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Support Mounts for Ratification of Treaty to Try Nazi War Criminals

July 11, 1974
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West German political parties indicated today that they would approve ratification of a 1971 Franco-German treaty under which Nazi war criminals convicted by French courts could be re-tried in German courts. Support for the measure, which has languished in Parliament for the last three years, followed the two-month jail sentence imposed by a Cologne court yesterday on Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld.

Mrs. Klarsfeld was convicted of a 1971 attempt to kidnap Kurt Lischka, the Gestapo chief in Paris during World War II, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by a French court 24 years ago and now lives in West Germany. He is typical of the Nazi war criminals still at large who became the focus of attention during the Klarsfeld trial.

Social Democrat Justice Minister Jochen Vogel is putting strong pressure on his party, the Foreign Office, and the competent Bundestag committee to get the treaty through as early as possible after the summer recess, which ends in mid-Sept. Earlier this week, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt promised French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that he “would do his utmost” to get the treaty ratified before the end of the year. He is apparently concerned about the effects non-ratification would have on relations with France and Israel.

The Free Democrats, in coalition with the SPD, agreed at a meeting today that the treaty should be dealt with after the summer recess. Up to now, they have had little interest in the treaty, as one of their members, Ernst Achenbach, allegedly involved with Lischka in the deportation of Jews from France, has been the key man in blocking deliberations on the treaty. He is in charge of the handling of the treaty draft in the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee.

Achenbach said today in a radio interview that he was in favor of an amnesty for all Nazis who could be punished under the new treaty. Thirty years after the war, he said, no just verdict could possibly be passed by West German courts. The idea of mercy should prevail over punishment. Achenbach also rejected as “infamous” allegations in the press that, as a German diplomat in Paris during the war, he had recommended the deportation of Jews for the murder of two German officers.


Meanwhile, Mrs. Klarsfeld plans to appeal her sentence and will not follow the Cologne court’s recommendation that she seek a clemency decree cancelling the sentence. This was revealed by her Israeli lawyer, Arie Marinsky, Mrs. Klarsfeld is still free since Judge Viktor de Somoskoeoy in sentencing her yesterday held up her arrest warrant pending her decision to appeal.

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