Bonn Parliament Sets Date for Debate on Statute of Limitations Issue

The question of possible extension of the German statute of limitations for prosecution of major war criminals beyond the present cut-off date of May 8, 1965, will be debated March 10 in the Bundestag, lower house of Parliament, it was announced here today.

The Cabinet decided several months ago to let the statute go into effect on May 8, thus foreclosing any further prosecutions against Nazi war criminals beyond that date. However, the Social Democrats have opposed that proposal, and worldwide protests by Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and leaders have insisted that there must not be a halt to trials of war criminals.

(A dispatch today from Warsaw reported that Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Roman Catholic Primate of Poland, urged that trials against Nazis be permitted in West Germany after May 8, saying: “The time to forgive and forget is not yet ripe. The devil that flourished must be torn out by the roots.”)

The Government’s official spokesman, Secretary of State Gunther von Hase, refused today to comment on a statement made two weeks ago by Justice Minister Ewald Bucher, who had said that he would resign if the statute of limitations were to be prolonged. In a talk which he had ten days ago with Morris M. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, Mr. Bucher said the government would present recommendations to parliament at the beginning of March to prevent Nazi criminals “from profiting from the statute of limitations of May 8, 1965.” He added that the recommendations of the American Jewish Committee that the statute of limitations ought to begin from the day the Federal Republic became a sovereign state instead of 1945 would “play a role” in further reflections.

NEXT STORY