Protocol of interrogation by the Deputy Chief of the SMERSH Counterintelligence Service of the 70th Army, Col. N.E. Kolesnikov and the Chief of the Investigation Department, Capt. Tkachenko of the suspect I.M. Kakarash about the Sobibor camp.
PROTOCOL, INTERROGATION OF THE ACCUSED IVAN MIKHAILOVICH KOKARASH, September 24, 1944.
In the year mentioned, the interrogation began at 12:00 PM.
Question: Describe in detail the circumstances of your capture by the Germans.
Answer: On May 6, 1942, prior to this, I was engaged in specialized training as a gunner-bomber. I arrived at the Kerch sector of the Crimean Front and was assigned to the 15th Rifle Regiment of the 500th Division. I was then appointed as the commander of a rifle platoon, and on May 11, 1942, after our platoon commander was killed, I assumed command myself from May 8, 1942, that is, after the breakthrough of the German forces through our defenses. Our battalion, along with others, retreated towards the sea. Around May 14, 1942, the communication between the units was disrupted, control over the battle was lost, and small groups, without offering resistance to the enemy, withdrew towards the sea. Together with a group of fighters, about 25 individuals, I also retreated towards the sea. In a populated place (name unknown, but possibly Kamish-urun), a group of 25-30 people gathered. There was no one commanding us. Seeing that there was no resistance against the enemy and considering the defense of that settlement pointless, I decided to surrender to the Germans. At dawn, I buried my personal documents and weapons in the ground, and in the morning, when German motorcyclists arrived in the village, I surrendered to them. All the fighters who were in that village also surrendered to the Germans.
Question: Where were you located and what were you doing upon arrival?
Answer: After I surrendered together with a group of 25-30 military personnel, German soldiers told us to follow a road leading through the populated place where we surrendered, in the direction of the town of Gor. Feodosiya, without any escort. We followed their instructions. After walking for 5-6 kilometers, we saw a group of captured soldiers and joined them. Subsequently, the Germans captured all of us and took us to a prisoner of war camp in Dzhankoy. I stayed in the Dzhankoy prisoner of war camp for about a month. Every day, prisoners of war were sent from the camp to other camps. We were not involved in any work. Approximately a month later, I was transported with a group of prisoners by train and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Rivne, where I stayed for about 1 year and 2 months. In the Rivne camp, prisoners of war were segregated by nationality. Russians, Ukrainians, and individuals of other Eastern nationalities were kept separately. I was among the group of Russians. On August 23, 1942, a group of German officers arrived at the Rivne camp and selected physically fit individuals among the prisoners. Approximately 350-400 people were selected from Ukrainian and Russian camps. I was also selected as part of this group. In the camp, all of us who were selected underwent a medical examination, after which 250 individuals, including myself, were chosen. On the same day, we were placed on vehicles and sent to the town of Trawniki. We only learned where we were being taken and for what purpose during the journey to Trawniki.
Guards who followed us in cars, who told us that we were being taken to the Trawniki train station to the school of the security / zah / police. When we arrived in the village of Trawniki at the location of the school, here we were the head of the school / a German, I don’t know the last name through the translator he “explained that we would all study at the school of vahdolitsii and upon completion of it we would be used to guard the camps, Jewish ghetto and garrison service in the cities. After that, the translator said that whoever of us does not want to study in e and serve in the military police, let him fail. None of the soldiers failed. For 8-10 days we rested, during this time We were dressed in German uniforms, divided into divisions, and then school began.At school, we studied drill, guard duty, commands in German, studied weapons, and were also subjected to anti-Soviet indoctrination at the lessons of Dolithic education. Vav political education at school was reduced to ardent anti-Soviet propaganda, to propaganda among students of fascist fabrications that, joon, the Red Army had already been defeated, that Soviet power would not exist, etc. Saboo in this school, the culture anti-Semitism was rampant. So, at the school, the teachers of the SS “explained that the cause of all wars is the Jews, and therefore, in order to avoid a war in the future, it is necessary to destroy all the Jews. I worked at this police school until November 1942, I don’t remember, until then began to serve in the vakholitsia,
Question: Give detailed testimony about your activities in the police department
Answer: After graduating from school, I was sent to the mountains as part of a team of 50 people / the bottom of the police department, to Lolin, where we guarded the Jewish work camp, which contained about 400 people, for about a month. Jews who worked in this camp in sewing, salon, carpentry and other workshops. In December 1942, all of us, guarding the Jewish work camp, were transferred from Lublin to the town of Tomaszew-Mazowiecki, to guard the Jewish ghetto, where about 12,000 Jews were kept. The Jewish ghetto was located in the city itself, four blocks away. All residents, except for the Jewish, were taken out of these quarters to other apartments, and all the Jews of the city were not driven by the Mtsy into these quarters. The Jewish Ghetto was not fenced, they were allowed to walk freely in the Ghetto itself, however, other persons were strictly forbidden to leave the ghetto or enter the territory of the Ghetto. At the end of December 1942, the Germans said, the cleaning of the ghetto began. This “rejection” consisted in the fact that a certain section of the ghetto’s living space was assigned, and Jews who did not live in this area were collected and graved in railway trains, and sent to camps for extermination. • Those sent for extermination were allowed to take only the resident of the ghetto was taken with him, and all the rest of the property was left in apartments.During the period of my alcon during the milestones of the police for the protection of the Tomaschen-Mazowiecki ghetto from December 1942 to March 1945, all the Jews contained in it were sent from the ghetto for extermination, i.e. about 12,000 people Only one work team of about 400 people, also consisting of Jews held in the ghetto, remained in the ghetto to sort and pack the remaining property that was sent to Germany. guarding the Tomashev-Maeovets ghetto included: To carry out guard duty, not allowing Jews from the ghetto to enter and not letting anyone into the ghetto, as well as checking the area of the ghetto where the cleanup took place” and to pick up all the remaining Jews who evaded being sent for extermination who were shot by the Germans. Personally, I twice took part in inspections of the ghetto, during which Jews were detained.
All of them were subsequently executed by the Germans. The security police were also involved in looting the property left in the ghetto after the Jews were deported for extermination. On several occasions, we stole various goods and valuables that belonged to the deported Jews and sold them. After all the Jews in the Tomaszów Mazowiecki ghetto were sent for extermination in March 1943, I was sent, along with the entire group of security policemen, to Bliżyn, Poland, where we guarded a Jewish camp for about a month, which housed up to 400 individuals, and organized forced labor production. In the second half of April 1943, we were sent back to Trawniki, where I spent around 3-5 days, received new uniforms, and, as part of a 70-person team, was assigned to guard the “SS Sonderkommando” in Sobibor. In the Sobibor camp, mass extermination of Jews took place by suffocating them with engine exhaust fumes in specially equipped chambers. The bodies of the victims were incinerated, and all their belongings and valuables were sent to Germany. I arrived at the Sobibor camp on April 27-28, 1943, and served there until May 21, 1943, until the escape from the camp. The task of the security police in the Sobibor Lager was to provide security for the camp. During the arrival of train convoys with Jews for extermination, additional police units were stationed on the camp premises and at the unloading site to suppress any possible organized resistance from those being suffocated. During the suffocation process, police guards were posted near the gas chambers.
The security police also aimed to prevent any organized resistance from the victims, as well as to physically force individuals who resisted to enter the gas chambers. During mass shootings in the camp, the police actively participated, and additional posts were stationed around the barracks of the work brigade to prevent any organized uprising from that group. During my service in the Sobibór camp, I was involved in the following tasks: standing guard at the camp continuously, being assigned to additional posts during the arrival of train convoys with Jews for extermination, and being assigned to additional posts at the gas chambers during the suffocation process. During my time in the Sobibor camp, I did not witness any organized resistance from the individuals condemned to extermination. However, there were isolated individuals who resisted entering the gas chambers, and the security police would either strike them with rifle butts or forcibly push them into the chambers. When I was on the additional posts during the unloading of train convoys, I repeatedly used the butt of my rifle to strike those condemned to extermination simply because they were moving slowly. I did not participate in the shootings carried out in the camp since I was there for a short time, and I was not assigned to such tasks. On May 21, 1943, I escaped from the Sobibor camp along with a group of seven security policemen. Initially, I joined Belov’s group, and from July 1943 until August 1, 1944, I was a member of a partisan detachment in a partisan unit.
Question: What were the reasons and circumstances of your departure from the security police?
Answer: The main reason for my departure from the security police was the advancing Red Army. Personally, at that time, I became aware that the Germans would suffer defeat. Fearing responsibility for the crimes I had committed, I chose to leave the police force.
Question: Describe in detail the purpose and organization of the Sobibor camp?
Answer: The Sobibor camp was located about 1 1/2 – 2 km away from the village of Sobibor. Policemen, including myself, often visited this village, buying moonshine from local residents and drinking there. I usually went with a Polish man whose name I don’t know, but he was the only one of his nationality in the village. The rest of the villagers were Ukrainians, including a man named Ivan, who was involved in producing and selling moonshine. In the area around Sobibor, there was an armed group led by a certain Belov. The Polish man and Ivan, whom we visited for moonshine, were members of Belov’s group. Through them, I established contact with the participants of Belov’s group, as I intended to escape from the police and join them. Seven people, including myself, Konstantin, Nikolai, Grigory, Ivan, and two individuals named Grigory and Vladmir (whose last names I don’t know), agreed to escape together from the police.
On May 21, 1943, Demidov and I were granted leave and went to the village of Malye Zhelobki to coordinate with the members of Belov’s group regarding the timing and meeting place for the escape. When we returned to the camp, a police officer named Ivan (whose last name I don’t know) and the individuals Belov, Ivan, Grigory, and Vladimir—the ones we intended to escape with—had already left the camp. Demidov and I quickly entered the barracks, took our rifles and ammunition, and also left. The guard at the camp’s exit did not detain us. After escaping from the camp, we rendezvoused in the village of Malye Kolobki with Ivan, a contact from Belov’s group, who led us into the forest where we hid for a day. On the second night, we joined Belov’s group. Both Demidov and I, who had previously been policemen, were already part of Belov’s group. I stayed with Belov’s group for about a month and a half before transferring to the partisan detachment named after Zhukov within the Brest resistance movement.
Question: Please provide a detailed description of the composition and activities of Belov’s group.
Answer: Belov’s group primarily consisted of former policemen, including myself, who originated from various camps (a total of eight individuals). Some members desired to escape from Sobibor, while others came from different camps or were former prisoners of war or forced laborers from Germany. The group’s size ranged from 30 to 50 people. Only those who had obtained weapons from the police possessed any firearms. The group was not actively engaged in fighting against the German occupiers but instead focused on activities such as heavy drinking and looting property and food from the local population. The group lacked discipline and many members, including Belov himself, were strongly against joining Soviet partisan units. They justified this stance by claiming that life was good for them where they were. It is more accurate to describe Belov’s group as a bandit group rather than a partisan unit. Eventually, between July 5 and 10, 1943, the group split into three smaller groups. Two of these groups headed towards the Bug River to join the partisans, while Belov and his group of around 15 people remained in the area. At that time, I joined a group of eight individuals and crossed the Bug River, subsequently joining the partisan detachment named after Zhukov within the Brest resistance movement.
Question: Can you tell me in detail about the purpose and arrangement of S0bibor Camp?
Answer: As I have already shown above, the Sobibor camp was intended for the mass extermination of the Jewish population through the use of engine exhaust gas in specially designed gas chambers. The camp was located near the village of Sobibor and occupied an area approximately 1 km long and 500-600 meters wide. A special railway branch line was constructed to connect the camp. The entire perimeter of the camp was surrounded by four rows of barbed wire fences and a fence with a height of up to 5 meters. Anti-personnel mines were installed between the rows of wire fences. Around the camp, seven towers were built for the guards responsible for the camp’s security.
Inside the camp, the area was divided into four sections, each enclosed by barbed wire fences connected by narrow corridors lined with barbed wire. The first section contained barracks for the police (approximately 100 people), for Germans (approximately 25-30 people), a guardhouse, a kitchen, a bathhouse, and an area with weapons and ammunition. The first section also included the undressing area and a platform for unloading the people brought for extermination. The platform was also surrounded by barbed wire and connected by a wire corridor to the third section. The second section consisted of two barracks where the sorting details, including Jews who worked on sorting clothes and belongings left after the killings, were housed. Various workshops were set up in this section, such as sewing, shoemaking, carpentry, locksmithing, etc. The second section was surrounded by a barbed wire fence about 3 meters high and was guarded by four gates.
The third section was connected to the second section by a corridor surrounded by barbed wire. It was enclosed by a wooden fence approximately 2.5 meters high topped with barbed wire. Inside the third section, there were 5-6 barracks for housing those brought for extermination. The camp was connected by wire corridors to the platform, the second section, and on the opposite side, there was a passage also surrounded by barbed wire leading to the fourth section, but not directly into the camp itself, rather into the gas chambers. The fourth section was also surrounded by a wire fence and constantly guarded by four posts. It housed the gas chambers, crematoria, and a barrack where the work unit (Jewish prisoners working on burning the bodies) was located. The barrack of the work unit was also surrounded by a barbed wire fence. In addition to gassing, mass shootings also took place in the fourth section.
The process of extermination proceeded as follows: an incoming transport of Jews designated for extermination was unloaded on the platform, and they were led through a wire corridor into the third section. Here, they left their belongings in one of the barracks, and then women and children were placed in one pit while men were placed in another. This was done under the pretense of delousing and showering, so many did not suspect that they were brought there for extermination. In the barracks, the Germans ordered everyone to undress completely, and valuable items such as gold and watches were taken from them. Then they were directed through the wire corridor into the gas chambers.
Once inside, the doors of the chambers were tightly sealed, and the people inside were killed by the exhaust gas from the engine. There were up to 8 gas chambers in Sobibor. The building housing the gas chambers was a single-story structure, approximately 20 meters long and 10 meters wide. There was a narrow corridor in the middle, with four gas chambers on each side connected by a small metal door. The engine of an internal combustion generator was located next to this building, and the exhaust pipes were connected to each chamber. When the chambers were filled, the engine was started, and within a 15-20 minutes, all those placed in these cells were asphyxiated. After that the large wooden doors in the outer wall of each cell were opened, the work team removed the corpses from the cells, special persons examined all the corpses, took off the rings, pulled out the gold teeth, and then the corpses were loaded onto a wagon. The bonfires were arranged in the following way: on metal stands up to 0.5 mgm high, rails up to 20m long were laid parallel to the 4 K.D. rails. Up to 1000 corpses were treated on these rails, then a fire was built at the bottom and the corpses were burnt. The remaining bones were ground in a special “mill” and sent somewhere. During my alu- He arrived in the Sabkoorovi camp in large echelons of 1000-1500 people. All of them were strangled and their labor was burned. Besides, during my service, a work team from some other camp was brought to the camp. The Germans also intended to bite them, but they started to resist, after which they were shot in groups of 10-15 people at the campfires and their corpses were burnt.
Question: Name all persons known to you who participated “in the mass extermination of civilians, the administration of camps and vahdolice?
Answer: The individuals involved in the mass extermination of the civilian population and serving in the guard units that I am aware of are as follows:
For the Tomaszów Mazowiecki camp:
- Piotr Tomaszewski, a master sergeant, around 35 years old, tall, slim, dark-haired, and a resident of Tomaszów Mazowiecki.
- Oberleutnant Riemer, about 45 years old, of average height, with dark blond hair, and of average build.
For the Sobibor camp:
- The commander of Camp IV, a German officer named Min EP, around 55-57 years old, of average height, with dark blond hair, and of average build.
As for the personnel serving in the Sobibor guard unit, I know the following names:
- Konstantin Nikolaevich, born around 1918-1919, from Baranovichi, Belarus. He was tall, blond, and joined the partisan detachment with me.
- Vasily, born in 1921, unknown place of birth and residence, Russian, with light brown hair, of average height, and stocky build. He stayed in Sobibor.
- Nikolai Krivonos, born in 1920, tall, slim, with red hair. He stayed in Sobibor.
- Nikolai Gorlov, born in 1937, of average height, with brown hair. He stayed in Sobibor.
- Denis, born in 1922, tall, slim, blond. He joined the partisan detachment with me.
- Aziz, around 27-28 years old, from the German Volga region, tall, slim, blond. He stayed in Sobibor.
I don’t remember the names of any other individuals who served in the police.
I have read and confirmed the accuracy of the interrogation protocol based on my own words.[Signature]
QUESTIONED BY: ZAIN-KA OKR “SMERSH” 70TH ARMY – HEAD OF SPECIAL UNIT “SMERSH”
CORRECT: HEAD OF SPECIAL UNIT “SMERSH” OR “SMERSH”
Source:Russian State Archives