BONN (Aug. 5)
Josef Schwammberger is purposely suppressing knowledge of wartime events which he is capable of remembering, according to an expert witness called to testify at the accused Nazi war criminal’s trial in Stuttgart.
Dr. Hans Lauter testified last Friday that the 79-year-old former SS official has an intact memory and relatively good capacity to reconstruct events that happened 50 years ago.
Another psychiatric specialist told the court that Schwammberger is in a position to stand trial but that his appearances in court should be limited to four hours a day, with a break lasting two hours or so.
The experts were called in response to a request by the defense to substantiate Schwammberger’s claim that he is too physically and mentally weak to continue.
On several occasions when a judge pressed him to answer specific question, Schwammberger said he could not go on.
Schwammberger, who was extradited here last year from Argentina, stands charged with atrocities of a particularly brutal nature, including the murder of at least 45 persons and complicity in the murders of 3,377 people, most of them Jews, while he was commandant of several labor camps in Poland, including those at Przemysl, Mielec and Rozwadow.
Another witness called last Friday told the court that he had personally seen an SS official under Schwammberger’s command kill several ailing individuals. The witness, a 63-year-old rabbi, said he was once personally badly beaten by Schwammberger and then tortured by other officials at the camp.
The rabbi told the court that other inmates had been present when Schwammberger killed a rabbi named Fraenkel in Rozwadow on Yom Kippur of 1942.
In previous court appearances, Schwammberger has denied personal involvement in the killings, saying he had killed only one individual in his lifetime and that had been in self-defense.
He also said he remembers nothing that happened in the Rozwadow camp, and claimed he could not remember any involvement in beating or torturing inmates.