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Hauptamt SS-Gericht
Flag Schutzstaffel.svg
The Hauptamt SS-Gericht was under the administration of the SS
Agency overview
Formed c.1933
Preceding agency SS-Gericht
Dissolved May 8, 1945
Jurisdiction Germany Germany
Occupied Europe
Headquarters Hauptamt SS-Gericht, Karlstraße, Munich
48°8′35.07″N 11°33′58.10″E / 48.143075°N 11.566139°E / 48.143075; 11.566139
Employees 650
Minister responsible Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, (1933-1945)
Agency executives SS-Oberführer Dr Ernst Bach, Chef des Hauptamtes SS-Gericht, (1933)
SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Scharfe, Chef des Hauptamtes SS-Gericht, (1933 -1942)
SS-Obergruppenführer Franz Breithaupt, Chef des Hauptamtes SS-Gericht, (1942 -1945)
SS-Oberfuhrer Dr Gunther Reinecke, Chef des Hauptamtes SS-Gericht, (1945)
Parent agency Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Allgemeine-SS

The Hauptamt SS-Gericht (English: SS Court Head Office) was the legal department of the SS during the Third Reich. It was responsible for formulating the laws and codes that the SS and various other groups of the secret police and Wehrmacht were to adhere to, as well as administering the SS and police courts and penal systems.[1]

Contents

History

Early in the Nazi regime SS personnel were charged with breaking the law through the performance of their duties at the Dachau concentration camp in 1934. Under such circumstances, the Nazi regime realised it would be expedient to remove the SS and police units from the jurisdiction of the civilian courts. This was achieved with a petition to the Reich Ministry of Justice.

This legal status meant all SS personnel were only accountable to the Hauptamt SS Gericht effectively placing them 'above regular German law'.

Organization

The Hauptamt SS Gericht was an extension of the previous SS Gericht, an organization that administered surveys of the SS and police forces and their codes of honor. The Hauptamt SS Gericht had four departments (German: Ämter or Amtsgruppe):

  • Amt I Legal affairs
  • Amt II Organisation, personnel & disciplinary matters
  • Amt III Pardons, reprieves and the execution of sentences
  • Amt IV Liaison office

The Hauptamt SS Gericht's headquarters were the high court offices in Munich. The Hauptamt SS Gericht had 605 qualified lawyers that passed sentences on members of the German armed forces, though Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler often changed the sentences. By 1944, the number of SS-Hauptamt offices within Germany had grown from 8 to 12.[1]

The high court office administered 38 regional SS courts throughout the Third Reich, and their legal jurisdiction superseded civilian courts, and extended to SS and police force members operating in Germany or abroad.[2]

Investigations of the Bloodhound Judge

In 1943 SS-Sturmbannführer Georg Morgen, from the Hauptamt SS-Gericht, began investigating corruption and criminal activity within the Nazi concentration camps system. He eventually prosecuted so many SS officers that by April 1944, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler personally ordered him to restrain his cases. Among the people he investigated was Karl Otto Koch, the commandant of Buchenwald and Majdanek, and husband of Ilse Koch - as well as Buchenwald's concentration camp doctor Waldemar Hoven, who was accused of murdering both inmates and camp guards who threatened to testify against Koch.

In 1944, while investigating the Auschwitz commander, Rudolf Höß, Morgen's assistant Hauptscharführer Gerhard Putsch disappeared and was not heard from again. Some theorized this was a warning for Morgen to ease up on his investigations, as his quarters were burned down shortly afterwards.[3]

Morgen, who had been an SS judge and investigator, later testified at the Nuremberg trials. He later claimed that he fought for justice during the Nazi era, and cited his long list of 800 investigations into criminal activity at concentration camps during his two years of activity.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b Axis History Factbook retrieved on March 30, 2007
  2. ^ Höhne, Heinz. The Order of the Death's Head, The Story of Hitler's SS. London: Pan Books Ltd
  3. ^ "SS-Hauptscharfuhrer Konrad Morgen - the Bloodhound Judge". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A592931. Retrieved 2009-06-25.  
  4. ^ John Toland (1976): Adolf Hitler: 845–846
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