After Germany’s defeat in WWII, the Nuremberg and later trials were organized primarily for political purposes rather than to dispense impartial justice. Wears War brings to you each week a quote from the many fine men and women who were openly appalled by the trials. All of these people were highly respected and prominent in their field, at least until they spoke out against the trials.
After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation by MacDonogh, Giles.
British Historian Giles MacDonogh:
The hypocrisy of Nuremberg Law alarmed many people. One was the Indian jurist Rahabinode Pal, a judge in the Tokyo trials, who dissented from the judgments, seeing the sentences meted out as retrogressive,
‘a sham employment of legal process for the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge’.
Left: A surviving mother and child in Hiroshima were posed for a victorious display by the American Allies. Right: Two German women & their children were slaughtered with barbaric savagery, their corpses were then lined up for display by the victorious Soviet Allies after General Patton was forcibly halted.
Field Marshal Lord Montgomery also disapproved of the tenor of the trials that
‘have made the waging of unsuccessful war a crime, for which the generals of the defeated side would be tried and then hanged’.
He understood that if the Germans had won the war, he might have been put on trial himself. Shortly after a British Military Court in Hamburg sitting in the aptly named Curio-Haus had condemned Field Marshal Erich von Manstein to 18 years in prison, the Korean War broke out, and the German press was happy to report that the American army was accused of precisely the same atrocities as the field marshal…
The Allies put a brave face on it, but the International Military Tribunal had not been deemed a success and it was put in mothballs. Robert Jackson was ‘thoroughly disenchanted’ with the trials. He had particularly disliked the methods of the Soviets. The Allies had in fact taken stock of the criticisms leveled at the trials. The presence of a Russian judge on the bench (and a general rather than a jurist) had been an embarrassment. It was decided that the Allies should try their own Nazis in their own zones. That way the ideological differences between the Allies would be less immediately obvious. Jackson had recommended to Truman that any more international trials of this nature would have to be held in Berlin. This never happened, of course. Nuremberg would go on, but as a solely American jurisdiction. After the first 11 victims had been dispatched, the cells filled up with new inmates who were to pass before the tribunal.
For more information please see: http://carolynyeager.net/auschwitz-underground-guided-tour
Source: MacDonogh, Giles, After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, New York: Basic Books, 2007, pp. 432, 451.