We must start with the documents. Here is an excerpt from the transcript of the meeting of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, held 15-16 January 1947 in Moscow:
“Preliminary and judicial investigation established:
Von Pannwitz Helmut in the 1941 year, being the commander of the head strike squad of the 45 German Infantry Division, took part in the treacherous attack of Hitler's Germany on the Soviet Union in the area of Brest-Litovsk. As an inspector of cavalry under the High Command of the Ground Forces, Pannwitz actively assisted the Nazi soldiers in carrying out reprisals and violence against Soviet residents in the territory of the Soviet Union temporarily occupied by the Germans.
While in the army grouping of German General Kleist in the North Caucasus, Pannwitz helped the latter use the so-called “volunteer” Cossack regiment created by the Germans from the Don and Kuban traitors against the Red Army.
In April 1943, on the instructions of the high command of the German army, Pannwitz formed a “volunteer” division of the White Guards and Cossack Cossacks by the Cossacks and established contact with the White Guard general Krasnov.
Pannvitsa Division, then reformed into a corps, from September 1943 on the day of the surrender of Germany was in Yugoslavia, where she led the armed struggle against the Yugoslav partisans and civilians. The Cossacks of Pannvitsa Corps perpetrated reprisals against the civilian population, shot innocent people, raped women, burned settlements. On the personal order of Pannwitz, in the winter of 1944, in the area of Sunya-Zagreb, were hung on the 15 pillars of Yugoslav hostages.
The Supreme Court sentenced von Pannwitz to death by hanging. The sentence was final and was not subject to cassation appeal.
But the certificate of rehabilitation of Lieutenant General von Pannwitz Helmut, issued by the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office today, 23 April 1996:
“Von Pannwitz Helmut Wilhelmovich, born 1898, arrested on May 9 1945, convicted on January 16 1947 by the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court on the basis of Art. 1 of the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of April 19 1943 to death by hanging, in accordance with paragraph "a" of Art. 3 of the Law of the Russian Federation "On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression" rehabilitated.
Assistant to the Chief Military Prosecutor V.M. Kruk.
Immediately, we note that Colonel of Justice Viktor Mikhailovich Kruk, who signed this amazing document, soon after the fateful legal act, left the military justice bodies and left the Russian Federation.
But why did the German general, one of those who brought war on Soviet soil, and with it death, grief and suffering to millions of our compatriots, a commander of a very high rank who formed the division and corps of traitors to the Motherland, suddenly forgive all sins?
And it was not done by any public human rights organization of their choice, but by the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office itself.
But one wonders even more when he became acquainted with the following revelation of the Cossack ataman (and part-time writer, as he himself imagines) Boris Almazov: “Helmut von Pannwitz is a national hero of the Cossacks, he accomplished a feat ... of the highest morality (?! - AV), he came to a strange people, understood him history and decided to go with this nation. "
This amazing passage is from the book “Marching Ataman Father (?!) Von Pannwitz” published in 1997.
Who is he, this “von dad”, who turned out to be a victim of political repression from the bay-rammer and who was behind this amazing legal bar? And what was his army, now given out by some of the Cossack public for "honest fighters against the totalitarian communist regime"?
Helmut (or Helmut, as they often write) Wilhelm (or Wilhelmovich, as he chose to be called after being appointed commander of the Russian division) von Pannwitz was born in vil. Bozenovits in Silesia in the family of the German Junker in 1898 year. His life path is absolutely typical of the highest-ranking Nazi warriors. In 11 years he was sent to the cadet corps in Waldstadt and at the end of the rank of junker he was seconded to the 1 th Uhlan regiment of the Western Front. From 1916 of the year, rising to lieutenant shoulder straps, he fought with Russian troops in the Carpathians.
After the defeat of Germany in 1918, he was, like many other Kaiser officers, out of work, being dismissed. With 1934, again in the Reichswehr (then - Wehrmacht) with the rank of captain. In 1939, he participates in the attack on Poland, commanding the cavalry vanguard of the infantry division, in 1940, he is fighting in France ...
And now we read the von Pannwitz interrogation protocols conducted by investigators of the USSR MGB in 1946 – 1947.
“- What crimes and criminal acts do you plead guilty to?
“Moving from Brest-Litovsk to Kursk, the shock and other units of the 45 Infantry Division subordinate to me destroyed a number of villages and villages, destroyed Soviet cities, killed a large number of Soviet citizens and also robbed peaceful Soviet people ...
... I must admit that by participating in the inspection, and later in the formation of military units consisting of prisoners of war of the Red Army, and leading them in battles against the USSR and Yugoslavia, I committed an act that is considered a crime according to international rules and customs. For this crime, I am ready to bear responsibility ...
I recognize myself responsible for the fact that, starting in the fall of 1943, I led the battles of the division subordinated to me against the Yugoslav partisans, allowed Cossacks against civilians to be killed in the division’s zone ... carried out the criminal orders of Hitler's high command and SS circulars Obergruppenführer Bach-Zelewski, in which outlined measures to combat the guerrillas and the massacre of civilians ...
... - List the cases when, according to your order, the Cossacks committed acts of robbery, violence and other crimes against humanity in Yugoslavia.
- Of the numerous crimes committed by Cossacks subordinate to me in Yugoslavia, I recall the following facts.
In the winter of 1943 - 1944 in the region of Sunya-Zagreb, on my order, 15 people were hanged from among Yugoslav residents ...
At the end of 1943, in the area of Fruska Gora, the Cossacks of the 1 Cavalry Regiment were hanged in the village of 5 or 6 (I do not remember exactly) peasants.
The Cossacks of the 3, 4 and 6 cavalry regiments in the same area committed the mass rape of Yugoslav women.
In December 1943, similar executions and rapes occurred in the area of the town of Brod (Bosnia)
In May, 1944, in Croatia, in the region south of Zagreb, the Cossacks of the 1 regiment burned down the village ...
... I also recall that in December 1944 of the Cossacks of the 5 Cavalry Regiment under the command of Colonel Kononov during an operation against partisans in the area of the Drava River, not far from the city of Virovititsa, committed mass murder of the population and the rape of women ... "
If the von Pannwitz army, together with its “gallant” ataman, surrendered to the British in May 1945, were not handed over by the British command to the Soviet side, the government of Yugoslavia would probably seek to extradite him for honored justice.
And undoubtedly, if not in Moscow, then in Belgrade the punishing general would have received his death sentence.
And now we turn to the documents on the rehabilitation of this gentleman. As is clear from the conclusion submitted for approval by the Assistant Chief Military Prosecutor Colonel of Justice V.M. Kruk, Deputy Chief Military Prosecutor, Lieutenant General of Justice V.A. Smirnov 22 on April 1996, in the temple of military law, was engaged in reviewing the case of the “traveling chieftain” because the granddaughter of von Pannwitz Vanessa von Bassevitz turned to her grandfather for the rehabilitation of her grandfather.
As can be seen from the certificate, signed by the Assistant Chief Military Prosecutor, the basis for the rehabilitation of von Pannwitz was item “a” of article 3 of the RF Law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression” of October 18 of 1991. The text of the law reads as follows:
"Subject to rehabilitation are persons who, for political reasons, were:
a) convicted of state and other crimes. ”
But what have the “political motives” about when it comes to atrocities, violence, murders of innocent people. And the article itself 3 arbitrarily taken out of the context of the law. For the 4 article of the same legal act states:
“The persons listed in art. 3 of this Law, reasonably convicted by the courts, as well as punished by a decision of non-judicial bodies, in whose cases there is sufficient evidence on charges of committing the following crimes:
... b) the commission of violent acts against the civilian population and prisoners of war, as well as complicity with the traitors of the Motherland and the fascist invaders in the commission of such actions during the Great Patriotic War;
... d) war crimes and crimes against justice. "
It is unlikely that the guardian of legality in colonel uniform did not read art. 4, referring to Art. 3, or found it possible to selectively interpret a legal act, "without noticing" an inconvenient article. Obviously, the confessions of Pannwitz during interrogations in the MGB (the above extracts from the minutes) just seemed to him to be “insufficient” evidence.
"Did not notice" V.M. Kruk and von Pannwitz's frank confessions during interrogations. How else to explain such a statement by the Colonel of Justice in a rehabilitation conclusion in the Pannwitz case:
“... it was established that Lieutenant-General von Pannwitz during the Great Patriotic War was a German citizen, a soldier of the German army and carried out his military duties. There is no evidence that von Pannwitz or his subordinates allowed atrocities and violence against the Soviet civilian population and the captured Red Army soldiers. ”
I guess I misunderstood something. Apparently, I was far from the level of justice that the colonel of justice V.M. Crook ...
But after thinking about these very eloquent documents, the thought didn’t give me any peace: but aren't the victims of political repression subject to rehabilitation for an hour or are the people sentenced to hanging by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946 a year not subject to rehabilitation, say Field Marshal V. Keitel or Head of the Imperial Security Directorate Obergruppenführer SS Dr. E. Kaltenbrunner? After all, the “political motives” in their criminal cases are undoubtedly evident. They also fought Bolshevism to the best of their abilities and capabilities. Those sentenced to death by an international court in Nuremberg, again, were citizens of Germany and “only” carried out their official duties or orders of the Führer. These people did not kill anyone themselves, did not torture or robbed ...
The rhetorical question: did the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, headed by the Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Chief Military Prosecutor VN, think? Panichev, before rehabilitating von Pannwitz, how far can legitimacy of this kind take the legality?
Is this not a shameless mockery of the memory of the victims of Nazism, of the sufferings and sorrows of millions of our fellow citizens and representatives of other subjugated peoples, who have borne the brunt of the struggle against the “plague of the 20th century”?
Now about where, as they say, the wind blew in the spring of 1996. Recall that the rehabilitation of the Nazi general coincided with the visit of B.N. Yeltsin to Germany. At that time, Boris Nikolayevich reprimanded Russia as an ally of the Federal Republic of Germany and generously demonstrated his cordial disposition to Chancellor H. Kohl. Certain concrete steps, of course, were required to confirm this friendship. Here are the officials of the MAG and warning in person: the rehabilitation of von Pannwitz has become one of the "gestures of goodwill." True, it was calculated entirely on the German audience, and neatly hidden from compatriots. This is not just my guess. The same explanation was given to me by a very knowledgeable employee of the Foreign Intelligence Service. There is evidence that, following Pannwitz, they were going to rehabilitate Hans Rattenhuber, the head of personal security of Hitler, who had finished his days in a Soviet prison, but did not have time. People began to change in the Kremlin, and with them the dominant sentiments.
In addition, in 2001, the author of these lines published in two editions, the weekly Independent Military Review and the monthly journal journal Selskaya Nov, disclosing materials on the rehabilitation of Helmut von Pannwitz. After the speeches in print, the Main Military Prosecutor's Office reversed: the rehabilitation of Hitler's punitive general was urgently canceled. In a response received by the editorial board of the magazine “Selskaya Nov”, signed by the head of the Department for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repressions of the Main Military Prosecutor General, Major General of Justice V.K. Kondratov said: “I inform you that the conclusion of 22 from 1996 on April 28 on the rehabilitation of von Pannwitz Helmut as unfounded was canceled. 2001 of June of this year (XNUMX) concluded that von Pannwitz was convicted of criminal acts reasonably, there are no grounds for protest and he cannot be rehabilitated. ”
At the same time, it was recognized that the certificate of rehabilitation of von Pannwitz Helmut does not have legal force, of which interested persons were notified in writing, as well as the relevant state institutions of Germany.
This decision allows us to conclude that corporate solidarity does not weigh on GWP lawyers, they are open to public discussion of human rights issues and sincerely seek to correct the mistakes made.
In a conversation with the editor of the department of history and law of the Selskaya Nov magazine (he was your humble servant), Major General of Justice V.K. Kondratov told some details of this case. It turns out that in 1996, despite the longstanding practice, the GWP leadership at the time commissioned to examine the issue of revising the von Pannwitz case and prepare an opinion on it not to the Office for the Rehabilitation of Political Repression Victims, but personally to the Assistant Chief Military Prosecutor Colonel of Justice V.M. Kruku. Of course, the secretly drafted document was not subjected to legal examination in the designated Office and was approved, in fact passing the competent specialists.
“If the case of von Pannwitz was considered here, I think there would be no mistake,” emphasized Valery Konstantinovich. - After all, our lawyers in determining the degree of culpability of a person take into account the totality of circumstances, and not individual formal grounds ...
According to Major-General Justice Kondratov, who was involved in rehabilitation affairs since 1987, the case of Pannwitz is unprecedented in its own way.
For example, in the same 1996 year, when all the sins were "shed" by the Hanging General Pannwitz, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office considered the cases of Major General G. Remlinger (military commander of Pskov during the Nazi occupation) and Major General K. Burckhardt ( the commandant of the rear of the German army 6, deployed in 1941 - 1942 in Ukraine). Both were denied rehabilitation: their criminal cases contain similar testimonies about the atrocities that they committed, as in the interrogation materials of Helmut Pannwitz, with the only difference that innocent people were executed and robbed in the USSR.
By the way, in 1997, in the Main Military Prosecutor's Office, the cases of Pannwitz's accomplices convicted to death by the same sentence imposed on 16 of January 1947 of the year, the leaders of the white Cossacks P.N. and S.N. Krasnov, A.G. Shkuro, Sultan-Giray Klych, T.I. Domanova. According to Major General Kondratov, such organizations as the Don Military History Club, the Information Cossack Center of the Union of Cossacks of Russia, the United Culture Fund of the Kuban Cossacks insisted on their rehabilitation. However, the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, on the basis of the conclusion of the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office 25 of December 1997, delivered a final verdict: these persons were punished according to merit and are not subject to justification.
For Helmut von Pannwitz, as we see, an exception was made. Did Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin know what dubious curtsy was performed in the PRT for the sake of strengthening his personal friendship “with a friend Helmut”? Dark water in the clouds ...