Scanning Nuremberg: Notes from January 2019

Post by Matt Seccombe

During January I completed the prosecution documents on the SS as a criminal organization and began the documents on the Gestapo and the Security Service (SD), amounting to 136 documents and 903 pages of material. The prosecution’s separate treatment of these overlapping organizations was part historical and part functional. The SS (including the SD) was first charged as a multifaceted institution that originated in the party, and then later took over the police system. The Gestapo began as a governmental police organization, which was later brought within the SS system, and was paired with the SD; the SD was the “intelligence” service and the Gestapo was the “executive” force.

Ashes: In September 1942 the concentration camps were ordered to stop sending the ashes of dead Czech and Jewish inmates back to their home communities, as the ashes had become the focal point of posters, demonstrations, and pilgrimages.

The prosecutor and the SS: In the summer of 1933 prosecutors at Munich investigated suspicious deaths at Dachau, including killings by camp guards and cover-ups by senior officers. One prosecutor, Karl Winterbersger, briefed Himmler on the case and was assured that the SS would cooperate with the investigation. By the end of the year provincial leaders received a quite different message from Himmler, that the investigation would damage the reputation of the SA, the SS, and the government, and they agreed that the case “should be quashed for state political reasons.”

The bill for services rendered: In 1943 the Natzweiler concentration camp presented an invoice to the security police for the execution and cremation of 20 prisoners: 127 Reichmarks.

A familiar phrase: In February 1944 the security police distributed a set of instructions to its offices regarding the treatment of prisoners. The title requires no elaboration: “Subject: Intensified Interrogations.”

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact [email protected].

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