German Court Acquits Nazi Officials Who Deported Offenbach Jews

Two former Gestapo officials at Offenbach, near Frankfurt, were acquitted here today, although the court found them guilty of having arrested local Jews on trumped-up charges about ten years ago, thus causing their deportation and their death in Polish extermination camps. The Jews, being partners of mixed marriages, would not have been subjected to deportation if these trumped-up charges had not been preferred.

The public prosecutor demanded jail sentences for Offenbach’s former Gestapo chief, Johann Schmitz, and for his aid, Joseph Hedderich, pointing out that the acts of the defendants fell under a provision of the German Penal Code covering those who, while exercising an official function, became “accessories to the aggravated deprivation of liberty” as well as to the “persecution of innocent people.” The court ruled that the pair had “inwardly not approved” the orders they were following.

Throughout the trial, German public sympathy was plainly on the side of the Gestapo officials. Last year, after the two had been indicted by the Darmstadt district attorney, the Darmstadt court simply refused to arraign them. Only when the district attorney appealed to the Superior Court was the trial ordered to be held in Frankfurt.

NEXT STORY