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Trial in the case of the atrocities committed by Germans and a Ukrainian accomplice in and around Kharkov in 1943

Film | RG Number: RG-60.1095 | Film ID: 4372

7 reels, titles and voice-over in Spanish. Coverage of the actual trial of Captain Wilhelm Langheld; Reinhard Retzlaff, an official of the German field police; Lieutenant Hans Ritz, an SS company commander, and Bulanov, a Russian traitor. Spectators include people whose families had been murdered. Every statement in the trial was translated into German, and each defendant was represented by counsel. Many witnesses were called, and the defendants themselves testified. Captain Langheld stated that he had personally beaten women to death but pointed out that he was not the only one. "The entire German Army is like that", he said, adding that he felt that he should receive consideration because of his advanced age. Retzlaff specialized in the loading of women and children into trucks (with the help of clubs and rifle butts) which were fitted with hoses attached to the exhaust (gas vans). Once loaded into the vehicles, the victims were stifled by carbon monoxide gas. Ritz presided over the wholesale shooting of men and women by SS troops with submachine guns. Bulanov worked for the Gestapo. He drove truckloads of people who were to be shot. He accompanied the men who dragged starving and sick children from the Nizhns-Chirskaya Children's Hospital, loading them into trucks, drove them to a place where graves had been dug (telling them that they were being taken to their aunts and uncles in Stalingrad), shot each child in the head and kicked the bodies into the pits.

Accompanying the testimony is motion picture coverage of the scenes where many of the atrocities had been committed, showing hundreds of bodies of victims of the German occupation of Kharkov. According to the testimony of a witness, Dr.Djinchviladze, he was in the operating room of the hospital when he heard an explosion. Nurses ran to him, their clothes on fire - the Germans had nailed up the doors and had thrown incendiary bombs into the building, which began to burn. Wounded Russian soldiers dragged themselves to the windows, their bandages burning. As they attempted to crawl out, they were shot by German troops on the outside. Views of the charred ruins of the hospital show rows of twisted metal beds containing skeletons of Russian soldiers who had been burned to death in their beds as a result of the events described by the witness. Another witness, Mrs. Koslova, testified that when she ran to the burned-out ruin, she searched among the disfigured charred bodies for her husband. When she found the dead body, in a bed covered with blood, the eyes of the dead soldier had been gouged out.

After pleas by the attorneys for the defense and the statement of the Prosecutor, the four defendants were sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out in the public square of Kharkov.

Production:  1943
Kharkov, Soviet Union
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:20:53
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