How Did the Nuremberg Trials Work and Who Was Tried and Why? Essay
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The war crime trials held at Nuremberg are one of the most well-known trials against humanity in history. These trials were very complex and consisted of many people from many different countries. Justice was a big part of these trials and justice was served to the people who were tried and convicted throughout this complex process. The specific name for these trials was the International Military Tribunal, often referred to as IMT (Taylor Intro). These were complex trials which sought to break new legal ground on major issues of international law (Taylor 4).
Simply, the Nuremberg trials were created to convict the people who were involved in the Holocaust and the destruction of Poland as well as other events. The events of the Nazi era were a major part of the Nuremberg trials (Taylor 3). These trials were much more intricate than the average person would think. It changed the lives of many, many people; not only were the families of those convicted but of the people who sat in on the hearings were affected. Everyone who was remotely involved in these trials was affected by them. But what law was the International Military Tribunal enforcing? Ordinary courts and trials are based on the statuses of sovereign nations.
However, the IMT was no ordinary court. It was established by the United States and three other major European Nations, and the laws by which the IMT was bound were not the laws of those or of any other nations. For its rules on crime the IMT looked primarily to the international “laws of war,” violations were called “war crimes” (Taylor 5). Humanitarianism played a large role in the development of the laws for Nuremberg (Taylor 5). The laws by which the tribunal would follow were not chosen over a day’s time but, they were well thought out, reviewed and reviewed again. This was necessary for the simple reason that there would be no way for the accused to beat the system because something in the wording was wrong.
One of the most famous trials from Nuremberg was that of Goering; Hermann Goering. Goering was commander in chief of the air force, president of the Reichstag, and prime minister of Russia. He was found guilty for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity (Goldensohn 101). It took much more than just taking a look at what Goering did during his time of doing these disastrous things, they looked at his parents, his childhood; they took a look at his personal issues. They went deep enough even to look at his past wives (Goldensohn 101). Unlike most people convicted throughout the trials; Goering was willing to accept that he actually did these things. He admitted his wrong doings (Goldensohn 102). Usually the convicted would try to fight the system.
Goering was a smart man and knew it was easier to accept these things because he knew he did them. Goering was willing to say he was Hitler’s successor; he worked face-to-face with Hitler (Goldensohn 102). That right there could have been enough for the penalty of death. Goering believed that his childhood has no major effect on his adult personality, but that his childhood qualities were the same he acquired now; he didn’t change much. Goering’s trial ended in him being sentenced to death by hanging. Two hours before this scheduled execution, on October 15, 1946 he committed suicide in his cell (Goldensohn 101). Goering’s case was one of the more complex and more interesting cases. He understood what was going on and didn’t fear for his life because he knew all of the things he did were wrong.
Walther Funk was minister of economics from 1937 to 1945 (Goldensohn 76). He was tried at Nuremberg. Unlike Goering, Funk feared for his life and would become defensive and teary-eyed when asked about his political activity. He claimed he was only a small part of the things that happened and had no idea what was going on (Goldensohn 76). Funk did not lead the destructive life-style that Goering did but what he did in his adult years was enough to get him into these trials and be convicted. In 1931 he retired from the editorship of the paper, “because I felt that the National Socialists were certain to assume power and I was drawn to the movement.
Germany was in a crisis. Unemployment was great. Class struggles existed (Goldensohn 77). Funk was never part of the inner circle of Hitler, He was not a politician (he only headed the office for Private business for a few months) (Goldensohn 79). Then average person today in 2011 would think that all the people tried in Nuremberg hated the Jews and were anti-Semitic. Funk was actually a friend with many Jewish people, he worked with Jews; he did not hate them (Goldensohn 80). At Nuremberg they accused Funk for the rearmament of Germany. Funk claims that it was false and it was in the hands of Georg Thomas (Goldensohn 81). In the end, on October 1st, 1946; Funk was sentenced to life in prison. He was released in 1957 for health problems and later died in 1960.
The Nuremberg trials were different and more complex than most trials. They were held to serve justice. In the end justice was served. The International Military Tribunal was successful in what they wanted to accomplish in the first place. These trials are not fully understood by many especially in the laws that they followed and how the trials were run. Having multiple nations involved and defendants from many nations; it became hard through translation and things like that. The Nuremberg trials broke the legal ground internationally that it sought to break.
Jacklyn Oleksak 3/23/11
Works Cited Pd. 2
Dodd, Christopher J. Letters from Nuremberg. New York: Crown Publishing, 2007. Print.
This book did not help me as much as I thought it would. Titled “Letters from Nuremberg” it sounded like it would help. After reading various pages I noticed it was more of a novel of enjoyment rather than a useful resource. It was a fairly easy resource to understand and the authors credentials were very good but I only used a line of two from the whole book. I got it at the Plainedge Public Library with two other books about the trials.
Goldensohn, Leon. The Nuremberg Interviews. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2004. Print.
Goldensohn has the best credentials of all. He was the one interviewing the defendants in his book. Therefore, all his information was accurate. The books reliability was very high because it had so much information and by checking other sources, it was all correct. It was written a bit above an easy reading level but I was able to understand it fairly well and get the information I needed. I accessed it at the Public library while looking through books for my research.
Gormley, Larry. “Hermann W. Göring.” Ehistory archives. 2001. OSU department of history. 17 March 2011. <http://ehistory.osu.edu/World/PeopleView.cfm?PID=361>.
This website was fairly helpful. I didn’t use it as a primary source but rather as a source to check information. It was helpful in the part of my essay about Goering. It gave me a good oversight of what that paragraph would be about and then I got the more complex details in the Nuremberg Interviews book. I accessed it through advanced search on google.
Linder, Doug. “The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials: An Overview.” World famous trials. 2000. Nuremberg trials. 15 March 2011. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/subsequenttrials.html>
This like the Ehistory archives website gave me a great overview of what my paper was going to be about. It was very useful in helping me find out what was important for my paper and what was not as important. It helped my research become more detailed and it made it a better paper all together. I accessed it in the PHS library from searching on advances search Google.
Taylor, Ella. “Crimes against humanity.” The Village Voice. 29 September- 5 October 2011. ProQuest. PHS library. 22 March 2011. http://proquest.umi.com
This website did not help me at all. It was not as to the point as the other resources I used. It was vague and unhelpful. It did have some correct information and it was a knowledgeable source but it was not what I needed to write my paper. I accessed it through the PHS databases.
Taylor, Telford. The anatomy of the Nuremberg trials. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1992. Print
This was my most valuable source. It gave me much more than I needed and gave me a variety of information to choose from. It was not an easy reading level to read at. It was most likely written for well-educated adults but I was able to decipher the information I needed for my research. The information is accurate, I checked through other sources. This was my most helpful guide throughout the research. I accessed it at the Public library.