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Defendants in Jassy Pogrom Trial Plead Not Guilty; Witnesses Describe 1941 Massacre

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All 57 Rumanian defendants In the Jassy massacre trial which opened here earlier this week, today pleaded innocent of complicity in the 1941 pogrom which cost the lives of 14 ,000 Jews. This is the second trial of the defendants — army officers, civilian officials and civilians — who either participated in or were responsible for the pogrom.

General Gheorghe Stavrescu, chief defendant, whose Rumanian Fourth Infantry Division was garrisoned in Jassy at the time of the massacre, which was carried out by Rumanian and German troops, police and civilians, denied all charges against him. He insisted that the prosecution’s documents, which contained his signatures and prove his complicity in the crime, were forgeries. Both he and Col. Constantu Lupu, military commander of the city on the day of the pogrom, admitted that none of the German or Rumanian soldiers who rounded up and murdered the Jews were injured or killed by any Jew during the “operation.”

Another defendant, Lt. Aurel Triandaf, commandant of one of two trains in whi? thousands of Jews were deported from the town several days after the initial massacre, described the Jews imprisoned in the box cars under his command as maddened by a lack of water, air and food and the smell of corpses. Although he protested that he had treated his prisoners as well as possible, he was unable to explain the death of more than 700 Jews during the train’s three-day journey. When the prosecutor asked him whether he would have treated his charges the same if the train contained a cargo of horses rather than human beings, Triandaf remained silent.

As the trial developed, survivors of the pogrom repeated their recollections of the day of horror in Jassy. One, Carol Kon, told the court how Nicolai Miron, a defendant, who had been his friend for 20 years, betrayed his hiding place to a German patrol. A second defendant, Aurel Gramaticu, is accused of having killed his own schoolmates.

The emotional climax of the day was reached when 14-year-old Marcu Berger pointed to defendant Nicolai Condurache and told the court that Condurache came into his home seven years ago and shot his parents and grandparents before his eyes. The audience was moved to tears and rage against the war criminals.

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