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Report Former Top Nazi is Alive in a Polish Prison Despite Having Been Sentenced to Death in 1959

March 3, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Erich Koch, one-time Nazi gauleiter of the Ukraine, is alive in a Polish prison despite having been sentenced to death in 1959, the Daily Telegraph reported this week.

He was sentenced for the murder of 72,000 Poles and the official reason for him not being executed was that he was in poor health. But the Daily Telegraph believes he may have bargained for his life in return for a promise to help locate Nazi plunder. He is now 85.

Koch, who was also war-time Reich defense commissioner in East Prussia, is believed to be the most senior Nazi in captivity after Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who is held in Spandau Prison in West Berlin.

Telegraph reporter Robin Gedye wrote that Koch is in a top security prison in the picturesque village of Barczewo, in Poland’s northern lake district. Koch was due to take charge of Moscow had the Nazis captured it. In the Soviet Union he was wanted for the murder of four million Russians and Jews and for sending two million people to forced labor.

As the war ended, he escaped to Denmark before returning to live under an assumed name near Hamburg in West Germany. The British found him there in 1949 and handed him over to the Poles.

According to the Daily Telegraph, his wife set up a fund for him in a Polish bank worth some 10,000 Pounds Sterling a year, from which he has bought the books on politics and economics which line the walls of his cell. A Polish journalist who visited him last year described him as well-preserved, small, thin and “sporting a small moustache like Hitler’s.”

Until a few years ago, Koch received infrequent visits from his niece, sister and wife but in recent years has been seen only by his Polish lawyer. He still receives food parcels from relatives in Germany, the Telegraph reported.

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