AnInternational Case: Nuremberg Trials
AnInternational Case: Nuremberg Trials
Theworld has been struggling to deter crimes against humanity for manyyears, but it is evident that this category of offenses is stillcommon. All people desire to live in peace since this is the only wayto achieve political, social, and economic development. However,systematic attacks that target civilians are a commonplace phenomenonthat that leads to crime against humanity (Sellars, 2011). Theseincidents have been taking place, in spite of the efforts made by theinternational community to develop laws that seek to punish theperpetrators of offenses that violate the rights of individualcitizens and vulnerable groups. This paper will provide the analysisof the Nuremberg Trials, with a focus on their summary, analysis,implications, and lessons.
of the Trials
Theobjective of these trials was to bring individuals (includingpoliticians, business leaders, and members of the judiciary) who tookpart in the Holocaust and related crimes to justice. The key factorsthat motivated the Allied Forces to establish tribunals includeoffenses that were committed by individuals prior the Second WorldWar (Sellars, 2011). The decision to form the courts was made by ninecountries that had been occupied by Germany. However, the SovietUnion, the U.S., and the U.K. had a significant influence, especiallyin the determination of the criteria that was used to determinewhether the suspected members of the Nazi group were guilty orinnocent. They were held in Nuremberg due to the availability ofspace in the Palace of Justice and the fact that it was considered asthe birthplace of the political movement known as the Nazi.
Althoughthe offenses committed by the Nazi members were heinous, the trialstook a short period of about one year. The actual hearing of thecases started in November 1945 and ended in October 1946 (Sellars,2011). The court relied on the evidence presented by accusers todiscover the key events that culminated in the occurrence of theSecond World War. The objective of holding these proceedings was torender justice to individuals and households of over 60 millionpeople who died of affected by the actions of the Hitler regime(Sellars, 2011). The outcome of the trials affected the accusedpersons in different ways. Twelve of them were given a deathsentence, two could not be charged, and seven suspects wereimprisoned for periods ranging from 10 years to life (Marrus, 2014).Those who were put to death row were hanged in October 1946 where thestandard drop approach was used.
Analysisof the Trials
Althoughthe World War II is the major event that is associated with thetrials, the primary incident that resulted in their onset was theHolocaust. During this period (1841-1945), the Nazi members andmilitary groups committed one of the most significant genocides inthe world’s history (Sellars, 2011). The Holocaust wascharacterized by the mass killing of members of the Jews communitywho resided in Europe.
Studiesindicate that about 11 million people from the Jews minority groupwere murdered within a period of less than five years (Sellars,2011). Others were killed, not because of their race or nationality,but their political position that seemed to suggest that they wereopposed to the Nazi regime. Other groups that were affected by thismassive genocide include the members of the Freemasons, Sovietcitizens, disabled, Jehovah’s Witness, communists, and homosexuals(Sellars, 2011). Apart from killing, the Nazis also subjected theirvictims to slavery, among other forms of inhuman treatment.
Thegenocide perpetrated by Nazi regime resulted in the onset of theWorld War II in the year 1939 as the international community tried tointervene and end to a massive violation of the rights of theminority in Germany as well as other territories that Hitler hadmanaged to occupy. The target communities were taken to ghettos andconcentration camps (Marrus, 2014). The level of resistance of thevulnerable groups was quite limited, but the Jews were able to form asmall militia of armed men that initiated the event referred to asthe Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the year 1943 (Marrus, 2014).
Resistantforces had no capacity to overcome the Nazis. Instead, millions ofpeople were killed in the extermination camps while others weremurdered in gas chambers. The World War II is the key event thatbrought ceasefire in the region, which created an atmosphere for thetrials to take place (Marrus, 2014). Although Hitler had died, heleft tens of accomplices, who had played a critical role in theviolation of the rights of the Jews as well as other minority groups.
MainImplications of the Nuremberg Trials
Althoughthe trials resulted in the execution of several Nazi leaders, theyhad a lot of benefits to the society. The most important gainassociated with these court proceedings is the emphasis onadvancement of the concept of human rights at the internationallevel. The trials attracted the attention of the media houses acrossthe globe and influenced the establishment of the internal laws withlasting implications. One of these regulations is the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, which was developed with the objectiveof pressuring and guiding all countries to ensure that all people areprotected from different forms of injustice (Jackson, 2016). TheInternational Law Commission developed the seven principles holdingthat no suspect of the war crime in any part of the world is abovethe existing laws. These principles were established in 1950,following the conclusion of the cases as measures to reduce therecurrence of genocides (Jackson, 2016).
TheNuremberg trial have been praised for influencing the development oflaws that were intended to enhance the rights of all human beingsacross the globe, but it is evident that the desired social benefitswere not attained. This assertion is confirmed by the fact thatseveral incidents of crime against humanity and genocides have takenplace, in spite of the tough decisions made against the Nazi leadersafter the Holocaust. For example, the massive killings that tookplace in Bosnia in 1992 were a surprise to many since it would beexpected that politicians could fear facing similar consequences(Jackson, 2016). The implication of this argument is that countriesneed to find a portfolio of strategies, instead of relying on lawsonly.
Thereare two key lessons learned from the Nuremberg Trial. First, it isevident that there is a significant disconnect between thedevelopment of laws and the advancement of justice in the society.Incidents of crime against humanity have continued to increase acrossthe globe, in spite of the numerous laws as well as principles thatwere developed after the trials (Jackson, 2016). This trend suggeststhat laws do not address the underlying risk factors of civil war orhatred that leads to genocide. An emphasis on the legal measuresalone may not provide lasting solutions, since some of the keychallenges that result in the onset of battles associated with theviolation of human rights are attributed to economic and politicalissues. Therefore, it would be advisable for the stakeholders(including the international community) to consider a combination ofsolutions in the future, instead of relying on laws and judicialproceedings to deter heinous crimes.
Secondly,one can learn that events that affect human being in a negative wayshould motivate the international community to join hands and findlasting solutions. It has been argued that the outcome of the trialsdid not deter the occurrence of genocide in other regions (Jackson,2016). However, the numerous legal measures (such as the NurembergCode) provided the standard definition of human rights, which hasmade it easy to bring the culprits to justice. This lesson isfurther confirmed by the fact that the international institutions(such as the ICC) have the authority to intervene in crimes that havetaken place in a given country without being hindered by the localagencies. Prevention of heinous crimes calls for concerted efforts ofall interested parties. Therefore, the protection of human rights isthe responsibility of the international community and individualcountries.
TheNuremberg Trials were initiated by the Allied Forces in order topunish the Nazi leaders who had violated human rights by killing andoppressing the minority groups in different parts of Europe. However,the primary goal of these court cases was to set an example of whatshould happen to individuals who pursue their political or economicgoals through genocide. One of the most successes of the NurembergTrials is the human rights laws that were developed as tools toreduce the risk of the occurrence of mass killings in the future.Although this objective was not achieved as expected, it is clearthat the world has a comprehensive definition of the concept of humanrights, which has made it easy for the international community torespond rapidly when incidents of violation are noticed in any partof the world. The analysis of the Nuremberg Trials indicates that afocus on legal measures alone cannot resolve atrocities in the world.The international community needs to consider a combination ofstrategies that address economic, social, and political issues thatcontribute to the occurrence of crimes against humanity.
Jackson,H. (2016). The influence of the Nuremberg Trial on internationalcriminal law. TheRobert H. Jackson Center.Retrieved January 1, 2017, fromhttps://www.roberthjackson.org/speech-and-writing/the-influence-of-the-nuremberg-trial-on-international-criminal-law/
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Marrus,R. (2014). TheHolocaust at Nuremberg.Har Hazikaron: Shoah Resource Center.
Sellars,K. (2011). Imperfect justice at Nuremberg and Tokyo. TheEuropean Journal of International Law,21 (4), 1085-1102.