740.00116 European War 1939/1190: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

2172. The hanging of the two German soldiers referred to in Department’s 1351, December 6, 9 p.m.,57 took place in front of the [Page 846] hotel in which the foreign correspondents were staying in Kiev. A Russian civilian was hanged at same time. The hanging took place while the correspondents were at the theater but the bodies were still there when they returned, and remained for several days.58 Signs reading “Arsonists” had been placed on bodies of the two German soldiers and a sign reading “Arsonist and Traitor” had been hung on body of the Russian civilian. The sentence of the Military Court that had condemned them was posted on the gallows.

Many individual Germans held responsible for crimes committed on Soviet territory have been named in reports of Extraordinary State Commission to establish and investigate the crimes committed by German Fascist invaders.59 Reports of Commission have been published for Krasnodar, Stavropol, Kursk, the Donbas and other areas. In the case of the Krasnodar report, which names 11 Soviet citizens charged with being accomplices of the Germans in the commission of their crimes, a trial was held which was given wide publicity. Eight of the accused were sentenced to death and other three to 20 years at hard labor in exile. Pravda for July 19 announced these sentences had been carried out.

There has been no indication in Soviet press that any of Germans named in reports of Extraordinary State Commission have been tried or punished and it is unlikely [likely] that few if any of them have thus far fallen into Russian hands. The Commission’s report on destruction wrought in Donbas as published in Moscow News, November 17, after listing the Germans held principally responsible concluded: “All these criminals must suffer stern punishment for their monstrous crimes against the Soviet people”.

  1. Not printed; it requested additional information on the hanging of two German soldiers reported by the Embassy, and inquired whether Soviet authorities had commenced to judge and punish members of the German armed forces charged with the commission of atrocities in the Soviet Union (740.0011 European War 1939/32118).
  2. For report on the visit of foreign correspondents to Kiev, see telegram No. 2086, November 30, from the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, p. 605.
  3. The Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union by ukaz of November 4, 1942, had formed an extraordinary state commission for ascertaining and investigating the offenses of the German aggressors and accomplices, and for determining suitable compensation for all losses inflicted. For a report concerning the creation of this commission, see telegram No. 982, November 5, 1942, from the First Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, p. 473.