Perpetrators

After the liberation of Flossenbürg and its satellite camps, the allies immediately began the search for the perpetrators. Many, however, were able to escape and avoid law enforcement. In all zones of the military occupied Germany trials of concentration camp guards and function prisoners took place, such as in the Dachau-Flossenbürg trials, which ended with many death sentences and some long term imprisonment sentences.

The majority of the German population advocated initially the punishment of the so-called war criminals. Prisoner associations supported the search for culprits. The penal system encountered protests soon after. In the Federal Republic the trials by the allies were seen as “Victor’s Justice”, and many politicians wanted to draw a final line to these. Both in the Federal Republic and the GDR most of the perpetrators were released after a few years. In the proceedings against some offenders, such as in the case against Huppenkothen and Thor Beck, a slowly changing attitude was reflected towards the members of the resistance, who perished under the National-Socialist regime in Flossenbürg.

The cold war made sure, since the late 1950s, that the federal German politics and society would have to deal with law enforcement. The GDR launched campaigns against the partly true and partly alleged involvement of the German elites in the National-Socialist system. It thus drew attention to the bureaucratic workers, who were involved in the economic, legal and administrative aspects of the crimes. The government gradually extended the status of limitation for murder.

The Dachau-Flossenbürg trials, 1946-1947<br>(Association de Flossenbürg, Paris)
The Dachau-Flossenbürg trials, 1946-1947

The central office of the state justice department began to conduct investigations of the National-Socialist crimes in 1958. It preformed basic investigation work, also regarding the crimes in Flossenbürg and its subcamps. However, their findings led to sentences only in rare cases. Therefore, it is not surprising that for a long time and in many places people who were instrumental in the exploitation of the prisoners were appreciated and rehabilitated.

In the 1980s the local history research of the perpetrators expanded in particular. It examined the role of those who benefited from the exploitation of the prisoners, especially big companies. On the other hand groups who defame the historical research made themselves noticeable. Right-winged extremists desecrated the memorial.

The threat of lawsuits along with a wide national debate eventually led to the payments of compensations for the former forced laborers by the Germans. In addition, some processes have been ongoing for a long period of time, such as that against the Ukrainian guard Demjanjuk.

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