Crime and punishment - the denazification process

After the liberation of Germany in May 1945 the Allied Powers initiated a comprehensive denazification program. Its purpose was to eradicate National Socialist thought from political, economic as well as intellectual and cultural life. As a first step the NSDAP and its subdivisions were prohibited, Nazi laws were abolished and the external signs and symbols of National Socialism removed. The main focus of the program was the systematic screening of all former members of the NSDAP - party membership was defined as the criterion for their dismissal from executive positions in industry and from public office.

Report form to obtain information for the denazification procedure

Numerous Allianz executives had to undergo denazification. Of the 240 remaining Allianz employees in Berlin, 31 were sacked as a result of denazification screening.

All Germans subjected to denazification had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. In this way their personal responsibility or blame for the crimes of the Nazi era were to be established. A law enacted by the US military government classified these people in five categories:
1. Major offenders 2. Offenders, 3. Lesser offenders,4. Followers, 5. Exonerated persons.

By 1949 more than 6 million Germans were scrutinized in this way. The denazification authorities passed judgment in some 1.2 million cases - more than a million persons were classified as followers. This figure compared with just under 2000 major offenders and some 25,000 offenders.

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