German Judge Dismisses Murder Charge Against Two Nazis Who Killed Jews

A West German judge dismissed yesterday charges of murder against a former Nazi major on grounds that he really might have believed that the 40 Jewish men, women and children he ordered mowed down by machinegun fire in occupied Russia were actually spies and saboteurs.

Chief Judge Wolfgang Bierbach held that the ex-Nazi, Fritz Fischer, was guilty of manslaughter but that the 15-year statute of limitations had expired before Fischer was indicted. He also dismissed murder charges against former Nazi Lieutenant Fritz Puls, 57, on grounds that he executed the orders of his superior in “good faith” and therefore was innocent of complicity in the murders.

Judge Bierbach said that the prosecution had not proved that Fischer had the victims executed only because they were Jews. He said the Nazi had been “in a dangerous position–he may have given the order to protect his troops from spies and saboteurs. ” The 40 victims were murdered at the Kalmuck village of Peregrusni.

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