In Poland a jury has started hearing evidence against 14 former Nazis accused of war crimes at a concentration camp near the town of Lublin.
GV Majdanek prisoner of war camp in Poland (3 shots)
GV Judges standing outside district court building in Lublin
GV INTERIOR District court President Mr. Ludwik Przyzlak addressing judges (2 shots)
GV EXTERIOR Government building
GV Judge entering courtroom
GV Polish witness, Dr. Aglaida Jaworska entering and being questioned by judge
In the earlier stages of the trial there have been few witnesses able to provide concrete evidence against the defendants. Most German witnesses said they could not remember details of events which occurred 34 years ago. But Polish journalist Anders Stanislawski, who testified in Dusseldorf, pointed at one of the accused, Emil Laurich, and said he had been given the nickname 'Angel of Death' at Majdanek. He would call out prisoners at roll call to send them to the crematorium and crack his whip over their heads in such a way as to 'knock out their eyes'. The trial is expected to be the last war crimes trial staged by the Germans, who have set a 1979 deadline for ending wartime murder prosecutions.
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Background: In Poland a jury has started hearing evidence against 14 former Nazis accused of war crimes at a concentration camp near the town of Lublin. The trial began in Dusseldorf two years ago but moved to Poland on Wednesday (5 October) to hear witnesses too old or ill to travel to West Germany.
SYNOPSIS: At least 250,000 prisoners died in the Majdanek concentration camp in western Poland during the Second World War. They were killed by the Nazis in the camp's gas chambers or through other forms of liquidation. Aside from Auschwitz, Majdanek was the biggest Nazi concentration camp but unlike Auschwitz it wasn't destroyed by the Germans. Majdanek has been preserved by the Poles and turned into a national museum. All the major features including the gas chambers -- and a mound of ashes -- have been preserved.
None of the 14 defendants, who are accused of murder, are attending the hearings in Lublin. They're all free on bail in West Germany. District court President Ludwik Przyzlak is presiding over the sessions, which are expected to last until the end of November before the trial resumes in Dusseldorf. On Saturday (8 October) the court was due to visit the camp itself and a number of witnesses too old or infirm to travel at all were to be questioned in their homes.
The Polish authorities said the evidence they had gathered included 'horrific' tales of Majdanek prisoners being gassed shot, drowned or dying of neglect.
Altogether 30 witnesses were due to give evidence in the capital of Warsaw and the city of Gdansk as well as Lublin.
On Wednesday the only witness to appear was 63 year old woman doctor Aglaida Jaworska, who worked for the Nazis at the Majdanek camp. She said the saw SS men select Jewish women for extermination at daily roll calls. Dr. Jaworska said Nazi doctors pointed with their whips at up to 60 weaker inmates a day who were then taken to be gassed. The Majdanek case is West Germany's longest war crimes trial and may not finish until 1980.