Ministries Trial

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The Ministries Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs. Ernst von Weizsäcker, et al.) was the eleventh of the twelve trials for war crimes the US authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II.

Disagreements between the Allies meant only one trial was held by the International Military Tribunal (IMT). Other trials were held by the Allies in their own zones of occupation. The Americans held twelve trials, in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice as the IMT. These twelve trials are known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).

This case is also known as the Wilhelmstrasse Trial, because the German Foreign Office was on the Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. The defendants in this case were officials of various Reich ministries, facing various charges for their jobs in Nazi Germany and responsibility for the numerous atrocities committed both in Germany and in occupied countries during the war.

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal IV, were William C. Christianson (presiding judge) from Minnesota, Robert F. Maguire from Oregon, and Leon W. Powers from Iowa. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; the chief prosecutor was Robert Kempner. The indictment was filed on November 15, 1947; the hearings lasted from January 6, 1948 until November 18 that year, and then the judges took a whole five months to compile their 833-page judgment, which they presented on April 11, 1949. The sentences were handed down on April 13, 1949. Of all the twelve trials, this was the one that lasted longest and ended last. Of the 21 defendants arraigned, two were acquitted, the others were found guilty on at least one count of the indictment and received prison sentences ranging from three years including time served to 25 years' imprisonment.

Defendants[change | change source]

Name Photo Function Sentence
Ernst von Weizsäcker Ernst Heinrich von Weizsäcker.jpg Permanent Secretary of State in the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Ministry) under Ribbentrop until 1943, then ambassador to the Holy See; SS-Brigadeführer. 7 years' imprisonment; reduced to 5 years on December 12, 1949, released in October 1950.
Gustav Adolf Steengracht von Moyland Gustav Adolf Steengracht von Moyland.JPG Successor of von Weizsäcker as Secretary of State in the Foreign Ministry (until 1945) 7 years' imprisonment; reduced to 5 years on December 12, 1949, released 1950
Wilhelm Keppler Wilhelm Keppler.JPG Secretary of State; Hitler's advisor for economy 10 years' imprisonment; released 1951
Ernst Wilhelm Bohle Ernst Wilhelm Bohle.JPG NS-Gauleiter, Secretary of State in the Foreign Ministry; head of the Auslandorganisation (foreign organization) of the NSDAP. 5 years' imprisonment
Ernst Wörmann Secretary in the Foreign Ministry; head of the political division. 7 years' imprisonment; reduced to 5 years on December 12, 1949; released 1951
Karl Ritter Liaison between Foreign Office and the High Command of the German armed forces. 4 years' imprisonment incl. time already served; released after the judgment.
Otto von Erdmannsdorff Secretary in the Foreign Ministry; deputy to Wörmann. acquitted
Edmund Veesenmayer Edmund Veesenmayer.jpg Plenipotentiary in Hungary 20 years' imprisonment; reduced to 10 years in 1951 and released the same year.
Hans Heinrich Lammers Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H28193, Hans Heinrich Lammers.jpg Head of the Reich Chancellery 20 years' imprisonment; reduced to 10 years in January 1951 and released December 16, 1951.
Wilhelm Stuckart Secretary of State in the Interior Ministry Time already served (3 years and 10 months)1
Richard Walther Darré Bundesarchiv Bild 119-2179, Walter Richard Darré.jpg Minister for Food and Agriculture 7 years' imprisonment; released 1950
Otto Meissner Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09313, Otto Meißner.jpg Head of the Presidential Chancellery acquitted
Otto Dietrich Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-063-32, Bad Godesberg, Münchener Abkommen, Vorbereitung.jpg Reichspressechef of the NSDAP and Secretary of State in the Propagandaministerium 7 years' imprisonment incl. time already served; released in 1950.
Gottlob Berger Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S73321, Gottlob Berger.jpg Head of the SS-Hauptamt, SS-Obergruppenführer 25 years' imprisonment; reduced to 10 years in 1951; released the same year.
Walter Schellenberg Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Alber-178-04A, Walter Schellenberg.jpg Second-in-command of the Gestapo, head of the SD and the Abwehr, and successor of Wilhelm Canaris as the head of the Combined Secret Services; SS-Brigadeführer. 6 years' imprisonment incl. time already served
Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk Johann Ludwig Graf Schwerin von Krosigk.JPG Minister of Finance 10 years' imprisonment; released in 1951
Emil Johann Puhl Vice-president of the Reichsbank 5 years' imprisonment incl. time already served
Karl Rasche Karl Rasche.jpg Director of the Dresdner Bank 7 years' imprisonment incl. time already served
Paul Körner Secretary of State, deputy of Göring. 15 years' imprisonment; reduced to 10 years in 1951; released the same year.
Paul Pleiger Head of the Hermann-Göring-Werke (confiscated steel plants employing slave laborers) 15 years' imprisonment; reduced to 10 years in 1951; released the same year.
Hans Kehrl Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1998-0525-500, Hans Kehrl.jpg Secretary in the Ministry of Armament; head of the planning office 15 years' imprisonment; released in 1951

^1  Stuckart was tried again in 1950 before a denazification court and sentenced as a Mitläufer (follower) a fine of DM 50,000.

Herbert Ernst Backe, the former minister for agriculture who should also have been tried, committed suicide on April 6, 1947 while in custody awaiting the trial.

References[change | change source]


The Nuremberg Trials
Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal
Trials before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals
I Doctors' Trial IV Pohl Trial VII Hostages Trial X Krupp Trial
II Milch Trial V Flick Trial VIII RuSHA Trial XI Ministries Trial
III Judges' Trial VI IG Farben Trial IX Einsatzgruppen Trial XII High Command Trial