German Industrialist Found Not Guilty
Author: Boston Russo
In the trial of Prosecution v. Friedrich Flick, the accused Mr. Flick was found not guilty. Friedrich Flick was an extremely wealthy German industrialist. He built an enormous fortune during the First World War, and by 1933, his holding was the 3rd largest in the entire country of Germany. Flick supported many parties with hefty donations, however, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) was Hitler’s party, and because Flick was not particularly fond of Hitler, he did not support it until 1932. By then, the NSDAP was able to attract the masses, meaning Flick donated almost exclusively to Hitler’s party in order to gain corporate power, and eventually became a member. After 1938, Flick became the leader in the production of arms. Flick desperately needed workers to conduct the expansion of his production. In order to fill this gap, the conglomerate used “forced slave labour” by employing the work of Prisoners of War and inmates of concentration camps. The treatment of these forced labourers was inferior, with approximately 10.000 of the 120.000 labourers dying as a direct result of mistreatment or accidents on site. It is not clear whether or not Flick had any direct knowledge of circumstances, or if he had at any point visited the company. The prosecution started strong by accusing Mr. Flick as guilty of the crimes against humanity of owning slaves and abusing and killing them. They claimed that “Ownership of one or more persons
is a crime against humanity.” and that using these labourers against their will was undoubtedly slavery. The defense responded by claiming this was forced labor, not slavery. The defense argues that there was no sense of ownership. Slavery is defined as an organized movement against one or more persons by selling, trading, or bartering. This argument was surely considered, but in the verdict of the case, this “forced labour” was indeed considered slavery. The prosecution argues that Flick was obliged to be aware of the circumstances in his own factories, therefore he was responsible. The defense says that flick had no power due to the government control of the conditions in his factories. The court says that Flick must have had knowledge of the conditions. The court was unable to agree on the extent of the control Mr. Flick actually had. In the verdict of this riveting case, the court found that the crime against humanity of slavery was committed and that Friedrich Flick must have had knowledge of the conditions to some extent. These findings sound like the path to an anonymous “guilty” ruling. This wasn’t the case, however. In a surprising turn of events, the defense walked out of the courtroom with a ruling in their favor. The three justices were unable to come to a decision easily. After hours of deliberation, Friedrich Flick was found not guilty, with a 2-1 split of justice opinions.