A former Nazi Foreign Ministry official said today that he would appeal the eight year sentence pronounced on him by a Frankfurt court yesterday for complicity in the mass murder of Greek and Yugoslavian Jews during World War II. Fritz Gebhardt von Hahn, 57, was convicted despite testimony by West Germany’s Chancellor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, that implied that the defendant might not have been aware of the fate of the 30,000 Jews deported from Salonica and Thrace to Auschwitz and Treblinka. Mr. Kiesinger, who appeared as a defense witness last month in the trial of Hahn and his co-defendant, Adolf Beckerle, testified that despite his own wartime job in the Nazi Foreign Ministry’s propaganda section, he was not aware that the Third Reich was systematically murdering Jews.
Hahn’s defense was that although he worked in the ministry’s Jewish affairs section in Berlin, he did not know what went on in the concentration camps. In reading the verdict, however, the presiding judge said that “although the defendant was but a cog in the huge annihilation machinery of the state, he belonged to the innermost circle of Foreign Ministry civil servants involved in contrast to witness Kiesinger.” He said that Hahn had not acted on his own initiative but rather out of opportunism and weakness and could only be charged with complicity. The prosecution had demanded a life sentence for the former Nazi official.
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.