BONN (Feb. 4)
A storm of protest throughout West Germany marked today the Frankfurt court verdicts handed down yesterday against two former SS aides to Adolf Eichmann, one of whom was acquitted. The two, former SS Lt. Col. Herman Krumey and former SS Capt. Otto Hursche, were charged with helping Eichmann to send hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to Nazi death camps.
Astonishment was expressed over the fact that Hunsche was acquitted of charges of complicity in the murder of more than 300,000 Jews sent to Auschwitz during the war, Hersche also was acquitted of charges of extorting huge sums from the doomed and desperate Jews. Krumey was sentenced to five years at hard labor. Since he has served almost five years of pre-trial detention, he will only have to serve a few months of his sentence.
Gerhard Jahn, a Socialist Member of Parliament, called the verdicts astounding and said they bore no relation to the crime, He added that the verdicts shamed the German people and that they raised a serious question as to whether West German courts could judge the deeds of Nazism.
Dr. Fritz Bauer, the Frankfurt public prosecutor, called the verdicts “rotten and intolerable” and “utterly incomprehensible.” “Asserting that “it is as if Eichmann himself were given five years,” he declared that his office would use “every judicial means in its power or obtain a revision of these sentences.”
GERMAN CHIEF PROSECUTOR TO APPEAL AGAINST THE SENTENCES
Chief Prosecutor Hans Grossman, who had asked for maximum sentences of life imprisonment for both former Nazis, said he would appeal. Krumey’s counsel also said he would file an appeal against the five-year sentence. Krumey was returned to prison to await trial on another charge growing out of his wartime activities in Zamoez, in Nazi-held Poland, where he reportedly rounded up Jews for transport to the Auschwitz camp.
Some quarters in West Germany expressed fear that the light sentences might set a precedent for future trials of Nazi criminals accused of helping to organize plans for murders of Jews rather than direct participation in the torture and murder of the victims. The Frankfurt court made that distinction in its verdicts.
(Robert Kempner, a former American prosecutor in the Nuremberg allied war crimes trials, commented in Landsdown, Penna., that the verdicts were “not understandable.” He predicted the rulings would step up demands for West German action to extend the effective date of the statute of limitations for prosecution of Nazi war criminals, now due to become effective next May 8. He called the acquittal of Hunsche “completely incomprehensible” and said it raised “heavy doubts about the capacity of certain members of the court to understand the murder procedures of Eichmann and his accomplices.’)