chapter  3
22 Pages

Recalling Resistance

While the Ulm Einsatzkommando proceedings bequeathed an important legal legacy for the investigation of Nazi atrocities, it is fair to say that the trial itself was overshadowed at the time by another war crimes hearing taking place concurrently in Bayreuth. The prosecution of 42 year old former SS-Hauptscharführer Martin Sommer generated worldwide interest as he received a life prison sentence for twenty-fi ve specimen counts of murder perpetrated in Buchenwald concentration camp between 1937 and 1943. The gruesome details of his acts of torture, combined with the peculiarly unruffl ed demeanour of his loyal, and much younger, wife, transformed this case into something of a thrilling soap opera, enabling it to capture the public imagination and arouse indignation among members of the local community. While the Ulm public gallery remained relatively empty, crowds were routinely jostling for space inside the Bayreuth Landgericht.