Friday, April 30, 1999 | return to: international


Germany tries man tied to ‘43 massacre

by BERLIN (JTA) -- A Ukrainian-born man of German descent is standing trial in Stuttgart for assisting in the murder of 17,000 Jews, Alfons Goetzfried, 79, is charged with playing a role in the murder of Jews in the infamous "Harvest Festival" action of Nov. 3

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But in court Tuesday he said all he did was "load the machine guns with magazines and loaded other pistols. But that was it. I cannot remember shooting anyone myself."

Goetzfried said the action "made me sick. I vomited. They gave me medicine, and later I had to load the weapons."

When the judge asked how he had felt at the time, he answered, "It was completely sad and terrible. Men, women and children were shot. They were screaming and moaning."

Born in 1919 in Odessa, Ukraine, Goetzfrid allegedly became a member of the SS after the Germans occupied the area in 1941.

Goetzfried was captured after the war on May 9, 1945, and held in a Soviet prison near Prague. In 1947, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In 1991, he left the Soviet Union for Germany, where he was arrested in March 1998.

In addition to the current charges, Goetzfried is reportedly still under investigation for his alleged role in more than 40,000 murders near Lvov, Ukraine, and Lublin, Poland.

Goetzfried came under suspicion after he provided testimony in an unrelated war crimes investigation in 1997. Prosecutors insist Goetzfried had said he shot 500 Jewish men, women and children in November 1943 at Majdanek. Goetzfried has testified in Nazi war crimes trials in Russia and Britain.

The trial is expected to last through mid-May. If convicted, Goetzfried faces a maximum 15-year sentence. But lawyers said the court would probably take into consideration his 13 years in a Soviet labor camp and his past year in custody in Germany.


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