Hamburg Ravensbrück trials

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The Hamburg Ravensbrück trials were a series of seven trials for war crimes against camp officials from the Ravensbrück concentration camp that the British authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Hamburg after the end of World War II. These trials were heard before a military tribunal; the three to five judges at these trials were British officers, assisted by a lawyer. The defendants included concentration camp personnel of all levels: SS officers, camp doctors, male guards, female guards (Aufseherinnen), and a few former prisoner-functionaries who had tortured or mistreated other inmates. In total, 38 defendants were tried in these seven trials; 21 of the defendants were women. Executions relating to these trials were carried out on the gallows at Hamelin Prison by British hangman Albert Pierrepoint.

All seven trials took place at the Curiohaus in the Hamburg quarter of Rotherbaum.

The first Ravensbrück trial was held from December 5, 1946 until February 3, 1947 against sixteen Ravensbrück concentration camp staff and officials. All of them were found guilty. One died during trial. The death sentences (except for Salvequart) were carried out on May 2—3, 1947, in Hamelin.

Three more defendants, the camp leader, Lagerkommandant Fritz Suhren, along with "work leader" Hans Pflaum and Schneidermeister Friedrich Opitz (below, see the Second Ravensbrück trial), escaped from prison prior to the first trial. The first two of them were apprehended under assumed names in 1949. They were handed over to French authorities, who were conducting another Ravensbrück trial in Rastatt at that time; both men were sentenced to death in that trial and executed by a firing squad on June 12, 1950. Opitz faced trial in November 1947.

In the second Ravensbrück trial, which lasted from November 5 to 27, 1947, the only defendant was Friedrich Opitz age 49, a clothing factory leader in the camp employed there from June 1940 till April 1945. He was recaptured after his earlier escape from prison along with Fritz Suhren and Hans Pflaum (see above). During trial, he was convicted of beating women with truncheons, belts and fists, starving them for missing the quota, keeping them outside in very long roll-calls, and sending them to the gas chamber for (what he called) "being useless", as well as of kicking, at least one Czech female inmate, causing death. He also encouraged his guards to do the same. Opitz received a death sentence, which was carried out on January 26, 1948.

In the third Ravensbrück trial, the so-called "Uckermark trial" which took place from April 14 to 26, 1948, five female camp officials of the satellite Uckermark extermination camp, were indicted on four charges: the mistreatment of Allied women in Uckermark; the participation in the selection of Allied women for the gas chamber in Uckermark; the mistreatment of Allied women in the Ravensbrück concentration camp; and, the selection of Allied women for the gas chamber in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

This page was last edited on 30 March 2018, at 15:48 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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