FRANKFURT (Dec. 28)
Norbert Wollheim, a Jew who had survived imprisonment in the Auschwitz death camp, and lives now in New York, today told the court here trying three ex-Nazis how one of the defendants coolly munched on an apple while “selecting” Jews to be gassed to death in the camp’s ovens.
Mr. Wollheim was the first prosecution witness in the two-week old trial of three former members of the Gestapo accused of having participated in the killing of between 2,500,000 and 4,000,000 Jews at Auschwitz. The defendants are Gerhard Neubert, Josef Erber and William Burger. The trial under way now is the second for former Auschwitz officials and personnel. In the first trial, which ended last August after proceedings lasting 20 months, 16 Auschwitz men were found guilty, six of them being sentenced to life imprisonment. The current trial is expected to last four months.
The New York man identified Neubert as a man called by the inmates “the hangman with the apple” because he habitually munched on that fruit while “selecting” gas oven victims. Replying to an inquiry by the judge, who said Neubert claims to have been “only a little man” and not responsible for the events at Auschwitz, Mr. Wollheim said: “He had the authority and it was his responsibility. Since 1945, I have heard nothing except how innocent these SS men were. The only thing missing here is Neubert claiming that the prisoners gassed themselves.”
Mr. Wollheim has testified at several other war crimes trials, including the one at Nuremberg. His wife and son perished at Auschwitz.