BONN (Jun. 30)
West German neo-Nazi leader Karl-Heinz Hoffmann was sentenced Monday in Nuremberg to nine and a half years imprisonment for various offenses concerning his political activities. But Hoffmann was cleared of the prosecutor’s main charge that he allegedly masterminded the 1980 murder of the Jewish publisher Shlomo Levin and his female companion, Frida Poeschke.
Hoffman’s girlfriend, Franziska Birkmann, drew a seven year prison sentence for her participation in the neo-Nazi leader’s unlawful activities.
MEMBERS TRAINED BY PLO
The most serious charge for which Hoffmann was found guilty was causing bodily harm to members of his neo-Nazi para-military group. This took place while members of the group were undergoing military training in a Palestine Liberation Organization camp in Lebanon.
According to police, a member of the group, Ude Berndt, actually killed Shlomo Levin and his girlfriend at their Erlangen home near Nuremberg in December 1980. Berndt had died in Lebanon after being involved in continuing arguments among members of the Hoffmann group.
The court judges decided it was impossible to determine Hoffmann’s role in the murder due to the disappearance of Berndt and the lack of solid evidence from other sources. Berndt had used sun glasses belonging to Birkmann when he knocked on Levin’s door in preparation for the murder.
LEVIN SAID HE WORKED FOR DAYAN
Levin was a controversial figure in the West German Jewish community and may have been chosen as a candidate to the murder by the neo-Nazis and their PLO allies because of his unusual public exposure. Levin would tell people that he once worked as a top aide to Israeli leader Moshe Dayan.
Minor offenses for which Hoffman was sentenced were illegal possession of arms, displaying Nazi symbols and circulating anti-Semitic propaganda.
It is understood that both the prosecution and the Defense would appeal the verdict. The trial took place in the same court in which the Nazi leadership of Germany had been sentenced after World War II before an international tribunal.