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5 - The Trials That Did Not Happen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 September 2020

Devin O. Pendas
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

Not every investigation into Nazi criminality resulted in a prosecution, much less a conviction. This chapter tells the story of one case that failed to make it to trial. Taking a micro-history approach, the chapter examines the murder of an individual Jew, Dr. Hans Hannemann, in Berlin in the closing days of World War II. Hannemann was killed after being turned over to the SS by a group of local civilians, who appear to have been motivated by anti-Semitic beliefs and the fear that he could be a Russian spy. After the war, local authorities launched an investigation into his death. Despite compiling considerable evidence that various local individuals were implicated in Hannemann’s murder, the prosecutor in the case, Wilhelm Kühnast, dropped the charges on the grounds that “so much time had passed” since the killing. This resulted in a modest political scandal, and Kühnast was arrested by the Soviets, under pressure from East German communists. He subsequently escaped to West Berlin and resumed his life. The Kühnast scandal shows how East German communists used Nazi trials as a litmus test for political reliability and also how the Cold War poisoned the prospects for justice in many Nazi cases.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • The Trials That Did Not Happen
  • Devin O. Pendas, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945–1950
  • Online publication: 11 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139021074.006
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  • The Trials That Did Not Happen
  • Devin O. Pendas, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945–1950
  • Online publication: 11 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139021074.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Trials That Did Not Happen
  • Devin O. Pendas, Boston College, Massachusetts
  • Book: Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945–1950
  • Online publication: 11 September 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139021074.006
Available formats
×