Para A. and Jorge L.
On November 20, 1945, the trials against German
war criminals began in Nuremberg, Germany. The defendants included
major Nazi officials, such as Herman Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joa-Chim
Von Ribbentrop, Karl Doenitz and others. Another trial, which also
began in Nuremberg was the Nazi organizations such as the Reich
Cabinet, the SS, the Gestapo, the SA and the General Staff of the
The idea for these trials was drawn up in London, with the London
Agreement of August 8, 1946. In this agreement, the U.S., provisional
got France, Britain and the U.S.S.R. agreed that there would be
an international war tribunal to convict war criminals of the Axis
Powers. The International Military Tribunal (IMT), was drawn up,
and given the authority to convict and sentence any individual,
declare any organization criminal and convict any member of the
organizations found to be a criminal.
The IMT included a justice from each of the allied countries and
one alternate for each. The British Lord Justice, Geoffrey Lawrence,
presided over the trials at Nuremberg, and the American Robert Jackson
was Chief Prosecutor. The defendants were given counsel and other
privileges that allowed for a fair trail. On October 1,1946, after
10 months of trials, the court reached a variety of verdicts. Three
were acquited, 12 were sentenced to death, 3 to life imprisonment
and 4 to imprisonment and 4 to imprisonment for shorter terms. (McVay)
The legal issues at Nuremberg included international
treaties; provision from the London Agreement. They were charged
with four counts of the London Agreement. The international treaties
included the HAGUE Conventions, the Versailles Treaty, the Treaties
of Mutual Guarantee, Arbitration and Non-Aggression.
The first count from London was conspiring
to engage in the outer 3 counts. This count was theoretical
and hard to argue. Robert Jackson attempted to capitalize on this
count, but was unsuccessful in convincing the jurors who just did
not understand the ideology of the count. (Smith, K.)
The second count was crimes against peace.
This count included the hyper-production of war lateral, the build-up
of military forces and preparations made for the war. It also included
the actual attacks on foreign nations.
The third count was war crimes. This
included violations of the laws of war. Also included was the killing
of soldiers and civilians not justified by military need.
Count four was crimes against humanities.
This count also included the death camps, labor camps, discrimination
and planned destruction of the Jews, Gypsies, Polish, and other
undesirables. In addition to these four counts, the
defendants were indicted on counts of violation of violation
of international treaties, agreements or assurances. (Smith,
The first is violations of the HAGUE Conventions.
Article 1 contains the following:
The Contracting Powers [Germany included] recognize that
hostilities between them must not commence without a previous and
explicit warning, in the form of a declaration of war, giving reasons,
or an ultimatum with a conditional declaration of war.
Germany, of course, did not mind this agreement when it attacked
Poland, France, Britain, Russia, or any other country in its path
of destruction. (Smith, B.)
More violations of international treaties included
ones against the Versailles Treaty. Major violations include the
Articles 42-44 which include the respect
of the de-industrialized zone of the Rhine land. Article 80, which
did not allow for the annescation of Austria and of course the rearmament
of the country which was outlawed in many articles of the treaty
The Treaties of Mutual Guarantee, Arbitration, and Non-aggression
which included the article:
All disputes of every kind between Germany
and Poland...which it may not be possible to settle amicably by
the normal methods of diplomacy shall be submitted for decision
to an arbitrable tribunal. This of course was violated
with German attacks upon Poland with no attempt to follow the steps
prescribed here. (Smith, B.)
Germany on many counts violated treaties that
(with the exception of the Versailles Treaty) she had entered by
her own will, which had purposes of good faith. The defendants were
faced with charges that although many came during the war, it should
have been seen as common sense and respect for human rights.