German Sentenced to Two Years in Jail for Murdering Jews in Minsk Area
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German Sentenced to Two Years in Jail for Murdering Jews in Minsk Area

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Joseph Lechthaler, a 72-year-old former police lieutenant colonel, was sentenced today by a Jury court in Hassel to two years in prison on conviction of complicity in the wartime murder of several hundred Jews in Sluzk in the Minsk area. The jury court took account of the fact that Lechthaler had been under detention for a year. A co-defendant, Wilhelm Papenkort, was acquitted of similar charges.

One of three non-Jews testifying today at the trial in Coblenz of 12 Nazis on charges of the mass murder of 35,000 Jews in the Minsk ghetto described how a young Jewess pleaded “I am still so young, let me live” before she was shot in the neck and killed.

This was one of the scenes of the daily killings described by the witness and the two others from Hungary and Rumania, who now live in West Germany. They also described the subsequent exhumation and mass burning of bodies before the advancing Soviet troops reached the district.


Pre-trial investigation of evidence against eight former Nazi SS and SD men charged with participation in the mass slaughter of Jews and Soviet prisoners in German-occupied Lublin continued today in Wiesbaden.

Those being investigated include a former Criminal Investigation Department inspector, Hermann Westhoff, and a former CID chief of Limburg, Georg Hoffmann. The investigation is being conducted by a special investigation department of the Wiesbaden public prosecutor’s office. The two chief defendants have been confronted with several survivors of the Lublin mass murders. Most of the witnesses have come from Israel to testify.

A 73-year-old former police major general and police commander of Lodz in Nazi-occupied Poland insisted today at the mass murder trial of 13 former Nazis that he had never been at the Chelmno annihilation camp as three of the defendants previously testified he had been.

Walter Keuck, in denying that testimony, said he had lost his memory of the wartime events. He expressed regret if his policemen had been used as “handymen” by the Gestapo. The 13 defendants are being tried on charges of murdering or abetting the murder of 170,000 Jews in the Chelmno camp. Preliminary proceedings against Keuck have been opened by the Hannover public prosecutor on charges of complicity in wartime Nazi mass murders.

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