Former Ss Major General — a Gestapo Founder — Arrested on Suspicion of Murder
Menu JTA Search

Former Ss Major General — a Gestapo Founder — Arrested on Suspicion of Murder

Download PDF for this date

A 65-year-old former SS Major General who was one of the founders of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and four other ex-SS officers who worked under him nave been arrested and flown to West Berlin where warrants were issued on suspicion of responsibility for the murders of 11,083 Polish Jews and intellectuals during World War II. Dr. Werner Best, who lives in the Rhur mining town of Muehlheim where he works as a legal adviser to a mining company, is suspected of having organized some of the special “task forces” that carried out the systematic liquidation of Jews and Polish intelligentsia after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. He is believed to be one of the highest ranking Nazis arrested since the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1947.

Dr. Best was governor of occupied Denmark from 1942 until the end of the war and was responsible for ordering the mass deportation of Danish Jews, a move that was largely foiled by the Danish populace who smuggled most of the Jewish community to safety in Sweden. He was sentenced to death by a Danish court in 1946 but the sentence was commuted to a limited jail term and he was later deported to West Germany. Because he had been tried in Denmark, he could not be retried on the same charges in West Germany under the Allied-West German agreement restoring German sovereignty in 1955. Dr. Best, like many other high ranking Nazis, was thereby permitted to go free.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund