Hans Walter Zech-Nentwich, the convicted Nazi war criminal who escaped from his prison ib Brunswick last April after being sentenced to four years for the murder of at least 5,200 Jews in Pinsk during World War II, was placed here today in a “maximum security” jail, to await his appeal from the sentence, next October, a spokesman for the West German Government announced.
Zech-Nentwich returned to Germany a week ago and surrendered to German officials Friday, insisting he was innocent of the crimes of which he had been convicted. He said he had feared he would be kidnaped by “Israeli agents.” He admitted that, after he fled from the jail at Brunswick, he had gone first to Essen, then to Cairo, Addis Ababa, South Africa, finally coming back to Germany via Brussels and Paris.
One of the people who helped him escape from Germany, carrying an Egyptian passport, was believed to have been Margit Steinheuer, a German woman employed by the Egyptian Embassy at Bonn. He has denied that his escape was aided by other former Nazi officers. Miss Steinheuer reportedly told newspapermen in Cairo 10 days ago that she feared she would be arrested if she returned to Germany. But officials of the Ministry of Justice said today they would try to arrange a safe-conduct for her, so that she could come here for questioning.
Meanwhile, another woman, Rosemarie Holtbrueggmann, was being held in jail and undergoing questioning in connection with Zech-Nenntwich’s escape. Justice officials here said she had been seen with Zech-Nenntwich in Cairo for several days in June.
Zech-Nenntwich, who is 47, was a cavalry officer in the Nazi SS during the war. For a reason never disclosed, he had been arrested by the Gestapo, but fled to England, where he had become a broadcaster of anti-German propaganda. Later, he worked for British intelligence in Germany. In 1952, after going into private business, he was convicted of bribing a British civilian guard, and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. Among the charges he faces now is one of defrauding an elderly American widow of about $500,000 in securities.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.