Ex-nazi Leaders Try to Clear Envoy to Vichy of Responsibility for Death of Jews

The former Nazi military governor of Paris and his German chief of the Paris gendarmerie during the occupation yesterday testified in behalf of Otto Abetz, former Nazi envoy to the Vichy Government, who is now being tried by a French court here on charges of complicity in the deportation of 40,000 French Jews to their death in Nazi camps in Poland. The Nazi is also charged with responsibility for the assassination of former French Minister of Interior Georges Mandel, a Jew, by Vichy troops.

Meanwhile, the trial of 39 former officials of the Vichy Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, which opened last week, continued yesterday with the beginning of direct testimony. Further testimony is scheduled for today’s session.

S.S. General Karl Albrecht Oberg, who during his reign over Paris earned the appellation, “The Butcher of Paris,” sought to clear Abetz of all responsibility. The General has already been sentenced to death by a British military court for war crimes.

The former Nazi police chief in Paris, Col. Helmuth Knochen, supported his ex-chief’s defense of Abetz. During the course of Col. Knochen’s testimony, the defendant broke in to remark that a statement related by the witness about threats to execute people had been made “Jokingly.” Abetz was immediately reproved by the presiding trial judge, who said: “Jokes about shooting people may become dangerous.”

Col. Knochen also revealed that all orders dealing with anti-Jewish actions came directly from Berlin and that the Nazi authorities had sent a Capt. Dancker to Paris to eliminate Jews from the French government service. Col. Knochen also spoke of bombings of synagogues, during which some German soldiers were killed, but disclaimed personal knowledge of these acts when he was accused of having organized them.

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