Ernst Kaltenbrunner Pleads Not Guilty

Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Security Head Office) Director Ernst Kaltenbrunner (October 4, 1903 - October 16, 1946), pleads not guilty before the International Military Tribunal. The other defendants are impassively watching him make his plea. The tripod is for a microphone. Kaltenbrunner was 6' 7" (2 meters) tall and cut an imposing figure. Scars on his face were either from dueling (his claims) or from a drunk driving accident (his detractors claims). The senior surviving SS officer, Kaltenbrunner was reported to have intimidated Heinrich Himmler and other high ranking Nazis with his temper and his political acumen. Not well known even in Germany, he was often mistakenly identified and even Heinrich Hoffman, the official state photographer, could not find a photo of Kaltenbrunner in his archive. As RSHA Director he orchestrated the purges after the failed July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Reichskanzler (Reichchancellor) Adolf Hitler's life. This earned Hitler's admiration and he was rewarded with the Knight's Cross on December 9, 1944. During Kaltenbrunner's tenure as RSHA Director, millions of people died in concentration camps. He was captured by American forces in May 1945 through his mistress, Gisela von Westarp, who cooperated with American authorities. While in detention, he had a cerebral hemorrhage on November 18, 1945, which delayed his appearance in court at the International Military Tribunal. His defense consisted of calling witnesses liars and denying his signature on documents. His own lawyers called him Der Mann ohne Unterschrift (the man without a signature). This earned Kaltenbrunner an acquittal on the charge of conspiring to commit global war, but he was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged with the other Nazis sentenced to death on October 16, 1946. His last words were "Germany, good luck!"
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Monday, December 10, 1945