The Trials of Witnessing: Legal Testimony and the Sonderkommando

  • Nicholas ChareEmail author
  • Dominic Williams
Part of the The Holocaust and its Contexts book series (HOLC)


This chapter offers a reading of the Sonderkommando’s role in a number of post-war trials. We find that the account of a shift in the role given to witnesses between the immediate post-war period and the 1960s is an over-simplified one, which concentrates too much on the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Other trials of ‘lesser’ criminals—ones at which the SK were called to speak—show much more complex dynamics of witnessing taking place, with responsibility for producing testimony being shared between survivors of the SK and other members of the court and the court’s structures being flexible enough to allow different kinds of witnessing. Viewing these forums as one stage in the process of the SK bearing witness rather than an overall attempt to conceptualize the Shoah allows us to listen to the nuances of what they say.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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