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Trial of Gestapo Officer for Killing 400 Minsk Jews Opens in Kiel

Hans Graaife, a wartime officer of Hitler’s SS, went on trial at Kiel today, in another of the West German proceedings against former Nazi war criminals, charged with killing 400 Jews in Minsk, capital of Byelorussia, during World War II.

The first witness against Graaife was Karl Strohhammer, who testified he had witnessed a “ceremonial execution” of Jews, staged for the benefit of Heinrich Himmler’s chief of Hitler’s Geslapo. The killings, he said, were done with carbines and machineguns. He told the court he was unable to remember by this time whether Graalfe personally took part in the murders, but declared he “could swear” that the defendant had issued the order for the executions.

Meanwhile, one of five former Nazis being tried in Brunswick in the wartime slaughter of 5, 200 Jews in Pinsk, Poland, in 1941, sought at his trial today to pin the blame for the murders on a former SS general who was shot as a traitor on Hitler’s orders.

Watter Bornscheuer, a former SS cavalryman, asserted that the order for the killings was conveyed by SS Gen, Otto-Herman Fegelein, brother-in-law of Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Bornscheurer insisted that Fegelein gave Instructions that the order, issued by Himmler, be carried out in August 1941, despite protests by some officers.

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