German judge may face jail over excluding witnesses in Auschwitz trial

Edited by walterp on . Posted in Main

Kabisch (pictured) explained in the Neubrandenburg state court that Walter and William Plywaski of Boulder, Colorado, — themselves Auschwitz survivors — could not join the trial of Hubert Zafke because their parents died at the camp outside the time frame of the indictment, a one-month period in 1944.

For this the judge is being accused of perverting the course of justice by denying the two Holocaust survivors the right to be heard in the trial of Hubert Zafke, an SS medic who served at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.

A spokeswoman for the Neubrandenburg court confirmed on Monday it had been informed of the charge against Kabisch, but refused to comment further. If convicted, the judge could face a minimum one-year jail sentence.

Walter (pictured) and William Plywaski, aged 87 and 86 were brought to Auschwitz from Lodz, Poland, along with their parents on August 15, 1944. While they and their father survived, they said their mother was murdered in a gas chamber on the same day.

The brothers said they were  “very, very disappointed by the court,” according to Thomas Walther, who is representing Walter Plywaski.

“The fact that a German court is using all its power and energy to try and stop this tiny piece of justice – that’s very, very difficult for him to understand,” he told the broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

As a result, Walther said, his client had a right to question whether the district court was impartial. “That’s why I have today once again filed a motion rejecting this court on the grounds of suspected bias,” he added.

Long process

Walther has also represented Holocaust survivors at the trial of Oskar Gröning (pictured) in Lüneburg in 2015.

Zafke, who is being charged with 3,681 cases of accessory to murder,  worked as a medic for the SS at Auschwitz from August 15 to September 14, 1944.

Zafke’s attorney, Peter-Michael Diestel, said in a statement on Monday it was the court’s right to interpret the law as it sees fit and dismissing Walther’s “media-friendly” criminal charges against Kabisch as a “provincial farce.”

“You exhaust all the legal options, but if you lose that’s the way it is,” he told Deutsche Welle. “You can’t then file criminal charges against the judge. We’re seeing a show trial that is failing because of extremely simple procedural problems. There’s no special law for Nazi trials. It’s a very normal procedure, and it was extremely badly prepared by the prosecution.”

It was only with the conviction of Sobibor guard John Demjanjuk in Munich in 2011 that working at a Nazi death camp was deemed sufficient for an accessory to murder conviction.

Since then, German prosecutors have been searching for other former Auschwitz guards able to stand trial – so that decades of failure by the German judiciary might be corrected.


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