Kaiser Wilhelm as the first war criminal
In November 1945 in the German Nuremberg trial began, which for the first time in the history of mankind was considered by the criminal acts of a political regime unleashed the world war, which killed tens of millions of people. The trial of top leaders of Nazi Germany not only put an end to the history of Nazi aggression against Europe, but became the basis for the formation of new norms of international law designed to prevent a new world war.
The Nuremberg translation. Thanks to whom the world learned about the crimes of the Nazis?
The issue of punishment of the head of state for war crimes arose after the First world war, when the prosecution of the war was presented to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. However, Kaiser found refuge in the Netherlands, and the authorities of this country refused to extradite the Emperor. In the end, despite the charges of “insulting the higher international morality and the sacred force of contracts,” Wilhelm II had happily lived out his days in freedom, having to learn about the occupation of Paris by Nazi troops during the Second world war and less than three weeks before the attack on the Soviet Union.
Two views of retribution
First the issue of the trial of the leaders of Nazi Germany were raised in the statement of the government of the USSR of October 14, 1942, “About the responsibility of the Hitlerite invaders and their accomplices for the atrocities perpetrated in the occupied countries of Europe”. In this paper the idea of creating an International Tribunal for judgment on the leaders of the Third Reich.
In November 1943, a Protocol was signed at the Moscow conference of foreign Ministers of the USSR, USA and great Britain, one of which was the “Declaration on the responsibility of Hitlerites for committed atrocities”. It was assumed that the perpetrators will be held accountable in accordance with the laws of the state in which the crime had been committed. It is particularly stipulated that “the Declaration does not touch on the question of major criminals whose crimes had no particular geographical location and who will punished by joint decision of the governments of the allies.”
The joint decision of the allies was not produced until 1945. If the Soviet side insisted on an open process, the allies strongly opposed it. Winston Churchill thought it necessary to shoot the leaders of the Third Reich without trial. A similar position is held and the President of the USA Franklin Roosevelt.
To judge or be shot on the spot?
In 1944, the leaders of the United States and great Britain offered Stalin another option of extrajudicial solution of a problem drawing up a list of 100 of the major war criminals, which was supposed to shoot within an hour after the arrest and identification. The Soviet leader rejected such an option.
The desire of Western leaders to resolve the issue with the main Nazis without a trial was due to two reasons — lack of sufficient legal framework for the process and fears that in its course you will find out the facts, put in a bad light themselves representatives of the anti-Hitler coalition.
The Soviet Union insisted at the trial not only to punish the leaders of the Third Reich, but also for recognition of criminal judicial procedure in the organizations and management structures of the Nazi state, which opened the way for the prosecution of all persons held in them.
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In February 1945 at the Yalta conference once again raised the issue of punishment for top officials of Nazi Germany. Stalin said — a war criminals should be tried. This point of view began to bow and Roosevelt. Churchill, albeit reluctantly, but was forced to accept the decision. While the British Prime Minister said that the trial of the major criminals should be a political and not a legal act. No information about the arrangements of the three leaders has not been published, so major criminals, knowing what awaits them, did not advance to retaliate against allied prisoners of war.
The process of global importance
The unwitting allies of Stalin in the question of the trial of Nazi leaders were leading us lawyers, were in favor of an open and transparent process. The point of view of professionals forced Roosevelt to support the idea of holding court.
Final arrangements for the international court of justice was achieved on may 3, 1945 at the meeting of foreign Ministers in San Francisco.
At the London conference, which ran from 26 June to 8 August 1945, lawyers of the USSR, USA, Britain and France worked out an Agreement and Charter of the International military Tribunal. The Charter, along with crimes against peace and war crimes are identified and crimes against humanity, attributing to him the destruction of any opposition to the Nazi course in Germany, persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, crimes with the purpose of physical and moral extermination of entire peoples.
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The lawyers had a very difficult task — in the shortest terms to create a legal framework for the process, agree on two procedural systems of law, the continental, which operated in the USSR and France, and the Anglo-Saxon adopted in the UK and the USA.
Charter of the International military Tribunal relied on the Hague and Geneva conventions, decisions and agreements of the League of Nations, predecessor of the United Nations. In the Charter of the IMT was and features, previously unknown practice. In paragraphs 6 and 9 of the Statute of the Tribunal, it was found that the subjects of the allegations may also be certain groups and organizations. Article 13 the court recognized Plenipotentiary to determine the course of the process.
In the future, the Statute of the Tribunal was recognized by 19 States, after which the Nuremberg Tribunal had fixed the unofficial title of “peoples court”.
The defendants and the “forbidden topics”
8 August 1945 it was agreed the list of persons who will have to appear before the International Tribunal. It has been included Hitler, Himmler , and Goebbels, whose death was by that time well established, but in absentia was included Martin Bormann, whose death will be reliably confirmed only decades later.
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In addition to Bormann, two people from the agreed list was not in the dock. German industrialist Gustav Krupp avoided the court because of his paralysis broke, and the head of the German labor front Robert Ley hanged himself in Nuremberg prison a few days before the start of the process.
As a result, defendants were 21 members of the political and military leadership of the Third Reich — G. Gering, R. Hess, J. von Ribbentrop, Keitel, E. Kaltenbrunner, A. Rosenberg, H. Frank, W. Frick, J. Streicher, Schacht, V. Funk, C. Doenitz, Erich Raeder, F. Sauckel, B. von Schirach, A. Jodl, Franz von Papen, A. Seyss-Inquart, A. Speer, Konstantin von Neurath, Fritzsche.
The defendant was charged with the organization and implementation of the conspiracy against peace and against humanity (murder of prisoners of war, murder and cruel treatment of civilians, looting public and private property, the establishment of a system of slave labor, etc.), committing the gravest war crimes. Was also raised the question of the recognition of the criminal security squads (SS), including the security service (SD), secret state police (Gestapo), the storm troopers (SA), the high command of the German armed forces and the leadership of the Nazi party.
Churchill’s fears regarding the awkward questions and those that can “float” in the process, resulted in a proposal to the allies to create a list of questions that are considered invalid. In particular, in this category fall questions about “the Munich agreement and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” — any attempt of the defendants and the defense to raise them should have been immediately stopped. A similar agreement between the USA, Britain, France and the Soviet Union agreed.
The venue of the process was elected in Nuremberg. The reasons for this decision were several. First, who was in the American occupation zone in Nuremberg was not seriously injured during the war.
Secondly, it housed the Palace of justice, well-suited for large process and also connected with the transition of the Nuremberg prison where the defendants were kept.
Inner hall prison. Round the clock security vigilantly watched the conduct of the defendants in the chambers. Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org
Thirdly, Nuremberg was of great ideological importance for the Nazis as it became a regular place for holding congresses of the Nazi party after Hitler came to power. In 1935, the city had adopted the “Nuremberg racial laws” that have caused the suffering and death of millions of people.
The defendants in the period of the process was kept in prison under guard of us military. Americans carried out escort and protection of defendants in the courtroom. The outer perimeter of the Palace of justice was controlled by the Soviet military.
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Four judges and four of the Prosecutor
In accordance with the agreement of the victorious powers, the international military Tribunal was formed on parity basis from representatives of the four countries. Presiding at the trial was the representative of great Britain, Geoffrey Lawrence, the Soviet Union was represented by Deputy Chairman of the Supreme court of the USSR the General-the major of justice ion Nikitchenko, USA — former Prosecutor General Francis Biddle, France — Professor of criminal law Donedio Henri de Vabre. To prevent a situation where the voices could be divided equally, Jeffrey Lawrence was given the right to vote.
The prosecution was represented by four of the Prosecutor, the duties between them were divided. U.S. Prosecutor Robert Jackson, one of the ideologists and organizers of the process, was responsible for the first section of the charges — “the common plan or conspiracy” on the part of Germany. The Prosecutor from great Britain, Hartley Shawcross supported the prosecution of crimes against the peace, Prosecutor Francois de Menthon — the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Western Europe, the Prosecutor of the USSR Roman Rudenko, the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia.
The first session of the Tribunal began at 10 a.m. on 20 November 1945.
Lawyers paid by the allies
The organizers of the process was interested in the fact that his verdict was recognized by the world community, therefore the defendants were given the maximum opportunity to protect. Defended the leaders of the Third Reich-the best German lawyers, imposing fees which were paid in the USSR and allies. Also on the shoulders of the representatives of the anti-Hitler coalition formed and other expenses, for example, ensuring the delivery of witnesses to trial to testify.
All of the defendants had the opportunity to study the presented documents in German language. The hearings were simultaneously translated into English, French, Russian and German. The proceedings were adversarial. The defence and the prosecution enjoyed equal opportunities to present evidence, to request witnesses, to produce cross-questioning, to make speeches.
Directly at the meetings of the Tribunal were 33 witnesses from the prosecution and 61 witness for the defense. In addition, the court was presented with affidavits from almost two thousand witnesses, as well as 6 reports summarizing 38 thousand affidavits in the case of SS, 10 thousand — in the case of SA 7 thousand — in the case of SD, and so on.
At meetings of the Tribunal had before it the documents discovered by Soviet and American military exposing the crimes of the leaders of the Third Reich. The total number of such documents was about 4500.
“Provocateur” Goering and Paulus as sensation
In addition, in the framework of the Nuremberg trials was shown film footage of the destruction of cities, destruction of cultural monuments and other crimes of the Nazis. A particularly deep impression on everyone present at Nuremberg was presented by the Soviet side produced the film footage of the Nazi “death camps”.
Maximum publicity of the process, advocated by Stalin, was eventually secured. They are 350 places in the courtroom 250 was given to the press. In addition, during the process it was issued more than 60 thousand admissions to the trial, many of which were given to the Germans.
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One of the main sensations in the process was the appearance in Nuremberg as a witness field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, captured at Stalingrad. In Germany and in the West it was believed that the former commander of the 6th army long dead. The testimony of Paulus directly involved in the creation of the plan “Barbarossa”, involves the implementation of the aggression and the “lightning war” against the Soviet Union, a serious blow to defense position.
Hermann Goering, a Nazi, a brilliant orator, unconditionally conceded only Georgi Dimitrov during the process of the burning of the Reichstag, giving the charge. He skillfully exploited the weaknesses of the charges, such as flaws in the legal validity of the Tribunal, the political shortcomings in the national systems of the countries-allies (segregation in the United States, the violent suppression of the rebellions in the colonies of great Britain, political repression in the USSR), and also tried to raise those topics which the allies agreed to stop.
However, in the process, it became clear that evidence of guilt of the Nazi leadership is more than enough.
Then the defendants and their lawyers made a bid to delay the process. Their calculation was associated with a rapid deterioration of relations between the USSR and the Western allies. And after that, in March 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous speech in Fulton, which is now considered the beginning of the cold war, among the defendants prevailed jubilation. Goering was confident that the process will fall apart, and he was not just released, but will hold a high post in Germany.
However, the former allies have enough political will to bring the process to the end.
After 10 and a half months of trial, combining 403 the court meeting, 1 October 1946, the verdict was brought in.
Hermann Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart and Alfred Jodl was sentenced to death by hanging. The same punishment was sentenced Martin Bormann.
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Rudolf Hess, Walther Funk and Erich Raeder were sentenced to life imprisonment Baldur von Schirach and albert Speer — to 20 years in prison, Constantin von Neurath to 15 years imprisonment Karl Doenitz to 10 years. Hans Fritzsche, Franz von Papen and Hjalmar Schacht were acquitted.
The Tribunal acknowledged the criminal organizations SS, SD, Gestapo and the senior members of the Nazi party. The Nazi Cabinet, the General staff and high command of the Wehrmacht criminal organizations were not recognized.
The Soviet judge Iona Nikitchenko, filed a dissenting opinion, where he objected to the acquittal of Fritzsche, Papen and Schacht, non-recognition of the German Cabinet of Ministers, the General staff and the OKW criminal organizations, as well as life imprisonment (not death penalty) to Rudolf Hess. On the whole, the Soviet side remained satisfied with the court verdict.
“Customers” Sergeant woods
The number of convicts filed appeals to the Control Commission of the allies in Germany. So, Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop, Sauckel, Jodl, Keitel, Seyss-Inquart, Funk, Doenitz and von Neurath asked for pardon. Goering, Jodl, and Keitel at the same time filed a petition to replace hanging with execution, if a pardon is rejected. Erich Raeder, the former commander of the Navy of the Third Reich, on the contrary, asked for no pardon, and the replacement of life imprisonment with the death penalty. However, all petitions were rejected.
American security Nuremberg prison failed again shortly before the execution, it turned out that Hermann Goering committed suicide with a vial of poison. About who and how he saved the Nazi from being a highly loop is still debated.
On the night of 16 October 1945 in the gymnasium of the Nuremberg prison the execution took place. Was specially built three gallows, from which two were involved. As chief executioner was an American Sergeant John woods, before the war, who acted as executioner in the United States.
In order not to delay the process, once sentenced was introduced into the hall at that moment, when with the nearby gallows was not yet removed the body of the previous executed. The entire process execution took just over one and a half hours. Next to the hanged man put the body of Goering. Once the bodies were photographed, the bodies under guard was taken to the crematorium. Then mixed the ashes of those executed were scattered over one of the local rivers.