In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, the world was faced with a challenge—how to hold individually accountable those German leaders who were responsible for the commission of monstrous crimes against humanity and international peace. The International Military Tribunal (IMT) held in Nuremberg, Germany, attempted to face this immense challenge. On October 18, 1945, the chief prosecutors of the IMT brought charges against 24 leading German officials, among them Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner (1903–1946) was Chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and later Chief of the Security Police. In this second position, Kaltenbrunner controlled the Gestapo (German Secret State Police), Criminal Police, and Security Service (SD). He was a prime figure in the “Final Solution” in the last years of the war.
At the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Kaltenbrunner was found guilty on counts three and four (war crimes and crimes against humanity). He sentenced to death and was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Series: International Military Tribunal: Defendants
Critical Thinking Questions
- How did national histories, agendas, and priorities affect the effort to try war criminals after the war?
- The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg is the best known of postwar trials. Investigate trials conducted by individual countries in the late 1940s.
- Besides military leaders and government officials, which professions were specifically investigated in trials?
- Beyond the verdicts, what impact might war crimes trials have?