The trials

Josef Kramer

Arrested at Bergen-Belsen on 17 April 1945
Trial at Luneburg in the British-occupied zone opened on 17 September
Sentenced on 16 and 17 November
Hanged at Hameln prison on 13 December. 


May-June 1946
A military tribunal in Wuppertal, in the British-occupied zone, tried SS officers accused of murdering four female SOE agents at the Natzweiler-Struthof camp on 6 July 1944. Hartjenstein, the camp’s commander at the time of the crime, was sentenced to death or life in prison; the verdict was not definitive. Werner Rhode, the camp’s SS doctor, was sentenced to death and hanged in October 1946. Former Gestapo officer Magnus Wochner was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 


A military tribunal in Rastatt, in Germany’s French-occupied zone, tried the camp’s last two commanders, Hartjenstein and Heinrich Schwartz, as well the SS in charge of Natzweiler’s annex camps in Bade-Wurtenberg. The verdict was announced on 1 February 1947. Both commanders were sentenced to death but only Heinrich Schwartz’s penalty was immediately carried out. Nineteen other SS were sentenced to death, including Franz Ehrmanntraut, who was tried for his role at the annex camp of Bisingen.

The Nazi doctors trial.

The Nazi medical school professors Bickenback and Haagen, who performed experiments on deportees at the Natzweiler-Struthof camp, were questioned  during the SS doctors trial in Nuremberg. Sixteen Nazi doctors were found guilty on 21 August 1947. Seven were sentenced to death, including Doctors Brandt and Sievers, their hierarchical superiors, who were executed.

Bickenbach and Haagen were imprisoned in France. In 1952 the Metz military tribunal sentenced them to hard labour for life. In 1954 the Lyon military tribunal reduced the sentence to 20 years of hard labour. Both men were released in 1955 and returned to Germany. Professor Hirt, who commited suicide in June 1945, was sentenced to death in absentia. 


The trial of the SS in charge of Natzweiler-Struthof, the prosecution of which began in 1945, opened before the Metz military tribunal in France on 15 June 1954. They were  tried for crimes commited on French soil. The verdict was announced on 2 July 1954. Hartjenstein, the former commander, whose death penalty at the Rastatt was not carried out, was sentenced to capital punishment again. Ehrmanntraut and Fuchs, formerly in charge of blocks, Nitsch, formerly in charge of organizing labour, and Wolfgang Seuss, former commander of the detention camp, were also sentenced to death. They appealed on the evening of the sentencing.
Hartjenstein died in prison in October 1954.
In December 1954 an appeals court canceled the Metz trial’s verdict. The defendants were sent before the Paris military tribunal. A new trial took place at the Reuilly barracks from 17 April to 17 May 1955. Ehrmanntraut, Fuchs and Seuss were sentenced to death. Nitsch’s death sentence was commuted to 15 years hard labour. Afterwards, all of them received commutations, reduced sentences and eventually a release.


In 1970 Dr. Bruno Beger, who selected Jews at Auschwitz, went on trial in Frankfurt-am-Main &nbsp for gassing Jews at Natzweiler-Struthof in order to “enrich” Professor Hirt’s collection of “Judeo-Bolshevik” skeletons. He was convicted of complicity in murder and sentenced to three years in prison.


In 1984 Doctor Roël, who collaborated with Bickenbach and Haagen, was acquitted after a trial in Cologne.