TESTIMONY OF MATVEY SKARGINSKY (THROUGH THE INTERPEETER,
MR. VON HAHN)
Mr. Flood. What is your name?
^ Mr. Skarginsky. Skarginsky, Matvey.
Mr. Flood. What is your first name?
Mr. Skarginsky. Matvey.
Mr. Flood. Where were you born ?
Mr. Skarginsky, In Elizavetgrad.
Mr. Flood. You are a Russian?
Mr. Skarginsky. Yes, I am.
Mr. Flood. Were you ever a member of the Russian armed forces?
Mr. Skarginsky. At the end of the Czarist Army, and later on a
member of the White Russian Army.
Mr. Flood. Were you ever taken prisoner by the Germans?
Mr. Skarginsky. No, I was not.
Mr, Flood. In what way did you become identified with the German
Mr. Skarginsky. I received a mobilization order in Berlin in October
1941, a mobilization order extending to non-German citizens.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever serve in the Smolensk area?
Mr. Skarginsky. Yes; on several occasions during the last war.
Mr. Flood. In what capacity did you serve with the Germans on
the Smolensk front?
Mr. SKAR(iiNSKY. At first, when Smolensk was cccupied in 1941,
with the motorized heavy artillery detachment No. 808.
Mr. Flood. Well, when did you first get to the city of Smolensk ?
Mr. Skarginsky. I do not quite recollect, but it was at the end
of July—it was at the end of July or at the beginning of August 1941.
Mr. Flood. You said you were born in Russia and you were mobilized
by the Germans in Berlin. How and under what circumstances
did you get to Berlin ?
Mr. Skakginsky. I lived in Yugoslavia up to May 1941, and after
the occupation of Yugoslavia by the Germans the Labor Office sent
me to Germany for work, and that is how I got to Berlin.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. In other words, you served in the German armed
forces not by choice but you were conscripted for that service, were
you not ?
Mr. Skarginsky. That is correct.
Mr. O'KoNsKi. And you were serving against your will ?
Mr. Skarginsky. I was conscripted. I did not volunteer. I was
conscripted and mobilized.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. Now, will you tell us briefly what you know about
the Katyn massacre i
Mr. Skarginsky. Yes.
I was a member of this artillery unit which I mentioned up to
October 1942. In October 1942 I was transferred to the staff headquarters
of the Ninth Army. The staff headquarters of this army
were located in Sitschewka, in the Smolensk area.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. Then, as I understand it, you were employed by
the German staff as an interpreter because of your knowledge of the
Russian language; is that correct?
Mr. Skarginsky. That is correct.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. Then in your job as interpreter, what assignment
were you given by the German Staff regarding the Katyn massacre?
Mr. Skarginsky. When tlie staff headquarters were transferred
to Smolensk in February 1943, then rumors started spreading that
somewhere in the Smolensk area there were mass graves and that
these mass graves were located near the former NKVD recreation
home in the vicinity of Katyn. I thereupon was given orders to
interrogate the local population living in the vicinity of Katyn.
I thereupon interrogated some 30 local peasants from three villages
lying in that specific area. The name of the one village is Gniezdowo;
the other two I do not recollect.
And I also interrogated three railroad officials who were already
railroad officials under the Russians and remained railroad officials in
German services after the occupation had taken place. There were
several railroad officials who were employed right at the Gniezdowo
The most interesting statement was given by one of those railroad
employees, one of the officials. All the statements tallied in that
respect, that early in the summer of 1940, freight trains started arriving
at the railroad station, containing Polish prisoners. The trains
used to arrive shortly before midnight on every occasion. The boxcars
were locked from the outside. In the small cabins where the
brakemen sit, as is usual in Europe, there were NKVD guards guarding
the train. The trains arrived at the station without any official
papers, so that it could not be ascertained from where they were
Mr. O'KoNSKi. Did the railroad station attendants tell you it was
early spring of 1940 that these cars arrived ?
Mr. Skarginsky. As far as I recollect, they told me that it was at
the end of the spring or at the beginning of summer 1940.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. Did they mention any specific months ?
Mr. Skarginsky. I only recollect the year of 1940 and, as I said
before, the end of the spring or beginning of summer.
The prisoners who were in the boxcars were taken out of those
railroad cars and marched off to the forest of Katyn in marching
order ; it was four and four. Strict orders had been issued at that time
that nobody was to approach the railroad line and the road leading
from the station to the forest. All the railroad officials were also
forbidden, those who were not right on duty at the station. Nobody
was to approach the line or the road.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. There is one thing I would like to check with you.
You testified a little eai-lier that you were conscripted in Berlin in
October of 1941 ; then later you said you reached the Smolensk area
in August 1941. Will you clear up those two dates? Evidently, you
must have been confused.
Mr. Skarginsky. Yes, I made a mistake. I meant to say I had
been mobilized in October 1941 and the first time I got to Smolensk
was in November 1941, not in August; not in August but in November
Mr. O'KoNSKi. You said that you interviewed about 30 natives and
3 depot agents. Did they all agree as to the time of the arrival of the
Polish soldiers, and did they also agree that they were disposed of by
the Russians at that time ?
Mr. SicARGiNSKY. The statements by all those various people differed
only to a very slight extent. It was only a matter of a month
or two. Some of the people stated that the prisoners had arrived in
May; others said they had arrived in June. But all the statements
taken together very much tallied with each other.
Mr. O'KoNSKi. There was no native that you interviewed, or official
that you interviewed, that said anything otherwise, to the contrary?
Mr. Skargixsky. It was like this: Very detailed statements came
from those railroad officials, because they were actually on the spot
and saw the Polish prisoners being taken out of the boxcars or being
marched away, because they were on duty at the trains, at the station.
The peasants, however, were not allowed to come near the station
or the forest and could only see things going on from afar. So they
only said, "We saw some trains arriving and some people being taken
out of the trains and some ])eople being marched away.'" But they
could not say whether they had been Polish prisoners or whatever
they were because they were too far away and the area was coi-doned
off, so tliev could not get near the s])ot.
But nobody ever made a statement different to this one.