Ron Meister has a thoughtful review of  Prof. Tomaz Jardim’s book, The Mauthausen Trial: American Military Justice in Germany, here.  I’d not heard about the Mauthausen war crimes proceedings before reading the review, but, according to Ron, the hearings resulted in “the largest mass execution ever conducted by the United States.”  Here’s an excerpt from the review:

Most of the attention to post-World War II war crimes trials has focused on the Nuremberg tribunal, where the highest-ranking Nazis were tried before an international court. But in fact, the overwhelming majority of war crimes defendants held by U.S. forces in Europe, 1,676 in all, were tried in a total of 462 trials conducted by the United States Army. The Mauthausen trial, held on the grounds of the Dachau concentration camp, was one of the largest.

Tomaz Jardim, an assistant professor of history at Ryerson University in Toronto and a one-time fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has produced what will likely be the definitive study of the Mauthausen trial, its context and its legacy. Drawing on the trial transcript, investigators’ reports, interviews with some of the few participants still alive and the largely self-serving memoir of the chief prosecutor, Jardim’s work is thoroughly researched, even-handed and highly instructive.

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Mauthausen Trial: American Military Justice in Germany

  1. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    The story of the Malmedy Massacre trial, which also took place at Dachau, is another fascinating story out of WWII.  42 of 73 SS defendants were sentenced to death, but no death sentence was ever carried out, and every defendant was eventually released from prison, including Col Joachim Peiper, who served 11 1/2 years.  Peiper himself was murdered in his home in 1976.  No one was ever tried for that offense. 
    The efforts of Lt Col Willis Everett, a US Army JAG, defense counsel for all 73 defendants are highlighted in several books about the trial and its aftermath.  Lot of stuff online as well.

  2. Dew_Process says:

    There were a series of “trials” held at Dachau, to include the Malmedy defendants as the Admiral accurately points out, as well as the more infamous Mauthausen trial [Mauthausen was actually a series of “camps” with the chief or HQ at Mauthausen].  They were the putrid pedigree of the original Military Commissions Order in 2001, utilizing the “common design” theory of criminal liability.  As the defense argued:
    “the charge sheet included 18 types of crimes, allegedly committed over a period of three and a half years, but the charges did not list which crime was committed by which of the 61 men on trial, nor the names of the victims. The charge against each of the men was that they had participated in a common design to violate the Laws and Usages of War under the Geneva Convention of 1929.”

    Once a defendant was linked to the Mauthausen camps, he was presumed guilty:

    “The responsibility for the deaths of these victims lies definitely with the Nazi Party and with the SS men who executed its commands. Men like Himmler, Zieries, Bachmayer, Schulz, Giesler, Pelzer, and other names in Exhibit 2 are but the arch criminals. However, although direct evidence is not established against all the members of the SS guards in this disreputable Chain, the inescapable presumption is that all of them are prima facie guilty of these mass murders and the burden of proof is upon them individually to prove his innocence. In this connection the SS organization was purely a voluntary one and its purposes were obviously criminal, in violation of The Hague and Geneva Conventions, and the rights of humanity.”

    While I have no sympathy for those tried, to even remotely refer to the process used as “military justice” is an insult.  There was some semblance of due process at the IMT Nuremberg Trial – there was none at the Mauthausen trial.

  3. Atticus says:

    De Procfess.  My sentiments exactly!  Those people should have all been tried in Article III courts.  And so should have the hundreds of Japanese “war criminals” tried in the Far East “courts.”  Those lesser “forums” are a stain on our history.