740.00116 E.W. 1939/11–2944: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Kennan ) to the Secretary of State

4562. Press for November 29 publishes despatch datelined Lublin November 28 reporting that trial of six Hitlerites accused of atrocities at Majdanek has begun. 1500 persons attended opening of trial and others filled streets surrounding court. Despatch states that shouts of hatred and indignation were hurled at criminals.

Following are names of accused: Anton Ternes, Oberscharfuehrer58 of SS troops; Herman Vogel, Standartenfuehrer59 of SS troops; Theo Scholen, Rottenfuehrer60 of SS troops; Wilhelm Gerstenmeier, Hauptmarschfuehrer61 of SS troops; Edmund Pohlman and Heinz Octland.

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Despatch stated that all accused had had sanguinary careers in Dachau and Oranienburg camps. They were reputedly arrested in act of destroying evidence of their crimes.

Case is being tried by special Polish court consisting of President of Court Zembuzski, members Nadulska and Dymowski, prosecutors Czesljuk and Sawicki and five attorneys.

Despatch states that correspondents of Soviet, American and English press62 and also press of democratic Poland were present.63 Despatch adds that in connection with tremendous interest in the trial Lublin cinemas are showing documentary film on Majdanek made by Polish cameramen.

  1. About the equivalent of First Sergeant, in the Schutzstaffel, the elite corps of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, used for military and police purposes.
  2. The approximate equivalent of the rank of Colonel, in the Schutzstaffel.
  3. About the equivalent of a Corporal, in the Schutzstaffel.
  4. About the equivalent of Master Sergeant, in the Schutzstaffel.
  5. Telegram 4561, November 29, 1944, from Moscow stated that the American correspondent was Anna Louise Strong and the British representative was Dr. Stefan Littauer (740.00116 E.W. 1939/11–2944).
  6. In telegram 4579, November 30, from Moscow, the Chargé reported that requests by other American and British correspondents to attend the Lublin trial were rejected by the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union and by the representative of the Polish Committee of National Liberation (Lublin Committee) in Moscow. A Polish official declared to an American correspondent that the Poles “would have been delighted to let the remaining American correspondents go but that they had been strictly forbidden to do so by the Russians.” The Chargé believed that this incident “might be of interest to the Department from the standpoint of relations between the representatives of the Lublin Committee here and the Soviet Government.” (740.00116 European War 1939/11–3044)