University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • The Trials

    The Trials

    The aftermath:

    The trials

    The Nuremberg Medical Trials, 1946

    The case „United States of America versus Karl Brandt, et al." was the first of the ,,Nuremberg Trials" before a tribunal consisting of senior American judges. The indictment filed on 25th October 1946 contained the names of 23 defendants. Point II of the indictment concerned the penal responsibility of the defendants for their execution of brutal medical experiments on inmates of concentration camps, war-prisoners and other persons, as well as crimes committed within the scope of the so-called ,euthanasia" programme that provided for the systematic, and secret assassination of old people, mentally disabled, incurably sick, children showing physical defects, and other persons by gassing, lethal injections and other means in homes for old people, hospitals and institutions." (Indictment (11/9) The Medical Trial opened on 9th December 1946 and went on until 19th July 1947. 15 defendants, one of them was Karl Brandt, were sentenced to death by hanging, five were sentenced to life imprisonment. The death sentences were put into execution in the prison of Landsberg Am Lech.

    Exhumed bodies of Russians and Poles assassinated in Hadamar, 1945

    On 8th October 1945, the trial concerning the assassin nations of workers from Eastern Europe in Hadamar opened before the military court of the US armed forces in the Landeshaus in Wiesbaden. It took seven days. The public prosecutor described the occurrences in Hadamar as the most dreadful, disgusting, shameless, inhuman and coward action what the Americans had seen since the occupation. The defendants referred to the orders of Landesrat Bernotat. Head of administration Alfons Klein tried to justify the murder by emphasizing the danger of infection presented by the Eastern European workers suffering from tuberculosis. On 15th October 1945 all defendants were found guilty. The head of administration, the senior male nurse and one male nurse were sentenced to death by hanging. The medical director was sentenced to life imprisonment, the other sentences included up to 30 years of prison. The sentences of death were executed; the other convicts were reprieved after having served part of their sentence.

    Irmgard Huber, senior nurse of the Hadamar mental hospital, during the first Hadamar Trial, 1945

    As soon as 1932, Irmgard Huber (born in 1901) began working as nurse and later as a senior nurse in the Hadamar mental hospital. She was admitted during the time of the T-4 operation and was actively involved in killing by medicine.

    In 1945, Huber was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment; in 1947 the sentence was reduced to eight years; she served only a part of her sentence.

    The defendants of the second Hadamar Trial, 1947

    On 24th February 1947, the second Hadamar Trial opened before the 3rd Chamber of the district court Frankfurt am Main against 25 persons accused of having killed or helped to kill sick Germans in the Hadamar mental hospital. The judgment was rendered on 21st March 1947: the physicians Dr. Hans Bodo Gorgass (second row on the right) and Dr. Adolf Wahlmanh (in the middle) were sentenced to death for at least 1,000 resp. for at least 900 assassinations. Both judgments were, however, commuted to imprisonment; both convicts were reprieved in the fifties. The other defendants were sentenced to imprisonment of up to eight years.


    Physicians sentenced to death, 1947
    Newspaper article Frankfurter Rundschau dated 27th March 1947

    Notification of a mother to evidence in the Eichberg Trial, 13th November 1946

    On 2nd December 1946 the proceedings against the defendants of the Eichberg mental hospital began before the district court in Franfurt am Main. The former medical director, Dr. Friedrich Mennecke, the senior physician Dr. Walther Schmidt, one senior nurse, a male nurse and two female nurses were accused of murder. In the judgment rendered on 21st December the same year, the medical director was sentenced to death for mass-murder, his deputy was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in at least 70 cases. The others defendants were sentenced to imprisonment of up to eight years. Dr. Mennecke died in prison a short time later; his deputy was released with seven years of his sentence served.

    Three death sentences, 1947
    Newspaper article Frankfurt Rundschau dated 28 January 1947

    The Kalmenhof trial opened on 20th January 1947 before the Frankfurt district court; on 30th January the same year the judgment was rendered. The former director Wilhelm Grossmann, the physician Dr. Hermann Wesse and the physician Dr. Mathilde Weber were sentenced to death for murder of an indefinite number of individuals. None of the sentences to death were executed, but commuted into confinement.

    Frankfurter Rundschau

    Evidence of Dr. Ernst Schneider, medical director of the Weilmünster mental hospital, before the public prosecutor Limburg, 22nd February 1946

    Concerning the involvement of the "interim institution" Weilmünster in the "euthanasia operation", no trial was opened before the district court in Frankfurt. The question concerning the active involvement of the institution and of its director in the "transfer programme" was a focus of the enquiries of the Limburg public prosecutor. The medical director said he "was in no way to be blamed". In spite of several reports on chicanery against foster children of the institution and in spite of an extremely high death rate that was assessed for the institution, there were no trials related to "euthanasia" practiced in the mental hospital itself.

    Ernst Schneider ( 1917)
    Berlin Document Center (Federal archives)

    Dr. Ernst Schneider (born in 1880) a member of the NSDAP since 1933, was medical director of the Weilmünster mental hospital. Since no proof was brought forward for his active involvement in the "euthanasia operation", he was not convicted.