The Ministries Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs. Ernst von Weizsäcker, et al.)
The Ministries Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs.
Ernst von Weizsäcker, et al.) was the eleventh of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
This case is also known as the Wilhelmstrasse Trial, so-named because the German Foreign Office was located at the Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. The defendants in this case were officials of various Reich ministries, facing various charges for their roles in Nazi Germany and thus their participation in or responsibility for the numerous atrocities committed both in Germany and in occupied countries during the war.
The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal IV, were William C. Christianson (presiding judge) from Minnesota, Robert F. Maguire from Oregon, and Leon W. Powers from Iowa. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; the chief prosecutor was Robert M. W. Kempner. The indictment was filed on November 15, 1947; the hearings lasted from January 6, 1948 until November 18 that year, and then the judges took a whole five months to compile their 833-page judgment, which they presented on April 11, 1949. The sentences were handed down on April 13, 1949. Of all the twelve trials, this was the one that lasted longest and ended last. Of the 21 defendants arraigned, two were acquitted, the others were found guilty on at least one count of the indictment and received prison sentences ranging from three years including time served to 25 years' imprisonment.
The 21 defendants, including three Reich Ministers, as well as state secretaries and members of the Nazi Party hierarchy, were indicted on November 18 and arraigned two days later. The indictment listed eight counts: 18 of the defendants were charged with committing crimes against peace by participating in the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression and wars in violation of international treaties; 17 of the defendants were charged with participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; 8 were charged with committing war crimes by participating in atrocities and offenses, including murder, enslavement, and ill-treatment, against POWs and those at war with Germany; 13 were charged with committing crimes against humanity by participating in atrocities and offenses, including murder, extermination, and enslavement, against German nationals on political, religious, and racial grounds; 19 were charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity by participating in the atrocities and offenses listed above against German nationals and civilians of territories under German occupation; 16 were charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity by participating in the plunder of public and private property, exploitation, and spoliation of countries under German occupation; 14 were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by participating in the enslavement, deportation for slave labor, and ill-treatment of civilians of territories under German control, German nationals, and POWs; and finally, 14 were charged with membership in the SS, one with membership in the SD, and four with membership in the leaderships corps of the Nazi Party, all recently declared criminal organizations .