HANOVER (Dec. 1)
Four Israeli witnesses in the trial of several SS officers charged with the wartime mass murder of 15,000 Jews in occupied Ukraine agreed today to cancel plans for a hunger strike over the absence of some of the accused men from the hearing. Franz Hunke, the only defendant to appear at the trial, was sentenced today to life imprisonment.
The four witnesses are David Bristal, 46, a kibbutz member whose parents were murdered in Luzk, then the Polish Ukraine; Asher Goldenberg, 51, a Haifa police officer, and a couple, Mr. and Mrs. A. Sawitski of Jerusalem. The indictment charged that the SS officers committed the killings in a Nazi labor camp in Luzk between 1941 and 1943.
When Mr. Bristal arrived at the Hanover jury court and discovered that only Hunke was in the dock, he announced he would start a hunger strike unless three other men he contended took part in the killings were placed on trial with Hunke. The other former SS officers are Heinrich Feiertag, former district leader Josef Glueck and a former regional commissar.
Mr. Bristal told Judge Heinz Klingebeil that he could testify to the murder of 20,000 victims and that he would not leave the court unless the other suspects were brought in. The other three Israelis associated themselves with Mr. Bristal. Then the Israelis said they would start an indefinite hunger strike if the others were not placed on trial. They said they would either refuse to leave the court or start their hunger strike outside the law court building.
Judge Klingebeil arranged to meet with the four Israelis and, after a lengthy talk with them, he induced them to defer the hunger strike. Later the law court press officer said the judge had given the Israelis a written assurance that West German justice would do everything to accelerate the trial and punish those who were guilty.
The court said that Feiertag, according to a medical certificate from West Berlin, where he resides, was unable to attend the proceedings and that a similar certificate was received from Munich concerning Glueck. The court also said that there were no charges against the former regional commissar, whose name was not disclosed. The court admitted he was now an official in Hanover. After another meeting with the judge, the Israelis decided to cancel the proposed hunger strike.