prison camp commander accused of postwar
By BEATA PASEK, Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland -- A
former prison camp commander charged with
committing atrocities against Germans
imprisoned after World War II testified at
the first day of his trial Friday that he
had acted only to stop an
Czeslaw Geborski, 76, from the
Silesian city of Katowice, is accused of
ordering guards to set fire to a prison
barracks and shoot inmates who fled.
Prosecutors say at least 48 prisoners died
Oct. 4, 1945 in the Lambinowice camp he
commanded in southwestern Poland.
Geborski denies the charges. He
contends that the prisoners set fire to a
barracks themselves during an escape
attempt, and only three were killed by
guards trying to stop them.
"Prosecutors know that only three
people were killed on that day because the
archives from the camp were found," he
said Friday during testimony at the
regional court in Opole.
charged with crimes against humanity,
faces life in prison if convicted. His
testimony is scheduled to continue Feb.
The case of the Lambinowice deaths was
closed in the 1950s because of lack of
evidence. Prosecutors reopened it in 1998.
During the trial, 138 witnesses are
expected to testify.
Warsaw only recently has reopened the
issue of its postwar treatment of Germans.
Hundreds of thousands of them ended up in
Soviet-controlled Poland after the
victorious Allies shifted Polish borders
westward into German territory.
Estimates vary, but Polish historians
generally agree that the communist
government imprisoned 100,000 Germans,
mostly civilians, who were deemed threats
to the state. They were often held in
former Nazi concentration camps. At least
15,000 died, and the rest were freed by
In 1998, Poland asked Israel to
extradite Solomon Morel, a Polish
Jew allegedly responsible for atrocities
when he commanded a camp at Swietochlowice
in southern Poland. Israel refused, saying
that the statute of limitations had run
out and that the charges failed to meet
the definition of genocide under Israeli
2001 Associated Press.
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