Berlin (Nov. 7)
There are 12 million members of the Nazi Party who could seize the Government of Germany by force, Dr. Frank, who is Adolf Hitler’s own personal lawyer and who has been appearing with Advocate Freisler, and four other leading Hitlerist Advocates in defence of Count Helldorf, the Berlin Commandant of the Hitlerist storm troops, and the other Hitlerist and Steelhelm leaders who have been standing their trial on the charge of organising and directing the anti-Jewish excesses which took place in Berlin on Rosh Hashanah, opened his closing speech for the Defence to-day.
While Dr. Frank impressed the court with the numbers and strength of the Hitlerist movement, suggesting that it would be inadvisable to rouse it to anger by a sentence which it would resent, and steered clear of any antisemitic utterances, Advocate Freisler, on the other hand, who followed him, devoted his speech entirely to attacking the Jews.
To a German court of law, he said, a few Jews who have got a thrashing are not so important as Nazi storm-troopers who have been killed, and there are plenty of Jews among those who have murdered Nazis. It is only just, he went on, if the Semites of the Kurfuerstendamm get their ears boxes, and the awakening German shows these well-fed Kurfuerstendamm Jews the strength of his fist.
Sentences of three years’ imprisonment for Count Relldorf and his Chief-of-Staff, Ernst, and of 2Â½ years for Engineer Brandt, the leader of the Berlin Young Steelhelm Brigade, as the ringleaders of the excesses, and of one year each for the other Hitlerist officials, Hell, Damerow, Schulz, and Hagemeister, were demanded by the Public Prosecutors, Dr. Stenig and Dr. Herf, who argued that a clear case had been proved against the prisoners, pointing out that the evidence had shown that Count Helldorf and Ernst had known at 6 o’clock in the evening that there was to be a big attack on the Jews in the Kurfuerstendamm on the evening of the Jewish New Year, and that punctually at 8.30 there had arrived in the Kurfuerstendamm 1,200 Naxi storm-troopers and their leaders, so that there could be no doubt about the organised character of the pogrom.
Instead of three years for Helldorf and Ernst and 2Â½ years for Brandt, however, the court has decided to send all three to prison for only six months, explaining that it has found them guilty only on the charge of committing a breach of the peace, but not of having organised and directed the excesses. Of the other accused one has been acquitted and the rest have been sentenced to four months and one to three months’ imprisonment.
In democratic quarters the verdict has caused consternation, as showing the desire of the court to avoid offending Hitlerist opinion, by what is the nearest compromise it could find to placating the Hitlerists without altogether outraging justice by letting them off altogether free.
It is monstrous, it is objected, that the ringleaders should escape more lightly than the dupes whom they led.
In the case of the participants in the excesses, who were put on trial in September, immediately after the outbreak, State Attorney Dr. Stenig being in charge of the Prosecution as in the present trial, the sentences were twelve to one year, eight to fifteen months, two to seventeen months, one to 21 months, and four to nine months.