The Prosecution of the Perpetrators

At least 480 people, including around 45 women, had worked at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as guards or members of the headquarters staff. Very few ever had to answer for their crimes before a court of law.

The first Belsen Trial, which was held before a British military tribunal in Lüneburg in the autumn of 1945, received the most public attention. Since many of the defendants had worked at the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp prior to their deployment to Bergen-Belsen, the court decided to also try them for the crimes they committed there.

Denazification proceedings were carried out between 1947 and 1949 against former members of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp staff, but the German judiciary only instituted proceedings related to crimes committed at Bergen-Belsen on one occasion.

No Wehrmacht soldiers ever stood trial in a German court for the crimes they committed against Soviet POWs in the Bergen-Belsen, Fallingbostel, Wietzendorf and Oerbke camps. Two preliminary proceedings were instituted against members of the Hamburg Gestapo for their participation in selecting POWs to be murdered at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, but these proceedings were discontinued in 1970 and 1971.

© 2017 Stiftung niedersächsische Gedenkstätten