TESTIMONY OF RUDOLPH VON GERSDORFF (THROUGH THE
INTERPRETER ECKHARDT VON HAHN)
Mr. Flood. Wliat is your full name ?
General von Gersdorff. Rudolph Christof Friehardt von Gersdorff.
Mr. Flood. Were you ever identified with the German armed
General von Gersdorff. Yes, I was an officer on active service, a
Mr. Flood. What was the highest rank you reached in the armed
General von Gersdorff. Major General.
Mr. Flood. What was your rank and what was the nature of your
duty in 1941 on the so-called eastern or Russian front?
General von Gersdorff. From April 1941, to September 1943, I
was third general staff officer of the army group center which corresponds
to the position of G-2 in the United States Army.
Mr. Flood. By G-2, you mean intelligence?
General von Gersdorff. Yes, my main duties were to collect information
about the enemy. Besides, I was in charge of counterintelligence,
propaganda, and care of the troops.
Mr. Flood. You were, in other words, chief of intelligence of the
army group center ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes.
Mr. Flood. What was your rank?
General von Gersdorff. At first, I was a major and was then promoted
to the rank of colonel subsequently.
Mr. Flood. Then you were the Colonel von Gersdorff who has been
referred to in the Smolensk area as cliief of intelligence between July
and December of 11)41 ?
General von Gersdorff. It couldn't possibly be anyone else but
me, but, at that time, I was merely a major on the aeneral staif.
Mr. Flood. And you were the Colonel von Gersdorff referred to in
1943 as being chief of intelligence in the Smolensk area?"
General von Gersdorff. Yes, that is correct.
Mr. Flood. When did you move into the Smolensk army group
General von Gersdorff. I moved into the Smolensk area with the
staff' of the central army group in the first days of September 1941,
but, on a previous occasion, I had already visited this area once.
Mr. Flood. When, and why ?
General von Gersdorff. I do not exactly recollect tlie date, but
it must have been late in July or early in August of the same year,
and it was my practice to enter an area which had just been conquered
as quickly as possible, being chief of intelligence, so as to have an opportunity
of interrogating important Kussian prisoners that had
been brought in.
Mr. Flood. How many days were you in the Smolensk area on that
visit after the combat troops moved forward?
General von Gersdorff. I do not recollect the exact number of days,
but it was only a few days after the combat troops had gone forward.
Mr. P'lood. As chief of intelligence and one of your duties being,
as you described, tlie interrogation of combat troops taken in that area,
on that visit to the Smolensk area did you interrogate any Polish
prisoners of any category?
General von Gersdorjt. During the whole Kussian campaign, I
never saw or interrogated a Polish prisoner.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever see any dead ones ?
General von Gersdorff. After the dead bodies of the Polish officers
in Katyn Forest had been exhumed, I saw Polish dead for the first
Mr. Flood. That's the only time you saw any live Polish officers,
soldiers, or enlisted personnel, between July 1942, and the time the
bodies were exhumed at Katyn in April 1943?
General von Gersdorff. Yes; they were the first and only Poles,
dead ones in this case, that I ever saw during the period mentioned.
Mr. Flood. During that period, did you ever hear from any of your
widespread sources of intelligence in the Smolensk area that there
were Polish prisoners, officers or enlisted personnel, hiding in the
woods or hiding in the Russian villages?
General von Gersdorff. No, never.
Mr. Flood. During the same period of time did you ever, as chief
of intelligence, direct any of your personnel to conduct regular roundups
and searches for Polish prisoners in the area?
General von Gersdorff. No.
Mr. Flood. Would anybody else have been able to issue such orders
and conduct such intelligence operations without your knowledge or
General von Gersdorff. The only possibility would have been that
the so-called Einsatzoruppen of the SD who were not under the jurisdiction
of the Central Army Group could liave performed such duties,
but, in view of the fact that the then chief of the police units was an
officer by the name of Nebe who, already since 1938, secretly belonged
to the resistance movement, I am certain that he would never have
engaged in any such action without previously having contacted me
Mr. Flood. Wliat resistance movement ?
General von Gersdorff. The German resistance movement against
Adolf Hitler and against National Socialism.
Mr. Flood. Were you a member of the movement ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I was.
Mr. Flod. You mentioned something about the Einsatzgruppen.
Were there Einsatzgi-uppen or Einsatzkommandos in the area of
Smolensk when you moved in ?
General von Gersdorff. In every area of an army group there were
certain units of the so-called Einsatzgruppen which were under the
direct order of higher SS and police chiefs. This high-ranking SS
or police officer was under the direct command of Heinrich Himmler.
His only instructions consisted in making contact with the staff of
the army group. The army group, however, had the possibility of
demanding that such Einsatzgruppen should be withdrawn in the
case of these Einsatzgruppen hampering the strategical and tactical
movements of the combat trops. We made very wide use of this opportunity
of getting rid of these Einsatzgi-uppen and, particularly
within the area of the Four Army under Field Marshal von Kluge,
these Einsatzgruppen were practically always far in the rear. Nebe
always supported this action of ours. On the other hand, of course,
he had to see that his Einsatzgruppen were also commissioned with
some tasks so as not to make too bad an impression upon his higher
Mr. Flood. Did your outfit get rid of the Einsatzgruppen in your
area at the time we are speaking about ?
General von Gersdorff. I do not quite clearly recollect whether at
that time the Einsatzgruppen which was attached to the Fourth Army
was in action or not. I believe that at the time when the Fourth Army
took Smolensk, this Einsatzgruppen was not actually fighting in the
front line but I have no clear recollection of that.
Mr. Flood. Even if they were, in view of the nature of the commanding
officer and his liaison with the Wehrmacht, would it have
been possible for Himmler to have ordered the commander of that
Einsatzgruppe to have committed a murder at Katyn of 4,000 troops
without your knowing about it ?
General von GeRSDORfF. This is utterly impossible, particularly in
the spot where the murders actually took place and where the graves
were subsequently found in view of the fact that this spot is located
so near the highway leading from Vitebsk to Smolensk that it would
have been absolutely impossible to kill 4,000 people without lots of
people passing along the highway noticing it.
Mr. Flood. It would have been impossible for an order coming from
the supreme command to the army group having to do with the killing
of Polish prisoners, particularly officers, without you, as chief of intelligence,
having heard about it, isn't that so?
General von Gersdortf. No ; because such an order would have been
transmitted to my command immediately and I would have known
about it immediately, too.
Mr. Flood. Was any such order transmitted to your command or
from a supreme command to an army group during the period of
service you had in the Katyn-Smolensk area ?
General von Gersdorff. No, never.
Mr. Flood. You heard General Oberhaeuser testify this morning,
did you not?
General von Gersdokff. Yes, I did.
Mr. Flood. And you heard Colonel Ahrens testify this afternoon,
did you not ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I did.
Mr. Flood. Now, directing your attention to that part of the testimony
of those two officers having to do with the description of the
Dnieper Castle and the area surrounding the castle, do you wish to
add anything, any details, to what they said in that description?
General von Gersdorff. I fully agree with the statements of General
Oberhaeuser and Colonel Alirens about the Dnieper Castle, but I
would like to add the following : In the vicinity of Gniezdowo, there
were prehistoric Russian cairns, old prehistoric tombs in caves. They
were overgrown with shrubs and heavily so. They were actually in
that area, so that was the reason why, when the graves of the Polish
officers were discovered, we did not call it the murders of Gniezdowo,
but to distinguish it from these old prehistoric tombs of Gniezdowo,
we called it the murders of Katyn, so as not to get these two things
Mr. Flood. Then these graves were actually closer to Gniezdowo
than they were to the village of Katyn ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; that is correct.
Mr. Flood. Who finally conferred the title of the Katyn Massacre
on this thing ? Did you do that ?
General von Gersdorff. This was done by my unit with the chief
of our staff agreeing to it.
Mr. Flood. How did you first hear the story of Katyn ?
General von Gersdorff. My units contained a small command of
military field police of about 8 to 10 men. In charge of this small
police unit was the Field Police Secretary Voss. The duty of this field
police unit consisted of security measures so as to guard security of the
field marshal and of the staff headquarters. Therefore, I had instructed
Voss to watch carefully over the surroundings of these staff
headquarters so as to make sure that no strangers, that is, people who
did not belong there, should enter the area.
Mr. Flood. Who was Voss?
General von Gersdorff. Voss was in charge of the small unit of
military field police. He was a so-called military field police secretary,
and his duties corresponded to the rank of lieutenant. Owing to
his duties, Voss was in close contact with the population of the surroundings
of our staff headquarters. One day Voss came to me and
made the following report.
Mr. Flood. Just a moment.
General von Gersdorff. I do not recollect the exact date, but it
must have been in February 1943.
Mr. Flood. All right, go ahead.
General von Gersdorff. Voss reported to me that Polish auxiliary
volunteers who belonged to several infantry divisions which were
marching up to the front line and who had taken up temporary quarters
in Gniezdowo and the surroundings, had made inquiries on behalf
of Poles in Poland for possible Polish prisoners in that area.
Mr. Flood. Will you mark this picture as exhibit 5 ?
(The document referred to was marked as "Frankfurt, Exhibit No.
5," and is as follows:)
Military Field Police Secretary Voss (center) talking to two other German officers.
Mr. Flood. I now show you exhibit 5 and ask you whether or not
you can identify the German officers on that picture ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes.
The one in the center is Military Field Police Secretary Voss.
The one on the left is a lieutenant whom I recognize, but I do not
recollect his name. The one on the right resembles Professor Buhtz.
Mr. Flood. Did you ever hear of a Lieutenant Slovenczik ?
General von Gersdorff. I recognize the name now and I presume
that he is the third man on this photograph which was just shown
me. He belonged to a propaganda unit which was under the command
of General Schenkendorf, commanding officer of the rear area.
Mr. Flood. Who was the immediate superior commander of Slovenczik
General von Gersdorff. Major Kotts, the commanding officer of this
Mr. Flood. Will you examine exhibit 5 again, in view of this conversation,
and direct your attention to the officer you have not yet
identified, and tell us whether or not that could be Slovenczik?
General von Gersdorff. I believe that Slovenczik is the officer on
the left side of the pliotograph.
Mr. P'lood. Very well. What did Voss have to say to you?
General von Gersdorff. Voss reported to me that Russian inhabitants
of Gniezdowo had told the previously mentioned Polish auxiliary
volunteers that in spring, 1940, large transports of Polish
prisoners had arrived by full train-loads at Gniezdowo station.
They clearly recognized them as Poles from their uniforms and also
heard them speaking Polish to each other. Then, these Poles were
taken away in large black prison vans from tlie station and they
were taken to this forest which was located approximately 1 kilometer
from the station and disapj^eared. The forest and the socalled
Dnieper Castle were at that time cordoned off by guards and
nobody could approach there.
Mr. Flood. I show you exhibit 3 and ask you if you can identify it.
General von Gersdorff. The picture shows the so-called Dnieper
Castle where I was a visitor of Colonel Ahrens on two occasions. It
was located only a few hundred meters away from the graves.
Mr. Flood. I show you exhibit 4 and ask you if you can identify
General von Gersdorff. Yes; I clearly recognize this picture.
It shows the crossing point of the railroad line at Gniezdowo station
with the highway leading from Vitebsk to Smolensk. The road
at that spot has an S-shaped bend.
Mr. Flood. We'll offer exhibit 4.
After you cordoned off Dnieper Castle, after you had this information
from Voss, whom did you report to, if anybody ?
General von Gersdorff. I passed on this report to the 1-A; that
is, tlie first general staff officer, and also to the chief of staff, and
was instructed to investigate this matter further.
Mr. Flood. What is the opposite number of the German 1-A on
the table of organization?
General von Gersdorff. I believe, G-3.
Mr. Flood. Go ahead.
General von Gersdorff. I thereupon instructed Voss to interrogate
these Russian inhabitants of Gniezdowo under oath. The interrogations
confirmed everything we had heard about these Polish prisoners.
Mr. Flood. Did you talk to any Russian peasants yourself?
General von Gersdorff. No; I did not talk to any because I do
not know Russian, but, later on, I did speak to some of the Russian
Avorkers, with the help of an interpreter wlio were engaged upon the
Afr. Flood. Wliat did you talk to tliem about?
(joneral von Gersdorff. I merely rei)oated the questions that they
had already been asked during the first interrcrgatious and, in addition,
asked them whether they could give me more interesting details
in the matter.
Mr. Flood. What instructions did you get from your superiors, if
any, Avith reference to the exhumations of these bodies?
General von Gersdorff. As it became clear from tlie interrogation
of these Russian civilians that something had happened there, orders
came from above, from higher quarters, to investigate this matter
thoroughly and to dig in the forest. At that time, v^e had no idea yet
that it was matter of such a dreadfully large number of dead bodies.
Professor Buhtz of Breslau University was put in charge of the exhumations.
He belonged to the chief quartermaster's division and
had to investigate any infringements of the Hague Convention.
Mr. Flood. Was he attached to the headquarters at Smolensk ^
General vox Gersdorff. The division of the chief qua^rtermaster
was located or billeted in the city of Smolensk proper,
Mr. Flood. Then I gather you were in charge in the Katyn Forest
area of the exhumations in a general way ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; that is correct.
]Mr. Flood. Whom did you designate in charge of security or in
charge of the guard you told us about around the graves—that area?
General von Gersdorff. In the beginning, the previously mentioned
military field police unit took up the security duty. Afterwards, a
company of Polish volunteers took up guard duty and mounted guard
near the graves.
Mr. Flood. Do you remember the name of the German officer you
designated in charge?
General von Gersdorff. No ; I do not recollect the name.
Mr. Flood. When did the exhumations, the diggings, start, if you
General von Gersdorff. As far as I recollect, in March 1943.
Mr. Flood. Do you recall the Polish Red Cross being connected
in any way with the exhumations?
General von Gersdorff. The Polish Red Cross was advised at once
and requested to send delegates to Katyn who would supervise and
arrange the exhumations. In addition, the International Red Cross in
Geneva was also advised, but I presume this was done via the Foreign
Office in Berlin.
Mr. Flood. When did tlie exhumations stop ?
General von Gersdorff. The exliumations stopped in June or July
at the height of the summer, and this was done on the advice of military
physicians which we had there, who feared that the terrible stench of
the dead bodies would have some noxioup effects on the health of the
men engaged in the task.
Mr. Flood. Did you visit the graves during the course of the exhumations
between—when did you say they started?
General von Gersdorff. In March.
Mr. Flood. In March. And in the summer, when they were finished,
did you visit the area?
General von Gersdorff. I visited the graves three or four times, possibly
Mr. Flood. Were visiting delegations received in the area during
the course of the exhumations?
General von Gersdorff. The Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin had
very many, or a large number of commissions come to the graves to
see them. I welcomed a delegation of journalists to the graves, and
also a delegation of experts of judicial medicine. This latter commission
consisted of members from all the countries which could be reached
from Germany at that time. Furthermore, commissions of American,
British, French, and Polish prisoners of war also came to see the
graves. I also saw the Archdeacon of Krakow, Dr. Yazinski.
Mr. Flood. Any other delegations of any kind ?
General von Gersdortf, There was also a great number of German
delegations, many of them from troop units, but also delegations that
came directly from Germany.
Mr. Flood. Were any prisoner of war visitors received at the Katyn
grave during the exhumation ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes, in the first place, Polish officers, but
they were also British and French officers, and, as far as I recollect,
also several American officers.
Mr. Flood. Would you say that during the 4 months during which
the exhumations were going on there were hundreds or thousands of
visitors of all kinds received in the area ?
General von Gersdorff. I would say, rather, thousands.
Mr. Flood. Did you see the bodies yourself during the exhumation?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I did.
Mr. Flood. Will you describe for us, briefly, what you saw as the
bodies were exhumed?
General von Gersdorff. In the first place, the mass grave was
opened, which was approximately 10 meters long and 20 meters wide,
and very deep. In this grave the dead bodies of the Polish officers were
stacked in 12 layers on top of each other. Then later on a second grave
was opened, which was not quite as large as the first one, but in that
grave all the dead bodias were fettered. They had their hands tied
up. It may be assumed that in that case these Polish prisoners had
perhaps tried to resist at the very last moment.
Mr. Flood. Did you see bodies with their hands tied behind their
General von Gersdorff. Yes, I did.
Mr. Flood. What were they tied with ?
General von Gersdorff. As far as I recollect, it was either wire or
cord, but they were tied up, fettered, in a typically Russian manner.
Mr. Flood. Could it have been wire in some cases and cord in others?
General von Gersdorff. That I do not recollect any more.
Mr. Flood. Will you demonstrate on the interpreter the manner in
which those hands and arms were tied behind their backs, the backs
of the corpses ?
General von Gersdorff. Not exactly, but approximately.
Mr. Flood. Well, stand up and do the best you can, as you best
[The witness indicated.]
Mr. Flood. The witness demonstrates on the interpreter the crossing
of the left arm and the right arm at the wrists at about the small
of the black.
And they were tied in that manner ; is that it ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes.
Mr. Flood. In what way were they tied, as you best recollect ? Will
you point out?
General von Gersdorff. I do not remember the details. Many of
the dead bodies had sacks or tunics pulled over their heads, and these
sacks or tunics were tied fast around the waist.
Mr. Flood. You saw that yourself ?
General von Gersdortf. Yes ; I did.
Mr. Flood. Did you observe any of the corpses with sawdust in,
General von Gersdortf. Yes. I remember now that Professor
Buhtz established this fact in one or a few cases.
Mr. Flood. Did you see the International Commission conducting
post mortems or autopsies there at the grave ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes. I welcomed them personally and
also spoke to them.
Mr. Flood. Did you see post mortems or autopsies being performed
upon the bodies of several hundred of these dead officers by German
commissions by Dr. Buhtz and two other Germans ?
General von Gersdorff. On that occasion I was not present personally,
but I saw myself foreign physicians carrying out autopsies.
Mr. Flood. Now, the committee has a great deal of detailed evidence,
scientific and from observation of scientists and laymen who
visited the graves at Katyn, having to do with the depth of the graves,
the surroundings, when the graves were opened, and the detailed
conditions of the decomposed state of the corpses and the conditions
of the uniforms, but we would like you to add, because of your important
position in the area, your comments briefly on the condition of
the corpses and uniforms or documents found there, if any.
General von Gersdorff. The dead bodies were still being held
together by the uniforms, but the state of decay was already veiy
far advanced, although the soil in which the bodies were buried was
very sandy. All the corpses had at least one or two bullet holes where
the bullets had left the skull, which were either in the forehead or
near the eyes.
Mr. Flood. Will you demonstrate again on the interpreter the
point of entry and the point of exit of the bullet ?
(The witness indicated.)
Mr. Flood. The witness indicates with his finger on the interpreter
the point of entry as being at about the base of the skull and the.
neck line, and the point of exit as being in the forehead between the
hairline and the eyebrow.
General von Gersdorff. Almost every dead body had an amulet,
or these little crosses—what do you call them ?
Mr. Mitchell. Crosses?
Mr. Flood. Scapular or crucifix.
General von Gersdorff. Scapular ; yes. It was under their underwear,
on their chests. Otherwise no real valuables were found on
Mr. Flood. I suppose you are aware that many Poles are Roman
General von Gersdorff. I would assume that practically all of them
were Roman Catholic.
Mr. Flood. And one of the practices of Roman Catholics is the
wearing of a scapular or crucifix around the neck?
General von Gersdorff. Yes. These crucifixes and other items had
not been removed from the dead bodies, probably, because they had
been wearing them under their shirts.
Mr. Flood. And would only be of little A'alue to whoever renioNed
General von Gersdorff. I beg your pardon?
Mr. Flood. And probably would be of little value to whoever was
removing things from the bodies at the time?
General von Gersdorff. Only in the case of the dead bodies of two
generals, evidently one gold cigarette case and a golden ring were
found. On the other hand, a large number of documents were found
on all the other bodies. These documents consisted of diaries, notebooks,
and letters from their next of kin or friends. In addition to
that, there were also many photographs. They also had large amounts
of paper bank notes, Polish zloty, which at that time had been taken
out of circulation.
Mr. Flood. I am sure the general is aware that the date of the
burial of these bodies is so material as to be, perhaps, controlling in
determining the guilt of the parties responsible for the murder.
General aon Gersdorff. Yes; that is quite clear to me.
Mr. Flood. In view of that situation, or that possibility. General,
do you have any observations to make with reference to the latest
date found on any documents on these bodies that you are now
General von Gersdoref. I saw very many of these documents myself—
that is, the originals. The most interesting items w^ere diaries
which had been written in great detail. I remember a diary of one
Polish officer who related the events as follows : He relates, at first,
how' they were being kept in a Russian POW camp located at Kozielsk.
He further relates how, in March 1940, they were taken away in railroad
When they left they had not the slightest idea as to where thev vrere
going. How^ever, hopes were rising high when they ascertained that
they were traveling in a westward direction. They could also establish
that they were passing through the town of Roslavl, and that
they continued in the direction of Smolensk. They w^rote down in
their diaries that they were now hoping to be returning to their Polish
homeland. Then there were further entries that their transport trains
had certainly stopped at a small station outside Smolensk. Evidently
this was the station of Gniezdowo.
Mr. Flood. General, do you remember the name of the first station
after you leave Smolensk in that direction? What is the name of the
first station after you leave Smolensk?
General von Gersdorff. I never used the railroad in those days.
I believe that the first station was Gniezdowo, but I am not certain
Mr. Flood. Now I i-eturn to my question and I ask you again. General,
with ])articular reference to the dates on tlie documents, papers,
and so on, what was the latest date that you observed on any of these
papers or documents?
General von Gersdorff. All the entries in the diaries ceased at the
end of March or, at the latest, the beginning of April 1940. Likewise,
the verv numerous letters and postcards w'hich were found on
the dead bodies, and which came from their relatives and friends in
Polnnd, M-ere all dated from November- December 1!).')0 and January
Mr. Flood. What was done with the documents by the Germans
after they took them from the bodies?
General von Gersdorff. The documents had first to be treated chemically,
because they were partl}^ soaked in •
Mr. Flood (interposino). Body fluid?
General von Gersdorff. Body fluid, yes. They were then exhibited
in glass cases on the porch of the building where this military
field police unit was billeted.
Mr. Flood. "Were records kept of the documents with reference to
each body, if you know ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes. Every dead body was identified, and
it was entered what had been found on the body.
Mr. Flood. Did each body have a number ?
General von Gersdorff. As far as I can remember ; yes.
Mr. Flood, Did the envelope containing the documents taken from
that body have a number corresponding to the number of the body
from which they were taken ?
General von Gersdorff. I presume that that was so, but I have no
knowledge of these details. I would think, however, that Mr. Pfeiffer
would be able to say more about these details.
Mr. Flood. Who is Pfeiffer?
General von Gersdorff. He was a member of the military police
unit of Voss.
Mr. Flood. What did the Germans do with all the documents they
had collected in the late summer of 1943 after they had closed up the
General von Gersdorff. As far as I remember, all these items, documents,
and other things were packed into chests and put on the way to
Germany, but I do not know much about that.
Mr. Flood. Do you know a Dr. Naville, a distinguished Swiss pathologist
and an authority on forensic medicine?
General von Gersdorff. Yes : I met Dr. Naville right at the graves
in Katyn, and also sat next to him at a dinner party which was given
for these international groups by the Center Army group.
Mr. Flood. Did you have a conversation with Dr. Naville ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I had long discussions with him.
Mr. Flood. What language did you talk in?
General von Gersdorff. We spoke German and French.
Mr. Flood. What was the gist of the subject of the conversation?
General von Gersdorff. At that time I had the impression that Dr.
Naville was absolutely convinced that only the Russians could have
committed this crime.
Mr. Flood. Do you know or remember the date of the dinner given
by the Germans to the visiting Commission?
General von Gersdorff. I do not recollect the date of the dinner,
but I remember that it was on an extremely hot day.
Mr. Flood. Do you know a Professor Markhov, the Bulgarian member
of the Commission?
General von Gersdorff. I remember Dr. Markhov, and I also remember
that he was the Bulgarian member of this Commission.
Mr. FlooD. Was he at Dnieper?
General von Gersdorff. Yes; he was.
Mr. Flood. Did vou have a conversation with him ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I also had a conversation with him.
INIr. Flood. In what lano;nao;e?
General vox Gersdorff. There were very many representatives of
Slav nations and I do not quite recollect, but I believe that Dr. Markhov
knew some German or French.
]VIr. Flood. What did Markhov have to say, if anything?
General von Gersdorff. I do not recollect the details of our conversation,
but I recollect this much, that Dr. Markhov, too, was firmly
convinced that the Russians were responsible for this crime.
Mr. Flood. You will be interested to know that on the 5th of March,
in Sofia, Professor Markhov outlined his experiences as a member of
the German International Medical Commission. He says that he had
been forcibly included in the Commission, that he had been completely
isolated from the local population while at Katyn; he recants any
statement he made, and says the Germans did the killing. "What do
you have to say about that ?
General von Gersdorff. How far single members of the Commission
had come of their own free will or otherwise I am not in a position
to say, but I could hardly imagine that the Swiss representative would
have come against his will. In Smolensk itself, from the moment of
the arrival of the Commission, I can confirm that the gentlemen of
this Commission had any liberty they could wish for to move and do
what they liked. They were permitted to talk to anyone, Russian or
no Russian, that they wanted to talk to. They could go wherever they
wanted to go, and they could engage in any activity that they felt like
Mr. Flood. Did you receive or give any orders which would in any
way have curtailed the activity of the International Commission of
Scientists at Katyn, or any of its individual members?
General von Gersdorff. No. On the contrary, I issued special
orders that the free movement and liberty of these gentlemen should
be safeguarded at all costs and that they should be given the opportunity
of going where they wanted to go and doing what they wanted
to do without any hindrance, and that they should even be assisted.
As an example, I recollect that some of these international delegates
left the graves and drove back to Smolensk earlier than others. They
were probably tired or something, and went back earlier, while others
still remained longer at the graves and carried on their investigations.
Mr. Flood. Professor Markhov, separate and distinct from any
writing that he made or any protocol that he may have signed about
the investigation in addition, at the dinner party, told you, in a social
conversation, that he felt that the crime at Katyn had been committed
by the Russians, is that it?
General von Gersdorff. As far as I recollect, Dr. Markhov was sitting
at my left side during the dinner, and we did actually discuss this
matter, and Dr. Markhov confirmed to me that in his opinion the Russians
had committed the crime.
Mr. Flood. I now hand to the stenographer, to be marked as "Exhibits
7, 8, 9, and 10, four photographs.
(Due to incorrect numbering, there is no exhibit 6.)
(The photographs referred to above were marked "Frankfurt Exhibits
7, 8, 9, and 10, and are shown on pp. 1315-1317.)
Mr. Flood. I now show the witness exhibit No. 7 and ask him
whether or not he can identify any of the three persons shown thereon
examining one of the corpses, two in military uniform, and the third
person in civilian clothes.
First, who is the civilian, if you know ?
General von Gersdorff. I clearly recollect the civilian. That was
a Hungarian, Professor Orsos, who was a member of the International
Mr. Flood. How do you spell Orsos ?
General von Gersdorff. 0-r-s-o-s. As far as I remember, the manin
uniform is the Finnish delegate. The third man in uniform
appears to be a medical corps soldier who is just busy typing out the
report which Professor Orsos, who knew German very well, was
Mr. Flood. We will offer exhibit No. 7 in evidence.
(Exhibit 7 is as follows : )
Professor Orsos of Hungary examining corpse on German exhumation.
Mr. Flood. I now show you exhibit No. 8, which depicts a group
of two or three dozen civilians talking to a German officer in uniform.
Who was the officer, if you know, and can you identify the nature of
the group of civilians ?
General von Gersdorff. The officer is the lieutenant of this propaganda
unit, with a Polish name, and the civilians of the picture, as
far as I remember, are members of a delegation of journalists from
neutral and other countries.
Mr. Flood. We will offer exhibit No. 8 in evidence.
(Elxhibit 8 is as follows: )
German officer discussing Katyn with delegation of journalists.
I now show the witness exhibit No. 9 and ask him if he can identify
the military uniforms present, what countries they represent, and
the civilian, if he can.
(Exhibit 9 is as follows : )
American and Brltish prisoners of war talking to a Russian native.
(leneral von Gersdorff. The officers are American and British
prisoners of war. The officer in the center is a British major, who
liad declared himself to be the leader of his delegation, or the chief
of the delegation. When he arrived he told us that he alone would
comment on the whole matter, and that the other officers present
did not wish to make any comments. The civilian is a Russian
worker, an inhabitant of Gniezdowo, who was working on the exhumations,
and, as far as I recollect, also made statements about the murder
having happened, and upon his statements investigations were started
and the graves were discovered.
Mr. Flood. Do you know or recall. General, whether or not the
visiting American and British officer POW's were permitted to talk
to those Russians without German interference ?
General von Gorsdorff. This would have been quite possible, they
could have talked to the Russian civilians because these officers were
absolutely free, there were not even guards with them. But, in any
case, such a conversation with the Russian civilians would have
depended upon the presence of an interpreter, in view of the fact
that the officers did not know Russian.
Mr. Flood. General, you may be interested to know that the two
American officers, now colonels, have already testified before this committee
and have said they were permitted to talk to the Russians
present without interference from the Germans.
I now show the witness exhibit No. 10 and ask him whether or not
he can identify the persons on that picture.
(Exhibit No. 10 is as follows: )
Exhibit No. 10
Russian worker with Polisli Red Cross Director Skarzynskl and others.
General von Gersdorff. I recognize, on this picture, the Polish
Archdeacon Yazinski in his ecclesiastical garb; and the tall civilian
J do not remember. In the foregi^ound there is one of the Russian
workers, and at the far right of the picture the head of Voss is visible.
Mr. Flood. General, do you recall a visit by the executive secretary
or director of the Polish Red Cross from Warsaw named Skarzynski?
General von Gersdorff. No; I do not recollect this visit, because
I was away very often on inspection and had to go around a lot.
Chairman Madden. Do you have any questions, Mr. Dondero?
Mr. Dondero. I have one question.
General, you testified that you noticed that the bodies in one of the
graves had their hands tied behind them, either with wire or with cord.
Was that cord round or flat ?
General von Gersdorff. I do not quite recollect that, but I believe
that they were flat.
Mr. Dondero. You might be interested to know that the record
already shows that a part of that cord has been presented to this
committee and received in evidence. It was flat.
Chairman Madden. Are there any further questions?
General, you read the Russian report, did you not, regarding the
Russian investigation ?
General von Gersdorff. I did not read this report very carefully
1 just went through it quickly. But I know more or less what it
Chairman Madden. Were you present in the room this afternoon
when several members of the committee asked the preceding witnesses
regarding certain phases of the Russian report ?
General von Gersdorff. Yes ; I was present.
Chairman Madden. What comment would you have to make regarding
some of the conclusions reached in the Russian report?
General von Gersdorff. It appears to me quite impossible that, as
from the date of the German occupation of that territory or of that
area, a crime of such magnitude could have been committed in the
immediate vicinity of the main supply road of the army group, and
likewise, in the immediate vicinity of the army group proper. This
highway carried an extremely heavy supply traffic day and night.
And even in the case of SS troops or some other unit carrying out
such an action, it would at all events have come to our knowledge.
Apart from the previously stated facts, the documents recovered
from the bodies, the expert advice given by physicians is so convincing
that there. should not be any doubt as to who committed