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Einsatzgruppen trial

The meaning of «einsatzgruppen trial»

Einsatzgruppen Trial (officially, The United States of America vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al.) was the ninth of the twelve trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity that the US authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before US military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal. They took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve US trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).

The Einsatzgruppen were SS mobile death squads, operating behind the front line in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. From 1941 to 1945, they murdered around 2 million people; 1.3 million Jews, up to 250,000 Romani, and around 500,000 so-called "partisans", people with disabilities, political commissars, Slavs, homosexuals and others.[1][2] The 24 defendants in this trial were all commanders of these Einsatzgruppen units and faced the charges of war crime and crimes against humanity. The tribunal stated in its judgment:

... in this case the defendants are not simply accused of planning or directing wholesale killings through channels. They are not charged with sitting in an office hundreds and thousands of miles away from the slaughter. It is asserted with particularity that these men were in the field actively superintending, controlling, directing, and taking an active part in the bloody harvest.[3]

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal II-A, were Michael Musmanno (presiding judge and Naval officer) from Pennsylvania, John J. Speight from Alabama, and Richard D. Dixon from North Carolina. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; the Chief Prosecutor for this case was Benjamin B. Ferencz. The indictment was filed initially on July 3 and then amended on July 29, 1947 to also include the defendants Steimle, Braune, Haensch, Strauch, Klingelhöfer, and von Radetzky. The trial lasted from September 29, 1947 until April 10, 1948.

All defendants were charged on all counts. All defendants pleaded "not guilty". The tribunal found all of them guilty on all counts, except Rühl and Graf, who were found guilty only on count 3.

Of the 14 death sentences, only four were carried out; the others were commuted to prison terms of varying lengths in 1951. In 1958, all convicts were released from prison.

The Nuremberg Military Tribunal in its judgement stated the following:

[The facts] are so beyond the experience of normal man and the range of man-made phenomena that only the most complete judicial inquiry, and the most exhaustive trial, could verify and confirm them. Although the principal accusation is murder, ... the charge of purposeful homicide in this case reaches such fantastic proportions and surpasses such credible limits that believability must be bolstered with assurance a hundred times repeated.

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