The Nuremberg Trials
In 1944, when President Roosevelt was convinced that the allied forces were going to win the war he asked the war department to devise a plan, which would bring the WWII criminals to justice. While the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson and the Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morgenthau had different opinions on the punishment of war criminals, President Roosevelt consulted with Britain’s Prime Minster, Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Dictator, Joseph Stalin. These three leaders issued a statement in February 1945 at Yalta favoring some sort of judicial process better known as the NUREMBERG TRIALS.
In May of 1945, it was decided by President Truman to appoint Robert Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court justice as chief prosecutor. Jackson traveled to London to convince the remaining three allies that the criminal statutes relating to wars of aggression and crimes would be ex post facto laws. The trying court would be known as the International Military Tribunal, and it would consist of one primary and alternating judge from each country. There were two judges each from France, United States, Soviet Union, and Britain.
Although the allies could not agree on the location which the trials were to be held, it was eventually decided upon Nuremberg, an industrial city located in southern Germany. Sir Geoffry Lawrence, a British Judge was elected the chief judge of the trials.
The prosecutions’ case was divided into two main phases. The first phase focused on establishing the criminality of the Nazi regime. The second phase was to establish the guilt of individual defendants.
Several Nazi leaders would not come to trial due to the fact that they committed suicide. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler, along with Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels were among the most wanted Nazi leaders not present at trial since they had taken the easy way out.
There were a total of eleven trials dated from December 9, 1946 through April 13, 1949. The first trial was The Doctors (or Medical) Case. There were sixteen defendants convicted (including seven sentenced to death), seven acquitted. These people were charged with inhuman experiments on civilians.
The second trial was the Milch Case. Erhard Milch was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder and cruel treatment of POWs.
The third trial was The Justice (or Judges) Case in which ten defendants were convicted. (Four were acquitted and one defendant died before verdict and a mistrial was declared in one case.) They were tried for using their legal power to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity,
The fourth trial was The Pohl/WVHA in which fifteen defendants were convicted and three were acquitted of war crimes against POWs. Three were sentenced to death and the rest were given prison terms.
The fifth trial was The Flick Case in which three defendants including Friedrich Flick were convicted and sentenced to prison for using POWs for slave labor in concentration camps. Three defendants were acquitted.
The sixth trial was The I.G. Farben Case in which thirteen defendants were found guilty on one or more charges and they were sentenced to prison for plundering private property in occupied territories.
The seventh trial was The Hostage Case in which eight defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison and two were acquitted of murdering thousands of civilians, devastating occupied countries, and killing surrendering units. Two other defendants committed suicide before the verdict.
The eight trial was the R.U.S.H.A. Case in which thirteen defendants were found guilty on one or more charges of crimes against humanity related to the Holocaust and one defendant was acquitted.
The ninth trial was The Einsatzgruppen Case in which all twenty-four defendants were found guilty on one or more charges of murder and cruel treatment of POWs and destruction. Fourteen defendants were sentenced to die, but ten later had their sentences reduced!
The tenth trial was The Krupp Case in which eleven defendants were found guilty on one or more charge of breaking treaties, carrying out war crimes, and waging wars of aggression and sentenced to jail terms. One defendant was acquitted.
The eleventh trial was The Ministries Case in which nineteen defendants were found guilty on at least one charge and sentenced to terms ranging from four to twenty-five years.
The prosecution presented scores of document evidence depicting the invasions of various European countries, as acts of waging aggressive war. Another part of the prosecution concerned Nazis use of slave labor in concentration camps. Some of the evidence brought forth cries and gasps from the trial spectators, which proved to reveal the true horror of the Nazi regime. The prosecution rested its case after fifty-five witnesses and hundred of exhibits of evidence.
All images courtesy http://www.ushmm.org