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German Court Acquits Former Nazi Officials Charged with Destruction of Synagogue

A German court at Munich Gladbach acquitted two former Nazi Party officials of responsibility for the destruction of the local synagogue and the destruction of other Jewish property during the nationwide pogroms of November 1948, it was learned here.

The reasons given by the court for the acquittal of the two, who were the only members of a group of ten persons implicated in the crime to be brought to trial, has aroused Jews and progressive circles in Germany. The court decided that the two men, Hans Krechel, a leader of the local Nazi organization, and H. Wernecke, a lawyer who was at the time supreme Nazi Party judge for the district, “because of their prominent positions” were not likely to have taken part in the actual firing of the synagogue and Jewish homes.

In arriving at this decision, the court disregarded the testimony of several witnesses who placed Krechel at the synagogue during the fire and Wernecke in the house of a man whose furniture was thrown out the window and then set on fire. Wernecke pleaded that, in his capacity as party judge, he had only entered the house to help the Jew.