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Study investigates how the Public Prosecutor General’s office deals with National Socialist era

As one of the first institutions in the German Federal justice system, the Public Prosecutor General’s office has launched a research study on its past going back to the Federal Republic’s early years. The study is conducted by the historian Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kießling (Chair of Modern and Contemporary History, KU) and the legal scholars surrounding Prof. Dr. Christoph Safferling (Chair for Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, International Criminal Law and Public International Law at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg).

(f.r.) Prof. Dr. Friedrich Kießling together with Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank and Prof. Dr. Christoph Safferling. (Photo: Safferling)

Together, the scientists research the early days of the Public Prosecutor General’s office after the Second World War until the end of the term of office of Public Prosecutor General Ludwig Martin in 1974. Amongst others, they want to find out how the authority dealt with the personal and political burdens resulting from the Third Reich. One of the key questions is which and how many Nazi-influenced employees worked at the authority in the early days, which positions they held, and in what way this might have had an influence on the Public Prosecutor General’s office’s work. In order to find answers to these questions, the authority has granted the researchers access to the personnel records of all employees of the Public Prosecutor General’s office in the first two decades. These included the file of Wolfgang Fränkel, who was retired in 1962, only three months after he was appointed Public Prosecutor General, on the grounds of his activity at the Oberreichsanwaltschaft and his involvement in death sentences connected thereto. It is expected that the research project will be concluded in early 2020.

As a member of an independent historical commission, which was assigned by the German Federal Ministry for Agriculture to investigate its history in 2016, Professor Kießling also deals with questions of personal and factual continuity in the post-war period.