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Krupp Trial

The United States of America vs. Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, et al.

After World War II, the U.S. Office, Chief of Counsel for War Crimes indicted Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach and eleven other key officials of the German Krupp steel and armament manufacturer on four counts:

1.) planning, preparing, initiating, and waging aggressive war;
2.) plunder and spoliation of occupied countries;
3.) deportation, exploitation and abuse of slave labor; and
4.) common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against the peace.

The trial took place between August 16, 1947, and July 31, 1948. Judges included Hu C. Anderson of Tennessee (presiding), Edward James Daly of Connecticut, and William John Wilkins of Washington.

The Krupp Trial in Context

The Krupp Trial was one of twelve subsequent U.S. Military Tribunals in Nürnberg (NMTs) that followed the more famous International Military Tribunal (IMT), in which lawyers from the Allied countries of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France jointly tried twenty-four key NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party: Nazi) officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The IMT and NMTs all took place shortly after World War II in the German city of Nürnberg (often transliterated Nuremberg in English). Nürnberg was chosen both for its large Palace of Justice, which had escaped bombing, and because of the city's historical importance to the Nazi Party as the locus of massive rallies and the promulgation of the infamous Nürnberg Laws.

After the IMT, many other trials took place in the four zones of occupied Germany. One purpose of these trials was to address broader social responsibility for crimes committed during the Third Reich by civilian professionals including doctors, industrialists, lawyers, and judges. The NMTs consisted of the following twelve cases:

1.) U.S.A. vs. Karl Brandt, et al., also known as the Medical Case;
2.) U.S.A. vs. Erhard Milch;
3.) U.S.A. vs. Josef Altstoetter, et al., also known as the Justice Case;
4.) U.S.A. vs. Oswald Pohl, et al.;
5.) U.S.A. vs. Friedrick Flick, et al.;
6.) U.S.A. vs. Carl Krauch, et al., also known as the I.G. Farben Case;
7.) U.S.A. vs. Wilhelm List, et al., also known as the Hostage Case;
8.) U.S.A. vs. Ulrich Greifelt, et al., also known as the RuSHA Case;
9.) U.S.A. vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al., also known as the Einsatzgruppen Case;
10.) U.S.A. vs. Alfried Krupp, et al.;
11.) U.S.A. vs. Ernst von Weizsaecker, et al., also known as the Ministries Case;
12.) U.S.A. vs. Wilhelm von Loeb, et al., also known as the High Command Case.

The Krupp Trial was the last of three NMTs against large industrial firms in Nazi Germany; the other two cases indicted the Flick Concern, an industrial conglomeration of coal and iron mines and steel manufacturers, and I.G. Farben, a chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate. A key difference in the Krupp Trial was the judges' wholesale rejection of the defense argument of necessity, according to which the defendants acted under duress by obeying government laws and policies when they used slave labor.

The Krupp Firm

The Krupp firm started as a German family business in the late 1500s. By the 20th century, Krupp had become an enormous steel and armament manufacturer headquartered in Essen. During both world wars, Krupp was Germany’s main supplier of weapons, from bullets and anti-aircraft guns, to tanks and U-boats. After Alfried Krupp’s death in 1967, the Krupp firm legally changed status from a family enterprise to a foundation. Krupp merged with Thyssen AG in 1999 to become ThyssenKrupp AG.

Selected Trial Documents

Key Individuals


Hu C. Anderson, Presiding Judge

Hu Carmack Anderson (1890-1953) spent most of his life in Jackson, Tennessee. Early in his career, he worked as assistant attorney general, attorney general, and prosecuting attorney. He also held political office as state senator and chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. In 1933, the governor appointed him a judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Anderson became its presiding judge in 1942. With the exception of his service in 1947-48 as presiding judge of the Krupp Tribunal, Anderson served the remainder of his career on the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The Vanderbilt chapter of the Order of the Coif inducted Anderson as an honorary member in 1952 in recognition of his outstanding service in Tennessee and Germany. Anderson died the following year, on May 7, 1953, two days after an accidental fall down an elevator shaft at the Madison County Courthouse. He was valued by colleagues for his impartiality inside the courtroom and his mentoring of junior lawyers, by friends and family for his loyalty, by the larger Jackson community for his active participation in civic clubs and public speaking engagements, and by everyone who knew him for his sense of humor.

Edward J. Daly

Edward J. Daly (1892-1959) was born and raised in Connecticut. After earning his LL.B. from Cornell University Law School (1914), he returned to his home state to practice law. Daly became a Second Lieutenant during World War I. After the war, he resumed his law practice in Connecticut, where he received appointments as Assistant U.S. Attorney (1919-1921), Attorney General (1934-1937), and Superior Court judge (1937-1953). Thereafter he served on the Connecticut Supreme Court as justice (1954-1958) and chief justice (1958-1959). He and his wife Viola were devoted to son Edward, daughters Betty and Mary, and their parish church, St. Joseph’s Cathedral of Hartford. Daly died of lung cancer at age 67.

State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General:
Connecticut Reports Volume 146, page(s) 743-746:
The Hartford Courant, “Edward J. Daly, 67, Dies; Chief Justice of State.” 21 July 1959, p. 1 and 3.

William J. Wilkins

The son of English immigrants, William J. Wilkins (1897-1995) grew up in northern Michigan. He joined the 33rd Michigan National Guard Regiment in 1917, became a second lieutenant during World War I, and received an honorable discharge in 1919. Wilkins attended the University of Michigan and George Washington University Law School. He followed a college classmate to Seattle, where he worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney, a chairman of the State Board of Prison Terms and Paroles, and a private attorney before the governor appointed him to the Superior Court in King County, Washington (1940). Wilkins served the remainder of his profession on the Superior Court with the exception of World War II, when he was a judge advocate for the military, his year on the Krupp case, and his return to military service during the Korean War (1950). Wilkins married Lucille Schreiner in 1929 and the couple adopted five orphaned children in 1952. According to Telford Taylor, Wilkins was the last surviving judge of the thirty-two appointed to the Nürnberg trials.

Hevesi, Dennis. “W. J. Wilkins, 98; Was Judge at Trial of Nazi Industrialists.” The New York Times. 14 September 1995:
Reynolds, Peggy, and Louis T. Corsaletti. “Last of Nuremburg-Tribunal Judges, William Wilkins, Dies In Bellevue At 98.” The Seattle Times. 12 September 1995:
Wilkins, William J. The Sword and the Gavel. Seattle: The Writing Works, 1981.

Prosecution Counsel: Selected Profiles

Brigadier General Telford Taylor, Chief of Counsel

Telford Taylor (1908-1998) spent his childhood in Schenectady, NY. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Williams College (1928), his law degree from Harvard Law School (1932). In the 1930s Taylor worked as a judge’s assistant, an assistant solicitor, a legal staff member of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, an associate counsel for the Senate Interstate Commerce Committee, and a lawyer for the Department of Justice. He became general counsel for the Federal Communications Commission in 1940, and in 1943, military attaché for the London U.S. Embassy. Taylor was promoted in quick succession to major (1942), lieutenant colonel (1943), full colonel (1944), and brigadier general (1946). Taylor served as Chief Prosecutor for the U.S. and Chief of Counsel for War Crimes on the twelve subsequent Nürnberg war crimes trials after working as Assistant Prosecutor under Robert H. Jackson, Supreme Court Justice, on the International Military Tribunal. After the Nuremberg trials, he practiced law and became a professor at Columbia University Law School (1962?) and the Yeshiva University Cordozo School of Law (1976). Taylor was an outspoken critic of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Vietnam War. He and his first wife Mary Eleanor Walker had daughters Joan and Ellen and son John Bellamy Taylor. With his second wife Toby Golick he had Benjamin Wait, Samuel Taylor and Ursula Rechnagel. Taylor died of a stroke at age 90.

Severo, Richard. “Telford Taylor, Who Prosecuted Top Nazis at the Nuremberg War Trials, Is Dead at 90.” International New York Times. May 24, 1998.

December 3, 1983, Vanderbilt Hustler article

On November 30, 1983, Brigadier General Telford Taylor delivered the opening lecture for the 6th annual Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series.

Cecelia H. Goetz, Associate Counsel

Born and raised in New York City, Cecelia Helen Goetz (1917-2004) graduated from New York University School of Law as salutatorian in 1940. When she became editor-in-chief of the New York Law Review, Goetz was the first woman to hold such a position at any major U.S. law review. When the war started and many of her male colleagues were drafted, she found a position at the Solicitor’s Office of the Justice Department in Washington D.C. Although she was the first woman to be offered a supervisory role, she declined it to pursue a position on the prosecution team at Nürnberg, one she obtained only after vigorous personal efforts and Telford Taylor’s support in the face of the War Department’s staunch resistance to hiring women for such positions. In Nürnberg Goetz served as associate counsel, initially on the Flick case, then on the Krupp case. After returning to the U.S., Goetz worked in the Office of Price Stabilization in Washington, D.C. as assistant chief counsel, then as special assistant for the Attorney General of the Tax Division. She worked for a number of law firms until 1978, when she was appointed the first female U.S. bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of New York. Goetz was also actively involved in the women’s rights movement and was a founding member of the National Association of Women Judges, president of the New York State Association of Women Judges, and director of New York’s Women’s Bar Association. Goetz and her husband Jack Spiegel had two sons, Matthew and Robert. She considered her work at Nürnberg the most important of her career and viewed the commutation of sentences a perversion of justice.

Amman, Diane Marie. “Cecelia Goetz: Woman at Nuremberg.” International Criminal Law Review 11 (2011): 607-620.
“Lawyers in Wartime: The Women of Nuremberg & Representing Guantánamo Bay Detainees.” Faultlines: News and Notes from the Center for Race and Gender. University of California, Berkeley. Fall 2009:
NYU Almnus/Alumna of the Month 9/2004:
USC Shoah Foundation. “War Crimes Trial Participant Cecelia Goetz Testimony.” Oral interview of Cecelia Goetz on November 6, 1997:

Benjamin B. Ferencz, Special Counsel

At 98 years old in 2017, Benjamin B. Ferencz is the last living prosecutor from the Nürnberg Trials. Born in Transylvania in 1920, he immigrated as an infant with his family to New York City to escape Jewish persecution by Romanians. Ferencz grew up poor but excelled in school. Ultimately he received a scholarship to Harvard Law School. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he helped establish the War Crimes Branch and gathered evidence. He witnessed the liberation of Dachau, Mauthausen, and Buchenwald.

At age 27, Ferencz served as Prosecution Chief of Counsel for the Einsatzgruppen Trial. During the Krupp Trial, Ferencz served as Executive Counsel to Chief of Counsel Telford Taylor. After the NMTs, Ferencz actively led efforts to create the International Criminal Court, which began operating in 2002. Ferencz is also multilingual, a prolific writer, and a strong advocate of world peace. In April 2013 he was asked the following question during an interview for The Harvard Crimson: “Many people want to change the world, but at the same time feel as if they might not have the power. What do you say to them?” Ferencz responded: “That’s ridiculous. I was a poor immigrant boy. I’m five feet tall. I had no money. I served as a busboy in Divinity School, and ate the leftovers and I was thankful for those leftovers. Otherwise, I would have starved to death. I’ve been given so many muddling awards I can’t keep track of them. If I can do it, why can’t you? Why can’t others?”

Laya Anasu. April 18, 2013. “10 Questions with Benjamin B. Ferencz.” The Harvard Crimson. Accessed April 14, 2017.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed April 14, 2017.

Defense Counsel: Selected Profile

Otto Kranzbühler, Defense Counsel for Alfried Krupp and Max Ihn

Otto Heinrich Kranzbühler (1907-2000) was born in Berlin. He studied law at Swiss and German universities. The son of a lieutenant commander, Kranzbühler enlisted in the German Navy in 1934, and in 1937 became legal advisor of the Naval High Command. He was appointed Fleet Judge Advocate of the German Navy in 1943, where he served until the end of the war.

Kranzbühler developed a reputation as an exceptional attorney during the International Military Tribunal by representing Karl Dönitz, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy and Hitler’s successor as Führer. Telford Taylor described Kranzbühler as “one of the ablest defense lawyers” at the IMT (p. 213). Kranzbühler also represented Odilo Burkart in the Flick Trial.

In addition to defending both Alfried Krupp and Max Ihn during the Krupp Trial, Kranzbühler frequently spoke on behalf of the joint defense. From the outset of the trial, he repeatedly approached the judges about the lack of availability of confiscated documents to the defense counsel. He later wrote about this when he shared other major concerns about the Nürnberg Trials for a U.S. legal journal. Kranzbühler concluded with these words about the legacy of the IMT:

       In spite of all of the criticism of the Nuremberg trials, I should like to stress one effect of the International Military Tribunal. It was clear that after the obvious crimes committed under Hitler's leadership, particularly the annihilation process against the Jews, something had to happen to discharge the tension between victors and vanquished. The British would have preferred at the time to shoot summarily some of the principal leaders of the Third Reich. The Soviets would certainly have liked to adhere to this procedure, multiplying the victims. It was the United States who insisted that expiation must be sought and found by way of a judicial trial. The International Military Tribunal proceedings did, in my opinion, perform this function. It was the painful starting point for building the relations that exist today between Germany and her Western Allies (p.347).

After his work on three Nürnberg Trials, Kranzbühler continued to advocate for German industrialists, including Hermann Röchling in the French-occupied Zone of Germany, and was instrumental in obtaining early release for several industrialists, including Alfried Krupp.

Kranzbuhler, Otto. "Nuremberg Eighteen Years Afterwards." DePaul Law Review. Volume 14, Issue 2, 1965: 333-347.
Taylor, Telford. The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir. New York: Knopf, 1992.


Defendants included Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, Ewald Oskar Ludwig Löser, Eduard Houdremont, Erich Müller, Friedrich Wilhelm Janssen, Karl Heinrich Pfirsch, Max Otto Ihn, Karl Adolf Ferdinand Eberhardt, Heinrich Leo Korschan, Friedrich von Bülow, Werner Wilhelm Heinrich Lehmann, and Hans Albert Gustav Kupke. A biography of Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach follows.

Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach

Born into the Krupp steel dynasty, Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (1907-1967) was the oldest of eight siblings. He grew up near Essen, then trained in Munich, Berlin, and Aachen to become a civil engineer. From 1935, he worked in increasingly high-level administrative positions for the family firm, Friedrich Krupp, A.G. Alfried became a member of the NSDAP (National Socialist Party) in 1938. On December 12, 1943, he became the sole owner and leader of the company at the instigation of his father, Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, and Hitler, according to a law known as the Lex Krupp.

After his sentence was commuted and his properties reinstated in 1951, Alfried Krupp rebuilt the company. He was featured on the cover of Time on August 19, 1957. He responded to the article on September 9, 1957: "SIR: I LIKE THE TIME COVER STORY ABOUT ME AND MY WORK VERY MUCH. IT PROVES AGAIN WITH WHAT CARE AND OBJECTIVITY THE WORK IN YOUR PUBLISHING HOUSE IS BEING DONE." George Tesar of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, also responded to the feature article: "Sir: Your article sounds as if I should have been proud to have labored and almost died in one of Mr. Krupp’s slave-labor camps during the war.

Alfried Krupp married Anneliese Bahr (1909-1998) in 1937, with whom he had a son, Arndt (1938-1986). Alfried and Anneliese divorced in 1941, and he died of lung cancer in 1967.

Key Issues

Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach

The father of defendant Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, Dr. Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach owned and directed the Krupp Firm until 1943, when Alfried formally took over. Gustav's health had been failing since 1941. Shortly after Gustav received his indictment on October 19, 1945, for the International Military Tribunal (the same day Rudolf Hess, Hermann Wilhelm Goering, and other prominent NSDAP officials were served), a committee of medical professionals representing the four occupying powers of post-war Germany conducted a thorough medical examination. They concluded that Gustav was physically and mentally unfit to stand trial. Less than two years later, Alfried and eleven other Krupp officials were indicted for the Krupp NMT. As prosecution team member Cecelia Goetz explained at a 1995 symposium on the Nuremberg Trials at the New York Law School, "[t]he feeling always persisted, at least among the Germans, that he was being tried in place of his father; that we were literally visiting the sins of the father on the son. None of us involved in the prosecution so thought, but we were aware of the murmur in the background." In fact, Gustav was discussed dozens of times in the indictment and the prosecution's opening statement. Alfried Krupp's defense team expressed dismay in their opening statement that after the IMT postponed Gustav's trial, "the proceedings, since then, have been directed exclusively against his son, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, and those persons associated in the firm who at the desire of the prosecution staff should be placed in the dock." Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach died on January 16, 1950.

Legal Representation Controversy

On the opening day of the trial, December 8, 1947, defendant Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach applied to be represented by the California legal firm of Foley and Carroll and requested a trial delay of thirty days. The tribunal denied the application the following day. On December 17, 1947, attorney Earl J. Carroll notified the Secretary General that he would be serving as defense counsel for Alfried Krupp, even though the U.S. Military Governor for Occupied Germany, General Lucius D. Clay, had refused to grant Carroll an extension to stay in Germany to represent any new cases.

Contempt of Court

On the morning of January 16, 1948, the defense team voluntarily left the courtroom together during proceedings immediately after Judge Daly ordered Dr. Alfred Schilf, who represented defendant Friedrich Janssen, to leave the courtroom. Dr. Schilf had attempted to speak to the judges while the prosecution officially had the floor. Six defense lawyers were arrested and imprisoned for three days for contempt of court. In its contempt ruling, the tribunal disqualified Dr. Gunter Geisseler, assistant to Dr. Otto Kranzbuehler, from subsequent trial proceedings. When questioned by judges, Dr. Kranzbuehler explained major differences in the conduct of German courts versus American courts and expressed his continuing reservations about the defendants' ability to receive a fair trial.

Dismissal of Indictments I and IV

After the prosecution concluded its case in chief, defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss Counts I and IV of the indictment: planning, preparing, initiating, and waging aggressive war; and common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against the peace, respectively. The judges granted the motion, stating that "the competent and relevant evidence fails to show prima facie that any of the defendants is guilty of the offense charged" in both counts.

Commutation of Sentences

On January 31, 1951, John J. McCloy, the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, pardoned many World War II criminals who were serving their sentences in Landsberg Prison, including most of those convicted during the subsequent Nürnberg trials. McCloy reduced the sentences of all Krupp prisoners except Ewald Löser (the only defendant involved in Hitler resistance) to time served and reinstated all of Alfried Krupp’s properties.

McCloy acted under pressure from West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who had received numerous requests from West German political parties, former Wehrmacht soldiers, and other organizations, including the German Evangelical Church, to commute sentences of war criminals. During the winter of 1950, Adenauer had urged McCloy to remove all death sentences and grant clemency to those who had been sentenced in the subsequent Nürnberg trials. Adenauer wrote a letter to McCloy specifically about the Krupp case. At roughly the same time, Adenauer was working actively toward West German rearmament with support from the U.S.

Following is an excerpt from Krupp Tribunal Judge William J. Wilkins about the commutations (from his 1981 autobiography The Sword and the Gavel, p. 217):

        Imagine my surprise one day in February 1951 to read in the newspaper that John J. McCloy, the high commissioner to Germany, had taken an action reducing the sentences of Alfried Krupp and his associates to time served, a reduction to six [sic] years for Alfried, and restoring all the Krupp properties that had been ordered confiscated!
        This was such a variance from ordinary legal court procedure that I felt impelled to write Mr. McCloy inquiring as to the reasons upon which he based his decisions, to which he replied with a courteous letter setting forth the things that motivated his actions, as well as a copy of the “Landsberg Report” which contained the final decisions of the high commissioner, McCloy, in all the Nuremberg cases.
        I believed then and I believe now that political expediency dictated his decision. The Russian blockade and Berlin air lift had been on. East Germany was in Communist hands. Czechoslovakia had been overrun. And the wall was being built in Berlin.
        Instead of advising Mr. McCloy that I had no criticism of his action, I should have been more forthright and at that time questioned his decisions.