|Polish Nazi On Trial
November 5, 2000
in Aiding Nazis at a Holocaust Death Camp
By THE ASSOCIATED
4 — Prosecutors in Poland have charged a 77-
man with collaborating with the Nazis to help kill Jews
in a death camp
during World War II.
It is the first
such charge to be brought by the National Remembrance
up by the government to manage and investigate
police files and documents relating to Stalinist and Nazi
crimes. It began
work last June.
The man was identified
only as Henryk M., of Szczecin in northwestern
Poland. He is
accused of "taking part in acts of genocide" at the Chelmno
death camp from
Dec. 8, 1941, until April 7, 1943, the prosecutor,
said on Friday.
He was arrested
on Thursday and appeared on Friday in a court in the
city of Poznan. Under Poland's 1944 decree on
Nazi criminals, he could face a life sentence if convicted.
"I'm not guilty,"
the Polish news agency PAP quoted Henryk M. as
saying in court.
"I was acting under pressure, and I was only 16 then."
said the defendant "beat prisoners, took away their
and other personal objects and led them into gas
The central Polish
town of Chelmno, also known by its German name
Kulm, was the
site of the first Nazi extermination camp. Jews were
gassed to death
by exhaust fumes of trucks there as early as 1941.
the Nazis also used the deadly Zyklon B gas for the first
time in Chelmno.
About 3 million
of the 3.5 million Jews who lived in Poland before World
War II died
in the Holocaust, which killed 6 million Jews across Europe.
say that up to 300,000 people, mostly Jews from the
were killed at Chelmno, said Witold Kulesza, who is in
charge of investigations
at the institute.
Henryk M. is
the only survivor of seven Poles who worked at the camp
staff, the investigator said. The others never faced charges.
Remembrance Institute was set up in part to handle the
of making Communist-era secret police files open to the
public. It also
is empowered to open investigations that could lead to
trials in cases
of political persecution and murders.
The charges disclosed
Friday are the first since 1973, when a Polish
woman was sentenced
for collaborating and working in a children's camp
in the central
city of Lodz, Mr. Kulesza said.
also is preparing an investigation into a 1941 massacre of
1,500 Jews in
eastern Poland allegedly carried out with the help of local
with the Nazis.
plan to investigate the deaths of at least 15,000 Polish
by Soviet secret police forces in 1940, known as the
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