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Poland Charges First Man in 25 Years with Nazi Crimes

November 6, 2000
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A 77-year-old man has been charged with Nazi collaboration during the Holocaust in the first such case in Poland in more than 25 years.

Polish prosecutors last Friday identified the man only as Henryk M. of Szczecin in northwest Poland, accusing him of “taking part in acts of genocide” at the Chelmno death camp from December 1941 until April 1943.

Henryk M. was charged with “beating those imprisoned, stripping them of valuables, clothes and other belongings and leading them to wagons which served as gas chambers.”

The man, who denied the charges against him, could face a life sentence if convicted.

“I was acting under pressure, and I was only 16 then,” the Polish news agency PAP quoted him as saying.

The case marks the first time in Poland that a Pole has faced such charges since 1973.

It is the first time such a charge has been brought by the government’s new National Remembrance Institute. The institute was set up earlier this year to investigate Nazi- and Communist-era crimes by examining secret police files and other documents.

Chelmno was the site of the first Nazi death camp in Poland.

As early as 1941, Jews, many of them from the Lodz Ghetto, were killed by being sealed in closed trucks hooked up to exhaust fumes.


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