The world’s first trial against German war criminals took place in Kharkov, Ukraine in December 1943.
The trial opened on the 15th of December and by the 18th the defendants were executed.
The film covers the trial of three Germans and one Russian:
Corporal of German Secret Field Police – Reinhard Retzlaw.
Captain of the German Military Counter-Espionage Service – Wilhelm Langheld.
SS Obersturmbannführer, Company Commander of the SD Sonderkommando – Hans Ritz.
Collaborator, assitant to SD Sonderkommando, driver of the “gas van” – Mikhail Bulanov.
In the presence of 40 thousand Kharkov citizens, the criminals were hanged on the Blagoveshchensk market, where the invaders themselves had previously carried out mass executions.
Units of the German Wehrmacht first occupied Kharkov on 23/24 October 1941.
German forces, including the Einsatzgruppen (mobile death squads), killed tens of thousands of Jews, as well as Communists, Soviet prisoners of war, and other “undesirables”.
Shooting, hanging, and gas vans were used. Fifteen thousand Jews were murdered on 15 December 1941 in a mass shooting in Drobytsky Yar.
By the time that Kharkov was liberated in August 1943, virtually no Jews survived in the city.