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1946: The Nuremberg Trial War Criminals

October 16th, 2009 Headsman

Victor’s justice was never better served than this date in 1946, when the brass of Third Reich hung for crimes against humanity during the late World War II.

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(From this page of original period audio files.)

The landmark legal proceeding* is covered well enough in many other sources for this humble venue to break new ground.

Apart from trailblazing international law, the trial was notable for the gut-punching film of German atrocities; this relatively novel piece of evidence is available for perusal thanks to the magic of the Internet. Caution: Strong stuff. An hour’s worth of Nazi atrocities.The climactic hangings in the predawn hours this day in Nuremberg were conducted by an American hangman who used the American standard drop rather than the British table calibrated for efficacious neck-snapping. As a result, at least some hangings were botched strangulation jobs, a circumstance which has occasionally attracted charges of intentional barbarism.

Media eyewitness Kingsbury Smith’s taut report of the night’s executions (well worth the full read) described just such an ugly end for propagandist Julius Streicher.

At that instant the trap opened with a loud bang. He went down kicking. When the rope snapped taut with the body swinging wildly, groans could be heard from within the concealed interior of the scaffold. Finally, the hangman, who had descended from the gallows platform, lifted the black canvas curtain and went inside. Something happened that put a stop to the groans and brought the rope to a standstill. After it was over I was not in the mood to ask what he did, but I assume that he grabbed the swinging body of and pulled down on it. We were all of the opinion that Streicher had strangled.

There were in all 12 condemned to death at Nuremberg; all hanged this day except Martin Bormann (condemned in absentia; it was only years later that his death during the Nazi regime’s 1945 Gotterdammerung was established) and Hermann Goering (who cheated the executioner with a cyanide capsule two hours before hanging). The ten to die this day were:

* Its resultant Nuremberg Principles comprise a lofty articulation of principles whose actual application, as Noam Chomsky has observed, would have meant that “every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Cheated the Hangman,Crimes Against Humanity,Death Penalty,England,Execution,France,Germany,Hanged,History,Infamous,Intellectuals,Mass Executions,Notable Jurisprudence,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Posthumous Exonerations,Power,Russia,Soldiers,USA,War Crimes

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18 Responses to “1946: The Nuremberg Trial War Criminals”

  1. 1
    Fiz Says:

    I know about the difference between UK and US hanging, and prefer the way the UK used, but for these butchers, torturers and inventors of evil, does it really matter how any of them died?

  2. 2
    Jay Crawford Says:

    “Noam Chomsky has observed, would have meant that ‘every post-war American president would have been hanged’.’”
    For anyone to be so morally blind to the differences between the United States with its objectives and its national character compared to Nazi Germany with its objectives and national character must go far beyond stupidity. Indeed, it must only be described as wicked stupidity.
    It is such a degree of utter obtuseness upon which the worst tyrants depend as they attempt to draw parallels between America and Nazi Germany. Such false grayscale then enables THEM to escape the assignments of guilt which liken them to Nazi Germany. Instead, they seize upon such moral confusion, using it to prevent the world from acting against them by claiming a moral equivalence to America. Thusly they provide the weak international community (and the America-haters) with an excuse to do nothing.
    And in the meantime, millions of human beings continue to die at the hands of these monsters.

    For anyone who thinks Noam Chomsky’s moral idiocy worth considering, all I can say is that you are supported by the Pol Pots, Mao Zedongs, Omar Bashirs, and myriad other uber-mass murderers. And the blood of THEIR victims will cry out agains you, too.

  3. 3
    Kevin M. Sullivan Says:

    People like Chomsky, as the ancient saying goes, are legion. Indeed, the world is filled with stupid humans; humans who declare there is value in each human life (Hitler, Bundy, Bin Laden, and the assholes who knocked down the towers, etc) and that we are no better than they are. And sadly, even the American academic world is often filled with some of the most stupid people imaginable (Ward Churchill, for example) and I constantly marvel at the mush which passes for their brains. In Churchill’s world, WE, THE UNITED STATES, ARE THE ENEMY!!! In the world of these mental abortions, everything is inverted: Right becomes wrong, we the enemy, and the real enemy is declared the friend. It is nothing more than a parade of fools!

  4. 4
    Mark Says:

    Operation Paperclip: US Army program to hire Nazi war criminals to help post war empire building.

    US war on Viet Nam: two to three million people killed

    Coups in Chile, Congo, Guatemala, Iran and numerous other countries that led to genocidal slaughters.

    Threats to use nuclear weapons, which is itself a violation of the UN Genocide Convention.

    Support for dozens of dictators who were inspired, in part, by Nazi atrocities. Death squads in El Salvador, Argentina, the Shah of Iran’s SAVAK, torture in Egypt, Uruguay, Brazil and many other countries whose regimes were given crucial support by the United States.

    Sure, there’s lots of war criminals who had nothing to do with the US, but the body count of those killed by the US and its proxies rivals the body counts of the Nazi Holocaust. And the threat to use nuclear weapons, if implemented, would make Auschwitz and Treblinka seem like trivialities in comparison (not a statement I make lightly, since I’ve read the accounts of the rebellions at both death camps).

    We need a “Truth and Reconciliation” Commission for the crimes of the US empire to move beyond this sort of violence.

  5. 5
    ExecutedToday.com » Daily Double: Lesser War Criminals Says:

    [...] 30th, 2009 Headsman It’s the big wheels in villainy one naturally thinks of when reckoning the Third Reich’s war criminals — the [...]

  6. 6
    ExecutedToday.com » 1945: Anton Dostler, gone commando Says:

    [...] a more immediate precedent was at stake: the many imminent war crimes trials including the Nuremberg proceedings. Many of those would never get off the ground if a “superior orders” plea [...]

  7. 7
    ExecutedToday.com » 1959: 71 after the Cuban Revolution Says:

    [...] Castro defended the executions in terms of Nazis, not Communards. Many of those condemned either to death or imprisonment by the revolutionary [...]

  8. 8
    ExecutedToday.com » 1953: Derek Bentley, controversially Says:

    [...] recommendation for mercy was not taken up, and Home Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe — a Nuremberg prosecutor fresh from crafting the European Convention on Human Rights — declined to extend a [...]

  9. 9
    ExecutedToday.com » 1962: Adolf Eichmann Says:

    [...] Nazis had used the “only following orders” defense with little success in the Nuremberg Trials shortly after World War II. On trial years later (and at the hands a Jewish state) Eichmann — [...]

  10. 10
    ExecutedToday.com » 1948: The condemned from the Doctors’ Trial Says:

    [...] of several war crimes trials after the big Nuremberg Tribunal (and held in the same courtroom), the Doctors Trial dealt with the Third Reich’s Frankenstein [...]

  11. 11
    ExecutedToday.com » 1948: Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann aide Says:

    [...] after the war, Wisliceny gave damning testimony to the Nuremberg court about his onetime boss. [Eichmann] said he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling [...]

  12. 12
    ExecutedToday.com » Themed Set: The Death Rattle of the Third Reich Says:

    [...] April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide, leaving his associates to face the music for World War II. From the rich mine of Soviet wartime propaganda posters at [...]

  13. 13
    ExecutedToday.com » 1474: Peter von Hagenbach, war crimes milestone Says:

    [...] biography in great detail. So I’m not sure how his eureka moment arose. What is clear is that the Nuremberg trial caused him to focus on Hagenbach (my sense is that Hagenbach was fairly well known in Europe [...]

  14. 14
    ExecutedToday.com » 1943: Marianne Elise Kurchner condemned for a joke Says:

    [...] worked at an armaments factory, told the following joke to a coworker who denounced her: Hitler and Göring are standing atop the Berlin radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to put a smile on [...]

  15. 15
    ExecutedToday.com » Executioner-in-Chief: a tour of U.S. Presidents and the death penalty Says:

    [...] S Truman named Robert Jackson to prosecute the postwar Nuremberg trials. Closer to home, Truman survived an assassination plot, and commuted the resulting death sentence [...]

  16. 16
    ExecutedToday.com » Purim Says:

    [...] anti-Semitic propagandist Julius Streicher, being positioned on the trap for execution after the Nuremberg trials, reportedly bellowed “Purim Fest 1946!” to the [...]

  17. 17
    ExecutedToday.com » 1946: Anton Mussert, Dutch collaborator Says:

    [...] power; the Austrian Arthur Seyss-Inquart ran the country instead, and would eventually hang via the Numremberg trial for his occupation atrocities, such as the wholesale deportation of the Dutch Jewish population [...]

  18. 18
    lawguy Says:

    Actually Jay and Kevin since the crimes were among other things: Waging Wars of Aggression and Crime against the peace I’d suggest that all American presidents since at least Truman have been guilty of just that.

    On the other hand don’t take my word for it ask Telford Taylor, who was chief prosecutor in all the trails after the one commemorated here.

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