COBLENZ (Dec. 19)
The prosecution in the trial of 12 former Nazis charged with the wartime slaughter of some 3,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Minsk introduced a report today challenging the claim of a former German chief prosecutor in Minsk that he had learned of the killings only in evening chats with colleagues.
The witness was Willi Foge, 56, now a public prosecutor in Kaiserlautern. The report was one made by one of Foge’s subordinates in Minsk. Foge had claimed that the SS and the SD had their own jurisdiction in the area during the time he was in charge of the criminal court of the German civil administration there. As such, he told the court, he was not permitted to prosecute political cases, such as those of Jews destined for liquidation about which, officially, he said, he had no knowledge.
The report of his wartime subordinate said that before prisoners under Foge’s jurisdiction were taken from the Minsk prison to be killed, those with gold teeth had the teeth removed without anesthetics, causing disorders in the prison. Foge admitted today in court that he could not keep order in a Nazi prison at Minsk because of the screams of the Jewish prisoners as SS men tore the gold teeth from their mouths prior to execution.
Foge said that although he was the senior German law officer in Minsk, he was powerless to prevent the executions. He said the SS men regularly cleared the jails of prisoners under his jurisdiction and executed them. “If I had tried to do anything about it, I would have landed in a concentration camp myself, “he told the court.
He admitted meeting one of the defendants, former SS elite officer Georg Heuser, in Kaiserlautern, after the war. Heuser was at that time criminal police chief of the State of Rhineland Palatinate. He is charged on more than 30,000 counts of murder during the massacre of Jews in Minsk. Asked why he had not reported Heuser to the authorities, Foge said that although he recognized Heuser he thought he was a pre-war acquaintance from Berlin and did not connect him with Minsk.