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Five-month ‘chelmno Trial’ Ends; Six Imprisoned for Killing Jews

April 1, 1963
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Sentences ranging from 15 years at hard labor to verdicts of nominal guilt without penalty were handed down yesterday by a jury court here in the five-month trial of 12 former SS guards accused of participation in the murder of 180,000 Jewish men, women and children in the Chelmno concentration camp during the years 1941 to 1943.

Gustav Laabs, 60, and Alois Haefele, 69, each received terms of 15 years at hard labor. Walter Burmeister, 56, was given a 13-year term. Kurt Moebius, 67, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Karl Heinl, 50, received a seven-year term. Ernest Burmeister, 63, received a three-and-a-half-year penalty.

Herbert Schroeder, the jury court president, also announced that while the other six defendants were found guilty of complicity in the mass murders, the court did not impose any sentences on them, in accordance with a provision of West German penal law. Under that provision sentence was not imposed because their crimes were not regarded as sufficiently grave to merit the minimum three-year prison term for such crimes. The trial lasted about six months. The Chelmno camp was located near Lodz in occupied Poland.

Laabs was charged with murdering 100, 000 Jews in gas vans and with personally shooting survivors. Walter Burmeister was accused of beating Jews and with fooling Jews in incoming transports as to their exact fate. Haefele’s assignment was to fool Jews about their fate and with shooting Jews personally. Moebius frequently forced Jews into the gas vans. Heinl was charged with using a leather whip and a club on the doomed Jews. Ernst Burmeister supervised herding of Jews into death vans and either killed or assisted in the killing of sick slave laborers.

Those not punished in the verdicts were Martin Meier, an assistant gas van driver; Walter Bock, a guard who forced Jews into the gas vans; Wilhelm Heuckelbach, Friedrich Maderholz, Wilhelm Schulte and Anton Mehring.

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