War Crimes Trials

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Holocaust War Crime Trials

The Doctors Trial:

The First Hippocratic Oath:

 "I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract:

 

To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft.

Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate."

(Translated by Michael North, National Library of Medicine, 2002)

"Committing oneself to the field of medicine does not make one immune from doing evil." Too many men and women who studied and practiced medicine in Hitler's Third Reich proved this statement true. Nazi medicine turned the Hippocratic Oath on its head and leashed untold evil and misery onto the world. Medicine became a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous and immoral doctors and nurses within Hitler's Germany. The biggest problem here was that too few of these medical practitioners were brought to book, too many got away with it.  

 

United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al. Also know as the Doctors Trial. 

09 December 1946: Trial Begins

20 August 1947: Trial Ends

 

Dr Karl Brandt (1904 - 1948) Hitler's personal physician, Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation and one of the architects of the T4 Euthanasia Pogramme. Sentenced to death and hanged 2nd June 1948.

Dr Siegfried Adold Handloser (1885 - 1954) Generaloberstabsarzt (Lieutenant General who was chief of Germany's armed forces medical services). Sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was later reduced to 20 years. Released from prison in 1954.

Dr Paul Rostock (1892 – 56) Chief of the Office for Medical Science and Research in Nazi Germany. Acquitted of all charges.

Dr Oskar Schroeder (1892 - 1959) chief of staff of medical services for the Luftwaffe. Sentenced to life imprisonment

Dr Karl August Genzken (1885 - 1957) Chief of the Medical Office of the Waffen-SS who carried out numerous experiments on concentration camp inmates. Sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dr Karl Franz Gebhardt (1897 – 1948) was the Medical Superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium, and President of the German Red Cross. He was also the personal physician to Heinrich Himmler. Sentenced to death. 

Dr Kurt Blome (1894 - 1969) Leading Nazi scientist, and Deputy Reich Health Leader and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council. He was Acquitted.  

Dr Rudolf Hermann Brandt (1909 – 1948) German lawyer and a high ranking SS officer. Chief of Ministerial Office and civil servant within the Ministry of the Interior. Sentenced to death. 

Dr Joachim Mrugowsky (1905 - 02 June 1948) Chief of Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS, Senior Hygienist at the Reich, SS-Physician, SS and Waffen-SS Colonel and was a bacteriologist who experimented.on concentration camp inmates at Sachsenhausen. Sentenced to death.

Dr Helmut Poppendick (1902 – 1994) was an Oberfuehrer (Senior Colonel) within the SS, and Chief of the Personal Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police. Poppendick was accused of carrying out medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. He was later acquitted in relation to carrying out medical experiments but was sentenced to 10 years for being a member of a criminal organisation (the SS). Released on 31st January 1951. He died in January 1994.

Dr Wolfram Sievers (1905 – 1948) was Reichsgeschäftsführer (managing director) of the Ahnenerbe (ancestral heritage which carried out research into racial doctrines dear to Adolf Hitler's heart. It also attemp to find a link which could demonstrate the the Aryan race was far superior to all other races) and had reached the rank of SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) within the SS. In 1943 he was become the director of the Institute for Military Scientific Research (Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung) which carried out experiments on concentration camp inmates. Sentenced to death and was hanged on 2 June 1948 in Landsberg prison, Bavaria.

Dr Gerhard August Heinrich Rose (1896-1992)  Studied medicine in Berlin. Became head of the Department of Tropical Medicine at the Berlin Robert Koch Institute in 1936. In 1939 he joined medical service of the Luftwaffe. In 1942, he then was appointed the Luftwaffe's advisory hygienists and tropical medicine at the medical service. In 1943 he became vice president of the Robert Koch Institute. He was heavily involved in the use of Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camp inmates in experiments. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1953. He died in January 1992.

Dr Siegfried Ruff (1907 – 22 April 1989) was a director at the Aviation Medicine Department at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation. Accused of being involved in experimenting on concentration camp inmates. Acquitted of all charges. He died in April 1989.

Dr Hans-Wolfgang Romberg (1911 - 1981). Worked for the department for Aviation Medicine at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation. Accused of carrying out altitude tests on Dachau concentration camp inmates.  Acquitted on August 20, 1947. He died in 1981.

Dr Viktor Hermann Brack (1904 – 1948) Joined the NSDAP and the Schutzstaffel in 1929. Acted as one of Heinrich Himmler's personal chauffeurs from 1930-1931. He helped to organise the Euthanasia Pogramme (T4) and held prominent position within Hitler's Chancellery. Heavily involved in the liquidation of the Jews. Sentenced to death and was hanged in 1948.

Dr Hermann Becker-Freyseng (1910 - 1961). Becker-Freyseng was a consultant aviation medicine within the Luftwaffe. Accused of using inmates from the Dachau concentration camp in high and low level altitude experiments and to 'thirst' experiments. Found guilty for war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. However, he was taken to the USA to work on space projects with other scientists. He died in 1961.

Dr Georg August Weltz (1889 - 1963). Weltz was the Chief of the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Munich. Accused of being involved in high altitude and freezing experiments on concentration camp inmates. Acquitted. He died in August 1963.

Dr Konrad Schäfer (1911 - Unknown) was a researcher at the Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin. Acquitted of all charges. Went to the USA and worked for the American air force.

Dr Waldemar Hoven (1903 –1948) was a captain within the Waffen-SS and a doctor at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Was involved within the Euthanasia Pogramme (T4) and accused of carrying out human experiments on concentration camp inmates. However, he was arrested by the the SS and accused of killing a fellow SS officer and was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, he received reprieved and released in March 1945 because the state required more doctors. Arrested by the Allies and accused of being involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Found guilty and hanged at Landsberg prison on 2 June 1948. 

Dr Wilhelm Franz Josef Beiglböck (1905 – November 22, 1963). Beiglböck was a consulting physician within the Luftwaffe. Had joined the NSDAP in 1933 and joined the Sturmabteillung (SA) in 1934. Accused of carrying out medical experiments involving seawater on Dachau concentration camp inmates. Found guilty and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but later was commuted to 10 years. He died on 22 November 1963. 

Dr Adolf Pokorny (1895 - unknown). Was an Austrian dermatologist who also dealt in venereal diseases. Had his application to join the NSDAP turned down because he had once been married to a Jewish doctor and had two children to her. During the war he worked as a doctor within the Wehrmacht. Accused of the forced sterilisation of prisoners. Acquitted of all charges. 

Dr Herta Oberheuser (1911 – 24 January 1978) was the only female doctor on trial here. She began working in Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1942 where she was accused of carrying out inhumane experiments on the female prisoners. Found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but was released in 1952. She returned to practising medicine until a survivor spotted her and her license was revoked which was later upheld. She died in January 1978.

Dr Fritz Ernst Fischer (1912 – 2003). He became a member of the SS in 1934. He served at Ravensbrück concentration camp. He was known to amputate healthy limbs from inmates and as well as carrying out other medical experiments on prisoners. Found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity he was sentenced to life which was commuted to 15 years. He was released in 1951. He died in 2003.

 

First Treblinka Trial

 

      Location: Düsseldorf, West Germany.

      Began: 12 October 1964.

      Date of Sentencing: 03 September 1965. 

 

Accused

Kurt Franz SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant). Sentenced to life imprisonment.

Otto Stadie SS-Stabsscharführer (Company Sergeant Major). Sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. 

Kurt Küttner SS-Oberscharführer (Staff Sergeant). Died before trial began.

Heinrich Matthes SS-Scharführer (Sergeant). Sentenced to life imprisonment.

Richard Horn SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Acquitted.

Erwin Lamber SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.

Willi Mentz SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to life imprisonment.

August Miete SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to life imprisonment.

Gustav Münzberger SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Albert Rum SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

Franz Suchomel SS-Unterscharführer (Corporal). Sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. 

Note: German ranks have the British equivalents. 

 

First Bergen-Belsen Trial:

Began on 17 September 1945 where Josef Kramer, alongside 44 others stood trial for their crimes committed at the camp.  

Defendants:

Josef Kramer: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Fritz Kline: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Peter Weingärtner: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Franz Hössler: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Karl Franzioh: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Ansgar Pichen: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Franz Stofel (Stärfl): Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Wilhelm Dörr: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Irma Grease: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 1945.

Elizabeth Volkenrath: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Johanna Bormann: Found guilty and sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Otto Kulessa: Found guilty and sentenced to 15 years - released on 07 May 1955.

Heinrich Schreirer: Found guilty and sentenced to 15 years - released on 03 September 1950.

Hertha Ehlert: Found guilty and sentenced to 15 years - released on 07 May 1953.

Ilse Förster: Found guilty and sentenced to 10 years - released on 21 December 1951.

Hertha Bothe: Found guilty and sentenced to 10 years - released on 21 December 1951.

Irene Haschke: Found guilty and sentenced to 10 years - released on 21 December 1951.

Gertrude Sauer: Found guilty and sentenced to 10 years - released on 21 December 1951.

Anna Hempel,: Found guilty and sentenced to 10 years - released on 21 April 1951.

Gertrude Feist: Found guilty and sentenced to 5 years - released on 11 August 1949.

Frieda Walter: Found guilty and sentenced to 3 years - released on 16 November 1948.

Hilde Lisiewicz: Found guilty and sentenced to 1 year - released on 16 November 1946.

Josef Klippel: Acquitted.

Fritz Mathes: Acquitted.

Charlotte Klein: Acquitted.

Karl Egersdörfer: Acquitted.

Walter Otto: Acquitted.

Erich Barsch: Acquitted.

Hildegard Hähnel: Acquitted.

Ida Förster: Acquitted.

Georg Kraft: Acquitted

Klara Opitz: Acquitted.

 

Second Auschwitz Trial:

In Frankfurt, Germany, The Second Auschwitz Trial began on the 20th December 1963 which lasted until the 19th August 1965 Twenty-two former Auschwitz personnel, including inmates who served as Kapos (prisoners given special privileged jobs such as overseers/foremen) stood trial accused of murder and other serious crimes whilst they served within the Auschwitz complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Centres of Death (above)

Below: The Doctors Trial at Nuremberg 1946-1947.