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Realms of Oblivion: The Vienna Auschwitz Trial

  • Michael Thad Allen (a1)

On March 10, 1972, a little-known Auschwitz trial came to a rather unremarkable conclusion with the release of Fritz Ertl and Walter Dejaco. Both had served as SS architects in the Central Construction Directorate(ZBL)-Auschwitz. Both were part of a team responsible for designing and building the gas chambers of Birkenau. The District Attorneys' Office of Vienna had prepared the case against them with great ambition nearly a decade before. Prosecutors originally had in mind something like the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial in the Federal Republic of Germany, which included more than twenty defendants. Such plans were speedily curtailed. The court had only grudgingly agreed to try three defendants and then readily granted a motion to dismiss charges against one (Hermann Töfferl, a construction foreman). That left only two. “The public interest for this monster trial appears to be slight. The benches in the great jury court remain empty,” the Wiener Zeitung reported upon the opening of the trial. Less than two months later, the paper recorded the defendants' release, and no public debate followed.

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Central European History
  • ISSN: 0008-9389
  • EISSN: 1569-1616
  • URL: /core/journals/central-european-history
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