BONN (Feb. 2)
Widespread demands for closer scrutiny of high officials of the West German Government were voiced today in the press following the arrest this weekend of Ewald Peters, the personal security chief of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, on charges that, that he took part in the mass-killing of Jews in Nazi-held Russia during the war years.
The question on everybody’s mind is how he had managed to hide his wartime misdeeds all these years and reach such a trusted post as guarding the life of the head of the West German Government. His position is similar to the head of the U.S. Secret Service group which protects the President. He escorted Chancellor Enhard on his visit to the United States last month, when the Chancellor met with President Johnson in Texas.
The Ministry of Interior here, in announcing Peters’ arrest, and the reason for this arrest, said that he had passed all previous screenings of suspected former Nazis. Following his trip with Chancellor Erhard to the United States, he also escorted the Chancellor to Rome last week.
The announcement of the Peters arrest coincided with the resignation of Dr. Hans Kruger as Refugee Minister. Kruger had been accused by East German and Soviet sources of terror judgments as a judge on a special Nazi summary court in occupied Poland. He initially denied the charges, including one that he was a district leader of the Nazi party in Poland. When his Communist critics began producing documentary evidence, Kruger suspended himself after a conference with Chancellor Erhard, who announced an investigation would be made.
Kruger resigned this weekend without waiting for results of the investigation. In his letter of resignation, he said that he was “not aware of any action or attitude on my part which could be interpreted as a violation of human rights and the law.” He added that he had “no doubt” that he would be absolved by the investigation.