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Caricature of Nuremberg International Military Tribunal defendant Karl von Doenitz, by the German newspaper caricaturist, Peis.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 49535

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    Caricature of Nuremberg International Military Tribunal defendant Karl von Doenitz, by the German newspaper caricaturist, Peis.
    Caricature of Nuremberg International Military Tribunal defendant Karl von Doenitz, by the German newspaper caricaturist, Peis.

    Overview

    Caption
    Caricature of Nuremberg International Military Tribunal defendant Karl von Doenitz, by the German newspaper caricaturist, Peis.
    Date
    1946 October 01
    Locale
    Nuremberg, [Bavaria] Germany
    Variant Locale
    Nurnberg
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Gerald (Gerd) Schwab
    Event History
    The International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg opened in the fall of 1945, but by the winter of 1942, the governments of the Allied powers had already announced their determination to punish Nazi war criminals. On December 17, 1942, the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union issued the first joint declaration officially noting the mass murder of European Jewry and resolving to prosecute those responsible for violence against civilian populations. Though some political leaders advocated for summary executions instead of trials, eventually the Allies decided to hold an International Military Tribunal so that, in the words of Cordell Hull, "a condemnation after such a proceeding will meet the judgment of history, so that the Germans will not be able to claim that an admission of war guilt was extracted from them under duress." The October 1943 Moscow Declaration, signed by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, stated that at the time of an armistice persons deemed responsible for war crimes would be sent back to those countries in which the crimes had been committed and adjudged according to the laws of the nation concerned. Major war criminals, whose crimes could be assigned no particular geographic location, would be punished by joint decisions of the Allied governments.

    The trials of leading German officials before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), the best known of the postwar war crimes trials, formally opened in Nuremberg on November 20, 1945, only six and a half months after Germany surrendered. Each of the four Allied nations -- the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and France -- supplied a judge and a prosecution team. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence of Great Britain served as the court's presiding judge. The trial's rules were the result of delicate reconciliations of the Continental and Anglo-American judicial systems. A team of translators provided simultaneous translations of all proceedings in four languages: English, French, German, and Russian. After much debate, 24 defendants were selected to represent a cross-section of Nazi diplomatic, economic, political, and military leadership. Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels never stood trial,having committed suicide before the end of the war. The IMT decided not to try them posthumously so as not to create an impression that they might still be alive. In fact, only 21 defendants appeared in court. German industrialist Gustav Krupp was included in the original indictment, but he was elderly and in failing health, and it was decided in preliminary hearings to exclude him from the proceedings. Nazi Party secretary Martin Bormann was tried and convicted in absentia, and Robert Ley committed suicide on the eve of the trial.

    The IMT indicted the defendants on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The IMT defined crimes against humanity as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation...or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds." A fourth charge of conspiracy was added both to cover crimes committed under domestic Nazi law before the start of World War II and so that subsequent tribunals would have jurisdiction to prosecute any individual belonging to a proven criminal organization. Therefore the IMT also indicted several Nazi organizations deemed to be criminal, namely the Reich Cabinet, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, the Elite Guard (SS), the Security Service (SD), the Secret State Police (Gestapo), the Stormtroopers (SA), and the General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces.

    The defendants were entitled to a legal counsel of their choosing. Over 400 visitors attended the proceedings each day, as well as 325 correspondents representing 23 different countries. American chief prosecutor Robert Jackson decided to argue his case primarily on the basis of mounds of documents written by the Nazis themselves rather than eyewitness testimony so that the trial could not be accused of relying on biased or tainted testimony. Testimony presented at Nuremberg revealed much of what we know about the Holocaust including the details of the Auschwitz death machinery, the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, and the estimate of six million Jewish victims.

    The judges delivered their verdict on October 1, 1946. Agreement among three out of four judges was needed for conviction. Twelve defendants were sentenced to death, among them Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hans Frank, Alfred Rosenberg, and Julius Streicher. They were hanged, cremated in Dachau, and their ashes were dropped in the Isar River. Hermann Goering escaped the hangman's noose by committing suicide the night before. The IMT sentenced three defendants to life imprisonment and four to prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. It acquitted three of the defendants.

    https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/international-military-tribunal-at-nuremberg.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Gerald (Gerd) Schwab

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Artifact Photographer
    Max Reid
    Biography
    Karl Doenitz (1891-1980) began his naval career before World War I, joining the submarine corps in its early stages. On January 1, 1936, Doenitz became Fuehrer der U-Boote and expanded the fleet in accordance with the German-British Naval Agreement. In 1939, he became Commander of the U-boat fleet, and was convinced that U-boats alone could win the war. His innovative tactics, primarily pack assaults, on British convoys resulted in 2,882 destroyed cargo ships and nearly 15 million tons of shipping. Doenitz succeeded Erich Raeder as Supreme Naval Commander in 1943. One of his first decisions was to break off the Battle of the Atlantic due to the rising toll and improving Allied defenses. Doenitz remained a loyal supporter of Hitler, advocating the loyalty oath and condemning the assasination attempt on July 20, 1944. In May 1945 Hitler named Doenitz his successor as Reich president in his last will and testament under the assumption that he would carry on the war. Doenitz planned to seek partial capitulation in the West to save what he could from the Soviets, in terms of manpower and material. However, his infant government in Flensburg, under Johann Ludwig Schwering von Krosigk, was forced to accept unconditional surrender. Doenitz was sentenced to ten years for crimes against peace at Nuremberg and served his sentence in Spandau.

    [Source: Encyc. of Third Reich (Zentner) 1:206
    Record last modified:
    2014-11-19 00:00:00
    This page:
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