New York (Oct. 2)
Mrs. Louise Krets Lehmann, Hungarianborn Jewess, has filed suit to recover $32,000 she charges the Nazi secret police forced her to sign away while holding her incommunicado in a Dresden jail, it was revealed today.
Since the suit was filed, she has been receiving cablegrams daily from the German government promising to return her money if she returns to Germany and consents to an annullment of her marriage with Frank Lehmann, “Aryan” principal owner of the J.M. Lehmann machine and steel company in Dresden, her attorney told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The affidavit of Mrs. Lehmann filed in New York County Supreme Court alleges the Gastapo, German secret police, arrested her for “race defilement” and then compelled her to sign a power of attorney which was used to withdraw her funds from the Emigrant and Union Dime Savings Bank in New York.
Walter L. Rathborne, 258 Broadway, her attorney, explained that the banks released the money after the Corn Exchange Bank had guaranteed the indorsement. He said the Corn Exchange Bank had in turn received a guarantee from the J.M. Lehmann Co. of New York, a large machine company said to be a subsidiary of the Dresden firm. At the office of the New York company, all connections with the German house were denied.
The Bank of England and the Bank of France, confronted with the power of attorney, refused to release Mrs. Lehmann’s funds, Rathborne said, because there have been many cases of such authorizations signed under duress.
Mrs. Lehmann said she went to Germany to attend the funeral of her husband’s father. While living with her husband, she said, the Gestapo seized her on charges of “race defilement” and imprisoned her a month.
After ransacking the house, she declared, the police discovered her foreign bank deposits and held it illegal to have money abroad without notifying the Finance Ministry. They then forced her to sign away the money.
Freed after her husband had paid 500,000 marks, Mrs. Lehmann said she fled to Praha with the aid of the American consul and then proceeded to file suit.
Her suit, embodies in two actions, names the following defendants: The Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, the Union Dime Savings Bank, Otto Siegfried Mangler, who she charges is an agent of the Nazi Party and the German government here; J.M. Lehmann Co., Inc. Edward E, Mueser, secretary of the company, and the Corn Exchange Bank and Trust Co.
Discussing her imprisonment, Mrs. Lehmann said:
“The food was terrible, and always you heard the screams of the men prisoners who were being beaten and tortured. I was afraid
they would kill me because I was a Jewess and had money in American banks, and because I had done the unpardonable — married a German. I was ill when they took me off to jail from a sanitarium.
“I talked to many women prisoners, one who got a six months term for reading ‘The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror,’ another who got six months for saying, ‘Hindenburg did not keep his word.'”