Upon hearing their name called out, each individual defendant walked down the steps of the dock and up to the bench to learn his fate from the judges who read out their verdict. Sentencing was swift. Defendant number 1, Valentin Bersin, sentenced to death by hanging; defendant number 2, Friedel Bode, death by hanging; number 4, Willy Braun, sentenced to life imprisonment; number 5, Kurt Briesemeister, death by hanging. It only took two minutes on average to read out each sentence. Defendant number 9, Manfred Coblenz, life imprisonment; defendant number 11, Sepp Dietrich, life imprisonment. The film cameras kept rolling. Defendants number 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, death by hanging. “Gustav Knittel!”
It took him only a few big steps to get from the top row of the dock down to the bench where he stood ramrod in front of the judges as if at attention. Dalbey read out the sentence:
“The court in closed session with at least two-thirds of the members present at the time the vote was taken concurring, sentences you to life imprisonment and that's forthwith of such places that may be designated by competent military authority.”
A German interpreter translated the verdict for Knittel, who turned on his heels before the full translation was over, the only words he had needed to hear were ‘Lebenslängliche Freiheitsstrafe’. With his head held high and face impassive he marched out of the courtroom guarded by two American MPs, no doubt absorbing his escape from the hangman’s noose. The judge continued his sentencing: defendant number 42, Joachim Peiper, death by hanging; defendant number 45, Hermann Priess, twenty years. After two hours and twenty minutes, forty three death penalties and thirty prison sentences had been passed.