Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trials

Overview
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunal
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

s, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.
The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, in 1945–46, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 24 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany, though several key architects of the war (such as Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, and Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

) had committed suicide before the trials began.

The initial trials were held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946.
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Encyclopedia
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunal
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

s, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.
The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, in 1945–46, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 24 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany, though several key architects of the war (such as Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, and Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

) had committed suicide before the trials began.

The initial trials were held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The second set of trials of lesser war criminals was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the US Nuremberg Military Tribunals
Subsequent Nuremberg Trials
The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials were a series of twelve U.S...

 (NMT); among them included the Doctors' Trial
Doctors' Trial
The Doctors' Trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S...

 and the Judges' Trial
Judges' Trial
The Judges' Trial was the third of the 12 trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S...

. This article primarily deals with the IMT; see the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials
Subsequent Nuremberg Trials
The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials were a series of twelve U.S...

 for details on those trials.

Origin


British War Cabinet
War Cabinet
A War Cabinet is a committee formed by a government in a time of war. It is usually a subset of the full executive cabinet of ministers. It is also quite common for a War Cabinet to have senior military officers and opposition politicians as members....

 documents, released on 2 January 2006, showed that as early as December 1944, the Cabinet had discussed their policy for the punishment of the leading Nazis if captured. British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 had then advocated a policy of summary execution
Summary execution
A summary execution is a variety of execution in which a person is killed on the spot without trial or after a show trial. Summary executions have been practiced by the police, military, and paramilitary organizations and are associated with guerrilla warfare, counter-insurgency, terrorism, and...

 in some circumstances, with the use of an Act of Attainder to circumvent legal obstacles, being dissuaded from this only by talks with US leaders later in the war.
In late 1943, during the Tripartite Dinner Meeting at the Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

, the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 leader, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, proposed executing 50,000–100,000 German staff officers. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, joked that perhaps 49,000 would do. Churchill denounced the idea of "the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country" and that he'd rather be "taken out in the courtyard and shot" himself than to partake in any action. However, he also stated that war criminals must pay for their crimes and that in accordance with the Moscow Document which he himself had written, they should be tried at the places where the crimes were committed. Churchill was vigorously opposed to executions "for political purposes." According to the minutes of a Roosevelt-Stalin meeting during the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

, on February 4, 1945, at the Livadia Palace
Livadia Palace
Livadia Palace was a summer retreat of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family in Livadiya, Crimea in southern Ukraine. The Yalta Conference was held there in 1945, when the palace housed the apartments of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other members of the American delegation...

, President Roosevelt "said that he had been very much struck by the extent of German destruction in the Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

 and therefore he was more bloodthirsty in regard to the Germans than he had been a year ago, and he hoped that Marshal Stalin would again propose a toast to the execution of 50,000 officers of the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

."

US Treasury Secretary
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., suggested a plan for the total denazification
Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 of Germany; this was known as the Morgenthau Plan
Morgenthau Plan
The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war.-Overview:...

. The plan advocated the forced de-industrialisation of Germany. Roosevelt initially supported this plan, and managed to convince Churchill to support it in a less drastic form. Later, details were leaked to the public, generating widespread protest. Roosevelt, aware of strong public disapproval, abandoned the plan, but did not adopt an alternate position on the matter. The demise of the Morgenthau Plan created the need for an alternative method of dealing with the Nazi leadership. The plan for the "Trial of European War Criminals" was drafted by Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

 and the War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

. Following Roosevelt's death in April 1945, the new president, Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

, gave strong approval for a judicial process.
After a series of negotiations between Britain, the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, details of the trial were worked out. The trials were to commence on 20 November 1945, in the Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n city of Nuremberg.

Creation of the courts


On January 14, 1942, representatives from the nine occupying countries met in London to draft the Inter-Allied Resolution on German War Crimes. At the meetings in Tehran
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

 (1943), Yalta
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 (1945) and Potsdam
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

 (1945), the three major wartime powers, the United Kingdom, United States, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agreed on the format of punishment for those responsible for war crimes during World War II. France was also awarded a place on the tribunal.

The legal basis for the trial was established by the London Charter
London Charter of the International Military Tribunal
The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal was the decree issued on August 8, 1945, that set down the laws and procedures by which the Nuremberg trials were to be conducted.The charter stipulated that crimes of the European Axis Powers could be tried...

, issued on August 8, 1945, which restricted the trial to "punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries." Some 200 German war crimes defendants were tried at Nuremberg, and 1,600 others were tried under the traditional channels of military justice. The legal basis for the jurisdiction of the court was that defined by the Instrument of Surrender of Germany
German Instrument of Surrender, 1945
The German Instrument of Surrender was the legal instrument that established the armistice ending World War II in Europe. It was signed by representatives of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and the Allied Expeditionary Force together with the Soviet High Command, French representative signing as...

. Political authority for Germany had been transferred to the Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council
The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers , was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Europe...

 which, having sovereign power over Germany, could choose to punish violations of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 and the laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

. Because the court was limited to violations of the laws of war, it did not have jurisdiction over crimes that took place before the outbreak of war on September 3, 1939.

Location


Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 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
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 was chosen as the site for two specific reasons:
  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, and hosted annual propaganda rallies. Thus, it was considered a fitting place to mark its symbolic demise.


As a compromise with the Soviets, it was agreed that while the location of the trial would be Nuremberg, Berlin would be the official home of the Tribunal authorities.

It was also agreed that France would become the permanent seat of the IMT and that the first trial (several were planned) would take place in Nuremberg.

Participants


Each of the four countries provided one judge and an alternate, as well as a prosecutor.

Judges



Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Iona Nikitchenko
Iona Nikitchenko
Major-General Iona Timofeevich Nikitchenko was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union....

 (Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 main) Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 Alexander Volchkov
Alexander Volchkov
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fedorovich Volchkov was a judge during the Nuremberg trials after World War II. He was the alternate Soviet judge during the proceedings. Before taking up the practice of law he had worked in the film business....

 (Soviet alternate) Colonel Sir Geoffrey Lawrence
Geoffrey Lawrence, 1st Baron Oaksey
Geoffrey Lawrence, 3rd Baron Trevethin, 1st Baron Oaksey, DSO, TD, KC, PC was the main British Judge during the Nuremberg trials after World War II, and President of the Judicial group.-Early life:...

 (British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 main and president) Sir Norman Birkett (British alternate) Francis Biddle
Francis Biddle
Francis Beverley Biddle was an American lawyer and judge who was Attorney General of the United States during World War II and who served as the primary American judge during the postwar Nuremberg trials....

 (American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 main) John J. Parker
John J. Parker
John Johnston Parker was a U.S. judge who failed confirmation to the Supreme Court by one vote. He was also the U.S. alternate judge at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals and later served on the United Nations' International Law Commission.John J. Parker was born in Monroe, North Carolina,...

 (American alternate) Professor Henri Donnedieu de Vabres
Henri Donnedieu de Vabres
Henri Donnedieu de Vabres was a French jurist who took part to during the Nuremberg trials after World War II. He was the primary French judge during the proceedings, with Robert Falco as his alternate.Donnedieu was born in Nîmes...

 (French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 main) Robert Falco
Robert Falco
Robert Falco was a French judge during the Nuremberg trials after World War II. He was one of the main authors of the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal....

 (French alternate)

The chief prosecutors

Attorney General
Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known simply as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. Along with the subordinate Solicitor General for England and Wales, the Attorney General serves as the chief legal adviser of the Crown and its government in...

 Sir Hartley Shawcross
Hartley Shawcross, Baron Shawcross
Hartley William Shawcross, Baron Shawcross, GBE, PC, KC was a British barrister and politician and the lead British prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal.- Early life :...

 (United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

) Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson
Robert H. Jackson
Robert Houghwout Jackson was United States Attorney General and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court . He was also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials...

 (United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

) Lieutenant-General Roman Andreyevich Rudenko
Roman Rudenko
Roman Andreyevich Rudenko was a Soviet lawyer. He was the prosecutor of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1944-1953 and Chief prosecutor of the entire Soviet Union from 1953. He is also well known for acting as the Soviet Chief Prosecutor at the main trial of the major Nazi war...

 (Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

) François de Menthon
François de Menthon
François de Menthon was a French politician and professor of law.-Early and private life:Menthon was born in Montmirey-la-Ville in Jura. He was a son of an old noble family from Menthon-Saint-Bernard. He studied law in Dijon, where he joined Action catholique de la Jeunesse française . He also...

 (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

)

Assisting Jackson was the lawyer Telford Taylor
Telford Taylor
Telford Taylor was an American lawyer best known for his role in the Counsel for the Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, his opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, and his outspoken criticism of U.S...

, Thomas J. Dodd
Thomas J. Dodd
Thomas Joseph Dodd was a United States Senator and Representative from Connecticut, He was the first Senator censured by the US Senate since Joseph McCarthy in 1954, and was one of only six people censured by the Senate in the 20th century. He is the father of former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd...

 and a young US Army interpreter named Richard Sonnenfeldt
Richard Sonnenfeldt
Richard W. Sonnenfeldt - was a Jewish-American engineer and corporate executive most notable for being the U.S...

. Assisting Shawcross were Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
David Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir
David Patrick Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir GCVO, PC, KC, , known as Sir David Maxwell Fyfe from 1942 to 1954 and as The Viscount Kilmuir from 1954 to 1962, was a British Conservative politician, lawyer and judge who combined an industrious and precocious legal career with political ambitions...

 and Sir John Wheeler-Bennett
John Wheeler-Bennett
Sir John Wheeler Wheeler-Bennett , GCVO, CMG, OBE, FBA, FRSL was a conservative English historian of German and diplomatic history, and the official biographer of King George VI.-Early career:...

. Mervyn Griffith-Jones
Mervyn Griffith-Jones
John Mervyn Guthrie Griffith-Jones, CBE MC QC was a British judge and former barrister. He is most famous for leading the prosecution of Penguin Books in the obscenity trial in 1960 following the publication of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover...

, later to become famous as the chief prosecutor in the Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover is a novel by D. H. Lawrence, first published in 1928. The first edition was printed privately in Florence, Italy with assistance from Pino Orioli; it could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960...

obscenity trial, was also on Shawcross's team. Shawcross also recruited a young barrister, Anthony Marreco
Anthony Marreco
Anthony Freire Marreco was a British barrister. He was Junior Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials, and later a founding director of Amnesty International. He was also known for his romantic liaisons, marrying four times and having numerous other affairs.Marreco was the only son of Geoffrey Marreco...

, who was the son of a friend of his, to help the British team with the heavy workload. Assisting de Menthon was Auguste Champetier de Ribes
Auguste Champetier de Ribes
Auguste Champetier de Ribes was a French politician and jurist.A devout Catholic, he was an early follower of Albert de Mun and social Christianity. Wounded in the First World War, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies from the Basses-Pyrénées as a Christian democrat from 1924 to 1934...

.

The main trial


The International Military Tribunal was opened on October 18, 1945, in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg. The first session was presided over by the Soviet judge, Nikitchenko. The prosecution entered indictments against 24 major war criminals and six criminal organization
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

s – the leadership of the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 party, the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 (SS), Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 (SD), the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

, the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (SA) and the "General Staff and High Command," comprising several categories of senior military officers.

The indictments were for:
  1. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy
    Conspiracy (crime)
    In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

     for the accomplishment of a crime against peace
    Crime against peace
    A crime against peace, in international law, refers to "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing"...

  2. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression
    War of aggression
    A war of aggression, sometimes also war of conquest, is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The phrase is distinctly modern and diametrically opposed to the prior legal international standard of "might makes right", under...

     and other crimes against peace
  3. War crime
    War crime
    War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

    s
  4. Crimes against humanity
    Crime against humanity
    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...



The 24 accused were, with respect to each charge, either indicted
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 but acquitted (I), indicted and found guilty (G), or not charged (O), as listed below by defendant, charge, and eventual outcome:
Name
Count
Penalty Notes
1 2 3 4

Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

|I O G G Death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

Successor to Hess as Nazi Party Secretary. Sentenced to death in absentia. Remains found in Berlin in 1972 and dated to 1945.

Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

|I G G O 10 years Leader of the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

from 1943, succeeded Raeder. Initiator of the U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 campaign. Briefly became President of Germany
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 following Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's death. Convicted of carrying out unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

 in breach of the 1936 Second London Naval Treaty
Second London Naval Treaty
The Second London Naval Disarmament Conference opened in London, the United Kingdom, on 9 December 1935. It resulted in the Second London Naval Treaty which was signed on 25 March 1936.- Description :...

, but was not punished for that charge because the United States committed the same breach. Defense attorney: Otto Kranzbühler
Otto Kranzbühler
Flottenrichter Otto Kranzbühler was a German Naval Judge who is most notably known for representing defendant Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life and education:Otto Kranzbühler was born in Berlin, German Empire, on July 8, 1907...


Hans Frank
Hans Frank
Hans Michael Frank was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany...

I O G G Death Reich Law Leader 1933–1945 and Governor-General of the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 in occupied Poland 1939–1945. Expressed repentance.

Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German Nazi official serving as Minister of the Interior of the Third Reich. After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed...

I G G G Death Hitler's Minister of the Interior 1933–1943 and Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia 1943–1945. Authored the Nuremberg Race Laws.

Hans Fritzsche
Hans Fritzsche
Hans Georg Fritzsche was a senior German Nazi official, ending the war as Ministerialdirektor at the Propagandaministerium.- Career :...

I I I |O Acquitted  Popular radio commentator; head of the news division of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Tried in place of Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

.

Walther Funk
Walther Funk
Walther Funk was a prominent Nazi official. He served as Reich Minister for Economic Affairs in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1945, tried as a major war criminal by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.-Early life:...

I G G G Life Imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

Hitler's Minister of Economics; succeeded Schacht as head of the Reichsbank
Reichsbank
The Reichsbank was the central bank of Germany from 1876 until 1945. It was founded on 1 January 1876 . The Reichsbank was a privately owned central bank of Prussia, under close control by the Reich government. Its first president was Hermann von Dechend...

. Released because of ill health on 16 May 1957. Died 31 May 1960.

G G G G Death Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall literally in ; was the highest rank in the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander held by Adolf Hitler....

, Commander of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

1935–1945, Chief of the 4-Year Plan 1936–1945, and original head of the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 before turning it over to the SS in April 1934. Originally Hitler's designated successor and the second highest ranking Nazi official. By 1942, with his power waning, Göring fell out of favor and was replaced in the Nazi hierarchy by Himmler. Committed suicide the night before his execution.
G G I I Life Imprisonment Hitler's Deputy Führer until he flew to Scotland in 1941 in attempt to broker peace with Great Britain. After trial, committed to Spandau Prison; died in 1987.

G G G G Death Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

Generaloberst, Keitel's subordinate and Chief of the OKW's Operations Division 1938–1945.

I O G G Death Highest surviving SS-leader. Chief of RSHA
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

 1943–45, the Nazi organ made up of the intelligence service (SD), Secret State Police (Gestapo), Criminal Police (Kripo) and had overall command over the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

.

G G G G Death Head of Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 (OKW) 1938–1945.
I I I
Major Nazi industrialist. C.E.O. of Krupp A.G. 1912–45. Medically unfit for trial (died January 16, 1950). The prosecutors attempted to substitute his son Alfried
Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach , often referred to as Alfried Krupp, was a convicted war criminal, an industrialist, a competitor in Olympic yacht races and a member of the Krupp family, which has been prominent in Germany since the early 19th century.The family company, known...

 (who ran Krupp for his father during most of the war) in the indictment, but the judges rejected this as being too close to trial. Alfried was tried in a separate Nuremberg trial for his use of slave labor, thus escaping the worst notoriety and possibly death.

G G G G 15 years Minister of Foreign Affairs 1932–1938, succeeded by Ribbentrop. Later, Protector of Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 1939–43. Resigned in 1943 because of a dispute with Hitler. Released (ill health) 6 November 1954 after having a heart attack. Died 14 August 1956.

I I O O Acquitted Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 in 1932 and Vice-Chancellor under Hitler in 1933–1934. Ambassador to Austria 1934–38 and ambassador to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 1939–1944. Although acquitted at Nuremberg, von Papen was reclassified as a war criminal in 1947 by a German de-Nazification court, and sentenced to eight years' hard labour. He was acquitted following appeal after serving two years.

G G G |O Life Imprisonment Commander In Chief of the Kriegsmarine from 1928 until his retirement in 1943, succeeded by Dönitz. Released (ill health) 26 September 1955. Died 6 November 1960.

G G G G Death Ambassador-Plenipotentiary 1935–1936. Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1936–1938. Nazi Minister of Foreign Affairs 1938–1945,

I I G G Death Gauleiter of Thuringia 1927–1945. Plenipotentiary of the Nazi slave labor program 1942–1945. Defense attorney: Robert Servatius
Robert Servatius
Robert Servatius was a German lawyer, prominent in his profession in Cologne.-Life:Servatius was born in Cologne on 31 October 1894. In the First World War he served as an artillery officer, and during the Second World War returned to military service, rising to the rank of Major...


I I O O Acquitted Prominent banker and economist. Pre-war president of the Reichsbank 1923–1930 & 1933–1938 and Economics Minister 1934–1937. Admitted to violating the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

.

I O O G 20 years Head of the Hitlerjugend
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 from 1933 to 1940, Gauleiter of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 1940–1945. Expressed repentance.

I G G G Death Instrumental in the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

and briefly Austrian Chancellor 1938. Deputy to Frank in Poland 1939–1940. Later, Reich Commissioner of the occupied Netherlands 1940–1945. Expressed repentance.

I I G G 20 Years Hitler's favorite architect, close friend, and Minister of Armaments from 1942 until the end of the war. In this capacity, he was ultimately responsible for the use of slave laborers from the occupied territories in armaments production. Expressed repentance.

I O O G Death Gauleiter of Franconia 1922–1940. Publisher of the weekly newspaper, Der Stürmer
Der Stürmer
Der Stürmer was a weekly tabloid-format Nazi newspaper published by Julius Streicher from 1923 to the end of World War II in 1945, with brief suspensions in publication due to legal difficulties. It was a significant part of the Nazi propaganda machinery and was vehemently anti-Semitic...

.


The accusers were successful in unveiling the background of developments that had led to the outbreak of World War II, which cost at least 40 million lives in Europe alone, as well as the extent of the atrocities committed in the name of the Hitler regime. Twelve of the accused were sentenced to death, seven received prison sentences, and three were acquitted.

Throughout the trials, specifically between January and July 1946, the defendants and a number of witnesses were interviewed by American psychiatrist Leon Goldensohn
Leon Goldensohn
Leon N. Goldensohn , was an American psychiatrist who monitored the mental health of the twenty-one Nazi defendants awaiting trial at Nuremberg in 1946....

. His notes detailing the demeanor and comments of the defendants survive; they were edited into book form and published in 2004.
The death sentences were carried out 16 October 1946 by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 using the standard drop method instead of long drop. The U.S. army denied claims that the drop length was too short which caused the condemned to die slowly from strangulation instead of quickly from a broken neck.

The executioner was John C. Woods
John C. Woods
John Chris Woods was an American Master Sergeant and the hangman for the Third United States Army at the Nuremberg Trials.-The executions in Nuremberg Prison:...

. Although the rumor has long persisted that the bodies were taken to Dachau and burned there, they were actually incinerated in a crematorium in Munich, and the ashes scattered over the river Isar
Isar
The Isar is a river in Tyrol, Austria and Bavaria, Germany. Its source is in the Karwendel range of the Alps in Tyrol; it enters Germany near Mittenwald, and flows through Bad Tölz, Munich, and Landshut before reaching the Danube near Deggendorf. At 295 km in length, it is the fourth largest river...

. The French judges suggested the use of a firing squad for the military condemned, as is standard for military courts-martial, but this was opposed by Biddle and the Soviet judges. These argued that the military officers had violated their military ethos and were not worthy of the firing squad, which was considered to be more dignified. The prisoners sentenced to incarceration were transferred to Spandau Prison
Spandau Prison
Spandau Prison was a prison situated in the borough of Spandau in western Berlin, constructed in 1876 and demolished in 1987 after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess, to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. The prison was near, though not part of, the Renaissance-era Spandau Citadel...

 in 1947.

Of the 12 defendants sentenced to death by hanging, two were not hanged: Hermann Göring committed suicide the night before the execution and Martin Bormann was not present when convicted (he had, unbeknownst to the Allies, committed suicide in Berlin in 1945). The remaining 10 defendants sentenced to death were hanged.

The definition of what constitutes a war crime is described by the Nuremberg Principles
Nuremberg Principles
The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.- Principle...

, a set of guidelines document which was created as a result of the trial. The medical experiments conducted by German doctors and prosecuted in the so-called Doctors' Trial
Doctors' Trial
The Doctors' Trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II. These trials were held before U.S...

 led to the creation of the Nuremberg Code
Nuremberg Code
The Nuremberg Code is a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation set as a result of the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials at the end of the Second World War.-Background:...

 to control future trials involving human subjects, a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation.

Of the organizations the following were found not to be criminal:
  • Reichsregierung
  • "The General Staff and High Command" was found not to comprise a group or organization as defined by Article 9 of the London Charter
  • Sturmabteilung
    Sturmabteilung
    The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...


Subsidiary and related trials


The American authorities conducted subsequent Nuremberg Trials
Subsequent Nuremberg Trials
The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials were a series of twelve U.S...

 in their occupied zone.

Other trials conducted after the Nuremberg Trials include the following:
  • Dachau Trials
  • Auschwitz Trial
    Auschwitz trial
    The Auschwitz trial began on November 24, 1947, in Kraków, when Polish authorities tried 41 former staff of the Auschwitz concentration camps. The trials ended on December 22, 1947....

  • Belsen Trial
    Belsen Trial
    The Belsen Trial was one of several trials that the Allied occupation forces conducted against former officials and functionaries of Nazi Germany after the end of World War II...

  • Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials
    Frankfurt Auschwitz trials
    The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, known in German as der Auschwitz-Prozess or der zweite Auschwitz-Prozess, was a series of trials running from December 20, 1963 to August 10, 1965, charging 22 defendants under German penal law for their roles in the Holocaust as mid- to lower-level officials in the...

  • Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials
    Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials
    The Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials were a set of two consecutive trials of the German World War II criminals, carried over by the Dachau International Military Tribunal. Between March 29 and May 13, 1946, and then from August 6 to August 21, 1947, a total of 69 former Nazi officials were tried...

  • Ravensbrück Trial
    Ravensbrück Trial
    The Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials were a series of seven trials for war crimes against camp officials from the Ravensbrück concentration camp that the British authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Hamburg after the end of World War II. These trials were heard before a military...


American role in the main trial



While Sir Geoffrey Lawrence of Britain was the judge chosen as president of the court, the most prominent of the judges at trial arguably was his American counterpart, Francis Biddle Prior to the trial, Biddle had been Attorney General of the United States but had been asked to resign by Truman earlier in 1945.

Some accounts argue that Truman had appointed Biddle as the main American judge for the trial as an apology for asking for his resignation. Ironically, Biddle was known during his time as Attorney General for opposing the idea of prosecuting Nazi leaders for crimes committed before the beginning of the war, even sending out a memorandum on January 5, 1945 on the subject. The note also expressed Biddle’s opinion that instead of proceeding with the original plan for prosecuting entire organizations, there should simply be more trials that would prosecute specific offenders.

Biddle soon changed his mind, as he approved a modified version of the plan on January 21, 1945, likely due to time constraints, since the trial would be one of the main issues discussed at Yalta At trial, the Nuremberg tribunal ruled that any member of an organization convicted of war crimes, such as the SS or Gestapo, who had joined after 1939 would be considered a war criminal Biddle managed to convince the other judges to make an exemption for any member who was drafted or had no knowledge of the crimes being committed by these organizations

Justice Robert Jackson played an important role in not only the trial itself, but also in the creation of the International Military Tribunal, as he led the American delegation to London that, in the summer of 1945, argued in favour of prosecuting the Nazi leadership as a criminal conspiracy According to Airey Neave, Jackson was also the one behind the prosecution’s decision to include membership in any of the six criminal organizations in the indictments at the trial, though the IMT rejected this on the grounds that it was wholly without precedent in either international law or the domestic laws of any of the Allies Jackson also attempted to have Alfried Krupp be tried in place of his father, Gustav, and even suggested that Alfried volunteer to be tried in his father’s place Both proposals were rejected by the IMT, particularly by Sir Lawrence and Biddle, and some sources indicate that this resulted in Jackson being viewed unfavourably by the latter.

Legacy


The creation of the IMT was followed by trials of lesser Nazi officials and the trials of Nazi doctors, who performed experiments on people in prison camps. It served as the model for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East
International Military Tribunal for the Far East
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East , also known as the Tokyo Trials, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, or simply the Tribunal, was convened on April 29, 1946, to try the leaders of the Empire of Japan for three types of crimes: "Class A" crimes were reserved for those who...

 which tried Japanese officials for crimes against peace and against humanity. It also served as the model for the Eichmann trial and for present-day courts at The Hague, for trying crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s, and at Arusha, for trying the people responsible for the genocide in Rwanda.

The Nuremberg trials had a great influence on the development of international criminal law
International criminal law
International criminal law is a body of international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. Principally, it deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes against...

. The Conclusions of the Nuremberg trials served as models for:
  • The Genocide Convention, 1948.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

    , 1948.
  • The Nuremberg Principles
    Nuremberg Principles
    The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.- Principle...

    , 1950.
  • The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 1968.
  • The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, 1949; its supplementary protocols, 1977.


The International Law Commission
International Law Commission
The International Law Commission was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 for the "promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification."It holds an annual session at the United Nations Office at Geneva....

, acting on the request of the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

, produced in 1950 the report Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal and in the Judgement of the Tribunal (Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1950, vol. II). See Nuremberg Principles
Nuremberg Principles
The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi party members following World War II.- Principle...

.

The influence of the tribunal can also be seen in the proposals for a permanent international criminal court, and the drafting of international criminal codes, later prepared by the International Law Commission.

Establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court


The Nuremberg trials initiated a movement for the prompt establishment of a permanent international criminal court, eventually leading over fifty years later to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

.

Criticism


Critics of the Nuremberg trials argued that the charges against the defendants were only defined as "crimes" after they were committed and that therefore the trial was invalid as a form of "victors' justice". As Biddiss noted "...the Nuremberg Trial continues to haunt us... It is a question also of the weaknesses and strengths of the proceedings themselves. The undoubted flaws rightly continue to trouble the thoughtful."

Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Harlan Fiske Stone
Harlan Fiske Stone
Harlan Fiske Stone was an American lawyer and jurist. A native of New Hampshire, he served as the dean of Columbia Law School, his alma mater, in the early 20th century. As a member of the Republican Party, he was appointed as the 52nd Attorney General of the United States before becoming an...

 called the Nuremberg trials a fraud. "(Chief U.S. prosecutor) Jackson is away conducting his high-grade lynching party in Nuremberg," he wrote. "I don't mind what he does to the Nazis, but I hate to see the pretense that he is running a court and proceeding according to common law. This is a little too sanctimonious a fraud to meet my old-fashioned ideas."

Jackson, in a letter discussing the weaknesses of the trial, in October 1945 told U.S. President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 that the Allies themselves "have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for. The French are so violating the Geneva Convention in the treatment of prisoners of war that our command is taking back prisoners sent to them. We are prosecuting plunder and our Allies are practicing it. We say aggressive war is a crime and one of our allies asserts sovereignty over the Baltic States based on no title except conquest."

Associate Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

 charged that the Allies were guilty of "substituting power for principle" at Nuremberg. "I thought at the time and still think that the Nuremberg trials were unprincipled," he wrote. "Law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time."

U.S. Deputy Chief Counsel Abraham Pomerantz
Abraham Pomerantz
Abraham L. Pomerantz was a 1924 graduate of Brooklyn Law School and a founding partner of the law firm of Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP. He is considered by many to have been the "dean of the class action bar". Pomerantz pioneered suits by small shareholders against officials of...

 resigned in protest at the low caliber of the judges assigned to try the industrial war criminals such as those at I.G. Farben.

The validity of the court has been questioned for a variety of reasons:
  • The defendants were not allowed to appeal or affect the selection of judges. A. L. Goodhart, Professor at Oxford, opposed the view that, because the judges were appointed by the victors, the Tribunal was not impartial and could not be regarded as a court in the true sense. He wrote:

Attractive as this argument may sound in theory, it ignores the fact that it runs counter to the administration of law in every country. If it were true then no spy could be given a legal trial, because his case is always heard by judges representing the enemy country. Yet no one has ever argued that in such cases it was necessary to call on neutral judges. The prisoner has the right to demand that his judges shall be fair, but not that they shall be neutral. As Lord Writ has pointed out, the same principle is applicable to ordinary criminal law because 'a burglar cannot complain that he is being tried by a jury of honest citizens.'
  • One of the charges, brought against Keitel, Jodl, and Ribbentrop included conspiracy to commit aggression against Poland in 1939. The Secret Protocols of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 23 August 1939, proposed the partition of Poland between the Germans and the Soviets (which was subsequently executed in September 1939); however, Soviet leaders were not tried for being part of the same conspiracy. Instead, the Tribunal falsely proclaimed the Secret Protocols of the Non-Aggression Pact to be a forgery. Moreover, Allied Powers Britain and Soviet Union were not tried for preparing and conducting the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
    Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
    The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the Allied invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during World War II, by British, Commonwealth, and Soviet armed forces. The invasion from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was codenamed Operation Countenance...

     and the Winter War
    Winter War
    The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

    , respectively.
  • In 1915, the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly charging, for the first time, another government (the Sublime Porte) of committing "a crime against humanity
    Crime against humanity
    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

    ". However it was not until the phrase was further developed in the London Charter that it had a specific meaning. As the London Charter definition of what constituted a crime against humanity was unknown when many of the crimes were committed, it could be argued to be a retrospective law, in violation of the principles of prohibition of ex post facto law
    Ex post facto law
    An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...

    s and the general principle of penal law nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali
    Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali
    Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali is a basic maxim in continental European legal thinking...

    .
  • The court agreed to relieve the Soviet leadership from attending these trials as war criminals in order to hide their crimes against war civilians, war crimes that were committed by their army that included "carving up Poland in 1939 and attacking Finland three months later." This "exclusion request" was initiated by the Soviets and subsequently approved by the court's administration.
  • The trials were conducted under their own rules of evidence
    Rules of evidence
    Rules of evidence govern whether, when, how, and for what purpose, proof of a legal case may be placed before a trier of fact for consideration....

    ; the tu quoque
    Tu quoque
    Tu quoque , or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a kind of logical fallacy. It is a Latin term for "you, too" or "you, also". A tu quoque argument attempts to discredit the opponent's position by asserting his failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a...

    defense was removed; and some claim the entire spirit of the assembly was "victor's justice
    Victor's justice
    The label "victor's justice" is a situation in which an entity partakes in carrying out "justice" on its own basis of applying different rules to judge what is right or wrong for their own forces and for those of the enemy. Advocates generally charge that the difference in rules amounts to...

    ". The Charter of the International Military Tribunal permitted the use of normally inadmissible "evidence". Article 19 specified that "The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence... and shall admit any evidence which it deems to have probative value". Article 21 of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT) Charter stipulated:

The Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice
Judicial notice
Judicial notice is a rule in the law of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it cannot be refuted. This is done upon the request of the party seeking to have the fact at issue determined by the court...

 thereof. It shall also take judicial notice of official governmental documents and reports of the United [Allied] Nations, including acts and documents of the committees set up in the various allied countries for the investigation of war crimes, and the records and findings of military and other Tribunals of any of the United [Allied] Nations.
  • The chief Soviet prosecutor submitted false documentation in an attempt to indict defendants for the murder of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn forest near Smolensk. However, the other Allied prosecutors refused to support the indictment and German lawyers promised to mount an embarrassing defense. No one was charged or found guilty at Nuremberg for the Katyn Forest massacre
    Katyn massacre
    The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

    . In 1990, the Soviet government acknowledged that the Katyn massacre was carried out, not by the Germans, but by the Soviet secret police.

  • Freda Utley
    Freda Utley
    Winifred Utley, commonly known as Freda Utley, was an English scholar, political activist and best-selling author. After visiting the Soviet Union in 1927 as a trade union activist, she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1928...

    , in her 1949 book "The High Cost of Vengeance"http://www.fredautley.com/nuremberg.htm charged the court with amongst other things double standards. She pointed to the Allied use of civilian forced labor
    Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union
    Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union was considered by the Soviet Union to be part of German war reparations for the damage inflicted by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union during World War II. German civilians in Eastern Europe were deported to the USSR after World War II as forced laborers...

    , and deliberate starvation of civilians in the occupied territories. She also noted that General Rudenko, the chief Soviet prosecutor, after the trials became commandant of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp
    Sachsenhausen concentration camp
    Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

    . (After the fall of East Germany the bodies of 12,500 Soviet era victims were uncovered at the camp, mainly "children, adolescents and elderly people.")

  • Luise, the wife of Alfred Jodl
    Alfred Jodl
    Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel...

    , attached herself to her husband's defence team. Subsequently interviewed by Gitta Sereny
    Gitta Sereny
    Gitta Sereny is an Austrian-born biographer, historian and investigative journalist whose writing focuses mainly on the Holocaust and child abuse. She is the stepdaughter of the economist Ludwig von Mises....

    , researching her biography of Albert Speer
    Albert Speer
    Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

    , Luise alleged that in many instances the Allied prosecution made charges against Jodl based on documents that they refused to share with the defense. Jodl nevertheless proved some of the charges made against him were untrue, such as the charge that he helped Hitler gain control of Germany in 1933. He was in one instance aided by a GI
    GI (term)
    G.I. is a noun used to describe members of the United States armed forces or items of their equipment. The term is now used as an initialism of "Government Issue" , but originally referred to galvanized iron....

     clerk who chose to give Luise a document showing that the execution of a group of British commandos in Norway
    Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

     had been legitimate. The GI warned Luise that if she didn't copy it immediately she would never see it again; "... it was being 'filed'."

  • The main Soviet judge, Iona Nikitchenko
    Iona Nikitchenko
    Major-General Iona Timofeevich Nikitchenko was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union....

    , presided over some of the most notorious of Joseph Stalin
    Joseph Stalin
    Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

    's show trial
    Show trial
    The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

    s during the Great Purge
    Great Purge
    The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

    s of 1936 to 1938, where he among other things sentenced Kamenev
    Lev Kamenev
    Lev Borisovich Kamenev , born Rozenfeld , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician. He was briefly head of state of the new republic in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Lenin's life....

     and Zinoviev
    Grigory Zinoviev
    Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

    . According to the declassified Soviet archives, 681,692 people arrested for "counter-revolutionary and state crimes" were shot in 1937 and 1938 alone–an average of 1,000 executions a day.


Moreover, the Tribunal itself strongly disputed that the London Charter
London Charter of the International Military Tribunal
The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal was the decree issued on August 8, 1945, that set down the laws and procedures by which the Nuremberg trials were to be conducted.The charter stipulated that crimes of the European Axis Powers could be tried...

 was ex post facto law, pointing to existing international agreements signed by Germany that made aggressive war and certain wartime actions unlawful, such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact
Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg–Briand Pact was an agreement signed on August 27, 1928, by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Weimar Germany and a number of other countries.The pact renounced war , prohibiting the use of war...

, the Covenant of the League of Nations
Covenant of the League of Nations
-Creation:Early drafts for a possible League of Nations began even before the end of the First World War. A London-based study group led by James Bryce and G. Lowes Dickinson made proposals adopted by the British League of Nations Society, founded in 1915. Another group in the United States—which...

, and the Hague Conventions
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

.

Additionally, many commentators felt the Nuremberg Trials represented a step forward in extending fairness to the vanquished by requiring that actual criminal misdeeds be proved before punishment could ensue; including some of the defendants and their legal team:
Perhaps the most telling responses to the critics of Jackson and Nuremberg were those of the defendants at trial. Hans Frank, the defendant who had served as the Nazi Governor General of occupied Poland, stated, "I regard this trial as a God-willed court to examine and put an end to the terrible era of suffering under Adolf Hitler." With the same theme, but a different emphasis, defendant Albert Speer, Hitler's war production minister, said, "This trial is necessary. There is a shared responsibility for such horrible crimes even in an authoritarian state." Dr. Theodore Klefish, a member of the German defense team, wrote: "It is obvious that the trial and judgment of such proceedings require of the tribunal the utmost impartiality, loyalty and sense of justice. The Nuremberg tribunal has met all these requirements with consideration and dignity. Nobody dares to doubt that it was guided by the search for truth and justice from the first to the last day of this tremendous trial."


In his opening statements to the trial, after the indictments had been read and the defendants had enterered pleas of not guilty to the charges, Mr Justice Jackson explained some of the difficulties faced by the prosecution:


In justice to the nations and the men associated in this prosecution, I must remind you of certain difficulties which may leave their mark on this case. Never before in legal history has an effort been made to bring within the scope of a single litigation the developments of a decade, covering a whole continent, and involving a score of nations, countless individuals, and innumerable events. Despite the magnitude of the task, the world has demanded immediate action. This demand has had to be met, though perhaps at the cost of finished craftmanship. In my country, established courts, following familiar procedures, applying well-thumbed precedents, and dealing with the legal consequences of local and limited events, seldom commence a trial within a year of the event in litigation. Yet less than eight months ago to-day the courtroom in which you sit was an enemy fortress in the hands of German S.S. troops. Less than eight months ago nearly all our witnesses and documents were in enemy hands.


He also acknowledged that the trial would not be perfect, as well as asserting the legal precedent being set:


I should be the last to deny that the case may well suffer from incomplete researches, and quite likely will not be the example of professional work which any of the prosecuting nations would normally wish to sponsor. It is, however, a completely adequate case to the judgment we shall ask you to render, and its full development we shall be obliged to leave to historians... At the very outset, let us dispose of the contention that to put these men to trial is to do them an injustice, entitling them to some special consideration. These defendants may be hard pressed but they are not ill used... If these men are the first war leaders of a defeated nation to be prosecuted in the name of the law, they are also the first to be given the chance to plead for their lives in the name of the law.

Legitimacy


One criticism that was made of the IMT was that some treaties were not binding on the Axis powers because they were not signatories. This was addressed in the judgment relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity, which contains an expansion of customary law: "the Convention Hague 1907 expressly stated that it was an attempt 'to revise the general laws and customs of war,' which it thus recognised to be then existing, but by 1939 these rules laid down in the Convention were recognised by all civilised nations, and were regarded as being declaratory of the laws and customs of war which are referred to in Article 6 (b) of the [London] Charter." The implication under international law is that if enough countries have signed up to a treaty, and that treaty has been in effect for a reasonable period of time, then it can be interpreted as binding on all nations, not just those who signed the original treaty. This is a highly controversial aspect of international law, one that is still actively debated in international legal journals.

Introduction of Extempore Simultaneous Interpretation


The Nuremberg Trials employed four official languages: English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

. In order to address the complex linguistic issues that clouded over the proceedings, interpretation and translation departments had to be established. However, it was feared that consecutive interpretation would slow down the proceedings significantly. What is therefore unique in both the Nuremberg tribunals and history of the interpretation profession was the introduction of an entirely new technique, extempore simultaneous interpretation. This technique of interpretation requires the interpreter to listen to a speaker in a source (or passive) language and orally translate that speech into another language in real time, that is, simultaneously, through headsets and microphones. Interpreters were split into four sections, one for each official language, with three interpreters per section working from the other three languages into the fourth (their mother tongue). For instance, the English booth consisted of three interpreters, one working from German into English, one working from French, and one from Russian, etc. Defendants who did not speak any of the four official languages were provided with consecutive court interpreters. Some of the languages heard over the course of the proceedings included Yiddish, Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

, Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

, Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

, and Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

.

The equipment used to establish this system was provided by IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

, and included an elaborate setup of cables which were hooked up to headsets and single earphones directly from the four interpreting booths (often referred to as "the aquarium"). Four channels existed for each working language, as well as a root channel for the proceedings without interpretation. Switching of channels was controlled by a setup at each table in which the listener merely had to turn a dial in order to switch between languages. People tripping over the floor-laid cables often led to the headsets getting disconnected, with several hours at a time sometimes being taken in order to repair the problem and continue on with the trials.

Interpreters were recruited and examined by the respective countries in which the official languages were spoken: United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, as well as in special cases Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Many were former translators, army personnel, and linguists, some were experienced consecutive interpreters, others were ordinary individuals and even recent secondary school-graduates who led international lives in multilingual environments. It was, and still is believed, that the qualities that made the best interpreters were not just a perfect understanding of two or more languages, but more importantly a broad sense of culture, encyclopædic knowledge, inquisitiveness, as well as a naturally calm disposition.

With the simultaneous technique being extremely new, interpreters practically trained themselves, but many could not handle the pressure or the psychological strain. Many often had to be replaced, many returned to the translation department, and many left. Serious doubts were given as to whether interpretation provided a fair trial for the defendants, particularly because of fears of mistranslation and errors made on transcripts. The translation department had to also deal with the overwhelming problem of being understaffed and overburdened with an influx of documents that could not be kept up with. More often than not, interpreters were stuck in a session without having proper documents in front of them and were relied upon to do sight translation or double translation of texts, causing further problems and extensive criticism. Other problems that arose included complaints from lawyers and other legal professionals with regard to questioning
Questioning
Questioning is a major form of human thought and interpersonal communication. The thinker employs a series of questions to explore an issue, an idea or something intriguing...

 and cross-examination
Cross-examination
In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination and may be followed by a redirect .- Variations by Jurisdiction :In...

. Legal professionals were most often appalled at the slower speed at which they had to conduct their task because of the extended time required for interpreters to do an interpretation properly. Also, a number of interpreters were noted for protesting the idea of using vulgar language reflected in the proceeds, especially if it referenced Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 or the conditions of the concentration camps. Bilingual/trilingual members who attended the trials picked up quickly on this aspect of character and were equally quick to file complaints.

Yet, despite the extensive trial and error, without the interpretation system the trials would not have been possible and in turn revolutionized the way multilingual issues were addressed in tribunals and conferences. A number of the interpreters following the trials were immediately recruited into the newly formed United Nations, while others returned to their ordinary lives, pursued other careers, or worked freelance. Outside the boundaries of the trials, many interpreters continued their positions on weekends interpreting for dinners, private meetings between judges, and excursions between delegates. Others worked as investigators or editors, or aided the translation department when they could, often using it as an opportunity to sharpen their skills and to correct poor interpretations on transcripts before they were available for public record.

For further reference, a book titled The Origins of Simultaneous Interpretation: The Nuremberg Trial, written by interpreter Francesca Gaiba, was published by the University of Ottawa Press
University of Ottawa Press
The University of Ottawa Press is a bilingual university press located in Ottawa, Ontario. It publishes approximately 25-30 books annually in both English and French. The UOP is the only fully bilingual university publishing house in Canada...

 in 1998.

Today, all major international organizations, as well as any conference or government that uses more than one official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

, uses extempore simultaneous interpretation. Notable bodies include the Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 with two official languages, the Parliament of South Africa with eleven official languages, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 with twenty-three official languages, and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 with six official working languages.

See also


  • Command responsibility
    Command responsibility
    Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes....

  • Eichmann in Jerusalem
    Eichmann in Jerusalem
    Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is a book written by political theorist Hannah Arendt, originally published in 1963...

  • Einsatzgruppen Trial
    Einsatzgruppen Trial
    The Einsatzgruppen Trial was the ninth of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S...

  • International Military Tribunal for the Far East
    International Military Tribunal for the Far East
    The International Military Tribunal for the Far East , also known as the Tokyo Trials, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, or simply the Tribunal, was convened on April 29, 1946, to try the leaders of the Empire of Japan for three types of crimes: "Class A" crimes were reserved for those who...

  • Judgment at Nuremberg
    Judgment at Nuremberg
    Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust and the Post-World War II Nuremberg Trials. It was written by Abby Mann, directed by Stanley Kramer, and starred Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, Marlene Dietrich, Judy...

    (1961 film)
  • List of Axis personnel indicted for war crimes
  • Nuremberg Diary
    Nuremberg Diary
    Nuremberg Diary is Gustave Gilbert's account of and interviews he conducted during the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi leaders, including Hermann Göring, involved in World War II and the Holocaust. Gilbert served as a prison psychologist in Nuremberg, where he had close contact with those on trial...

    , an account of observations and discussions with the defendants by an American psychiatrist
  • Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
    Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
    At the end of World War II, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was renamed the Max Planck Society, and the institutes associated with the Kaiser Wilhelm Society were renamed "Max Planck" institutes. The records that were archived under the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society and its institutes were placed in the...

  • Superior Orders
    Superior Orders
    Superior orders is a plea in a court of law that a soldier not be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior office...

  • Tanya Savicheva
    Tanya Savicheva
    Tatiana Nikolayevna Savicheva , commonly referred to as Tanya Savicheva was a Soviet child diarist who endured the Siege of Leningrad during World War II.- Early life :...

  • Transitional justice
    Transitional justice
    Transitional justice generally refers to a range of approaches that states may use to address past human rights violations and includes both judicial and non-judicial approaches. They include series of actions or policies and their resulting institutions, which may be enacted at a point of...


External links