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Former Nazi Prisoner Describes Killing of Jews at Mauthausen Camp by Electrocution

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A former inmate of the Mauthausen death camp today told an American military tribunal trying eight former guards and officials at the camp that Jews were forced to Jump into electrically-charged fences to be burned death.

The witness, who preferred to remain unidentified because of fear of reprisals, testified that he saw Franz Koffler, one of the accused, beat five Jews and order them to jump into the wired fences. Two of the Jews accepted their fate and were immediately electrocuted, he said, but the other three, a father and two sons, held back. The father begged that his life be sacrificed but his sons’ spared, but Koffler and several other guards picked up the three and tossed them to their deaths.

Meanwhile, in another court room here today, two Gestapo officers were sentenced to be hanged for murdering Jews in Camp Gusen I, a satellite camp of Mauthausen. One, a physician and Gestapo captain, Helmuth Vetter, was convicted of killing people with poisonous injections, while the second, Kurt Kirchner, was found guilty of beating, torturing and killing prisoners while he was a labor gang foreman. Three other defendants received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment.

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