Starting on November 20, 1945, trials of 24 high-ranking Nazis began in Nuremberg, Germany, for crimes committed during World War II, including crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes and “a common plan or conspiracy to commit” the above mentioned criminal acts.
The Nuremberg trials were established under the authority of the International Military Tribunal established by the London Agreement of August 8, 1945, signed by representatives from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the provisional government of France. Later on, 19 other countries accepted the provisions of this agreement.
The tribunal was authorised to find any person guilty of the three earlier-mentioned counts of war crimes and to declare any group or organisation to be criminal in character. The prosecution could also bring any members of said organisations to trial for having been their members.
#OTD in 1945, the Nuremberg Trials of indicted Nazi war criminals began. The Nuremberg Trials were a watershed moment in international criminal justice and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. pic.twitter.com/CJyRfe4KPU— Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Ireland) (@PANAIreland) November 20, 2022
The tribunal rejected the first line of defence by stating that crimes are committed by individuals and that only by punishing these individuals can the provisions of international law be enforced. The tribunal also stressed that the acts committed by the defendants were regarded as criminal before World War Two.