Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen

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ZENTRALE STELLE DER LANDESJUSTIZVERWALTUNGEN , organization dealing with Nazi crimes. The Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen (Central Office of the Ministries of Justice of the Laender) at Ludwigsburg (Baden-Wuerttemberg) was established in 1958 by an agreement between the ministers of justice of the German Laender. It resulted from the realization that numerous Nazi crimes still remained unsolved and that the work of the various public prosecutors required coordination. Initially, the Zentrale Stelle was competent to deal only with Nazi crimes committed outside the borders of the German Federal Republic against the civilian population, especially the crimes of the Einsatzkommandos (special unit commandos) and crimes in concentration and death camps. Subsequently the Zentrale Stelle's sphere of activities was extended to include crimes against prisoners of war and crimes committed inside the territory of what is now the German Federal Republic, particularly by the leading organs of the Reich and Nazi Party. It was not authorized to deal with war crimes – crimes committed in the conduct of war that were unrelated to Nazi ideology. The Zentrale Stelle was not organized as an additional public prosecutor's office. Its task was to make the initial inquiries and submit its findings on particular crimes to the appropriate prosecutor's office, in accordance with existing German legal procedure. It was the duty of the specific public prosecutor to continue the investigation and to decide whether prosecution was warranted. Thus, the Zentrale Stelle was in the nature of a police bureau. It developed into an agency collecting Nazi documents with a bearing on possible criminal prosecution, and also supplied the names of the accused and the witnesses. Some 50 criminal lawyers and 15 crime experts were eventually seconded to the Zentrale Stelle by the Laender. In Israel a bureau for the investigation of Nazi crimes was set up at police headquarters in cooperation with the Zentrale Stelle. By 1985 the Zentrale Stelle had initiated more than 12,000 cases.

add. bibliography:

F. Hellendall, "Nazi Crimes Before German Courts: The Immediate Post-War Era," in: Wiener Library Bulletin, 24:2 (Summer 1970); A. Ruckerl, An Investigation of Nazi War Crime 19451978: A Documentation (1980); idem, "Ludwigsburger Zenstrallstelle," in: Y. Gutman (ed.), Macmillan Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990).

[Fritz Bauer /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]