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The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, known in German as der Auschwitz-Prozess or der zweite Auschwitz-Prozess, (the "second Auschwitz trial") was a series of trials running from December 20, 1963 to August 10, 1965, charging 22 defendants under German penal law for their roles in the Holocaust as mid- to lower-level officials in the Auschwitz-Birkenaumarker death and concentration camp complex.

Prior trial in Poland

Most of the senior leaders of the camp, including Rudolf Höss, the longest-standing commandant of the camp, were turned over to Polishmarker authorities in 1947, following their participation as witnesses in the Nuremberg Trialmarker, at which time they were tried in Krakówmarker and many sentenced to death. That earlier trial in Poland is usually known as the first Auschwitz Trial; Richard Baer, the last camp commandant died in detention while still under investigation as part of the trials.

Course of proceedings

Defendants ranged from members of the SSmarker to kapos, privileged prisoners responsible for low-level control of camp internees, and included some of those responsible for the process of "selection," or determination of who should be sent to the gas chambers directly from the "ramp" upon disembarking the trains that brought them from across Europe ("selection" generally entailed inclusion of all children held to be ineligible for work, generally under the age of 14, and any mothers unwilling to part with their "selected" children). In the course of the trial, approximately 360 witnesses were called, including around 210 survivors. Proceedings began in the "Bürgerhaus Gallus", in Frankfurt am Mainmarker, which was converted into a courthouse for that purpose, and remained there until their conclusion.

Hessianmarker Generalstaatsanwalt (State Attorney General) Fritz Bauer, himself briefly interned in the concentration camp at Heuberg in 1933, led the prosecution. Bauer was perhaps at least as concerned with establishing the character of the camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau as he was with pursuing individual defendants, which may explain in part why only 22 of an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 SS members thought to have been involved in the administration and operation of the camp were charged. Bauer is said to have been opposed in the former purpose by the young Helmut Kohl, then a junior member of the Christian Democratic Union. In furtherance of that purpose Bauer sought and received support from the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. The following historians from the Institute served as expert witnesses for the prosecution; Helmut Krausnick, Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Hans Buchheim, and Martin Broszat. Subsequently, the information the four historians gathered for the prosecution served as the basis for their 1968 book, Anatomy of the SS State, the first thorough survey of the SS based on SS records.

Information about the actions of those accused and their whereabouts had been in the possession of West German authorities since 1958, but action on their cases was delayed by jurisdictional disputes, among other considerations. The court's proceedings were largely public and served to bring many details of the Holocaust to the attention of the public in the Federal Republic of Germanymarker, as well as abroad. Six defendants were given life sentences and several others received the maximum prison sentences possible for the charges brought against them.


Name Rank, Title, or Role Sentence
Stefan Baretzki Blockführer (block chief) Life plus 8 years imprisonment
Emil Bednarek Kapo Life imprisonment
Wilhelm Boger camp Gestapomarker Life & 5 years imprisonment
Wilhelm Breitwieser camp Häftlingsbekleidungskammer Released
Perry Broad camp Gestapomarker 4 years imprisonment
Viktor Capesius pharmacist 9 years imprisonment
Klaus Dylewski camp Gestapomarker 5 years imprisonment
Willi Frank Head of SS dental station 7 years imprisonment
Emil Hantl Sanitätsdienstgrad (medical orderly) 3½ years imprisonment
Karl-Friedrich Höcker adjutant 7 years imprisonment
Franz-Johann Hofmann Head of protective custody camp Life imprisonment
Oswald Kaduk Rapportführer (SS NCO) Life imprisonment
Josef Klehr medical orderly Life & 15 years imprisonment
Dr. Franz Lucas SS Obersturmführer 3 years, 3 months imprisonment
Robert Mulka adjutant 14 years imprisonment
Gerhard Neubert HKB Monovitz Released
Hans Nierzwicki HKB Auschwitz 1 Released
Willi Schatz SS dentist Acquitted & released
Herbert Scherpe SS Oberscharführer 4½ years imprisonment
Bruno Schlage SS Oberscharführer 6 years imprisonment
Johann Schobert Political Division Acquitted & released
Hans Stark camp Gestapomarker 10 years imprisonment


In 1977 an additional trial was held in Frankfurt against two former members of the SS for killings in the satellite camp of Lagischa (Polish: Lagisza) and on the "evacuation" (i.e. death march) from Golleschau to Wodzisław Śląskimarker (German: Loslau).


  • Fritz-Bauer-Institut / Staatliches Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau (Hrsg): Der Auschwitz-Prozeß. Tonbandmitschnitte, Protokolle, Dokumente. DVD/ROM. Directmedia Publishing, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89853-501-0 (also via D. Czech: Kalendarium)
  • [139991] The DEFA Film Library situated at University of Massachusetts Amherst released the English version of the DVD from the Fritz-Bauer-Institut in 2006.

Further reading

review of "The Investigation" by Peter Weiss (1965)

External links

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