The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal Essay, Research Paper

In early October 1945, the four powers winning after the Second World War issued an indictment against 24 work forces and six organisations. Fifty old ages ago the Prosecution? s opening statement was read by Associate United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Just eight months prior to that reading, the really edifice in which the historical test took topographic point was & # 8220 ; an enemy fortress in the custodies of German troops & # 8221 ;

The Nuremberg Tests are historically important because they represent the first clip leaders of a defeated state were prosecuted in the name of International law- the first clip such leaders were really given a opportunity to plead for their lives in a tribunal scene.

The Indictment

The charges refering to the six organisations were designed around the job of what to make with the 100s of 1000s of people who had been members of organisations such as the SS and the Gestapo. To indict an organisation raised an of import legal inquiry sing the legitimacy of making a system whereby one could be found guilty based entirely on cogent evidence of his association with that organisation. The thought behind making such a system was to happen these organisations to hold been condemnable, and so to later keep hearings to find to what extent a member was guilty.

The indictment alleged four counts of error: Count One- Conspiracy to Engage Aggressive War, Count Two- Waging Aggressive War, or? Crimes Against Peace? , Count Three- War Crimes, and Count Four- Crimes Against Humanity.


Conspiracy, although we didn? t talk about it in category, was mentioned as a specific purpose offense ; that is, the purpose to perpetrate the offense can non be inferred simply because of Acts of the Apostless that were undertaken by the suspect. Sing this in the context of the Nuremberg suspects, to turn out that each of the 21 work forces involved separately had the needed purpose to cabal to perpetrate aggressive war would be hard. Entirely showing that they were all involved in the planning is non plenty. It must besides be shown that their Acts of the Apostless were done with the purpose that they win in engaging aggressive war. This count of the indictment would hence be the most hard to turn out.

Count two of the indictment cites the existent overt act of engaging aggressive war. Whereas count one charged that there was a common program, count two charges that there was be aftering and prosecuting in the program in order that it may be completed. The same grounds was introduced to turn out both of these counts, since the Acts of the Apostless themselves were indispensable in turn outing the being of a common program.

In order to turn out specific purpose with regard to the above charges, the prosecution must show that the suspects acted with cognition, and purposefully, since this will demo that there was purpose to make something beyond the actus reus. Furthermore, they must show that the suspects acted in such a mode with regard to each and every component of the aforesaid offenses.

For illustration, in respects to the offense charged in count one of the indictment, the elements of the offense can be summarized as follows:

A individual is guilty of confederacy to pay aggressive war if he:


I. Plans, prepares, novices, or wages a war of aggression


two. Plans, prepares, novices, or wages a war that is in misdemeanor of international pacts, understandings, or confidences


three. Participates in a common program or confederacy to pay EITHER

an aggressive war OR a war that is in misdemeanor of international pacts, understandings, or confidences


2. His intent in such engagement is to foster the achievement of any of the foregoing.

So while in a general purpose offense, the load of cogent evidence would include merely the first three fortunes listed under component figure one, a specific purpose offense adds the 2nd component to the load of cogent evidence, and requires that it be shown what the suspects intended to happen as a consequence of their Acts of the Apostless.

It would look that the charges listed in counts three and four of the indictment are, in contrast, rigorous liability offenses, since there is no direct reference in the statutory linguistic communication of any Mens Rea. A closer expression reveals that there is so a demand for Mens Rea in these charges. When the legislative act references what offenses constitute offenses of war, words such as slaying, killing, wanton devastation, and loot appear. Each of these footings carries with it a definition that inside informations the necessity Mens Rea for that discourtesy.

Unfortunately none of these peculiar discourtesies were straight discussed in our category. Indirectly, nevertheless, the Nuremberg Tribunal addresses inquiries of the Equal Protection Doctrine, and Ex Post Facto Laws, every bit good as the issues of legality discussed early in the one-fourth: Freedom of Speech, and Cruel and Unusual Punishments.

The Nuremberg Defendants? intervention of civilians in the districts they occupied embodied all of these issues, and finally led to their test. Jews were non offered Equal Protection of the Law, were victimized by Ex Post Facto Laws, stripped of their right to liberate address, and subjected to cruel and unusual penalties, as an understatement. The illustrations of these facts are excessively legion to discourse here, so will be understood as portion of the larger image.

The Defendants

Four commissions were organized to manage the probe and prosecution of the four counts in the indictment. The United States would turn to count one, the British count two, the Russian and Gallic count three and four jointly.

The single suspects were:

Karl Doenitz, Supreme Commander of the Navy,

Han dynasties Frank, Governor-General of occupied Poland,

Wilhelm Frick, Minister of the Interior,

Han dynasties Fritzsche, Head of the wireless division in the Propaganda Ministry,

Walther Funk, President of the Reichsbank,

Hermann Goering, Chief of the Air Force,

Rudolph Hess, Deputy to Hitler,

Alfred Jodl, Chief of Army Operations,

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Chief to Reich Main Security,

Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of Staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces,

Erich Raeder, Grand Admiral of the Navy,

Alfred Rosenberg, Minister of the Occupied Eastern Territories

Fritz Saukel, Labor leader,

Hjalmar Schacht, Minister of Economics,

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Commisar of the Netherlands,

Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production,

Julius Streicher, Editor of the Der Sturmer,

Constantin von Neurath, Protector of Bohemia and Moravia,

Franz von Papen, Chancellor of Germany,

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and

Baldur von Schirach, Reich Youth Leader.

Of the 24 indicted, merely 21 were really tried. One of the suspects, Robert Ley hanged himself before the test began. Another, Gustav Krupp, was judged excessively frail to stand test. Martin Bormann, private secretary to Hitler, losing and presumed dead, so he was tried in absentia and sentenced to hang if he should of all time turn up. After the test of the 21 single suspects was concluded, the tribunal heard testimony about the organisations.

The six indicted organisations included the SS, Gestapo, Corps of the Political Leaderships of the Nazi Party, the SA, the Reichsregierung, and General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces. The last two of these organisations were determined to contained so few members that it was better to seek each member separately.

The Crimes

The charges of counts one and two revolve around the construct of aggressive war, its planning and executing, severally. The Nuremberg War Charter inside informations this as illegal and provinces:

& # 8220 ; ? planning, readying, induction or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in misdemeanor of international pacts, understandings, or confidences, or

engagement in a common program or confederacy for the achievement of any of the foregoing? ”

Count three of the indictment alleges War Crimes, which are defined by the International Military Tribunal for the test of war felons as:

& # 8220 ; ? Misdemeanors of the Torahs or imposts of war, including slaying, ill-treatment or exile to break one’s back labour or for any other intent of civilian population of or in occupied district, slaying or maltreatment of captives of war or individuals on the seas, killing of sureties, loot of public or private belongings, motiveless devastation of metropoliss, towns, or small towns, or desolation non justified by military necessity. & # 8221 ;

Count four of the indictment alleges? Crimes Against Humanity? which are defined by the same beginning as follows:

& # 8220 ; ? Namely slaying, extinction, captivity, exile and other inhumane Acts of the Apostless committed against any civilian population, before or during war, or persecutions on political, racial, or spiritual evidences in executing of or in connexion with any offense within the legal power of the Tribunal, whether or non in misdemeanor of the domestic jurisprudence of the state where perpetrated? & # 8221 ;

Evidence and Purpose

The Chief Prosecutor noted in his gap statement that the fortunes of the test were such that both prosecution and opinion? must be by master states over vanquished enemies, as a consequence of the fact that the world-wide range of their aggressions left but few true neutrals? . As a consequence of this fact, there was some guess about how just this test could truly be.

To their advantage, nevertheless, the prosecution needed merely to trust on the grounds created by the suspects themselves, and at that place was plentifulness of it. As the Germans were notoriously punctilious registrars, there was no deficit of cogent evidence in that respect. Additionally, they were vain plenty to hold arranged to be often photographed in action, and filmed every bit good.

There was, in fact, so much grounds, that the tribunal was belabored to hear it all, and several times noted that a certain point had already been made satisfactorily in order to avoid acquiring lost in the sea of paperwork.

Among the grounds provided to the Tribunal were correspondence to and from the Fuehrer, every bit good as records kept by the concentration cantonments of Jews killed and experimented with. Due to the fact that all of this grounds was seized from and created by the Germans, its genuineness was ne’er truly in inquiry. The exposure and pictures were particularly powerful inasmuch as they provided incontrovertible cogent evidence of who was involved in certain activities.

The Defense

Each of the suspects pled non guilty. Most felt it necessary to embroider their supplication of non guilty in some manner, normally by stating something like? before my state and God, I swear I am non guilty? ? , and one suspect attempted to read a statement on his ain behalf at the clip he was scheduled to plead. This, of class, was non permitted by the justice, as the clip when supplications are entered is non appropriate for such testimony.

The Prosecution? s instance had, for all purposes and intents, divided the suspects into five groups. The first consisted of Goering, Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, Keitel, Jodl, Rosenberg, Frank, Saukel, and Speer. Associated with varied and legion atrociousnesss, their names had come up repeatedly, and they seemed damned.

The 2nd group consisted of Hess and Streicher, who were both close to Hitler, and were overzealous Nazis. Neither had any important executive power, nevertheless, and they had faded from the image before most of the atrociousnesss took topographic point.

The 3rd group included Frick, Funk, Seyss-Inquart, Schirach, and Fritzsche. They were linked to some of the offenses, but their degree of blameworthiness was clearly less than that of those in group one.

Group four was a separate class which Raeder and Doenitz occupied ; they were charged with carry oning the naval run contrary to the Torahs of war.

Group five was the Patriots: Schacht, Papen, and Neurath. These work forces were accused of holding lent themselves to Hitler? s readyings for the waging of aggressive war, and could be considered accoutrements to that count of the indictment.

There was small uncertainty in the heads of the defence or the prosecution that the kernel of the Nazi Regime? s blameworthiness had been proven. In visible radiation of the fact that their guilt was proven with a mountain of evidence- most in the signifier of paperss that they had themselves created, there was small hope of reasoning against it. With this apprehension, the attack used by each of the suspects to turn out their artlessness or at least extenuate their guilt was to disassociate himself from the group in any manner possible, to demo that he had non participated in the preparation of the common program, and that he had non been involved in misdemeanors of the international jurisprudence or offenses against humanity.

The most critical portion of their several tests, so, would be the feeling they each made on the base.


Aside from Hess, the lone suspect who did non attest was Wilhelm Frick. As their defensive schemes were chiefly to minimise their personal engagement in the whole matter, each suspect that testified attempted to disassociate himself from the remainder.

There was considerable infighting among the staying suspects, as they attempted to exercise influence over each other in order to ban testimony. Surprisingly, most of these work forces agreed on one thing: they did non believe that Adolph Hitler had any character defects.

The most interesting of these informants, in my sentiment, was Hans Frank. He was apparently different from the remainder because he was the first to denounce and reject Hitler. He stated in his testimony that his scruples would non let him to throw the duty on the shoulders of the Jews, and that although he ne’er personally installed, or promoted the installing of extinction cantonments for Jews, he takes duty, since Hitler laid that duty on his people.

That statement attempts to connote that the adult male had a scruples. In actuality, he had been involved in all the stages of Judaic extinction. His ain diary dullard informant against him, and he was forced to asseverate that his words were much worse than his existent workss. Frank? s testimony was labeled a? inexpensive and dramatic confession? by Justice Biddle, et al. , and caused dissention in the ranks among the other suspects, who found his testimony every spot every bit obnoxious as did the Tribunal.


In the position of most historiographers, Nuremberg? s bequest is assorted. By and large, there is a favourable position of the effort made by the Allies to convey some signifier of international judicial action against the horrors of the Nazi government. The Nuremberg Tribunal represents the most thorough record of Hitler? s rise to power, and the planning and launching of World War II. As such it was no little accomplishment.

Some argue that it was an imperfect justness, nevertheless, because the accused were chosen randomly, and charged with misdemeanors of international jurisprudence. Such jurisprudence was adhering on states, non persons, and it was argued that persons could be brought to justness merely under the Torahs of their ain state. These suspects were tried under a new order established at the decision of the Second World War ; an? ex station facto? type of test, possibly, but at that place wasn? Ts truly any option.

At its decision, the Tribunal had aquitted three of the accused. Eight received long prison sentences, and the remainder were sentenced to decease. On October 15, 1946, Hermann Goering cheated the executioner with a nitrile capsule. Two hours subsequently the executings began.


Conot, Robert E. , Justice at Nuremberg. Harper & A ; Row Publishers, New York, 1983. PP. 99-120, 389-400.

Taylor, Telford, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. , New York, 1992. PP 3, 23, 165-180, 262-273.

Bassiouni, M. Cherif and Ved P. Nanda. A Treatise on International Law, Volume I, Crimes and Punishment. Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Springfield, Illinois, 1973. PP 231-232, 575,

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