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Nazi Claims Catholic Church Helped Him to Escape to Argentina

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Dr. Hans Hefetmann, charged with complicity in the murder of persons in Germany deemed by the Nazi regime unfit to live, testified yesterday in his trial that Catholic church officials in Austria helped him to escape to Argentina.

Dr. Hefelmann is the only one of the original four defendants in the euthanasia trial to appear. Dr. Werner Heyde, the chief defendant, hanged himself in his jail cell last week, 24 hours after Dr. Friedrich Tiifman, another defendant, jumped or fell to his death from a Cologne office building. A third defendant, Bernard Bohne, jumped bail and fled to Argentina last September,

Hefelmann, 56, testified that he left Germany for Austrian in 1948, He said that in Vienna, the Papat Nuncio advised him to go to Argentina and gave him his blessing. Later, he said, he was helped by Caritas, a Roman Catholic Welfare Organization, to get visa for Argentina, “I maintained contacts with the German Jews in Buenos Aires,” he asserted.

(In Rome, a Vatican prelate who helped postwar European refugees, said last night that Hefelmann probably used a false name in getting aid from Caritas. The Vatican had no official comment on the former Nazi’s testimony.)

Hefelmann also testified that he did not want to take part in the euthanasia killings but he was told “I would be treated like a soldier who refused an order if he declined to participate.

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