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Schwammberger Case Nearing End As Last Witness Testifies

August 10, 1988
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The last of four eyewitnesses asked to give testimony in the Argentine denaturalization trial of suspected Nazi war criminal Josef Schwammberger completed her testimony last week.

Cecilia Miller of Los Angeles told a federal court in Buenos Aires of Schwammberger’s role in the spring of 1943 in the public hanging of a Jew suspected of stabbing a German guard.

Miller was 13 years old when Schwammberger was commandant of the Przemysl concentration in Poland in 1943. She was an eyewitness to the hanging.

According to Martin Mendelsohn, a lawyer who represented Miller on behalf of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Miller’s testimony marked the end of the prosecution’ case in the trial.

An Argentine federal court judge will now decide if Schwammberger lied to authorities about his wartime past when he sought and gained Argentine citizenship 30 years ago. The judge’s decision is expected anywhere from 30 days to a few months.

If found guilty, Schwammberger could become the first suspected Nazi war criminal extradited to West Germany by a South American country.

Schwammberger, 75, was commandant of the Przemysl and Rozwadow labor camps and the Mielce concentration camps, all in Poland. He is alleged to have been responsible for the execution and torture of hundreds of Jews.

According to Austrian police files, he admitted to shooting 35 Jews as part of his military responsibilities, and plundering gold and diamond jewelry from Jewish slave laborers.

He was arrested in Argentina in November 1987, based on eyewitness testimony gathered by the Wiesenthal Center and the World Jewish Congress.

Defense attorneys for Schwammberger are expected to argue before the federal judge that the statute of limitations on his admitted theft have run out, and that the Jews whose deaths were his responsibility were shot while trying to escape.

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