Hist1403E March 14, 2012
Nuremburg Trials (Criminal Trials)
Possible Exam Question: Present an argument for Stalin, Hitler, or Mussolini being either
functionalist or intentionalist.
403 sessions where the public were allowed to attend.
Over 100 witnesses (the French said it was a waste of time).
Focused on 3 Primary Groups (not general Nazis):
o SA Members
o SS Members
Started in 1939 – some people escaped early concentration camps, and got word out to
the English. The English told Americans, Americans didn’t believe it, and ignored it. The
escapees and estimated 100 000 people could be killed in Auschwitz if the rates
continued. This number proved wrong, but proves that people knew the potential at the
A number of people escaped Auschwitz, went to Hungary, and then USA. A war crimes
commission was established in 1943.
1944 – Roosevelt promised to do something, but wanted to keep it quiet. Negotiations
were started in March. How can you try a person for a crime when the offence was not
considered a crime at the time it was committed? A system needed to be developed.
1945 – Hitler had committed suicide and Mussolini had died. The commission is only
going to focus on Germany.
o Russia and France claimed it was a waste of time to find evidence. They wanted
to put them to death because everyone knew that they were guilty. The USA and
Britain insisted on finding evidence so that the measures would be carried out in
a legal manner.
Nuremburg was one of the only places big enough to hold the enormous trials.
London Conference - 1945
o Existed for the purpose for defining the laws that were going to be used in the
o They also decide where they will be dividing up the charges.
Count 1: Conspiracy – if there is a definite planned action against the
ruling government (Nazis having a plan to overthrow the German
Count 2: Crimes Against Peace – if you’re guilty of aggressively initiating
Count 3: War Crimes Against the Geneva Convention – torture of
inmates, insufficient nutrition or shelter, etc.
Count 4: Crimes Against Humanity – violates human dignity (used for
almost all doctors in the doctors’ trial). Judges
o Each country had two judges.
o Chosen differently. French chosen by their government, Russians by Stalin (so
he has constant communication), American were elected amongst the judges, and
British (very arrogant) by the Prime Minister.
o Fears voiced by Americans: How can we keep these men in prison? Will the
Germans try to break their “leaders” out of confinement? Solved by using an
annex in the mansion where the courts would be held.
o All four nations have to contribute military guards to watch the prisoners – they
were never left alone.
o One attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself with his shirt, but the shirt
rips, hits his head on the toilet and