Nederlands Holocaust in Europe After 1945

Trials

The three people who were the chief 'planners' and were primarily responsible for Auschwitz - Hitler, Himmler, and Heydrich - were no longer alive after the war. Several others however were ultimately punished. A total of approximately 7,000 nazi men and women, served in the Auschwitz camp complex during the war. According to estimates, 6,300 were still alive after the war. Between 1946 and 1949, approximately 1,000 of these were tracked down, mostly in the American zone of occupied Germany. Between 1946 and 1953, Polish legal bodies pressed charges against at least 673 persons. Most of the trials were held in courts in Kraków and Wadowice. Rudolf Höss, the commander of Auschwitz from May 1940 to November 1943, was hung on the gallows at the entrance to the Auschwitz I crematorium in March 1947. Later that same year, a big trial took place in Kraków and 23 death sentences were handed down to several top officials in the camp. In Frankfort, between 1963 and 1965, a second Auschwitz trial took place and sentenced 22 guards and other SS members. These individuals received only prison terms. Adolf Eichmann, the person most responsible - among other things - for the murder of 440,000 Hungarian Jews was tracked down in 1960 in Argentina by the Israeli Secret Service, kidnapped, and brought to Israel. In 1961, after a controversial trial, he was sentenced to death and executed.


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  1. Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem (1961). The trial drew much attention worldwide. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  2. Josef Kramer, camp commander of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Bergen-Belsen, where he was arrested by the British troops on 17 April 1945 and taken to a POW camp in Celle. Kramer was sentenced to death and hung on 13 December 1945. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  3. Rudolf Höss, camp commander of Auschwitz, during his trial in Warsaw. Höss was executed in Auschwitz I after being sentenced to death. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  4. Russian prisoners beating up a Kapo after the liberation of one of the many concentration camps in Nazi Germany. The Kapo had shot and killed one of their fellow prisoners and they were angry. Similar to the entire Nazi structure, the German camp organisation had many ranks. The lowest ranking SS officers often appointed prisoners as their assistants. In exchange for better treatment and more food these prisoners had to keep their fellow-prisoners in the barrack under control. A Kapo was allowed to use violence. It goes without saying that the Kapos were terribly hated among their fellow prisoners. Source: ‘Het 40-45 Boek’
  5. Franz Stangl, camp commander of Treblinka and Sobibor. A confrontation with a survivor at the court in Brazil, in 1967.
  6. A trial against Auschwitz camp guards. Photo Kraków, December 1947. NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
Glossary
persecution
mass murder
perpetrators and victims
camps
auschwitz
sobibor
after 1945
timeline
guest book
trials
initial silence
keeping the memory alive
holocaust denial
demjanjuk trial
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