A former SS officer now living in Argentina was responsible for the execution of 20 Polish university professors in Poland during World War II, Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal said Friday.
Wiesenthal, director of the Jewish Documentation Center, said former SS officer Walter Kutschmann, 81, is now living in Buenos Aires as an Argentine citizen under the name of Pedro Ricardo Olmo. He is a leading executive of Osram Argentina, a subsidiary of the West German Osram Electrical Company.
Kutschmann was responsible for the execution of 20 Polish university professors and 18 of their relatives on July 4, 1941 in the former Polish, now Soviet, town of Lwow (Lemburg). This war crime had been attributed to former West German Minister Theodor Oberlaender, Wiesenthal said, Oberlaender, minister for displaced persons under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer from 1953 to 1960, was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by an East German court in 1960. He is now living in Bonn.
“Oberlaender was a first lieutenant in the German wehrmacht, but the crime was committed by the SS,” Wiesenthal said. “The Wehrmacht had to part in it and Oberlaender is fully rehabilitated,” he added, Wiesenthal, who tracked down Adolf Eichmann, said his representative in Buenos Aires submitted to the police photographs and fingerprints proving Kutschmann’s identity.
He said the state prosecutor in West Berlin turned down his request to demand Kutschmann’s extradiction, “because there is no chance to get him extradicted.” Wiesenthal said the trial against Oberlaender was organized by the East Germans at the height of the cold war to discredit the anti-communist West German government of Adenauer. “We hope Kutschmann will be arrested by the Argentine police,” Wiesenthal said.
(According to conflicting reports today from Buenos Aires, Kutschmann was believed to have been arrested by Argentine authorities but at the same time was thought to have left the city after being detained briefly by police for an identity check. His whereabouts are not immediately known.)
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.