Weighing the Evidence

Was Justice Served?

Few would dispute the facts in the case of LLANDOVERY CASTLE as presented in the preceding pages. Nevertheless, the question of whether or not justice was served in this case is complicated.

Justice is defined as the quality of being just. To be just means to be morally proper, fair and righteous. Ultimately, the question to explore is whether or not you believe that fairness and righteousness prevailed overall when one considers:

  • the heinousness of the crime of sinking a hospital ship and shooting at survivors
  • the impact of the lives lost on the families of the dead
  • the losses to society because of the lives cut short
  • the details of the events under scrutiny; who gave the orders and who pulled the trigger?
  • that the events took place in the context of war when the question of what is moral or not becomes more complex and sometimes difficult to discern
  • the outcome in the case of Dithmar and Boldt during the Leipzig trials, their escape from imprisonment and the eventual reversal of the guilty verdict
  • that the First-Lieutenant of U-86, Helmut Patzig, never faced the courts for his role in the events
  • alleged Allied breaches of the rules of war, none of which were ever investigated
  • the instability of the Weimar Republic and the emergence of dangerous political elements, which was impacted by the backlash against the trials
  • the human desire for revenge and retaliation versus the need for forgiveness and the ability to live together after the war

As you weigh the evidence presented on the Basic Sources and Extension Sources pages, it is suggested that you distinguish which sources support the idea that justice was served and which do not, and evaluate how convincing you find each source. A research table to help you organize this information can be found here.

The first set of sources shown here will help you formulate your opinion about whether or not justice was served. The extension sources below are more difficult to read and understand but will help refine your thinking even further. Any bold text you see in the primary sources has been added to help you distinguish important aspects of the sources.