polish officers. I answered that to examine
thousands of corpses would take several months, but
Schuchmarnov said that the Germans had already exhumed a
great number of these corpses, and that I would have to go
together with other members of the commission in order to
see what had already been done, and in order to sign, as
Bulgarian representative, the report of the proceedings
which had already been drafted.

After that, I was taken to the German Embassy, to Councillor
Mormann, who arranged all the technical details of the trip.

This was on Saturday; and on Monday morning, 26th April, I
flew to Berlin. There I was met by an official of the
Bulgarian Legation, and I was taken to the Hotel Adlon.

Q. Who took part in this so-called "International
Commission," and when did they leave for Katyn?

A. On the next day, 27th April, we stayed in Berlin and the
other members of the commission arrived there.

Q. Who were they?

A. They were the following, besides myself: Dr. Birkle,
chief doctor of the Ministry of Justice and first assistant
of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at
Bucharest; Dr. Miloslawich, Professor of Forensic Medicine
and Criminology at Zagreb University, who was representative
for Croatia; Professor Palmieri, who was Professor for
Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Naples; Dr. Orsos,
Professor of Forensic Medicine and Criminology at Budapest;
Dr. Subik, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the
University of Bratislava, and chief of the State Department
for Health for Slovakia; Dr. Haja, Professor for Forensic
Medicine and Criminology at Prague, who represented the so-
called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; Professor
Naville, Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of
Geneva, representative for Switzerland; Dr. Speleers,
Professor for Ophthalmology at Ghent University, who
represented Belgium; Dr. De Burlett, Professor of Anatomy at
the University of Groningen, representing Holland; Dr.
Tramsen, Vice-Chancellor of the Institute for Forensic
Medicine at Copenhagen University, representing Denmark; Dr.
Saxen, who was Professor for Pathological Anatomy at
Helsinki University, Finland.

During the entire work of the commission, a Doctor Costedodt
was missing; i he declared that he could attend only as a
personal representative of President Laval.

Professor Piga from Madrid also arrived, an aged man who did
not take any part in the work of the commission. It was
stated later that he was ill as a result of the long

Q. Did all these persons fly to Katyn?

A. All these persons came to Katyn with the exception of
Professor Piga.

Q. Who besides the members of the commission left for Katyn
with you?

A. On the 28th we took off from Tempelhof Aerodrome, Berlin,
for Katyn. We took off in two aeroplanes; about fifteen to
twenty persons were in each.

Q. Maybe you can say who exactly was there?

A. Together with us was Director Dietz, who met us and
accompanied us, representing the Ministry of Public Health.
There were also representatives of the Press as well as
representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Q. Will you tell us now when the commission arrived in

A. The commission arrived at Smolensk on 28th April, in the

Q. How many working days did the commission stay in
Smolensk, I stress working days?

A. We stayed in Smolensk two days only, 29th and 30th April,
1943, and on the 1st of May, in the morning, we left

Q. How many times did the members of the commission
personally visit the mass graves in the Katyn Forest?

                                                  [Page 365]

A. We were twice m the Katyn Forest, in the forenoon of 29th
and 30th April.

Q. I mean how many hours did you spend each time near the
mass graves?

A. I think not more than three or four hours each time.

Q. Were the members of the commission present at least once
during the opening of one of the graves?

A. No new graves were opened in our presence. We were shown
only several graves which had already been opened before we

Q. Therefore, you were shown already opened graves, near
which the corpses were already laid out, is that right?

A. Quite right. Near these opened graves were exhumed
corpses already laid out there.

Q. Were the necessary conditions for an objective and
comprehensive scientific examination of the corpses afforded
to the members of the commission?

A. The only part of our activity which could be
characterised as a scientific, medico-forensic examination
was the autopsy carried out by certain members of the
commission who were themselves medico-forensic experts; but
there were only seven or eight of us who could lay claim to
that qualification, and as far as I recall only eight
corpses were cut open. Each of us operated on one corpse,
except Professor Heicker, who cut open two corpses. Our
further activity during these two days consisted in a rapid
visit under the direction of Germans. It was like a
tourists' walk during which we saw the open graves and we
were shown a peasant's house, a few kilometres distant from
the Katyn Forest, where, in showcases, papers and objects of
various sorts were kept. We were told that these papers and
objects had been found in the clothes of the corpses which
had been exhumed.

Q. Were you actually present when these papers were
discovered, or were they shown to you when they were already
in glass cases?

A. The documents which we saw in the glass cases had already
been removed from the bodies before we arrived.

Q. Were you allowed to investigate these documents, to
examine these documents; for instance, to see whether the
papers were impregnated with any acids coming from the
corpses, from the decomposing corpses, or to carry out any
other kind of scientific examination?

A. We did not carry out any scientific examination of these
papers. As I have already told you, these papers were
exhibited in glass cases, and we did not even touch them.

Q. But I would like you nevertheless to answer me shortly,
by yes or no, a question which I have already put to you
briefly. Were the facilities which were given to you and to
the other members of the commission, and the conditions
under which you worked, quite adequate for a scientific

A. In my opinion, these working conditions can in no way be
described as adequate for a complete and objective
scientific examination. The only thing which bore the
character of a scientific nature was the autopsy which I
carried out.

Q. Did I rightly understand you, that from the 11,000
corpses which were discovered, only eight were dissected by
members of the commission?

A. Quite right.

Q. In what condition were these corpses? I would like you to
describe the state in which they were and also the state of
the inner organs, the tissues, etc. -

A. As to the condition of the corpses in the Katyn graves, I
can only judge according to the state of the corpse which I
myself cut open. The condition of this corpse was, as far as
I could ascertain, the same as that of all the other
corpses. The skin was still well preserved, was in part
leathery, of a brown-red colour, and some parts there were
blue markings from the clothes. Most of the nails and hair
had already fallen out. In the head of the corpse I
dissected, there was a small hole, a bullet wound in the
back of the head. Only a shapeless mass remained of the
brain. The muscles were still preserved to such an extent
that one could even see the sinews of heart muscles and
valves. The inner organs were also

                                                  [Page 366]

mainly in a good state of preservation. But, of course, they
were dried up, displaced and of a dark colour. The stomach
bore the trace of some sort of contents. A part of the fat
had turned into wax. We were impressed by the fact that,
even strongly pulled, no limbs had detached themselves. I
dictated a report on the spot where the examination was
made. A similar report was dictated by the members of the
commission who examined the corpses. This memorandum was
published by the Germans, under No. 827, in the book which
they published.

Q. I would like you to answer the following question. Did
the medico-forensic experts testify to the fact that the
corpses had been in the graves as long as three years?

A. As to that question, I could also only judge from the
corpse on which I myself had held a post-mortem. The
condition of this corpse, as I have already stated, was
typical of the average condition of the Katyn corpses. These
corpses were far from the stage of disintegration of the
soft parts, since the fat was only beginning to turn into
wax. In my opinion, these corpses were buried for a far
shorter period of time than three years. I considered that
the corpse which I cut open had been buried for not more
than a year or eighteen months.

Q. Therefore, applying the criteria of the facts you had
learned in Bulgaria - that is, in a country of a more
southern climate than Smolensk, and where decay therefore is
more rapid - you considered that the corpses that were
exhumed in the Katyn Forest had been lying under the ground
for not more than a year and a half? Did I understand you

A. Yes, quite right. I considered that they had been buried
for not more than a year and a half.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 2nd July, 1946.)

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