Newsroom Veranstaltungen Team & Kontakt

Criminal Prosecution

German courts did not recognize forced labor as a crime.

The picture shows the defendants during the Nünrberg trial. The dock on which they are sitting is guarded by soldiers.
Nuremberg Trial, November 1945 to October 1946.
The dock.
The scan shows the title page of the London Debt Agreement. The document is sealed with a red seal, the title of the document is noted on the cover page in three languages (English, French, German).
London Debt Agreement, 27 February 1953
In the London treaty, the Federal Republic of Germany was able to postpone negotiations on the majority of reparations claims until the signing of a final peace treaty, despite the existence of other reparations agreements. However, with Germany divided and the Cold War underway, a final peace treaty appeared a distant prospect at the time.
In August 1953, the Soviet Union relinquished all further claims for reparations and compensation against East Germany.

At the Nuremberg Trials of major war criminals, forced labor was prosecuted as a "crime against humanity." However, it hardly played a role in later trials.

The Allies handed down severe sentences to ten of the 24 primary defendants for their responsibility in organizing forced labor.  

Like the accused, the majority of the German population considered the judgements, not the crimes, unfair. In the subsequent Nuremberg trials, sentences were much milder, and after a brief period they were often commuted.

German courts did not recognize the employment of forced laborers as a criminal offence. As a result, only concrete instances of abuse were prosecuted. The demands of former forced laborers for indemnification were categorically rejected with references to bilateral global agreements.

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