BONN (Nov. 13)
The principal defendant in the trial of 13 former Nazi storm troopers and security police, who are charged with the murder of 180,000 Jews in the Chelmno concentration camp in Poland, during World War II, testified today that he got “madly drunk because I knew what was going on.”
Gustav Laabs, 60, an SS sergeant, gave that reply during initial questioning of the defendants. He was the driver of a gas van into which Jews were crammed by SS men to be killed. The 200-page indictment, which took a year to prepare, charges the 13 defendants with murdering or abetting the murder of the 180,000 Jewish men, women and children from 1941 to 1944.
The nine-member jury in the provincial court here yesterday heard testimony by Walter Bock, 50, of Hanover. He said he did not mention his “service” in Chelmno during his denazification proceedings “because nobody asked me.” He was cleared and, in 1947, returned to his former rank in the police department. The trial is expected to last until the end of next January.
(World Jewish Congress headquarters in New York announced today that, of the 170,000 prewar Jewish residents of Chelmno, only three Jews survived. All were located, after a world-wide search, in Israel, and are now in Bonn, ready to testify at the trial. The men are Michael Podchlebnik, Simon Srebrnik and Mordecai Zurawski.)