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9 Ex-nazis on Trial for Mass Murders of Jews; 10th Gets Adjournment for Medical Reasons

Nine former Nazis have gone on trial in Dusseldorf and Munich on charges of murder, and the trial of a tenth has been adjourned until July 11. The six Dusseldorf defendants are Wilhelm Ahrens, 65, former police chief of Cologne; Ruprecht Mueller, 56, and Wilhelm Stephany, 57, former police officers; Willy Kaffenberg, 57; Gerhard Hurtig, 55, and Robert Roess, a 58-year-old businessman.

All belonged to police units in the Ukraine in World War II. According to the indictment, Ahrens was ordered in the spring of 1942, to shoot all old and ill Jews in the ghetto of Krynki in Bialystok, because they were “useless.” The charge says he killed at least 15 Jewish men and women “in a cruel manner” while 20 others escaped to a synagogue into which Ahrens, obeying orders, threw hand grenades, killing all.

Ahrens and the other five defendants pleaded not guilty. Three ex-Nazis who allegedly specialized in the murder of women and children, meanwhile, are in the dock in Munich. They are Dr. Heinrich Goerts, 74; Kurt Trimborn, 68, and Kurt Severin, 66, all charged with the murder of Jews near the Russian city of Taganrog in 1941.

According to the indictment, Trimborn and Severin hunted down Jewish women and children, forced them to undress in freezing weather, and shot them when they started suffering frost pains. Trimborn is further accused of killing 250 children near Jesk, with Goerts’ assistance. The defense attorneys and the jury visited Russia several months ago to inspect the sites of the purported crimes. The Munich Attorney General has asked for life imprisonment for the three defendants. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

In Essen, the trial of Horst Wagner, 66, a former Nazi colonel charged with killing 350,000 Jews, was adjourned to July 11 to allow for a medical examination to determine his fitness to stand trial. When the proceeding opened this morning, the defense contended Wagner was suffering from severe sciatic pains. The accused was a liaison officer between Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

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