The Nuremberg Trials
These crimes against humanity included cases of prisoners of war being murdered, sent to concentration camps and abuse as well as harmless civilians being rounded up and “exterminated” in death camps. At the end of the war, the Allies (USA, France, Britain, and Russia) felt that the Germans had to be held accountable for their inhumane actions and felt justified to punish the Nazis in an international court of law. On November twentieth, 1945 the Nuremberg trials began where twenty one of the top Nazi leaders where being prosecuted for their crimes during the war.
All of the Nazi defendants were considered innocent until proven guilty and were allowed to defend themselves against the charges. Some of the defendants such as Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel and Hans Frank used the defence that they were just following orders. Other defendants like Karl Doenitz and Albert Speer admitted their actions were wrong. Herman Goering believed his actions were for the greater good of Germany. After researching and gaining the knowledge of the Nuremberg Trials I believe that all six of these Nazi leaders are guilty and I think the judges decided on appropriate sentences for each of the accused.All six of these men helped lead the Germans to commit some of the most brutal crimes the world has ever seen and each of them had to face the consequences of their actions. Throughout Germany during the early to mid-1900’s, people were taught to obey their hierarchy and to not question authority.
The Nuremberg Trials Essay Example
From children listening to their parents to soldiers following the captain’s orders, the Germans were a nation who obeyed orders. During the Nuremberg Trails Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, and Hans Frank used the defence that they did nothing wrong as they were just following orders.Alfred Jodl had been Chief of Operations for the German High in Command (OKW) and was Hitler’s principal military adviser. During the examination period, Alfred Jodl stated, “I don’t see how they (the tribunal) can fail to recognize a soldier’s obligations to obey orders. That’s the code I’ve lived by all my life. If we had disobeyed Hitler we would have been shot or arrested. ” (Roland 69, originally said by Jodl).
I do not agree with Jodl’s argument as you are never truly forced to do anything as there is always more than one option in handling a situation.Alfred had the knowledge to understand what he was doing was cruel, but he decided to go through with these actions and follow the orders from Hitler. During the verdict, Jodl was found guilty on all four counts and was sentenced to death by hanging. As the Chief of OKW operations, he had been responsible for planning the domination of Europe which is a war crime. He had also signed orders for the execution of unarmed prisoners of war which is a crime against humanity. Overall I think this was a fair sentence because Jodl had to serve the consequences for his gruesome actions.This sentence displayed to the world that these inhumane actions during the war will not be tolerated.
Another accused Nazi that used the defence that he was just following orders was Wilhelm Keitel. Wilhelm was appointed Chief of Staff to the German High Command (OKW). During his time in prison Keitel told the psychiatrist Dr. Gilbert, “How in heaven’s name can they accuse me of conspiring to wage aggressive war when I was nothing but the mouthpiece to carry out the Fuhrer’s wishes? As Chief of Staff I had no authority what so ever, no command function, I had nothing. (Roland 70, originally said by Wilhelm Keitel). From the research I have done Keitel is portrayed as a disgraced desk soldier whose only defence in the trial was that he was obeying orders. I still do not agree with Wilhelm’s argument because he had a choice not to follow through with Hitler’s wishes but instead signed orders for various ruthless killings and attacks.
Keitel knew his actions were really obscene but he chose to go through with them to please Hitler. The judge’s final verdict for Wilhelm Keitel was that he is guilty on all four accounts and sentenced to death by hanging.Keitel signed orders for the attacks on the neutral countries of Belgium and the Netherlands. He also ordered the attacks on soldiers in the East that should be met by putting to death fifty to one hundred Communists for one German soldier’s death. The judges made the appropriate sentencing for Keitel as he deserved to die for his inhumane war orders. Superior orders, even to a soldier, cannot lessen the crime when the evil doings are committed deliberately and ruthlessly. These kinds of orders Keitel singed off on were just so vicious and cold blooded.
He was a part of the economic exploitation of Poland, which led to the starvation and death of many people. He was responsible for the deportation of millions of Polish slave labourers and took part in the murder of at least three million Jews. The evidence shows that the judges made the correct sentencing, in my opinion, as Frank deserved to be put to death for all of his unthinkable crimes against humanity. No nation, race or person deserves to be put through this kind of cruelty and there is no justifiable reason for these actions.There were numerous unimaginable crimes committed during World War Two. Many of these unlawful acts would traumatize the survivors from the war for the remainder of their lives. Some of the top Nazi leaders such as Karl Doenitz and Albert Speer took responsibility for their evil actions they carried out during the war.
Karl Doenitz was appointed the commander of the German navy during World War Two. Karl stated during the trial, “Politicians brought the Nazis to power and started the war. They are the ones who brought about hese disgusting crimes and now we have to sit there in the docks with them and share the blame. ” (Roland 71, originally said by Karl Doenitz). I agree with Doenitz’s argument because in my opinion the German navy caused the least amount of serious crimes throughout the war in comparison to the politicians and army leaders of Germany. The Germany navy still needed to share part of the blame like Karl said as they still committed less severe war crimes. The verdict stated that Karl Doenitz was guilty on counts two and three and was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment.
Although Doenitz built and trained the German U-boats, the evidence did not show he took part in the conspiracy to wage aggressive wars or that he prepared and initiated such wars. I think the judges made the appropriate sentencing for Karl Doenitz because he did not take part in any serious war crimes, but still has to share the blame with his fellow comrades. Another defendant that took responsibility for their actions during the war was Albert Speer. Speer was Hitler’s architect and Minister of Armaments.During the trial Albert stated, “I would like to sit down and write one final blast about the whole dam Nazi mess and mention names and details and let the German people see once and for all what rotten corruption, hypocrisy, and madness the whole system was based on. I would spare no one, including myself. ” (Roland 61, originally said by Albert Speer).
I am pleased to see that Speer acknowledged his wrongful decisions made during the war. It takes a lot of courage to go in front of the world and admit what you did was not right.I think he was one of the few Nazis who actually felt guilty for what he had done. The judges found Albert Speer guilty on counts three and four and he was sentenced to twenty years in prison. The evidence introduced against Speer relates entirely to his participation in the slave labour program. Speer knew when he made his demands on Sauckel that they would be supplied by foreign labourers who were obtained by forces. I think the appointed sentence was handed out to Albert because he did acknowledge and accepted foreign labourers that were forced to work, having their free will taken away.
This was extremely cruel, but compared to other war crimes, this was one of the less severe crimes, and therefore it had a less severe punishment. Both Doenitz and Speer realized their horrid actions and movements they took part in during the war and admitted they were wrong. Throughout World War Two almost all Nazi’s believed that the extermination of Jews and attack on other European countries would help benefit Germany in the long run. There was nobody who supported this philosophy more than Herman Goering. Goering believed that nothing was wrong with his destructive actions during the war.He was insulted when he was put on trial and was determined to prove what he did was to help make Germany a better country. Goering was appointed Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe (German air force) and was the minister in charge of the Four Year Plan for Germany.
Goering was Hitler’s right hand man. During the trials Herman stated, “I would rather die (gladly) than say we were wrong, we are not going to betray our fatherland. I am not ashamed of being a Nazi. ” When asked about the mass killings of the Jew this was Goering’s response, “The extermination of the Jews were for the greater good of the German economy. (Herman Goering cited from the movie). I do not approve of this argument because in my opinion there is no way the murders of millions of innocent people could ever benefit a nation whether it be Germany or any other country. Goering demonstrated an extreme lack of empathy and has no sense of guilt for the evil actions he has taken part in.
The judges found Herman Goering guilty on all four counts and he was sentenced to death by hanging. Goering developed the Gestapo and created the first concentration camps. He commanded the Luftwaffe in the attack on Poland and throughout the aggressive wars which followed.Goering approved the use of slave labour and also enjoyed persecuting the Jews. I think Herman’s sentence was appropriate because what he did was really outrageous and pure evil. He is solely responsible for the deaths and torture both physically and mentally of countless human beings. There are just no excuses for this type of behaviour.
Herman Goering will go down in history as one of the cruellest political criminals of all time. In conclusion I believe that all six of these Nazi leaders are guilty and I think the judges decided on appropriate sentences for each of the accused.All six of these men helped lead the Germans to commit some of the most brutal crimes the world has ever seen and each of them had to face the consequences of their actions. The Nuremberg Trials have made a big impact in international law to this this day. Laws have now been made on the international level to discourage the commitment of criminal acts and to punish those responsible of committing evil acts against different nations. Nuremberg has helped define what acceptable conduct is and has set limits during times of war in hope that nobody will ever have to experience the horrific tragedies of World War Two.