Historians collecting German trial judgments at the invaluable Justiz und NS

Historians collecting german trial judgments at the

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Historians collecting German trial judgments at the invaluable Justiz und NS Verbrechen website think an accurate estimate of the number of trials conducted, the legal standards employed (they shifted throughout the GDR's existence), and the dismissals or acquittals granted is virtually impossible to obtain. The site has collected information on 933 trials concerning homicidal crimes, involving 1,716 court judgments of 1,637 defendants ( Justiz und NS Verbrechen 2009). These figures do not include the notorious Waldheim trials of 1950, which were politically rather than
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judicially motivated proceedings that summarily convicted some 3,400 former officials of the Nazi state (de Mildt 1996 : 19). The state and particularly the security apparatus intervened often in the investigations of Nazis carried out in East Germany, and the ideological opposition of the two German states led to both successful and unsuccessful dialogue on the question of Nazi perpetrators. At the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, co plaintiff Karl Friedrich Kaul (1906–1981) represented East German Auschwitz survivors and raised his voice against the crass right wing apologetics of the defense. In contrast, East Berlin prosecutors dragged their feet in the joint East/West investigation of the Main Reich Security Office (RSHA) and contributed to the perpetual delay and eventual suspension of that investigation (Weinke 2002 ). West German Courts The years 1945–1950 marked a slow transition from Allied control of the German justice system to an autonomous German judiciary. At the start of the Allied occupation, German courts ceased to function, and they came back to life only gradually. The Allies took it upon themselves to determine the legal foundations of postwar Germany. They decided that laws instituted by the Nazis that were obviously criminal, such as those sanctioning racial discrimination, would be revoked. Allied Control Council Laws were designed to reconstruct the German state. Law 4 on “the Reorganization of the German Judicial System” prohibited German courts from trying crimes committed against the Allies, and Control Council Law 10 stipulated that the German courts could try only crimes “ (p. 534) committed by persons of German citizenship or nationality against other persons of German citizenship or nationality, or stateless persons.” As a result, the Allies prosecuted all crimes committed by the Germans against Allied nationals and all war crimes, including crimes against the Jews. German jurists argued bitterly over the basic character of Control Council Law 10. Although useful in convicting defendants of genocide, the law drew no distinction between perpetrator and accomplice and seemed an example of ex post facto legislation, which the new West German constitution banned. Ultimately the Germans decided not to apply the laws of the Control Council, and Nazis were prosecuted after 1951 only according to the West German penal code of 1871, which is to say as
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common criminals. This practice accorded with the widespread German
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