At present at Bromberg and Berlin, 20.11.1939

The medico-legal experts of the Military High Command for Bromberg: Dr. Panning, the Senior
Medical Officer and Superintendent of the Medico-Legal Department of the
Army Medical Academy.

For Posen: Dr. Hallermann, Assistant Medical Officer of the Reserve, Lecturer at Berlin University.


R e p o r t

on the results, available up to the present, of the Investigation of the Medico-Legal Department of the Army Medical Academy, set up for the purpose of investigating the Polish acts murder in the Posen and Bromberg districts(1).


I. The task of the medico-legal experts

By order of the Health Inspection Department of the Military High Command, Medico-Legal Experts were appointed on Sept. 20, 1939, to investigate the Polish acts of murder in those districts which suffered most, particularly in Bromberg, but also in Posen. Subsequently numerous medico-legal autopsies were carried out, which at present are still being continued. The investigation of cases of murder took place in close co-operation with Special Commissions of the Reich Police Criminal Dept. i. e. with the officers, and in accordance with the methods of the Criminal Investigation Department.

In pursuance of the instructions received, detailed results of all autopsies were certified in records and filed for present and future use by the addition of a still increasing collection of photographic reproductions and preserved specimens. The opportunity was taken to inspect the proofs available on the spot, at Bromberg and Posen, by several commissions of medical and army officers, as well as German and foreign journalists.


II. Scope of Investigation

The investigations carried out so far cover 131 autopsies and 11 cases of postmortems in and near Bromberg, and 51 autopsies and 53 post-mortems in Posen and its environments. Therefore, up to the present, about 250 bodies have been examined by medico-legal experts--this figure not representing even a mere fraction of the number of murders perpetrated, which is so great that it is impossible to estimate them from here. It is, however, impossible to carry out autopsies on all the persons murdered. In Bromberg alone, for example, the question would have arisen of examining no less than 1000 bodies. It is to be expected, therefore, that decomposition and the frozen soil of the graves will shortly terminate all post-mortem examinations.

(1) All results of autopsies and postmortem examinations are illustrated photographically; for reasons of space, only a selection has been reproduced here.

[p. 195]

The results obtained by the investigations must thus be regarded purely as small random sections taken from an abundance of material. It has not been attempted to summarise statistically the data obtained, as no comparative figures could represent a true picture of the events investigated, in view of the enormous number of cases where it was not possible to hold a post-mortem examination. Only for a few sections, which cover a series of murders in which each or certainly almost every case has been examined by autopsy, will a statistical survey be feasible.


III. Results of investigations

Difficulties in analysing the results obtained

Great difficulties were encountered in judging on merit the data obtained. In view of the large number of bodies heaped up in a restricted space, a provisional burial of 60 or even more bodies in one common grave had had to be arranged. The bodies were later exhumed and examined with the consent and knowledge of their sorely tried relatives, when transferring them to a place of rest in cemeteries especially designated for this purpose. It goes without saying that the findings were frequently influenced by the state of decomposition which, in the meantime, had set in. In spite of this it was possible by following the exact and scientific methods of medico-legal examination to arrive at expert conclusions perfectly clear in their essential parts. It was also obvious that the results of the autopsies carried out could by no means show up all the injuries which the unfortunate victims had suffered. Particularly tissue haemorrhages as the result of bodily maltreatment were frequently almost impossible to trace during the autopsy on account of the advanced state of decomposition, and obviously various forms of brutal physical injuries, mutilations, etc., were only apparent by special and circumstantial evidence.

Injuries caused by blunt instruments, rifle butts, etc.

It may serve as an example to point out that blows administered by rifle butts, bludgeons, staves, etc., as witnessed on innumerable occasions, were naturally only traceable at, an autopsy, when they were followed by injury to the bone. In this respect some very impressive and weighty findings were observed in such cases as:

Sect. No. Br. 93, Albert Heise, aged 21 years--complete crushing of facial portion of skull by heavy blows of a bludgeon.

Sect. No. Br. 116, Richard Kutzer, aged 46 years, parson, crushing of inferior maxilla (lower jaw) without injury to the skin-caused, according to police evidence, by a blow with a rifle butt.

Sect. No. Br. 115, Otto Kutzer, 73 years of age--father of the above--multiple fracture of costal cartilage, weakened by senility,--due to a blow with the butt of a rifle.

Sect. No. Br. 107, Hans Schulz, 20 years of age--crushing of skull with rifle butt or other heavy instrument, as also in a great number of other cases.

Frequently, as shown in the post-mortem records, the forcible use of blunt instruments could only be assumed, namely, in such cases when the victim received the injuries, such as shots, blows or cuts, while lying down and when it was necessary to explain how he came to be in a recumbent position.


The findings of the experts were equally handicapped through post-mortem change in the case of extremely brutal mutilations of the victims. Whereas in a great many cases it was possible to obtain definite statements of witnesses--mostly relatives of the murdered persons--as to the mutilations inflicted upon the deceased, such as castration, severance of members of the body (ears, nose, etc.) or the piercing of the orbital cavity--these injuries could not be considered as findings in a strict medico-legal sense, because all traces had been naturally subject to decomposition, and destruction by vermin. However, especially in a good many cases of punctured wounds of the eye, in conjunction with injury to the lids, it has been possible to establish definite proof of such injuries on bodies exhumed shortly after burial. This statement is impressively corroborated by the photograph on page 285 in case Br. 17 of an unknown man, aged about 20, and murdered in Bromberg-Klein-Bartelsee and also by the photograph on page 286 in the case of Sect. No. P I. Grieger, Paul, 32 years of age, murdered in Posen. A case of piercing of the orbital cavity which, owing to destruction of the body by vermin, could not definitely be ascertained, is depicted on the photograph on page 288, post-mortem examination No. Br. 4 of an unknown man, aged about 45, and murdered in the woods near Hopfengarten in the Bromberg district. Furthermore, it has also been proved by photographic records that all cases of bullet wounds in the eye have been carefully excluded in the findings of punctured injuries to the orbital cavity.

Similar references can be made to other forms of mutilation. In certain cases one is forced to accept as evidence the clear statement of witnesses as to pre-mortem castration or other mutilations and to assume that objective findings were impossible owing to the advanced stage of decomposition. The well-known fact should be borne in mind that the destruction by vermin, or any other post-mortem change, affects in the first instance and most readily all injured parts of the body. It is consequently not surprising that in this respect the findings of the experts fall short of the statements of witnesses.


A special group of additional injuries independent of those of a fatal nature, of a distinctly sadistic nature, were observed in very many cases, namely punctured wounds, as found by themselves or in addition to fatal bullet wounds. In the main, this refers to shallow and flat punctured injuries to the surface or the limbs and members of the body. In accordance with statements of witnesses, these injuries were frequently inflicted upon the victims, as it were, "for encouragement" by the guards or the mob en route to the place of murder. Thus, amongst many others, the case Sect. No. Br. 56 of Eduard Schulemann, a 72 year-old man, may be quoted as an example; he was killed by a shot through the skull and a deep stab of a bayonet from behind in the back. Thrusts of the bayonet to the dying were inflicted repeatedly, as in the case Sect. No. Br. 27 of an unknown man, aged 30 to 40, with a stab in the abdomen and also Sect. No. Br. 110 Herbert Zollnik, 38 years of age. A particularly bestial case of the application of a stabbing weapon and the murder of the wounded man by 33 stabs, inflicted by a Polish soldier, within a military formation, will be referred to on another occasion.

Injuries involving long death agony

The wholly unimaginable brutality of the perpetrations is evidenced by the consideration of the causes of death and, consequently the length of the period of pre-lethal agonies. It has been proved beyond doubt that in numerous cases the injuries inflicted were by no means of a fatal character, but that the victims succumbed in the course of time from such uncomplicated injuries, as for example, a bullet wound through the lung. Similar observations could be made in cases where only injuries to the limbs with lacerations of more or less insignificant arterial ramifications were detected. In this connection attention should be drawn to the photographic reproduction on p. 281. Sect. No. Br. 46: Artur Radler, aged 42; he had received a shot through the cervical portion of the neck, which was by no means dangerous to his life. Death actually supervened more than seven hours later through a shot through the head, after his relatives had been deliberately prevented from rendering any assistance to the wounded man. We can see very similar conditions reproduced in the photographs on page 300-301, Sect. No. Br. 100, Kurt Beyer, aged 10, whose agonies lasted throughout the night, a period of at least 12 hours, during which he was lying in a field with two non-dangerous shots through the lung, and a smashed arm. A similar case is represented by Sect. No. Br. 100 Wilhelm Gollnik, aged 38, whose death agonies in the presence of his wife lasted over 9 hours.

Further reference will be made in due course to a group of victims who also were subject to more or less protracted agonies of death.

Coups de Grâce

In numerous other cases the perpetrators have fired "shots of mercy", on victims lying on the ground, as was established by the bullet wound canal rising or falling at a sharp angle. It was abundantly evident that the coup de grace administered had nothing whatsoever to do with the traditional meaning of such action, i.e., the speedy and immediate despatch of the victim as for example in the case of wounded game. It is, on the contrary, unmistakable that the shots fired on victims lying on the ground were executed to satisfy sadistic instincts, inasmuch as they were not directed at the heart or the skull, but indiscriminately at any part of the body. It is most remarkable that frequently bullet wounds were found issuing from the gluteal region near the anus and tearing their way through the body. As one has to assume that the perpetrators had a certain knowledge of marksmanship and these, in the cases in point, were Polish soldiers, one is inevitably forced to the conclusion that systematically the buttocks of the dying "Hitlerites" were aimed at. Two cases in one group of persons maltreated with this kind of bullet wound injuries, are recorded on the photograph on page 294 Sect. No. Br. 95, of the gardener, Erich Schmiede, 43 years of age, and Sect. No. Br. 101, Berthold Rabitsch, aged 64, and numerous other cases have been certified in the post-mortem examination records.


A significant and frequently applied form of maltreatment of victims consisted of placing them in bonds, as witnessed in the case of three persons belonging to a group of seven victims from the Kutzer Rectory, in the suburb of Bromberg-Jägerhof, photograph on page 279, Sect. No. Br. 115, Richard Kutzer, aged 73; photograph on page 304, Sect. No. Br. 118, Herbert Schollenberg, aged 14, and Sect. No. Br. 119, Hermann Tetzlaff, 51 years of age. In the cases referred to, the bonds were made of thin string, tied in a simple manner into loops and knots. In several other cases, as in photograph on page 280, Sect. No. Br. 67, Albrecht Schmidt, about 45 years, the bonds were attached to long pieces of rope, used for dragging the victims along. In the Jesuitersee group of mass murders, to which further reference will be made, no less than 12 victims were actually tied to one another with cattle rope and other such material into one long chain.

If the nature of the fetterings just mentioned, points for the most part to an exceptionally brutal mentality, particularly when applied to old people and children, the recent case of Sect. No. Br. 124, Wilhelm Sieg, aged 43, labourer in Feyerland, represents a method of fettering sadistically designed as an integral part of the actual murder process. The unfortunate victim was fettered with reins in such a manner that his hands were tied behind his back and the noose knotted round his neck as tightly as possible. According to the depositions of the Criminal Police and medico-legal experts, Sieg was dragged for a considerable distance on the ground, fettered in such a way and then killed by a shot from a rifle whilst still in a recumbent position.

Classification of victim's according to age. Murders of crippled and sick people

The classification of the victims of murder in accordance with their age and state of health, requires special consideration. Post-mortem examinations have definitely established that the age of the victims varied from infants of 4 months to old men of 82. Although the compilation of statistical data from the material is, as explained above, not without its difficulties, it would seem necessary to quote some figures in connection, so as not to let it be thought that murders of children were nothing but regrettable and isolated incidents.

Among the autopsies carried out, the following were on children:

No.                              sect No.                       Name and Age                                    Killed by(1)

1.         27                    Br. 129                       Egon Berger, 4 months                      Grenade

2.         25                    P. 29                           Kurt Schmolke, 15 months               Shot, probably rifle

3.         21                    Br. 76                          Erhard Prochnau, 3 years                 Pistol shot

4.         --                     Br. 59                          Gisela Renz, 4 years                          Shot, probably pistol

5.         24                    Br. 74                          Walter Busse, 7 years                                   - ditto –

6.         22                    Br. 60                          Günther Renz, 9 years                      Rifle shot

7.         23                    Br. 100                        Kurt Beyer, 10 years                          1 pistol shot

                                                                                                                                    1 tearing shot

                                                                                                                                    1 rifle shot

8.         --                     Br. 66                          Heidelies Tetzlaff, 11 years               2 shots, probably pistol

9.         --                     Br. 94                          Else Jannot, 12 years                        2 rifle shots

10.       --                     Br. 70                          Gerhard Pijan, 12 years                    Rifle shot

11.       26                    Br. 118                       Herb. Schollenberg, 14 years           1 rifle shot

                                                                                                                                    1 pistol shot

To use a biblical expression in the extremely brutal sense of the term, "the child in the womb was not spared", as can be seen from the following cases, amply illustrated by photographs Sect. No. Br. 112, Frau Sonnenberg, photograph on page S.306, and also Sect. No. 127, Frau Kempf, photograph on page 308, who were both murdered in the last stages of pregnancy, the perpetrators in both cases being Polish soldiers. As far as Sect. No. Br. 127, Frau Kempf, is concerned, there is every reason to assume that she was in labour when she died.

It can be proved in many cases that crippled, sick and aged people were not spared by the assassins. In Posen, for example, among six persons jointly murdered in a marching column of internees near Rózepole, (the Schmolke family with neighbours: Sect. No. P. 28-33) there were two men with artificial limbs, the one with a femur prothesis, and the other with two artificial legs. (Photograph on page 296, Sect. No. P. 32). Similarly, several persons with amputated legs and some otherwise crippled victims were murdered in and near Bromberg, such as Sect. No. Br. 85, Gustav Schubert, 65 years, who was suffering from advanced curvature of the spine; Sect. No. Br. 104, Paul Piotrowski, 55 years, with a sprung right leg iron; photograph on page 295, Sect. No. Br. 126, Paul Lepczynski, about 50 years, with a complete leg prothesis; Sect. No. Br. 110, Wilhelm Gollnik, 38 years, with severe injuries to the cranium received from Poles in attempted murder 10 years ago; also Sect. Nr. Br. 78, Emanuel Hemmerling, 35 years, suffering from severe bilateral T.B. of the lungs owing to which he was previously exempted from auxiliary services by the Poles themselves.

(1) It was not always possible to draw a clear distinction between rifle and pistol shots, as, up to the present in civilised countries, no data are available on the effect of military firearms upon children, particularly on the osseous system. It would appear that certain deviations of the usual effects could be observed which, on the strength of this recent and deplorable experience, would require scientific investigation.

[p. 200]

As far as the highest age classification is concerned, it would appear that the limit of 82 years in the case of a victim on which a post-mortem was held (Gustav Behnke, Sect. Nr. Br. 65 in the group of persons murdered at Eichdorf-Netzheim) must be considered as fortuitous: it has become evident that other investigating officers have established the murder of persons of a still more advanced age.

Weapons used

By far the most important conclusions to be drawn from the medico-legal investigations appear to be after all not so much the inhuman mental and physical brutalities, which have been so clearly established in the post-mortem examinations; the greater significance should be attributed to the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases subjected to an autopsy, the use of military weapons has been proved beyond any doubt. In most cases rifles were used, occasionally pistols, more rarely hand-grenades. These facts are clearly corroborated by numerous bullets or splinters, such as were extracted in about 50 cases.

In particular, the use of military firearms can, even without the surgical detection of the bullet, be proved by their highly destructive effect, especially on the osseous system, and in a remarkable measure by the hydro-dynamic phenomenon of the lifting of the skull in the case of a bullet tearing right through the brain.

The principal weapon of murder in the attempt to exterminate the German element in Poland and especially on the "Bloody Sunday" in Bromberg, has accordingly been the Polish Army rifle.

The medico-legal officer is forced to draw particular attention to this fact, established by autopsies, as it may prove to be extremely valuable to the investigating authorities in ascertaining and proving the existence of organised massacres.

Murders committed with makeshift weapons, bludgeons or knives appear to be exceptional.

No casual weapons such as pieces of garden fencing, which might be used by a person overwhelmed by passion, were employed, but highly efficient firearms.

In regard to the pistols used, it is not possible to draw in each separate case the same definite conclusions as in the case of rifles, even when the bullet was detected in the body. 

It was however possible to ascertain through examinations of the peculiar shape of the bullet extracted that in the following three cases the Nagan revolver was used:

Sect. No. Br. 48, Fritz Radler,

Sect. No. Br. 98 and Sect. No. Br. 99, Heinz and Friedrich Beyer.

The Nagan revolver was, however, a weapon obtainable in the open market and therefore excludes the assumption of the existence of a definite group of miscreants or organisers.

One item, however, seems to be of conspicuous interest: all bullets fired from small-arms retrieved in the large number of Bromberg cases, altogether 10 in number, were encased, i. e. belong to modern highly effective small-arms, namely, in three cases, the Nagan revolver, and in the other cases automatic pistols. Lead bullets as fired from a revolver are completely absent here. The assumption that all lead bullets fired from revolvers generally pass through the body is erroneous: experience proves that such bullets almost invariably become lodged, one is therefore confronted with the fact that all portable firearms used were of a highly effective and modern type, and this in a country, the population of which were hardly familiar with modern appliances in other fields even by name. The conclusions of these medico-legal investigations should prove to be of importance when questions of organisation come under review.

Can the killing of minority Germans be considered as legal executions?

It was of paramount importance in the medico-legal reports on each individual case, as well as on the various mass-murders, to ascertain whether it could be assumed that the shooting took place by the order of a court-martial and consequently took the form of an execution. It would be fruitless to attempt to consider the character of crimes punishable by death, supposed to have been committed by thousands of persons, including 4 months old infants, which were considered to have been sufficient grounds for execution.

The unbiased examination of the cases in point forces one to the following conclusions:

It is true that injuries such as may be expected after an execution, i. e. by shots delivered by a firing-squad at the victim, and striking the head or body either from the front or the back in a typical manner, did actually occur. They are, without exception, cases where individuals or small groups of victims were dragged out of their homes and "stood against the wall."

Considerable numbers of such instances were found by the Criminal Police in their intensively conducted investigations into the mass-murder in the Parish of Eichdorf-Netzheim, where 38 minority Germans were murdered, on 36 of whom post-mortems were held. Although the bullet wounds bear a certain resemblance to injuries inflicted during an execution, it is quite impossible to speak of it as a military execution, if one considers who the victims of this mass-murder were. Indeed this group comprised no less than seven children, aged from 3 to 13 years, furthermore 12 women, whose age varied between 16 and 80 years; and among the men there were only a few of military age, besides several sick and aged persons.

Another considerable group, victims of mass-murder, which has also been investigated most thoroughly by the Criminal Police, is the assassination of 39 minority Germans (38 autopsies) at the Jesuitersee near Bromberg, which might possibly come under the heading of "execution by court-martial," if one considers the class of victims concerned. Only men were included in this group, and as far as it was possible to identify them, their ages varied between 17 and 58 years. The assumption that a military execution had taken place might in this case be more readily entertained, as these people were handed over by civilians and army representatives to an organised Polish unit who murdered them.

An examination of the corpses, however, leads us to conclude that no military executions had taken place in this case. On the contrary, a bestial and indiscriminate slaughter of unarmed victims had occurred, 12 of whom had been bound together with cattle rope.

Apart from firearms, stabbing instruments were employed, 4 men actually having been killed by stabbing alone, and 13 others by both firearms and stabbing weapons.

In one particular case, a victim knocked down by a pistol-shot grazing his head had received 33 thrusts of the bayonet or stabs with a dagger (photo on p. 278, Sect. No. Br. 23, Willi Heller, 19 years). In many cases dying victims had been bayonetted, as in Sect. No. Br. 27, an unknown man, aged about 30, who had received a bullet through the lung.

The injuries referred to above, namely: slight or shallow stabs, inflicted as a stimulus, were established in three cases. Twice, in Sect No. Br. 18, Max Probul, 35 years, and also in the case of Sect. No. Br. 27, an unknown man, about 35 years of age, the orbital cavities of the victims had been punctured.

The total number of stabs found on 38 bodies examined was no fewer than 69.

The bullet wounds also require a more detailed examination. Altogether 98 bullet wounds were found on the 34 victims remaining after excluding those who had been stabbed to death.

The highest number of direct bullet wounds in one particular case amounted to five. Furthermore, in a considerable number of cases, all the bullet wounds were inflicted on the victims whilst they were in a recumbent position, so that not a moment's consideration can be given to the thought that one or other shot was meant as a coup de grace. The statement made above, i. e. that it was not a matter of "finishing shots" with the intention of terminating sufferings, but tortures which were inflicted, applies to all those numerous cases in which the victims were hit by shots whilst either in an upright or recumbent position.

The dastardly practice, to which attention has already been drawn above, of shooting at the gluteal region of the dying victim, was practised in the group under consideration no less than four times.

Particular significance must be attributed to the fact that frequently injuries from ricochet bullets were traceable, i.e. injuries caused by splinters of bullets, smashed when rebounding from an object, often probably from the body of a person in the immediate vicinity. Wounds caused by splintered bullets were established in 10 cases. One of the murdered men, namely Ernst Kolander (Sect. No. Br. 31), 27 years, was found to have received exclusively such "ricochet" injuries to 15 different parts of the body, but was not struck once by an aimed bullet. These injuries bear silent testimony to a wild shooting of victims herded together. This fact alone would entirely suffice to dismiss the assumption of a regular execution.

Attention should further be called to the fact that out of a total number of 98 shots fired, no less than 15 were fired from a pistol. In point of fact, in other cases of mass-murder, as has already been mentioned above, pistols had frequently been employed. In the case under consideration, however, the fact alone that the perpetrators consisted of an organised Polish unit leads to the indisputable conclusion that officers or specially appointed persons must have been amongst the murderers, as they alone were armed with pistols--a fact which should be borne in mind when the question of organised action is considered.

In order to complete the observations made, it should be stated that, during the massacre at the Jesuitersee, injuries inflicted not only by firearms and stabbing weapons were ascertained, but also such caused by blunt instruments, obviously in the shape of rifle butts, were found, leading in three cases to fractures of the skull, in one case to a fracture of the fibs, and in another to a fracture of the humerus.

Truly appalling facts come to light if one considers in this mass-murder the question of the effect of the injuries and the duration of the death agonies of the various victims.

Only in 21 cases out of a total of 38 murdered victims were injuries found, such as shots smashing the cranium, shot or stabs followed by cardiac opening or injury to the main near-cardial arteries, which lead to the assumption that death was instantaneous. The remaining 17 cases exhibited shots through the lungs, injuries to the limbs, shots through the spinal cord or less extensive bullet injuries to the skull, so that in none of these cases could instantaneous death have occurred, and indeed in some of them, protracted agonies lasting for hours must be assumed. In accordance with the findings of the Special Commission of the Criminal Police, it is probable that the perpetrators threw the victims from the landing stage into the shallow water and then renewed their fire on those who still gave signs of life. It is therefore possible that the agonies of one or the other of that group of unfortunates were terminated by drowning. On the other hand, this fact must also be considered as far as the question of military execution is concerned. There is no doubt that neither drowning, thrusts of the bayonet, nor stabbing can, in any circumstances, possibly be considered as a means of regular and lawful execution.

A complete statement of the findings of medico-legal experts on the massacre at the Jesuitersee inevitably leads to the conclusion that in this case no execution had taken place, nor, according to the investigations of the Special Commission of the Criminal Police, could there have been any reason or legal right for such action. In these cases the murders were committed in the most dastardly manner, with such methods of extreme brutality as are seldom to be found in the records of ordinary capital crime.

It would therefore appear that, in considering the question of organized action, the most important medico-legal finding is that of the co-operation of the leaders of military units--abundantly corroborated by the presence of pistol shots--on whom, consequently, the main responsibility rests.


IV. Summary

The medico-legal findings in the post-mortems conducted on about 250 minority Germans, representing only a small proportion of the victims of the Polish massacre, have established the fact that persons of every age, from 4 months old infants to 82-year-old victims were murdered quite indiscriminately and that even women in an advanced stage of pregnancy were not spared.

It has been demonstrated that the murders were carried out with the utmost brutality and that in numerous cases measures with distinctly sadistic tendencies were adopted. Particularly, punctures of the orbital cavity were found, as well as other mutilations which must be considered as wholly convincing evidence offered by witnesses.

The planning of the individual murders often shows a high degree of cunning in the devising of the mental and physical torture applied to the victims; several cases, especially where the actual process of killing lasted several hours and where the death agonies of the victims were deliberately protracted, cannot be sufficiently stressed.

Probably the most important finding is the proof that only quite exceptionally, were makeshift weapons, such as bludgeons, knives, etc., used, and that, generally, modern and highly effective weapons, i. e. military rifles and pistols, were at the disposal of the murderers. It must be particularly noted that the consideration even of the smallest details leads to the exclusion of the idea of formal executions of victims.

Br. 118.(1)                                                                                          Bromberg, Nov. 13, 1939

Coffin marked:

Herbert Schollenberg.

Aged 14 years.


A. External examination

1. Body of boy, height 148 cm., build: slight.

2. Hands tied behind back with ordinary double-knotted loop; ordinary string of 0.4 cm. in thickness, somewhat thickened through damp.

3. Advanced stage of decomposition. Epidermis decomposed in exposed places except for remains on fingers. Here and there superficial softening of the corium with uneven basis (probably due to vermin), likewise in some sections of the scalp, the size of the palm of the hand, and furthermore over the chin and in places on limbs of body. Otherwise corium of dirty greyish to greyish-green colour, in parts dried to a brown hue.

4. Hair -- up to 4 cm. -- medium fair.

5. Scalp intact, where examination not made impossible by the action of vermin; same applies to skin of face and neck.

6. Bulbi oculi sunk deeply back into orbital cavities.

7. On right upper thorax, 124 cm. from the soles of the feet, 8 cm. from median line directly beneath the inner third of the collar-bone, a circular aperture of 0.6 cm. in diameter between nipple and anterior axillary lines. (Phot.)

8. In a perpendicular line under the abovementioned aperture over 4th rib, 112 cm. from the soles of the feet, 8 cm. to the right of median line--a similar circular aperture, equally of 0.6 cm. in diameter. (Phot.)

9. Surface of abdomen intact, also genitals and limbs, as far as can be ascertained by examination of parts not affected by vermin.

(1) As an illustration of the meticulous care taken by the medico-legal experts in making their statements, the appendix to Sect. Br. 118 (OKW H. S. In.) is here reprinted (vide phot. on p. 304)

[p. 205]

10. On left dorsal side, over region of scapular ridge, 117 cm. from the soles of the feet, 7 cm left of median line--an irregular oval lacuna of soft parts, 3 by 2 cm. in length, the longer diameter being perpendicular. Lobulated edges; their juncture diminishes the aperture and divides it more or less to indicate an upper and a lower half. (Phot.)

11. On the right dorsal side in the scapular line, over the upper half of the scapula, 120 cm. above the soles of the feet, 8 cm. to right of median line--an irregular circular aperture of 0.8 cm. in diameter. (Phot.)


B. Internal examination

I. Cranial cavity

12. Soft and osseous walls intact.

13. Brain softened to pulp of dirty-greenish colour.

II. Thoracic and abdominal cavities

14. From the soft aperture under the right clavicle a tract, the width of a pencil, is ascertainable. and continues right through the main pectoral muscle and the tissue of the inner sections of the fight axilla, on to the back towards the sub-scapularis muscle, then through the scapula with a circular aperture of some 0.8 cm. in diameter, and finally to the small soft aperture on the right dorsal side.

Axillary vessels intact. From the scapular aperture which is situated about 1 cm. from the interior edge and 1.5 cm. under the spine of the scapula, several fissures on the right upper and lower halves; the fragments of bone embraced by these fissures are partly displaced towards the back. The track forms a straight line when the scapula is slightly raised and the articular tragus lowered, as the position would have been when the boy was fettered.

15. A further bullet track, the width being that of a pencil, can be seen between the lower aperture of the right anterior thorax and the large aperture on the left dorsal side. It leads through the anterior soft parts of the thorax and from there into the right pleural gap, i.e. through the third intercostal space on the mammillar line. The fourth rib was grazed at its upper edge and shows a mark of about 2 cm. in length on the posterior side of its upper edge. Then the track follows, again in the same thickness of a pencil, the right upper lobe of the lung and runs through the posterior mediastinal tissue towards the vertebral column. In this section of the track the thoracic artery shows a large tear in its posterior wall, so that, on a length of more than 4 cm. only a strip 1 cm. wide of the anterior wall remains. The rim of the torn-out piece is unevenly ragged with numerous fissures running in zig-zag lines right into the remaining part of the wall.

At the vertebral column, the track, about two fingers wide, is bifurcated into the left sections of the fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae. It is noticeable that the degree of fungoid tissue destruction is moderate. Furthermore the costal cartilages of the fifth and sixth ribs the length of 2 cm. had been smashed. The track now leaves the left pleural gap, through an aperture the size of a florin, and emerges through the dorsal muscles into the soft parts of the left side of  the dorsum. In this latter section of the track the interior edge of the scapula was struck half way up, forming an injury 2 cm. in length, in the shape of a circular segment. The edge of the injury shows an outward slope and fissures radiating into the infra-spinous parts. 

16. Organs of the thoracic and abdominal cavities not mentioned in this report were found to be intact.

17. Changes of organs due to disease were not observed; considering the height and lymphatic secretion they were in fair condition.

18. Determination of age: Symphysis over 2 mm. wide and well preserved in upper arm. Clear interior and exterior sutures. Not quite completed permanent teeth. (The two right second molars are missing).

All indication marks coincide with the age of 14, as stated.

Br. 118.                                                                                              Bromberg, Nov. 13, 1939

Coffin marked:

Herbert Schollenberg.

14 years of age.


Preliminary report


I. The post-mortem examination has established two bullet injuries.

a) Penetrating shot from right infra-clavicular fossa through tissue of axilla to right side of dorsum, right through the scapula. Slight smashing effect on osseous parts; slightly descending track.

b) Penetrating shot from median region of thorax to left scapula, grazing vertebral column, tearing thoracic artery, moderately ascending track.

II. The shot through the thorax with severance of the thoracic artery proved fatal and caused instantaneous death.

III. Judging by its effective power, the shot through the right axillary scapula was obviously fired from a pistol. As far as the shot through the thorax from right to left in the back is concerned, its effect points in all probability to an army rifle. This is particularly indicated by the degree of severance of the thoracic artery, whereas the effect on the osseous parts appears to be surprisingly small. In this respect it should be pointed out that it is only since the Bromberg massacre that experience has been gained as to the effective power of rifle bullets on the osseous system of children. The above mentioned differences in the effective powers of these weapons seem to be typical.

IV. The pistol shot from the right infra-clavicular fossa to the right dorsal side might have hit the victim whilst in an upright position, though only in that position, of the shoulder girdle as indicated and produced by the fettering of the hands behind the back as found on the body. Unless one assumes that the bullet was fired from a kneeling position, as shot through the thorax could only have been fired on a body in a recumbent position, as demonstrated by the slightly ascending direction of the bullet track, especially so as the spot hit was 112 cm. from the soles of the feet.

V. Particular attention is drawn to the bonds of the 14 year old victim, as actually found on the body and also proved by the direction of the bullet track in I a). Similar bonds were found on two other persons belonging to the same group of murdered people.

VI. Exhibits:

a) Right fourth rib grazed by bullet.

b) Partly smashing bullet wound grazing fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae and the corresponding left ribs,

c) Pistol shot through the right scapula.

d) Grazing rifle bullet shot through the left scapula.

e) Severance of thoracic artery, caused by grazing rifle bullet.