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Concentration Camp Survivor Claims He Set Fire to Menten’s Country House

Rotterdam police reported that a 53-year-old former inmate of Dachau claimed that it was he who set fire to the country house of accused Nazi war criminal Pieter Menten Sunday night. The man identified only by his initials, G.P. Van S. was transferred to the Amsterdam police and is being held here.

The fire, caused by a Molotov cocktail tossed on the straw-covered roof of the 20-room Menten villa in Blaricum, east of Amsterdam, destroyed the upper floor and part of Menten’s valuable art treasures. Menten’s wife, who was in the house at the time, was unhurt. She accused her husband’s enemies of having set the fire.

Menten, 78, a millionaire art-dealer, is on trial for the murder of several hundred persons, mostly Jews, in the Lemberg region of Poland during World War II when he served as an officer in an SS unit. The trial, which opened in May, has been adjourned until August.

The person being held is apparently known to the police. He was described as a man of no fixed occupation who spent 18 months at Dachau and recently has been undergoing psychiatric treatment. Two years ago he tried to set fire to a small publishing house in Ridderkerk, a village near Rotterdam, which planned to publish a Dutch edition of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Police said he gave them many details of the Menten home fire that he could not have learned of from newspaper accounts.

Meanwhile, the Amsterdam Civil Court has granted a legal separation to Menten and his wife who is some 25 years his junior. The couple requested the separation apparently for financial reasons as relations between them are clearly very affectionate. It enables Menten to transfer his property to his wife in the event that the court orders it seized.

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