Samuel Kunz

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 10.06.2016 )
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Samuel Kunz, an ethnic German, was born in August 1921 in a small village on the Volga River in Russia. During World War II he served in the Red Army. When he was captured by Wehrmacht, he was given the choice of either staying at the Chelm prisoner of war camp or cooperating with the Nazis.

Kunz agreed to work with the Nazis and was sent to the SS training camp at Trawniki, along with some 5,000 other prisoners of war (among them John Demjanjuk ). After the training Kunz was transferred to Belzec where he served as a camp guard.

According to an intercepted report dated 11 January 1943, from the coordinator of “Aktion Reinhard” (code name of the plan to exterminate Jews in Eastern Europe) Hermann Hoefle to Adolf Eichmann, 434,508 Jews and unknown number of Roma and Poles were killed in the gas chambers of Belzec. The victims were brought to the extermination camp by trains. After their arrival they were forced to undress themselves and to deliver their clothes. The women’s hair was cut. Subsequently, first the men, then the women and children were locked in separate chambers, in which an engine’s exhaust gases were fed in. The victims’ agony lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.

In May/June 1943 Kunz allegedly killed eight people himself. One of the guards recognized a Jew from Stanislaw in one of the prisoners of the camp, with whom he had a dispute to settle. Thereupon, the camp commander ordered the shooting of all Jews from Stanislaw imprisoned in the camp. Eight victims were forced to lie down, facing the ground, in a previously dug trench. The aforementioned guard allegedly shot the lying persons. As most of the victims survived this, Kunz allegedly shot the wounded.

In July 1943, Kunz allegedly killed two more persons who had fled from one of the trains. At the end of 1943 the camp at Belzec was shut down and Kunz was transferred to Flossenburg, a concentration camp in Bavaria where he was captured by American troops by the end of the war.

After the war Kunz was granted German citizenship and moved to Bonn, where he worked for many years as a carpenter in the Ministry of Construction until his retirement.

Samuel Kunz was repeatedly interrogated back in 1969, 1975 and 1980 as a witness in connection with the events that took place at Belzec extermination camp but he was never considered to be a suspect.

Kunz’s alleged Nazi past was revealed by several media outlets in connection with the Demjanjuk trial where he was called as a witness. Hence the Dortmund prosecutor’s office started an investigation into the allegations.

legal procedure

Kunz’s alleged Nazi past was revealed by several media outlets in connection with the Demjanjuk trial where he was called as a witness. Hence the Dortmund prosecutor’s office started an investigation into the allegations.

In July 2010, the director of the Central Office for Eradication of National Socialist Mass Crimes brought in a lawsuit against Kunz at the juvenile division of the regional court in Bonn accusing Kunz of murder of 10 people and of aiding and abetting murder of at least 430.000 people .

The lawsuit was brought in at the juvenile division because Kunz was still an adolescent at the beginning of the period in question and in German Criminal Law persons aged between 18 and 21 are considered as adolescents. Juvenile courts or juvenile divisions are responsible for their felonies. The application of criminal law relating to juvenile offenders is also possible.

The State Court of Bonn declared on 21 November 2010 that Samuel Kunz had died on 18 November 2010 in his house in the Rhein-Sieg area near Bonn without giving details about the causes of his death. Kunz was 89 years old.


After the Second World War numerous trials against war criminals and those responsible for Nazi crimes took place in Germany and other countries. It is not possible here to give an overview of all the trials. Below are the main facts concerning the major trials of war criminals at Nuremberg.


The German armed forces surrendered unconditionally on 7-8 May 1945. The Allies (USA, Soviet Union, Great Britain and France) took over all governmental functions in Germany, instituted the Allied Control Council and divided Germany into four zones of occupation.

After the adoption of the London Charter of 8 August 1945, the Allies set up the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in order to judge the major German war criminals. Annex III of the Agreement contains the Statute of the International Military Tribunal (IMT Statute [2]).


According to Articles 1-3 of the London Charter, war criminals with offenses having no particular geographical location were to be judged by the IMT. However in accordance with Articles 4 and 6 of the Convention, the principle of territoriality was to apply to the other German war criminals, with the courts of those states where crimes had been committed having the competence to try these criminals on the basis on their national laws.

Crimes within the jurisdiction of IMT:

– Crimes against peace;

– War crimes and

– Crimes against humanity (Article 6 of IMT Statute).

The IMT was composed of four judges and four substitutes who were appointed by the four Allied powers (Article 2 IMT Statute). In application of Article 13 of the IMT Statute, the Tribunal drew up its own Rules of Procedure

The IMT indicted 24 people in total. The trials took place from 14 November 1945 until 1 October 1946. Twelve defendants were sentenced to death, three were acquitted and seven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment. In one case, the procedure was suspended for health reasons and in another the defendant committed suicide before his trial.