German Officials in U.S. Zone Change Earlier Plans to Try Ilse Koch After Her Release

German officials in the United States occupation zone have now apparently dropped earlier plans for pressing charges against Ilse Koch, the notorious war criminal, when she is released from United States Army custody next year.

Dr. Josef Mueller, Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister of Bavaria, disclosed that he had found “only slight basis” for bringing the widow of the former S.S. commander of the Buchenwald death camp to trial in Bavaria when she is freed from the Lands berg “war crimes” Prison where she is now finishing the term which the United States Army recently reduced from life to four years.

Previously, Dr. Mueller had been reported as saying emphatically that he would see that she was brought before a German criminal court as soon as the United States Army released her–or even before, if the United States occupation authorities would permit her to stand trial while she was serving her present sentence. Now, however, Dr. Mueller maintains that his statement was “misinterpreted” by the press. What he said, he asserted today, is that he would “investigate” to see whether there are grounds for trying her in Bavaria under German law.

That “investigation” has shown that he would he on extremely shaky grounds if he brought her before a Bavarian criminal court, he said, since the crimes of which she is accused were allegedly committed when she resided at Buchenwald, which is just outside of Weimar and in the state of Thuringia–now in the Russian-occupation zone. He indicated that there night be sufficient justification to try her in the degasification courts of Bavaria, but he pointed out that those tribunals would probably close in another year.

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