740.00116 European War 1939/1206: Telegram

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

2315. The extensive publicity given the Kharkov trial both in the Soviet Union and abroad and the presentation of the case by the prosecuting attorney indicates that the Soviet Government had the following objectives in mind:

Internal propaganda. The trial shows the Soviet people that the Government is sincere in its promise to bring Germans guilty of crimes to justice and to lose no time in doing so. It is an instrument for whipping up and keeping alive a spirit of vengeance.
External propaganda. The trial serves to bring once more to the attention of the world the extent and cruelty of the crimes committed by the Germans on Soviet territory and the resolve of the Soviet Government to track down the criminals.
Instilling fear of retribution in the ranks of the German Army and the SS. The case as presented by the prosecutor clearly showed that the Soviet Government intends to hold individual Germans responsible for crimes committed by them even though they were acting on direct orders from their superiors. Press comment has connected the trial with the declaration of the Moscow Conference on German atrocities.
Placing of ultimate responsibility for the crimes on the leaders of the German Government and the German High Command. Throughout the trial both in the presentation of the case by the prosecutor and in the testimony of the accused and of witnesses there was an obvious effort to show that the crimes were the result of the Nazi philosophy of the German racial superiority and of the policy which has been adopted by the Nazis for the enslavement and extermination of the Slav peoples. The trial left no doubt of the intention of the Soviet authorities to hold the German Government and High Command responsible for the crimes and atrocities committed in its name and on its orders.