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Sobibór trial

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Source: Matanya

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The Sobibór trial was a judicial trial directly concerning the Sobibór extermination camp personnel. The trial was held in 1965–66 in Hagen, West Germany. It was one of a series of similar war crime trials held during the early 1960s, such as the Jerusalem Adolf Eichmann trial of 1961 and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963–65, as a result of which the general public came to realize the extent of the crimes that some twenty years earlier had been perpetrated in occupied Poland by Nazi bureaucrats and their executioners. In the same and in subsequent years, separate trials dealt with personnel of the Belzec , Treblinka , and Majdanek extermination camps.
Investigator Dietrich Zeug from Ludvigsburg, in charge of preparing the documents to be put before the court at the trial, studied old files and in the process stumbled upon a vast selection of individuals never before investigated. Some key SS officers who had served at Sobibór were tried over a decade earlier, such as SS-Oberscharführer Hubert Gomerski acquitted in the euthanasia trials of 1947, but sentenced again in 1950 and serving at Butzbach. Zeug asked the authorities for help, and by spring 1960 had identified three dozen men directly involved in Action T4 and in Operation Reinhard. He contacted the World Jewish Congress and Yad Vashem in the following months, and on 23 June 1960 filed his first letter of recommendations at the Central Office of the State Justice Administrations, requiring judicial action against 19 suspects. Ludwigsburg officials learned for the first time about the whereabouts of some of the suspects in August 1960. Kurt Bolender lived under a false name in Hamburg and was identified in 1961. Karl Frenzel was caught in March 1962 in Göttingen. Heinrich Unverhau was arrested along with Franz Wolf no earlier than in March 1964. Meanwhile, Jerusalem named twenty-two Sobibor survivors living in Israel, and the list of suspects grew into one hundred names. At this point the Federal Republic had determined that Zeug's reports were politically sensitive and classified them as secret.


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