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Mother says Hauptmann is innocent

By HAROLD A. PETERS, United Press Staff Correspondent

KAMENZ, Saxony, Sept. 22, 1934 (UP) -- A gray-haired, wrinkle-faced little woman of around 70 years sat in the kitchen-living room of her home today and insisted that her son, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, could not have kidnaped the Lindbergh baby.

"It is not possible," she said, sobbing. "I cannot believe it. He has a baby of his own. I know he would not have done it."

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She confessed that her son was a scapegrace, that he had been sentenced to prison here for robbery. But that was just after the war, she insisted, when robbery was common and everyone was desperate.

"Just recently," Mrs. Hauptmann said, "I got him released from the second robbery charge against him. He wrote me he wanted to come home. But he did not. I don't know why. I waited and waited. Then he wrote that he had found work and had a chance to save enough to make a start here. After that I heard from him only once and he did not come."

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It was learned today that Hauptmann owed his liberty to Gypsies. He had a Gypsy for a cellmate in prison. They became close friends. The Gypsy clan, learning of their friendship, arranged for Hauptmann's escape. The Gypsy was only serving a term for vagrancy.

His mother got clothes for Hauptmann, who escaped from his cell, stripped at the prison gate and arrived without clothing at the Gypsy camp. He dressed there and was taken across the French frontier in a covered wagon.

The United Press correspondent found Mrs. Hauptmann in the combined kitchen and living room of her tiny home. The room, hardly more than five by eight feet was furnished with three chairs, a table and a sofa. There was a wood-burning range. A few pots hung from the walls. The room was neatly scrubbed.

Mrs. Hauptmann, only 4 feet 6 inches in height, burst into tears when she began to talk. Then, her pale blue eyes lighting up, she sat on the edge of her red plush sofa and expressed hope that the charge against her son was all a mistake.

She squared her shoulders and pointed almost defiantly to an enlarged photograph of Hauptmann, portraying him as a cool, confident youth. Her gesture seemed to mean that the photograph proved the original could not commit such a crime as the Lindbergh kidnaping.

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"He wanted to return to me," she said. "I believed that he had begun another life in the United States. He wrote to me regularly every four or five weeks. He was always good to me. He always thought for his family."

Richard, she said-Hauptmann is called Richard here-sent small sums home to augment the old age pension of 60 marks ($24.25) a month on which she, a widow, subsists. He always remembered her birthday with a gift, and sent her presents at Christmas, she said, and in addition sent money. The last remittance, this spring, was one of 200 marks ($80.85), she said.

When he sent that, Mrs. Hauptmann said, he said he had prospects of making a start. His letters, she commented, seldom gave details of his work. Sometimes he would say he was workless, sometimes that he was employed.

Mrs. Hauptmann discussed the two holdups for which Hauptmann received two and one-half-year terms each, only to escape and stow away to the United States.

"I forgave him," she said, "because he was just back from the war and was at his wits' end. He had nothing to eat. Besides, at that time (about 1920), robbery was not such a crime as it is today. Nobody had anything.

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"I do not defend stealing. But everyone was getting along any way he could then."

Mrs. Hauptmann referred to the conditions after the war, the after effects of the "hunger blockade," when there was much crime.

Mrs. Hauptmann raised five children in the little home. The father died during the war. Two sons were killed in it. Another son lives in Dresden.

There is also a daughter, married for 28 years, who lives in Los Angeles, Cal.

She showed an album sent by Hauptmann, which included snapshots of his wife in the United States and picture postcards of a trip he made in 1931 to California to visit his sister, Mrs. Emma Gloeckner.

Hauptmann's wife comes from the neighboring town of Markgraeningen. She visited the mother here twice, the last time in 1932.

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