The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal Essay Research

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The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal Essay, Research Paper In early October 1945, the four powers victorious after the Second World War issued an indictment against 24 men and six organizations. Fifty years ago the Prosecution?s opening statement was read by Associate United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Just eight months prior to that reading, the very building in which the historical trial took place was “an enemy fortress in the hands of German troops” The Nuremberg Trials are historically significant because they represent the first time leaders of a defeated nation were prosecuted in the name of International law- the first time such leaders were actually given a chance to plead for their lives in a tribunal setting. The Indictment The charges pertaining

to the six organizations were designed around the problem of what to do with the hundreds of thousands of people who had been members of organizations such as the SS and the Gestapo. To indict an organization raised an important legal question regarding the legitimacy of creating a system whereby one could be found guilty based solely on proof of his association with that organization. The idea behind creating such a system was to find these organizations to have been criminal, and then to later hold hearings to determine to what extent a member was guilty. The indictment alleged four counts of wrongdoing: Count One- Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, Count Two- Waging Aggressive War, or ?Crimes Against Peace?, Count Three- War Crimes, and Count Four- Crimes Against Humanity.

Issues Conspiracy, although we didn?t talk about it in class, was mentioned as a specific intent crime; that is, the intent to commit the crime cannot be inferred merely because of acts that were undertaken by the defendant. Considering this in the context of the Nuremberg defendants, to prove that each of the twenty-one men involved individually had the requisite intent to conspire to commit aggressive war would be difficult. Solely demonstrating that they were all involved in the planning is not enough. It must also be shown that their acts were done with the intent that they succeed in waging aggressive war. This count of the indictment would therefore be the most difficult to prove. Count two of the indictment cites the actual overt act of waging aggressive war. Whereas count

one charged that there was a common plan, count two charges that there was planning and engaging in the plan in order that it may be completed. The same evidence was introduced to prove both of these counts, since the acts themselves were essential in proving the existence of a common plan. In order to prove specific intent with respect to the above charges, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendants acted with knowledge, and purposefully, since this will show that there was intent to do something beyond the actus reus. Furthermore, they must demonstrate that the defendants acted in such a manner with respect to each and every element of the aforementioned crimes. For example, in regards to the crime charged in count one of the indictment, the elements of the crime can

be summarized as follows: A person is guilty of conspiracy to wage aggressive war if he: 1. i. Plans, prepares, initiates, or wages a war of aggression OR ii. Plans, prepares, initiates, or wages a war that is in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances OR iii. Participates in a common plan or conspiracy to wage EITHER an aggressive war OR a war that is in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances AND 2. His purpose in such participation is to further the accomplishment of any of the foregoing. So while in a general intent crime, the burden of proof would include only the first three circumstances listed under element number one, a specific intent crime adds the second element to the burden of proof, and requires that it be shown what