Germany marks 75 years since Nuremberg Trials held Nazis to account

BY GNA - Nov 22, 2020 at 0:51am 100

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Friday marks 75 years since the beginning of the Nuremberg Trials, a judicial marathon that held Nazi officers to account for the atrocities of World War II and paved the way for future war criminals to be tried under international law.

Germany commemorated the anniversary with an event in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, in which President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave a speech.

"The main war crimes trial in Nuremberg was a revolution. It not only wrote legal history, it wrote world history," Steinmeier said, according to a transcript of his speech made available ahead of the event.

The event was not public but was livestreamed online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On November 20, 1945, Nuremberg wrote world history when the Allies tried 21 high-ranking Nazi officials, including Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, and military leader Hermann Goering, at an international criminal court.

It was the first time that representatives of a state had been put on trial.

"Until the opening of the trial 75 years ago, international law was a matter for states, not individuals," said Steinmeier.

The Nuremberg Trials laid the foundation for international criminal law and an international criminal justice system, he added.

"Without the main war crimes trial in Nuremberg, the International Criminal Court in The Hague would not exist today."

The trials lasted almost a year and ended in 12 death sentences being handed out.

Twelve other trials took place by 1949, putting other Nazis on trial for crimes committed by the German state under Hitler.

Alongside Steinmeier, Bavarian premier Markus Soeder and Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, were also to attend the anniversary event.

Now aged 100, Benjamin Ferencz, the chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials, lives in Florida.

"The Nuremberg trials that began 75 years ago were a pivotal moment in history that brought those responsible for atrocities to justice," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

"Today, the United States remains committed to speaking out against assaults on human rights wherever they occur and ensuring accountability."