Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Crossroads at Ulm: Postwar West Germany and the 1958 Ulm Einsatzkommando Trial
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Crossroads at Ulm examines the intersection of politics, society, culture, and law in the 1958 Ulm Einsatzkommando trial. The largest Nazi crimes trial in West Germany since the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, the Ulm case convicted ten men for crimes of the Holocaust in 1941 Lithuania. The dissertation looks at different perspectives that various subcultures held on the trial. By exploring the involvement and attitudes of victims, perpetrators, investigators, prosecutors, public, media, and state and federal officials, the dissertation tells a broader story about conflicting and evolving West German attitudes towards the Nazi past in the 1950s. This multiperspective view of the trial offers insight into how and why West Germany came to rely upon its courts to address the aftermath of the Holocaust in the late 1950s. In the wake of the trial, the West German states created an agency for Nazi crimes investigations, appointing the Ulm trial's prosecutor as its leader. Rather than explain this development as a result of top-down federal actions or bottom-up public criticism, the Ulm trial reveals a middle-out approach. Through the creation of a transnational network of critical voices, the Ulm trial prompted change first in the halls of local government offices. This then percolated to the top of government before filtering back down to the German streets. This study thus offers a new conceptualization of the relationship between government institutions, individual actors, and the formation of memorial cultures.