The Nuremberg Trials/War Crimes Essay, Research Paper
The Nuremberg Trials
War crimes, in practice, are offenses charged against the losers of the
war by victor. During WW II there were three types of war crimes were
committed by Germany. The first: crimes against peace, which included
preparing for and starting a war of aggression in violation of treaties. The
second: murder, ill treatment, the killing of hostages; plunder of public or
private property; the destruction of cities and towns. The third: crimes
against humanity, which include persecution on racial, political, or religious
grounds either before or during a war. All of these violations were raised on
Trials of the Nazi leaders begun on October 18, 1945, and lasted for 10
months. Trials of Japanese leaders began on May 3, 1946 in Tokyo and
ended on November 12, 1948. There were more than 2,000 lesser trials
accusing Nazi leaders of wrong doing. Even more took place in the Soviet
Union. Most of the war criminals were convicted, and many were also
The Nuremberg Trials, one of the more substantial trials, accused 22
German Nazi leaders of war crimes. Altogether 12 were sentenced to death,
including Keitel, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Bromann (who was tried in
absentia), and Goering (who committed suicide). Only three, including Hess
were given life sentences. Just four, including Doenitz and Speer were
sentenced to up to 20 years of prison. Amazingly, three including Papen and
Schacht were acquitted. These trials brought some anger and sadness. The
prosecution took almost four months to present their case to the jury.
Each man who was being tried was a major part of the whole Nazi
power. Albert Speer (1905-81) was a German architect and public official
who became Hitler’s number one architect. Albert devised a system of slave
labor which showed in the concentration camps. Albert served 20 years in
Arthur von Seyss-Inquart (1892-1946), was a German political leader.
He became the leader of the Nazi movement in Austria, then became
governor of Austria after it was taken over by Germany. Soon after he was
made the deputy governor of Poland which was occupied by Germany.
Shortly after, he was made the Reich commissioner of Netherlands. Arthur
von Seyss-Inquart was the Reich commissioner for five years before being
Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) was a German political leader and the
educator of Nazi youth. Later in his life he directed a philosophical outlook
for the Third Reich. He was made minister for the East in 1941. He was
later hanged for war crimes in October 1946.
Erich Raeder (1876-1960) was the commander-in-chief of the German
Navy from 1935-43. Erich Raeder was the naval adviser to Hitler and head
of the naval service to combat the Allied invasion. He was sentenced to life
imprisonment for war crimes in October 1946, but was released due to ill
health. While in prison Erich wrote many books.
Karl Doenitz (1891-1980) was a German submarine expert and was
made commander-in-chief of the German Navy in 1943 after Erich Raeder.
Karl succeeded Hitler and made fuhrer in May 1945. About one year later he
was imprisoned for war crimes in 1946-56, and while in prison wrote a book
Wilhem Keitel (1882-1946) was a German army officer that was also
made commander-in-chief of German armed forces in 1938. Wilhem was one
of the more notable people who signed the World War II surrender in 1945.
Wilhem was hanged for war crimes in 1946.
Martin Bormann (1900-45?) was the German head of the Nazi party
during most of World War II and a very powerful associate of Adolf Hitler.
He was imprisoned in 1924 for participation in a politically-motivated
murder. Although he was suppose to be in prison for a long period of his life
he joined the Nazi party and was easily released from prison. He was a major
advocate of the extermination of many Jews. Although he wasn’t present for
the Nuremberg trials he was tried in absentia. He was convicted and was
sentenced to death by hanging. Some people believe his remains were found
in West Berlin in 1972.
Hermann Wilhem Goering (1893-1946) was a German Nazi leader,
chief of secret police, field marshal, and marshal of the Third Reich. He was
second to Hitler himself. Hermann was the one man in Hitler’s inner circle
with a distinguished social and military background. He was the second most
powerful man and was thought to be very pleasant, but in reality was addicted
to morphine. He was captured by the allies and was tried for war crimes. He
was convicted but committed suicide on October 19, 1946.
Josef Mengele “Angel of Death” (1911-79?) was the Nazi doctor at
Auschwitz. Josef had a medical degree from the distinguished University of
Frankfurt. He thought up the idea of the deadly gas chambers. Mengele was
also known for his many medical experiments, especially on twins. He
escaped to Bavaria than to South America, settled in Brazil and moved to
Paraguay to because there was no extradition treaty with any other country.
Supposedly Mengele’s body was found in 1979 and after much controversy
and later DNA testing this proved to be true in 1991.
There were also many German officials who fled the demolished Nazi
empire and moved to South America. Many were never heard from until their
deaths, but Israel’s intensive efforts in tracking down the war criminals paid
off. It was poetic justice that the people who tried to exterminated the Jews
were caught and punished by the same Jews.