CLIO 7 (1) - page 54

Following the atrocities committed by
Nazi Germany during and beforeWorldWar
Two, trials were held to prosecute and bring
to justice not only major Nazi officials but also
regular Nazi officers. However when prose-
cuting the 22 highest ranking individuals still alive
within the Nazi party, many difficulties arose as to
how they should be punished and what for.
One of the major challenges faced by the
prosecution was the laws under the government of
the Nazis which meant that everything they did in
their own country was legal. For example, leading
up to the SecondWorldWar in 1933 the ‘Law for
the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service’
was passed, excluding all those with Jewish descent
from working as civil servants. This law and many
others then gave way to more severe restrictions
on the Jewish population which occurred later on
in the history of the Reich; two examples being
the ‘Law for the protection of German Blood and
German Honour’ prohibiting any sexual relations
marital or extramarital between Jews and Germans
and the ‘Reich Citizenship Law’ removing any civil
rights from anybody not of German related blood.
These laws allowed the Nazi government to boy-
cott and exclude the Jewish population and other
minorities, intensifying to the point that placing
them in concentration camps was completely legal
and justified by a previous decree of the state. This
caused problems as it meant that the Nazis did
not commit any criminal offences within their own
country according to its laws at the time, meaning
any attempts to punish members of the Reich on
matters of internal affairs would not have had any
ground on which to stand.
The other major internal challenge for the
prosecution was the fact that Germany was nei-
ther a part of the League of Nations nor signed the
Geneva Convention. These both sought to protect
human rights in both times of war and peace with
the League of Nations aiming to settle international
disputes through negotiation and to ensure correct
treatment of native inhabitants, prisoners of war
and minorities in Europe. The Geneva Convention
followed a similar pattern but broadly focused on
the rights of prisoners of war and also attempted to
establish protection for civilians in and around a war
zone. However, due to Nazi Germany’s reluctance
Why was it so difficult to
prosecute the Nazis after
World War 2?
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