BRUNSWICK (Apr. 5)
Expert witnesses in the trial of five former SS cavalry officers in the wartime murder of 5,200 Jews in Pinsk testified yesterday on the issue of what happened to SS men if they refused to obey commands for torture and murder.
Dr. Manfred Roeder, a former German military Judge, said that commands had to be obeyed without consideration as to their criminal nature. He said it would have been impossible for a man with the rank of squadron commander in a cavalry regiment to reject an order handed down from Hitler to carry out executions. He said that it would have been up to the generals to protect their subordinates from being given criminal commands.
Dr. Hans Globke, who quit under fire as a key advisor to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, also was a witness. He said he first learned of the shootings in the East at the beginning of the invasion of Russia. He said that in discussions with other officials in Berlin at the time, the unanimous opinion had been expressed that the man who did not carry out an order to shoot must reckon with being shot himself. Globke, who was then an official in the Interior Ministry, added that he was not aware of any cases where this had happened. He also testified that he knew of a Ministry official who, on learning about the mass shootings, got a transfer from the Jewish department to another department.
Dr. Hans Buchheim, of the Munich Institute of Contemporary History, said that SS men had plenty of opportunities to dodge carrying out orders to shoot civilians, but that most of them lacked the courage to refuse to obey such orders.