Krupp Trial

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The judges in the Krupp trial. From back to front: Daly, Anderson (president), and Wilkins

The Krupp Trial (or officially, The United States of America vs. Alfried Krupp, et al.) was the tenth of twelve trials for war crimes that U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone at Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II.

These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT). The Krupp Trial was the third of three trials of German industrialists; the other two were the Flick Trial and the IG Farben Trial.

In the Krupp Trial, twelve former directors of the Krupp Group were accused of having enabled the armament of the German military forces and thus having actively participated in the Nazis' preparations for an aggressive war, and also for having used slave laborers in their companies. The main defendant was Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, CEO of the Krupp Holding since 1943 and son of Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach who had been a defendant in the main Trial of the Major War Criminals before the IMT (where he was considered medically unfit for trial).

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal III-A, were Hu C. Anderson (presiding judge), president of the court of appeals of Tennessee, Edward J. Daly from Connecticut, and William J. Wilkins from Seattle, Washington. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; the Chief Trial Counsel was H. Russell Thayer, and Benjamin B. Ferencz participated as a Special Counsel. The indictment was presented on November 17, 1947; the trial lasted from December 8, 1947 until July 31, 1948. One defendant (Pfirsch) was acquitted, the others received prison sentences between three and twelve years, and the main defendant Alfried Krupp was ordered to sell all his possessions.

Defendants at the Krupp Trial, from left; Alfried Krupp, Ewald Löser, Eduard Houdremont, Erich Müller, Friedrich Janssen, Karl Pfirsisch and Karl Eberhardt.

The main defendant Alfried Krupp always denied any guilt. In 1947, he stated:

"Die Wirtschaft brauchte eine ruhige oder aufwärts steigende Entwicklung. Infolge des Kampfes zwischen den vielen deutschen Parteien und der Unordnung gab es keine Möglichkeit für aufbauende Tätigkeit. ... Wir hatten den Eindruck, daß Hitler uns solch eine gesunde Entwicklung bescheren würde. Tatsächlich hat er das getan. ... Wir Kruppianer haben uns nie viel um Ideen gekümmert. Wir wollten nur ein System, das gut funktionierte und das uns eine Gelegenheit gab, ungestört zu arbeiten. Politik ist nicht unsere Sache." —Alfried Krupp, in Golo Mann's manuscript first published in (Friz 1988).
"The economy needed a steady or growing development. Because of the rivalries between the many political parties in Germany and the general disorder there was no opportunity for prosperity. ... We thought that Hitler would give us such a healthy environment. Indeed he did do that. ... We Krupps never cared much about [political] ideas. We only wanted a system that worked well and allowed us to work unhindered. Politics is not our business."

Indeed the Krupp holding did flourish under the Nazi regime. According to conservative estimates, the Krupp enterprises used nearly 100,000 persons in the forced labor programme, about 23,000 of which were prisoners of war.

Indictment[edit]

  1. Crimes against peace by participating in the planning and waging of wars of aggression and wars in violation of international treaties;
  2. Crimes against humanity by participating in the plundering, devastation, and exploitation of occupied countries;
  3. Crimes against humanity by participating in the murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and use for slave labor of civilians who came under German control, German nationals, and prisoners of war;
  4. Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against peace.

All defendants were charged under counts 1, 3, and 4; count 2 excluded the defendants Lehmann and Kupke. Counts 1 and 4 were soon dropped due to lack of evidence.

Defendants[edit]

Name Function Sentence
Alfried Krupp owner and CEO 12 years plus forfeiture of property; died 30 July 1967
Ewald Oskar Ludwig Löser former CFO 7 years; served sentence and released 1955; died 23 December 1970
Eduard Houdremont (DE) director, head of steel works 10 years; died 10 June 1958
Erich Müller (DE) director, head of arms fabrication 12 years; died 15 April 1963
Friedrich Wilhelm Janssen CFO, successor to Löser 10 years; died 1956
Karl Heinrich Pfirsch former head of sales department found not guilty: acquitted and released; died 1967
Max Otto Ihn Personnel and intelligence, deputy to Löser and Janssen 9 years; died 1983
Karl Adolf Ferdinand Eberhardt head of sales, successor of Pfirsch 9 years;
Heinrich Leo Korschan deputy head of steel plants 6 years; died 8 January 1973
Friedrich von Bülow (DE) counterintelligence, public relations, and head of the plant police (Werkschutz) 12 years; died 17 January 1984
Werner Wilhelm Heinrich Lehmann "labor procurement", deputy to Ihn 6 years;
Hans Albert Gustav Kupke head of workers' camps 2 years and 10 months

All eleven defendants found guilty were convicted on the forced labor charge (count 3), and of the ten charged on count 2 (economic spoliation), six were convicted. On January 31, 1951, two and a half years after the sentences, ten (all except Löser) were released from prison. Since no buyer for the Krupp Holding had been found, Alfried Krupp resumed control of the firm in 1953.

References[edit]