Trial Results

The Nuremberg trial took one year, from October 1945 to October 1946. When the verdict was read on September 30, the court acquitted members of the General Staff and High Command and, as groups, the SA and members of Hitler's cabinet. However, units within the Nazi secret police — the SS, SD, and Gestapo — were declared criminal groups. Following are the verdicts on the twenty-two high-ranking Nazis tried at Nuremberg.

  • Martin Bormann, aide to Hitler. Found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia. Declared officially dead by a West German court in 1973.

  • Karl Dönitz, naval officer and Hitler's successor. Found guilty of counts 2 and 3, sentenced to and served ten years in prison.

  • Hans Frank, governor general of Poland. Found guilty of counts 3 and 4. Hanged.

  • Wilhelm Frick, Reich minister of the Interior from 1933 to 1943, author of the Nuremberg Laws legalizing persecution of the Jews. Found guilty of counts 2, 3, and 4. Hanged.

  • Hans Fritzche, deputy minister of propaganda. Acquitted.

  • Walther Funk, economics minister and Reichsbank president. Conspired with Heinrich Himmler to put money, gold fillings, and other items looted from death camp victims into a false bank account. Found guilty on counts 2, 3, and 4. Sentenced to life in prison, released in 1957.

  • Hermann Goering, commander of the Luftwaffe. Found guilty on all four counts. Sentenced to death by hanging, committed suicide in his cell just hours before his execution.

  • Rudolf Hess, deputy führer before he flew on an unauthorized mission to Scotland. Found guilty on counts 1 and 2. Sentenced to life in prison, died in Spandau Prison in 1987.

  • Alfred Jodl, chief of the operational staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Found guilty on all four counts. Hanged.

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner, director of the Reich Central Security Office after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Found guilty on counts 3 and 4. Hanged.

  • Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Found guilty on all four counts. Hanged.

  • Baron Constantin Freiherr von Neurath, foreign minister from 1932 to 1938 and Reich protector of Bohemia and Moravia from 1939 to 1943. Found guilty on all four counts. Sentenced to fifteen years in prison; released in 1954.

  • Franz von Papen, Nazi diplomat and career politician. Acquitted but later found guilty of wartime criminal conduct by a German de-Nazification court.

  • Erich Raeder, commander in chief of the German navy. Found guilty on counts 1, 2, and 3. Sentenced to life in prison; released in 1955.

  • Joachim von Ribbentrop, minister of foreign affairs from 1938 to 1945. Found guilty on all four counts. Hanged.

  • Alfred Rosenberg, minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Created the Institute for Scientific and Cultural Research as a cover for the theft of Jewish art collections and libraries. Found guilty on all four counts. Hanged.

  • Fritz Sauckel, director of slave labor. Found guilty on counts 3 and 4. Hanged.

  • Hjalmar Schacht, former Reichsbank president and minister of economics. Originally acquitted but later declared a major offender by a de-Nazification court, then exonerated by an appeals court.

  • Baldur von Schirach, leader of Hitler Youth from 1931 to 1940 and an adoring fan of Hitler. Found guilty on count 4. Sentenced to and served twenty years in prison.

  • Artur Seyss-Inquart, Nazi chancellor of Austria and administrator of occupied Netherlands. Found guilty on counts 2, 3, and 4. Hanged.

  • Albert Speer, Hitler's chief architect and later minister of armaments and war production. Found guilty on counts 3 and 4. Sentenced to and served twenty years in prison.

  • Julius Streicher, publisher of an anti-Semitic magazine. Found guilty on count 4. Hanged.

Those sentenced to death were executed on October 16, 1946, by U.S. Army Master Sergeant John Woods, who was an experienced hangman. Goering's body and those of ten others were taken by truck to the concentration camp at Dachau, where they were cremated in the camp's infamous crematoriums. Their ashes were dumped in a stream in Munich.

The Nuremberg trials were not the last war crimes trials to be conducted in Germany. For years afterward, numerous “de-Nazification” trials were conducted in an effort to hold all war criminals accountable for their actions. Defendants were divided into five categories:

  • Major offenders subject to death or life in prison

  • Activists, military criminals, and profiteers, who could receive sentences of up to ten years in prison

  • Lesser offenders, such as people who entered the Nazi Party at a young age. Those convicted could receive sentences of up to three years in prison.

  • Nazi “followers,” who were subject to a hefty fine

  • Nazis who had resisted the murderous activities of the party and were persecuted for their efforts. These individuals were usually acquitted.

From December 1963 to August 1965, a West German court in Frankfurt tried twenty-one former SS officers at the Auschwitz death camp. The men were charged with complicity in thousands of murders; nineteen of them were found guilty and received sentences ranging from three years to life in prison.

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