TESTIMONY OF RUDI KRAMER, 45 AM LINDENBAUM, FRANKFURT/
MAIN, GERMANY (THROUGH THE INTERPRETER, MR. VON
Mr. Kramer. Rudi Kramer, Frankfurt/Main, 45 am Lindenbaum.
Mr. Flood. Wei-e you ever identified with the German armed forces «
Mr. Kratmer. Yes; I was.
Mr. Kramer. I was Sonderfuelirer "Z"—that is the rank of lieutenant—
Avith the propaganda detail W in Smolensk.
Mr. Flood. Who was the commanding officer of the propaganda
unit at Smolensk when you served there ?
Mr. Kramer. My direct superior was Lieutenant Anschuetz, and
the C. O. was Gans.
Mr. Flood. Did you walk, at any time, in the woods within, say, a
thousand meters all around the castle ?
Mr. Kramer. I did not get to the forest of Katyn before I had not
heard from the local population of the existence of such graves.
Mr. Flood. Will you detail for us, as best you remember, the conversation
5'ou had with any Russian person of the area with reference
to these graves in Katyn?
Mr. Kramer. Yes, I can.
Mr. Flood. In your own words. Please proceed.
Mr. Kramer. I was detailed to the propaganda detail W at the
beginning of March 1943. Originally I had been detailed to this unit
as a sports officer, with the task of interesting myself in sports activities
of the military units, and also in connection with sports of the local
I was instructed by the propaganda unit to work among the Russian
population, which was not anti-German at that time, to try and
gain some influence on the Russian population and to foster pro-
Gei'man feelings among them. We published a newspaper in the Russian
language and also had theatrical groups come out to the area to
present shows for the Russian population, and thus we established close
contacts with the Russian ])opulation.
Behind the locality called Krasny Bor there was another place
called Gniezdowo. I had to go to that place frequently on duty and
had many conversations with the local people. On one of those occasions
an old peasant, who was living right on the railroad line near
the forest, told me that there were mass graves in the forest. He also
said that there were several small crosses erected in the forest, and
that the local population had the habit of going there on holidays and
putting some flowers down near them.
Mr. Flood. Did he indicate when these gi-aves had been made?
Mr. Kramer. Yes, later. Later on I asked him, once, whether he
could recollect when these graves had come into existence, and he said,
"3 years ago."
]Mr. Flood. What was the date of the conversation when he said
Mr. Kramer. This conversation must have taken pLace about the
middle or towards the end of March 1943, after we had transmitted
the report of this peasant to the army group and had been instructed
to investigate the matter.
Mr, Flood. Do you talk or understand Russian ?
Mr. Kramer. No, I always went out with an interpreter.
The peasant related that, 3 years before, large transports had arrived
at Gniezdowo station and that the men had been taken out of the
boxcars at the station. In his opinion these men in the trains were
not Russians, but Polish soldiers. Some of them were put into trucks
and taken to the forest; other had to march from the station to the
Later on, some time later, I asked several of those peasants whether
they recollected the approximate number of men who had been taken
to the forest. They did not give any figure, but they said, "Very many,
very many, and they kept on arriving for days and days," and not one
of those that they had seen taken to the forest had ever returned from
After having reported the matter to higher quarters, and after we
had been instructed to investigate, we went into the forest and found
sort of a clearing in it, planted with small trees, and we actually discovered
two primitive crosses and also some dried flowers lying about.
JNIr. Flood. What do you mean by "primitive crosses" ?
Mr. Kramer. They were not carved in any way. Probably the
people who had erected them had just cut off some wood and put it
Mr. Flood. Do you use the word "primitive" to mean "ancient", or
do you use it to mean "rude and clumsy" ?
Mr. Kramer. I meant the second version, that they were made in a
crude manner and that they also had been standing there for some
time or other.
Mr. Flood. What were the crosses made out of ?
Mr. Kramer. I believe it was birchwood, but I am not quite certain
Mr. Flood. Proceed, please.
Mr. Kramer. Some small distance from the graves, approximately
200 or 300 meters, there was a house, a building, which was subsequently
used by the Germans, which was called the Dnieper Castle.
I reported all that I had discovered to my unit, which, in its turn,
transmitted the report to the army group. The army group then issued
orders to start digging.
Mr. Flood. These trees that you referred to as small trees, were they
on or ai'ound the grave where the crosses were ?
Mr. Kramer. There were no actual graves. The whole soil of the
clearing was flat and uniform, no mounds of earth or anything and on
this even clearing small trees were growing all over.
Mr. Flood. Will you indicate with your hand, witness, from the
floor, as you best recollect today, about the height of those trees, the
Mr. Kramer. About so high [indicating].
Mr. Flood. The witness indicates in the area of 2 1/2 to 3 feet.
Mr. Kkamer. On the very first day when digging started I was not
out there, but I came there on the second or third day, and tliey were
busy digging in an area of approximately tlie size of this room. They
were digging down in many spots, and whenever they dug down they
came upon dead bodies. The area might have been considerably
larger than this room. It is not quite easy to estimate the size.
The digging was done, then, in a systematic way. First of all, they
dug down very deep so as to ascertain how far down the dead bodies
reached into the ground, and then tliey opened up towards the sides.
The dead bodies were lying in the grave, sticking together in one
solid mass. They were sort of minnmified and dried out, probably for
the lack of air which had not been able to get to the bodies, and that
had caused a sort of mummification of the dead bodies. They were
fully clad in uniforms, even with leather belts and everything that
belonged to a uniform, and they all wore boots. Some of them had
their hands tied behind their backs, but that was not uniform. • We
f(!und some without their hands tied, and then there was one, again,
with his hands tied, so it was diverse.
I wish to state that these statements I made during the last few
mimites came from my observations and investigations over some
longish time. I have just been giving a survey of my observations
covering some longish period.
Mr. Flood. Yes.
Mr. Kramer. In the meantime, Professor Buhtz, from Breslau,
whom I had already known in Breslau because I had business with
him there, had been put in charge of the exhumations, and because
of the fact that I had known him before, I had quite a few good opportunities
of seeing things and learning things which, in the ordinary
course of my duties, I would perhaps never have learned.
All ranks were found in the graves among the dead bodies, ranging
from generals down to assistant medical officers and cadets. Physicians
were also found.
The dead bodies were all lying in layers, very close together, and
it was established by and by that 12 layers of dead bodies were
stacked on each other. We also established that all the men had
been killed by shots in the neck, and we assumed that the execution
took place in such a way that one row of men had to lie down at the
bottom of the pit with their faces down and had then been shot. Then
the next row of men had to lie down on top of the men who had just
been shot, and were killed subsequently, and so on, one layer after
the other. This assumption is based on the fact that we found several
bodies with more than one bullet hole.
Several actions were coordinated there. First of all, we of the
propaganda unit had been given the task to try and get international
commissions to the graves so that they should investigate the thing.
There were commissions—one international commission of medical
experts; another commission consisted of foreign journalists; then
there was also a commission of writers, authors, and artists, and also
a commission of Western Allied Officer who were prisoners of war in
Germany. I also recollect a large group of Polish clergymen who had
been brought there, and then, subsequently, the relatives and next of
kin of the murdered men started arriving from Poland. They kept
on coming all the time, as soon as the identification of the dead bodies
Siiuultaneously, we carried on our investi<!;ati()ns amono; the local
])()pulation, so as to find out when these transports of prisoners had
arrived in the area, and it was established from many statements
that this happened in April 1940. This was further confirmed by the
fact that all entries in diaries, pocket-books, etc., which we later found
on the dead bodies, ended between April 16th and Apiil 19th, 1940.
The third j^roof was established by oettino- forestry experts to come to
this forest and examine the small trees, and they all established that the
t rees had been in that spot for about ^ years.
The commissions that came to the graves were taken there by
German officers. Once on the spot, they had full liberty to investigate
on their own, to go about, to talk to the auxiliary volunteers who did
the digging up, and also to talk to the local population. They were
not hindered in any w^ay ; they could just do as they liked. Professor
Buhtz also helped them in every way, and insofar as when these
com'missions were especially interested in special dead bodies, and
pointed them out, they were immediately taken out of the pits and
the members of the commission were allowed to designate special
bodies which they wanted to have taken out, and that was always
done at their request.
As the weather became warmer, gradually conditions became very
unpleasant. There was a terrible smell, and millions of flies started
collecting, so that it was imperative to rebury the bodies that had
been taken out of the pits as quickly as possible.
Up to the day when the exhumations ceased because it w^as becoming
too hot, I estimate that about 3,000 bodies had been taken out of the
pits, of which 800 had, by then, been identified. From the situation
and the measurements of the graves, we made an estimate that there
would probably be between 8,000 and 10,000 bodies in the ground.
The population, in the course of all these investigations, became
more talkative, and also pointed out to us that there w^ere more graves
in the vicinity. Upon investigating tliose graves it w^as found that
they merely contained civilians who had probabl}^ come to death during
the fighting. At any rate, no more soldiers or any uniformed
persons were found in the surroundings.
On account of the great heat in the summer, the exhumations ceased
approximately in July—it might have been a little earlier—and were
to be restarted some time in September. However, my unit was transferred
to Italy from Smolensk early in September, so I am unable to
state whether tlie exhumations ever began again or not.
Mr. Flood. You say you don't know wdiether the exhinnations began
again oi- not in September?
Mr. Kramer. No ; I do not know that.
Mr. Flood. Well, the military situation on the eastern front
changed about that time, so that it w^as necessary for the Germans to
withdraAv. Do you remember hearing about that ?
Mr. Kramkr. Yes; that is correct. We heard in Italy, from some
of our fellow soldiers who had remained in the Smolensk area, that
when the Russians came back into that area they were very eager to
get to the Katyn Forest as quickly as possible.
Mr. Flood. That being the case, and since the graves were closed
in the summer before the exhumations were completed, it is entirely
possible that if tlie graves were opened in September, or subsequently
reopened, that additional missing Polish bodies might have been
Mr. Kramer. Yes, that is correct. In my estimation we only succeeded
in clearing about one-third of the area. Two-thirds was never
touched by us because we didn't have time.
Mr. Flood. You have heard of the other two prison camps, besides
Kozielsk. of Starobielsk and Ostoskov^
Mr. Kramer. No, 1 have not.
Mr. Flood. Now, according to your theory as to how the execu-
(ions took place, with the prisoners forced to lie down flat on their
faces over the ])reviously executed prisoners, you say that that indicated
that bullet wounds, several bullet wounds, were found in other
bodies. AVell, how would that theory produce that conclusion?
Mr. Kramer. It was merely on the top layers that we made the
discovery that some of the dead bodies had more than one wound,
because further down it was impossible, you could not expect any human
being to actually climb down into the pits, because the stench
was so terrible, the whole thing, that nobody could actually go down
there, they could only be pulled out with hooks, or something like
that. Therefore, we only noticed these several wounds in some bodies
(HI the top layers.
We noticed in several cases—not in each one, but in quite a few
cases—on the top layers of the dead bodies, that the bullet which had
penetrated the skull of the top bod}^ had gone on in the same direc
tion and hit the bodies underneath, not in the same place where the
bullet had hit the first body, but the way of the bullet, or the course
of the bullet, was lying in exactly the same direction, so that it was
unmistakable that the bottom body had been hit by the same bullet.
That was why we established this theory.
Mr. Flood. That is interesting, because there is medical testimony
that certain bodies, some bodies, were found with more than
one bullet wound, and that is an interesting observation to explain
Mr. Dondero. Were you at the Katyn graves, ]\Ir. Kramer, during
April of that year?
Mr. ICramer. Yes, I was.
Mr. Dondero. What kind of weather do they have in that area ?
Mr. Kramer. Partly there was still snow and ice in the area.
Mr. Dondero. Were all of the bodies buried with their faces down ?
Mr. Kramer. I did not see any body that was not buried with its
Mr. Dondero. Did you see any bodies with overcoats on ?
Mr. Kramer. Yes, I recollect one general ; altogether two generals
were found, and one general was still wearing a fur coat.