on Facebook Join our Facebook group
Home » The Shoah » Perpetrators


Nazi forces and their accomplices were responsible for the murder of over 30,000 Jews in 1942 in the following nearby towns:

  • Mokrow
  • Lachwa: 500-1,300 Jews slaughtered on September 3, 19421
  • Luniniec: 2,800 Jews slaughtered on September 4, 19422
  • Wysock: 1,400 Jews slaughtered on September 9, 19422
  • David-Horodok: 1,100 Jews slaughtered on September 10, 19422
  • Stolin: 6,500 Jews slaughtered on September 11, 19422
  • Gorodiscze
  • Janow: 2,500 Jews slaughtered on September 25, 19422
  • Drohotshin
  • Pinsk: 16,200 Jews slaughtered between October 29 and November 1, 19422

The trial proceedings that would follow singled out only a few Nazi soldiers for their roles in the massacres. Of those soldiers, there were three that were identified as being personally responsible for the deaths of the Jewish residents of Stolin:

  • Wilhelm Rasp
  • Adolph Petsch
  • Heinz-Dieter Teltz

The Trial

In what may have been the largest case in West Germany regarding crimes during the war, the defendants were tried under statutes dealing with ordinary homicide (aiding and abetting murder) because war crimes were not covered by West Germany’s criminal code and because a genocide statute cannot be applied ex post facto.

Trial Timeline – 1963-1973 in Frankfurt, Germany:

  • 1962 – investigation began
  • 1962 (Nov) – arrests made of four of the defendants
  • 1963 – indictments were issued, 18 defendants
  • 1965 – the statute of limitations for wartime murders was extended
  • 1968 (Mar) – indictments were issued, 9 accused; one died before the trial, one was found to be senile
  • 1971 (25 Nov) – trial opened, lasted 14 months

The Defendants

  • Adolf Petsch
  • Heinz-Dieter Teltz
  • Alfred Ebner
  • Walter Gross
  • Heinrich Plantius
  • Rudolf Eckert

The prosecutors, Gerhard Ott and Heinz Wolff, explained their rationale for their selection defendants as follows:

We drew a line between those who received the orders and those who gave the orders. Otherwise we would have had 300 to 400 people before the court.

All officers in command functions during the ghetto exterminations were classified as order-givers and automatically became subject to prosecution, regardless of whether they killed with their own hands.

Defense claim:
Defendants were arbitrarily selected as scapegoats for scores of others equally or more to blame for the murders. Former superiors and subordinates have escaped prosecution and appear in court merely as witnesses


70 volumes of documents and interrogation reports.


  • Johann Eckstein – non-commissioned officer (Sergeant) in Police Battalion 306 when it sealed off the Pinsk ghetto insisted that he was on vacation at the time of the Soviet troop murders during testimony. Rationale: The murder statute was suspended by the Führer’s orders and the action was lawful under the legal system existing at that time
  • Dr. Franz Ballerstaedt
  • Otto Winkelmann (b. ~1896) – case against him for the deportation of 400,000 Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz extermination camp was dropped for lack of evidence
  • Soviet witnesses – testimony taken in Minsk, Sep 2-9 and early October of 1972

The Frankfurt court asked 180 witnesses, mostly Jews, to testify.

Defense argument:
Defendants did not know that according to the German military code, they were not required to carry out unlawful orders.


All six were found guilty – Petsch received 15 years; the other sentences ranged from 2.5 to 4 years. “The actions cannot be justified on the basis of orders since the orders themselves were illegal and far exceeded every conceivable authority.” The court noted that the defendants acted under orders, did not show excessive zeal and derived no personal rewards from their deeds.

Adalbert Schaefer (b. ~1930)
In explaining the unbelievably mild verdict, he describes the six as:

themselves victims of inhuman times… If a taxi cab driver is killed everybody calls for the re-introduction of the death penalty… But here no rooster crows for it. Most want an end to these trials – not that we ourselves are so enthusiastic about them. We conduct them only because the lawmakers have commissioned us to do so.



1 Yad Vashem: The Untold Stories. The Murder Sites of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR
2 The Thomas Pages: Israel Timeline, 1942

Compiled by and Copyright © 2020 Joshua S. Perlman and Adina Lipsitz
All content is copyright its respective owners and has been used with permission.

This site is part of JewishGen’s KehilaLinks (formerly ShtetLinks) project. This site is hosted at no cost to the public by JewishGen, Inc., a non-profit corporation. If you feel there is a benefit to you in accessing this site, your JewishGen-erosity is appreciated.

This site uses the Anthology Premium Website Template by Pexeto.

Updated 20 December, 2020

JewishGen ShtetLinks