Mass Drowning of Jews by Gestapo Described by Prosecutor at Von Mannstein Trial

Field Marshal Fritz Erich von Mannstein, the 61-year-old German General now on trial here before a British war crimes tribunal was charged today by the prosecutor with “terrible extermination” of Jewish refugees who tried to cross the San River into Russian-occupied Poland ahead of invading Nazi armies. The Jews, who were trying to reach their homes, were machine-gunned and drowned under instructions from von Mannstein, Reuters quoted the prosecutor as stating.

“The Gestapo,” the British prosecutor told the court, “stood on the bank of the river and drove the Jews into boats. Many did not get on board and were carried away by the current. Women in the water held their children above their heads to prevent them from drowning and screamed for help. The Gestapo shot into the struggling mass of people. The blood of those hit spurted in all directions and colored the river blood-red.”

Mannstein’s order, the prosecutor said, made conditions worse for Jewish and other refugees and showed that “he was using his initiative not to protect civilians but to incite people against them.”

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