British Military & Criminal History:

1900 to 1999.

HOME

UK TRIALS

THE FIFTY

THE KILLERS

Home - War Crimes Trials - British Mounted Trials - The Great Escape

Introduction

Two War Crime Trials were held by the British, concerning the execution of the fifty RAF Officers who escaped from the Stalag Luft III Prisoner-of-War Camp at Sagan.

Memorial at RAF Hendon

Memorial at RAF Hendon to the murdered 50 airmen at RAF Hendon (Stephen Stratford. 2004)

Tracking down the criminals

The records relating to the investigation of the Stalag Luft III case were produced by the Headquarters BAOR: War Crimes Group (North West Europe) and are contained in the WO 309/xxx class.

48:

Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany: Escape, Recapture and killing of RAF Officers June 1945 to November 1946.

 

49:

Ditto:

December 1946 to June 1948.

50:

Ditto:

April to November 1948.

520:

Stalag Luft III: Sagan, Germany: Escape, recapture and killing of RAF Officers June to October 1945.

 

521:

Ditto:

October 1945 to April 1946.

522:

Ditto:

March to June 1916.

523:

Ditto:

June to August 1946.

524:

Ditto:

August to December 1946.

525:

Ditto:

December 1946 to April 1947.

526:

Ditto:

April to November 1947.

527:

Ditto:

September 1947 to November 1948.

528:

Ditto:

May 1947 to July 1948.

529:

Ditto:

August to October 1948.

530:

Ditto:

April 1946 to June 1947.

The Air Ministry’s Directorate of Intelligence (AIR 40) also contains reports from the Special Investigation Branch concerning the murder of the fifty RAF officers who escaped from the Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp at Sagan, Germany.

The First Trial

This trial started at No. 1 War Crimes Court at Hamburg on 1 July 1947. The documents concerning the trial are contained in the Judge Advocate General’s Office: War of 1939-45: War Crimes Papers group WO 235 DJAG No. 703-721. Case Number 288:

424:

Petitions & opening addresses

July to September 1947.

425:

Proceedings

July 1947.

426:

Ditto

July 1947.

427:

Ditto

July to August 1947.

428:

Ditto

August 1947.

429:

Ditto

August to September 1947.

430:

Exhibits: 1 to 34

July to September 1947.

431:

Ditto: 35 to 130

July 1947.

432:

Petitions

July 1947 to April 1949.

733:

Deputy Judge Advocate General’s Files

1947-49.

A total of eighteen people were tried at this court for various crimes associated with the murder of the 50 RAF officers:

Wielen, M.

Kaehler, H.

Schulz, E.

Denkman, A.

Breithaupt, W.

Schmidt, O.

Schimmel, A.

Jackobs, W.

Gmeiner, J.

Struve, W.

Herberg, W.

Weil, E.

Preiss, O.

Geith, E.

Boschert, H.

Schneider, J.

Post, J.

Zacharias, E.

Wielen and Boshert were sentenced to life imprisonment, Denkman and Struve to ten years’ imprisonment, the other fourteen were sentenced to death by hanging and were executed at Hamelin Goal on 27 February 1948. Their execution is covered in Albert Pierrepoint's auobiography.

The Second Trial

This trial started at No. 1 War Crimes Court at Hamburg on 11 October 1948. The documents concerning the trial are contained in the Judge Advocate General’s Office: War of 1939-45: War Crimes Papers group WO 235 DJAG No. 969-971. Case Number 354:

573:

Proceedings: Days 1 to 8

August to October 1948.

574:

Proceedings: Days 9 to 20

October to November 1948.

575:

Exhibits: 1 to 30

August to December 1948.

576:

Petitions

August 1948 to December 1953.

577:

Extracted Papers

August to November 1948.

798:

Deputy Judge Advocate General’s Files

1948-49.

1123:

Lieutenant-Colonel Barratt, Prosecuting Officer, Note Book.

 

1124:

Ditto.

 

A total of three people were tried at this court for various crimes associated with the murder of the 50 RAF officers:

Wieczorek, E.

Haensel, R.

Burchhardt, R.

Haensel was found not guilty. Wieczorek was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, but his sentence was not confirmed by the British authorities. Burchardt was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Blog | UK Medals | Remembrance | War Crimes | Spying | Courts Martial | Criminal Cases | Index | Contact