The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Judgment Of The International
Military Tribunal For The Trials Of
German Major War Criminals

[Page 1]

Nuremberg, 30th September and 1st October, 1946

THE PRESIDENT [LORD JUSTICE LAWRENCE, Member for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland]: The judgment of the International Military Tribunal will now be read. I shall not read the titles and the formal parts.


On 8th August, 1945, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of the United States of America, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics entered into an Agreement ["treaty Series No. 27 (1946)" Cmd. 6903.] establishing this Tribunal for the Trial of War Criminals whose offenses have no particular geographical location. In accordance with Article 5, the following Governments of the United Nations have expressed their adherence to the Agreement:

Greece, Denmark, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Ethiopia, Australia, Honduras, Norway, Panama, Luxembourg, Haiti, New Zealand, India, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

By the Charter annexed to the Agreement, the constitution, jurisdiction, and functions of the Tribunal were defined.

The Tribunal was invested with power to try and punish persons who had committed Crimes against Peace, War crimes, and Crimes against humanity as defined in the Charter.

The Charter also provided that at the Trial of any individual member of any group or organisation the Tribunal may declare (in connection with any act of which the individual may be convicted) that the group or organisation of which the individual was a member was a criminal organisation.

In Berlin, on 18th October, 1945, in accordance with Article 14 of the Charter, an Indictment was lodged against the defendants named in the caption above, who had been designated by the Committee of the Chief Prosecutors of the signatory Powers as major war criminals.

A copy of the Indictment in the German language was served upon each defendant in custody, at least 30 days before the Trial opened.

This Indictment charges the defendants with Crimes against Peace by the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, and assurances; with War crimes; and with Crimes against Humanity. The defendants are also charged with participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit all these crimes. The Tribunal was further asked by the Prosecution to declare all the named groups or organisations to be criminal within the meaning of the Charter.

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The Defendant Robert Ley committed suicide in prison on 25th October, 1945. On 15th November, 1945 the Tribunal decided that the Defendant Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach could not then be tried because of his physical and mental condition, but that the charges against him in the Indictment should be retained for trial thereafter, if the physical and mental condition of the defendant should permit. On 17th November, 1945 the Tribunal decided to try the Defendant Bormann in his absence under the provisions of Article 12 of the Charter. After argument, and consideration of full medical reports, and a statement from the defendant himself, the Tribunal decided on 1st December, 1945 that no grounds existed for a postponement of the Trial against the Defendant Hess because of his mental condition. A similar decision was made in the case of the Defendant Streicher.

In accordance with Articles 16 and 23 of the Charter, Counsel were either chosen by the defendants in custody themselves, or at their request were appointed by the Tribunal. In his absence the Tribunal appointed Counsel for the Defendant Bormann, and also assigned Counsel to represent the named groups or organisations.

The Trial, which was conducted in four languages English, Russian, French, and German began on 20th November, 1945, and pleas of "Not Guilty" were made by all the defendants except Bormann.

The hearing of evidence and the speeches of Counsel concluded on 31st August, 1946.

Four hundred and three open sessions of the Tribunal have been held. Thirty-three witnesses gave evidence orally for the Prosecution against the individual defendants and 61 witnesses, in addition to 19 of the defendants, gave evidence for the Defense.

A further 143 witnesses gave evidence for the Defense by means of written answers to interrogatories.

The Tribunal appointed Commissioners to hear evidence relating to the organisations, and 101 witnesses were heard for the Defense before the Commissioners, and 1,809 affidavits from other witnesses were submitted. Six reports were also submitted, summarizing the contents of a great number of further affidavits.

Thirty-eight thousand affidavits, signed by 155,000 people, were submitted on behalf of the Political Leaders, 136,213 on behalf of the SS, 10,000 on behalf of the SA, 7,000 on behalf of the SD, 3,000 on behalf of the General Staff and OKW, and 2,000 on behalf of the Gestapo.

The Tribunal itself heard 22 witnesses for the organisations. The documents tendered in evidence for the Prosecution of the individual defendants and the organisations numbered several thousands. A complete stenographic record of everything said in Court has been made, as well as an electrical recording of all the proceedings.

Copies of all the documents put in evidence by the Prosecution have been supplied to the defense in the German language. The applications made by the defendants for the production of witnesses and documents raised serious problems in some instances, on account of the unsettled state of the Country. It was also necessary to limit the number of witnesses to be called, in order to have an expeditious hearing, in accordance with Article 18 (c) of the Charter. The Tribunal, after examination, granted all those applications which in its opinion were relevant to the defense of any defendant or named group or organisation, and were not cumulative. Facilities were provided for obtaining those witnesses and documents granted through the office of the General Secretary established by the Tribunal.

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Much of the evidence presented to the Tribunal on behalf of the Prosecution was documentary evidence, captured by the Allied armies in German army headquarters, Government buildings, and elsewhere. Some of the documents were found in salt mines, buried in the ground, hidden behind false walls and in other places thought to be secure from discovery. The case, therefore, against the defendants rests in a large measure on documents of their own making, the authenticity of which has not been challenged except in one or two cases.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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