Nuremberg Trials

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. spidge


    I really do not know if they were "fair" however they were definitely warranted if not skewed in many areas. As PP says some got the rope or large sentences while many did not.

    Correlate this with MacArthurs' soft approach to the Japanese war trials and the Nuremburg sentences were quite high in comparison.
  2. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The War Trials broke new ground - the goverment of a coun try which waged an aggressive war on its neighbours being held to account for its aggression and its treatment of civilian populations which included acts of naked mass murder of specific groups - that which we now term as genocide.
    The four counts were all new and the framework within which they were placed was as new as it was necessary - those who today seek to excuse the crimes of the Hitler Goverment hold this up to be "Victors Justice" and would "challange" the quality of the justice handed out whilst saying that the Tribunal was in itself "illegal".

    I would have to agree with Ron the Trial of major war criminals was completely proper and provided some closure for their actions and what they had inflicted on others.

    It is with regret that some of the major players escaped trial by taking their own lives or by having the good fortune to have died durring the course of the war.
    Himmler , Heydrich , Eicke (still a major criminal in my eyes) - Bouhler , Freisler , Goebbels and a host of others - these men made Germany their first victim - they were killing Germans before they started on other nations and ethnic groups - the trials went beyond the "Stars" who are shown in the jpeg below.
    Mnay major criminals like Frank , Hoess , Daluege ( to name a few) were sent back to the countries and peoples they abused to meet justice.

    A few months back I bought a copy of "The Nuremberg Interviews" ( Edited by Robert Gellately).
    The interviews with the defendants were conducted by Leon Goldensohn , a psychiatrist serving in the US Army.
    As well as interviewing and assessing the major "players" he also interviewed "lesser players" men who would in turn be asked to defend themselves but who first would be placed in the witness box to reconstruct the conduct and actions of their wartime masters.
    ( Daluege, Dietrich, Halder, Kesselring,Von Manstein , Von Kleist, Milch,Ohlendorf ,Bach -Zelewski, Schellenberg ,Schmidt being amongest these "lesser" individuals.)

    The insight into how they viewed their actions and what they had acomplished is quite startling - Ohlendorf for example stated he had not killed anyone , supervised the killings but was not guilty of murder as he had not killed anyone and as he had acted under orders the responsibility was not his.

    Some you have to woner about - Streicher comes across in his own words as something of a monster - a sexually driven engine of hate - the Hitler Goverment gave his hate life and meaning - be it within a society which had been diuvided , isolated , seduced and itself made victim.
    He comes across as somethiong of a personality disorder , not clinically insane but certainly disordered and unable to fuction with any standards any reasonable society would accept as being morally acceptable or ethically correct.

    The overall picture of some makes you wonder how they came to power or rather how they could achieve office in anything other than the unique set of circumstances which existed in Germany ( and Europe) at that exact moment in time - circumstances and luck. (Bad luck).
    Goldensohn's interviews are indeed an insight , having first put them at ease and obtained their confidence his questioning of them is both exact and uncompromising designed not to illict just answers but to make them think of what they had done and been part of and the consequence of their actions - he confronts them not with the world as they percieved it to be but the reality and the enormity of their criminal actions.

    In terms of being fair are we thinking of the sentences handed down to the Army and Navy men - the deathsentences to Keitel and Jodl , the prison sentences to Raeder and Donitz ?
    The death sentnce handed down to Streicher - Speer who got prison against his associate Sauckel who was hanged - Getta Serney in her book saw Speer as a man battling with the truth , the repentent Nazi.

    I came here via the "what are you reading thread" - at the moment - nothing has to be my answer - perhaps as good a time as any to start on the Tusa's "The Nuremberg Trial" .

    Last year on an infrequent visit to "Mr Irvings" website I saw how he made mention of meeting John Tusa at the National Archives and gave him the oportunity to contact him if he got out of his depth in writing his book.
    Ego...... another good reason to look at john and Ann Tusa's book.

    Attached Files:

    dbf likes this.
  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Guys, I missed this thread the first time. Reading it through I'm struck that all concerned have debated this in a mature, and open way - with some good points and strong views and opinions, all well expressed. I think that strikes a real positive note for this forum, as I know of many places where this thread would have sunk into a bun fight.

    On the subject matter, I have almost finished reading 'Myths of the Eastern Front' (will report on that later). In there the authors mention how the Americans managed to get verdicts of senior Army officers overturned, or prison sentences shorted, as they wanted to use and tap into their expertise to formulate plans to fight the Russians in the Cold War. The belief was that the West would be forced into fighting the sort of war the Germans fought after Bagration; they needed an insight into that type of warfare, and senior German officers who had fought there were the best source. And as the authors point out, while many ex-Generals claimed they had no interest or involvement in politics or ethnic cleansing in the East, subsequent documentation has shown they were fully aware. The US (and probably other Western powers) were only too willing to overlook this for the reasons of the day.
  4. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    A book which recieved some publicity last year was "Tapping Hitler's Generals" - transcripts of secretly recorded conversations between high ranking prisoners who held in surroundings which they felt were suitable to theiur rank and standing relaxed and exchanged candid views of the war , Hitler , what they knew of the conduct of the war and the future.

    It is really worth reading - not the sort of book you pick up and read from cover to cover but open it anywhere and you move from one "conversation" to the other - what they say is worth listening to and you come away with the knowledge that many knew of what was going on , some accpeted it as a necessary evil others saw the excesses of the regieme as destroying German and the honour of the Army.

    The whole war crime issue is complex in terms of accountability , involvement and the choices made , Germany was involved in a desperate struggle but the nature of the war - a war in which genocide beacme both a menas of waging war and an end objective cannot be justified and lived with - many reflect this point of view.
  5. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    James - yes, I saw a doco on that sometime before Christmas on the Military channel, which was fascinating. That book is on my 'to get' list (along with many others!).
  6. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    To illustrate what some commanders knew and the extent of what they knew some passages from "Tapping Hitler's Generals".

    The ordinay soldier and airman were on occasions used to assist in the rounding up of those to be shot - these orders came to Army group via men like Jodl and Keitel - some commanders ignored them others saw it as securing their rear areas , this in a war which in the east was being fought in the most brutal manner.

    Some of the generals had warned aboiut "importing methods from the east" ( To "France" / The West).

    Ian Kershaw in the second volume of his Hitler biography notes several exchanges which illustrate that the order of events came from the very top.

    The face notes to Chapter six Licensing Barbarism.
    "...Extensive shootings were planned in Poland and ......especially the nobility and clergy were to be exterminated".
    (Admiral Carnaris, seeking clarification from General Keitel , 12th September 1939, about information that had come to his attention).

    "....This matter has already been decided by the Fuhrer"
    General Keitel's reply.

    "It is immaterial to him if some time in the future it were established that the methods to win territory were not pretty or open to legal objection"
    Bormann, 20th November 1940 on Hitler'scomments to the Gauliter of incorporated teritories.

    From Chapter 8 "Designing a War of Annihilation"

    "Whether right or wrong we must win...And when we have won who will ask us about the methods ?"
    Hitler to Goebbels 16th June 1941.

    "We must forget the concept of comradeship between soldiers. A Communist is no comrade before or after the battle.This is a war of annihilation"
    Hitler addressing senior officers, 30th March 1941.

    "The forthcoming campaign is more than just an armed conflicit will lead to a showdown of two different ideologies....The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia , "the oppressor" of the people up to now, must be eliminated"
    Operational guidelines for "Barbarossa", 3rd March 1941.

    Attached Files:

  7. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    There were 4 indictments against the Nuremberg defendants:

    The Nuremberg Trials

    Count One: Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War
    This count helped address the crimes committed before the war began, showing a plan to commit crimes during the war.

    Count Two: Waging Aggressive War, or "Crimes Against Peace"
    Including “the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances.”

    Count Three: War Crimes
    These were the more “traditional” violations of the law of war including treatment of prisoners of war, slave labor, and use of outlaws weapons.

    Count Four: Crimes Against Humanity
    This count involved the actions in concentration camps and other death rampages.

    All the men executed were convicted of Count 4, although not all the men found guilty of it were sentenced to death. The 2 Admirals were charged with only the first 3 indictments and Donitz was acquitted of the first, presumably because he was too junior before the war to be guilty of it: this would explain why he got a shorter sentence than Raeder. Although he commanded all the U Boats from 1936, he was only promoted from Kapitan zur See to Kommodore in January 1939, and did not become an Admiral until December, when he was promoted to Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral).
  8. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The prosecution initially went for Donitz quoting the "Laconia Order" in which he told his crews not to offer help to survivors and to take only Captains and Chief Engineers as POW's for intellignce which might be gleamed from them.
    Werner Hartensteins efforts to rescue the survivorts of the Laconia - his taking boats in tow , displaying red |crosses and asking for help giving an assurnace that he would not attack any ship giving aid were rejected and the Liberators which arrived over him when they reported the situation were orered to attack.

    Hartenstein dived and that ended his attempts to help the survivors - a high percentage of the Italian POW's - none theless he did not discriminate - he helped all who were in the water .
    A rare moment of humanity which ended - a pity as it cost lives and the assistance being given would have made a difference without changing the course of the war.

    Unrestricted submarine warfare as Andy has already pointed out it was a course of action which all followed and one which made a major contribution to destroying Japanese naval traffic.

    Donitz himself - totally loyal to Hitler - his sending thousands of sailors to fight in Berlin in April 45 was unforgivible a waste of lies in a war long lost - for that alone I would have given him his jail term.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Donitz himself - totally loyal to Hitler - his sending thousands of sailors to fight in Berlin in April 45 was unforgivible a waste of lies in a war long lost - for that alone I would have given him his jail term.

    I was quite surprised by all this. He even ordered the execution of some German submariners who went home after they heard Germany had surrendered.

    More surprising was to hear German Submariners talking ill of him on this documentry last night.

    James I believe it would be right up your street if you have sky. 'Hitlers Henchmen: Donitz' The researchers interview his daughter and grandson too.

    If the programme is to be believed (I have no reason not to) then my whole opinion about Donitz has changed.

  10. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    It will probably repeat Andy - Donitz like so many others would fall under his thrawl - he would talk them round , persuade them that they were not seeing the "big picture" and operational problems "would go away".

    Donitz was appointedfuhrer because he had been loyal and he could be trusted
  11. Donibristle

    Donibristle Junior Member

    Speer was the only one who seemed to take some ownership for his part during the trials. Perhaps he was just a clever sociopath who read the court's mood correctly. After all he was involved in the slave labor organization after Todt died. Apparently he used some of the revenue from all of his books anonymously to fund charities for jews and others affected by his organizational skills, so maybe not a sociopath or again just a clever sociopath.
  12. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Speer and Sacukel worked hand in glove the latter being the supplier of slave labour - found guilty of the same counts one as hanged the other was not.
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Forced labour before the end of hostilities had caused 12 million citizens from all of the German occupied European countries, to be uprooted and transported to Germany where they were housed in rudimentary barracks in a Concentration camp system, most of the camps being sattelite camps of the main Concentration camps.

    Speer knew very well where his labour force came from and the Forced Labourers accounted for a quarter of all the workforce involved in the german industries.

    Speer was lucky not to be sentenced to hang.

  14. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    Forced labour before the end of hostilities had caused 12 million citizens from all of the German occupied European countries, to be uprooted and transported to Germany where they were housed in rudimentary barracks in a Concentration camp system, most of the camps being sattelite camps of the main Concentration camps.

    Speer knew very well where his labour force came from and the Forced Labourers accounted for a quarter of all the workforce involved in the german industries.

    Speer was lucky not to be sentenced to hang.


    Indeed Tom, he was lucky.
  15. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Senior Member

    I admit I haven't read all the posts here, but concerning the trials themselves I found and filed away a superb statement by Justice Robert Jackson concerning "why" the trials were being held, and by whom.

    It wasn't because the Germans LOST the war that they were being tried, it was because they STARTED the war that they were being tried. Portions in italics from the article link.

    The German people were not on trial; neither was Germany as a nation (said Jackson: ". . . we have no purpose to incriminate the whole German people"). The case against the 20 men in the dock rested on the prosecution's theory of "individual responsibility" ("Who was responsible for these crimes if they were not?"). This theory in turn rested on the premise that Adolf Hitler, such top Nazis as the dead Heinrich Himmler, the 20 in the dock and some 2,000,000 members of the Nazi Party's "Leadership Corps" (the Gestapo, SA, SS, etc.) had imposed Nazism on 70,000,000 Germans, and then, with the German military's help, had "driven" Germany to war.

    Justice Jackson's remarkable definition of the military defendants' status was enough to make all professional soldiers lie awake nights: "We recognize that to plan warfare is the business of professional soldiers in every country. But it is one thing to plan strategic moves in the event war comes, and it is another thing to plot and intrigue to bring on that war. . . . Military men are not before you because they served their country. They are here because they mastered it, along with these others, and drove it to war. They are not here because they lost the war but because they started it. Politicians may have thought of them as soldiers, but soldiers know they were politicians." (my emphasis)

    Said he to his U.S. British, Russian and French colleagues: "The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars ... is to make statesmen responsible to law. And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law . . . must condemn aggression by any other nation, including those which now sit here in judgment."


    James S likes this.
  16. beccajade

    beccajade Member

    Remember it was all going on shaky grounds until Rudolf Hess appeared in court with his crime and only then did they finally confess their crimes, so yes I think it was fair to have to highlight the suffering of millions caused by these few people. I think the doctors trial should have had more press.
  17. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    I think the doctors trial should have had more press.

  18. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    I can't imagine a situation where the Allies could not have held some kind of trial of senior political and miltary figures of the Nazi regime. The only other options would have been shoot them out of hand, clap them up in jail without a trial or just let them go and pretend nothing happened. None of which were feasible at all in 1945.

    Perhaps there are some anomolies in how trials happened - Speer escaping the noose while Sauckel didn't springs to mind. Was that down to how Speer conducted himself? probably. But then can't that happen in any kind of trial - if a defendant has the gift of the gab, or a good defence lawyer, for example? Thats something to do with law in general, not just Nuremberg.

    If you look at the historical legacy of the trials, they have set a precedent for similar trials since, I think without a big underlining statement like the Nuremberg trials the various International Courts, war crimes tribunals etc might not have happened quite like they did. And that 'I was only following orders' is not a defence for war crimes is a very imporan precedent too I think.
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I was interested to read Col. Scotland's comments in his book 'The London Cage' regarding the trial of Germans alledged to have comitted War Crimes in Italy during the war. He felt Britain should not have got involved or held them and after interrogating Kesselring on quite a few occassions he was involved in getting his death sentence reduced.

    His thoughts on the trials seemed to be confirmed when the Italians held their own trials and found Kappler innocent of the majority of murders at the Ardeatine Cave. I think he was found guilty of around 10 of the murders out of the 330 or so and that was only because of a clerical error sent too many than were ordered to be massacred.
  20. MeaganK777

    MeaganK777 Junior Member

    Hi everyone. So I'm doing a report on the Nuremberg Trials for school, and i'm looking for some info, and i thought this would be a good place to look.
    Well when it comes to just factual information, I'm able to find that stuff in books, online, etc. However we're also supposed to write about if there were any injustices in the trial we chose. Also, if so, what people are supposed to take and learn from those injustices.
    Well i don't really think this is something that can really be "proven", but is just a matter of personal opinion. So i guess that's why I'm here, what are your opinions of the trials? Would you consider the trials to be "fair"?
    Also, any other recommended sources would be appreciated. Thanks!

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