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Threaten Contempt Action Against Nazi Official in Federal Panel Inquiry

November 29, 1933
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

After openly defying federal authorities in the first hearing in open court since the beginning of the federal investigation of Nazi affairs two months ago, Engelborg Roell, secretary of both the national and local organizations of the League of Friends of New Germany, yesterday was put in the custody of the United States marshal.

Roell, appearing before Federal Judge Anderson of North Carolina, yesterday repeatedly refused to give testimony demanded by the court regarding the membership and operations of the League of Friends of New Germany. When the judge asked for the membership list of the group, Roell openly revolted and declared he was unwilling to submit the list.

At this point Judge Anderson adjourned the hearing with the declaration that unless Roell would agree to turn over the membership list at today’s hearing, he would face charges of contempt of court.

Roell’s testimony was marked by stubborn evasiveness of all questions hurled at him by William W. Prager, Assistant United States Attorney, who has been handling the Nazi investigation from its inception almost two months ago. He repeatedly refused to divulge the names of members of his league, and his answers to queries regarding the purpose of the organization and its activities were without exception unsatisfactory and incomplete from the point of view of the prosecutor, Mr. Prager later declared.

When questioned regarding admissions made in the hearing on Monday, Roell declared he “didn’t remember” facts brought out in the proceedings.

In the meantime, the federal grand jury questinoned two witnesses, who appeared before the body for the first time since the beginning of the investigation. H. Rauber, landing agent for the North German Lloyd steamship line, was first to take the stand as the grand jury sought to ascertain what knowledge he had of Nazi activities in this country.

Gerhardt Procht, a secretary in the office of the League of Friends of New Germany, also was put on the stand before the federal body.

Fritz Gissibl, leader of the western branch of the league, with offices in Chicago, testified. Gissibl has been recognized as the chief of the national organization since the disappearance of Heinz Spanknoebel, fugitive leader of the league, who dropped from sight simultaneously with the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.

Due to lack of time, the grand jury was unable to question William Meyer, leader of the Newark branch of the League of Friends of New Germany and ranking eastern officer of the national organization, and the Rev. Francis Gross, a former clergymen who has been actively disseminating anti-Semitic and pro-Hitlerite pamphlets. Both had been invited to come to the grand jury rooms and waited outside during the hearing.

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