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World History -The Nuremberg Trials
Transcript of World History -The Nuremberg Trials
Mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout the German Reich and German-occupied territories.
World War Two
1945 - 1949
- Twelve trials
- Hundreds of defendants
- Several courts
The Doctors Trial
The Einsatzgruppen Trial
Major War Criminals Trial
Casualties of War September 1,1939 - May 8,1945
Mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust
An estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities (civilian and military)
9 million Jews in Europe, approx. 2/3 killed
A network of over 40,000 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territory were used to concentrate, hold, and kill Jews and other victims.
Ten to eleven million civilians and prisoners of war were intentionally murdered by the Nazi regime
"The Final Solution" and "lebensunwertes Leben" (Life unworthy of life)
Various laws to exclude the Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, were enacted in Germany before the outbreak of World War II in Europe
Concentration camps were established in which inmates were subjected to slave labor until they died of exhaustion or disease
specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered more than a million Jews and political opponents in mass shootings
Every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into "a genocidal state".
The war crimes trials should be held in Germany
Few German cities in 1945, however, had a standing courthouse in which a major trial could be held
Leipzig and Luxembourg were briefly considered as the location for the trial. The Soviet Union had wanted the trials to take place in Berlin, as the capital city of the 'fascist conspirators', but Nuremberg was chosen as the site for two reasons, with the first one having been the decisive factor:
1. The Palace of Justice was spacious and largely undamaged (one of the few buildings that had remained largely intact through extensive Allied bombing of Germany), and a large prison was also part of the complex.
2. Nuremberg was considered the ceremonial birthplace of the Nazi Party. It had hosted the Party's annual propaganda rallies and the Reichstag session that passed the Nuremberg Laws. Thus it was considered a fitting place to mark the Party's symbolic demise.
The Major War Criminals Trial
"the greatest trial in history"
focused on the first Nuremberg trial of twenty-one major war criminals and seven organizations
held before the International Military Tribunal (IMT)
Not included were Adolf Hitler (Leader of Nazi Germany), Heinrich Himmler ( Leader of Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), and Joseph Goebbels (Reich Minister of Propaganda)
November 20, 1945 - October 1, 1946
Creation of Trials
Began in 1942
3 meetings - Tehran (1943), Yalta (1945) and Potsdam (1945) between 3 major wartime powers - The United Kingdom, The United States, and the Soviet Union
Problem: every nation had its own criminal statutes and its own views as to how the trials should proceed.
What was Decided
The trying court would be called the International Military Tribunal, and it would consist of one primary and one alternate judge from each country
The adversarial system preferred by the Americans and British would be used
Indictments against the defendants would prohibit defenses based on superior orders, as well as tu quoque (the "so-did-you" defense)
Each of the four countries provided one judge and an alternate, as well as a prosecutor.
• Major General Iona Nikitchenko (Soviet main)
• Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Volchkov (Soviet alternate)
• Colonel Sir Geoffrey Lawrence (British main), President of the Tribunal
• Sir Norman Birkett (British alternate)
• Francis Biddle (American main)
• John J. Parker (American alternate)
• Professor Henri Donnedieu de Vabres (French main)
• Robert Falco (French alternate)
Attorney General Sir Hartley Shawcross (United Kingdom)
Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (United States)
Lieutenant-General Roman Andreyevich Rudenko (Soviet Union)
François de Menthon, later replaced by Auguste Champetier de Ribes (France)
Some 200 German war crimes defendants were tried at Nuremberg
1,600 others were tried under the traditional channels of military justice
Legal basis for the jurisdiction of the court was that defined by the Instrument of Surrender of Germany, with the political authority for Germany had been transferred to the Allied Control Council
It did not have jurisdiction over crimes that took place before the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939.
23 Major war criminals and seven organizations
Major War Criminals
the leadership of the Nazi party
the Reich Cabinet
the Sturmabteilung (SA)
the "General Staff and High Command" (comprising several categories of senior military officers)
1. Count One, "conspiracy to wage aggressive war," addressed crimes committed before the war began
2. Count Two, "waging an aggressive war (or "crimes against peace"), addressed the undertaking of war in violation of international treaties and assurances.
3. Count Three, "war crimes," addressed more traditional violations of the laws of war such as the killing or mistreatment of prisoners of war and the use of outlawed weapons.
4. Count Four, "crimes against humanity," addressed crimes committed against Jews, ethnic minorities, the physically and mentally disabled, civilians in occupied countries, and other persons
The Defense Case
Heinz Fritz (Hans Fritzsche)
Otto Pannenbecker (Wilhelm Frick)
Alfred Thoma (Alfred Rosenberg)
Kurt Kauffmann (Ernst Kaltenbrunner)
Hans Laternser (general staff and high command)
Franz Exner (Alfred Jodl)
Alfred Seidl (Hans Frank)
Otto Stahmer (Hermann Göring)
Walter Ballas (Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach)
Hans Flächsner (Albert Speer)
Günther von Rohrscheidt (Rudolf Heß)
Egon Kubuschok (Franz von Papen)
Robert Servatius (Fritz Sauckel)
Fritz Sauter (Joachim von Ribbentrop)
Walther Funk (Baldur von Schirach)
Hanns Marx (Julius Streicher)
Otto Nelte and Herbert Kraus
The main counsels were supported by a total of 70 assistants, clerks and lawyers
Witnesses included several men who took part in the war crimes
Hoped for more lenient sentences
The Prosecution Case
Divided into two main phases:
The Soviet Union
1st Case - Aggressive War
2nd Case - Slave Labour,Concentration Camps and Inhumane Experiments
The first phase focused on establishing the criminality of various components of the Nazi regime
The second sought to establish the guilt of individual defendants.
Evidence introduced during this part of the prosecution case brought home the true horror of the Nazi regime
USA Exhibit #254: the fist-shaped shrunken head of an executed Pole, used by a Nazi General as a paperweight.
"a series of concentration camp victims testified about their experiences"
March to June 1946
SUMMATIONS AND VERDICT
12 sentenced to death
3 sentenced to life imprisonment
4 sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison
2 not charged, one paralyzed since 1941 and the other commited suicide the night before the trial began
Influence on the development of international criminal law
• The Genocide Convention, 1948.
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
• The Nuremberg Principles, 1950.
• The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, 1949
The Defense Case Continued
"claimed" to know nothing
some confessed mistakes and offered apologies
The Nuremberg War Trials
On August 8, 1945, after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, four of the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain,
the Soviet Union and the United States) signed the London Agreement, creating the International Military Tribunal (IMT) to try major Nazi war criminals. Twenty-one Nazis eventually sat in the dock at the Nuremberg courtroom. The trials took place from 1945-1949.
On Jan. 10, 1946, the presentation of the case against Julius Streicher, Racial Propagandist and Gau Leader of Franconia, was made by Lt. Colonel Mervyn Griffith-Jones of the British Delegation. Streicher's views were presented in his newspaper Der Sturmer. In January 1937, Himmler wrote that future history would state "that Julius Streicher and his weekly Der Sturmer would have contributed a great deal towards the enlightenment regarding the enemy of humanity (the Jews)".