Germany / Other

Aachen Special Courts




​​The Nazis made use of the judiciary system to expand and strengthen their power. The so called Sondergerichte (Special Courts) became important instruments to eliminate different forms of Resistance against the regime.​

​​​The judiciary system played a significant role in National Socialist Germany, steadily expanding and strengthening the power of the Nazis. Once the war started, judges working in the judicial system were invoked as soldiers of the "Inner Front". The concept and legitimisation of Special Courts was taken from the Weimar Republic. The purpose of them was mainly to try political crimes, and they thus became instruments to eliminate political opponents quickly and confidently.

Based on the Sondergerichtsverordnung (Special Courts Ordinance) of 21 March 1933 (which after the Reichstagsverordnung was a step further towards eliminating the rule of law), Special Courts were established in every higher regional court district. The aim of this was to secure and stabilise the Nazi regime. Initially, this made Cologne the next competent court for the Aachen district. However, due to the increasing number of judicial cases a separate Special Court was established in Aachen in 1941.

Following the steady expansion of the courts' jurisdiction, the start of the war and the Kriegssonderstrafrechtverordnung (Special Wartime Criminal Law Ordinance (KSSVO)), which had already been passed, finally led to an almost unlimited expansion of special jurisdiction. This included draft evasion, incitement to desertion and self-mutilation, as well as decomposition of military strength. Other political punishment provisions followed. In addition to the expansion of jurisdiction, procedures were also increasingly 'simplified'. For example, arrest warrants could not be challenged, and the accepting of evidence could be refused if the court concluded that it was no longer relevant to the clarification of the incident.

Towards the end of the war, due to the Allies' approach the Aachen Special Court was transferred first to the nearby city of Düren, and then to Siegburg. The last surviving document from the court office is dated 30 January 1945. A unique feature of the files from the Aachen Special Court is that some of them were continued after the end of the war, continued in another court, re-evaluated, or closed.​​

Kongresstraße 1, 52070, Aachen