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The American prosecution team at the trial of 61 former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen. Standing is William Denson.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 12301

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    The American prosecution team at the trial of 61 former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen. Standing is William Denson.
    The American prosecution team at the trial of 61 former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen.  Standing is William Denson.

    Overview

    Caption
    The American prosecution team at the trial of 61 former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen. Standing is William Denson.
    Date
    1946 March 29 - 1946 May 13
    Locale
    Dachau, [Bavaria] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Albert Barkin
    Event History
    Sixty-one former camp personnel and prisoners from Mauthausen were brought to trial in front of an American Military Tribunal in Dachau, Germany. All of the defendants were charged with violation of the laws and usages of war, and specifically with subjecting non-Germans to killing, beating, torture, and starvation. Among those charged was August Eigruber, the former Gauleiter of Upper Austria and one of the people who helped establish the camp. The trial began March 29 and lasted only six weeks, with the court finding all sixty-one defendants guilty on May 11, saying that there was enough evidence of death by shootings, gassings, hangings and starvation to find every member of the camp personnel culpable. On May 13, the court sentenced fifty-eight of the defendants to death and gave the other three life sentences. Later, nine of the death sentences were reduced to life sentences. Those sentenced to death were hanged on May 27-28, 1947 in the yard of the Landsberg prison.

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005140.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Albert Barkin

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    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.]
    Record last modified:
    2005-12-15 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1048709

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