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More Defendants in Mass Trial of Nazis Admit Killing Jews in Minsk

October 25, 1962
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Two more defendants in the trial of 14 former SS officers and men on charges of murdering 70, 000 persons in Nazi-occupied White Russia during World War II admitted today they had participated in the mass killings.

Johannes Feder, a former SS officer and a Criminal Investigation Department inspector in Cologne after the war, said he had “merely supervised” the transportation of Jewish men, women and children from the Minsk Ghetto. He testified he had seen the gassing of Jews in specially built vans and that, subsequently the bodies were thrown into a ditch for disposal. The indictment against the 14 ex-Nazis charges that they killed more than 30, 000 Jews.

A. Merbach, 50, charged with murder in 24, 000 cases, admitted guilt in the killing of some 5, 000 Jews whose execution he said he had to witness. He said that, in the spring of 1942, he had taken part in the execution of 1, 000 Jews and that, on another occasion, when 10, 000 persons “had to be killed” within three days, he was in charge of their transportation. He testified that, after each shooting, the riflemen were supplied with alcoholic drinks.

Previously, Georg Heuser, the key defendant, who had been CID chief in West Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate, told the court he had been at least “partly guilty” in the killings. Frank Stark, born in St. Louis but raised in Germany, who was charged with murder in 4, 652 cases, admitted to active participation in mass executions of Jews on two occasions. He said that, as “a convinced Nazi,” he never gave the orders for their execution “a second thought.”

On Monday, Rdulf Schlegel, one of the few defendants who did not find a postwar haven in the West German police force, cited a large excavation where victims were forced to lie down for execution and said “I was stationed at the ditch and I also shot.” The indictment charged Schlegel with the murder of 5, 280 persons.

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