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Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust

Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust

Michael J. Bazyler
Frank M. Tuerkheimer
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust
    Book Description:

    In the wake of the Second World War, how were the Allies to respond to the enormous crime of the Holocaust? Even in an ideal world, it would have been impossible to bring all the perpetrators to trial. Nevertheless, an attempt was made to prosecute some. Most people have heard of the Nuremberg trial and the Eichmann trial, though they probably have not heard of the Kharkov Trial - the first trial of Germans for Nazi-era crimes - or even the Dachau Trials, in which war criminals were prosecuted by the American military personnel on the former concentration camp grounds. andnbsp; This book uncovers ten forgotten trials of the Holocaust, selected from the many Nazi trials that have taken place over the course of the last seven decades. It showcases how perpetrators of the Holocaust were dealt with in courtrooms around the world - in the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Israel, France, Poland, the United States and Germany - revealing how different legal systems responded to the horrors of the Holocaust. The book provides a graphic picture of the genocidal campaign against the Jews through eyewitness testimony and incriminating documents and traces how the public memory of the Holocaust was formed over time. andnbsp; The volume covers a variety of trials - of high-ranking statesmen and minor foot soldiers, of male and female concentration camps guards and even trials in Israel of Jewish Kapos - to provide the first global picture of the laborious efforts to bring perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice. As law professors and litigators, the authors provide distinct insights into these trials.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-0437-5
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    The Holocaust: a conspiracy to murder eleven million people that succeeded in killing six million of them.¹ Unlike most conspiracies, which operate in secret to avoid detection and subsequent prosecution by the state, this one operated above ground, and not just with the state’s awareness, but with the state as the driving force. There is no clearer evidence of this conspiracy to murder the Jews of Europe than Reich Marshal Hermann Göring’s directive to Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), dated July 31, 1941:

    I hereby charge you with making all necessary preparations in regard to...

  5. 1 The Kharkov Trial of 1943: The First Trial of the Holocaust?
    (pp. 15-43)

    In the brutal history of humanity, no other tragedy compares to the scale of death and destruction brought by Germany in the years between 1941 and 1945 to the territories of present-day Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. During the forty-seven months of what is known in the region as the Great Patriotic War, approximately 30 million Soviet civilians and soldiers lost their lives. Twenty million of these were civilians. Over sixty years later, more than 2.4 million are still officially considered missing in action, while 6 million of the 9.5 million buried in mass graves remain unidentified.

    When describing what...

  6. 2 The Trial of Pierre Laval: Criminal Collaborator or Patriot?
    (pp. 45-73)

    Once Germany began its conquest of Europe, the only European countries that could stop the German military onslaught were the other regional military powers: France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany never succeeded in conquering Britain and the Soviet Union. It conquered France in just thirty-three days.¹ What came afterwards remains one of the most shameful periods in French history.

    Approximately 75,000 Jews were deported from French transit camps to their deaths in occupied Poland between 1942 and the end of German occupation, in December 1944. Almost a third of these were French citizens, and over 8,000 were children...

  7. 3 The Dachau Trial under U.S. Army Jurisdiction
    (pp. 75-99)

    In March 1933, shortly after Hitler’s ascent to power in Germany, the Nazis opened the concentration camp known as Dachau, which included an entire ring of concentration camps administered from Dachau and encircling it. It remained under German control until the surrender of the main camp to Allied military forces on April 29, 1945. The main Dachau camp was built to accommodate 8,000 inmates; the entire complex was built to hold about 20,000 inmates. At the time of surrender, the main camp held about 30,000 inmates and the entire complex held about 65,000 people.¹

    The original purpose of the camp...

  8. 4 The Trial of Amon Göth in Postwar Poland: Poland’s “Nuremberg”
    (pp. 101-127)

    One of the most notable trials undertaken soon after the end of the Second World War is that of Amon Göth, the brutal commandant of the Płaszów concentration camp on the outskirts of Kraków. While Göth’s 1946 trial in newly liberated Poland has largely been forgotten, his cruelty and sadism have gone down in worldwide infamy through his representation by actor Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 filmSchindler’s List.David Crowe, in his biography of Oskar Schindler, calls Göth “one of Nazi Germany’s more infamous war criminals.”¹

    In examining the Göth trial, it should be kept in mind that...

  9. 5 The Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials in British-Occupied Germany: Women as Perpetrators, Women as Victims
    (pp. 129-157)

    After Nazi Germany’s defeat, each of the four major Allied powers conducted trials in their respective zones of occupied Germany, with the British holding 358 trials in their zone. British military courts convicted 1,085 individuals, with 240 receiving death sentences.¹ Two hundred were actually executed, and this included at least 20 women. Albert Pierrepoint, the United Kingdom’s official hangman, was flown in from London for each execution or set of executions.²

    The British trials involved prosecutions of (1) crimes committed during wartime in the now British zone of occupation, (2) crimes committed elsewhere (including those on the Eastern Front) by...

  10. 6 The Einsatzgruppen Trial at Nuremberg: Did Anyone Have to Follow Orders to Kill?
    (pp. 159-193)

    This book is about Holocaust trials that have, in large part, fallen below the public radar. While there may be some difference of opinion about which trials fall into that category, it is clear that the first Nuremberg trial held before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in 1945–46 and the Eichmann trial held in Jerusalem in 1961 do not. Lesser-known trials are not as easily grouped together. Certainly, for most of the general public, all the trials after the first Nuremberg trial have descended into varying degrees of obscurity. That many refer to the first Nuremberg trial as “the”...

  11. 7 The Jewish Kapo Trials in Israel: Is There a Place for the Law in the Gray Zone?
    (pp. 195-225)

    Kaposwere Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps appointed by the German authorities to maintain order and oversee the fulfillment of work quotas. An unofficial term, the word is usually described as deriving from the Italian wordcapo, meaning “head.” According toThe Holocaust Encyclopedia,akapowas the “[h]ead of a unit in a concentration camp.”¹ We use the term in its wider sense, referring to any prisoner in a concentration or labor camp given some supervisory function by the German administrators. Initially, the Nazis chosekaposfrom the ranks of common criminals, and later, political prisoners....

  12. 8 The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial: The Germans Trying Germans under German Law
    (pp. 227-245)

    On December 20, 1963, a court in Frankfurt began a trial of twenty-two defendants, all connected with the administration of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The trial ended exactly twenty months later, on August 20, 1965. This trial was the most significant postwar prosecution brought under German law for crimes committed during the Second World War. Before examining this trial, we first place it into the context of both the killing process and the efforts by German prosecutors to deal with death camp administrators.

    Between 1939 and 1945, many Jews were killed through random shootings, beatings, and forced labor. More organized...

  13. 9 The Trial of Feodor Fedorenko: Treblinka Relived in a Florida Courtroom
    (pp. 247-273)

    The trial against Feodor Fedorenko in Fort Lauderdale in 1978 was part of an effort by the U.S. Justice Department to rid the United States of persons who had participated in Hitler’s death machinery. In 1979, the creation of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department as a dedicated Nazi-hunting unit formalized that effort. OSI took over the Fedorenko case through its various posttrial appeals and hearings.

    In its over thirty-year existence, OSI has successfully deported over one hundred persons who participated in the Holocaust. It has also successfully prevented an additional two...

  14. 10 The Trial of Anthony Sawoniuk at the Old Bailey: The Holocaust in the British Courtroom
    (pp. 275-301)

    The morning of February 8, 1999, was overcast, dreary, and cold, like any other winter day in London. Individuals navigating through the snow that fell overnight past the busy Central Criminal Courthouse in London, fondly known as the “Old Bailey,” would hardly know that history was being made inside: the only criminal trial of the Holocaust to have occurred in Britain was about to begin.

    The defendant on trial in Court 12 was being charged for multiple murders that had taken place fifty-seven years before, not in England but in German-occupied Europe. And the end result was that the defendant...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 303-312)

    The ten Holocaust trials featured in this book span well over a half-century, from the Kharkov trial in 1943 to the Sawoniuk trial in 1999. Discussing them in one work illuminates at least a small portion of the wide-ranging legal enterprise that has taken place over the last several decades to deny impunity to the participants of the largest and most successful conspiracy of mass murder in history. Such efforts involved thousands of trials, but like the ten “forgotten trials” reviewed here, this enormous legal enterprise has largely been ignored.

    This disregard is not only among the educated public. Historians...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 313-354)
    (pp. 355-360)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 361-373)
    (pp. 374-374)