Today, November 20, 1945: War Crimes Trials Begin at Nuremberg

During the Nazi reign in Germany prior to and during World War II, a number of Nazis committed a number of horrible crimes against Jews, gypsies and many others.  The numbers vary but Nazi Germany was guilty of brutally murdering over 6 million Jews and hundreds of thousands of gypsies. Among the atrocities were a number of cruel and brutal medical experiments, often without any form of anesthesia.

I worked with a woman years ago whose mother was German. In 1942, her mother was seen handing a piece of bread to a hungry Jewish child. She was subsequently arrested and sent to a concentration camp. According to Ruth, her mother was very beautiful and while in the concentration camp was forcibly raped and tortured by her Nazi captors. The first time her mother got pregnant by one of the German guards, they beat her abdomen daily with wooden rods until she eventually miscarried the baby. The second pregnancy, she was allowed to give birth, to a little girl who was taken from her after a few months. Ruth and her mother never knew what happened to that girl. Then her mother was subjected to several brutal experiments where they wanted to see how much pain she could endure before passing out. In 1944, she was raped again for the umpteenth time. She gave birth to another daughter and named her Ruth. When Ruth was only a month and a half old, Allied forces liberated the concentration camp and freed baby Ruth and her mother. The last I talked to Ruth, she never did know who her father was as many different German guards had raped her mom.

After Germany was defeated and the concentration camps were liberated, war crime charges were brought against a number of Nazi Germans.

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On this day, November 20, 1945, the international war crimes trials began at Nuremburg, Germany. The judges at the trials were from the main Allied forces, America, Great Britain, France and Russia.

The Nuremburg War Crimes Trials lasted through the rest of 1945 and most of 1946. During that time, 24 major political and military Nazi officials were tried for war crimes. Of those, 12 were sentenced to death. Charges were also brought against over 100 other Nazi individuals. Had Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels not committed suicide in May 1945, they would both have stood trial and most likely been convicted, sentenced and hanged. Among those tried were:

Martin Bormann, who replaced Rudolf Hess as Deputy Führer after Hess flew to Scotland and was captured in 1941 was tried absentia as he disappeared after Hitler committed suicide. Bormann’s body was found and it was presumed that he committed suicide on May 2, 1945. Bormann was convicted of sending millions of Jews to Poland and forcing Ukrainian women into forced labor during the war. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

Rudolph Hess was returned to Germany to stand trial after his capture in 1941. Hess was convicted of multiple war crimes and sentenced to life in prison at Spandau Prison, located in western Berlin. He served over 40 years of his sentence before committing suicide in prison in 1987 at the age of 93.

Hermann Goering (Göring) was President of the Reichstag and considered to be the second most influential Nazi leader next to Hitler. Goering was found guilty of numerous war crime and sentence to death by hanging, but committed suicide in his cell on October 15, 1946.

Karl Doenitz, the Commander of the German Submarine Unit. The 1935 Treaty of Versailles forbid Germany from having submarines and it was Doentiz that gave orders to sink numerous civilian and merchant ships. After Hitler committed suicide, Doenitz was appointed President of Germany. He was only sentenced to 10 years at Spandau Prison. He was released on October 1, 1956 and resided in a small village in northern West Germany where he published two books. He died on December 24, 1980 of a heart attack at the age of 89.

Hans Frank served in several key positions within Hitler’s Nazi Party, the last of which was the Governor of the General Government of Poland after Germany invaded and conquered Poland. Under Frank’s rule in Poland, he was found guilty of using about 2.5 million Jews as slave laborers. It was also under his regime that a number of extermination concentration camps were built in Poland including the infamous Auschwitz. Frank also served as Hitler’s personal attorney. He was convicted on October 1, 1946 of his crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.

Wilhelm Frick was Reich Minister of the Interior and played an important role in creating many of Germany’s anti-Jewish laws. Like Frank, Frick was found guilty of his crimes on October 1, 1946 and sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on October 16, 1946 alongside Hans Frank.

There were others sentenced to death, some sentenced to life in prison, some given specified years in prison and even some were acquitted of war crime charges brought against them.


Sources for the above includes: The Nuremburg Trials; Nuremberg Trials; Nuremburg Trails Project; Nuremberg Trials Begin; The International Military Tribunal for Germany; The Nuremberg Trials: Brief Overview of Defendants & Verdicts


Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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