The Nuremberg Trials

What were the Nuremberg trials?

What was the cause of the Nuremberg trials?



Shortly after Hitler came to power as chancellor in Germany, 1933. He and his Nazi government started gradually implementing laws called the “Nuremberg laws” against German-Jews which were considered law for the protection of German blood and German honour because Hitler believed they would contaminate the blood of their “superior Aryan race”, these laws confiscated Jews of most of their rights. The Nazi’s first law that was announced on the September 15, 1935 at their annual party rally, was the revoking of their Reich citizenship and prohibiting Jews from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of "German or related blood”. The Nuremberg law described a ‘Jew’ as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents, some of those ‘Jews’ had actually converted to other religions such as roman catholic, some even nuns and priests but were still considered Jewish because of their grandparents.

On the 18th of October, a law that affected all of Germany was put into place. That was when all prospective marriage partners had to obtain from public health authorities, a certificate of fitness to marry. These certificates are refused to people with to anyone suffering from hereditary diseases or contagious illnesses.

Another law was passed on the 14th November, 1935, this law also affected all of Germany. It extended the probation of marriage or sexual relations to all interracial relationships, so that they could not produce “racially suspect” off springs which included gypsies and blacks.

The laws continued to get stricter and stricter but mostly on the Jewish community, eventually they were pushed into corners and collected like cattle to be then taken to concentration camps where they were all made to wear stripped garments and all women and men had their heads were shaved. They were then killed off after suffering through starvation, torture and brutal manual labor during the holocaust. They were all made to wear stripped garments and all women and men had their heads were shaved. They were either gassed in gas chambers with Zyklon B gas or just shot. After being murdered they were either cremated in ovens or dumped in mass burial pits in the camps. It was genocide and it had taken the lives of 6 million innocent Jews.

When and where were the trials formed and what had prevented the commencement?

In December 1942, the allied leaders of Great Britain, the United stated and the Soviet Union finally issued the “the first joint declaration officially noting the mass murder of European Jewry and resolving to prosecute those responsible for violence against civilian populations,” which was when the Nuremberg trials first began to form. Joseph Stalin the soviet leader at the time declared the mass murder of 50 000 - 100 000 German staff officers. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill thought to have a summary execution of the higher Nazi influences but American leaders convinced them that a criminal trial would be more effective. It took a while before the actual trials commenced because there was no precedent for an international trial on war crimes. They finally established the laws and procedures on the 8th of august 1945. The four laws were of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

The city of Nuremberg in Bavaria, was where these trials took place as it was known as the ‘Palace of Justice’ and it had relatively small damage to the city after the war and it also held a large prison area. Nuremberg was also the place where Nazis frequently held their annual propaganda rallies so it was marked as the symbolic end of Hitler’s government.

What was the major war criminals trial?

Although there were 13 trials, the most well-known trial was the “trial of major war criminals’, this trial began on the 20th of November 1945 and ended on the 1st of October 1946. The decisions and sentenced were made by a tribunal instead of a single judge and a jury. Each of the four allies presented two judges. A main judge and an alternate. This trial indicted 24 of the most influential individuals and 6 Nazi organizations including the Gestapo. One was too ill to attend the trials and a second man killed himself before the trials began. Hitler and two of his top associates Heirich Himmler and joseph gobbles all committed suicide before they could be sent to the trials in 1945. In the end of this trial, they tribunal found 21 of the 24 guilty and sentenced to death or imprisonment.

Who was charged at the trials?

  • Martin Bormann who was the deputy Führer.

  • Karl Donitz, who was the supreme commander of the navy in 1943 and the German chancellor.

  • Hans frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland.

  • Wilhelm Frick, the foreign minister of the interior.

  • Hans Fritzsche, the head of the radio division of the propaganda ministry.

  • Walther Funk, who was the president of the Reichsbank in 1939.

  • Hermann Goring, who was Reich Marshal.

  • Rudolf Hess was the deputy to the Führer.

  • Alfred Jodl, the chief of the operations staff of the armed forces.

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was the chief of the security police, SD and the RSHA.

  • Wilhelm Keitel, was the chief of the high command of the armed forces.

  • Konstantin von Neurath, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.

  • Franz von Papen, who was the Chancellor in 1932.

  • Erich Raeder, the Supreme Commander of the Navy from 1928 to 1943

  • Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Reich Foreign Minister.

  • Alfred Rosenberg, who was the Party Philosopher and Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Area.

  • Fritz Sauckel, the Plenipotentiary for Labour Allocation.

  • Hjalmar Schacht, the Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank from 1933 to 1939.

  • Baldur von Schirach, who was the Führer of the Hitler Youth.

  • Arthur Seyss-Inquart, who was the Minister of the Interior and Reich Gouvernor of Austria.

  • Albert Speer, the Minister of Armaments and War Production.

  • Julius Streicher, who was the Founder of Der Sturmer.

What were they accused of and what were they sentenced to?

  • Martin Bormann was found guilty of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, he was sentenced to death. He was missing at time of trial. Later it was discovered Bormann had died in 1945.

  • Karl Dönitz, was found guilty of Crimes against Peace War Crimes and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He served his time and died in 1980.

  • Hans Frank was accused of War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, he was sentenced to death and was hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Wilhelm Frick, was found guilty of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and was hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Hans Fritzsche, was found not guilty and was acquitted. In 1947 he was sentenced to 9 years in work camp and was released after 3 years, he later died in 1953.

  • Walther Funk, was found guilty of Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He had an early release in 1957 and died in 1960

  • Hermann Göring, was accused of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and Committed suicide on October 15, 1946 three hours before he was to be executed.

  • Rudolf Hess, was guilty of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War and Crimes against Peace. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, he died in prison on August 17, 1987.

  • Alfred Jodl, was accused of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and was hanged on October 16, 1946. In 1953, a German appeals court posthumously found Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.

  • Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was guilty of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and was Hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Wilhelm Keitel, was accused of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and had Requested to be shot as a soldier. Request denied. Hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Konstantin von Neurath, he was guilty of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He weas sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and he had an early release in 1954, he later died in 1956.

  • Franz von Papen, was found not guilty and was acquitted In 1949, a German court sentenced Papen to 8 years in work camp, his time was considered already served, he died in 1969.

  • Erich Raeder, was guilty as Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and had an early release in 1955, he died in 1960.

  • Joachim von Ribbentrop, was accused of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Alfred Rosenberg, was accused of Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity and was Hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Fritz Sauckel, was guilty of Crimes Against Peace and Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and was Hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Hjalmar Schacht was found not guilty and was acquitted. Denazification court sentenced Schacht to 8 years in a work camp he was released in 1948. He died in 1970.

  • Baldur von Schirach, was accused of Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He served his time and died in 1974.

  • Arthur Seyss-Inquart, was found guilty of Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and was hanged on October 16, 1946.

  • Albert Speer, was accused of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, he served his time and died in 1981.

  • Julius Streicher, was guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and was sentenced to death. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.

What evidence was used to convict the leaders?

The American allies used the actual records left by the war criminals in Nazi Germany as their most prominent evidence. They wanted to convict them for their own words and actions. Even though the Nazi leaders destroyed many of the files and some were also destroyed when the allied bombings hit German cities, the allied armies were able to recover millions of documents during the conquests of Germany in 1945. Allied prosecutors submitted 3000 tons of documents for the trials.

Who were the chief prosecutors and judges at the trials?

Chief prosecutors:

  • Attorney General Sir Hartley Shawcross from the United Kingdom.
  • Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson from the United States.
  • Lieutenant-General Roman Andreyevich Rudenko from the Soviet Union.
  • François de Menthon, later replaced by Auguste Champetier de Ribes from France.

Judges:

  • Major General Iona Nikitchenko (Soviet main)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Volchkov (Soviet alternate)
  • Colonel Sir Geoffrey Lawrence (British main), President of the Tribunal
  • Sir Norman Birkett (British alternate)
  • Francis Biddle (American main)
  • John J. Parker (American alternate)
  • Professor Henri Donnedieu de Vabres (French main)
  • Robert Falco (French alternate)

What was the aftermath of the trials?

Although they removed all the leaders that participated in the mass murder of Jews. There was still a country to run out of the ground. Germany had gotten into one of its worst states of poverty, because Hitler invested all of the county’s wealth into the German army so that they were able to invade other countries but because they were trying to invade a country with one of the worst winters they were faced with failure before the invasion began. Their new president Karl Donitz, who was Hitler’s successor, was trialed at the Nuremberg trials. After Donitz Germany was split into east and west from 1949 to 1990 and slowly got built itself up again and then unified once more in 1990 to the Germany it is today.

Sources

Source one, is a documentation of the introduction to commence the Nuremberg Trials. it is a primary source and is extremely reliable. It is important because it describes the individuals being sentenced and what they are doing in that trial.


Source two, is the only transcripts available for the public. It is a primary source and is very reliable. It covers the first seven days of the trials. It is important because it gives the public an insight to what occurred inside the court room.


Source three, is a newspaper article that was written after the Nuremberg trials it is a secondary source and is reliable. It portrays what they believe happened in the court room and its important because it shows what the public were told and believed when reading the articles.

Bibliorgraphy

Rosenberg, J. (2015). The Accused of the Nuremberg Trial. [online] History1900s.about.com. Available at: http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/aa101899.htm [Accessed 25 Mar. 2015].



Wikipedia, (2015). Nuremberg trials. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_trials [Accessed 25 Mar. 2015].



Roland, P. (2010). The Nuremberg trials. London: Arcturus.



Jewishvirtuallibrary.org, (2007). Background & Overview of the Nuremberg Laws | Jewish Virtual Library. [online] Available at: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nurlaws.html [Accessed 25 Mar. 2015].