|Automatons led by a lunatic who looked like Charlie Chaplin|
|The Third Reich|
The Nuremberg trials is the collective description for the prosecution of high-ranking Nazi officials for crimes committed during World War II. They are named after the German city of Nuremberg, which was chosen as the site for the trials because of its symbolic importance as a center of Nazi propaganda and the site of major party rallies.
 The trials
In 1942, the four major Allied powers (the USSR, USA, UK and France) had already reached an agreement to eventually punish Nazi war criminals, and after the end of the war, they jointly established the International Military Tribunal (IMT) as a body to conduct the trials, with each providing judges and prosecutors. They eventually settled for trying a total of 24 members of the Nazi leadership, of whom 21 actually appeared in court, with the most prominent being Hermann Göring. Several other members of the highest tier of Nazi leadership, among them Hitler himself, Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, could not be tried because they had already committed suicide before or shortly after the end of the war. Charges brought by the prosecution centered around four main points:
- Crimes against peace, the planning and waging of wars of aggression
- War crimes
- Crimes against humanity, most notably the Holocaust
- Conspiracy to commit one or more of the abovementioned acts
This allowed the tribunal to indict the Nazi leadership for the full range of German atrocities, including starting numerous separate unprovoked wars, the systematic extermination of civilians both on and off the battlefield, and the mistreatment of POWs. The conspiracy charge allowed for the trial of persons who had not directly issued orders that led to these crimes but had participated in pre-war planning to commit them. A total of eleven defendants were sentenced to death, with seven receiving prison sentences of varying lenghts, and three being acquitted. Göring committed suicide before his actual execution. This only covers the main trial, numerous other proceedings were brought against lower-ranking Nazi officials and a much greater number of civilians and military officers who were complicit in Nazi crimes.
The so-called Nuremberg Principles, the basis for the charges against the defendants, established a concrete catalog of acts that are forbidden under international law. The notion of crimes against peace was subsequently codified into the United Nations charter as the prohibition against wars of aggression. The trials itself set an important precedent for the actual conviction of war criminals and the leadership of aggressor states.
The British Royal Air Force killed an estimated 600,000 to 900,000 German non-combatants in the fire-bombing of German cities during the Second World War. Despite that, Britain joined the United States, the Soviet Union and France in prosecuting senior German officials in the Nuremberg Trials at the end of the war.
This does not mean that the moral authority and precedent established by the Nuremberg Trials have any less validity - it was truly a virtuous development in international relations to hold the leadership of a country responsible for war crimes rather than collectively punishing the people. The western two-thirds of Germany was occupied by the three Western Allies following the Second World War and received direct humanitarian assistance and sovereign debts were canceled. Compare this with the treatment of the defeated Germans following the First World War where the German people were collectively punished in the form of reparations payments whilst their military leaders got off scot free. On the other hand, beyond de-Nazification, many lower level German war criminals escaped punishment. Business executives, bureaucrats, academics, police officers and soldiers with a lot of blood on their hands got to die in their beds rather than at the end of a rope.
 Film Evidence
As part of the proceedings, two documentaries were produced and exhibited as evidence. English language versions of these films still survive and are available for viewing and download. WARNING: The footage from the then-recently liberated concentration camps is incredibly graphic!
 Footage from the Internet Archive
- Nazi Concentration Camps - Directed by George Stevens
- The Nazi Plan - Directed by Edgar Ray Kellogg
- Another film, Death Mills (German title: Todesmuehlen) directed by Billy Wilder, would be widely shown throughout German and Austria after the war
 See also
- ↑ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
- ↑ USHMM: list of the defendants
- ↑ University of Missouri-Kansas City: The Nuremberg Trials
- ↑ USHMM: Who else was brought to trial?
- ↑ He also directed the short film That Justice Be Done about the War Crimes Trials.
- ↑ Yes, the same Ray Kellogg who would later direct such B-movies as Attack of the Killer Shrews and The Giant Gila Monster, but also co-directed the John Wayne vehicle The Green Berets.
- ↑ He would later direct Stalag 17 and Witness for the Prosecution.