The Gaus case at the Nuremberg Trials


This article is based upon the books, “Richtstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte” (Corrections to History of our Time) volume 2, page 473 published by Grabert Verlag, D-72066 Tübingen, Postfach 1629, Germany



It is indeed true, as H. Salunders (1) writes in Nuremberg 1945/1946 that at no time was justice ever truly meted out by the Allied victor’s justice system.

The defendants had, at this trial (and the following 12 court cases of the US tribunal), to rely entirely on their memory for their defence. They could not – as was the case with the accusers – to draw on documents (2), because these were not available to them.


Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach studies files in the court room. From Richard Lobsien, “Sieger-Tribunal”, Ardt, Kiel 2005

Once the alleged crimes had been heard and Judgement was executed, laws were devised thereafter, this was a blatant violation of the basic principle of the Western World law, which declares ”Nulla poena sine legea”, (No punishment without a law). Legislator, accuser and judge were all originated from the same party, the Allies. Appeals were not possible. There was even genealogical imprisonment. (Sippenhaft) (3) in Nuremberg. Because of his aged father Gustav’s inability to appear in court, had to be incarcerated. Alfred Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was vicariously accused, judged and incarcerated until 1951.

One event, which starkly illuminates the Nuremberg ”justice of revenge,” is the case in regards to the former Director of the German Reich’s division of the Foreign Office, Ministerial Director Dr. Friedrich Gaus. As an expert in the Law of Nations, he was responsible for international contracts and their formulation in Berlin. Apart from him, the secretary of state in the Foreign Office, Ernst von Weizsäcker, who was second in rank after the minister, was accused as well.

He was the only one who was permitted to have an American defense lawyer, Mr. Warren Magee from Washington. His German defense lawyer was Helmut Becker(4). Under cross examination he asked the witness Gaus on behalf of his defendant Weizsäcker, if his charges had been extracted under duress. Gaus denied. Becker warned him strongly that he was under oath and needed to consider his answer well. Gaus insisted on his No. (5)

In this case, Becker said, much to his regret, he would have to read the protocol of the interrogation of Gaus by Kempner (6), which Weizsäcker’s American lawyer had somehow obtained for him. In this hearing, Kempner had put the fearful Gaus under a great deal of pressure, and had threatened to extradite him to Russia, since he had been the legal advisor of the German Reich to Ribbentrop.

Gaus, in his utter horror entreated his accuser to think of his wife and children, where upon Kempner declared that it was too late for such mercy and Gaus should have thought of it earlier. It was now the old adage: gone together, caught together, hung together. Finally, when the totally despairing man implored him, with tears in his eyes, to have mercy, Kempner showed him the way out.

He was to act as a witness in the employ of the department of prosecution against his former colleagues. Two days after this hearing by Kempner, Gaus was released from prison. A few days later he undersigned his infamous declaration of collective guilt for all German officials. Since that time he worked in the ante room of Kempner’s department of prosecution. It is proven that Gaus, during his interrogations that lay before his release from custody, made entirely different statements than the ones he made after his release. He was to pay dearly for his freedom.

It was terrible to watch, as Becker had finished his reading and turned to Gaus, to ask him whether he still maintained that he had been forced to bear witness before the court, the outstanding lawyer sat swatted and sunk down and kept silent. It was a moral execution. (7)

Many German officials and military personnel, who did not allow themselves to be used as false witnesses, were deported by the Western Allies to the East, where most of them perished.

Others, who were demanded to undersign the untrue statements as reality, in many cases received their freedom in return. Established Historians did not shy away to regard these extracted declarations as sources of historical information. Otto Dibelius, general superintendent of Kurmark since 1925 , and Bishop of Berlin and Brandenburg from 1945, and president of the council of the Protestant Church of Germany (EKD) from 1949-1961, had this to say about the Nuremberg ”revenge-justice” 1945/46:

“As Christians we refuse to acknowledge in principle that the Nuremberg judgments are something that has to be endured by a defeated people against their very will as a measure of retaliation, and that the common justice of nations are trampled underfoot by the brutal egotism of modern States. A new era of barbarism has begun. It may be true that many of the judgments of Nuremberg have been retaliations that were deserved, while others can only be seen as cruel treatment, which manifest a lack of intelligence. To this number I count first and foremost the Judgment handed down to Weizsäcker” (8)


[learn_more caption=”Footnotes”]

1. Hrow H Saunders, “Forum der Rache”, Druffel, Leoni 1986, S. 321, New Edition Kiel 2005

2. Freda Utlez, “Kostspielige Rache”, H. H. Nölke, Hamburg 1952 S. 171

3. Werner Maser, “Nürnberg”, Econ-Publisher, Düsseldorf 1977, S 583

4. Helmut Becker was the son of the former Prussian minister for culture (1921 and 1925-1930), Carl Heinrich Becker (1876 – 1933). Ernst von Weizsäcker’s assistant lawyer was one of his sons. Ernst von Weizsäcker’s son, Richard von Weizsäcker, became Bundespräsident in 1984.

5. Lutz graf Schwerin von Krosigk, “Memoiren” Seewald, Stuttgartr 1977, S 281

6. Robert M. Kemper, born 17 October 1899 in Freiburg/Br, was Corporate Council in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior until 1933, migrated as Jew in1933 to Italy and France, then in 1939 to the USA, became legal advisor to the US government, was 1945 to 1948 employed as accuser at the Nuremberg trials. He died 15 August 1993 in Königstein/Taunus. He was never charged with coercion of witnesses. At his death the reigning Lord Mayor Diepgen of Berlin declared: “Berlin was proud of him”

7. ibid #5, p. 281 f

8. Letter from Bishop Otto Dibelius to countess Schwerin von Krosigk, published in the newspaper “Der Bund”, Bern, 16 May 1949, also in: Maurice Bardéche “Nürnberg oder die Falschmünzer”, Karl Heinz Priester, Wiesbaden 1957, S. 38


Source: k0nsl-archives (via Randulf Johan Hansen)

Dated: 11/8/08

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