Volume 19, Fall 2006
Nuremberg Trials 60th Anniversary
The Krupp Trial
The third industrialist case was the Krupp Trial (United States v. Alfried Krupp et al) which lasted between December 8 1947 and July 31, 1948. Twelve former members of the Krupp Group were accused of helping Germany prepare to rearm after World War I and in the use of slave labor under the Nazi leadership. The main defendant was Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, CEO of the Krupp Holding since 1943. Alfried was the son of Gustaf Krupp von Gohlen und Halbach who had been a defendant at the International Military Tribunal (where he had been determined medically unit to stand trial).
Cecilia Goetz, prosecutor, addressing the court at the Krupp Trial at Nuremberg, Germany
One of the defendants was acquitted. The others were found guilty and given sentences ranging from three to twelve years. Alfried Krupp was ordered to sell all his possessions.
Alfried Krupp maintained that he was not guilty and in 1947 forcefully argued:
The economy needed a steady or growing development. Because of the rivalries between the many political parties in Germany and the general disorder there was no opportunity for prosperity. . . . We thought that Hitler would give us such a healthy environment. Indeed he did do that.
.....We Krupps never cared much for [political] ideas. We only wanted a system that worked well and allowed us to work unhindered. Politics is not our business.
The verdict of the Krupp Case on July 21, 1948, came down sharply on the Krupp company leadership. The judges were not persuaded by Krupp’s patriotic pleas that he was doing the best for Germany. The Bench stated the following:
This huge octopus, the Krupp Firm, with its body at Essen, swiftly unfolded one of its tentacles behind each new aggressive push of the Wehrmacht . . . . That this growth and expansion of the part of the Krupp Film was held due in large measure to the favored position it held with Hitler there can be little doubt. The close relationship between Krupp on the one hand and the Reich Government, particularly the Army and Navy Command, on the other hand, amounted to a veritable alliance. The wartime activities of the Krupp concern were based in part upon spoilation of other countries and on exploitation and maltreatment of large masses of forced foreign labor. Judge Daly asked Alfried Krupp to stand and stated the following:
“On the counts of the indictment on which you have been convicted, the tribunal sentences you to imprisonment for 12 years and orders forfeiture of all your property, both real and personal.” (Time already spent awaiting trial could be counted toward the 12 year sentence.)
Brigadier General Telford Taylor delivering the
prosecution’s opening statement in the Krupp case
Question for Reflection and Discussion:
In 1950-1 as the United States tried to help West Germany revive its economy and develop its democracy, many of the verdicts of industrialists, bankers and financiers were overturned. Nuremberg prosecutors such as Telford Taylor were dismayed to learn about these reversals. Given the circumstances of the needs of the Western World during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, what are your opinions of acquitting or reducing sentences of industrialists intimately involved with the Nazi Party and its programs.
Questions about the trials:
Discuss the following statement:
- If you were interviewing Alfried Krupp, what questions would you want to ask after he emphasized his loyalty to Germany and the future of German economy?
- The I.G. Farben leadership knew about the use of slave labor and benefited from it. Was it the responsibility of the leadership to desist from such practices even if such actions would incur the displeasure of the SS? What would have been opportunities to resist orders from the SS leadership? In this case, you might consider the actions of the entrepreneur Oskar Schindler who used his relationships with the SS to find ways to help his workers.
Business schools should include ethics courses where students not only consider contemporary cases such as Enron but also review the role of companies in Nazi-occupied Europe and the United States.
The Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) were charged with murder, the ill-treatment of POWs and civilians, and with wanton destruction not justified by military necessity. The Einsatzgruppen Case was tried from September 29, 1947 to April 9, 1948. The youngest prosecutor on this case was Ben Ferencz (see the Introduction to the Twelve Subsequent Trials). Twenty-four of the Einsatzgruppen were tried and all were found guilty. Fourteen were sentenced to die; however, ten of these later had their sentences reduced. One person committed suicide during the trial, and the remainder were sentenced to various terms on imprisonment.
Defendants and Sentences
- Otto Ohlendorf: The Death Sentence (Executed on the 8th June 1951)
- Heinz Jost: Life Imprisonment
- Erich Naumann: The Death Sentence (Executed on the 8th June 1951)
- Dr/Dr Otto Rasch: Severed from the Case (Due to Illness)
- Erwin Schulz: 20 Years Imprisonment
- Walter Blume: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Dr Franz Six: 20 Years Imprisonment
- Paul Blobel: The Death Sentence (Executed on the 7th June 1951)
- Lothar Fendler: 10 Years Imprisonment
- Eugen Steimle: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Ernst Biberstein: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Willy Seibert: The Death Sentence (Commuted to 15 Years Imprisonment)
- Gustav Nosske: Life Imprisonment
- Adolf Ott: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Waldemar Klingelhöfer: The Death Sentence (Commuted to 15 Years
- Dr Eduard Strauch: The Death Sentence (Commuted due to Illness)
- Mattias Graf: 15 Years Imprisonment
- Dr Werner Braune: The Death Sentence (Executed on the 7th June 1951)
- Walter Hänsch: The Death Sentence (Commuted to 15 Years Imprisonment)
- Martin Sandberger: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Waldemar von Radetzsky: 20 Years Imprisonment
- Felix Rühl: 10 Years Imprisonment
- Heinz Schübert: The Death Sentence (Commuted to Life Imprisonment)
- Emil Hausmann: (Committed Suicide on the 31st July 1947)
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