Skip to main content

Phillips Nuremberg Trials Collection: Trial 3 - Justice Case

Materials donated to the law school by General Eugene Phillips.

Summary of Charges

The defendants in this case were 16 German jurists and lawyers. Nine had been officials of the Reich Ministry of Justice, the others were prosecutors and judges of the Special Courts (Sondergerichte) and People's Courts (Volksgerichtshof) of Nazi Germany. They were — amongst other charges — held responsible for implementing and furthering the Nazi "racial purity" program through the eugenic and racial laws.

Counts: 1) Conspiracy; 2) War Crimes; 3) Crimes Against Humanity; and 4) Membership in the SS

Office designations

  • Ministerialdirektor - head of a government department; secretary
  • Ministerialrat - assistant department head, assistant secretary
  • Reichsanwalt - lawyer, attorney
  • Staatssekretaer - undersecretary

Movie Inspiration

The 1961 Academy award winning movie Judgment at Nuremberg was inspired by this trial. The character portrayed by Burt Lancaster was loosely based on defendant Franz Schlegelberger. The character portrayed by Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink of Hogan's Heroes) was loosely based on defendant Oswald Rothaug. William Shatner is also featured in this clip.

Materials from the Library

Trial Records

Style of the case: United States of America v. Josef Altstötter, et al.

Indictment filed: 4 January 1947

Trial dates: 5 May 1947 - 13 October 1947

NMT 3 Judges: Carrington T. Marshall (Ohio) (presiding judge); James T. Brand (Oregon) ; Mallory B. Blair (Texas); and Justin Woodward Harding (Ohio) (alternate judge).

Chief Prosecutor: Charles M. LaFollette

Judgment: 3 December 1947

Sentencing: 4 December 1947

Defendants Position Sentence
 Josef Altstötter
  • Chief of the Civil Law and Procedure Division of the Reich Ministry of Justice;
  • Oberfuehrer in the SS
 5 years, incl. time served; released 1950  
 Wilhelm von Ammon
  • Ministerial Counsellor of the Criminal Legislation and Administration Division of the Reich Ministry of Justice and coordinator of proceedings against foreigners for offenses against Reich occupational forces abroad
 10 years, incl. time served; released 1951
 Paul Barnickel
  • Senior Public Prosecutor of the People's Court
  • Sturmfuehrer in the SA
 acquitted 
 Hermann Cuhorst
  • Chief Justice of the Special Court in Stuttgart
  • Chief Justice of the first Criminal Senate of the District Court in Stuttgart;
  • Member of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party at Gau executive level; sponsoring member of the SS
 acquitted
 Karl Engert
  • Chief of the Penal Administration Division and of the secret Prison Inmate Transfer Division of the Reich Ministry of Justice;
  • Oberfuehrer in the SS;
  • Vice Presdent of the People's Court 
  • Ortsgruppenleiter in the NSDAP Leadership Corps
 mistrial declared due to illness
 Günther Joel
  • Legal Adviser to the Reich Minister of Justice concerning criminal prosecutions;
  • Chief Public Prosecutor of Westphalia at Hamm
  • Obersturmbannfuehrer in the SS
  • Understurmbannfuehrer in the SD
 10 years, incl. time served
 Herbert Klemm
  • State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice;
  • Director of the Legal Education and Training Division in the Ministry of Justice;
  • Deputy Director of the National Socialist Lawyers League
  • Obergruppenfuehrer in the SA
 lifetime imprisonment
 Ernst Lautz
  • Chief Public Prosecutor of the People's Court
 10 years, incl. time served
 Wolfgang Mettgenberg
  • Representative of the Chief of the Criminal Legislation and Administration Division of the Reich Ministry of Justice, particularly supervising criminal offenses against German occupational forces in occupied territories
 10 years, incl. time served
 Günther Nebelung
  • Chief Justice of the Fourth Senate of the People's Court
  • Strumfuehrer in the SA
  • Ortsgruppenleiter in the NSDAP Leadership Corps
 acquitted
 Rudolf Oeschey
  • Judge of the Special Court in Nurnberg and successor to the defendant Rothaug as Chief Justice of the same court
  • Member of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Part at Gau executive level
  • Executive of the National Socialist Lawyers League
 lifetime imprisonment
 Hans Petersen
  • Lay Judge of the First Senate of the People's Court
  • Lay Judge of the Special Senate of the People's Court
  • Obergruppenfuehrer in the SA
 acquitted
 Oswald Rothaug
  • Senior Public Prosecutorof the People's Court
  • Formerly Chief Justice of the Special Court in Nurnberg
  • Member of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party at Gau executive level
 lifetime imprisonment; released 22 December 1956
 Curt Rothenberger
  • State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice;
  • Deputy President of the Academy of German Law
  • Gaufuehrer of the National Socialist Lawyers League
 7 years, incl. time served
 Franz Schlegelberger
  • State Secretary
  • Acting Reich Minister of Justice
 lifetime imprisonment; released 1950
 Carl Westphal
  • Ministerial Counsellor of the Criminal Legislation and Administration Division of the Reich Ministry of Justice
  • Officially responsible for questions of criminal procedure and penal execution within the Reich
  • Ministry coordinator for nullity pleas against adjudicated sentences
 committed suicide 1946 after the indictment, but before the beginning of the trial.

AVAILABLE DOCUMENTS


Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10

The 15-volume series, also known as “The Green Series,” focuses on the 12 trials of almost 200 defendants. This publication by the United States Government Printing Office is the official abridged record of the individual indictments and judgments, as well as the administrative materials that were common to all the trials.

University of Georgia Law LibraryUniversity of Georgia  |  Non-Discrimination Policy  |  Privacy Policy  | Contact Site Administrator 
225 Herty Drive Athens, GA 30602-6012 | (706) 542-5077 | Copyright 2018, University of Georgia School of Law.  All rights reserved.