> Adler­wer­ke His­to­ri­cal Site (Foy­er)
> Geschichts­ort Adler­wer­ke (Foy­er)

> For­eign workers
> Aus­län­di­sche Arbeitskräfte

> The for­ced labour system
> Sys­tem Zwangsarbeit

> The con­cen­tra­ti­on camp in the factory
> Das Kon­zen­tra­ti­ons­la­ger in der Fabrik

> Clearan­ce and death march
> Räu­mung und Todesmarsch

> Legal proceedings
> Juris­ti­sche Aufarbeitung

> After 45
> Nach 45

> The­me boxes
> The­men­bo­xen

> Gal­lus – A chan­ging community
> Gal­lus – ein Stadt­teil im Wandel

 Legal Proceedings 

Pro­se­cu­ti­on for the cri­mes com­mit­ted in the Adlerwerke 

U.S. Army jurists began inves­ti­ga­ting the cri­mes com­mit­ted in the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp on 22 July 1945.

The judi­cial aut­ho­ri­ties of the Federal Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny con­ti­nued inqui­ries into the actions of the Adler­wer­ke com­pa­ny manage­ment, the SS camp com­mand, and the guard units until the 1990s. The camp had been dis­sol­ved in gre­at has­te in March 1945. The­re were accord­in­gly few writ­ten docu­ments. That made it dif­fi­cult for the Ame­ri­can and later the Ger­man inves­ti­ga­tors to deter­mi­ne the names of the SS men sta­tio­ned at the Katz­bach camp.

The SS camp com­mand and the Adler­wer­ke com­pa­ny manage­ment went unpunished.


In the ear­ly years, for­mer inma­tes mana­ged to initia­te cri­mi­nal inves­ti­ga­ti­on pro­ce­du­res. Ita­li­an mili­ta­ry internees were the first to report on the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp to Ame­ri­can inves­ti­ga­tors. After their libe­ra­ti­on, most of the for­ced labou­rers and con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes had tried to return to their home coun­tries. They were no lon­ger in Frankfurt.

A num­ber of the sur­vi­vors were able to sup­port the pro­cee­dings by giving tes­ti­mo­ny or filing com­p­laints. The for­mer inma­tes Johann Kopec and Gott­lieb Sturm had remai­ned in the vicini­ty of Frank­furt. They hel­ped dis­in­ter the bodies of the per­sons mur­de­red on the death march.

Sur­vi­vors incri­mi­na­ted SS guards, the SS camp com­mand, and indi­vi­du­al Adler­wer­ke fore­men with their tes­ti­mo­ny. They also ack­now­led­ged the good deeds and help pro­vi­ded by indi­vi­du­al com­pa­ny employees.

SS guard units 

The Ame­ri­can inves­ti­ga­tors’ efforts to find the for­mer SS guards were not crow­ned with suc­cess. Star­ting in 1959, the Hes­si­an Sta­te Cri­mi­nal Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons Office pur­sued pro­cee­dings against the guards Otto Rog­ge, Karl Neu­mann, Artur Malz­keit, Wer­ner Fischer, Som­mer, and Soko­low­sky for their cri­mes in the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp and on the death march to Hün­feld. It rare­ly pro­ved pos­si­ble to find the suspects. Not a sin­gle one of them was sen­ten­ced. Mar­tin Weiss was con­vic­ted of mur­der on two counts. He was tra­cked down in his home­town in Roma­nia in 1959. Howe­ver, the Ger­man judi­cia­ry did not request his extradition.

Only the two auxi­li­a­ry guards Hein­rich Kie­fer and Karl Faust were char­ged with mis­hand­ling inma­tes; in 1946 and 1947 courts in Frank­furt sen­ten­ced them to pri­son terms of bet­ween seven mon­ths and three years.

SS camp command 

Alrea­dy the Ame­ri­can inves­ti­ga­tors had iden­ti­fied camp com­man­dant Erich Franz as the per­son chief­ly respon­si­ble for the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. Becau­se his whe­rea­bouts were unknown, they were unab­le to char­ge him with war cri­mes. The Hes­si­an Sta­te Cri­mi­nal Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons Office final­ly tra­cked Franz down in Vien­na in 1963. The case was then tur­ned over to the Aus­tri­an aut­ho­ri­ties. They dis­con­ti­nued the pro­cee­dings in Febru­a­ry 1967 becau­se several of the key wit­nes­ses were no lon­ger alive.

The depu­ty camp com­man­der SS Ober­schar­füh­rer Emil Lend­zi­an went under­ground. Neit­her the Ame­ri­can nor the Ger­man inves­ti­ga­tors were able to loca­te him. He died in 1956 befo­re the Hes­si­an Sta­te Cri­mi­nal Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons Office was able to learn his whereabouts.

Not a sin­gle mem­ber of the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp com­mand had to ans­wer for the cri­mes com­mit­ted in the camp.

Com­pa­ny employees 

After the libe­ra­ti­on, sur­vi­vors of the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp repor­ted several Adler­wer­ke employees to the U.S. Army. Nine employees were arres­ted in late July 1945, among them the “labour deploy­ment engi­neer” Vik­tor Heit­lin­ger. He had nego­tia­ted with the SS and selec­ted 1,000 Dach­au con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes for labour in Frank­furt. Howe­ver, the Ame­ri­can inves­ti­ga­tors were con­cen­tra­ting on the camp com­mand. Heit­lin­ger and two other com­pa­ny employees were the­re­fo­re ran­ked not as per­pe­tra­tors but as wit­nes­ses. Heit­lin­ger was released from cus­to­dy in Sep­tem­ber 1945.

In the frame­work of “den­azi­fi­ca­ti­on”, all Ger­mans were requi­red to appe­ar befo­re a spe­cial court known as a “Spruch­kam­mer”. Serious alle­ga­ti­ons were made against Heit­lin­ger. In May 1947, 24 Adler­wer­ke employees had signed a decla­ra­ti­on. They repor­ted that he had mistrea­ted and bea­ten for­eign workers and pri­so­ners of war. They had also wit­nessed Heit­lin­ger describ­ing hims­elf as an “aggres­si­ve Nazi”.

Yet the­re were also exo­ne­ra­ti­ve state­ments. The for­mer inma­te Gott­lieb Sturm testi­fied that Heit­lin­ger had given food to inma­tes. On 30 April 1949, the mana­ger was clas­si­fied as a “Mit­läu­fer” (“fol­lower”). The Ame­ri­can aut­ho­ri­ties infor­med the Polish judi­cia­ry about the char­ges against gene­ral direc­tor Ernst Hage­mei­er and other respon­si­ble per­sons in the Adler­wer­ke. Only the worker Karl Grass was tur­ned over to Poland. He was accu­sed of having mistrea­ted Polish for­ced labou­rers. On 21 Decem­ber 1949 he was com­mit­ted to three years’ impr­i­son­ment in War­saw. He was released after two years.


Inves­ti­ga­tors lear­ned about the explo­ita­ti­on of for­ced labou­rers at the Adler­wer­ke from the for­mer Ita­li­an mili­ta­ry internee Gino Righi. He gave them the names of nine com­pa­ny employees who had been invol­ved in the labour deploy­ment acti­vi­ties. They were arres­ted by the U.S. Army in late July 1945. Among them were the fac­to­ry secu­ri­ty offi­cer Georg Lip­tau and the head of the “alle­gi­an­ce” office Ernst Wer­ner Sporkhorst. Howe­ver, neit­her of them was clas­si­fied as a per­pe­tra­tor and both were released from cus­to­dy in Sep­tem­ber 1945. They were heard as witnesses.

The inves­ti­ga­ti­ons shed light on board chair­man Ernst Hage­mei­er and the for­mer head of per­son­nel and aut­ho­ri­zed signa­to­ry Franz Engelmann’s share of the bla­me for the for­ced labou­rers’ life-threa­tening situa­ti­on and the cri­mes com­mit­ted at the Katz­bach camp. The U.S. Army arres­ted both men on 3 August 1945. They both dis­avo­wed any bla­me and the char­ges against them were even­tual­ly dis­mis­sed. In the sub­se­quent den­azi­fi­ca­ti­on pro­cee­dings, Hage­mei­er was clas­si­fied as a “Mit­läu­fer” (“fol­lower”). Engel­mann was arrai­gned as a major offen­der, but the case was ulti­mate­ly abandoned.