BERLIN — Prosecutors have reopened an investigation in which a 95-year-old former SS officer is accused of being involved in two 1943 massacres of Jews in the Polish city of Lublin.
The prosecutors’ office in Hannover made the decision based on a letter that suspect Erich Steidtmann wrote in October 1943. Steidtmann was a captain in the Nazi’s elite force, the SS, and head of a company belonging to the infamous Hamburg Polizeibataillon 101.
“We reopened the investigations to check whether he was on vacation during the time of the massacres or whether he was at the location when it happened,’’ prosecutor Kathrin Soefker said yesterday.
She said a new understanding of an abbreviation in the letter could indicate that Steidtmann was not on home leave when the shootings of thousands of Jews took place, as he had told prosecutors during earlier investigations in the 1960s. The abbreviation in question was a military code to indicate that the sender of the letter was in the field.