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Brandt, Ehmke Pledge to Resist Efforts to Alter Decision on Abolishing Statute

Kurt Grossman of New York, an American authority on German affairs, today released letters he had received from West German Foreign Minister Willy Brandt and Justice Minister Horst Ehmke pledging to resist efforts to alter the Cabinet’s decision to abolish the statute of limitations on genocide and murder. Mr. Brandt said in his letter that “desk murderers would escape prosecution for their deeds” under the measure proposed by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union.

Mr. Ehmke’s letter also cited the “danger” that “organizers of murder programs…will benefit” from any legislation seeking to distinguish between active and passive war criminals.

The American Jewish Congress called today on West German Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger to reject pressures by “neo-Nazi and other right wing elements” aimed at watering down the Cabinet decision to press for abolition of the statute of limitations, which is due to take effect Dec. 31.

Dr. Joachim Prinz of Newark, N.J., chairman of the AJ Congress’ commission on international affairs, said in a cable to Bonn that “political barter of the principle that Nazi war criminals must be held accountable affronts every canon of public decency.” Dr. Prinz cited reports from West Germany that members of the CDU and the CSU would seek legislation in the Bundestag differentiating between major war criminals and those who allegedly only followed orders. The later group would no longer be liable to prosecution if the statute of limitations is amended. Dr. Prinz said that under present German law “persons guilty of lesser war crimes are already protected against prosecution.”

Dr. Prinz, a former rabbi of Berlin expelled by Hitler from Nazi Germany, declared in his message to Chancellor Kiesinger, “The world simply cannot be expected to sit back indifferently and allow those who carried out Hitler’s brutal programs 30 years ago to escape trial and accountability because of the growing influence of those who would today reintroduce those same Nazi doctrines into German public life.”

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