BONN (Aug. 10)
West Germany has put on trial a former SS official charged with complicity in the mass murders of Jews at the Majdanek death camp.
In a separate development, West Germany said Tuesday that there was no suspicion to justify an arrest warrant for Anton Malloth, a former SS official apprehended last week in Merano, Italy.
The trial of Karl-Friedrich Hoecker, who was an aide to the death camp’s commander, began Tuesday in the town of Bielefeld. According to the prosecution, Hoecker was responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews between May 1943 and May 1944. As part of his duties at Majdanek, Hoecker ordered large quantities of Zyklon-B, the pesticide-formula gas used in the extermination chambers.
About a quarter of a million people, mostly Jews, perished at Majdanek, located near Lublin in Poland. The camp, originally built to house Soviet prisoners of war and civilian prisoners, was converted into a killing center in 1942 by the SS.
In 1965, Hoecker was sentenced to seven years in prison for complicity in the murder of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz.
On Tuesday, the 76-year-old Hoecker used a newspaper to cover his face while photographers tried to shoot pictures at the courtroom entrance. Visibly angry, Hoecker made a few attempts to step on the photographers’ feet.
Inside the courtroom, the court decided that Hoecker could be present only for limited periods of time because of alleged health problems.
NO GROUNDS FOR EXTRADITION
Meanwhile, a West German prosecutor said Tuesday that authorities would try to question Malloth, but that there appeared to be no grounds to seek his extradition from Italy, where he was apprehended last week.
Malloth had been sought by West German authorities for murder and torture of concentration camp prisoners. He spent five years as an officer in the concentration camps of Litomerice and Terezin, Czechoslovakia. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 1948 by a Czech court for murder and torture.
Klaus Schacht, a prosecutor in Dortmund, said West German authorities had opened an investigation against Malloth in 1970, but closed it because he could not be located.
Malloth obtained West German citizenship after Italy stripped him of his Italian citizenship in 1956 because of his war record.