Home Page, Site Index, Search, Help

50 years later, Nuremberg executioner has no regrets.

Find out more about the Nuremberg trial and the defendants.

Examine the trial and the perpetrators at the Cybrary of the Holocaust.

Access the Nuremberg Principles.

Join a discussion about this story or section, or create one of your own.

Go to Flashback Section

Go to International Section



Goering, Ribbentrop, 10 Others to Hang; Von Papen, 2 More Freed; 7 Get Prison

Hess Given Life Term; Schacht is Acquitted

By Associated Press
October 2, 1946

NUREMBERG, Germany, Oct. 1 -- Herman Goering and 11 other Nazi chiefs who helped Adolf Hitler plunge the world into the greatest war of all time were sentenced today to death by hanging.

Seven other defendents including Rudolph Hess were sentenced to prison and three were acquitted by the four-power military tribunal in the first international war crimes tribunal which lasted ten months.

The death sentences will be carried out in the Nuremberg jail, probably October 16. The prison terms will be served in a four-power jail in Berlin.

Hans Fritzsche, Frans von Papen and Hjalmar Schacht were acquitted with Russia dissenting.

Sentenced to hang, beside Goering are Joachim von Ribbentrop, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Frits Sauckel, Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, Arthur Seyse-Inquart and Martin Bormann (tried in absentia).

Sentenced to prison were Hess, Walther Funk, life terms; Baldup von Schirach and Albert Speer, 20 years; Constantia von Neurath, 18 years, and Grand Admiral Karl Doentis, 10 years.

Goering, whose guilt was declared by the court to be "unique in its enormity," put his head in his hands and appeared lost in thought, but his expression remained immobile as Chief Justic Sir Geoffrey Lawrence read the sentence in a monotone.

Hess dashed the earphones from his head and did not even hear the sentence pronounced.

Keitel gulped, lowered his sharp Prussian chin and stared blankly into space.

The pudgy Funk appeared alone physically affronted by the sentence. His knees sagged as he walked out.

Frick, an old Nazi street fighter, bowed curtly to the court as he received his sentence of death.

And all the others acted much in the same way as has characterized their demeanor in all the long trial.

Shortly after their acquittal, Schahct, Von Papen and Fritzsche strolled smilingly out of the jail and held a turbulent news conference at which Schacht was as cocky and beligerent and cocky as ever.

The financier of Hitler's war machine said that there used to be "laws and free opinion in Germany," but "there appeared to be neither laws nor free opinion now."

Their freedom may be short lived for they face possible trial before denazification boards. Dr Wilhelm Roegner, German Minister-President of Bavaria said that any of the three who remained in the American zone would be hailed promptly before such courts and added that "this certainly means several years at hard labor."

An American army officer said the three would spend tonight in the same cells they had occupied during the 10-month trial.

Apparently it was impossible to arrange transportation for them to their homes before tomorrow.

The Russian member of the tribunal, Maj. Gen. I.T. Nikitchenko, dissented on the acquittal of the trio and also declared that Hess should have been sentenced to death and not life imprisonment.

The Soviet justice also asserted that the court erred in not declaring that the Reich cabinet and general staff and high command were criminal organizations.

The Russian protest was announced by Chief Justice Lawrence, who said the dissenting opinion would be attacjed to the record and published as soon as possible.

Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief United States prosecutor, said in a statement that he regretted that the tribunal had acquitted Schacht and Von Papen and had "declined to declare the criminality of the general staff." He did not refer to the acquittal of Fritzsche.

However, Jackson praised the action of the court "in sustaining and applying the principle that aggressive war is a crime for which statesmen may be individually punished."

"I personally regard the conviction and sentence of individuals as of secondary importance compared with the signifiacnce of the committments of the four nations to the proposition that wars of aggression are criminal and that persecution of conquered minorities on racial, religious or political grounds is likewise criminal," Jackson said.

When the tribunal read its verdict acquitting Schacht, Goering turned in his seat in a rage and whispered something to Hess. Georing for many years had been a bitter enemy of the former Reichsbank president and had apparantly hoped that Scahcht would suffer the same fate as himself.

Funk, who served as Reichsbank president after Schacht and had still not heard his own sentence of life imprisonment read, turned in his seat and held up one finger, indicating one acquittal.

When Von Papen was acquitted, the other defendents congratulated him warmly. This was in contrast to the cold shoulder generally afforded Schacht.

The defendents were tried under a bill of indictment containing four counts. All of the prisoners were accused of at least two of the counts and some were accused of all four.

The crimes were conspiracy crimes against the peace, namely planning, preparing, initiating or waging aggressive warfare; war crimes namely murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or other inhumane acts against civilian populations, before or during the war, or persecutions, political, racial or religious.

Here is how each defendent fared:
Sentenced to hang
Herman Goering, Reichsmarshall and No 2. Nazi, convicted on all four counts.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister, convicted on all four counts.

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the German high command, convicted on all four counts.

Alfred Rosenberg, official philosopher to the Nazi party and exponent of eliminating minorities, convicted on all four counts.

Col. Gen. Alfred Jodi, chief of staff of the German army, convicted on all four counts.

Martin Hormann, Hitler's deputy party leader, convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Gestapo chief under the late Heinrich Himmler, same as Bormann.

Hans Frank, Nazi governor general of Poland, same as Bormann.

Wilhelm Frick, "protector" of Bohemia and Moravia, Convicted of crimes against the peace, war crimes and crime s against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Netherlands gaulefter, and Austria's betrayer, same as Frick.

Frtis Sauckel, Storm troop and Elite Guard general, boss of forced labor, convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy and crimes against the peace.

Julius Streicher, the Nazi's No. 1 Jew-baiter, convicted of crimed against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy.

Life Imprisonment
Rudolph Hess, No 2 deputy fuehrer until he parachuted to Scotland in the early days of the war, convicted of conspiracy and crimes against the peace. Acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Walther Funk, former Reichsbank president, convited of crimes against the peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, Nazi navy commander, convicted of conspiracy, crimes against the peace and war crimes.


Sentenced to 20 years
Baldur von Schirach, Hiltler youth chief, convited of crimes against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy.

Albert Speer, Munitions Minister, convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Acquitted of conspiracy and crimes against the peace.

Sentenced to 18 years
Constantin von Neurath, former Foreign Minister, convicted of all four counts.

Sentenced to 10 years
Grand Admiral Karl Doenits, convicted of crimes against the peace and war crimes. Acquitted of conspiracy.

Freed
Hans Fritzsche, Deputy propaganda Minister, acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Frans von Papen, trouble-shooting diplomat, acquitted of crimes against the peace and conspiracy.

Hjalmar Schacht, Economics minister and financial wizard, same as Von Papen.

All of the military men among the defendants were convicted.

Of Goering the court declared "The record discloses no excuse for this man."

Of Hess the court said:
"That Hess acts in an abnormal manner and suffers from loss of memory and has mentally deteriorated during the trial may be true. But there is nothing to show that he does not realize the nature of the charges against him or is incapable of defending himself."

Of Schacht, the court said "He helped set up the early stages of the armament in Germany, but he was opposed to aggressive war and resigned in 1937 when it became evident Hitler was headed towards war.

Von Papen, accused by the prosecution of helping to chart Hitler's rise to power, was pictured by the court of having used both "intrigue and bullying" in paving the way for the Anschluss of Austria.

"But the charter does not make criminal such offences against political morality," the tribunal held.

"It appears Fritzsche sometimes made strong statements of a propagandistic nature in his broadcasts," the court said. "But the tribunal is not prepared to hold that they were intended to incite the German people to committ attrocities on conquered people..."

Kaltenbrunner, the toughest looking man in the dock, kept nodding his head as his conviction were announced. Rosenberg adjusted his spectacles bnervously and wiggled in his chairwhen the tribunal reached his case.

Tall, handsome Von Schirsch leaned forwatrd in expectancy when the court found him innocent of conspiracy, but sagged when he was pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity.

After the reading of the verdicts, the defendents were called back to the prisoner's dock, one by one to hear their sentences.

Goering, whose personality has dominated the other defendants, glowered at the court when he was called. Something went wrong with his earphone and military police worked for more than two minutes to get them adjusted.

Raeder retained his impressive calm. Doenitz, the U-boat chief, heard his sentence without emotion.

Funk, dressed shabbily, gave a disgusted look as the court sentenced him to life. Sauckel received his death sentence with a sneer. Von Schirach had tio be hustled off by military police as he gave the tribunal an angry look.

Jodl, whose revealing diary of his association with Hitler helped send him and others to the gallows, stared languidly at the chief justice. Von neurath stood limply in an old and worn dark suit. Seys-Inquart clung grimly with both hands to the rail of the dock.

The final sentence was pronounced on the absent bormann.

As the lights blinked out on the courtroom, Leut. Gen. Luctus D. Clay, representing the Allied Control Council, started to make arrangements for the hangings and the taking over of the prisoners sentenced to death.

After conferrinmg with jail authorities, he left for Berlin to speed the preparations.

An official source said that the October hangings would take place October 16, barring intervention by the Allied Control Council, which seems unlikely.

Attorneys for the prisoners have four days to appeal the council.

The name of the Berlin prison in which those sentenced to jail terms will be confined has not been announced because of "security reasons."

It was not immediately announced to what zones of occupation the three acquitted defendants would be sent. Official said Schacht and Von Papen owned property in more than one zone. Legal experts in Berlin said the Russians might get custody of fritzsche, whom they originaslly hadf arrested in Berlin and delivered to Nuremberg for trial.

Back to the top



Home Page | Business | Interact | International | National
Sports | Style | Washington World | CareerPost