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West Germany’s Chief War Crimes Prosecutor Reports Soviets Providing Evidence

West Germany’s chief war crimes prosecutor said today that Soviet authorities are cooperating fully in providing evidence against Germans who participated in the mass murder of Jews in Russia during World War II. But the prosecutor, Adalbert Rueckerl, who just returned from Moscow where he examined some of the evidence, warned that the central prosecution office at Ludwigsburg would be unable to pursue the many new cases brought to light if the statute of limitations on war crimes prosecution goes into effect at the end of 1969 as scheduled.

Mr. Rueckerl and Rudolph Schlier, Minister of Justice of the state of Wurtemburg-Baden reported to the press on their visit to Moscow and the photographic and documentary evidence submitted by the Russians. Mr. Schlier said he was categorically opposed to the statute of limitations which would bar further prosecution of Nazi war criminals suspected of murder. Mr. Rueckerl said his office would be unable to complete examination of its files or investigate many new cases before the statute goes into effect. He said the Ludwigsburg office is currently investigating 15,000 suspected Nazi war criminals.

Mr. Rueckerl said that in Moscow he was shown photographs of German police units responsible for killing Jews. The back of each photograph was marked with the time, date and place and the names of the accused. The pictures were taken by amateur photographers, he said, and the Russians possess 100 albums and documents that detail raids and the round-up of Jews in Soviet villages. Mr. Rueckerl and Dietrich Zeug, who heads the Ludwigsburg archives, said they had no doubt that the photos and documents were genuine. They said the Russians were prepared to hand over the originals if German courts refused to accept the copies. The Russians also offered to hand over 50,000 volumes of testimony by witnesses. A West German delegation will return to Russia and will visit the Baltic states to examine further evidence.

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