FRANKFURT (Aug. 27)
Kurt Becher, a former Nazi SS colonel who is now a prosperous Bremen merchant, told a Frankfurt court here today that Hermann Krumey, a wartime aide of mass murderer Adolf Eichmann, had sought to rescue as many Jews as possible from the Nazi’s annihilation program.
Testifying at the trial of Krumey and Otto Hunsche, another former SS officer, on charges of complicity in the murder of 430,000 Hungarian Jews, Belcher related an incident in which SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the release of 1,700 Jews to Switzerland in 1944, as a “token of SS goodwill” in negotiations with the Allies. He said that Krumey blocked attempts by Eichmann to have the trainload of Jews rerouted to Bergen-Belsen death camp.
Becher also told the court that he held secret talks with a personal representative of President Roosevelt in 1944, to try to arrange for an exchange of Hungarian Jews for shipments of Allied goods. He identified the representative as Ross McClelland, an American Quaker. He said he met him in Switzerland, along with a representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.