November 20th 1945: Nuremberg Trials begin


On this day in 1945, the Nuremberg Trials against 23 Nazi war criminals started at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg. The trials were held by the victorious Allied forces of World War Two. This set of trials lasted until October 1st 1946 and dealt with the surviving major war criminals such as Reichsmarschall and Commander of the Luftwaffe Hermann Göring, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess and Minister of Armaments Albert Speer. 12 were sentenced to death, 7 imprisoned (3 for life), and 3 acquitted. Some, such as Göring, committed suicide before their execution, following people such as Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels who committed suicide at the end of the war.


“Opening the first trial in history against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilisation cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated

– The opening words of Chief Prosecutor, US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson’s, indictment


(pictures from


2 responses to “November 20th 1945: Nuremberg Trials begin

  1. But why were the nuremburg trials important? Was it just a trial of the nazi leaders being held responsible for the war and the murder of millions? Or was it putting Nazism itself on trial? I have always doubted the decision to keep Rudolf Hess in Spandau prison until he died. Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments minister, received a lesser prision term than what he should have received. The whole idea of a trial of war criminals judged by an international court itself was on trial at nuremburg.

    • That’s a very interesting point. The way I see Nuremburg is a dual purpose of both legally dealing with the war criminals and simultaneously displaying and putting on trial the crimes of Nazi Germany as a whole. I hadn’t thought of it as a trial of itself, that’s a good point

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