University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Justice


    After World War 11, the victorious Allies held Nazi war criminal trials in an effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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    the road to heaven

    "The Road to Heaven. . .The Ride to Death." Drawing by Ravensbrück French political prisoner Violette Lecoq. Ravensbrücker Zeichnungen. © MGR/S8G. (Originally in Témoignages: 36 Dessins á la Plume by Violette Lecoq, Paris, 1948.)

    The most famous Nazi war crimes trials took place in Nuremberg, with cases against the most notorious highlevel Nazis. The Ravensbrück trials were held in Hamburg, in the British Zone. Dorothea Binz, pictured at her trial in Hamburg, from December 5, 1946 until February 3, 1947, was the brutal SS head overseer of Ravensbrück from August, 1943, until April, 1945, She received a death sentence and was executed at the Hameln Prison on May 2, 1947,

    Ravensbrück was used as a training camp for many female SS guards and supervisors of guards who went on to maltreat, torture, and murder women in other camps. One famous "graduate" was Irma Grese, a sadistic camp guard at Auschwitz who was sentenced to death by hanging and executed in 1945. Another was Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan, a guard and supervisor of guards at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Majdanek. She entered the United States after World War II and was extradited to Germany in 1981 by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many of the war criminals were doctors and nurses who participated in cruel "medical" experiments, The most infamous experiments used Polish women as "guinea pigs" to simulate battlefield leg wounds of German soldiers. Most of these women died or were murdered afterward, and those who survived were crippled and disfigured.

    tribunal document

    Military Tribunal document, Archive of Florida Holocaust Museum, 1999.

    ravensbruck trial

    Photo of Dorothea Binz, left, and three other defendants at the Ravensbrück trial, Hamburg, 1947, (l, to r,) Dorothea Binz, Margarete Mewes, Greta Bösel, and Eugenia von Skene.  Courtesy of Dokumentationsarchiv des Öesterreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna, Austria..

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