BONN (Dec. 19)
One of the 13 former Nazi storm troopers and security police officers charged with complicity in the murder of 180,000 Jews in the Chelmno camp in Nazi-occupied Poland said today in the trial that “all this was nonsensical but what could we unimportant people do against an order?”
Ernst Burmeister, 63, was charged in the indictment with supervising in 1944 the herding of Jews into poison gas vans at Chelmno. Before the jury court here, he described today in detail the various stages of preparing the vans and the subsequent burning of masses of corpses.
He also recalled how relatives of intended murder victims were deceived with postcards written by some of the Jews in Chelmno which read: “We are well, we are working in Germany.” These were later dispatched from points in Germany. Throughout his testimony, Burmeister referred to S.S. Colonel Bothman as the person in command at Chelmno. Bothman committed suicide in a British internment camp in 1946.