The Nuremberg Trials

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The Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg Trials is the general name for two sets of trials of Nazis involved in crimes committed during the Holocaust of World War II. The first, and most famous, began on November 20, 1945. It was entitled the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, which tried the most important leaders of Nazi Germany. The second set of trials, for lesser war criminals, was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10, at the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals.

Several times during World War II, the Allies met to discuss the postwar treatment of Nazi leaders. Near the end of the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the War Department to devise a plan for bringing war criminals to justice. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau suggested an "eye for an eye" approach: to shoot prominent Nazi leaders and banish others to far corners of the world. Secretary of War Henry Stimson endorsed a plan to try responsible Nazi leaders in court. The War Department plan labeled as war crimes the atrocities committed by Nazis, as well as waging a war of aggression. In April 1945, just two weeks after Roosevelt's sudden death, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was chosen to be the chief prosecutor for the United States at a war-crimes trial to be held in Europe soon after the war ended. The International Military Tribunal was set up by the four principal Allied countries: the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia. It was decided that judge and one alternate judge would be appointed from each prosecuting country. The Allied countries wanted the war crimes trial to be held in Germany, but in 1945, few German cities had standing courthouses in which a major trial could take place. One of the few cities that did was Nuremberg — ironically, the site of some of Adolf Hitler's most sensational rallies. It was also at Nuremberg that the Nazi leaders had proclaimed the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jews of their property...
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