Defense in Menten Trial Attempts to Discredit Witnesses

A television interview with two survivors of the mass murder of Jews in Uryce village in the Lemberg region of Poland in 1941, broadcast last summer, was played back before a special tribunal here at the war crimes trial of Pieter Menten. The tribunal convened in special session for the purpose at the request of the defense which is seeking to discredit the survivors as reliable witnesses.

The broadcast was produced by “Tros Aktua” and consisted of interviews with Michael Hauptmann in Stockholm and Abe Pollack in New York. The defense alleges that statements made by Hauptmann and Pollack when they appeared as prosecution witnesses at the Menten trial several weeks ago, differed in important points from what they said in the interview and therefore they lied on one or both occasions.

Menten has been charged with ordering and participating in the murders of Jews and other while serving as an SS officer in the Lemberg region in July and August, 1941. A defense expert, Prof. Frits Rueter, a professor of criminal law at Amsterdam University, testified at the trial two weeks ago that Menten could not have been in the village of Podhorodze in July 7, 1941 where, allegedly, he also committed mass murders, because of the military situation in that region at the time. But Johan Van Der Leeuw of The Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, presented three detailed memoranda refuting Prof. Reter.

Van Der Leeuw also produced a 65-page document from Himmler’s headquarters in Berlin, confirming that Menten maintained close relations with the SS from 1940-1942. The tribunal asked Van Der Leeuw to continue his research. The next session of the trial will be held on August 25-26 when witnesses from what is now Russian territory will be heard.

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