Crimes against humanity [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

On the 64th day of the trial Raginsky gave his opening statement on the crimes against culture. After an entire day in the courtroom, Thomas Dodd hosted a dinner party. It was “a pleasant evening” despite his worry over news of his ill wife. He wrote,” When one is so far away and mail is so late in arriving it is easy to let the imagination run wild” [p. 242, 2/22/1946]. Its remarkable to ponder how one could stay and work for his country even when he knows he might be desperately needed at home.The next day, Raginsky moved on and introduced a witness and evidence against the destruction of national landmarks. This may seem a bit trivial compared to all the deaths that occurred, but buildings that had withstood centuries of had been demolished, turned into rumble. His witness, Orbeli, even said,” I observed a series of monuments of Leningrad which suffered damage from artillery shelling and bombing from the air. Among them damage was caused to the Kazan Cathedral, which was built in 1814 by Architect Voronikhin, Isaak’s Cathedral, whose pillars still bear the traces of damage pitted in the granite” [ 2/16/2016]. The cathedral had stood tall and prominent for over 100 years and was unnecessarily bombed.
The next few days were absorbed by with the Defense’s Application for Witnesses and Documents for Ribbentrop and Goering, beginning on the 23rd. On the 26th, Colonel Pokrovsky returned to question two witnesses on crimes against humanity, which had been recently introduced into consideration by Councellor Smirnov. One witness, Dr. Eugene Alexandrovich Kivelisha, had been a junior physician in the 305th Regiment of the 44th Rifle Division of the Soviet Union at the time of Germany’s attack and survived being a prisoner of war. Kivelisha recalled learning “…that the greater part of the prisoners had been captured 3 or 4 days before the small group to which I myself belonged. During these 3 or 4 days the prisoners had been kept in a shed, under a reinforced German guard and were given nothing at all to eat or drink. Later, when we passed through the villages, the prisoners, on seeing wells and water, passed their tongues over their” [ 2/16/2016]. In addition, as the wagon passed through villages the people would try to supply bread, water, or whatever they could scavenge up, but the Germans refused to let them give aid to the starving and dehydrated prisoners. The evidence of crimes against humanity was mounting.

On the 27th,  Severina Shmaglevskaya testified regarding the treatment of children. She spoke of many cruel and inhumane acts against children, including ”A few minutes after delivery the child was taken from the mother, who never saw it again” [ 2/16/2016].  Mothers were denied the opportunity to see their own children grow up, and instead were haunted by the abrupt glimpse they received right after giving birth. The Very Reverend Nikolai Ivanovitch Lomakin testified before the Tribunal regarding religious persecution. He received a medal for “the Defense of Leningrad” where he had served as priest. He worked with a church and it’s cemetery where the bodies of the deceased laid peacefully, but this is what he could recall after the German’s invaded, ”The cemetery was very often bombed by German planes. Please imagine the scene when people who have found eternal rest — their coffins, bodies, bones, skulls — all this is thrown out on the ground” [ 2/16/2016]. The lack of respect for even those who could not be even be considered an enemy were never to be remembered again and family members were denied even the solace of a marked grave.

–Owen Doremus and Betsy Pittman

[Owen Doremus, a junior at Edwin O. Smith High School, is supporting this blog series with research and writing as part of an independent study.]

The majority of the letters from Tom Dodd to his wife Grace have been published and can be found in Letters from Nuremberg, My father’s narrative of a quest for justice. Senator Christopher J. Dodd with Lary Bloom. New York: Crown Publishing, 2007.

Images available in Thomas J. Dodd Papers.

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