Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Monday, November 17, 2014
Nuremberg War Crimes Trials Began - November 20, 1945
This week (November 17-23) in crime history – Wealthy socialite
Barbara Baekland was stabbed to death in London (November 17, 1972); D.C.
Sniper John Muhammad was convicted (November 17, 2003); Mass suicide at
Jonestown (November 18, 1978); Arrest warrant issued for Michael Jackson
(November 18, 2003); Patty Hearst was released on bail (November 18, 1976);
Nuremberg War Crimes trials began (November 20, 1945); Phil Spector was
inducted for murder (November 20, 2003); Jonathan Pollard was arrested for
spying (November 21, 1985); President John F. Kennedy was assassinated
(November 22, 1963); Billy the Kid was born (November 23, 1859); Thomas McMahon
was sentenced for his role in the assassination of Lord Mountbatten (November
of the week –
On November 20, 1945, the International Military Tribunal
for the Prosecution of Major War Criminals of the European Axis began at
Nuremberg, Germany. Following Germany's defeat in World War II, Winston
Churchill planned to shoot top German and Nazi military leaders without a
trial, but Henry Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War, pushed President Roosevelt
to consider holding an international court trial. Since the trial did not begin
until after the death of President Roosevelt, President Harry S. Truman
appointed Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson to head the prosecution team.
The four countries pressing charges were Great Britain, the United States,
Russia, and France.
In his thoughtful opening remarks, Robert Jackson
eloquently summarized the significance of the trial. "That four great
nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance
and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of law," said
Jackson, "is one of the significant tributes that power has ever paid to
The trials attempted to hold Nazi and German military
officials accountable for atrocities including the massacre of 30,000 Russians
during the German invasion and the massacre of thousands of others in the
Warsaw Ghetto. Twenty-four defendants were tried, including Hermann Goering,
the designated successor to Hitler, and Rudolf Hess, Hitler's personal
secretary. All defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. When one of the
defendants demanded that an anti-Semitic lawyer represent him, an ex-Nazi was
assigned to his defense.
Because of the mountains of evidence and the many
languages spoken by the defendants and prosecutors, the trial was beset with
logistical problems. During the proceedings, Rudolf Hess feigned amnesia to
escape responsibility. Though many expected the most excitement to arise from
the cross-examination of Hermann Goering, his testimony was a letdown: he was
even attacked by his fellow defendants for refusing to take responsibility for
anything. Nineteen defendants were convicted: 12 were sentenced to hang, and
the rest were sent to prison. One man escaped the hanging by remaining at large
while Goering escaped by committing suicide. On October 16, 1946, 10 Nazi
officials were hanged.
Check back every
Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author
of the award winning Murder and Mayhem:
52 Crimes that shocked Early California, 1849-1949. For more information
visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com.
His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link.