Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Eleven Treblinka Officers, Guards Go on Trial Today for Murder of Jews

October 12, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Eleven former SS officers and guards of the Treblinka concentration camp, the second largest Nazi death camp, will go on trial here tomorrow on charges of torturing and massacring 700, 000 Jews 22 years ago.

Among the 85 prosecution witnesses to testify at the trial will be a number of the handful of survivors of the daring breakout from Treblinka in 1943 which was led by a former captain of the Polish army. Most of those who fled were later rounded up by the Germans and massacred, but a few escaped, joined the underground and survived the war.

The chief accused in the trial is SS officer Kurt Franz, known as “Lalka,” who was head of the camp’s SS guards and served as direct representative of Hitler’s extermination units. The 11 accused are charged with having been in complete control of Treblinka from 1942 to 1943. After the prisoner’s breakout, the Germans destroyed the camp and set up a farm on the site to camouflage it.

All 11 accused have been living in West Germany since the end of the war. West German authorities are still searching for the former camp commander, SS Maj. Franz Stangl, who disappeared after the war and is believed to be in South America. The trial is expected to last six weeks.


The Federal prosecutor’s office and defense attorneys both filed appeals this weekend against the sentence of 15 years at hard labor passed against S.S. General Kar. Wolff following his conviction for complicity in the wartime murder of 300,000 Jews in Poland. The prosecution asked the Federal High Court to increase the sentence to life imprisonment while the defense sought Wolff’s freedom.

The Karlsruhe court rejected appeals of two other SS officers, Guenther Fuchs, who received a life sentence, and Otto Bradfisch, who was sentenced to 13 years of hard labor, for their activities in Nazi extermination squads.

At Flensburg, the public prosecutor said today that S.S. Major Martin Fellenz had been re-indicted on charges of having caused the murder of 7,300 Jews in the Krakow, Poland ghetto in 1942. Fellenz had been convicted of this charge in 1962 but the Federal High Court ordered a retrial.


The argument by a defense attorney in the Hannover trial of five men accused of war crimes, that they could not be punished for murder because they had merely obeyed Adolf Hitler and Hitler had been above the law and therefore without guilt in the slaughter of millions of Jews continued to provoke an angry response, including demands for exclusion of the attorney from the bar.

The lawyer, Gerd Heincke, representing one of the quintet accused of participating in the massacre of 7, 000 Jews in Vlodowa, told the court that Hitler had believed he was fulfilling a “sacred mission” in the destruction of European Jewry and that those who carried out his orders were not guilty of murder. A statesman, who kills other people because he believes they are destroying his own people does not act from malicious motives, he argued.

Justice Ministry officials in Lower Saxony said that the systematic annihilation of racial and national groups by the Nazis was murder, as ruled by many West German courts, and that those who took part in them could be tried for complicity in such killings.

The official press service of the Social Democratic Party demanded an investigation of the attorney by the West German Bar Association. Heinz Galinski, head of West Berlin’s Jewish community denounced “this outspoken defense of murder and said if West German leaders remained silent, “they should not be surprised at what happens in the future.”

Recommended from JTA