Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings, Case #8, The RuSHA Case
After World War II ended, the Allies established courts in each of their occupied zones in Germany to prosecute German officials for their role in the commission of war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. American military tribunals in Nuremberg, Germany, presided over 12 major proceedings against leading German industrialists, military figures, SS perpetrators, and others. Included among these Subsequent Nuremberg Trials was the RuSHA Case.
United States v. Ulrich Griefelt, et al.
On September 30, 1947, the US Military Government for Germany reconstituted Military Tribunal I, which had earlier been convened for the Doctors' Trial, to try the RuSHA Case. This was Case #8 of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings.
The 14 defendants were all leading officials in the RuSHA (Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt) or Main Race and Resettlement Office, a central organization in the implementation of racial programs of the Third Reich, or in other organizations with parallel missions, such as the Lebensborn Society and the Main Office for Repatriation of Racial Germans.
The indictment listed three counts:
- crimes against humanity
- war crimes
- membership in criminal organizations
The defendants were accused of criminal responsibility for many aspects of the Nazi racial program, including the kidnapping of "racially valuable" children for Aryanization, the forcible evacuation of foreign nationals from their homes in favor of Germans or Ethnic Germans, and the persecution and extermination of Jews throughout Germany and German-occupied Europe. The trial ran from October 20, 1947, to February 17, 1948.
The tribunal rendered its judgment on March 10. It found eight defendants guilty on all counts, five guilty only of membership in a criminal organization, and one not guilty. The sentences were announced the same day. The chief defendant, Ulrich Greifelt, was sentenced to life in prison, seven to terms of between 10 and 25 years, five to time already served, and one was acquitted.
Series: Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings
Critical Thinking Questions
- Beyond the verdicts, what impact can trials have?
- How were various professions involved in implementing Nazi policies and ideology? What lessons can be considered for contemporary professionals?
- How have some professional codes of conduct changed following the Holocaust?
- How did national histories, agendas, and priorities affect the effort to try war criminals after the war?
- Is it ever too late for accountability?