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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 party.
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.” (Smith, K.)

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, B.)

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 following violations:
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.