Trials of war criminals of Auschwitz

After World War II ended and the truth of the war crimes and crimes against humanity that happened in Auschwitz was revealed to the world the apprehension and trial of those responsible were on the way. Only 15 percent (789) of Auschwitz staff stood trial. Most of the trials were pursued and held in Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany. Female SS officers were treated more harshly than male officers. According to Aleksander Lasik, this might have been because there were only 200 female officers at Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration camp and thus were more memorable and recognizable by the inmates. Four out of seventeen women were sentenced to death, while others received longer sentences than men.

On March 11, 1946, Rudolf Höss, Auschwitz-Birkenau camp commandant was arrested by the British near Flensburg in northern Germany. Höss was hiding under the name of Franz Lang and worked as a framer there. He was arrested in Heide and transferred to Minden for interrogation. Later, Höss was transported to Nuremberg to testify for the defense in the trial of SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst Kaltenbrunner. He was rather straightforward regarding his role in Auschwitz and participation in the mass murder as he pointed out that he had followed instructions given to him by Heinrich Himmler. Rudolf Höss was extradited to Poland on 5 May 1946., where he wrote his memoirs, which were first published in Polish in1951 and later in 1958 in German as Kommandant in Auschwitz. His trial before the Supreme National Tribunal in Warsaw started on 11 March 1947. Where he was sentenced to death on 2 April and hanged in Auschwitz I on 16 April, near crematorium I.

The Auschwitz Trial began in Kraków on 25 November 1947, when Poland’s Supreme National Tribunal brought to court 40 former Auschwitz staff. Among which were commandant Arthur Liebehenschel, women’s camp leader Maria Mandel, and camp leader Hans Aumeier. On 22 December 1947, trials ended with 23 death sentences, 7 life sentences, and 9 sentences varying from 3 to 15 years. Only 1 person was acquitted, an SS doctor by the name of Hans Münch, who had more than a few former Auschwitz inmates testify on his behalf.

Other former Auschwitz officers and the staff were sentenced and hanged in the Dachau Trials and the Belsen Trials. These included camp leaders Josef Kramer, Franz Hössler, and Vinzenz Schöttl; Doctor Friedrich Entress; and guards Irma Grese and Elisabeth Volkenrath. In addition, Bruno Tesch and Karl Weinbacher, the owner and chief executive officer of Tesch & Stabenow firm, for knowingly and deliberately supplying Zyklon B for use on humans, were arrested and executed by the British after the war. From 20 December 1963 up until 20 August 1965 Frankfurt Auschwitz trials were held in West Germany where 22 defendants were tried, including two dentists, a doctor, two camp adjutants, and the camp’s pharmacist. Of 22 defendants 19 were convicted, 6 got life sentences while others were given sentences ranging from 3 to 10 years.

Our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

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