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Soviet Authorities Back Down on Assistance in Prosecuting War Criminals

Moscow has withdrawn entry permits it had previously granted members of a West German jury from Essen who were to visit Russia to near eyewitness testimony in the case of three former SS (Elite Corps) officers charged with shooting more than 100 concentration camp inmates near Mauthausen during World War II. The jury has already heard evidence in Warsaw and in the United States where one of the witnesses was the German rocket expert. Dr. Werner Von Braun. They were scheduled to go to Russia on May 5.

Soviet authorities have provided the West German Ministry of Justice with microfilmed documents relating to Nazi war crimes. But their refusal to admit the Essen jury indicated to some observers here that Moscow was not ready for full-scale help in prosecuting Nazi criminals.

The State Prosecutor in Darmstadt asked for the acquittal today of three former SS (Elite Corps) officers on trial there for the mass murders of 600 persons in the Ukraine during World War II. He told the court there was insufficient evidence against Theodor Christiansen, 63 and Karl Kretschmer, 62. The third defendant, Wilhelm Sindeisen, was deemed by the prosecutor to be guilty of complicity in the murders, but his acquittal was asked nevertheless. A request by the State Prosecutor in such cases is tantamount to acquittal. The three defendants were charged with being members of a special commando unit which operated in the Ukraine. Christiansen was commander of the Nazi security police in Chernichoc and allegedly ordered two mass executions in which 600 persons were shot.

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