The soviet military tribunal – an inquisition court

The military tribunal opens the trial of the accused after nine months of pre-trial detention. It only takes two days for the verdict to be pronounced – very rarely does the hearing last up to a week. Jorg Rudolph from the Berlin history institute "facts&files "declares that the Soviet military tribunal functions like an inquisition court. There can be no question of free, open proceedings; defenders in the sense of trained lawyers or witnesses who lead to exoneration are not permitted, according to Rudolph. The tribunal is merely judging According to the criminal complaint submitted by the interrogation officer of the Soviet secret service. This criminal complaint is included in the prosecutor’s indictment and the judge enforces the sentence without great freedom and without great debate.

Arbitrary charges

In order to prove the guilt of the accused, the interrogation protocols produced under pressure are read out. Also in Arno Franke’s trial. Among other things, he is accused of forming counterrevolutionary gangs and planning an armed uprising. According to the Soviet secret service, Franke is part of an illegal organization of 31 people. The West Berliner Gerhard Max Lingk is considered to be the head of the so-called resistance group. Jurgen Franke says that his father only knew Lingk briefly at the time. Franke believes that there can be no question of an organized gang, because the two men only met once briefly on the train and they did not have weapons. One case among many, according to Jorg Rudolph from "facts&files ", because once a person was in the clutches of the secret service, then, according to a pyramid scheme, his acquaintances were also suspected. So the brief contact with Lingk was fatal for Arno Franke.

The "rubber paragraph" 58

Most of the prisoners are sentenced under Section 58 of the Soviet Criminal Code. A rubber paragraph that includes anti-Soviet activities and high treason among other things. The death sentences are mainly pronounced for alleged espionage. Against Arno Franke.

Eighteen-year-old Eduard Lindhammer is standing in front of the SMT four months after his arrest for distributing leaflets for the LDP. Lindhammer is lucky in bad luck. The Soviet judge does not pronounce the death sentence, but sentences him and his co-defendants to 25 years in a labor camp. The pupil’s first reaction was laughter: “We just couldn’t imagine getting such an insanely high penalty for distributing leaflets.” Jorg Rudolph from the history institute “facts” thinks a typical shock reaction&files ".

Hope for a pardon

Even for the Germans sentenced to death, after the verdict was pronounced, a time of hope often began, according to Rudolph. Because there was a rumor that the judgments will not be carried out and will result in pardons. A deceptive hope: In fact, only seven percent of death row inmates are pardoned.

After the conviction, death row inmates such as Arno Franke from Nielitz and Gerhard Priesemann from Schwerin are deported to Moscow via Berlin-Lichtenberg and Brest. They spend about three months in the notorious Botyrka prison in Moscow until they are taken to the cellar at night. There is the death cell, where the 927 victims such as Franke and Priesemann are executed individually. That same night their bodies were taken to the Donskoye cemetery in Moscow. Their bodies and all personal belongings are cremated in the local crematorium to cover up the traces of the victims. Eventually her ashes are buried in mass grave three of the cemetery.

Meanwhile, the families have no knowledge of the fate of their loved ones. The authorities of the GDR and the USSR do not provide any information.

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