CLIO 7 (1) - page 55

to take part in either of these ‘organisations’ they
essentially were not held to the same standard as
the other countries that were involved. This then
led to further complications in prosecutions as they
did not violate any treaties or agreements regard-
ing their internal affairs, meaning the prosecution
had to find ways of accusing them on international
However, this is where possibly the greatest
challenge arose as the ‘Laws ofWar’ were not as
developed or written in stone as they were after
the re-written Geneva Convention was signed in
1949, after the Nuremberg trials. This meant that
whilst at war, the Nazis could avoid conforming to
the humanitarian laws protecting civil populations
during war time by claiming that they were defend-
ing themselves. The loose grip on nations at war
concerning humanitarian rights allowed for the Na-
zis to partly commit the atrocities as there was no
international organisation established well enough
to recognise the breaches of human rights and also
that had the authority to prevent/stop them. This
proved challenging to the prosecution of Nazi offi-
cials as they were without evidence of some of the
war crimes that were committed meaning that the
Nazis would not be brought to justice for all of their
Another international problem the prose-
cution faced was regarding the involvement of the
Nazi officials who were put on trial at Nuremberg.
Of the 22 captured and put on trial, none of them
had explicitly given the order to ‘‘exterminate all
of the European Jewish population’’ nor did any of
the officials commit any murders or crimes directly
themselves. Not only did those officials not order
the attempted genocide, but all across the Nazi
state, there were no orders specifying the geno-
cide/ ethnic cleansing that was to take place. All of
these factors meant there was little to go off for
the prosecution and made it much more difficult to
prosecute the Nazis for the crimes they committed.
In the end, at the Nuremberg trials the
Nazis were prosecuted for crimes against peace
(including planning, preparing and waging wars of
aggression/ wars in violation of international agree-
ments), war crimes (including violations of customs
or laws of war especially in regards to treatment of
civilians) and crimes against humanity (including
murder, enslavement and displacement of civilians
on political, religious or racial grounds). At the time
the prosecution of the Nazis was seen as widely
controversial due to all of the challenges listed
above and how the prosecution had to change and
re-evaluate previous definitions of crimes so that
the Nazis could be punished in accordance to their
crimes. One of the more contentious issued was the
question of crimes committed against humanity
because some of the allied countries could possibly
be held to the same standards with the treatment
of Native Americans by the USA or the Bengal
Famine caused by the UK duringWorldWar 2. This
German Reichsmarschall, Commander of the Luft-
waffe Hermann Goering (1893 - 1946) during cross
examination at his trial for war crimes in Room
600 at the Palace of Justice during the Internation-
al MilitaryTribunal (IMT), Nuremberg, Germany,
The interior view of the court room of the Nurem-
bergTrials againstTop Nazis in Nuremberg. Ger-
many.The landmark trial that began Nov. 20,
1945 established the offenses of crimes against
peace, waging a war of aggression, war crimes
and crimes against humanity. (AP)
1...,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54 56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64
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