From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 1A - 1946: The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

October 20, 2019 Logan Rogers Season 1
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 1A - 1946: The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
Chapters
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 1A - 1946: The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
Oct 20, 2019 Season 1
Logan Rogers

This supplemental episode examines the post-World War II trials in Nuremberg, Germany, during 1946, where US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson led the prosecution against prominent Nazi leaders such as Hermann Goering & Albert Speer. Some of the USA’s WWII allies had recommended executing or imprisoning these infamous figures without trial, but the Americans believed that it was important for them to get a fair trial that would publicly prove their guilt & expose their crimes. Dozens of high-ranking Nazi officials were charged with & convicted of waging aggressive war, violating laws of war, & engaging in atrocities against civilians (including the Holocaust). This podcast also gives an overview of the similar war crimes trials held in Tokyo that tried the Imperial Japanese military leaders. It concludes with a discussion of how the US federal government has given fewer legal rights to enemy suspects (such as suspected terrorists) during the 2000s than it did for Axis leaders during the 1940s.

Show Notes Transcript

This supplemental episode examines the post-World War II trials in Nuremberg, Germany, during 1946, where US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson led the prosecution against prominent Nazi leaders such as Hermann Goering & Albert Speer. Some of the USA’s WWII allies had recommended executing or imprisoning these infamous figures without trial, but the Americans believed that it was important for them to get a fair trial that would publicly prove their guilt & expose their crimes. Dozens of high-ranking Nazi officials were charged with & convicted of waging aggressive war, violating laws of war, & engaging in atrocities against civilians (including the Holocaust). This podcast also gives an overview of the similar war crimes trials held in Tokyo that tried the Imperial Japanese military leaders. It concludes with a discussion of how the US federal government has given fewer legal rights to enemy suspects (such as suspected terrorists) during the 2000s than it did for Axis leaders during the 1940s.

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boomers to millennials is still a modern us history podcast, providing a fresh look at the historical events that shaped current generations from the end of the second world war to the present. For this special supplemental episode, we will spotlight a major historical event from the year 1946 although we are recording this after completing our fourth full episode all about the year 1949 for the benefit of future listeners who want to follow along completely in chronological order, we are designating this as episode one a following the regular format of these supplemental episodes. We will make some connections establishing this histories relevance to the 21st century toward the end of this podcast episode. Before we get into the details of this episode, here's a quick show update. Our latest numbers indicate that we have now been downloaded in 37 us States, three Canadian provinces and seven overseas nations outside of North America.

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We would like to enthusiastically welcome all of our new listeners. We're very excited about our podcasts growth, although the Midwest needs to step it up a little bit. Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Nebraska. Where are you at? Come on. October's monthly podcast recommendation goes to the history of the cold war podcast on that show. Jeff Hogue covers many international conflicts and diplomatic crises including some that we have discussed and he usually does so in great detail. He now has episodes up on several regions, facets and major characters of the early cold war through the mid 1950s there's a lot of really fascinating stuff in there. Check them out@wwwdothistoryofthecoldwarpodcast.com finally, we want to apologize for the delay in getting this episode out. Some outside obligations have intruded upon my podcast time during the month of October. Silly me. I thought doing a narrower topic than usual would allow us to still finish the episode on time despite these constraints, but I forgot that anything involving law, particularly international law, is bound to require considerable research and extensive explanation.

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We would rather take extra time to finish than to release a slapdash show based upon last minute internet research. So we hope you'll forgive the delay that comes from our emphasis on quality over quantity of episodes. But now the waiting is over at last, so let's get on with the show. We regret not being able to discuss the Nuremberg trials in episode one, but we had limited time and we wanted to focus upon the story of post-baby boom America rather than looking back to the conclusion of world war II. However, I think the trials are important to understanding the contributions of 20th century Americans to concepts of international justice and human rights. This history is worth examining closely because issues such as war crimes, state sponsored ethnic cleansing, due process for enemies, suspects and the legitimacy of international law are still troublingly relevant to current geopolitical events.

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World war two had been the single most destructive conflict in human history. People around the world cried out for justice, including punishment of the Wars architects Nazi Germany had militarily invaded and devastated its neighbors. It murdered several million Jews and killed her imprisoned millions of people from other minority groups, including Romani people, LGBT people, disabled people, and political dissidents. The revelation to the public of the Nazis network of deadly concentration camps after the war shocked the world. Millions wondered how punitive the allies would be toward Germany's leaders. This left to the victorious nations facing difficult moral questions. In the Wars aftermath, the Soviet union had already shown its approach to handling the fascist aggressors. It met brutality with brutality on the Eastern front. Little to no quarter was given two opposing forces. Both sides treated prisoners horribly. On its March through Germany, the red army engaged in indiscriminant raping and looting on a massive scale.

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The USSR is communist dictator Joseph Stalin advocated and approach to the German leadership that was consistent with his merciless stance toward both external foreign opponents and internal Soviet dissidents. According to history, professor Elizabeth borgwardt in 1943 Stalin told FDR and Churchill that he looked forward to the execution of at least 50,000 Germans. His story in John w dour suggests that quote, secretly, the Soviets may have executed as many as 3000 Japanese war criminals following summary proceedings. Close quote, dour also claims that even some British officials were pressing the Americans quote to approve execution without trial for top German leaders. The United States, which had emerged after world war II as the Globe's foremost economic and military power eventually rejected taking such a vindictive approach toward enemy populations. After some internal debate, us leaders decided that there needed to be an actual judicial proceeding that presented evidence and proved to the access leaders guilty dour notes that us secretary of war, Henry Stimson, believed that quote prompt justice based on fair legal procedures was consistent with the advance of civilization and would have greater effect upon posterity.

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Plus, it would serve the educational and historical function of establishing a record of the enemy's transgressions. Close quote, the USA wanted to demonstrate its democratic values that put a particular emphasis on the rights of individuals. It wanted to demonstrate that Americans, unlike the Nazis, believed in the rule of law, not the law of the jungle or the will to power. We wanted the entire world to see that we weren't simply taking revenge, but instead we were holding the Nazis responsible for specific violations of justice and human rights, but this approach carried the risk that some perpetrators might be acquitted in the legal proceeding and therefore could go on punished. So there was great pressure on ally to prosecutors to make the strongest possible case against the defendants. The most prominent American on the team prosecuting the Nazi leaders was Supreme court justice. Robert H. Jackson Jackson had come a long way from his origins as a country lawyer in small town upstate New York to become one of the top nine judges in America.

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He had not even attended undergraduate college, but he took classes for a year at Albany law school and then pass the bar exam while working as an apprentice in a law office. Borgwardt notes. Jackson probably was quote the last nationally prominent lawyer admitted to the bar through apprenticeship rather than by a law school degree. Close quote. To put this into perspective to get onto the U S Supreme court today. Not only do you need a law degree, but it pretty much has to be from Harvard or Yale for you to even be considered. But in Jackson, Zara, unlike our own professionals, were more concerned with results than credentials. Jackson became a highly successful government lawyer during the early years of the new deal and he worked his way up the ranks, eventually arguing and winning cases before the U S Supreme court as solicitor general and then being appointed by FDR to the top court in the land in 1941 now justice Robert Jackson would go even further from his Yankee farming roots taking an extended leave from the federal bench in Washington D C in order to serve as the chief prosecutor as part of an international team, taking on the Nazi leaders who'd plunged Europe into a second world war as legal scholar Noah Feldman notes, quote Jackson had to convince the world that the defendants were guilty of crimes not merely being on the losing side of history, close quote.

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It should be noted that both the prosecution team and the panel of judges included representatives from the various allied powers, Americans, British, French, and Soviets. I will focus mostly on the American figures, both because they were defacto leaders of the proceedings and because this is a U S history podcast, the American representative on the panel of judges was Francis Biddle, a prominent lawyer who had recently been us attorney general under FDR during world war II, Biddle was from less humble origins than Robert Jackson. He was a member of a prominent Philadelphia family that included Nicholas spittle, whom fans of 19th century U S history may remember as the head of the second U S national bank that was eliminated by populist president Andrew Jackson. Francis Biddle may have been a blue blood patrician with an elite educational background, but like the similarly privileged president Franklin Roosevelt, he became an avid new dealer who truly believed that American capitalism had to be reformed in order to be saved.

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According to professor Borg warts book a new deal for the world, a new deal style, spirit of willingness to break with the status quo for the greater good of humanity was reflected in the legal approaches the Americans took during the trials of the access leaders. These trials took place in Nuremberg, the second largest city in the mountainous, predominantly Catholic region of Bavaria in South Eastern Germany. Nuremberg was a place of great symbolic importance. It was there where the annual conference of the Nazi party had taken place, which included the famed giant rallies where Adolf Hitler captivated worshipful audiences with his emotional speeches. According to historian David M. Kennedy, it was also where the Nazis during the 30s quote codified policies against the Jews in the Nuremberg decrees, which stripped German Jews of their citizenship, excluded them from the professions and military service and prohibited marriage between Jews and so-called Ariens.

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Close quote. Of course, quote unquote Ariens were according to Nazi racial myths, pure blooded Germanic, Northern European people without any Slavic Jewish or non European ancestry. Now in the Nuremberg of 1946 Nazi Germany's victorious opponents would put on trial the foul legacy of the cult of militarism and fanatical racial separatism that had been nurtured there. The global press bore witness as the allies publicly tried Nazi leaders for waging aggressive war among other counts. This charge was somewhat controversial according to Feldman because it was ambiguous whether international conventions, outlying war during the 1920s had legally bound the German state professor borgwardt documents. The Jackson's argument postulated that killing enemy forces is legally legitimate in a just war of self-defense. But quote, if the conflict were an illegitimate use of forests, this mantle of protection would be removed and the killings, destructions and oppressions would revert to their normal status as ordinary crimes.

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Close quote, borgwardt explains that the indictment also contained counts holding the defendants responsible for quote violations of the traditional laws of war, such as battlefield atrocities and mistreatment of prisoners as codified in the Hague and Geneva conventions. She contends that these international treaties established the quote premise that the right of belligerence to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited close quote. The civilized world had been grasping toward the conclusion that not all things were fair in love and war. After all, needless mutilations and massacres of enemies were prohibited even in armed conflict. Finally, the access prisoners stood accused of plotting and carrying out crimes against domestic civilian populations such as those victimized by the Holocaust. Borgwardt writes that this concept of crimes against humanity was quote, the most innovative and controversial of the three counts. Prominent judicial doctrines pose legal obstacles to the success of the Nuremberg prosecutions.

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Borgwardt notes that illegal standard called sovereign immunity, quote protected heads of government and other high officials from individual liability for their political decisions. Close quote. Meanwhile, lower ranking officials could rely upon the doctrine of superior orders, which stated that military and government officers could not be held responsible for following orders from superiors. Theoretically, the combination of these two concepts could block most German officers from being held responsible for their individual actions. Jackson argued that these Nazis could not Dodge personal legal responsibility based upon these old ideas given that world war two occurred within the context of a clearly illegal, aggressive war and had featured blatant war crimes and outright genocide in violation of international law. To some extent, the U S theories of prosecution represented a break with the legal world's tradition of formal reliance upon precedent in favor of a more novel and pragmatic approach to justice borgwardt States that allied lawyers argued for a quote, living international customary law through analogy to the growth of Anglo American common law, which built new ideas upon a foundation of various older judicial rulings, precedence and customs.

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Likewise dour notes that the postwar tribunals of access leaders had quote a clear consciousness of creating new norms of international behavior. This methodology troubled some traditionalist scholars, but Feldman notes it's defender's view was that quote, the Nazi leaders had committed the worst wrongs imaginable. If the law couldn't address such acts, it really would seem like a triviality, not a valuable mechanism for improving the state of the world. Close quote. The international community was now moving toward a less absolute vision of national sovereignty, against the idea that a nation can do whatever it wants inside of its own borders, and that international law only comes into play regarding a government's actions outside of its borders. The Nuremberg trials concept of crimes against humanity allowed governments to be held responsible for extreme crimes such as genocide, even if they're murderous actions took place inside of their own borders under a fig leaf of domestic legality.

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Borgwardt notes that the establishment of this high-minded concept quote could have uncomfortable implications for any country with a minority that regularly endured harassment and discrimination, including the United States, but the U S legal team went forward with promoting it anyway. The Nuremberg prosecution team wanted to impress upon the panel of judges just how extreme the nature of Nazi atrocities had been. According to Feldman to this end, Jackson screened in open court various film reels that revealed the horrors of the Holocaust. The images projected on screen. Quote showed bulldozers, pushing great heaps of naked corpses into trenches, and the incinerators in which of the bodies had been burned close quote in modern times. We were sadly familiar with documentation of the Holocaust, including many photos of near starved desperate looking inmates and also great heaps of goods stolen from the victims by the Nazis. These atrocities were still fresh news.

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In 1946 and many participants and audience members in the Nuremberg courtroom were visibly stunned, disturbed, and sickened by this ghastly evidence. But the group of Nazi leaders at Nuremberg facing down such damning evidence was an incomplete Rogue's gallery. Allied forces had already killed some members of the German top brass during the war and a few wartime leaders of the third Reich were in hiding or had escape to other countries. Several of the very highest ranking Nazis had committed suicide before allied forces could apprehend them. This group included Adolf Hitler. Of course, despite precautions to the contrary, the allied forces were unable to stop. One Nuremberg inmate, former Nazi labor leader Robert lay from hanging himself in his cell. Borgwardt writes that after this incident quote, the guard detail was quadrupled and a century was permanently stationed at each store. Closed quote, defendants at Nuremberg were often visited by their lawyers because the U S led tribunal given them the rights to an attorney to testify in their own defense and to be confronted with the evidence against them.

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Many of these defendants were simple and single minded ideological fanatics such as Julius stretcher, a high ranking Nazi who had specialized in publishing crude antisemitic propaganda. According to bore Gwartz account, he ran into the prison psychologist that the allied prosecution team was dominated by Jews. When asked why he thought this stretcher explained that he was an expert in identifying people with Jewish heritage and he could tell based upon how their eyes looked far more formidable was the ex Reichs Marshall Herman during the most famous and high ranking Nazi on trial at Nuremberg among Goring's, many titles had been commander in chief of the lift vodka or German air force. According to Feldman, he had been Hitler's designated successor for most of the war until the fearer changed his mind just days before his death. Feldman calls growing quote by debase Nazi standards, a man of relative education and culture.

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He would prove to be the most difficult Nazi defendant for Robert Jackson to handle on the witness stand during managed to Dodge Jackson's questions and go off on various rants and tangents exasperated over this witness hijacking the courtroom. Jackson eventually went so far as to ask Biddle and the other judges to limit gearing to yes or no answers. According to Feldman, they rejected this request fearing that adopting such an unusual procedure limiting a defendant's ability to testify would make the trial seem less legitimate. Jackson was quite angry with Biddle, who had been his former justice department colleague and sometime political rival over this decision. Feldman opines the Jackson's performance on the stand against scurrying was disappointing and surprising and many members of the press thought the former German racks Marshall was getting the best of the U S Supreme court. Justice Feldman thinks that the pressures of the trial were beginning to get to Jackson.

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In fact, not only was Jackson in charge of the prosecution at one of the most significant legal proceedings in world history, but he also had recently learned that his boss, the chief justice of the U S Supreme court had died. According to Feldman's account, Jackson had once been the favorite to replace the chief in the courts top job, but with him preoccupied with Europe's trial of the century, thousands of miles away from Washington D C he wasn't around to defend himself as his political foes lobbied prominent senators and president to block him from being nominated as chief justice. Upon hearing that he had been passed over for this promotion, a disappointed justice Jackson Sante, an embittered telegram to Truman threatening to resign from the Supreme court entirely, and he shocked colleagues by releasing this self-pitying document to the press. According to Feldman, judge Biddle later wrote of the incident quote, he was strained and overworked in the trial of the German war criminals.

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It was a foolish exhibition and I felt sorry for him. Close quote. Jackson eventually regained his bearings, completed the Nuremberg prosecution, and got most of the guilty verdicts that he had sought. Despite his uneven performance in the courtroom, he returned to the United States and served honorably on the Supreme court for eight more years until his death in 1954 the official legal judgment issued by Bidel and the tribunals. Other judges accepted many of Jackson's novel legal arguments, including the contention that internationally recognized customs and practices in addition to formal treaties could serve as a basis of international law. However, the tribunals declined to hold the defendants responsible for pre-war oppressions and atrocities such as the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht riots of 1938 it did hold the Nazi leaders responsible for crimes both abroad and against domestic minorities such as the Holocaust done. After the 1939 invasion of Poland sparked in the second world war.

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As borgwardt put it, quote, the Nuremberg judgements approach required a tight nexus between crimes against humanity and the aggressive war charge. Close quote upon the judicial panels consideration of all the individual evidence, many defendants were convicted and sentenced to death. These included Goring and stretcher, but Goring had one more trick up his sleeve and he committed suicide using a hidden vile poison the night before he was scheduled to be hanged. Other prominent defendants whose death sentences by hanging where successfully carried out included Jakim Von Ribbentrop, the foreign minister behind the quickly betrayed nonaggression pact with the Soviets Ernts Colton Bruner, I guess, stop a leader who had command over Einsatzgruppen death squads and Alfred Rosenberg minister over occupied territories who advocated replacing existing churches with a quote unquote more area in version of Christianity. Many other defendants were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including Rudolf Hess, a veteran of violent Nazi plot stating back to the 1920s and Albert Speer, Hitler's favorite architect.

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A few accused Nazi leaders were acquitted, which was deeply troubling to the victims and to allied prosecutors, but this result demonstrated that these trials were real legal proceedings with uncertain outcomes rather than some predetermined kangaroo court hearings, certain to declare all suspects guilty. The Nuremberg trials were hardly the only effort to bring the guilty to justice and to quarantine negative ideological influences from the German future. Taking account all of the various allied tribunals throughout formerly occupied nations in Europe, excluding the Soviet union. Borgwardt finds that approximately 5,000 total Nazis were convicted and around 800 of them were executed in its occupation zone. The U S also instituted a D naughts effication program designed to remove and block former Nazis from serving in the emerging West German government. However, there would be limits to the American's willingness to hold major participants in the Nazi regime accountable by the late forties the cold war, like all Wars would involve moral compromises.

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Among these was operation paperclip, a U S intelligence operation that forged papers for top scientists who had worked for the third Reich expunging their Nazi background so that they could work for the American military without public outcry. One of the famous beneficiaries of this policy would be Vernor Von Braun who would go on to become a key leader of the U S space program during the 60s despite the media, his eventual exposure of his past Nazi party membership. The final top ranking Nazi brought to justice by the way, would be Adolf Eichmann, who had been a key leader at the infamous January, 1942 conference that had planned out the Holocaust. He had hidden out in Europe during the immediate post war years and had been escaped to Argentina in 1950 but in the early 1960s he was captured by Israeli intelligence and brought to Jerusalem to face trial there Eichmann who was convicted and subsequently hanged in 1962 while there remained some minor Nazi figures who have been identified and captured in decades since prison camp guards and people like that, Eichmann was the last member of the core leadership of the Nazis to be brought to justice.

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Of course, the Nazis were not the only access power that had engaged in aggressive warfare against its neighbors and had committed war crimes against civilians during world war II. In 1946 the Nuremberg trials also had their Japanese equivalents, as was the case with Nazi Germany. There were people who felt that the aftermath of world war II was an extraordinary circumstance when regular judicial niceties should not apply. The American public particularly infuriated at Imperial Japan over the ambush attack at Pearl Harbor and over atrocities such as the Bataan death March. According to dour, the death rate of Americans taken captive by the enemy in the Pacific theater of the war was five times higher than that of those held as pow [inaudible] in the European theater. Furthermore, the ferocity with which the Japanese military acted often displaying reluctance to be captured alive and sometimes engaging in suicidal kamikaze tactics had greatly disturbed Americans.

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Based on these facts, there grew up perception and stereotype that the Japanese had a fanatical devotion to the Imperial cause. According to John dowers book war without mercy, over 10% of Americans consistently believed that the Japanese would never surrender and that every single Japanese citizen would need to be killed before the war could finally come to an end. However, despite some Americans adopting these harsh perceptions of their opponents, once the Japanese actually did surrender, the U S did not engage in vengeful summary executions of enemy leaders. Instead, it held war crimes trials in the Pacific theater similar to those that had taken place in central Europe. According to dowers book on post war Japan entitled embracing defeat, a declaration issued by the allies stated quote, we do not intend that the Japanese should be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners.

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Close quote, according to dour, the Tokyo war crimes tribunals that followed were explicitly modeled on the Nuremberg proceedings. They again featured allied judicial officials, quote, expanding the interpretation of crimes against humanity by holding individual leaders personally responsible for egregious acts of state. Close quote, as was the case at Nuremberg. The tribunals in Tokyo were U S led, but involved many nations whose forces were victimized by access attacks in Asia. This included the Chinese Australians, British, Filipinos, French and Dutch. The Tokyo proceedings took significantly longer than those in Nuremberg beginning in 1946 but not reaching their final judgments until 1948 dour writes that the allied prosecutors quote, presented testimony regarding Japanese atrocities against both prisoners of war and civilians in often horrific detail. Close quote. The tribunals decision resulted in the execution via hanging of seven high ranking Japanese officials among those Japanese military leaders who was tried, convicted, and executed.

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Based upon these proceedings was top general Hideki Tojo taking into account the Tokyo tribunal and various other lower-level trials in other formerly occupied nations. Borgwardt finds that approximately 3000 Japanese were imprisoned and 1000 were executed in his book. Embracing defeat. John dour is skeptical that these trials were as fair as those that took place at Nuremberg. His prize winning book about postwar Japan showcases tremendous depth of knowledge and he makes some legitimate critiques of the Tokyo trial. However, he does have a somewhat frustrating tendency, common among academics to be excessively critical. One of his most valid criticisms is that the Filipino judge who recommended even harsher sentences than the tribunal actually issued was himself a victim of Japanese atrocities who had survived the Bataan death March. This obviously gave him a major bias that should have disqualified him from sitting in judgment of the defendants. Dour is also tough on the allies for letting emperor Hirohito off the hook.

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He implies that the emperor was more responsible for wartime misconduct than some of those leaders who were convicted. Other of dowers, numerous critiques include that only seven of the 11 tribunal judges endorsed the majority judgment that the proceedings records were not made broadly available to the Japanese public, that some groups responsible for major atrocities were not prosecuted for arbitrary reasons that some Asian nations that were victimized by Japanese imperialism such as the Koreans were excluded from participation in the trial. That translations of the defendant's answers on the witness stand, we're slow and imperfect and that the allied plan to prosecute war crimes wasn't released until very late in the war. Giving the Japanese leadership little time to alter its behavior. Certainly his analysis makes it clear that there were many ways in which the Tokyo trial could have been improved, but if dour means to imply that having an allied war crimes tribunal at all was a mistake, he gives a little to no explanation as to what he thinks should have taken place as an alternative.

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As borgwardt pointed out regarding the situation in Europe, the allies really had three options for dealing with the access leaders. They could summarily imprison them or execute them without trial, but this seems inconsistent with American liberal and democratic values. They could offer a blanket amnesty for any acts that took place during the war, but this meant that some officials would get away scot-free despite ordering murders of civilians and tortures of PO OWS, which hardly seems like justice, the allies chose a third option, attempting to hold access leaders accountable through a legal trial. The Tokyo tribunal was far from perfect, but under the chaotic circumstances of the postwar occupation. I think the allies efforts amounted to a good faith attempt at achieving justice for the victims while still offering due process to the accused. The post world war II precedent that the U S led Nuremberg prosecution team established holding that those who commit heinous violations of individual's basic human rights will be legally brought to account by the civilized world has had a powerful legacy.

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According to Elizabeth borgwardt West Germany's quote, postwar penal codes incorporated legal ideas from the Nuremberg charter regarding individual responsibility and an absence of an obligation to obey orders that were illegal under international law. Close quote. Nevertheless, on a global scale during the cold war era, addressing egregious human rights violations in countries ranging from Cambodia to Chile often took a back seat to military constraints and reality politic concerns. Still multilateral legal institutions did make a comeback after the fall of the iron curtain. Borgwardt argues that quote, the international criminal court established in 2002 is a direct descendant of the Nuremberg military tribunals. Close quote, however, dealing with outside aggression in the form of terrorism has made achieving international justice during the 21st century. A murkier process after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 the United States government when after quote unquote enemy combatants who had allegedly been involved with anti-American terrorist groups, those anime combatants apprehended by U S forces were considered inherently dangerous to civilians and they were often held indefinitely under harsh conditions without being charged with any crime.

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Most never faced trial in a court of law that would legitimize their imprisonment or prove their guilt. Us Supreme court rulings required at the George W. Bush presidential administration to adhere to some nominal legal due process, but detainees were still held indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay throughout the two thousands the Barack Obama administration was unable to close Guantanamo Bay or to bring the defendants to trial in part due to strong bipartisan resistance from Congress, but it did substantially reduce the number of detainees held in Guantanamo. Nevertheless, the Obama years continued the Bush era doctrines that prioritize preventing terrorism above strict legal due process concerns during the 2010s the U S military also engaged in drone warfare that bombed suspected terrorists often based upon military or judicial evaluation of evidence, but hardly with the extent of due process that had been given criminal defendants at Nuremberg. The advocates of these harsh practices claim that in a world where we fight secretive terrorist groups and underground extremist movements instead of easily identifiable foreign governments, due process of law is a luxury that we can no longer afford.

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Opponents of these methods argue that such rationales are flimsy and they seem increasingly unreasonable and unnecessary. The farther away we get from the crisis mentality that swept the American government after nine 11 it does appear that the U S A's commitment to due process of law for its alleged foes has undergone a bipartisan devaluation by the federal government during the 21st century. Today, the common perception of the U S justice system on matters both international and domestic, increasingly seems to be that it has drifted a long way from the sense of moral clarity and innovative self-confidence that infused the efforts toward justice during the 1946 trials at Nuremberg. Nevertheless, the legal legacy of the Nuremberg trials lives on in judicial institutions like the aforementioned international criminal court and in the form of nongovernmental organizations like human rights watch and amnesty international that work to hold governments responsible for violating human rights and suppressing free speech around the world. The idea that even individuals living under autocratic or dictatorial governments have basic legal rights to express dissent without being killed or imprisoned, and that the international community recognizes those rights, continues to provide hope for reform movements facing down state oppression in nations ranging from Iran to Venezuela and from Hungary to Hong Kong.

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Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram if you aren't doing so already, you can support the show on Patrion or by leaving a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Please let us know if you have thoughts or questions about our show by contacting us@boomertomillennialatoutlook.com if you're hoping for the usual closing, lighthearted Quip that ties in with the episode subject. Sorry, I don't know quite how to do that with a topic as serious as the Nuremberg trials, so I will just have to boringly and sincerely thank you all once again for listening.