TESTIMONY OF REINHARDT VON EICHBORN, FRANKFURT/MAIN,
GERMANY (THROUGH THE INTERPRETER, ARTHUR R. MOSTNI)
Mr. Flood. What is your full name ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Eeinhardt von Eichborn.
]Mr. Flood. Were you ever identified with the German armed
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes, I was.
Mr. Flood. What was your rank and what was your connection
with the German armed forces in 1941 ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I was a lieutenant, and I was a case
worker for communications affairs with the central army group.
Mr. Flood. Were you ever identified at any time with the regiment
537 that we have been talking about here ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. From the outset of the war until the
winter of 1940 I was a member of this regiment.
Mr. Flood. What was your duty or job with the regiment?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I was company commander with the
first company and I was in charge of the communications of this
Mr. Flood. When did you go into the Smolensk area ?
Lieutenant vox Eichborn. Approximately in the beginning of September,
at the same time as the army gi'oup did.
Mr. Flood. What were you doing with the army group instead of
with your regiment?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Since December of 1940 I had been
transferred to this army group.
Mr. Flood. Were you here when General Oberhaeuser testified ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes, I was.
Mr. Flood. What do you know about an advance party or an advance
unit from the group that went into Smolensk before the staff
Lieutenant von Eichborn. xVpproximately 5 or 6 weeks prior to the
movement of the army group from Borisow to Smolensk, an advance
unit under the command of two officers, Hodt and Reichert, with a
few noncoms and enlisted men, was dispatched to the Smolensk area
in order to prepare communications for staff headquarters of the army
Mr. Flood. What was your specialty in communications?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I was in charge of the planning staff
of communications and of maintenance of communications to the
Mr, Flood. Are you aware of the procedure for the transmission of
operational orders from the supreme command or from the army
group, and from the army group to the armies or down to the regiments
in the Smolensk area ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. No direct orders were communicated
from army headquarters to regimental headquarters, and so forth;
it was always conveyed via division or corps headquarters.
Mr. Flood. Were you in a position to intercept or be aware of any
communications by telephone or otherwise between field marshals
commanding arm groups ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I was in charge of seeing to it that such
communications could be effected without any disturbances. Therefore,
time and again I had to monitor such messages, and therefore
I have been in a position to intercept or listen to such information.
Mr. Flood. Were you in a position to intercept or listen to any communications
from the supreme command or the army command to any
special groups that might be operating for the Germans in the
Smolensk area in 1941 ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. If I had intended it. I had a chance to
monitor every conversation held between headquarters and any subgroup
or subcommand, and vice versa.
Mr. Flood. You heard General Oberhaeuser tell us, I suppose, that
the German high command had issued an order at one time, about this
time, for the killing of Russian prisoners.
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes, I did.
Mr. Flood. Did you, in your capacity as a communications expert at
a highly confidential level, intercept or participate in any communications
of any nature between the German supreme command or army
group commanders dealing with the order to kill Russian prisoners?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Six weeks prior to the beginning of the
Russian war I effected communications between Field Marshal von
Bock and Von Kluge, a conversation which lasted for about threequarters
of an hour, and which dealt with the so-called commissar
Mr. Flood. How did you become identified with that exchange between
those two high-ranking officers?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I was ordered to report to tlie field marshal,
and I was asked whether there was any chance
Mr. Flood (interposing). What field marshal?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Von Bock—and I was asked whether
there was any chance of effecting such a communication between
Posen and Warsaw and that no monitoring of the conversation would
Mr. Flood. Did Von Bock ask you that himself ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes. He ordered me to report personally
to him. Generally he gave me an order to effect a communication
in such a way that neither at Posen nor at Warsaw, nor anywhere
on the way, could anyone monitor the conversation.
Mr. Flood. Did you ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes. I did. This conversation was carried
on via a high-frequency generator and through an inverter device.
Mr. Flood. What happened ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. That is a scrambling device.
Mr. Flood. Tell us what happened. What did you do? Who was
on the other end ? Wliat was the conversation ?
Lieutenant von Eicurorx. In order to do that I proceeded to a
switchboard, to a central switchboard. I took the place normally occupied
by a switchboard operator, and I saw to it, from the other end,,
that an officer also took the place of the operator. The conversation
subsequently took place and it was revealed that it was Field Marshal
von Khige wlio Isad de.sired it.
In the course of this conversation the two gentlemen exhaustively
discussed the commissar order which, so far, had been unknown tome,
and which I believe had been promulgated, I believe, a day before.
It turned out that both gentlemen were unanimous that such an order
was absolutely incompatible with the honor of a Prussian officer.
Mr. Flood. Who was that? Von Bock and von Kluge?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes, von Bock and von Kluge.
The gentlemen subsequently discussed any chance to have this order
rescinded, and they agreed upon proceeding to Hitler and seeing^
Hitler together with the other two field marshals on the Russian
front, von Ruiidstedt and von List.
Mr. Flood. Was that the end of the conversation ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. That was the end.
Mr. Flood. Did you listen to this conversation yourself?
Lieutenant von P^ichborn. Yes, I did. I ])ersonally listened to
the conversation, and at the Warsaw end of the line another officer
had been listening in.
Mr. Fi.x)OD. You don't know whether any meeting with Hitler
took place or what happened, do you ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. No, I know nothing about that.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever visit the staff of the 537th regiment at
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Inasmuch as it was my old regiment,
I frequently happened to be there on duty as well as off duty.
Mr. Flood. Did you, at the time you were there, from September
on, encounter any Polish prisoners, or did you ever hear of any Polish
prisoners being in the area ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. No, I neither heard nor saw anvthing
Mr. Flood. Now, there were all kinds of rumors going around the
Katyn-Smolensk area that Polish prisoners had been there and had
been shot by Russians. Did you ever hear any of that?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. I knew nothing at all of such rumors.
I definitely would have remembered such rumors if I had heard
them, because at the time of the discovery I was no longer serving
with the unit, and for this reason, if I ever had heard anything about
such rumors, I would not have failed to remember it.
Mr. Flood. Were you in the Smolensk-Katyn area in April 1943
when the Germans announced the discovery of the bodies?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. No, I was not.
]\fr. Flood. Whou you visited your former brother officers of the
r)3Tth iTgiment of the Dnieper Castle regimental staff, did you ever
talk about any rumors or what the natives t^ere saying about things
generally in the area?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. No; I certainly would remember any
such thing if it had happened, because later on I was veiy much astonished
Mr. Flood. Did you take any walks in the area during all tlie months
that you. were there around the Dnieper Castle and the woods ?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. Yes, I did.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever see any mounds that might have resembled
graves, or anything of that nature, in the area of the castle?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. Naturally, this area had been a combat
Mr. Maciirowicz. A what?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. A combat area, and therefore it is quite
natural that war material was littered about the whole area, and there
were also individual graves.
Mr. Flood. But did you see anything resembling a large mass grave
that might contain the bodies of thousands of men ?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. No, I did not, because if I had done so I
wouldn't have failed to discuss the subject.
Mr. Flood. You heard General Oberhaeuser's testimony this morning,
for several hours this morning, and he went into great detail
describing the Dnieper Castle, the woods, the highways, and the general
surroundings, with a map that he sliowed the committee? You
heard all of that?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. Yes, I did.
Mr. Flood. Is there anything you wish to add to that description,
that you think of importance, in detail ?
Lieutenant von Eicborn. No, I don't believe I would be able to add
Mr. Flood. Because of youi- relationship and friendship with the
officers and the men of tlie 587th regiment, because of the fact that you
were quartered with the aruiy group headquarters only a few kilometers
away, and since you visited with the regiment regularly, would
it have been possible for this regiment or the staff members thereof at
Dnieper Castle, non-comissioned or otherwise, to have perpetrated
or participated in the killing of 4,000 Polish prisoners between July
and November of 194:1 without you knowing or hearing about it in
Lieutenant von Eicborn. That was entirely impossible, for- the following
reasons : The army group was just preparing the great offensive
against Moscow, which was supposed to terminate the war. For this
reason this army group had under its command five, or I believe even as
many as six, armies, and the communications officer in charge of this
army group had to effect communications between the army group
and those armies. The members of communications regiment 537,
this ai-my group, as well as all other communications regiments, were
feverishly engaged in terminating those communications before winter
.set in. In order to make sure that all communications would be properly
in shape and properly set up prior to the commencement of the
offeiisive, we had to receive daily reports about the accomplishment
of work done in various work sectors. Even a single day on which
no work would have been effected would have become conspicuous because
thus the target would not have been met in due time. Therefore.
it is utterly impossible that even a single company Avonld not have been
assigned to proper work for even as little as 1 day or more days.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever see or hear of the execution of any Polish
prisoners by Regiment 537 in that area ?
Lieutenant von Eiciiborn. No, I did not. Naturally, I did not.
Mr. Flood. Did reports of prisoners taken by the German units in
that area come through your communications headquarters?
Lieutenant von Eiciiborn. Naturally this army group dispatched,
every night, messages to supreme headquarters. These messages were
received and disseminated to the leaders of the various groups.
Mr. Flood. Did the communications include lists of prisoners taken
by the Germans ?
Lieutenant von Eiciiborn. Well, it goes without saying that small
numbers of prisoners such as a mere 20 or 30, that was not disseminated.
However, when a major batch of prisoners was captured such
as, for instance, in the Vyazma barrel, when thousands of prisoners
were taken, in such an instance notification of the number of prisoners
Mr. Flood. Would 4,000 be a big enough number to transmit?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Definitely so.
Mr. Flood. Did your conununications headquarters ever transmit
to a higher command any report as to the taking of 4,000 Polish officer
prisoners by the Germans anywhere in the Smolensk area?
Lieutenant von Eiciiborn. No.
Mr. Flood. Or any other Poles of any category ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. No. At least, I received notice of no
Mr. Machrowicz. Who was in command of the 537th regiment in
September of 1941 when you were there?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Colonel Bedenk.
Mr. Machrowicz. Do you know Colonel Ahrens ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Yes, I do ; he was his successor.
Mr. Machrowicz. Was Colonel Ahrens in that area in September
or October of 1941 ?
Lieutenant von Eichborn. Colonel Ahrens took over the command
of that regiment some time in November.