Germany Calls Witnesses from U.S. and Israel for Nazi Guards Trial

The former commander of a Nazi concentration camp near Riga and two other SS guards will go on trial September charged with the murder of thousands of Jews, Russians and others, the West German Attorney General announced today after a preliminary investigation whose report encompasses 500 pages.

The defendants, Gustav Sorge, Wilhelm Schubert and Martin Kmittler, were all released from Soviet prisoner of war camps to Germany on condition that West German courts try them for war crimes. Specifically, they are charged with the murder of 420 Jews, churchmen, Socialists and Communists and the execution of 19,800 Russian prisoners of war. An additional 100 Jews were murdered by one defendant during the pogroms in Germany in November, 1938.

Some 315 witnesses were questioned in the preliminary inquiry. At least 161 witnesses were called from other countries–in Europe, the United States and Israel. Two of the defendants, Schubert and Kmittler, were serving life sentences in Siberia when they were turned over to the Bonn repatriation authorities. Schubert was commander of the Riga camp where, the indictment charges, Jews were literally “worked to death” building an air base for the Luftwaffe.

In Bayreuth, two former SS officials, one a judge and the other a police inspector, testified today at the trial of former concentration camp guard Martin Sommer that at an SS trial in 1943 he had confessed to the murder by poison or air injection in a blood vessel of at least 50 prisoners at Buchenwald.

The judge, Dr. Konrad Morgan, presided at the SS trial of Sommer and other camp personnel including its commandant H. Koch who had embezzled huge sums from the Nazis. In the course of the 1943 trial it was found that prisoners who knew of the activities of the SS thieves had been systematically murdered by Sommer. Today, Sommer asserted that his confession in 1943 was “forged” and that he had been trying to cover up the murders of the camp doctor.

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