WEB EXCLUSIVE: Nuremburg trials bring up current issues

Ryan Knight

The Nuremberg trials reached its 60th anniversary on Nov. 20, 2005. The trials were the first to try individuals for war crimes.

The International Military Tribunal assembled to try the major war criminals from the Nazi regime during World War II.

Director of Jewish Studies Richard Steigmann-Gall said the trials were a blueprint for crimes of war to be punished through international courts.

Steigmann-Gall said the trials were designed to try the head officials of the Nazi regime responsible for committing crimes during the war.

“The Nuremberg Trials were a success,” Steigmann-Gall said. “Nazi officials were held accountable for the Holocaust.”

The United States pushed for the trials to try the Nazi officials. Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union joined the U.S. to prosecute the Nazis.

The trials lasted 10 months and the International Military Tribunal prosecuted 22 Nazi officials. They were prosecuted for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Henry T. King, U.S. director of the Canada/U.S. Law Institute and professor at Case Western Reserve University was a prosecutor with the International Military Tribunal.

King was asked to join the tribunal by a friend and was named to the staff.

King said the trials were successful because they convicted the Nazis using their own documents.

King also said the event marked the birth of international law and has stood the test of time.

“Not too many people were willing to give up their freedom to join the prosecution team,” King said. “It was worth the risk.”

King said he would like to see crimes of aggressive war, which was tried successfully during the Nuremberg Trials, to be tried today. He said it is the only part that has not been followed through with after the trials.

The International Criminal Court was established in 2003, but the U.S. has not joined.

Steigmann-Gall said the U.S. should join the ICC and set examples and improve the standards of the world.

“It is a shame the current administration has not joined the ICC,” Steigmann-Gall said. “Past administrations were making strides in international systems.”

King said the U.S. stance to be isolated has lead to trouble in the past.

“Institutions are being built and designed,” King said. “The U.S. needs to be a part of these changes and set examples.”

King said we are on the outside looking in. He would rather be on the inside looking out.

“The U.S. initiated the Nuremberg Trials,” King said. “We should be proud for that.”

King said the only way the future may change is if students and citizens stand up and begin making a difference.

He said students could shape the world we live in by getting involved, which will lead to peace and justice.

King said he was proud to be part of the biggest trial of its kind in history. He said no trial will ever be as big as the Nuremberg Trials.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Ryan Knight at [email protected].