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    Milestones: 1945–1952

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    Home Milestones 1945-1952 The Nuremberg Trial and the Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1945–1948)

    MILESTONES: 1945–1952


    “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” has been retired and is no longer maintained. For more information, please see the full notice.

    The Nuremberg Trial and the Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1945–1948)

    Following World War II, the victorious Allied governments established the first international criminal tribunals to prosecute high-level political officials and military authorities for war crimes and other wartime atrocities. The four major Allied powers—France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—set up the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany, to prosecute and punish “the major war criminals of the European Axis.” The IMT presided over a combined trial of senior Nazi political and military leaders, as well as several Nazi organizations. The lesser-known International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) was created in Tokyo, Japan, pursuant to a 1946 proclamation by U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in occupied Japan. The IMTFE presided over a series of trials of senior Japanese political and military leaders pursuant to its authority “to try and punish Far Eastern war criminals.”

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    The origins, composition, and jurisdiction of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals differed in several important respects beyond their geographical differences and personalities. Plans to prosecute German political and military leaders were announced in the 1942 St. James Declaration. In the declaration, the United States joined Australia, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Soviet Union, and nine exiled governments of German-occupied countries to condemn Germany’s “policy of aggression.” The Declaration stated that these governments “placed among their principal war aims the punishment, through the channel of organized justice, of those guilty of or responsible for these crimes, whether they have ordered them, perpetrated them or participated in them.”

    In August 1945, the four major Allied powers therefore signed the 1945 London Agreement, which established the IMT. The following additional countries subsequently “adhered” to the agreement to show their support: Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, India, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.

    The Charter of the International Military Tribunal (or Nuremberg Charter) was annexed to the 1945 London Agreement and outlined the tribunal’s constitution, functions, and jurisdiction. The Nuremberg tribunal consisted of one judge from each of the Allied powers, which each also supplied a prosecution team. The Nuremberg Charter also provided that the IMT had the authority to try and punish persons who “committed any of the following crimes:”

    (a) Crimes Against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

    (b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

    (c) Crimes Against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

    The IMT prosecutors indicted twenty-two senior German political and military leaders, including Hermann Goering, Rudolph Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, and Albert Speer. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was not indicted because he had committed suicide in April 1945, in the final days before Germany’s surrender. Seven Nazi organizations also were indicted. The prosecutors sought to have the tribunal declare that these organizations were “criminal organizations” in order to facilitate the later prosecution of their members by other tribunals or courts.

    The Nuremberg Trial lasted from November 1945 to October 1946. The tribunal found nineteen individual defendants guilty and sentenced them to punishments that ranged from death by hanging to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Three defendants were found not guilty, one committed suicide prior to trial, and one did not stand trial due to physical or mental illness. The Nuremberg Tribunal also concluded that three of the seven indicted Nazi organizations were “criminal organizations” under the terms of the Charter: the Leadership Corps of the Nazi party; the elite “SS” unit, which carried out the forced transfer, enslavement, and extermination of millions of persons in concentration camps; and the Nazi security police and the Nazi secret police, commonly known as the ‘SD’ and ‘Gestapo,’ respectively, which had instituted slave labor programs and deported Jews, political opponents, and other civilians to concentration camps.

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    Why Was International Military Tribunal Set Up At Nuremberg, At The End Of The War? Doubt Answers

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    Why was International Military Tribunal set up at Nuremberg, at the end of the war?

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    Abhishek Mishra

    9 months ago

    The International Military Tribunal was set up at Nuremberg by the Allies to prosecute Nazi war criminals for Crimes against Peace, for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

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    SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTION Why was an International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg set

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    Why was an International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg set-up at the end of the Second World War?

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    Updated on : 2022-09-05

    (i) At the end of the Second World War, an International Tribunal at Nuremberg was set up to persecute Nazi war criminals for crimes against peace, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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    (ii) Germany's conduct during the war, especially those actions which came to be called Crimes Against Humanity, raised serious moral and ethical questions and invited worldwide condemnation.

    (iii) However, the Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced only eleven leading Nazis to death. Many others were imprisoned for life.

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