Nazi crimes trials

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Before you read on let me explain the title of Nazi crimes trials. This is not about the Nuremberg trials or any other subsequent war crimes trials. This is about Nazis bringing Nazis to trial as ordered by Heinrich Himmler.

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I will give you a minute to leave it sink in.

The chief investigator and prosecutor  was Georg Konrad Morgen(picture at the top of the blog),  an SS judge and lawyer.

He was demobilized and employed as a judge in the SS Judiciary, which assigned him to its court in Cracow. In Cracow he investigated several highly placed SS officers for corruption, including Hermann Fegelein, a favorite of Heinrich Himmler’s and the future brother-in-law of Eva Braun. He also exposed one of Fegelein’s co-conspirators, Jaroslawa Mirowska, as the head of the Polish underground.

After requesting a transfer, Morgen was instead dismissed by Himmler, ostensibly for acquitting an SS officer of the racial crime of sexual relations with an alien race, but also perhaps for meddling in Himmler’s affairs.He was punished by being sent to the Wiking Division on the Eastern Front. However, in mid-1943, Himmler recalled Morgen to investigate and prosecute corruption in the concentration camp system, which had become rampant, as reflected in Himmler’s notorious Posen speeches.

 

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Although Morgen could not accuse the men of murder or unjust killings, as Hitler’s regime allowed it to make mass murders like those in concentration camps legal, Morgen was able to charge these men with theft, military insubordination, and murder of individuals.

This is the list of those that were indicted

Name Rank Location
Karl Otto Koch SS-Standartenfuhrer Buchenwald
Hermann Florstedt SS-Standartenfuhrer Majdanek
Hermann Hackmann SS- Hauptsturmfuhrer Majdanek
Hans Loritz SS- Oberfuhrer Sachsenhausen
Adam Gruenewald SS- Sturmbannfuhrer Vught
Karl Kuenstler SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Flossenburg
Alex Piorkowski SS- Obersturmbannfuhrer Dachau
Maximillian Grabner SS- Untersturmfuhrer Auschwitz
Gerhard Palitzsch SS- Hauptscharfuhrer Auschwitz
Amon Goth SS- Hauptsturmfuhrer Plaszow
Hans Aumeier SS- Sturmbannfuhrer Auschwitz

Rather then going in to each of the accused I will pick out just a few of them.

Karl-Otto Koch

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Koch was first caught for his crimes by SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Josias, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 1941, while he was glancing over the death lists of Buchenwald, he had noticed the head hospital workers name, Dr Walter Kramer. He had recongised him because Kramer had successfully treated him in the past, Josias had started to investigate the death and found out that Koch, being the commandant had ordered Kramer and Karl Peixof, a hospital assistant, killed as political prisoners, because they had treated him for syphilis and in fear of being discovered had killed them.

Josias had also gained reports of a prisoner being shot while attempting to escape, by this time Koch had been transferred to Majdanek in Poland. However his wife was still working at Buchenwald. Josias ordered to have a full scale investigation of the camp by Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen. Throughout this investigation, more of the orders to kill prisoners were being revealed, as well as the stolen property of the prisoners. The prisoner who had been shot in his attempted escape was actually told to get water from a well which was some distance from the camp, he was then shot from behind, he was also another one of the hospital attendants who had treated Koch.  

A charge of incitement to murder was lodged by Prince Waldeck and Dr. Morgen against Koch, to which more charges were later added. Other camp officers were also charged, which included Ilse Koch. Koch was arrested in August 1943. Although the camps were known for vast amount of crimes against humanity, the Nazis did not officially sanction cruelty to the prisoners. As strange as it may sound. The trial resulted in Koch being sentenced to death for disgracing both himself and the SS. Koch was executed by firing squad on 5 April 1945, one week before American allied troops arrived to liberate the camp.

Amon Göth

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On 3 September 1943, in addition to his duties at Płaszów, Göth was the officer in charge of the liquidation of the ghetto at Tarnów, which had been home to 25,000 Jews (about 45 per cent of the city’s population) at the start of World War II. By the time the ghetto was liquidated, 8,000 Jews remained. They were loaded on a train to Auschwitz concentration camp, but less than half survived the journey. Most of the survivors were deemed unsuitable for forced labour and were murdered immediately on their arrival at Auschwitz. According to testimony of several witnesses as recorded in his 1946 indictment for war crimes, Göth personally shot between 30 and 90 women and children during the liquidation of the ghetto.

On his birthday in 1943, Göth ordered Natalia Karp, who had just arrived in Płaszów, to play the piano. Karp performed Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor so well that Göth allowed her and her sister to live.

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Göth was also the officer in charge of the liquidation of Szebnie concentration camp, which interned 4,000 Jewish and 1,500 Polish slave labourers. Evidence presented at Göth’s trial indicates he delegated this task to a subordinate, SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Grzimek, who was sent to assist camp commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Kellermann with mass killings.Between 21 September 1943 and 3 February 1944 the camp was gradually liquidated. Around a thousand of the victims were taken to the nearby forest and shot, and the remainder were sent to Auschwitz, where most were gassed immediately on arrival.

On 13 September 1944, Göth was relieved of his position and charged by the SS with theft of Jewish property (which belonged to the state, according to Nazi legislation), failure to provide adequate food to the prisoners under his charge, violation of concentration camp regulations regarding the treatment and punishment of prisoners, and allowing unauthorised access to camp personnel records by prisoners and non-commissioned officers.Administration of the camp at Płaszów was turned over to SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Büscher. Göth was scheduled for an appearance before SS judge Georg Konrad Morgen, but due to the progress of World War II and Germany’s looming defeat, the charges against him were dropped in early 1945. SS doctors diagnosed Göth as suffering from mental illness, and he was committed to a mental institution in Bad Tölz, where he was arrested by the United States military in May 1945.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

KZ Auschwitz, Einfahrt

Morgen subsequently discovered the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Two packages of dental gold, sent by an Auschwitz dental technician to his wife, had been confiscated by postal inspectors and passed on to Morgen for investigation.Realizing that the gold must have been collected from Holocaust victims, Morgen sent an investigative team to Auschwitz and later visited himself, receiving a thorough tour of the killing center at Birkenau. His investigation was not welcomed though; his assistant SS-Stabsscharführer Gerhard Putsch disappeared and the building where evidence files were stored was burned down.Although he could not prosecute the mass extermination of Jews — which, as he explained after the war, was legalized by order of Hitler — he still went on to prosecute the camp commandant Rudolf Höss and the Chief of the camp Gestapo, Maximilian Grabner, for crimes including murder.

Maximilian Grabner

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In 1943, he was arrested for theft,murder, graft and corruption and was put on trial in Weimar a year later. After the trial, he returned to Katowice. Grabner was arrested by the Allies in 1945 and turned over to Poland in 1947. In the Auschwitz Trial he was found guilty of charges of murder and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to death. Grabner was hanged on 28 January 1948.

In addition to prosecuting concentration-camp officers, Morgen sought an arrest warrant for Adolf Eichmann,as Eichmann himself confirmed at his trial in Jerusalem, but Morgen’s request was rejected.

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After the war, Morgen was a witness at the trial of Nazi war criminals at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg; also the trial of SS WVHA members, and the 1965 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt–am–Main. Thereafter, he continued his legal career in Frankfurt. He died on 4 February 1982.

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