November 20, 1945 The Trial Of The Major War Criminals Begins In Nuremberg

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by laufer, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. laufer

    laufer Senior Member

    November 20, 1945
    The trial of the major war criminals by the International Military Tribunal begins at 10 a.m. in Nuremberg, Germany.

    "All the defendants, with divers other persons, during a period of years preceding 8th May, 1945, participated as leaders', organisers, instigators or accomplices in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit, or which involved the commission of, Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity, as defined in the Charter of this Tribunal, and, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, are individually responsible for their own acts and for all acts committed by any persons in the execution of such plan or conspiracy. The common plan or conspiracy embraced the commission of Crimes against Peace, in that the defendants planned, prepared, initiated and waged wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances. In the development and course of the common plan or conspiracy it came to embrace the commission of War Crimes, in that it contemplated, and the defendants determined upon and carried out, ruthless wars against countries and populations, in violation of the rules and customs of war, including as typical and systematic means by which the wars were prosecuted, murder, ill-treatment, deportation for slave labour and for other purposes of civilian populations of occupied territories, murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war and of persons on the high seas, the taking and killing of hostages, the plunder of public and private property, the wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages, and devastation not justified by military necessity. The common plan or conspiracy contemplated and came to embrace as typical and systematic, and the defendants determined upon and committed, Crimes against Humanity, both within Germany and within occupied territories, including murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations before and during the war, and persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, in execution of the plan for preparing and prosecuting aggressive or illegal wars, many of such acts and persecutions being violations of the domestic laws of the countries where perpetrated."

    from the Statement of the Offence
  2. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Speer was to put it mildly, a very fortunate man. Sauckel, his deputy gets sent to the gallows, whilst Speer gets a prison sentance.
  3. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    (Gotthard Heinrici @ Nov 21 2005, 09:18 AM) [post=41879]Speer was to put it mildly, a very fortunate man. Sauckel, his deputy gets sent to the gallows, whilst Speer gets a prison sentance.

    Yes, Speer defended himself well. Being articulate, pleasant, intelligent, and willing to denounce Hitler, he made a better impression on the judges than other defendants...Kaltenbrunner, Ribbentrop, Streicher, Frick, Hess, and Seyss-Inquart presented lousy cases. Von Papen got off by being pompous and boring. Fritzsche was on trial simply because the Soviets only caught him and Raeder. Doenitz had the best defense of all the guys found guilty-- he got the lightest term, 10 years.
  4. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    There were also denazification trials. Does someone know of a list of those tried and found guilty, what their charges were and what they received?
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Lets face it! The were a pretty unsavoury bunch of murdering dirt boxes.
  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    (jimbotosome @ Nov 21 2005, 11:38 PM) [post=41937]There were also denazification trials. Does someone know of a list of those tried and found guilty, what their charges were and what they received?
    Yes I'd be interested in seeing this too!
  7. laufer

    laufer Senior Member

    The Nuremberg Trials and Denazification

    The Allies agreed that Germany should never again have the opportunity to destroy European peace as it had in the two world wars. A principal aim of the Allies was to prevent the resurgence of a powerful and aggressive Germany. As a first step toward demilitarizing, denazifying, and democratizing Germany, the Allies established an international military tribunal in August 1945 to jointly try individuals considered responsible for the outbreak of the war and for crimes committed by the Hitler regime. Nuremberg, the city where the most elaborate political rallies of the Hitler regime had been staged, was chosen as the location for the trials, which began in November 1945.

    On trial were twenty-two men seen as principally responsible for the National Socialist regime, its administration, and the direction of the German armed forces, the Wehrmacht. Among the defendants accused of conspiracy, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes were Hermann Goering, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Rudolf Hess, and Albert Speer. Although many Germans considered the accusation of conspiracy to be on questionable legal grounds, the accusers were successful in unveiling the background of developments that had led to the outbreak of World War II, 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.

    The trials received wide publicity in Germany and throughout the world. Although many Germans maintained that it would have been better if the defendants had faced a German tribunal rather than one imposed by the war's foreign victors, they agreed that the trials made public much information about the mass murders and other crimes that otherwise might not have come to light. The German people and the rest of the world reacted with horror and dismay to the revelations. The trials of these more prominent figures of the Hitler regime were followed by the trials of thousands of lesser offenders.

    The Allies did not seek merely to punish the leadership of the National Socialist regime, but to purge all elements of national socialism from public life. One phase of the denazification process dealt with lower-level personnel connected with the Nazi regime. Their pasts were reviewed to determine if the parts they had played in the regime were sufficiently grievous to warrant their exclusion from roles in a new Germany's politics or government. Germans with experience in government and not involved in the Nazi regime were needed to cooperate with occupation authorities in the administration of the zones.

    The process of denazification was carried out diversely in the various zones. The most elaborate procedures were instituted in the United States zone, where investigated individuals were required to complete highly detailed questionnaires concerning their personal histories and to appear at hearings before panels of German adjudicators. In the British and French zones, denazification was pursued with less vigor because the authorities thought it more important to reestablish a functioning bureaucracy in their sectors.

    Denazification was most rigorous in the Soviet sector. Civil servants, teachers, and legal officials with significant Nazi pasts were thoroughly purged. Denazification was also used as an instrument for seizing the resources of the so-called "class enemy": former Nazis who owned factories or estates were denounced and their property confiscated. After participating in the social transformation, some former Nazis were pardoned and even gained high positions within the new communist ruling class.

    The denazification process mandated that simpler cases involving lesser offenders be tried before more complicated cases involving officials higher up in the Nazi regime. With time, however, prosecution became less severe, and the United States came to be more concerned with the Cold War. When denazification ended in March 1948, the more serious cases had not yet been tried. As a result, numerous former Nazi functionaries escaped justice, much to the regret of many Germans.
  8. spidge


    (Gotthard Heinrici @ Nov 23 2005, 12:39 AM) [post=41971](jimbotosome @ Nov 21 2005, 11:38 PM) [post=41937]There were also denazification trials. Does someone know of a list of those tried and found guilty, what their charges were and what they received?
    Yes I'd be interested in seeing this too!
    This in part from ....

    Many of those who were tried for offenses relating to the conduct of the war in Europe were brought before tribunals that were established by or in countries that had been occupied by Germany or who had been allied against her. British military tribunals were convened in Italy to prosecute those who were responsible for the committal of crimes against the Italian population after the Italian capitulation. Tribunals in Denmark, Greece, Holland, Norway, Poland, USSR and Yugoslavia tried large numbers of civilian, military, police, and SS personnel for atrocities and crimes committed during the German occupation.

    In the zone of occupation of the United States the three länder passed a denazification law which required the registration of 13 million persons. Those that were subjected to prosecution were classified as either major offenders, offenders, lesser offenders, or followers. The major objective of the law was to remove those who had most closely followed and aided the Nazis from positions of leadership, or to prevent such persons from holding future public office. Those found to have been major offenders "were subject to immediate removal or permanent exclusion from public office, confiscation of property, and to a maximum of ten years in prison." More than 930,000 defendants were brought before the denazification courts.

    Of them 1549 were classified as major offenders, 21,000 as offenders, 104,000 as lesser offenders, and 475,000 as followers. Over 500,000 people were fined for various criminal offenses, 122,000 suffered restrictions on employment, 25,000 were subject to confiscation of property, 22,000 were declared ineligible to hold public office, 30,000 were required to perform special labor, and 9000 were given prison sentences. [Source: Tutorow, op.cit, p.8]

    Quite separate from these denazification trials were those conducted by German courts against war criminals, involving nearly 12,000 defendants, between 1945 and 1963, some of whom had been tried by other tribunals and acquitted. According to one German government report, in the American Zone 450 had been sentenced to death, in the French 104, and in the British 240. More than half of these were carried out. Between 1945 and 1983, 88,000 war crimes cases were opened in West Germany: "non-appealable sentences were imposed upon 6456 defendants [6487 according to Mildt, p.20], while acquittals were handed down in 79,638 cases-over 90% of the cases tried." [Source: Tutorow, op.cit, p.8] As Mildt had recently noted:

    from the 6487 judgements entered which resulted in punishment for the defendants, no less than 5513, or 85% of the grand total, were related to either the lesser-i.e. non-lethal-crimes of National Socialism, or-in a few instances-involving Nazi crimes committed prior to the outbreak of the war, such as the killing of SA men during the so-called Röhm Putsch in June 1934, the killing of political prisoners in German concentration camps during the 1930s, or the murdering of Jews during the pogrom of November 1938 [Kristallnacht]. Between May 1945 and January 1992, only 1793 cases related to Nazi capital crimes as committed during the period of the Second World War, appeared before West German courts. Of these, 974 led to conviction, while 819 ended with either the acquittal of the defendants, or the termination of the proceedings for other reasons. Thus, out of the grand total of 6,487 convictions for Nazi crimes, a mere 15% related to wartime killings.[Source: D de Mildt. In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide in the Reflection of Their Post-War Prosecution in West Germany. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996, pp.20-21]

    Many of these indictments related to Endphaseverbrechen, end phase crimes, those committed in the dying months of the war, mainly in connection with the extrajudicial execution of German citizens for failing to obey orders germane to the continued prosecution of the war, for denouncing others to the Gestapo and police, and "persons who were tried for their involvement in a wide variety of more or less `incidental' killings related to war crimes or other capital offences that similarly fell outside the scope of Third Reich mass destruction." During the whole period 1945-1992, West German courts convicted and punished only 472 defendants for involvement in the persecution and killing of Jews, despite the fact that probably more than 100,000 individuals were in some way directly connected with the extermination programme, not to mention the denunciation, persecution and appropriation of Jewish owned property and artifacts.[op.cit, p.21]

    Mildt documents at some length the reasons why so few convictions, in comparison to investigations undertaken by German legal authorities, occurred in the years 1950-1992. These included, in the early years, limitations on the powers of legal authorities to initiate prosecutions of individuals who either did not reside in their areas of jurisdiction, or whose offenses had not occurred there, the various statutes of limitations that existed under West German law for all crimes, with the exception of capital ones, difficulties of marshalling evidence, the granting of `biological amnesties', arising from the incapacitation, or alleged incapacitation, mental and physical, of defendants to stand trial and a decision of the High Court on 20 May 1969 which prevented the prosecution of desktop administrators (Schreibtischtäter) involved in mass extermination, a decision which encompassed all those who had been working in the RSHA. (Reichssicherheithauptampt)
  9. marek_pk

    marek_pk Senior Member

    Who else should have been put on trial after WWII?

    I don't mean just Nazis.
  10. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    (marek_pk @ Nov 24 2005, 09:08 PM) [post=42074]Who else should have been put on trial after WWII?

    I don't mean just Nazis.

    There was also an international military tribunal established for the Far East and additional trials were carried out by Australia, Britain (in Singapore) and the USA (in Japan).

    The international military tribunals only ever set out to try the most important war criminals of the Axis powers.

    Probably a whole range of other people who committed crimes were never prosecuted, but there it is and I do not think it helpful to just throw names around unless we can back any claims up with evidence.
  11. marek_pk

    marek_pk Senior Member

    Let me rephrase the question.

    Are there any war crimes perpetrated that did not get prosecuted?
  12. spidge


    (marek_pk @ Nov 27 2005, 01:44 AM) [post=42123]Let me rephrase the question.

    Are there any war crimes perpetrated that did not get prosecuted?

    Do you have any suggestions of those you believe were not prosecuted?
  13. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    (spidge @ Nov 27 2005, 03:52 AM) [post=42133](marek_pk @ Nov 27 2005, 01:44 AM) [post=42123]Let me rephrase the question.

    Are there any war crimes perpetrated that did not get prosecuted?

    Do you have any suggestions of those you believe were not prosecuted?

    Obviously, Dr. Mengele never faced justice. Well, in this world.
  14. marek_pk

    marek_pk Senior Member

    (spidge @ Nov 27 2005, 08:52 AM) [post=42133](marek_pk @ Nov 27 2005, 01:44 AM) [post=42123]
    Are there any war crimes perpetrated that did not get prosecuted?

    Do you have any suggestions of those you believe were not prosecuted?

    Katyn massacres of approximately 22,000 Polish citizens.

    Among the dead were 15,000 Polish Officers.
  15. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Notice that the top Nazi war criminals held on trial were NOT tortured, and did NOT deny the Holocaust. They just said they were "only obeying orders" or put the blame on somebody else. :closedeyes:
  16. dugg

    dugg Junior Member

    my granda was on guard duty at these trials - anything I could ask him for you's???

    sorry my knowledge of it is really poor as I am just getting into learning about the war now as my granda was previously very uncomfortable talking about it. BUt in relation to these trials he did mention a women who was in charge of one of the most notorious pow camps. He was on guard duty while she was on trial and she kept spitting on everyone in defiance.

    she was hung
  17. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I would imagine that the woman you aee referring to is Irma Griese, a notorious SS Guard based at auschwitz, I think. She was later executed as you say by hanging. A very unsavoury character

    This biography courtesy of the Jewish Virtual Library:

    During World War II Irma Grese was the most notorious of the female Nazi war criminals. She was born on October 7, 1923, to a agricultural family and left school in 1938 at the age of 15. She worked on a farm for six months, then in a shop and later for two years in a hospital. Then she was sent to work at the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.

    She became a camp guard at the age of 19, and, in March 1943, she was transferred to Auschwitz. She rose to the rank of Senior SS-Supervisor in the autumn of 1943, in charge of approximately 30,000 women prisoners, mainly Polish and Hungarian Jews. This was the second highest rank that SS female concentration camp pesonnel could attain.

    After the war, survivors provided extensive details of murders, tortures, cruelties and sexual excesses engaged in by Irma Grese during her years at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. They testified to her acts of pure sadism, beatings and arbitrary shooting of prisoners, savaging of prisoners by her trained and half starved dogs, to her selecting prisoners for the gas chambers.

    She habitually wore heavy boots and carried a whip and a pistol. She used both physical and emotional methods to torture the camp's inmates and enjoyed shooting prisoners in cold blood. She beat some of the women to death and whipped others mercilessly using a plaited whip.

    The skins of three inmates that she had had made into lamp shades were found in her hut.

    In January 1945, she returned to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp before being transferred to Bergen-Belsen in March.

    After the Kommandant of Bergen-Belsen, Josef Kramer, Irma Grese was the most notorious defendant in the Belsen Trial, held between September 17 and November 17, 1945. Grese was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. She was executed on December 13, 1945
  18. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    A good friend of mine, a retired USAF Colonel, was involved in her interrogation and trial, as a brand-new second lieutenant in 1945.

    Irma initially denied the charges and the Holocaust. Presented with unimpeachable evidence, she whined that she was only obeying orders. Told that "obeying orders" was no defense, she then complained that atrocities were committed on all sides and war was hell.

    My pal was astonished (and remains so) that Irma's line of claptrap in 1945 was the same garbage neo-Nazis spew out today.
  19. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Just a point, perhaps I am splitting hairs here but I always thought that the Belsen trials were an entirely British affair.

    The claptrap clip appears to show US personnel involved in the trial of Imra Grese which I feel is the work of fiction.

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