FRANKFURT (Jan. 20)
Two Nazi defendants refused today to testify, and a third denied ever having committed the atrocities of which he is accused, as the trial of 22 former Auschwitz guards, officers and medical personnel went into its third week here. Presiding Justice Hans Hofmeyer looked on in apparent helplessness as two of the accused challenged the court.
Oswald Kaduk, 57-year-old former butcher, came to the witness stand when summoned by Justice Hofmeyer and, in a clipped, sharp voice told the court: “I want to make use of my right to decline to testify.” He stood rigidly at attention as he uttered this defiance. Then, clicking his beets, and executing a smart, military about face, he marched back to his seat in the defense section of Frankfurt’s City Hall, where the marathon proceedings are being held.
The court had no better luck with Franz Hoffmann, another of the accused, who had preceded Kaduk in the witness stand. He had been on the stand at the last session, Friday, when he broke down and wept, as he denied charges of murdering Auschwitz inmates, Justice Hofmeyes told him today: “It seems you with held the truth in your testimony. You weren’t very truthful.”
Hoffmann, who is already serving a life term after having been convicted at Munich of atrocities at the Dachau concentration camp, yelled back at the court: “Always it’s Hoffmann; I am to blame for everything. If this starts all over again, I won’t say anything any more.” Justice Hofmeyer sighed, and told the man to go back to his scat.
Kaduk was indicted for the murder of 1,200 Auschwitz victims, and accused of choking many to death through a special device which he had invented.
DENIES PARTICIPATING IN SELECTING INMATES FOR GAS OVENS
The overall denial today’s session came from the third defendant called to the stand, 44-year-old Stefan Baretzki. When the prosecutor accused him of having developed “a special blow” with which to kill Auschwitz inmates, he replied: “I don’t know what to say to that allegation. I never used a so-called ‘special blow.’” He admitted that at times he did strike “unruly inmates,” both had only slapped them lightly in the face, he maintained.
In reply to another charge, which specified that he had participated in selecting inmates for the gas ovens at Birkenau, Baretzki said that, having been only a private, he would never have been assigned to such duty “to which only officers were assigned.” Shown a photograph of a private working with officers at the Birkenau death ramp, he insisted “that never happened to me.”
Baretzki conceded that, “once,” he shot a man who tried to escape, but said he had not killed the man, declaring “the man fell on the electric wires and was electrocuted.” He denied other charges which accused him of forcing a grope of 11 newly arrived inmates onto the electric wires, and of having shot a woman who, upon arriving in the camp, exclaimed because she saw her brother there.
In Hoffmann’s case, the prosecution charged, although he refused to talk further, that he plied newly arrived inmates with alcohol to keep them quiet and “orderly” as they awaited their turns to enter the gas chambers.