Module E: Prosecution of Nazi crimes, denazification and the development of human rights protection

Ulrike Pastoor/Oliver von Wrochem


Target groups
The introductory sections of the module are suitable for all groups, the in-depth sections are suitable for employees in public administration, the police forces and the judiciary.


Themes and goals
Even before the end of World War II, the Allies discussed measures for the prosecution of Nazi crimes and political denazification and democratisation of German society. At the same time, international preparations were underway for establishing the United Nations, the goals of which included peacekeeping and adhering to human rights. In the first post-war years, several international treaties were signed to ensure that human rights could be better protected and that more effective steps could be taken against states in the event of mass crimes and human rights violations.


In this module, the participants first look at the legal prosecution of Nazi crimes, particularly trials by the Allies as well as proceedings in German courts after the end of the war. The group additionally explores denazification, especially in the civil service. Personnel and structural continuities and ruptures within the police forces and public administration are also examined.


The second stage of the module looks at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as UN reactions to Nazi crimes, and it explains the background and primary content of these documents. This section of the module introduces individuals who contributed to the two conventions and describes the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights in international human rights conventions. By looking at present-day examples, the participants can determine how individual articles of the Declaration relate to their own work, enabling them to reflect on human rights issues in a professional context. When working with police and judiciary groups, it makes sense to focus on the prohibition of torture (Article 5 UDHR) and discuss the work of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) established by the Council of Europe. The goal of this module is to highlight the consequences of Nazi crimes. In particular, it should clarify the function of European and international regulations for controlling state authority and protecting rights to freedom and security.


pdf Description of module E