After Germany’s defeat in WWII, the Nuremberg and later trials were organized primarily for political purposes rather than to dispense impartial justice. Wears War brings to you each week a quote from the many fine men and women who were openly appalled by the trials. All of these people were highly respected and prominent in their field, at least until they spoke out against the trials.
Howard Buffett is the father of world-famous investor Warren Buffett. Howard Buffett was an attorney and four-term U.S. Congressman from Nebraska. This is what Howard Buffett said about the Nuremberg Trials:
Aside from the horrendous demand for “Unconditional Surrender,” certainly the most stupid error of America’s World War II policies was to sponsor and participate in the so-called Nuremberg Trials. From the standpoint of simple law and justice, these trials were a travesty on Anglo-Saxon traditions of jurisprudence. Equally significant, they set a precedent that may someday haunt our children when future wars take place. From the standpoint of bringing peace and reconciliation among the Western people of the world, the trials did nothing but harm. It is fortunate for the West that the German people have chosen to be charitable in their response to this tragic mistake. As a brave and patriotic officer, Admiral Doenitz deserves the respect of thinking people everywhere for the moral stamina he exhibited in answer to the attacks upon his devotion to duty and record of naval competence.
From the book Doenitz at Nuremberg: A Re-Appraisal edited by H. K. Thompson, Jr. and Henry Strutz, 2nd edition, Torrance, CA: Institute for Historical Review, 1993.
British Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Champion de Crespigny, R.A.F., Allied Military Governor, Schleswig-Holstein, 1946-47:
“[Karl] Doenitz is no more guilty of a war crime than others on our side…The unrestricted submarine warfare directed by Admiral Doenitz against Allied shipping was no more of a crime than Allied mass bombing of German towns and cities…The excuse frequently offered that the towns and cities bombed contained military objectives will not hold water, as it could equally be applied to ships of which all, of any consequence, were making their voyages in furtherance of the Allied war effort…The Nuremberg Court cannot rightly be called a ‘Military Tribunal’ as political considerations were in prominence, to the exclusion of justice…It is my considered opinion that the Nuremberg Trials violated the reputation for justice so long held by the British and American peoples, and that many of the findings contravened our most sacred constitutional principles. It is true to say that when party politics are allowed to influence justice, the latter vanishes, and that is the picture which we see now—years after the event.”[i]
Frank A. W. Lucas, Judge of Appeal, High Commission Territories, Union of South Africa Judge, Transvaal Division, Supreme Court of South Africa:
…When they [the Nuremberg Trials] were instituted, I felt that they were setting a very dangerous precedent…it seems to me that the victorious Allies, who admittedly indulged in the same practice (unrestricted submarine warfare), had no legal, logical, or ethical justification for prosecuting or condemning Admiral Doenitz. In doing so, they laid themselves open to a charge of hypocrisy and an abuse of the power which victory had placed in their hands. It does not seem to me an adequate answer for them to say that they prosecuted the Admiral because the Germans began the unrestricted warfare.
General Olof Gerhard Thornell, Royal Swedish Army, Commander-in chief, Armed Forces of Sweden, 1940-1944, Chief of Military Staff to His Majesty, King Gustav V, 1944-1950:
You are perfectly right in branding the Nuremberg “war crimes trials” in general as violating the common principles for civilized jurisdiction. There seems to be more of vengeance–“vae victis”—than of impartial justice. Especially from a military standpoint is the conviction of such men as Doenitz and Raeder as criminals revolting, and this can be a very dangerous precedent in the future. I think that the Nuremberg Trials did not honor the Western Powers. About unrestricted submarine warfare, I can’t see any moral difference between this form of war and the dropping of bombs over undefended cities.
All quotes above are from the book Doenitz at Nuremberg: A Re-Appraisal edited by H. K. Thompson, Jr. and Henry Strutz, 2nd edition, Torrance, CA: Institute for Historical Review, 1993.
From the epilogue to Rear Adm. Dan V. Gallery’s book Twenty Million Tons Under the Sea, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1957.
“You might think that since our submarines fought the same way the Germans did, we would sweep the question of Prize Warfare under the rug after the war and say no more about violation of the laws of war at sea. Our naval officers were perfectly willing to do this, but our statesmen and lawyers were vindictive. When the war was over, they insisted on trying the German Admirals Raeder and Doenitz at Nuremberg as war criminals for permitting their submarines to do exactly what ours did. A justice of our Supreme Court prosecuted them and tried to hang them. To our eternal shame, we convicted the German admirals of violating the laws of war at sea and sentenced them to long terms of imprisonment…
This kangaroo court at Nuremberg was officially known as the “International Military Tribunal.” That name is a libel on the military profession. The tribunal was not a military one in any sense. The only military men among the judges were the Russians. Some military titles are listed on the staffs of the secretariat and prosecuting counsel, but these belong to a lot of lawyers temporarily masquerading in uniform as military men.
Nuremberg was, in fact, a lawyer’s tribunal, although I can readily understand why the legal profession is ashamed to claim it, and deliberately stuck a false label on it.”
The Nuremberg Trials are arguably the gravest miscarriage of justice since the witch trials of pre-Enlightenment Europe and colonial America. At the close of the Second World War, the Allies arrested the entire hierarchy of the Third Reich and put its members on trial for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” the latter an entirely new concept in international law. Actions taken by various governmental officials were declared, ex post facto, to be “crimes.” Perfectly legitimate organizations were declared to be “criminal” and all members of these organizations were subject to arrest and incarceration without writ of habeas corpus.
Normal rules of evidence were suspended and affidavits of “witnesses” were not allowed to be cross examined. The prosecution presented as evidence numerous documents which were such absurdly bad forgeries that they were disallowed by their own judges out of sheer embarrassment. Both the American judge, Biddle, and the Russian judge, Nikitchenko, made statements prior to the trial to the effect that the defendants had already been convicted. The press was invited to watch the proceedings and the trial was broadcast over the radio. It lasted nearly a year and for entertainment value it outdid the Circus Maximus and the games of the Roman Colosseum combined. It was the political show trial of the century, making the 1930’s purge trials of Stalin seem like the epitome of just law.
Karl Brecht reviewing the book Not Guilty at Nuremberg: The German Defense Case by Carlos Whitlock Porter
The whole majesty of the Western heritage of the law was used to subvert that heritage in the Nuremberg Tribunal. Weighty jurists in every Western country (but not Russia) protested against this travesty of the Western legal system. So did historians. So did merely cultured and moral men and women. If the victors were to “try” the vanquished for war crimes, then they should try themselves for often committing the same crimes. Who would try Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Travers “Bomber” Harris, the architect of the policy of saturation bombing of German cities? But it was not only a matter of our own “war crimes.” If it was right to use the apparatus of the law to punish those responsible for exceptional crimes like the Holocaust, it was wrong to use it to punish errors of judgment and statecraft such as every defeated regime seems to have committed. “We used the methods of the enemy”—and used them in peace at Nuremberg.
Source: Farlie, Henry, “How the Good War Went Bad,” The New Republic, May 20, 1985, pp. 18 ff.
#Nuremberg #worldwar2 #wwii #allywarcrimes #alliedwarcrimes