Three former Gestapo officials, including the head of an “extermination” unit in Tilsit who allegedly boasted that he had “disposed of” 132, 000 Jews, have been indicted for the murder of 5, 502 Lithuanian Jews in 1941, the district attorney here disclosed this week. Seven other lesser Gestapo agents were also indicted as accomplices. The trial date has not yet been set.
The principal defendant in the proceedings is 53-year-old Bernhard Fischer Schweder, former Nazi police chief of Tilsit, in East Prussia. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 he supervised an “extermination” unit which, according to a report it submitted to Gestapo headquarters in October that year, had claimed 132, 000 Jewish victims.
The district attorney said that documentation for the deaths of 5,502 Lithuanian Jews was available, and that he had gathered depositions from 119 witnesses.
Evidence against Fischer-Schweder had been introduced at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, but he could not be found at the time. Under an assumed name, he had obtained work in a refugee camp at Ulm, and had risen to the post of director there. His superiors were said to have known his Gestapo past but did not expose him until he sued them in a salary dispute. In retaliation, they revealed his wartime career with the Nazis. As a result, the district attorney here investigated the case and brought about the indictment.
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.