BERLIN (May. 8)
Three former officers of one of the Nazi commando units received prison terms in a West Berlin court this weekend ranging from five years at hard labor to life, for participating in the murder of Jews and Gypsies in German-occupied Russia. In announcing the verdicts, the jury foreman criticized the defense witnesses because their evidence was not “objective.”
Wilhelm Wiebens, 60, former commander of the unit, which was set up “to exterminate inferior races,” received the life term. Heinz Tandermann, 53, received a term of six years in prison; and Karl Rath, 57, was given five years in prison. Oswald Schaefer, 57, was acquitted for lack of evidence. Defense attorneys said they would appeal the three sentences.
The life sentence was imposed on Wiebens because it was proved that he had shot two Jewish workers and participated in other killings. The Tandermann sentence was considered light because he had been charged with ordering the shooting of 1,100 Jews. The jury held that it had not been proved he had acted on his own initiative, and found him guilty only of being an accessory. The jury foreman said that acquittal was the verdict for Schaefer because, while there was “grave suspicion” against him, there was not enough evidence to convict.