The Frankfurt am Main Regional Court transferred custody of the tape recordings of the witness examinations in the 1st Frankfurt Auschwitz trial to the Hessian State Archive in 1989. The recordings were used for the first time in 1993 in Hessischer Rundfunk public broadcaster’s three-part documentary STRAFSACHE 4 KS 2/63. The recordings contain the testimonies of 318 witnesses, including 181 Auschwitz survivors. Lauritz Lauritzen, then Hessian Minister of Justice, issued a decree in September 1965, ordering that the recordings be kept and preserved for archiving.
In 2004, the Fritz Bauer Institute in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, the Hessian State Archive and the German Broadcasting Archive (DRA) published the transcription of the 430-hour recording as well as 100 hours of selected original-sound testimonies. Due, however, to the limited storage volume of the data medium, only around one third of the archived material could be made available at that time. For this reason, the Fritz Bauer Institute in collaboration with the Hessian State Archive Wiesbaden created the auschwitz-prozess.de website in 2013 in honour of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Auschwitz trials. Werner Renz of the Fritz Bauer Institute headed the project.
By means of this website, the entire audio recordings including transcriptions (in pdf format) are now freely accessible via Internet. You can hear the voices of the victims who witnessed the crimes committed at Auschwitz and you can hear the SS witness excuses and the statements of the defendants who all deny sharing any responsibility for the crimes. The recording brings to mind in a haunting manner the efforts of the Frankfurt jury court (Schwurgericht) to justly determine individual guilt of the defendants in criminal proceedings. The »investigation of the truth« set out in section 244 of the German Criminal Procedure Code (StPO) also brought about comprehensive clarification of the mass crimes committed in Auschwitz.
The texts and materials on the history of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, the Auschwitz trials as well as the tape recordings enable contextualisation of the audio source. Additional materials serve as a guide and informational aid.
The recording is preserved in the Fritz Bauer Institute archive on 366 audio CDs as well as in mp3 format. It contains examination of 321 witnesses, the »last word« of the 20 defendants, the pleadings of public prosecutor Kügler, the closing statements of the 10 members of the defence counsel (closing statements of lawyers Eggert (representing Mulka and Höcker), Joschko (representing Schoberth), Schallock (representing Boger), Erhard (representing Stark), Laternser (representing Capesius), Zarnack (representing Breitwieser), Göllner (representing Hofmann), Staiger (representing Hofmann), Laternser (Frank and Schatz), Reiners (representing Kaduk), Göllner (representing Klehr), Naumann (representing Hantl), Reiners (representing Scherpe) and Laternser (Schatz, Frank and Capesius) as well as the eleven-hour oral reasons presented for the judgment by the presiding judge. The original tapes are kept at the Hessian State Archive, Wiesbaden.
Fritz Bauer Institute
Hessian State Archive,Wiesbaden
German Broadcasting Archive (DRA) foundation