The forchheim reichskristallnacht in court

Eleven years after the events of 9. And 10. On november 1938, 19 men had to stand trial before the bamberg district court. The process documents: the smothering and demolition of the synagogue at wiesentstrabe 15 was only a small part of a tremendous outbreak of violence against the city's jewish citizens. This destruction plant was not only run by an elite circle of SS and SA henchmen; a "large part of the population" was also involved was at least involved as an interested observer and follower.

1. Indictment

He trial before the gross penal chamber of the bamberg district court lasted for twelve days. Trial began on 12. April, the verdict fell on 6. May 1949. 19 persons were charged with breach of the peace, trespassing and aggravated assault. The criminal division had to clarify to what extent the defendants "had behaved during the night of 9. To the 10. 11. 1938 and in the course of the 10. 11. 1938" in forchheim, adelsdorf and muhlhausen participated in the "actions against the jewish population, their cult sites and their property had participated. The court accused the men of having "participated in the riots of the violent crowd, partly as bicycle riders, partly as perpetrators of violence, partly as looters, partly as fellow runners and curious spectators."

In general, the defendants referred to the fact that "only on the way home witnesses to the riot" had taken part to have become; or "looked at the alarm for its cause" or only to have taken part "in order to prevent the worst in the interest of the jews". Some defendants also want to "act on behalf of the police and in their capacity as auxiliary police officers" have become.

It was difficult for the plaintiffs, because, as it is stated in the court documents, "a large part of the witnesses were themselves participants in the riots and were obviously reticent with their statements".

2. The tatars

In the attacks of the 9. November 1938, the men were from all walks of life. For example: carl I. Was a doctor, georg C. Elementary school principal, anton D. Mechanical engineer, adam H. Machinist, konrad H. Transport worker, serious W. Former enforcement officer. The men were between 27 and 57 years old at the time of the crime. The main perpetrator, the district leader carl I., a general practitioner, was 56 years old. About him alone, there are seven closely written typewritten pages in the court file. He was considered to be a "convinced national socialist who, as a district leader, could not be denied a humane attitude and who, because of his commitment to the personal cleanliness of his functionaries, often came into conflict with superior party authorities".

3. Forchheim, 9. November 1938

The hotel national in forchheim was the place from which the violence started that night. Here met circle leader carl I. With some of the party leaders and the "oberarbeitsfuhrer D. Together with his close staff". Around midnight I received. A telephone message from the gauleitung in bayreuth: the "gesandtschaftsrat von rath" had succumbed to his wounds; a "reprisal action against the jews was to be carried out. The streets of the city were still quiet. But carl I. Had long before the call from bayreuth the railroad worker O. Commissioned to lead the "gliederungsfuhrer" to understand. This "driver and the party leaders, who had been informed by the police, had been waiting for a long time in the localities of the city, when they were ordered in the hotel under the call "kreisleiter"! We follow you!" Departed.

"The train heading for the city "quickly turned into gold, he states in the court file. "The train also received an increasing number of civilians". From the hotel national the crowd moved through the nurnberger- and the hauptstrabe into the city center. The first destruction took place at the wertheim department store and apartment and at the two groschel stores. Quickly individual squads had split off, a large part of the crowd stormed the synagogue.

It is impossible to say exactly how many people from forchheim witnessed this night. The court noted: "the noise and destruction in the middle of the residential quarters awakened a large part of the population, who flocked to the street, which, according to the defendants and witnesses, seemed busier than during the day."

The people had wooden bats with them and ladders which they used for "ramming" of judicial business. The destroying and plundering began. Jewish fellow burghers were "roused from their sleep, abused and dragged to the police station in the coldest of clothing despite the cold night. The "leading police officer", who was no longer alive at the time of the bamberger trial, "even participated personally in the riots as one of the main bicycle leaders".

4. "Excesses"

The court concludes that "criminal elements" were involved in the demonstration taking advantage of that november night to participate in the plunderings. Money, jewelry and store stocks were stolen. The "deputies" went through the town with handcarts filled with loot. The police stood by and did nothing." In the court file, under the letters a to h, there are "the following excesses" listed:

among other things, the wertheim department store was smashed in the truest sense of the word; bales of cloth were thrown onto the street and slashed to pieces. The wertheims' apartment in the "zur glocke" inn was confiscated, the wertheim spouses were arrested. The judinnen zeidler and lefevre, two old women were dragged to the police station. The two groschel stores were destroyed, groschel's wife collapsed, the doctor dr. G. Succeeded in getting the "horde", to keep the rooms deserted, from the sick room, and then to bring frau groschel to the hospital.

The young man from bayreuth was driven out of the house and beaten by one of the main perpetrators (the late B.) maltreated, the shop window was rammed in the gottlieb braun estate. The horde drove up stones with a car, threw the stones into the house and injured braun's father-in-law in the head. The braun family managed to escape into the back of the house, braun was grabbed and maltreated, handed over to the SS, who led him to the police station dressed in a shirt and slippers, kicking and beating him. The hutzler family was also brought before the police after their house was destroyed. The over 50-year-old woman had to walk without shoes.

"Likewise", the court file notes under point h) "the synagogue, the apartments of prager, samann, abraham, tiessler, bauer, braun-paradeplatz, and frank were harassed". It was always the same procedure of the nazis in that night: smashing, maltreatment, arrest. "Even the leg-amputated war invalid prager was forced to go to the police station".

The "wave of arrests lasted until the early morning and, according to the court file, was also arrested on the morning of the 10th. November continued. The frenzied crowd went to work with daggers and prugeln. "In the synagogue, after the destruction of the interior, an unsuccessful fire was set."

5. Defense strategy

"By this appeal to a dead man, who can no longer testify against him, M. But in the sense of the indictment itself uberfuhrt", it says in the court file. For this "old party comrade" was one of the main protagonists of that night, who was seen at all the focal points, and, when M. Being with him all the time, he also took part in the demonstration in its essential parts".

The trial also made it clear that the defendants, who came from the same internment camp, had made arrangements there and made the same false statements in court, right down to the wording.

For example, the district school board B, born in 1893., who was initially close to the SPD, but had joined the NSDAP in 1931 and had held the rank of head of the district office since 1934. He sab of the 20. May 1945 until 6. August in internment. According to court records, he was "in the internment camp with dr. I. Talked, and so it is not surprising that his defense plea largely coincides with that of the district leader".

District leader carl I. The evening of the 9. November a memorial service was held at the jahn gymnasium in forchheim. After that he was "in the circle of higher party and reichsarbeiterdienstfuhrer" to be found in the hotel national. There was heavy drinking: export beer, wine and schnapps. Around midnight, said carl I. According to the court, he "received a call from the gauleitung in bayreuth that the SA was carrying out a retaliatory action against the jews that night". Carl I. Spoke in court of a "special order of the SA", that these "after the fuhrer principle" had carried out on his own. He had only been to the hotel national to get information, but when all that "took too long," he left, broken into the city.

He had only ever taken a brief look around at the individual crime scenes in case a doctor was needed.
This "defense" was "completely and unequivocally refuted" by the court. At the end of the trial, the prosecution's case was largely confirmed: all of the defendants had been involved in some way in the events of the 9th world war. November involved. Dr I., M., D., H. And S. Were called "radelsfuhrer" classified as "violent offenders". The others were classified as "violent offenders or as a "follower or at least as an "interested spectator." The court concludes that the "action" then carried out of forchheim "to the villages of adelsdorf and muhlhausen, where synagogues were located" where the work of destruction continued.

6. Legal defense

The defense had argued that a number of the defendants had already been tried by trial chambers after the end of the war and that, according to the legal principle ne bis in idem (literally: not twice for the same thing), no one should be tried twice for the same thing. But this argumentation was mistaken, the court argued in its legal statement: "the law for the liberation from national socialism and militarism is not and should not be a penal law, it is rather a law of a new type, which should bring about a purification of the people and of political life from the ideology and the influences of the national socialist rulers and their followers."

The court also referred to the "very lenient sentences" the practice of the court; therefore, the question of a double trial need not be addressed at all. The court clearly found that the perpetrators could not invoke an order they had received and could not plead lapse of time. Even according to the provisions of the reichsstrafgesetzbuch of november 1938, a lapse of time was not permissible, the bamberger judges argued.

7. Convictions

18 of the 19 defendants were found guilty and sentenced. The most severe penalty was handed down to the district manager, who had. He was sentenced to "four years in prison and loss of civil rights for three years". The elementary school principal C. Also had to spend two years in the "penitentiary".

The others received prison sentences of between three months and five years. Only the defendant S was completely acquitted.

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