Germany marks 60 years after Nuremberg Trials
21 November 2005, NUREMBERG, GERMANY - Germany commemorated on Sunday the sixtieth anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg Trials where the Allies brought Nazi war criminals to justice.
21 November 2005
NUREMBERG, GERMANY - Germany commemorated on Sunday the sixtieth anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg Trials where the Allies brought Nazi war criminals to justice.
There were no ceremonies on Sunday, the actual anniversary, but a an academic conference on the trial was to begin in Berlin on Monday.
On the eve of the anniversary, 300 international guests gathered in Courtroom 600 at the Palace of Justice, which is still in daily use as a courthouse in Nuremberg.
At the Saturday gathering, a top German official criticized the refusal of the United States and other nations to recognize the new International Criminal Court in The Hague.
That court's president, Philippe Kirsch of Canada, said legal scholars had long under-estimated the Nuremberg Trials.
"For me personally, even 10 years ago, the Nuremberg Trials were just an historic event," he said. Perceptions had changed after the international community set up tribunals to try war crimes and genocide in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The Nuremberg Trials were now seen as marking the start of an international jurisdiction over such crimes, he said.
Alfred Hartenbach, state secretary in the German Justice Ministry, said all nations should accept the new court's jurisdiction so as to avoid a repeat of war crimes such as those committed by the Nazis.
"Unfortunately, we are a long way from that," he said in Courtroom 600. Without naming names, Hartenbach expressed regret that "some of the most populous and influential states in the world have still not ratified the treaty of the International Criminal Court."
From November 1945 to October 1946, the postwar Nuremberg tribunal set up by the Allied powers put 21 top Nazis on trial for war crimes and sentenced 11 to death. Another, Martin Bormann, was condemned to death in absentia, though it later emerged that he had died in 1945.
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler never faced trial, having killed himself in the final days of World War II.
On September 30 and on October 1, 1946 the court announced its verdicts. Hitler's closest cohorts were sentenced to death by hanging, seven were given life sentences or lesser terms, and three were acquitted.
Before the war even ended, the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain had already agreed to punish those responsible for war crimes. France also oversaw the trials.
When Hermann Goering, chief of the Luftwaffe, trustee of the Reich's Four Year Plan, and successor-designate to Hitler, was given a death sentence, he cheated his captors by crunching on a cyanide pill. He died in his cell on the night before execution.
The other 10 top Nazis were hanged in the early morning of October 16, 1946 in the old gymnasium of the Nuremberg prison.
Subject: German news