Oap `War Criminal Stripped and Shot 15 Girls'

Article excerpt

A RETIRED British Rail ticket collector was a Nazi war criminal who mowed down 15 naked Jewish women with a machine gun, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Anthony Sawoniuk, 77, sat stone-faced as his "enthusiasm" for killing Jews in the occupied USSR was detailed.

He heard prosecutor John Nutting QC tell how, after volunteering for a Nazi death squad, Sawoniuk made the 15 sobbing women strip before killing them.

A witness, Mr Nutting said, would reveal how Sawoniuk and other Nazi police dragged an 80-year-old Jew into the street, set fire to his beard and stabbed him.

And another survivor of the horrors in the town of Domachevo would recall Sawoniuk battering a 50-year-old Jew with a spade as he led him away to be executed.

Sawoniuk, who earned pocket money doing chores for Jews as a child, joined the local Nazi police soon after the Germans over-ran his home town in 1941.

"The defendant was one of the first volunteers," Mr Nutting said. "He carried out the Nazis' geno- cidal policies with enthusiasm."

Most of the Jews in Domachevo, now in Belarus, were killed on Yom Kippur in September 1942.

Almost 3000 men, women and children were taken from the town's ghetto and shot. But some fled into nearby forests, and Sawoniuk, who settled in London after the war, joined a search and kill squad set up to find them.

Opening the prosecution case, Mr Nutting said: "It is alleged the defendant played a prominent part in rounding up and murdering those who fled. Their only offence was to be Jewish."

Captured Jews would be taken along a path known as "The Road of Death", to the sandpit where executions were carried out.

A witness, Fedor Zan, 75, will tell the court he hid in bushes as Sawoniuk, a former schoolmate, murdered the 15 Jewish women.

It's claimed he ignored their hysterical pleas for mercy, and calmly walked away afterwards.

Mr Zan also claims Sawoniuk led his aunt's family to their deaths for links to local partisans.

Local man Alexander Baglay claims he had to bury three more of Sawoniuk's victims.

Mr Baglay and a friend had been caught scavenging for clothes in the empty ghetto, and were taken to the sandpits by Sawonuik.

There, two Jewish men and a girl of about 20 were told to strip.

Mr Nutting said: "The girl was embarrassed to undress until the defendant shouted at her.

"He ordered the Jews to face a pre-dug grave, took out his pistol, and shot the two men and then the girl in the head from behind.

"As he fired, he pushed each one forward into the grave."

Sawoniuk told Mr Baglay and his friend to fill in the grave and return the shovels to the police.

Mr Baglay, now 67, knew Sawoniuk well. His father helped build the policeman's house.

Mr Nutting said Domachevo's blacksmith, Ivan Stepaniuk, would tell the court he saw Sawoniuk and another policeman taking a 50-year-old Jew called Schlemko to the sandpit.

Schlemko kept falling, and Sawoniuk was hitting him with a spade. They went into trees, Mr Stepaniuk heard a shot, and the two policemen returned alone. …