A Comparison of the War Crime Trials Following World War Ii in Germany & Japan

Topics: Nuremberg Trials, International Military Tribunal for the Far East, War crime Pages: 9 (3300 words) Published: March 18, 2011
A comparison of the war crime trials following World War II in Germany & Japan

The war crime trials that took place all over the world, after World War II, were the first of their kind, and were meant to change the justice system in terms of international law during war time. The tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo were the most well known, trying 52 Japanese and German leaders between them. While similar in purpose and end result, the structure and organization were very different. The crimes that were tried by each differed from case to case, and Nuremberg was much more thorough. It is also the more widely publicized, for many reasons. It is the world symbol for the justice that is served to criminals for crimes against humanity and peace, while Tokyo lingers on obscurity. The Japanese trials might never have happened, as far the world is concerned, including the Japanese. They have never apologized, and no real mention is given in any textbook. While some of the lack of publicity might be credited to the deficiency of communication with the Western world, much of it is purposeful, part of the hypocritical treatment of the aftermath of the war on the part of the Americans and British. Nuremberg is touted as the “real” justice, Tokyo is shoved under the rug, and the Italians are never tried, even with the piles of evidence against them. The war crime trials themselves are unequal, with Nuremberg trying criminals on many counts, and Tokyo limited the sentencable crimes to a bare minimum. Overall, the Tokyo trials are a mockery compared to Nuremberg, and should, and could, have been handled much better. The socio and political states of Germany and Japan during the war, and the mentalities of the people and their leaders must be analysed, as well as the trials themselves. The severity of the crimes, the type of people tried and the public response are also important, for both trials, including the reasons why Tokyo was so downplayed. The reasons leading up to the trials, the decisions of the Allies in terms of treatment of Germany and Japan after the war, and why they didn’t give in to the bloodthirsty public. The suggestion of hypocrisy and the idea of “Victors’ Justice” must both be discussed. Finally, the affects today of the trials, both on international law and war crimes, and on the Germans and Japanese, are critical. When the situation with the Germans began to come under control, the Allied leaders needed a plan to deal with them. After the First World War, they had been forced to pay reparations, and to carry out “limited, and ultimately perfunctory, trials of a handful of war criminals”[1], but this obviously wasn’t enough of a consequence. Unfortunately, the plan being formed was not much better. The people of the West were crying for blood. They wanted all the Nazi leaders to be summarily executed. This vicious attitude had the leaders swinging in the opposite direction. Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., felt this might be the case and found evidence indicating that “a “soft” policy on Germany was in the making.”[2] He crusaded against this with all his might. An easy occupation system might also lay the basis for yet another round of aggressive German expansion and mass atrocities. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson championed what would become a second basic premise of the “Nuremberg” approach ' namely to “use judicial procedures that dealt with all the culprits from top to bottom, rather than using a combination of “political” executions of the top Nazis and trials for the underlings.”[3] The army’s top legal officer, General Cramer vigorously supported the view that all war criminals must be dealt with though trial, not by summary execution. Cramer also declared that under military law “it would be possible to simplify procedures in such trials and that mixed tribunals of civilian and military judges could be used.”[4] The score had been settled at the end of previous wars...
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