Press Release

22 August 2022

Die Überlebenden vor Gericht

Just released


The Nazi trials in the Federal Republic of Germany constituted a forum for engagements with the crimes of National Socialism in the early postwar years already. Holocaust survivors and former concentration camp inmates played a particularly controversial role as witnesses in this context, which has nevertheless hardly been explored in research to date. It was often left entirely up to these witnesses to secure a conviction of the accused with their testimony. At the same time, they were subjected to the sometimes massive distrust of the German justice system, which regarded the survivors as too partisan to offer objective assessments. Cross-examinations and confrontations with the perpetrators moreover exerted a significant strain. Nevertheless, thousands of survivors took the stand of their own volition, taking the burden on themselves in order to advance the criminal prosecution of the culprits. Through an analysis of four Auschwitz trials spanning three decades, Katharina Stengel examines the significance of the Nazi trials for the victims, how they and their incredible reports were treated by the legal professionals, how the witnesses themselves acted during the trials, what their motivations were, and what conclusions they drew from their experiences. In this context, she also discusses various theoretical conceptions of witnessing and applies these to the voluntary disclosures made by the survivors.

Studies of the Dubnow Institute, Vol. 34
Katharina Stengel
Die Überlebenden vor Gericht.
Auschwitz-Häftlinge als Zeugen in NS-Prozessen (1950–1976)
548 pp., Hardcover with dust jacket
Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2022
ISBN: 978-3-525-31740-2, Price: 70,00 € (D)
DOI 10.13109/978366631740, Free of charge, Open Access