NEW YORK (Mar. 21)
Neighbors of Mrs. Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan testified today that the convicted former Nazi guard was “very honest,” “an excellent neighbor” and “very kind and compassionate.” Testifying at hearings to determine whether Mrs. Ryan should be deported (see story page l), the half-dozen witnesses replied in the negative when the government’s attorney asked if her conviction would make them change their opinion of her.
“I couldn’t believe” Mrs. Ryan tortured prisoners in concentration camps,” said one. “There must have been some mistake somewhere.” Asked how she would feel if given proof of Mrs. Ryan’s actions, the witness replied: “I would feel very sorry to learn that I could have been so badly mistaken.”
A witness who had testified that Mrs. Ryan’s wartime activities would make no difference to him declined later to comment further to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent, saying it would abrogate his attorney’s instructions. The defense lawyer, John J. Barry, confirmed this. But, pressed by the JTA out of Barry’s hearing as to whether he might reconsider his attitude toward Mrs. Ryan if shown inescapable proof of her guilt, he thought for several seconds and murmured: “I might.”
JEWS SHOULD FORGET WHAT HAPPENED
The hearings, which began yesterday, were adjourned indefinitely to give both sides time to gather depositions in Austria. Discussing the postponement before the hearing examiner, Barry said the “mere fact of conviction” was “not the truth of the matter.” To the visible displeasure of the examiner, Barry turned to prosecutor Vincent Schiano and asserted: “You’re assuming guilt. What we’re trying to get is the truth. You don’t have a case, Schiano, and you know it.” Schiano smiled.
After the hearing, Barry charged to the JTA that Schiano possessed “a ton of correspondence” to the effect that Sen. Jacob K. Javita (R.N.Y.) and other legislators were pressuring him to deport Mrs. Ryan. Schiano denied this. Barry charged further that it was up to Schiano to demonstrate that Mrs. Ryan’s 1949 conviction was valid. “This is what he’ll have to prove before we get rid of Mrs. Ryan,” he asserted. Advised of this comment, Schiano said the burden was on the defense to prove Mrs. Ryan’s moral status.
Schiano commented that his five prospective witnesses would be concentration camp supervisory personnel. Barry said with a laugh that his 10 witnesses would be “gypsies, tramps and thieves.” He protested to the JTA that it was unfair to dredge up allegations against his client dating back, as he erroneously put it, 40 years. “The Jews have to some day forget about what happened,” he said.