1972

► May 2nd. Start of the trial of SS-Standartenfuhrer Ludwig Hahn and SS-Rottenführer Thomas Wippenbeck in the Regional Court in Hamburg. Due to Wippenbeck's exceptional cruelty and mass murder carried out by hanging, Pawiak prisoners called him a "Hangman". In addition Wippenbeck was famous in the prison for organizing gymnastic activities on the hot slag ejected from the boiler. These exercises have contributed to the death of many prisoners.

SS-Standartenführer Ludwig Hahn (left) and SS-Rottenfiihrer Thomas Wippenbeck during their trial in Hamburg (source:   www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ludwig_Hahn_and_Thomas_Wippenbeck_during_the_Hamburg_trial.jpg  )

SS-Standartenführer Ludwig Hahn (left) and SS-Rottenfiihrer Thomas Wippenbeck during their trial in Hamburg (source: www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ludwig_Hahn_and_Thomas_Wippenbeck_during_the_Hamburg_trial.jpg)

The indictment concerned: killing by hanging of at least ten people in the period from early 1942 to August 1944, forcing prisoners in winter 1940 to walk on a hot slag which resulted in death of at least two people, participating in the execution of 200-300 prisoners of Pawiak prison between mid-April and July 1944, participation in the execution of 40 prisoners from Pawiak in July 1944, and other executions of prisoners (including women and children) between July and August 1944. After the investigation German court sentenced Ludwig Hahn for participating in the murder of about 100 prisoners from Division III Pawiak prison in July 1944 and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment. Thomas Wippenbeck was found guilty of aiding and abetting in the murder and found guilty of contributing to the death of Jews in the so-called "Polish Hotel" campaign but on the basis of paragraph 47, Chapter 2 of the Code of Military Criminal Court Wippenbeck was not sentenced. It is the article "Reichsgesetzblatt", from 1940, Part I, p. 1348 about the obligation to follow orders. Paragraph 47 was very often the base to acquit war criminals from the charges because of subordination and "following orders of superiors."

Inscription made by members of the Little Sabotage "Wawer", 1944 (source : photo Archive illustration WN PWN SA © PWN)

Inscription made by members of the Little Sabotage "Wawer", 1944 (source : photo Archive illustration WN PWN SA © PWN)

Appeal was filed by both the prosecutor's office claiming that the sentence is disproportionately low in relation to the committed crimes, as well as the defense which demanded acquittal. In March 1975 after two years of reviewing the complaints, the sentence became final and the judgement was implemented. Thomas Wippenbeck was never punished for their crimes committed in Poland.
► May 17th. After a heated debate - 248 votes "yes", 238 abstained and 10 "against" - Bundestag ratified the Treaty of Warsaw from 1970. The protracted ratification was a result of filing by the Bundestag opposition application to the Federal Constitutional Court charges of unconstitutionality (German constitution contained a "legal fiction" defining the borders of Germany according to the Third Reich status from 1937). CDU/CSU opposed the ratification of the Treaty accusing the SPD/FDP coalition of betrayal of German interests.

German CDU and SPD electoral posters questioning border on the Oder and Neisse rivers (source:   www.iswinoujscie.pl  )

German CDU and SPD electoral posters questioning border on the Oder and Neisse rivers (source: www.iswinoujscie.pl)

The Christian Democrats tried to overthrow Willy Brandt in April 1972 and when that proved unsuccessful they put as a condition to accept the Treaty adoption by the Bundestag resolution as an agreement of a "temporary nature". Finally the Federal Constitutional Court declared the act to be in line with the constitution but ... interpreted the act not as an declaration of the Oder-Neisse border but only as an acceptance of the situation by the Federal Republic of Germany and refrain from military action to change it.

Willy Brandt and his wife Ruth and Leonid Brezhnev, 1972 (source:   www.dw.de/willy-brandt-kanclerz-i-wizjoner/a-4831164  )

Willy Brandt and his wife Ruth and Leonid Brezhnev, 1972 (source: www.dw.de/willy-brandt-kanclerz-i-wizjoner/a-4831164)

Later, on the same day, Bundestag, with five abstentions, adopted a resolution stating that the deal does not prejudge the future content of a peace treaty with Germany and does not constitute legal recognition of the existing borders (!). In a legal sense, in 1972 the German Reich still existed.

The first post on the Polish border on Oder river put up on 27 February 1945 in Czelino by soldiers of the 6. Independent Bridge Battalion WP (source:   www.thefad.pl  )

The first post on the Polish border on Oder river put up on 27 February 1945 in Czelino by soldiers of the 6. Independent Bridge Battalion WP (source: www.thefad.pl)

The German Democratic Republic was so-called "Central Germany" and Poland was "Eastern Germany" under foreign "interim administration". This status remained until 1990.