Kristallnacht perpetrators were appropriately punished in courts of criminal law


Holocaust Deniers Say:

Perpetrators who committed arson, murder, assault, and looting during the Kristallnacht pogrom were appropriately punished in courts of criminal law. This proves that the Nazi regime didn't originate or approve of the pogrom.
David Irving, whom the High Court in London declared to be a Holocaust denier, racist and antisemite, claims that Rudolf Hess, the head of the Nazi party and a member of Hitler's inner circle "ordered the Gestapo and the party's court to delve into the origins of the night's violence and turn the culprits over to the public prosecutors."1

The facts about "justice" after Kristallnacht

On November 10, 1938 the Ministry of Justice instructed its officials that crimes involving "material damage to synagogues, cemetery halls and graveyards through fire, blowing up etc." as well as "damage to Jewish shops" would not be prosecuted.2 Only cases of murder, grievous bodily harm and the destruction of Jewish homes committed out of "personal and base motives" would be considered.3 The investigation of this small number of crimes was to be conducted by other Nazis.4
In 14 cases - including the brutal murder of 21 Jews - Hitler personally quashed the proceedings so they went no further. The worst punishment these murderers got was an official warning and barring from any Nazi party office for a period of three years. The great majority of offenders received even milder 'punishments' or none at all.5 In fact, only 2 criminal cases were prosecuted in the criminal courts and both involved the rape of Jewish women. These men had committed 'racial defilement' (Rassenschande) - that is they had compromised the Nazis' ideal of racial purity.


Irving wants the reader to believe that anyone who was arrested for murder, assault, looting, arson, rape and other serious crimes was dealt with by the appropriate criminal courts. This is not true. In fact, it is just the opposite. The Nazi leaders successfully prevented the vast majority of offenders from being prosecuted. Only the cases of two men were sent to the criminal court system, both for the crime of 'race mixing' which the Nazis found repugnant. All other crimes - up to and including the murder of Jews - were simply forgiven or ignored.
Far from proving the Nazis had not orchestrated Kristallnacht, the results - or lack of results - in punishing the perpetrators points instead to their direct involvement and a post-pogrom cover-up.


1. David Irving, Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich (Focal Point, 1996): p. 281.
2. Richard Evans, David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial (Expert Witness Report for the 2000 libel trial): Section (4)(4.3)(c)(iii)(E)(2). See ("Evidence").
3. Ibid., Section (4)(4.3)(c)(iii)(E)(2).
4. Ibid., Section (4)(4.3)(c)(iii)(E)(2).
5. Ibid., Section (4)(4.3)(c)(iii)(E)(3).
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accessed 11 March 2013