World War II |

Nazis Sentenced at Nuremberg – 10/1/1946

On October 1st of 1946, twelve high ranking Nazi officers were sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg, for the hideous crimes they had committed during WWII.

Nuremberg is located in the German state of Bavaria, which is about 110 miles north of Munich, the German capital. Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria, behind Munich. A population of more than half a million people makes Nuremberg the 14th largest city in Germany today.

The Soviet Union had wanted the trials to be held in Berlin. However, Nuremberg was chosen as the site of the trials, for several important reasons. For one thing, Nuremberg was a centrally located city, and had been the site of Nazi rallies during World War II. In fact, the laws that stripped Jewish people of their citizenship had been passed in Nuremberg. Making that city the place of Nazi demise had a certain symbolic value attached to it, especially since the city was now marred by the Nazi architecture constructed during the Second World War.

Also, the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, one of the few undamaged public buildings anywhere near the capital, seemed like an appropriate place to hold the trials. It was spacious enough to accommodate the many who were accused of wartime atrocities, and the many more who were witnesses to the horrors of the war. The Palace of Justice complex also contained a large prison.

So it was agreed that the first trial of the International War Crimes Tribunal would take place in the city of Nuremberg, with subsequent trials to be held in Berlin. However, due to the Cold War era, no further Nazi war crime trials took place.

Among the men condemned to die by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop (minister of foreign affairs), Hermann Goering (founder of the Gestapo), and William Frick, minister of the interior. Seven others were also sentenced to death, and seven more were given prison sentences ranging from ten years to life. Three other men were acquitted. Survivors spoke as witnesses.

The trial was conducted by an International Tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. The defendants were charged with crimes of war and crimes against humanity. It was the first trial of its kind. About two weeks later, on October 16th of 1946, ten of the men involved in these crimes were hanged, one by one. For them, there would be no chance to hire lawyers who could drag the case out for many years, thus postponing their executions. They were simply convicted, and two weeks later they were hanged. Hermann Goering was not executed, because he committed suicide by poison on the night before his execution was scheduled to take place.

A man named Martin Bormann was also condemned to death for these unspeakable crimes, despite not being present at the Nuremberg Trials. It was later learned that Bormann had died in Berlin at the end of the war. 

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Kelly Sutherland


Hi! I'm Kelly. My favorite time period was the 70s. I had a boatloads of fun traveling around with my close friends spreading love and just living my life to the fullest... if you know what I mean ;) Now I enjoy sitting in my cozy nook writing and learning about history.