From the International Military Tribunal to the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings: the American confrontation with Nazi Criminality Revisited

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Abstract

Nuremberg as event and as process: what does ‘Nuremberg’ mean? At the simplest, literal level it refers to the prosecution, in the German city of that name, of twenty-two senior German figures and six organizations before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in 1945–6. It can also represent the tens of thousands of trials of greater and lesser war criminals and collaborators conducted in Europe and Southeast Asia in the post-war period by the Allies, the liberated nations, and even erstwhile perpetrator states themselves. Figuratively, ‘Nuremberg’ can evoke any trial of transgressors of international humanitarian law anywhere since 1945. Pejoratively, and less often non-pejoratively, it stands for ‘the political trial’ or ‘victor's justice’. To the lawyers, judges and defendants involved, and to the German public of the post-war years, ‘Nuremberg’ might connote not just the IMT trial but also the twelve subsequent trials before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMTs) conducted in 1946–9 by the American occupation authorities against ‘major war criminals of the second rank’. Finally, to those interested not just in the purely legal successes and controversies of the trials, ‘Nuremberg’ may embrace the political aftermaths, as many convicted war criminals were prematurely released in the changed international circumstances of the 1950s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567–591
JournalHistory
Volume98
Issue number332
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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