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Nuremberg Trials facts for kids

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There were two sets of Nuremberg Trials.

The first, and most well known, were the trials of the leaders of Nazi Germany. This was organized by the International Military Tribunal (IMT). The judges and prosecutors were from the four wartime Allies, France, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The second set of trials were the 12 follow up trials (German: nachfolgende Prozesse). These trials were of groups of lower-ranking Nazis, like doctors, and officials of the German Foreign Office. Although the follow up trials were held in the same courtroom as the IMT trials, they were run by the Americans alone.

The original plan was for the IMT to hold several trials, and the Allies to hold their own trials of local officials as well. Cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies quickly broke down. The IMT only held the one big trial. So the US held trials of the next most important Nazis themselves.

The main trial

Göring and Hess during trials

The International Military Tribunal was opened on October 18, 1945, in the Supreme Court Building in Berlin. The first session was presided over by the Soviet judge, Nikitchenko. The prosecution brought charges against 24 major war criminals and six criminal organizations – the leadership of the Nazi Party, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Gestapo, the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the High Command of the German armed forces (OKW).

The indictments were for:

  1. Working with other people (legally called "Taking part in a conspiracy") to commit a crime against peace
  2. War crimes
  3. Crimes against humanity
  4. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace

The 24 accused were:

"I" indicted      "G" indicted and found guilty      "O" Not Charged

Name   Count Sentence     Notes
  1     2     3     4        
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R14128A, Martin Bormann.jpg

I O G G Death Successor to Hess as Nazi Party Secretary. Sentenced to death in absentia. His body was found in 1972.
Karl Dönitz.jpg

I G G O 10 years Leader of the Kriegsmarine, the Navy, from 1943. Started the U-boat campaign. Became President of Germany after Hitler's death. In evidence presented at the trial of Karl Dönitz on his orders to the U-boat fleet to breach the London Rules, Admiral Chester Nimitz stated that unrestricted submarine warfare was carried on in the Pacific Ocean by the United States from the first day that nation entered the war. Dönitz was found guilty of breaching the 1936 Second London Naval Treaty, but his sentence was not assessed on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare.
Hans Frank.jpg

I O G G Death Reich Law Leader 1933–1945 and Governor-General of the General Government in occupied Poland 1939–1945. Expressed sorrow.
Wilhelm Frick 72-919.jpg

I G G G Death Hitler's Minister of the Interior 1933–1943 and Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia 1943–1945. One of the writers of the Nuremberg Race Laws.
Hans Fritzsche12.jpg

I I I O Acquitted Popular radio commentator, and head of the news division of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Tried in place of Joseph Goebbels.

I G G G Life Imprisonment Hitler's Minister of Economics. Succeeded Schacht as head of the Reichsbank. Released due to ill health on May 16, 1957.

G G G G Death Commander of the Luftwaffe 1935–1945, Chief of the 4-Year Plan 1936–1945, and several departments of the SS, Prime Minister of Prussia. Committed suicide the night before his execution.
Rudolf Hess - extracto.jpg
G G I I Life Imprisonment Hitler's deputy, flew to Scotland in 1941 to try to make peace with Great Britain. After trial he was sent to Spandau Prison; died there in 1987.

Generaloberst Alfred Jodl
G G G G Death Wehrmacht. Keitel's deputy and Chief of the OKW's Operations Division 1938–1945. Later exonerated by German court in 1953.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
I O G G Death Highest surviving SS-leader. Chief of RSHA 1943–45, the central Nazi intelligence office. Also, commanded many of the Einsatzgruppen and several concentration camps.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1998-0112-500, Wilhelm Keitel.jpg

Wilhelm Keitel
G G G G Death Head of Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) 1938–1945.
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12331, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach.jpg
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
I I I ---- Major Nazi industrialist. CEO of Krupp AG 1912–45. Medically unfit for trial. The prosecutors attempted to substitute his son Alfried (who ran Krupp for his father during most of the war) in the indictment, but the judges rejected this as being too close to trial. Alfried was tried in a separate Nuremberg trial for his use of slave labor, thus escaping the worst notoriety and possibly death.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-0922-501, Robert Ley.jpg

Robert Ley
I I I I ---- Head of DAF, The German Labour Front. Suicide on October 25, 1945, before the trial began.
Konstantin von Neurath crop.jpg

G G G G 15 years Minister of Foreign Affairs 1932–1938, succeeded by von Ribbentrop. Protector of Bohemia and Moravia 1939–43. Resigned in 1943 after a dispute with Hitler. Released because of ill health on November 6, 1954.

I I O O Acquitted Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and Vice-Chancellor under Hitler in 1933–1934. Ambassador to Austria 1934–38 and ambassador to Turkey 1939–1944. Although acquitted at Nuremberg, von Papen was classed as a war criminal in 1947 by a German de-Nazification court, and sentenced to eight years' hard labour. He was acquitted following appeal after serving two years.
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-128-63, Erich Raeder.jpg
G G G O Life Imprisonment Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine from 1928 until his retirement in 1943, succeeded by Dönitz. Released because of ill health on September 26, 1955.
Joachim von Ribbentrop.jpg

G G G G Death Ambassador-Plenipotentiary 1935–1936. Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1936–1938. Minister of Foreign Affairs 1938–1945.
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2005-0168, Alfred Rosenberg.jpg

Alfred Rosenberg
G G G G Death Racial theory ideologist. Later, Minister of the Eastern Occupied Territories 1941–1945.
Fritz Sauckel.jpg

I I G G Death Gauleiter of Thuringia 1927–1945. Plenipotentiary of the Nazi slave labor program 1942–1945.
Hjalmar Schacht.jpg

I I O O Acquitted Prominent banker and economist. President of the Reichsbank 1923–1930 and 1933–1938 and Economics Minister 1934–1937. Admitted breaking the Treaty of Versailles.
Baldur von Schirach.jpg

I O O G 20 years Head of the Hitlerjugend from 1933 to 1940, Gauleiter of Vienna 1940–1943. Expressed sorrow.
Inquart crop.jpg

I G G G Death Helped the Anschluß (joining Germany and Austria). Was briefly Austrian Chancellor 1938. Deputy to Frank in Poland 1939–1940. Later, Reich Commissioner of the occupied Netherlands 1940–1945. Expressed sorrow.

I I G G 20 Years Hitler's favourite architect and personal friend, and Minister of Armaments from 1942. As Minister of Armaments, he used slave labour from the occupied territories in armaments production. Expressed sorrow.
Julius Streicher 72-920 crop.jpg

Julius Streicher
I O O G Death Gauleiter of Franconia 1922–1945. Incited hatred and murder against the Jews through his weekly newspaper, Der Stürmer.

"I" indicted      "G" indicted and found guilty      "O" Not Charged

The death sentences were carried out on 16 October 1946 by hanging using the inefficient American "standard" drop method instead of the long drop. The executioner was John C. Woods. The French judges suggested the use of a firing squad for the military condemned, as is standard for military courts-martial, but this was opposed by Biddle and the Soviet judges. They said that the military officers acted so badly they did not deserve to be treated as soldiers. The prisoners sentenced to jail were transferred to Spandau Prison in 1947.

The definition of what constitutes a war crime is described by the Nuremberg Principles, a document which was created as a result of the trial. The medical experiments conducted by German doctors and prosecuted in the so-called Doctors' Trial led to the creation of the Nuremberg Code to control future trials involving human subjects.

Four organisations were charged as being criminal. Only the SS was found guilty. These organisations were found not to be criminal:

  • Reichsregierung, (the Reich government or Cabinet)
  • Oberkommando and Generalstab der Wehrmacht, (the High Command and General Staff of the Armed Forces)
  • Sturmabteilung (the Stormtroopers or "Brownshirts")

The Nuremberg Trials
Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal
Trials before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals
I Doctors' Trial IV Pohl Trial VII Hostages Trial X Krupp Trial
II Milch Trial V Flick Trial VIII RuSHA Trial XI Ministries Trial
III Judges' Trial VI IG Farben Trial IX Einsatzgruppen Trial XII High Command Trial

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