From time to time I was summoned to Moscow. More facts needed to be verified, checked
and rechecked. Who was your grandmother or grandfather or some other trifle. It lasted
more than a year.
We all underwent a thorough medical examination. As a result of the selection there
remained 16 out of 60. We lived in a hotel and were fed well. At any moment they might
need us so we always had to leave behind a message where we were going. We could even be
summoned in the middle of the night, since it was a tradition for the real higher-ups to
work at night.
During one of those trips I got acquainted with Nina Vasilyevna Malkina, a staff worker in
medical administration at Internal Affairs. It happened at the cafeteria for military
staff where we had been assigned. Two years later, she became my wife.
At the end of February, 1946, we were again summoned to Moscow. We were informed that we
would be going for a long trip. Again there were talks checking details. Suddenly, Davidov
said he was going back to Kiev. He did not know what was the matter or what was happening
since no one told you anything. Nobody would ever ask about such things. Volodya left and
I was left alone among the Kievites.
Once when I was at my bride's apartment a messenger came and said that they were looking
for me. We went to some storehouse where there were shirts, underwear, suits and other
clothes. I was allowed to choose whatever I wanted and told to put it on at once. It was
done, so I thought, so I would get used to it. I lived with all the rest who had been
through the check-up, in the hotel Moskva in suite 207 or 217. Once we were woken very
early, put into two cars and taken to an airfield. With us was a colonel and we were
supposed to fly to Nuremberg. Judging from the long side route we took, the people
responsible for our safety were afraid of some kind of accident that could delay the trip.
We ourselves could not guess the value our testimony could have and that somebody might
try to interfere with our trip.
Our plane landed in Minsk because of a snow storm and we were held over there. All the
documents and our testimonies had been forwarded to Nuremberg a long time before and
In Minsk we were housed by the government at the so-called White Villa. The furnishings
with wood paneling, comfortable beds and tasty meals seemed extravagant to me, especially
after two years in the barracks. All our needs were taken care of. If, for example,
somebody opened a bottled of vodka and drank only one shot from it, the bottle was taken
away and replaced with a new one.
I do not remember everyone in our group, but there was the academician Orbeli, the writer
Sutskover, the author of a book about the Vilnius ghetto and Volynsky Kivilsha, a doctor
from Novograd. There was also a clergyman of high rank.
At last the snow let up and the runways were cleared by German captives, so we could
continue with our journey. After a short lay-over in Poland, we arrived in Germany late at
night. We were greeted warmly and taken to the hotel where there were already many Soviet
military men and reporters from different countries.
To get into the session hall, you needed 4 special passes. The building security was very
tight. When entering into the session hall you had to pass by the dock, where the charged
were sitting. American wardens stood behind their backs. The letters MP were written on
Since we were a few days late for the trial, we did not get a chance to speak before the
court. The Senior Investigator for Extraordinary Cases had already read out our
I was asked to give an interview to an American news reporter and address the American
people. I was very nervous and wrote down my speech in advance and showed it to him. I was
told not to change anything and to tell the story in my own words. I was given 7 or 8
minutes. I first congratulated our allies on the victory and then said what I felt and
Undoubtedly, my reminiscences were not comparable to the materials of the trial that were
collected in three volumes. But they are mine. I was there and I saw and felt the mood.
One could forget certain details, but it was impossible to forget that it was in Nuremberg
that for the first time in history and international court sat and judged international
aggression to be an international crime and punished the culprits.
The process lasted until October. When it finished, having done our duty, we returned to
I came back to Kiev and was fully absorbed with my work. There was much to do. The
builders not only had to rebuild and restore Kiev, once a city known for its beauty, but
make it even more beautiful.
My parents and sister came back to Kiev. Sima was about to graduate from the Medical
Institute she had entered in Tashkent after the evacuation. She was hired by the hospital
for railway workers, where she continued to work for 26 years until she retired.
I got married to Nina and in 1949 a son, Roman, was born. My building unit was busy with
the major repairs of communal housing projects. We worked on the renown house of the
writer Bulgakov on Andreyevsky Spusk, the Lenin Museum in Vladimirskaya, one of the
largest buildings in the Medical Institute-I did not know it then but Roman would
eventually enroll there and become a dentist. It is impossible to enumerate on everything.
Buildings like the Museums of Eastern and Western Art or the Ukrainian Art Museum were not
only buildings for reconstruction, but also symbols of the return to a normal life. For
almost a year we worked on repairing the Bessarabsky market. We wanted to complete the
work as quickly as possible so we had 300 people working there in three shifts. To keep it
dry we had coal burning in the furnace even at night. The work was so big and complex that
it was necessary to change the roof and build special fans on the ceiling. The specialists
understand what it meant. We used a special pneumatic mechanism, a turret gun, which we
simply called a gun. Thanks to it, the construction was all sealed in place. It also
contained a symbol of the new life since the gun did not destroy but created.
Sometimes I came up with the ideas of writing down everything that happened to me. At
first the memories were still too fresh and haunting. Then there was no time. Life somehow
pushed the awful days from my memory but it was impossible to forget.
Every year we went to the place where from the 29th of September, 1941, the fascists shot
more than 120,000 people simply because they were Jews and where throughout the two years
of occupation, they shot all enemies of their regime. We came and stood over the abandoned
ravine in silence. Then Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote the poem Babi Yar in 1969 that had the
line There is no monument at Babi Yar. In 1976, there was finally erected The monument to
the Soviet Citizens, war captives, soldiers and officers of the Soviet Army shot down by
the German fascists at Babi Yar as it entitled. The bronze plate contains no mention of
the Jews. Such were the times. Only on October 29, 1991, a memorial sign, a bronze
Menorah, was added to commemorate the Jewish victims of Babi Yar.
At the end of 1968, my past knocked at my door in the person of a postman. The letter he
carried was completely unexpected to me. I was asked to testify to speak in front of the
jury in Stuttgart on January 7th, 1969 at 9 o'clock. The charged were Sturmbahnfuhrer SS
Gans Sons, Hauptsturmfuhrer SS Fritz Zitlov, Hauptsturmfuhrer SS Walter Helsfgot and
Sturmbahnfuhrer Fritz Kirstein. As it turned out it they were part of the group that
designed crematoria in the concentration camps. It was they who financed and organized the
cover-up of Babi Yar during the retreat.
The letter read as follows The evidence given by you earlier can not substitute for the
interrogation at the hearing, as according to the rules of the German Criminal law
procedure charter for sentencing only the evidence given before the jury at the hearing is
So Davidov, Kaper and I went to Stuttgart. The process was very well organized. Everything
was done very properly without any excess. I liked one of the prosecutors. He spoke
Russian very well and could communicate with us without an interpreter. I was very
surprised that there were many young people in the courtroom. When I asked the prosecutor
about it, he explained that it was necessary to bring young people here so that they know
what their parents and grandparents did. They had to learn.
Even now I still have a yellowed and aged issue of the newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung dated
February 14, 1969. One of the columns contains a big headline:
PROCESS OVER SONDERKOMAND
THREE RUSSIAN WITNESSES IN STUTTGART;
GENUINE AND PRECISE DESCRIPTION
OF PRISONERS' ACTIVITIES;
NOBODY KNOWS THE ACCUSED
We did not know either Sons or Helsfgot or Zitlov or Kirstein even if we
had seen them in Babi Yar. Each of us were given photographs of Radomsky and Topaide for
identification. I recognized Radomsky at once, but Topaide did not look like he did when
he was young and had a crew cut. His appearance, for us, was always associated by the fact
his head jerked. That was why we could not state if it was him.
We gave our testimony to the court and told how the corpses were burnt and how we escaped.
All this was published in Stuttgarter Zeitung.
More than 20 years have passed and again we were asked to tell our experiences, this time
in front of a camera. The director Vladimir Georgiyenko filmed a documentary called Women
From the Street 'Babi Yar.'
In October 1992, Ukrtelefilm studios invited Kaper and me to watch the film. I saw the
snapshots from the American footage showing the execution of the Wermacht leaders after
they were sentenced by the International Tribune to death by hanging. The execution took
place on October 16, 1946. The sight was pleasing to the eye but they did not deserve it.
I thought not about the fact that justice had triumphed but prayed to the Almighty G-d
that this would never happen to anyone anywhere ever again.
Our generation gave everything for the victory over Hitler's Germany. Fascism was stamped
out but not extinguished completely. Today it again tries to revive and threaten humanity
with new disasters. I hope that our children and grandchildren will never let this happen.