The concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek on trial
Prosecution and denied justice: Poland, Germany and Austria in comparison

Editing team: Claudia Kuretsidis-Haider, Irmgard Nöbauer, Winfried R. Garscha, Siegfried Sanwald, and Andrzej Selerowicz

A publication of Austrian Research Center for Post-War Trials, Vienna
Scientific Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Vienna
State Museum at Majdanek


I. The camp complex Lublin-Majdanek

The Concentration camp Majdanek. History of crime

Camp hierarchy: Commandants, functionaries, doctors, Kapos – biographical notes

II. Majdanek-trials in Poland 1944-1952

Penal prosecution in Poland

Verdicts of Polish courts concerning Wilhelm Reinartz

III. German trials after the 1960ies

Majdanek and German justice

The making of the Düsseldorf Majdanek trial – from the perspective of the prosecutor

„… we proved, at least, what these people had perpetrated …” Interview with the prosecutor Dieter Ambach

The case of Hermine Braunsteiner – a gender studies-approach

Indictment of the Hanover prosecution of the Austrian capo, Karl Galka, June 16, 1976

Survivors as witnesses at court – the example of the Majdanek trial in Düsseldorf and its film documentation

The significance of witnesses at the Düsseldorf trial – prosecutors’ remarks

„… because memory just is not ideal …” Interview with Mrs. Danuta

Brzosko-Mędryk (former prisoner of concentration camp Majdanek)

IV. Camp complex Lublin-Majdanek and the Austrian justice

Pursuing of Nazi perpetrators in Austria. Investigation in Graz in the years of 1963-1973. Chronology of a trial which did not take place

Statement of the Graz Public Prosecutor’s Department concerning submission of Majdanek perpetrators from October 31, 1972

The Causa Majdanek in recent history of Austrian judiciary – the investigation against Erna Wallisch

Reprint: The Case of Erna Wallisch (article in the Viennese magazine “Falter”)

Austria – a safe haven for war criminals also in the future?

V. Poland, Germany and Austria in comparison

Majdanek murderer trials in Poland, Germany and Austria. Similarities, differences and omissions



The Austrian Odilo Globocnik, SS and policeführer in Lublin, did not manage to enlarge the 1941 erected concentration camp for Soviet POWs into a concentration camp of a giant scale. However the camp complex Lublin-Majdanek became one of the centers of the mass murder committed at the Aktion Reinhardt.

This publication investigates how far the prosecutors and courts managed to clarify crimes committed in Majdanek. The main topic is analyzing methods and their "efficiency" concerning the investigations conducted in Poland, Germany, and Austria. Additionally, for the very first time, widely commented in German were: the court trials that took place in Poland from November 1944, as well as attempts

initiated by Polish lawyers from 1943 concerning the codification and practical use of law standards towards Nazi mass murder.

In the 1960ies the camp complex Lublin-Majdanek became the subject of detailed investigations by the Judiciary in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Austria.

Investigations conducted in Germany led to several trials, and the last sentence was passed in 1999.

The most significant court trial concerning the Majdanek camp took place in Düsseldorf in 1975-1981. It was the largest trial ever in the history of a German criminal justice. Speaking of the approach to the victim of Nazi war crimes, it set standards which anticipated those being used today before international courts.

The large investigation of the Majdanek perpetrators, conducted in Graz, was however suspended in 1973 without pressing any charges. For the survivors of the concentration camps, this was a significant example of the failure of the Judiciary in pursuing the perpetrators of mass murder in Austria.



Dieter Ambach, Winfried R. Garscha, Julia Hartung, Tomasz Kranz, Claudia Kuretsidis-Haider, Elissa Mailänder, Siegfried Sanwald, Andrzej Selerowicz, Wolfgang Weber

Translation: John Clark




Veröffent- lichungen der Forschungs- stelle Nachkriegsjustiz Band 4

CLIO ● Graz