Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Schwammberger Trial Nears End, As Counsel Calls for Acquittal

May 4, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Lawyers for accused Nazi war criminal Josef Schwammberger urged a Stuttgart court last week to acquit the 80-year-old former SS officer on grounds that the evidence against him was contrived and much of the information about the Nazi period was either fabricated or manipulated.

The summation by defense attorney Manfred Blessinger was criticized by several leading newspapers. According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, “The defense tried to use extreme right-wing ideological biases to substantiate its case.”

Other newspapers accused the lawyer of employing neo-Nazi language. Blessinger denied he is a neo-Nazi. But he repeatedly challenged the veracity of published facts about the Nazi era and accused the news media of mounting a campaign against his client.

He charged that the prosecution witnesses were coached and merely recited what they had read in books and articles.

Schwammberger was commandant of two forced labor camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. He is charged with the murders of several dozen Jews and complicity in the murders of thousands more.

During his long trial he had little to say except that he did not remember the events mentioned by the witnesses.

His lawyer maintained, however, that it was unlikely that Jews would have been forced to work for the Nazi war machine because they would have sabotaged it.

Schwammberger, who was extradited from Argentina in 1990, faces life imprisonment if convicted. He is currently being held in the maximum security prison of Steinheim.

Recommended from JTA