On March 4, 1947, American forces at Dachau charged 28 former camp personnel, 2 former kapos, and 1 former prisoner with participating in the operation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Among those charged were former camp doctors and SS officers, including Hermann Pister, who was commandant of the camp from 1942 to 1945; Josias Erbprinz zu Waldeck-Pyrmont, who was SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and head of judicial matters; and Ilse Koch, a former Aufseherin and the wife of Karl Koch, who was Buchenwald commandant from 1937 to 1941. The trial began on April 11 and the sentences were handed down on August 14, 1947. Altogether, 22 of the defendants were sentenced to death by hanging, 5 were sentenced to life in prison, and 4 received shorter sentences. Pister was sentenced to death and died in an American prison. Waldeck-Pyrmont was sentenced to life, but was released in December 1950 for health reasons. Ilse Koch was sentenced to life but was released in 1949. After strong pressue by the US Senate, a Greman court sentenced to life again in 1951.
Ilse (Koehler) Koch (1906-1967). Ilse Koch joined the Nazi party in 1932 and in 1936 went to work as a secretary at Sachsenhausen. She married Karl Otto Koch (1897-1945), head of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, who in 1937 was assigned to build a new concentration camp in Buchenwald. While Karl Otto was known for his personal greed in the camps he worked in, Ilse was feared for her brutality. In Buchenwald she was known as the witch [Hexe]. In 1942 the Kochs received a punitive transfer to Majdanek. The following year Judge Josias Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont ordered the investigation of the couple. SS judge Konrad Morgen lead the investigation and indicted them. Ilse was accused of the embezzlement of over 700,000RM. Karl Otto was charged with both embezzlement and the unauthorized murder of three prisoners. Though Ilse was acquitted, Karl Otto was convicted and shot in April 1945. Two years later Ilse was tried at the Buchenwald war crimes trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her sentence was initially commuted to four years, but after a general outcry, she was immediately indicted by a German court for instigation to murder in 135 cases. She was sentenced to life on January 15, 1951 and committed suicide in prison in 1967.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Macmillan, New York, 1991, 1:507]
William Dowdell Denson (1913-1998), U.S. Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at the concentration camp trials of Dachau, Mauthausen, Flossenbuerg and Buchenwald, held in Dachau, Germany. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Denson came from a family that had distinguished itself both in military and judicial service. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1934, Denson attended Harvard Law School, finishing in 1937. He then returned to Birmingham, where he started a private law practice. In 1942 Denson was invited back to West Point to serve as both a law instructor and the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate to the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. In January 1945 Denson accepted the position of Judge Advocate General (JAG) in Europe and was assigned to Third Army headquarters in Germany. While stationed in Freising, Germany, Denson read about the liberation of Dachau in the army newspaper, Stars and Stripes. After taking part in more than 90 trials against Germans who had committed atrocities against downed American pilots, Denson was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and in August 1945 was called to serve as the Chief Prosecutor for the U.S. government at the Dachau concentration camp war crimes trial. As a result of his success in handling the trial, he was asked to serve as chief prosecutor for a series of concentration camp trials, including Mauthausen, Flossenbuerg, and Buchenwald. When these trials came to an end in early 1947, Denson returned to Birmingham, but soon moved to Washington, DC, to accept a position as co-chief legal counsel to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1949 Denson married Countess Constance von Francken-Sierstorpff of Southampton, Long Island, with whom he had three children. In 1958 the family relocated to New York, where Denson went to work for a major law firm. Later, in 1980 he became senior litigator in a small firm in Mineola, N.Y. Denson remained in New York until his death at the age of 85.
[Sources: Denson, William. "Justice in Germany: Memories of the Chief Prosecutor." Mineola, N.Y., Meltzer, Lippe, et al. P.C., 1995; Greene, Joshua. "Justice at Dachau." New York, Broadway Books, 2003, pp.17-20; 320-356.]