U.S. War Crimes Official Denies Former Concentration Camp Guards Get Mild Sentences

Replying to charges by Jewish and antifascist organizations that former concentration camp guards were receiving light sentences because the prosecution was not fully utilizing available material in the hands of these groups and individual victims, Col. Howard Bresee, chief of the U.S. War Crimes Detachment here, said today that defendants who receive light sentences are usually “small fry” against whom there is not much evidence.

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that war crimes teams are constantly in the field attempting to gather information about persons scheduled to be tried and have visited former camp inmates. Pictures of the prisoners have been posted in the DP camps with requests that any information about them be submitted.

Col. Bresee admitted, however, that the war crimes unit here was under instructions from its headquarters at Frankfurt to speed up the trials as much as possible in order to dispose of the cases of the 15,000 persons imprisoned at Dachau awaiting trial. Of these 1,200 were guards or officials at Dachau itself, while others were stationed in Mauthausen, Flossenburg and other camps.

A report received here today says that a mass grave containing the bodies of 3,000 Mauthausen victims has just been discovered.

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