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Nazi War Crimes Trials: Hostage Trial

(July 15, 1947 - February 19, 1948)

The U.S. Military Government for Germany created the Military Tribunal V on June 28, 1947, to try the Hostage Case, whose twelve defendants had been indicted on May 10. The trial got its name from the material it dealt with. The four counts charged the defendants with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity through: participation in the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians of Greece, Yugoslavia, and Albania by troops of the German Armed Forces; participation in the plundering and looting of public and private property, the destruction of cities, towns, and villages, and other acts of devastation in Norway, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Albania by troops of the German Armed Forces; participation in the initiation and drafting of secret orders denying enemy troops quarter and denying them the rights of POWs, and orders commanding that surrendered troops of countries at war with Germany be executed; participation in the murder, torture, imprisonment in concentration camps, use for forced labor, and deportation for slave labor of civilians of Greece, Yugoslavia, and Albania by the German Armed Forces.

After the arraignment on July 8, 1947, the trial opened on July 15, 1947. It closed on February 9, 1948 with only ten defendants, as Franz Boehme had committed suicide between the indictment and the arraignment, and the case of Maximilian von Weichs was discontinued because his physical disability prevented him from standing trial. On February 19, the Tribunal returned its judgment, finding eight of the defendants guilty of at least one count, and acquitting the other two. It returned its sentences the same day, sending two of the guilty defendants to prison for life, and the other six to prison terms ranging from seven to twenty years.

Wilhelm List: Life Imprisonment
Maximilian von Weichs: Severed from the Case (Due to Illness)
Lothar Rendulic: 20 Years Imprisonment
Wilhelm Speidel: 20 Years Imprisonment
Hermann Förtsch: Acquitted & Released
Wilhelm Kuntze: Life Imprisonment
Ernst von Leyser: 10 Years Imprisonment
Kurt von Geitner: Acquitted & Released
Helmuth Felmy: 15 Years Imprisonment
Ernst Dehner: 7 Years Imprisonment
Hubert Lanz: 12 Years Imprisonment
Franz Böhme: (Committed Suicide on the 29th May 1947)

Sources: Skalman.
Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, Vol. VIII, (London: United Nations War Crimes Commission, 1949).