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Two Gestapo Men Cleared in Extermination of Thuringian Jews

Two former “specialists on the Jewish questions” at Gestapo headquarters at Ehrfurt were acquitted by the Court of Assizes at Darmstadt, near here, on the grounds that they “lacked a sense of illegality” when they perpetrated their crimes. They were charged with responsibility for the deportation of all Thuringian Jews to the extermination camps.

“The defendants have grossly violated the law and are guilty of murder or manslaughter in thousands of cases,” the presiding judge ruled, but he went on to grant them acquittal asserting that there was no absolute proof that they were aware of the ultimate fate of the deportees.

One of the defendants, Waldemar Eissfeld, 46, was also found guilty of beating Jews who were brought to his office, but while the judge conceded that he was not lacking in a sense of illegality in this matter, he dismissed the charge as falling under the statute of limitations. Eissfeld was appealing a previous jail sentence and the public prosecutor had asked a heavy penitentiary sentence for him, as well as three years’ imprisonment for his former subordinate, S. S. Lieutenant Heinrich Lorenz.

The attorney for the defense described the singling out of two individuals as “unfair” when “thousands of policemen, thousands of employees in municipal administrations and even in the tax collector’s offices, were equally guilty.”

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