Re: The Katyn testimony of Friedrich Ahrens
David Thompson wrote:
On 1 Jul 1946, Friedrich Ahrens testified at the IMT proceedings in regard to Soviet allegations that the Germans had committed the massacre of Polish POWs at Katyn Forest. His testimony can be found in volume 17 of the IMT proceedings, available on-line at the Avalon Project of the Yale University School of Law, at:
This is part 1 of 2:
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
Colonel Pokrovsky, the Tribunal would like to know whether you have arrived at any agreement with Dr. Stahmer on behalf of the Defendant Goering with reference to affidavit evidence or witnesses, with reference to the Katyn matter.
COLONEL Y. V. POKROVSKY (Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the U.S.S.R.): My Lord, we have had three conferences with the Defense Counsel. After the second meeting I told the Tribunal that, in order to shorten the proceedings, the Soviet Prosecution was willing to read into the record only a part of the evidence submitted. About 15 minutes ago I had a meeting with Dr. Exner and Dr. Stahmer, and they told me that their understanding of the Tribunal's ruling was that the old decision for the summoning of two witnesses was still in force and that only additional documents were now under discussion.
In view of this interpretation of the Tribunal's ruling, I do not think that we shall be able to come to an agreement with the Defense. As I see it, the decision in this matter must now rest in the hands of the Tribunal.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal orders that, unless an agreement is arrived at, the evidence shall not be given entirely by affidavits and that the three witnesses on either side shall be called first thing on Monday morning at 10 o'clock, unless you can arrive at an agreement before that, that the evidence is to be offered in affidavits.
DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, may I say something on this subject?
A number of counsel who are interested in the Katyn case had a conference this morning; among them were Professor Exner and Dr. Stahmer. We agreed to ask the Tribunal to allow two
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to be examined here in person by the Defense. These witnesses would be Colonel Ahrens and First Lieutenant Von Eichborn. We also agreed to dispense with the hearing of the third witness but decided to request that an affidavit of this witness, and in addition two other affidavits, be submitted. I believe this to be a suggestion which both satisfies us and saves the most time: Two witnesses would be heard and three affidavits submitted.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, the Tribunal sees no objection to there being two witnesses called and one affidavit. But their order was that three witnesses on either side-that the evidence should be limited to three witnesses on either side; and they, therefore, are not prepared to allow further affidavits to be given. The evidence must be confined to the evidence of three persons on either side. They may give their evidence either by oral evidence or by affidavit.
DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, as far as I was informed, the original decision stated that three witnesses were allowed but did not mention affidavits. That was the reason why Dr. Stahmer and Professor Exner assumed that, regardless of the witnesses, certain individual points could be proved by means of affidavits.
I think that the hearing of two witnesses and three affidavits would be quicker than the examination of three witnesses.
THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid Dr. Stahmer and Dr. Exner drew a wrong inference from the order of the Tribunal. The Tribunal intended and intends that the evidence should be limited to the evidence of three witnesses on either side, and whether they give their evidence orally or by affidavit does not matter. We left it to the Soviet Prosecution and to defendant's counsel to see whether they could agree that it should be given by affidavit in order to save time. But that was not intended to extend the number of witnesses who might give evidence.
DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, in that case, I should be grateful if Dr. Stahmer and Professor Exner would be heard. I myself have not been in Nuremberg recently; I was therefore not present when these details were discussed and it is difficult for me-I see that Dr. Stahmer is now-perhaps Dr. Stahmer himself could speak about it.
DR. STAHMER: I have just heard Dr. Siemers' report, at least a part of it. I mentioned already during the last discussion, Mr. President, that Professor Exner arid I had understood the decision to mean that besides the three witnesses we were also allowed to submit affidavits. Indeed, the original decision granted us five witnesses, though it made the reservation that only three of them could give evidence here in Court. We assumed, therefore, that we
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could submit affidavits of those witnesses out of the five who had been originally granted us but who would not give evidence in Court. The original decision granted us five witnesses, and then a later decision of the Tribunal...
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, that is not the recollection of the Tribunal; and if you say so, you must produce written evidence that that was the decision. The Tribunal's recollection is not that five witnesses were allowed.
DR. STAHMER: Yes, yes, yes. I shall submit written evidence of these decisions to the Tribunal. I cannot remember offhand when they were made, but originally five witnesses were granted; then I named another witness, who was also granted, and it was only afterwards that the decision to allow only three witnesses to give evidence in Court was announced.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, when the order was made limiting it to three out of five, there was no reference in that order to affidavits, as far as I know.
DR. STAHMER: No, affidavits were not mentioned then.
THE PRESIDENT: What I am telling you is that the Tribunal in making that order of limitation intended to limit the whole of the evidence to three witnesses on either side, because the matter is only a subsidiary allegation of fact; and the Tribunal thinks that at this stage of the proceedings such an allegation of fact ought not to be investigated by a great number of witnesses, and three witnesses are quite sufficient on either side.
Therefore the Tribunal does not desire to hear and did not intend that it should have to hear any evidence except the evidence of three witnesses, either orally or by affidavit.
The Tribunal will now adjourn.
[The Tribunal adjourned until Monday 1 July at 1000 hours.]
AND SIXTY-EIGHTH DAY
Monday, 1 July 1946
THE PRESIDENT: I have an announcement to make.
The Tribunal orders that any of the evidence taken on commission which the Defense Counsel or the Prosecution wish to use shall be offered in evidence by them. This evidence will then become a part of the record, subject to any objections.
Counsel for the organizations should begin to make up their document books as soon as possible and put in their requests for translations.
That is all.
DR. STAHMER: With reference to the events at Katyn, the Indictment contains only the remark: "In September 1941 11,000 Polish officers, prisoners of war, were killed in the Katyn woods near Smolensk." The Russian Prosecution only submitted the details at the session of 14 February 1946. Document USSR-54 was then submitted to the Tribunal. This document is an official report by the Extraordinary State Commission, which was officially authorized to investigate the Katyn case. This commission, after questioning the witnesses. . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal are aware of the document and they only want you to call your evidence; that is all.
DR. STAHMER: I wanted only to add, Mr. President, that according to this document, there are two accusations: One, that the period of the shooting of the Polish prisoners of war was the autumn of 1941; and the second assertion is, that the killing was carried out by some German military authority, camouflaged under the name of "Staff of Engineer Battalion 537."
THE PRESIDENT: That is all in the document, is it not? I have just told you we know the document. We only want you to call your evidence.
DR. STAHMER: Then, as my first witness for the Defense, I shall call Colonel Friedrich Ahrens to the witness stand.
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DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, I have a request to make before the evidence is heard in the Katyn case. The Tribunal decided that three witnesses should be heard, and it hinted that in the interests of equality, the Prosecution could also produce only three witnesses, either by means of direct examination or by means of an affidavit. In the interests of that same principle of equality, I should be grateful if the Soviet Delegation, in the same way as the Defense, would state the names of their witnesses before the hearing of the evidence. The Defense submitted the names of their witnesses weeks ago. Unfortunately, up to now, I note that in the interests of equality and with regard to the treatment of the Defense and the Prosecution, the Soviet Delegation has so far not given the names of the witnesses.
THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, were you going to give me the names of the witnesses?
GEN. RUDENKO: Yes, Mr. President. Today we notified the General Secretary of the Tribunal that the Soviet Prosecution intends to call three witnesses to the stand: Professor Prosorovsky, who is the Chief of the Medico-Legal Experts Commission; the Bulgarian subject, Professor of Legal Medicine at Sofia University Markov, who at the same time was a member of the so-called International Commission created by the Germans; and Professor Bazilevsky, who was the deputy mayor of Smolensk during the time of the German occupation.
[The witness Ahrens took the stand.]
THE PRESIDENT: Will you state your full name?
FRIEDRICH AHRENS (Witness): Friedrich Ahrens.
THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me: I swear by God-the Almighty and Omniscient-that I will speak the pure truth-and will withhold and add nothing.
[The witness repeated the oath.]
THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.
DR. STAHMER: Witness, did you, as a professional officer in the German Armed Forces, participate in the second World War?
AHRENS: Yes, of course; as a professional officer I participated in the second World War.
DR. STAHMER: What rank did you hold finally?
AHRENS: At the end as colonel.
DR. STAHMER: Were you stationed in the eastern theater of war?
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DR. STAHMER: In what capacity?
AHRENS: I was the commanding officer of a signal regiment of an army group.
DR. STAHMER: What were the tasks of your regiment?
AHRENS: The signal regiment of an army group had the task of setting up and maintaining communications between the army group and the neighboring units and subordinate units, as well as preparing the necessary lines of communication for new operations.
DR. STAHMER: Did your regiment have any special tasks apart from that?
AHRENS: No, with the exception of the duty of defending themselves, of taking all measures to hinder a sudden attack and of holding themselves in readiness to defend themselves with the forces at their disposal, so as to prevent the capture of the regimental battle headquarters.
This was particularly important for an army group signal regiment and its battle headquarters because we had to keep a lot of highly secret material in our staff.
DR. STAHMER: Your regiment was the Signal Regiment 537. Was there also an Engineer Battalion 537, the same number?
AHRENS: During the time when I was in the Army Group Center I heard of no unit with the same number, nor do I believe that there was such a unit.
DR. STAHMER: And to whom were you subordinated?
AHRENS: I was directly subordinated to the staff of the Army Group Center, and that was the case during the entire period when I was with the army group. My superior was General Oberhauser.
With regard to defense, the signal staff of the regiment with its first battalion, which was in close touch with the regimental staff, was at times subordinated to the commander of Smolensk; all orders which I received from that last-named command came via General Oberhauser, who either approved or refused to allow the regiment to be employed for a particular purpose.
In other words, I received my orders exclusively from General Oberhauser.
DR. STAHMER: Where was your stay accommodated?
AHRENS: I prepared a sketch of the position of the staff headquarters west of Smolensk.
DR. STAHMER: I am having the sketch shown to you. Please tell us whether that is your sketch.
AHRENS: That sketch was drawn by me from memory.
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DR. STAHMER: I am now going to have a second sketch shown to you. Will you please have a look at that one also, and will you tell me whether it presents a correct picture of the situation?
AHRENS: May I briefly explain this sketch to you? At the righthand margin, that large red spot is the town of Smolensk. West of Smolensk, and on either side of the road to Vitebsk, the staff of the army group was situated together with the Air Force corps, that is south of Krasnibor. On my sketch I have marked the actual area occupied by the Army Group Center.
That part of my sketch which has a dark line around it was very densely occupied by troops who came directly under the army group; there was hardly a house empty in that area.
The regimental staff of my regiment was in the so-called lithe Katyn wood. That is the white spot which is indicated on the sketch; it measures about 1 square kilometer of the large forest and is a part of the entire forest around Katyn. On the southern edge of this small wood there lay the so-called Dnieper Castle, which was the regimental staff headquarters.
Two and a half kilometers to the east of the staff headquarters of the regiment there was the first company of the regiment, which was the operating company, which did teleprinting and telephone work for the army group. About 3 kilometers west of the regimental staff headquarters there was the wireless company. There were no buildings within the radius of about 1 kilometer of the regimental staff headquarters.
This house was a large two-story building with about 14 to 15 rooms, several bath installations, a cinema, a rifle range, garages, Sauna (steam baths) and so on, and was most suitable for accommodating the regimental staff. Our regiment permanently retained this battle headquarters.
DR. STAHMER: Were there also any other high-ranking staff headquarters nearby?
AHRENS: As higher staff headquarters there was the army group, which I have already mentioned, then a corps staff from the Air Force, and several battalion staffs. Then there was the delegate of the railway for the army group, who was at Gnesdovo in a special train.
DR. STAHMER: It has been stated in this Trial that certain events which have taken place in your neighborhood had been most secret and most suspicious. Will you please, therefore, answer the following questions with particular care? How many Germans were there in the staff personnel, and what positions did they fill?
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AHRENS: I had 3 officers on my staff to begin with, and then 2, and approximately 18 to 20 noncommissioned officers and men; that is to say, as few as I could have in my regimental staff, and every man in the staff was fully occupied.
DR. STAHMER: Did you have Russian personnel in your staff?
AHRENS: Yes, we had four auxiliary volunteers and some female personnel living in the immediate vicinity of the regimental staff quarters. The auxiliary volunteers remained permanently with the regimental staff, whereas the female personnel changed from time to time. Some of these women also came from Smolensk and they lived in a separate building near the regimental staff.
DR. STAHMER: Did this Russian personnel receive special instructions from you about their conduct?
AHRENS: I issued general instructions on conduct for the regimental headquarters, which did not solely apply to the Russian personnel.
I have already mentioned the importance of secrecy with reference to this regimental headquarters, which not only kept the records of the position of the army group, but also that of its neighboring units, and on which the intentions of the army group were clearly recognizable. Therefore, it was my duty to keep this material particularly secret. Consequently, I had the rooms containing this material barred to ordinary access. Only those persons were admitted-generally officers-who had been passed by me, but also a few noncommissioned officers and other ranks who were put under special oath.
DR. STAHMER: To which rooms did this "no admission" order refer?
AHRENS: In the first place, it referred to the telephone expert's room, it also referred to my own room and partly, although to a smaller degree, to the adjutant's room. All remaining rooms in the house and on the site were not off limits.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, how is this evidence about the actual conditions in these staff headquarters relevant to this question?
DR. STAHMER: Mr. President, in the Russian document the allegation is contained that events of a particularly secret nature had taken place in this staff building and that a ban of silence had been imposed on the Russian personnel by
Colonel Ahrens, that the rooms had been locked, and that one was only permitted to enter the rooms when accompanied by guards. I have put the questions in this connection in order to clear up the case and to prove that these events have a perfectly natural explanation on account of the
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tasks entrusted to the regiment and which necessitated quite obviously, a certain amount of secrecy.
For that reason, I have put these questions. May I be permitted . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Very well.
DR. STAHMER: I have almost finished with these questions.
[Turning to the witness.] Was the Katyn wood cordoned off, and especially strictly guarded by soldiers?
Mr. President, may I remark with reference to this question that here also it had been alleged that this cordon had only been introduced by the regiment. Previously, there had been free access to the woods, and from this conclusions are drawn which are detrimental to the regiment.
AHRENS: In order to secure antiaircraft cover for the regimental staff headquarters, I stopped any timber from being cut for fuel in the immediate vicinity of the regimental staff headquarters. During this winter the situation was such that the units cut wood wherever they could get it.
On 22 January, there was a fairly heavy air attack on my position during which half a house was torn away. It was quite impossible to find any other accommodation because of the overcrowding of the area, and I therefore took additional precautions to make sure that this already fairly thin wood would be preserved so as to serve as cover. Since, on the other hand, I am against the putting up of prohibition signs, I asked the other troop units by way of verses to leave us our trees as antiaircraft cover. The wood was not closed off at all, particularly as the road had to be kept open for heavy traffic, and I only sent sentries now and then into the wood to see whether our trees were left intact.
DR. STAHMER: The Prosecution . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, at a time that is convenient to you, you will, of course, draw our attention to the necessary dates, the date at which this unit took over its headquarters and the date at which it left.
DR. STAHMER: Very well,
[Turning to the witness.] When did your unit, your regiment, move into this Dnieper Castle?
AHRENS: As far as I know, this house was taken over immediately after the combat troops had left that area in August 1941, and it was confiscated together with the other army group accommodations, and was occupied by advance parties. It was then permanently occupied by the regimental headquarters as long as I was there up to August 1945.
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DR. STAHMER: So, if I understand you correctly, it was first of all in August 1941 that an advance party took it over?
AHRENS: Yes, as far as I know.
DR. STAHMER: When did the staff actually arrive?
AHRENS: A few weeks later.
DR. STAHMER: Who was the regimental commander at that time?
AHRENS: My predecessor was Colonel Bedenck.
DR. STAHMER: When did you take over the regiment?
AHRENS: I joined the army group during the second half of November 1941, and after getting thoroughly acquainted with all details I took over the command of the regiment, at the end of November, if I remember rightly, on 30 November.
DR. STAHMER: Was there a proper handing over from Bedenck to you?
AHRENS: A very careful, detailed, and lengthy transfer took place, on account of the very considerable tasks entrusted to this regiment. Added to that, my superior, General Oberhauser, was an extraordinarily painstaking superior, and he took great pains to convince himself personally whether, by the transfer negotiations and the instructions which I had received, I was fully capable of taking over the responsibilities of the regiment.
DR. STAHMER: The Prosecution further alleges and claims that it was suspicious that shots were often fired in the forest. Is that true, and to what would you attribute that?
AHRENS: I have already mentioned that it was one of the main tasks of the regiment to take all the necessary measures to defend themselves against sudden attack. Considering the small number of men which I had in my regimental staff, I had to organize and take the necessary steps to enable me to obtain replacements in the shortest time possible. This was arranged through wireless communication with the regimental headquarters. I ordered that defensive maneuvers should be carried out and that defense works should be prepared around the regimental headquarters sector and that there should be maneuvers and exercises in these works together with the members of the regimental headquarters. I personally participated in these maneuvers at times and, of course, shots were fired, particularly since we were preparing ourselves for night fighting.
DR. STAHMER: There is supposed to have been a very lively and rather suspicious traffic to and around your staff building. Will you please tell us quite briefly what this traffic signified?
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AHRENS: There was an extraordinary lively traffic around staff headquarters which still increased in the spring of 1941 as I was having the house rebuilt. I think I mentioned that it had been destroyed through air attacks. But, of course, the traffic increased also through the maneuvers which were held nearby.
The battalions in the front area operating at 300 and 400 kilometers distance had to, and could perform their job only by maintaining personal contact with the regiment and its staff headquarters.
DR. STAHMER: There is supposed to have been considerable truck traffic which has been described as suspicious.
AHRENS: Besides our supplies, which were relatively small, the Kommandos, as I have just mentioned, were brought in by trucks; but so was, of course, all the building material which I required. Apart from that, the traffic was not unusually heavy.
DR. STAHMER: Do you know that about 25 kilometers west of Smolensk there were three Russian prisoner-of-war camps, which had originally been inhabited by Poles and which had been abandoned by the Russians when the German troops approached in July 1941? ~ -
AHRENS: At that time I had not yet arrived. But never during the entire period I served in Russia did I see a single Pole; nor did I hear of Poles.
DR. STAHMER: It has been alleged that an order had been issued from Berlin according to which Polish prisoners of war were to be shot. Did you know of such an order?
AHRENS: No. I have never heard of such an order.
DR. STAHMER: Did you possibly receive such an order from any other office?
AHRENS: I told you already that I never heard of such an order and I therefore did not receive it, either.
DR. STAHMER: Were any Poles shot on your instructions, your direct instructions?
AHRENS: No Poles were shot on my instructions. Nobody at all was ever shot upon my order. I have never given such an order in all my life.
DR. STAHMER: Well, you did not arrive until November 1941. Have you heard anything about your predecessor' Colonel Bedenck, having given any similar orders?
AHRENS: I have not heard anything about it. With my regimental staff, with whom I lived closely together for 21 months, I had such close connections, I knew my people so well, and they also
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knew me, that I am perfectly convinced that this deed was not perpetrated by my predecessor nor by any member of my former regiment. I would undoubtedly have heard rumors of it at the very least.
THE PRESIDENT: This is argument, you know, Dr. Stahmer. This is not evidence; it is argument. He is telling you what he thinks might have been the case.
DR. STAHMER: I asked whether he had heard of it from members of his regiment.
THE PRESIDENT: The answer to that would be "no," I suppose, that he had not heard-not that he was convinced that he had not done it.
DR. STAHMER: Very well.
[Turning to the witness.] After your arrival at Katyn, did you notice that there was a grave mound in the woods at Katyn?
AHRENS: Shortly after I arrived-the ground was covered by snow-one of my soldiers pointed out to me that at a certain spot there was some sort of a mound, which one could hardly describe as such, on which there was a birch cross. I have seen that birch cross. In the course of 1942 my soldiers kept telling me that here in our woods shootings were supposed to have taken place, but at first I did not pay any attention to it. However, in the summer of 1942 this topic was referred to in an order of the army group later commanded by General Von Harsdorff. He told me that he had also heard about it.
DR. STAHMER: Did these stories prove true later on?
AHRENS: Yes, they did turn out to be true and I was able to confirm, quite by accident, that there was actually a grave here. During the winter of 1943-I think either January or February- quite accidentally I saw a wolf in this wood and at first I did not believe that it was a wolf; when I followed the tracks with an expert, we saw that there were traces of scratchings on the mound with the cross. I had investigations made as to what kind of bones these were. The doctors told me "human bones." Thereupon I informed the officer responsible for war graves in the area of this fact, because I believed that it was a soldier's grave, as there were a number of such graves in our immediate vicinity.
DR. STAHMER: Then, how did the exhumation take place?
AHRENS: I do not know about all the details. Professor Dr. Butz arrived one day on orders from the army group, and informed me that following the rumors in my little wood, he had to make exhumations, and that he had to inform me that these exhumations would take place in my wood.
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DR. STAHMER: Did Professor Butz later give you details of the result of his exhumations?
AHRENS: Yes, he did occasionally give me details and I remember that he told me that he had conclusive evidence regarding the date of the shootings. Among other things, he showed me letters, of which I cannot remember much now; but I do remember some sort of a diary which he passed over to me in which there were dates followed by some notes which I could not read because they were written in Polish. In this connection he explained to me that these notes had been made by a Polish officer regarding events of the past months, and that at the end-the diary ended with the spring of 1940 - the fear was expressed in these notes that something horrible was going to happen. I am giving only a broad outline of the meaning.
DR. STAHMER: Did he give you any further indication regarding the period he assumed the shooting had taken place?
AHRENS: Professor Butz, on the basis of the proofs which he had found, was convinced that the shootings had taken place in the spring of 1940 and I often heard him express these convictions in my presence, and also later on, when commissions visited the grave and I had to place my house at the disposal of these commissions to accommodate them. I personally did not have anything to do whatsoever with the exhumations or with the commissions. All I had to do was to place the house at their disposal and act as host.
DR. STAHMER: It was alleged that in March 1943 lorries had transported bodies to Katyn from outside and these bodies were buried in the little wood. Do you know anything about that?
AHRENS: No, I know nothing about that.
DR. STAHMER: Would you have had to take notice of it?
AHRENS: I would have had to take notice of it-at least my officers would have reported it to me, because my officers were constantly at the regimental battle headquarters, whereas I, as a regimental commander, was of course, frequently on the way. The officer who in those days was there constantly was First Lieutenant Hodt, whose address I got to know last night from a letter.
DR. STAHMER: Were Russian prisoners of war used for these exhumations?
AHRENS: As far as I remember, yes.
DR. STAHMER: Can you tell us the number?
AHRENS: I cannot say exactly as I did not concern myself any further with these exhumations on account of the dreadful and revolting stench around our house, but I should estimate the number as being about 40 to 50 men.
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DR. STAHMER: It has been alleged that they were shot afterward; have you any knowledge of that?
AHRENS: I have no knowledge of that and I also never heard of it.
DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
FLOTTENRICHTER OTTO KRANZBUHLER (Counsel for Defendant Doenitz): Colonel, did you yourself ever discuss the events of 1940 with any of the local inhabitants?
AHRENS: Yes. At the beginning of 1943 a Russian married couple were living near my regimental headquarters; they lived 800 meters away and they were beekeepers. I, too, kept bees, and I came into close contact with this married couple. When the exhumations had been completed, approximately in May 1943, I told them that, after all, they ought to know when these shootings had taken place, since they were living in close proximity to the graves. Thereupon, these people told me it had occurred in the spring of 1940, and that at the Gnesdovo station more than 200 Poles in uniform had arrived in railway trucks of 50 tons each and were then taken to the woods in lorries. They had heard lots of shots and screams, too.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Was the wood off limits to the local inhabitants at the time?
AHRENS: We have...
THE PRESIDENT: That is a leading question. I do not think you should ask leading questions.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Do you know whether the local inhabitants could enter the woods at the time?
AHRENS: There was a fence around the wood and according to the statements of the local inhabitants, civilians could not enter it during the time the Russians were there. The remains of the fence were still visible when I was there, and this fence is indicated on my sketch and is marked with a black line.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: When you moved into Dnieper Castle did you make inquiries as to who the former owners were?
AHRENS: Yes, I did make inquiries because I was interested. The house was built in a rather peculiar way. It had a cinema installation and its own rifle range and of course that interested me; but I failed to ascertain anything definite during the whole time I was there.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Apart from mass graves in the neighborhood of the castle, were there any other graves found?
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AHRENS: I have indicated by a few dots on my sketch, that in the vicinity of the castle there were found a number of other small graves which contained decayed bodies; that is to say, skeletons which had disintegrated. These graves contained perhaps six, eight, or a few more male and female skeletons. Even I, a layman, could recognize that very clearly, because most of them had rubber shoes on which were in good condition, and there were also remains of handbags.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: How long had these skeletons been in the ground?
AHRENS: That I cannot tell you. I know only that they were decayed and had disintegrated. The bones were preserved, but the skeleton structure was no longer intact.
FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUHLER: Thank you, that is all.
DR. HANS LATERNSER (Counsel for General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces): Mr. President . . .
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, you know the Tribunal's ruling.
DR. LATERNSER: Yes, Sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you have no right to ask any questions of the witness here.
DR. LATERNSER: MR. PRESIDENT, I just wanted to ask you, in this unusual case, to allow me to put questions...
THE PRESIDENT: I said to you that you know the Tribunal's ruling and the Tribunal will not hear you. We have already ruled upon this once or twice in consequence of your objections and the Tribunal will not hear you.
DR. LATERNSER: MR. PRESIDENT, the Katyn case is one of the most serious accusations raised against the group.
THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal is perfectly well aware of the nature of the allegations about Katyn and the Tribunal does not propose to make any exceptional rule in that case and it therefore will not hear you and you will kindly sit down.
DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I wish to state that on account of this ruling I feel myself unduly handicapped in my defense.
THE PRESIDENT: As Dr. Laternser knows perfectly well, he is entitled to apply to the Commission to call any witness who is called here, if his evidence bears upon the case of the particular organizations for which Dr. Laternser appears. I do not want to hear anything further.
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DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, the channel you point out to me is of no practical importance. I cannot have every witness who appears here called by the Commission.
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Siemers, you are appearing for the Defendant Doenitz, or is it Raeder?
DR. SIEMERS: Defendant Raeder.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, unless the questions you are going to ask particularly refer to the case of the Defendant Raeder, the Tribunal is not prepared to hear any further examination. The matter has been generally covered by Dr. Stahmer and also by Dr. Kranzbuhler. Therefore, unless the questions which you want to ask have some particular reference to the case of Raeder, the Tribunal will not hear you.