PARIS (Jan. 10)
The last two German war criminals convicted and detained in France, who were personally responsible for some of the worst anti-Jewish atrocities committed during the German occupation, were released last month, it was announced here today. The release was kept a closely guarded secret, presumably to prevent popular protests.
The two were Karl Oberg, commander of all SS and German police services in occupied France between 1942 and 1944, and Elmut Knochen, who was second in command. They controlled the SS “Jewish section” which carried out the deportation and killing of nearly 100,000 Jews. They were handed over to West German authorities in mid-December.
The criminals were condemned to death in 1954 by a French military court and a presidential clemency changed the sentence to one of life imprisonment in April 1958. Additional reprieves and acts of clemency finally brought about their release from Mulhouse Prison where they had been Jailed until their release.
Initially, it was thought that the then President Coty had used his right to grant the two war criminals a reprieve to improve French-West German relations, although Bonn officials never officially intervened on their behalf.