Eight Germans, Five Jews on Trial Before U.S. Military Court for Oberammingen Riot
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Eight Germans, Five Jews on Trial Before U.S. Military Court for Oberammingen Riot

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A story of violence against Jews reminiscent of the Nazi heyday was related here today as a three-man American Military Government court began trying eight Germans and five displaced Jews, including two girls, for participating in a riot in the town of Oberammingen.

The president of the tribunal is Lieut. Col. Marion Beatty, who presided last week over the court which sentenced 19 Landsberg DP’s to prison terms ranging up to two years for a somewhat similar offense.

All of the 15 prosecution witnesses heard today, among whom were three DP’s, told virtually the same story, describing how almost all the residents of Oberamingen surrounded a schoolhouse in which a group of DP’s were living, on the night of March 28, brandishing sticks and shouting “Hel Hitler” and anti-Jewish epithets. According to the witnesses, the disturbance started about 8 p.m. after a scuffle between two of the DP defendants, Abraham Lekawiez and Herman Schwartz, and a few of the German defendants.

Following this incident, a group of DP’s entered several homes and beat up the Germans who had participated in the fracas. Bungomeister Martin Mayer, one of the defendants, grew hysterical, the witnesses said, and summoned the police. He also ordered trumpets to be sounded, which is the traditional means of summoning the towns-people to fight a fire.

When a crowd had gathered, Mayer led them to the schoolhouse, which was normally occupied by 12 Jews, but which had additional occupants that night. In the ensuing disturbance the building’s doors were broken down, but before further violence could occur police arrived and arrested the Germans and several of the DP’s.

Pola Berliner, 23, a Polish-Jewish girl who was one of the witnesses, identified all of the German defendants as having participated in the riot and also accused several of the witnesses of joining in the assault on the schoolhouse. Another witness, Abram Grossman, 24, accused Mayer of attacking him and shouting “Tonight, death to all the Jews.” Eighteen-year-old Setsel Koruch also testified that he had been beaten by the Germans. Even some of the German witnesses identified the burgomeister as having lead the attackers.

Other-German witnesses identified Lekawiez, Schwartz and David Berwiner as being present during the attack on the Germans earlier in the day, but nobody identified the two girls among the DP defendants, Renia Wainberg and Frania Fruchtman.

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