Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

April 22, 2004

Norris McWhirter, 78, co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, final arbiter on everything from the fastest climb of Mount Everest to the world's longest hot dog, died Monday after a heart attack at his home in southern England.

The first Guinness book appeared in 1954, edited and compiled by Mr. McWhirter and his twin brother, Ross, both noted British athletes and journalists. At first, it was published by the Guinness brewery as a book for settling trivia disputes in pubs.

Ross was murdered by the Irish Republican Army in 1975, but Norris McWhirter continued to edit the book until 1986 and was advisory editor until 1996.

Huib Drion, 87, a former Dutch supreme court justice who was a force behind the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands, died in his sleep yesterday, state television said.

Mr. Drion - a professor of civil law and founder of a resistance newspaper published during the Nazi occupation - first sparked debate on mercy killings with his essay "Voluntary Death for Old People," published in 1991, seven years after he retired from the high court.

He wrote that elderly people "should be able to walk to a doctor - either their family doctor or a specialist - to get the means by which they can put an end to their lives in a manner that's acceptable for themselves and their loved ones."

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia - under strict guidelines, and for certain terminally ill patients.

Karl Hass, 92, a former Nazi officer convicted in the massacre of 335 Italian civilians in Rome, died yesterday in a rest home where he was serving a life sentence under house arrest.

The former SS major was sentenced in 1998 for killings at the Ardeatine Caves on the outskirts of Rome when the Italian capital was under German occupation during World War II. German soldiers rounded up and shot the civilians - among them 75 Jews - in retaliation for a bomb attack in Rome by Italian resistance fighters.

Hass had come to Italy from Switzerland in 1996 at prosecutors' request to testify against former SS Capt. Erich Priebke. But he changed his mind and injured himself when he jumped from his hotel balcony in a bid to avoid taking the stand.

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