Fritz Bauer and the Literary and Cinematic Treatment of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial 1963–1965
available as of 2024/05/02 German Version
On the 60th anniversary of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, Kerstin Steitz examines texts and films that critically engage with the court proceedings, thereby prevailing literary justice.
From 1963 to 1965, twenty-two men stood accused of murder and manslaughter in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp before the jury court in Frankfurt am Main. German criminal law, however, was not equipped to do legal and historical justice to the mass crimes at Auschwitz, treating them as ordinary cases of murder and manslaughter. This often amounted to a trivialization of Auschwitz and even misrepresented central historic aspects in some cases. The Geman-Jewish Holocaust survivor and Hessian Attorney General Fritz Bauer, who initiated the trial despite strong opposition, was aware of these criminal law limitations and described the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial as a »juridical alienation of Auschwitz«. For this reason, Bauer appealed to authors to take responsibility for »expressing what the trial was unable to reveal«.
Kerstin Steitz examines literary texts and films that critically deal with the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial and thus attempt to do literary justice.