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High Command Trial

The High Command Trial (or, officially, The United States of America vs. Wilhelm von Leeb, et al.) was the last of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).

The accused in this trial were all high-ranking generals of the German Wehrmacht (one was a former Admiral) and former members of the High Command of Nazi Germany's military forces. They were charged with having participated in or planned or facilitated the execution of the numerous atrocities committed in countries occupied by the German forces during the war.

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal V-A, were John C. Young (presiding judge) from Colorado, Winfield B. Hale from Tennessee, and Justin W. Harding from Alaska. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor. The indictment was filed on November 28, 1947; the trial lasted from December 30 that year until October 28, 1948. Of the 14 defendants indicted, two were acquitted on all counts. Johannes Blaskowitz committed suicide during the trial. The remaining nine defendants received prison sentences ranging from three years including time served to lifetime imprisonment.


The accused faced four charges of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity:

  1. Crimes against peace by waging aggressive war against other nations and violating international treaties.
  2. War crimes by being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents.
  3. Crimes against humanity by participating or ordering the murder, torture, deportation, hostage-taking, etc. of civilians in occupied countries.
  4. Participating and organizing the formulations and execution of a common plan and conspiracy to commit aforementioned crimes.

All defendants were indicted on all counts; they all pleaded "not guilty".

Count 4 of the indictment—the conspiracy charge—was soon dropped by the tribunal because it was already covered by the other charges.

On count 1, the tribunal considered all accused not guilty, stating that they were not the policy-makers and that preparing for war and fighting a war on orders was not a criminal offense under the applicable international law of the time.


Name Function Charges Sentence
    1 2 3 4  
Wilhelm von Leeb Former Field Marshal (until 1941) I I G I 3 years' imprisonment; released after the trial
Hugo Sperrle Former Field Marshal I I I I acquitted
Georg von Küchler Former Field Marshal I G G I 20 years' imprisonment; reduced to 12 years in 1951; released 1953 due to medical reasons.
Johannes Blaskowitz Former Generaloberst I I I I Committed suicide during the trial on February 8, 1948
Hermann Hoth Former Generaloberst I G G I 15 years' imprisonment; released 1954.
Georg-Hans Reinhardt Former Generaloberst I G G I 15 years' imprisonment; released 1952.
Hans von Salmuth Former Generaloberst I G G I 20 years' imprisonment; reduced to 12 years in 1951
Karl-Adolf Hollidt Former Generaloberst I G G I 5 years' imprisonment; released December 22, 1949
Otto Schniewind Former Admiral I I I I acquitted
Karl von Roques Former Generalleutnant I G G I 20 years' imprisonment; died December 24, 1949.
Hermann Reinecke Former Generalleutnant; head of the General Office of the Armed Forces at OKW (Allgemeines Wehrmachtamt, AWA), also head of the office for the NSFO (National-Sozialistische Führungs-Offiziere, Nazi officers charged with political propaganda in the Wehrmacht) I G G I lifetime imprisonment; released 1954
Walter Warlimont Former Generalleutnant; deputy head of the Wehrmacht-Führungsstab (WMFS), the Armed Forces Operations Staff. I G G I lifetime imprisonment; commuted to 18 years in 1951; released 1954.
Otto Wöhler Former Generalleutnant I G G I 8 years' imprisonment; released 1951
Rudolf Lehmann Former Generalleutnant, Judge Advocate-General of the OKW and as such responsible for the elaboration of the Commissar order, the Barbarossa order, and others. I G G I 7 years' imprisonment
I — Indicted   G — Indicted and found guilty

All sentences included time already served in custody since April 7, 1945.

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