FRANKFURT (Dec. 19)
The trial of 22 former officers of the Auschwitz murder camp where an estimated 4,000,000 victims–mostly Jews–were annihilated starts here to morrow. It is expected to be the biggest and most important of the Nazi war crimes trials since the Nuremberg tribunals of the late 1940’s.
Eleven of the defendants are charged with multiple murders, and 11 with numerous counts of aiding and abetting murders. They will be tried in a hastily built court in the City Council chamber of Frankfurt.
All of the defendants were members of the infamous SS staffs on liquidation camps during the war but since then most of them have regained positions as respected and prosperous residents of the cities in which they live. They include several unskilled laborers, farmers, white collar workers, prosperous businessmen, a pharmacist, an agronomist, a gynecologist, two dentists, a civil engineer, a butcher and a heating engineer.
Evidence against them has been collected in 88 thick volumes of documents assembled by a prosecution team headed by Dr. Hans Grossman, district attorney. In the five years of pre-trial investigation, Frankfurt prosecutors questioned 1,300 witnesses from around the world. More than 200 of them are expected to be called during the six to eight months the trial is expected to last.
TWO NEW YORK JEWS TO TESTIFY AS WITNESSES; CALLED BY PROSECUTION
Two New Yorkers are among the witnesses who will give evidence. They are Hillel Weltman of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Norbert Wollheim of Fresh Meadows, N.Y. Mr. Weltman was one of those contacted by the prosecution to give evidence.
Some of the defendants were low-ranking SS enlisted men who committed some of the worst atrocities in the tragic history of the scores of Nazi murder camps. Two of the defendants Robert Mulka, 68, and Karl Hoecke, 52–were adjutants to the two most notorious commandants of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, Rudolf Hoess and Richard Baer. Hoess was tried and hanged by Polish officials in the first Auschwitz trial. Baer, who was discovered living under an assumed name was a lumberjack near Hamburg, died of a heart ailment in a Frankfurt jail last June awaiting trial.
Other defendants are Wilhelm Boger, 57, a guard platoon leader at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1945 and Hans Stark, 42, a cell block guard at the camp. Boger escaped while being taken to Poland for trial in 1946 and lived in semi-hiding until 1959 when he was again arrested. He is charged with having selected inmates for shipment to the gas chambers and execution and participation in shootings at the block wall between cell blocks 10 and 11, as well as with having personally murdered more than 100 inmates many of whose names are known. Stark is charged with nearly 300 counts of murder.
Klaus Dyluski, a member of a guard company, Peri Broad, 52, and Johann Schobert, 41, all are charged with countless murders. Schobert was charged with sending hundreds of inmates to the camp ovens and with shooting dozens of victims. Bruno Schlage, 60, took part in the executions. Frank Hofman, 57, a former SS captain, was charged with killing hundreds of inmates.
Oswald Kaduk was charged with gassing and shooting more than 1,000 inmates, Stefan Baretzki, 44, was accused of killing dozens of inmates. Heinrich Bischoff, 59, was implicated in numerous executions, Arthur Breitweiser, 53, was accused of being an accessory in many of the killings. Dr. Frank Lucas, 52, was charged with being an accessory as a camp doctor.
Dentist Willi Frank, 56, and Dentist Willi Schatz, 58, were both charged as accessories to murder. Dr. Viktor Capesius, 56, a pharmacist, was charged with participation in murders, Josef Klehr, 59, was accused of multiple murders. Herbert Scherpe, 56, Hans Nierzwicki, 58, Amiel Hantel, 61 and Gerhard Neubert, 58, all were charged with similar crimes.
LIST OF AUSCHWITZ GUARDS AND EXECUTORS DISCOVERED BY COINCIDENCE
It was disclosed that pure coincidence was credited with starting the Auschwitz investigation in December 1958. Shortly before then, Emil Vulkan, a former Auschwitz inmate, visited Thomas Knielka, a reporter of the Frankfurter Rundschau, to complain about anti-Semitic
During the conversation, the former inmate told the reporter about some documents he had found on the street in front of the SS headquarters in Breslau on May 8, 1945, after the building had been set afire by Allied bombardment. The documents apparently had been blown out of the building by the bombing. Vulkan had saved them in a neat bundle for 15 years.
Knielke took the documents to Dr. Fritz Bauer, Hesse Chief Prosecutor, who discovered that they were lists of which Auschwitz guards had supervised which executions. The case that involves suspects from all parts of West Germany began then and there.