FRANKFURT (Aug. 19)
Six former Nazi guards and other personnel at the Auschwitz murder camp were sentenced today by a Frankfurt court to life terms in prison. Eleven other defendants received prison terms of from three to 14 years, and three were acquitted.
The sentencing brought to an end the largest and longest trial of Nazi war criminals in West German legal history. The defendants were charged with murder and complicity to murder in the killing of between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 Auschwitz inmates, most of them Jews, between June, 1940, when the camp was opened in occupied Poland, and January, 1945, when the camp was overrun by Soviet troops. The trial lasted 21 months.
During the 180 sessions of the proceeding, the court of three judges and six jurors heard the testimony of 360 witnesses, 100 written statements, and the arguments of seven prosecutors and 18 defense attorneys. The witnesses described details of atrocities so monstrous that spectators became ill. A long and grisly record was described of how the defendants beat, kicked, trampled, whipped, starved, tortured and froze their victims to death.
The 20 defendants maintained they were innocent because they had only carried out orders from “higher-ups.” Some had already been convicted of similar crimes, and were serving sentences or had been released.
LIFE IS MAXIMUM UNDER GERMAN LAW WHICH PROHIBITS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
The life sentences were the most severe possible under West German law, which prohibits capital punishment. Those given life terms were:
Wilhelm Boger, 60, former SS sergeant, convicted of 114 murders, joint murder in at least 1,000 cases and complicity in murder in at least 10 cases; Franz Hoffmann, 59, former SS captain, convicted of murder in at least one case, and complicity in at least 30 cases, three of which involved at least 700 victims; Oswald Kaduk, 59, former SS sergeant, found guilty of murder in at least 10 cases and complicity in at least 12 cases, one of which involved at least 1,000 victims.
Also Stefan Baretzki, 46, former block leader, convicted of murder in at least five cases and of complicity in at least 11, of which one involved some 3,000 victims, five involved at least 1,000 each, and five others involved at least 50 victims each; Josef Klehr, 61, former SS sergeant, found guilty in at least 475 cases of murder and complicity in at least six cases, which involved some 2,000 victims; and Emil Bednarek, 58, a prisoner turned trustee, convicted of murder in at least 14 cases.
SOME TO HAVE TIME SERVED DEDUCTED FROM MILDER SENTENCES; APPEALS EXPECTED
Robert Mulka, 70, former assistant commandant, was sentenced to 14 years, the longest of the lesser terms. Hans Stark, 44, known as the “baby-faced Gestapo killer,” received 10 years. Dr. Viktor Kapesius, a camp dentist who collected gold from the teeth of victims, was given nine years.
Karl Hoecker, 53, former assistant commandant, and Dr. Willi Frank, 62, a camp doctor, each received seven-year terms. Bruno Schlage, 62, former chief of the camp’s maximum security barracks, was given a six-year term. Klaus Dylewski, 49, an aide to Boger, received five years. Brazilian-born Perry Broad, 44, a sadistic guard, was given four years. Herman Scherpe, 58, a medical assistant, received 4-1/2 years. Dr. Franz Lucas, 53, who selected victims for the camp’s gas chambers, and Emil Hanti, a medical assistant, each received 3-1/2-year terms.
Time served before and during the trial will be deducted from the sentences. This will make Hanti a free man, and set Lucas free with only a short term to serve. Many of the convicted defendants are expected to appeal. They have a week to do so. Dr. Willi Schatz, a camp doctor, and two clerks, Arthur Breitwieser, 55, and Johann Schobert, 42, were acquitted. The defendants sat stiffly upright as Chief Judge Hans Hofmeyer rejected their pleas that they had only obeyed orders. He ruled that they were “as guilty as Hitler himself,” He said: “It would be a mistake to say these men are not as guilty because they were only small cogs in the machinery. Their guilt is as great as those who sat behind the desks.”