3 Ex-Nazis Get Jail Terms for War Crimes
New York Times
Feburary 12, 1980
By John Vinocur
COLOGNE,Feb. II (NYT)—A West German court, closing; what, is likely to be one of .the. country's last-major, war crimes,, trials, today found three former members of the .Nazi SS elite guard guilty, of complicity to murder in the deportation of 50,000- Jews from occupied France to Auschwitz.
Stressing that the three defendants "completely and fully understood" that they, were sending the Jews to their deaths, and not to work camps as their 'defense-attor--neys argued, Judge Heinz. Fassbem der read the~verdict and sentences while the-three one-time Nazi functionaries bowed their heads.
The longest term, 12. years, was received by Herbert Hagen, 66, "who. was chief of the SS information service's Jewish section and commander. o£ the Nazi police force in the? Atlantic region o£ France. ' .
A 10-year sentence- was given Kurt Lischka, 70, the former chief of the Nazi security police in occupied France. A six-year term was given Ernst Heinrichsohn, 59, a former SS member.
Resigns After Venfict
The prosecution had asked for terms of 12 years for Hagen and Lischka and five years for Heinrichsohn. He resigned from his office as mayor of the Bavarian town of Burgstadt and gave ap his membership in the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian wing of the Christian Democratic Party, after the verdict was announced.
The judge described the men. as "not coming from the first row of
the final solution people," but as participants in the1 process, whose claims of riot knowing of the fate of the Jews were "more than astonishing."
In explaining the sentences, the judge described Hagen as a Nazi intellectual who- had influenced Heinnchsohn and a young, generation of Germans. Heinrichsohn was described as a subordinate, but one depicted in testimony as- being particularly brutal' to children. Lischka, as a lawyer, the judge said, fully understood the implications of his actions,, although, he was said, not to have played the central role in the deportation of Jews from France.
"I'm very satisfied with the verdict and very gratified about the1 way the- case was handled by the-court," said Serge Klarsfeld, a French lawyer, who led a campaign.
to bring the three men to trial. Each had lived peacefully in West Germany since World War II with what Mr. Klarsfeld called, in the case of Lischka, the protection of the Cologne police department.
Mrs. Ida Grinspan, who was sent to. Auschwitz from Paris at 14 in. one of the box cars that the three defendants supervised described the verdict as reasonable.
"The three of them lived easy lives, until now," she said, "and the
sentences really don't mean much. Perhaps reliving all of this-was harder for a person like me than for them. In any case, I don't hate them. If I did, that would mean in a way that their inhumanity had won."
A number of the spectators in the. courtroom, including a group wearing yellow badges with the words "Jew of France," broke into tears when the verdict was announced.
The trial presented two novelties in terms of West Germany's handling of war crimes. The first was its rapidity, taking only 29 sessions spread over a 3 and a half -month period. Other cases, including the continuing trial of guards at the Maidanek concentration camp, have stretched over several years.
Judge Fassbender's explanation for the speed of this trial was that there was extensive written evidence that required a minimum of testimony. Lawyers assisting the prosecution said, however, that the pace had much to due with the judge's refusal to permit delaying tactics by the defense.
The trial also had testimony from Professor Wolfgang Scheffler of the
Free University of Berlin, an expert witness for the prosecution, who testified that the contention that most Germans knew nothing of the extermination of the Jews was a legend deliberately fostered here after World War II.
He said that "every German was able to inform himself about the: goals of the deportation" and argued that the transport of tens of thousands of Jews from France would have been impossible without the help of the French police.