LONDON (Apr. 27)
When the Brazilian government agreed to extradite former Nazi SS Major Franz Paul Stangl to West Germany for trial as a war criminal, it made the unusual condition that the maximum sentence imposed on him if convicted should not be more than 15 years. Stangl, who was commandant of the notorious Treblinka concentration camp in Poland during World War II, goes on trial in Dusseldorf next month. He will subsequently face trial in Austria, the country where he was born. According to Anthony Terry, correspondent for the Sunday Times who made the disclosure yesterday, West German authorities agreed to the Brazilian conditions and promised to reduce any sentence higher than 15 years pronounced on Stangl. They also agreed to Brazil’s demand that the charges against him be limited to the alleged murders of 400,000 Jewish prisoners at Treblinka because Brazil’s statute of limitations does not permit him to be tried for earlier offenses.
Stangl, now 62, was the object of an 18 year search. He went to Brazil in 1948 from Syria after evading arrest by U.S. authorities in Europe. His steps were traced with the help of Simon Wiesenthal, director of the Nazi war criminal archives in Vienna. He was spotted working at the Volkswagon plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil and elaborate precautions were taken to prevent him from learning that he was under surveillance while the extradition machinery was put into motion, Mr. Terry reported. He said that the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, then U.S. Attorney General, wrote his opposite number in Brazil to make it clear that “operation Stangl” had top level backing in Washington. Stangl has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. He will be confronted at his trial by 17 survivors of Treblinks. They are the remains of a group of prisoners who escaped from the death camp during a mutiny of inmates in 1943.