The Nuremberg Trials and the Start of International Law
What were the Nuremberg Trials?
The Nuremberg trials were a series of international trials that were held in the German city of Nuremberg. The trials, which were of a criminal nature, took place in the wake of the Second World War. During the Nuremberg trials, the Allied Forces aimed to bring the architects of the Nazi regime to legal justice; the Allied forces, through the Nuremberg trials, tried numerous individuals who were aligned with the Nazi war machine. Although these efforts were applauded and deemed as noble, many of the premier participants in the Nazi regime were absent from the Nuremberg trials—many Nazis evaded capture by fleeing to other countries.
In the early months of 1943, the Allied forces agreed that some form of tribunal must be developed and held after the war to bring the Nazis to justice. The Allied forces developed and delivered this tribunal to hold the Nazis accountable for their atrocious war crimes—which were viewed as going far and beyond the norm expected in a war.
The Nuremberg trials were viewed as a benchmark and fundamental buttress for international law; the Nuremberg trials were a radical development of the International criminal justice system that ultimately played a principal role in the drafting of documents—such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Nuremberg Trials Explained:
The Nuremberg trials opened in 1945, as cases were brought against 22 prominent members of the Nazi regime. 12 of these 22 cases resulted in the delivery of death sentences for egregious violations of basic human rights. The Nuremberg trials, due to the precedent set and the overall viciousness of the Nazi regime, cited the Nuremberg laws, which were in essence the framework of the Nazi regime’s brutal actions.
In the first year of the Nuremberg trials, the stand was taken by individuals who played a fundamental part in creating and implementing the ideology of the Nazi regime. Through 1949, the Nuremeberg trials effectively brought lesser Nazi regime members to justice. The Nuremberg laws, when implemented in the Nuremberg trials, established volumes of case materials which would be ultimately used as precedents in future cases that involved blatant violations of human rights. The Nuremberg trials were implemented by Britain, the United States, Russia and France.
The Nuremberg Laws:
The Nuremberg laws were a series of anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany that were introduced during the Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi party. The Nuremberg laws classified individuals based on their lineage; those with four German grandparents were referred to as German or possessing “kindred blood”, while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewsih grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was referred to as a Mischling or a crossbreed of “mixed blood”. The Nuremberg laws deprived Jewish people of receiving German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Germans and those individuals who were of Jewish decent.
The Nuremberg laws also placed a ban on sexual intercourse between people defined as Jewish and non-Jewish Germans. In addition, the Nuremberg laws prevented Jewish people from participating in German civic life.