Germans Sentenced for Murder of Jews in Ukrainian Township

A former German Army captain and his top sergeant have been sentenced to four and three years imprisonment, respectively, by a Darmstadt Court following their conviction on charges of responsibility for the murder of between 60 and 250 Jews in a small village near Smolensk, Ukrainia, in 1941.

The case was notable for two things: the court rejected the defense position that the responsibility for the murders rested with superior officers; and the testimony of another former captain in the same outfit who refused to carry out the extermination orders.

The captain who was convicted is E. K. Noell, now a school teacher, who ordered his first sergeant, Emil Zimber, and a corporal, Wilhelm Magel, to carry out the annihilation. The corporal, whose wife told the authorities of the murders, was acquitted. The defendants had pleaded that they had refused to obey the orders of their commander, a Major Commichau, they would have suffered terrible punishment. A similar plea recently won 20 members of the Darmstadt police corps, who wantonly slaughtered Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, their freedom.

This time, however, Joseph Sibille, also a captain of a company commanded by Major Commichau, related how he had refused to carry out the orders. The Major had threatened him and had given him 72 hours to change his mind, he said. When he remained adamant, Sibille continued, the Major had called him a “softie,” but had not punished him.

The defense has announced that it will appeal the conviction of the ex-captain and sergeant.

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