No country for old fighters: postwar Germany and the origins of the Ulm Einsatzkommando Trial Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Tobin, Patrick
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This thesis traces the origins of the 1958 Ulm Einsatzkommando Trial in West Germany through the postwar story of Bernhard Fischer-Schweder. As a Nazi officer involved in an Einsatzkommando unit in 1941, Fischer-Schweder had taken part in the murder of several hundred Jewish civilians in Lithuania. By the 1950s these crimes came to light. An investigation into him triggered subsequent arrests, and by 1958, Fischer-Schweder and nine others found themselves at the center of the largest war crimes trial since Nuremberg. By reconstructing this period through the Fischer-Schweder story, this thesis argues that by the mid-1950s, sectors of West German society were increasingly critical of a perceived apathy towards prosecuting Nazi criminals. These pockets of progress served as a point of transition in West Germany’s relationship with the Nazi past, a transition which made the Ulm trial possible and ushered in an era of war crimes investigations in the 1960s.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Browning, Christopher R.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

This work has no parents.