Stutthof trials

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Stutthof trials
SS guards
Female guards of the Stutthof concentration camp at a trial in Gdańsk between April 25 and May 31, 1946. First row (from left): Elisabeth Becker, Gerda Steinhoff, Wanda Klaff. Second row: Erna Beilhardt, Jenny-Wanda Barkmann

Stutthof trials were a series of war crime tribunals held in postwar Poland for the prosecution of Stutthof concentration camp staff and officials, responsible for the murder of up to 85,000 prisoners during the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany in World War II.[1] None of the Stutthof commandants were ever tried in Poland. SS-Sturmbannführer Max Pauly was sentenced to death in Germany but not for the crimes committed at Stutthof; only as the commandant of the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg.[2]

The first Polish war crimes tribunal was convened at Gdańsk, Poland, from April 25, 1946 to May 31, 1946. The next three trials took place at the same court in October 8–31, 1947, November 5–10, and in November 19–29 of that year. The fifth trial was held before the court in Toruń in 1949. The sixth and the last Stutthof trial in Poland took place in 1953 also in Gdańsk. In total, of the approximately 2,000 SS men and women who ran the entire camp complex, 72 SS officers and six female overseers were brought to justice.[2]

First Stutthof trial[edit]

During the first war crimes tribunal held at Gdańsk from April 25, 1946, to May 31, 1946, the joint Soviet/Polish Special Criminal Court tried and convicted of crimes against humanity a group of thirteen ex-officials and overseers of the Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo and its Bromberg-Ost subcamp for women located in the city of Bydgoszcz.[2] The accused were arraigned before the court and all found guilty. Twelve were sentenced to death, including the commander of the guards Johann Pauls, while the remainder were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. The death sentences were carried out on July 4, 1946 at the Biskupia Górka in Gdańsk, by short-drop hanging.[3]

The commandant of the Stutthof and Neuengamme concentration camps SS-Sturmbannführer Max Pauly was sentenced to death in Germany at about the same time.[2] Pauly was tried by the British for war crimes with thirteen others in the Curio Haus in Hamburg which was located in the British occupied sector of Germany. The trial lasted from March 18, 1946 to May 13, 1946. He was found guilty and sentenced to death with 11 other defendants. He was executed by long-drop hanging by Albert Pierrepoint in Hamelin prison [de] on October 8, 1946. The second commandant SS-Sturmbannführer Paul-Werner Hoppe (August 1942 - January 1945) was apprehended in 1953 in West Germany and later sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

The execution of guards of the Stutthof concentration camp on July 4, 1946. In the foreground were the female guards sentenced to hang: Barkmann, Paradies, Becker, Klaff, Steinhoff (left to right)
The execution of Steinhoff, Pauls and three kapos July 4, 1946

Verdicts in the first Stutthof trial[edit]

  1. Johann Pauls, SS-Oberscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  2. Jenny-Wanda Barkmann, SS Aufseherin: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  3. Elisabeth Becker, SS Aufseherin: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  4. Wanda Klaff, SS Aufseherin: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  5. Ewa Paradies: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  6. Gerda Steinhoff, SS Blockleiterin: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  7. Erna Beilhardt, SS-Aufseherin: sentenced to 5 years imprisonment
  8. Tadeusz Kopczynski, (Kapo): sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  9. Waclaw Kozlowski, Kapo: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  10. Jozef Reiter, Kapo: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  11. Fanciszek Szopinski, Kapo: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  12. Kazimierz Kowalski, Kapo: sentenced to 3 years imprisonment
  13. Jan Brajt, Kapo: sentenced to death, executed: July 4, 1946
  14. Aleksy Duzdal, Kapo: not guilty
  15. Jan Preiss, Kapo: not guilty
  16. Marian Zielkowski, Kapo: died of a heart attack in prison, August 25, 1945

Second Stutthof trial[edit]

The second trial was held from October 8, 1947, to October 31, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. Arraigned 24 ex-officials and guards of the Stutthof concentration camp were judged and found guilty. Ten were sentenced to death.[2]

Verdicts in the second trial[edit]

At trial, 1947, Gdańsk. Left to right: Hans Rach, Fritz Peters, Albert Paulitz [de], Ewald Foth [de], and Theodor Traugott Meyer [de]

Nine SS men and the Kapo Nikolaysen were executed on October 28, 1948:[4]

  1. Kurt Dietrich, SS Unterscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  2. Karl Eggert, SS Rottenführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  3. Theodor Meyer, SS Hauptsturmführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  4. Ewald Foth, SS Oberscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  5. Albert Paulitz, SS Oberscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  6. Fritz Peters, SS Unterscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  7. Hans Rach, SS Oberscharführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  8. Paul Wellnitz, SS Rottenführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  9. Karl Zurell, SS Rottenführer: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948
  10. Erich Thun, SS Unterscharführer: life imprisonment
  11. Wilhelm Vogler, SS Hauptsturmführer: 15 years imprisonment
  12. Eduard Zerlin, SS Unterscharführer: 12 years imprisonment
  13. Oskar Gottchau, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  14. Adolf Grams, SS Rottenführer: 10 years imprisonment
  15. Emil Wenzel, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  16. Werner Wöllnitz, SS Rottenführer: 10 years imprisonment
  17. Johannes Görtz, SS Unterscharführer: 8 years imprisonment
  18. Karl Reger, SS Scharführer: 8 years imprisonment
  19. Martin Stage, SS Scharführer: 8 years imprisonment
  20. Adalbert Wolter, SS Unterscharführer: 8 years imprisonment
  21. Josef Wennhardt, SS Scharführer: 8 years imprisonment
  22. Hugo Ziehm, SS Scharführer: 3 years imprisonment
  23. Walter Englert, SS Scharführer: 3 years imprisonment
  24. Alfred Nikolaysen, Kapo: sentenced to death, executed: October 28, 1948

Third Stutthof trial[edit]

The third trial was held from November 5, 1947, to November 10, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. Arraigned 20 ex-officials and guards were judged; nineteen were found guilty, and one was acquitted.[2][5]

Verdicts in the third trial[edit]

  1. Karl Meinck, SS Obersturmführer: 12 years imprisonment
  2. Gustav Eberle, SS Hauptscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  3. Erich Jassen, SS Hauptscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  4. Adolf Klaffke, SS Oberscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  5. Otto Schneider, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  6. Otto Welke, SS Sturmscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  7. Willy Witt, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  8. Alfred Tissler, SS Rottenführer: 5 years imprisonment
  9. Johann Lichtner, SS Hauptscharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  10. Ernst Thulke, SS Rottenführer: 5 years imprisonment
  11. Heinz Löwen, SS Scharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  12. Erich Stampniok, SS Unterscharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  13. Hans Möhrke, SS Sturmscharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  14. Harry Müller, SS Unterscharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  15. Richard Timm, SS Hauptscharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  16. Nikolaus Dirnberger, SS Scharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  17. Friedrich Tessmer, SS Scharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  18. Johann Sporer, SS Unterscharführer: 4 years imprisonment
  19. Nikolai Klawan, SS Scharführer: 3 years imprisonment
  20. Hans Tolksdorf, SS Oberscharführer: acquitted and released

Fourth Stutthof trial[edit]

The fourth trial was also held before a Polish Special Criminal Court, from November 19, 1947, to November 29, 1947. Arraigned 27 ex-officials and guards were judged; 26 were found guilty, and one was acquitted.[2][5]

Verdicts in the fourth trial[edit]

  1. Willi Buth, SS Hauptscharführer: life imprisonment
  2. Albert Weckmüller, SS Hauptsturmführer: 15 years imprisonment
  3. Rudolf Berg, SS Scharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  4. Fritz Glawe, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  5. Horst Köpke, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  6. Emil Lascheit, SS Sturmscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  7. Kurt Reduhn, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  8. Josef Stahl, SS Unterscharführer: 10 years imprisonment
  9. Waldemar Henke, SS Obersturmführer: 5 years imprisonment
  10. Gustav Kautz, SS Unterscharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  11. Hermann Link, SS Scharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  12. Erich Mertens, SS Oberscharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  13. Martin Pentz, SS Scharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  14. Johann Pfister, SS Rottenführer: 5 years imprisonment
  15. Johannes Wall, SS Sturmscharführer: 5 years imprisonment
  16. Richard Akolt, SS Rottenführer: 3 years imprisonment
  17. Anton Kniffke, SS Scharführer: 3 years imprisonment
  18. Christof Schwarz, SS Hauptsturmführer: 3 years imprisonment
  19. Gustav Brodowski, SS Rottenführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  20. Walter Ringewald, SS Oberscharfuhrer: 7 months' imprisonment
  21. Richard Wohlfeil, SS Hauptscharführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  22. Johann Wrobel, SS Oberscharführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  23. Ernst Knappert, SS Rottenführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  24. Bernard Eckermann, SS Oberscharführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  25. Leopold Baumgartner, SS Oberscharführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  26. Emil Paul, SS Unterscharführer: 7 months' imprisonment
  27. Franz Spillmann, Kapo: acquitted and released

Fifth and sixth trials[edit]

The last two trials in Poland concerning two Stutthof concentration camp officials took place four years apart. In 1949, SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Jacobi, the commandant of Stutthof subcamps forming Baukommando Weichsel or OT Thorn (Organisation Todt Thorn) for women digging anti-tank ditches,[6] was tried before the criminal court in Toruń and sentenced to three years in prison.[2]

In 1953 the court in Gdańsk tried SS-man Bielawa (SS Rottenführer Paul Bielawa, a prisoner guard from the 3rd company in Stutthof between 1941–45)[1] and sentenced him to twelve years.[2] SS-Rottenführer Emil Strehlau was sentenced by the court in Torun (Wloclawek) on April 23, 1948, to death for war crimes. He was executed November 8 in Wloclawek[7][8]

Later trials[edit]

In mid-1950s, a number of Nazi concentration camp commandants were sentenced to jail for supervising the murder of Jewish prisoners in gas chambers between 1942–1944, including Otto Knott [pl], Otto Haupt [pl] and Bernard Lüdtke [pl].

In 2017, the prosecution of two former Stutthof camp guards from Borken and Wuppertal commenced.[9] The Wuppertal accused denied the allegations and declared that he was not present during the killings, and did not notice anything about it.[10]

In November 2018, Johann Rehbogen from Borken was tried in court for serving at Stutthof camp from June 1942 to September 1944.[11] In December 2018, the trial was suspended, since the convict had to be hospitalized for serious heart and kidney problems.[12] On February 25, 2019, it was announced that the trial is unlikely to be restarted due to the poor health conditions of the defendant.[13]

In October 2019, Bruno Dey from Hamburg was accused of contributing to the killings of 5,230 prisoners at Stutthof camp between 1944 and 1945. However, he was tried in a juvenile court due to being about 17 at that time.[14] In July 2020, he was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder by the Hamburg state court, and was also convicted of one count of accessory to attempted murder.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bogdan Chrzanowski, Andrzej Gąsiorowski (Zeszyty Muzeum, 5), Załoga obozu Stutthof (Staff of Stutthof concentration camp) (PDF file, direct download 9.14 MB) p. 189 (13/40 in PDF). Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie. Zaklad Narodowy Imienia Ossolinskich, Wrocław, Warszawa, Krakow 1984. PL ISSN 0137-5377.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Janina Grabowska (January 22, 2009). "Odpowiedzialność za zbrodnie popełnione w Stutthofie. Procesy" [Responsibility for the Atrocities Committed at Stutthof. The trials.]. KL Stutthof, Monografia. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved November 12, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Skalman.nu Forum, Stutthof Trial, April 25-May 31, 1946 at JewishVirtualLibrary.org
  4. ^ "KARA ŚMIERCI W GDAŃSKU 1945–1987 – Encyklopedia Gdańska". www.gedanopedia.pl.
  5. ^ a b Nunca Mas (2007), Campo de Concentracion Stutthof, Polonia (Concentration Camp Stutthof, Poland). History of the Camp. Subcamps. Trials. Women of the SS. Additional documents. (in Spanish)
  6. ^ Marian Rochniński, Jan Ruciński, Tragiczny los żydowskich więźniarek z Baukomando Weichsel (The Tragic Fate of Women Prisoners of Baukomando Weichsel) Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela" 47/2007.
  7. ^ IPN Warsawa
  8. ^ Lista osob Straconych w wiezieniach Polskich w latach 1944 – 1956 , IPN, 1990
  9. ^ "KZ-Wachmann muss mit Anklage rechnen". Westfälische Nachrichten (in German). October 16, 2017.
  10. ^ "Ermittlungen gegen früheren KZ-Wachmann aus Wuppertal". WDR (in German). January 22, 2017. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017.
  11. ^ "Holocaust trial: Germany tries former SS guard at Stutthof camp". BBC News. November 6, 2018.
  12. ^ "German court suspends trial of ex-SS death camp guard". The Local.de. December 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "Prozess gegen früheren SS-Wachmann steht vor dem Aus". Spiegel (in German). February 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "Holocaust trial: Former Stutthof guard on trial in Germany". BBC News. October 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Rising, David. "Former Concentration Camp Guard Convicted in Germany". Time. AP. Archived from the original on July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  • Several authors, Monografia KL Stutthof (KL Stutthof monograph) (Internet Archive). Organization, Prisoners, Subcamps, Extermination, Responsibility. Contributing writers: Bogdan Chrzanowski, Konrad Ciechanowski, Danuta Drywa, Ewa Ferenc, Andrzej Gąsiorowski, Mirosław Gliński, Janina Grabowska, Elżbieta Grot, Marek Orski, and Krzysztof Steyer. (in Polish)

External links[edit]