The Nuremberg Tribunal’s work made it impossible to justify the crimes of Nazism and the Holocaust, Helgard Kramer, a Professor of political science at the Free University of Berlin, told.
“In Germany, there have always been minor right-wing extremist groups that tried to justify Nazi criminals. Some reject the Holocaust and say that it did not happen. These crimes cannot be justified, so they reject them. Therefore, it is so important that the evidence was provided, that there are so many books and reports about the Nuremberg trials, and they were presented to the world community,” the expert said.
Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Nuremberg trials of Germany’s top war criminals. The international military Tribunal in Nuremberg was established on the USSR initiative, the United States, Great Britain, and France to investigate the crimes of the leadership of Nazi Germany. After almost a year of trial, the court handed down 12 death sentences, and also recognized as criminal organizations the SD (Security Service, SicherheitsDienst), the Gestapo, the National socialist German party and the SS (“security detachments,” Schutzstaffel). In the subsequent 12 Nuremberg trials, which took place from 1946 to 1949, smaller Nazi figures were sentenced.
According to the Professor, the significance of the Nuremberg trials and the subsequent trials against the Nazis “is very great, because they were formulated in General terms concerning human rights.” Referring to the situation in November 1945 and the relations between the allies-the USSR, the United States, Great Britain, and France – at the start of the Nuremberg process, the expert said that soon after this start, “what we call the cold war began,” but “the fact that the process took place, that the Germans did not independently deal with their past, was essential.” All this would not have been possible without the occupation of Nazi Germany by allied forces, she added.
“The Nuremberg trials brought this trial to an international level, which led to the fact that, at least from a moral point of view, the Nazis were fully punished. This was the starting point for efforts to fight for peace and international control over peace preservation. Although many ex-Nazis were not legally convicted, the very fact of holding (the Nuremberg trials), discussing the crimes of Nazism at the level of the world community – was extremely important and is still the basis for international cooperation in relation to countries where citizens ‘ rights are violated,” the expert believes.
According to Professor Kramer, the Nuremberg Tribunal materials “played an invaluable role” in rethinking the history of Nazi Germany in 1967-1968, during the so-called student protests. She noted that in Germany, it was not customary to talk about” unthinkable crimes committed by the Nazis,” “the criminals claimed that they were innocent.”