Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Nuremberg Trials

When Mrs. Olsen was growing up in Salem, Oregon and attending Sprague High School, there were occasional stories about the discovery of Nazi war criminals and efforts to bring them to justice.  In the picture above, you can see some of the chief Nazi officers listening to the trial proceedings.

Films were made, including the "Boys from Brazil" and the "Odessa File" which featured ex-Nazis on the run, or trying to take over and control other parts of the world.  Even today, World War II films are popular, and, you guess it, the Nazis are the villains.

Soon after World War II, unprecedented trials were held to help the world cope with the evil brought about by the National Socialist regime.  Though Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker in 1945, there were still many prominent leaders who were jailed and brought to trial for crimes against humanity.

Some of these men argued that they had no idea of the extent of the Holocaust, the widespread use of slave labor, and the violations of the Geneva convention after World War I.  Many said they were just parts of the Nazi machinery or that they were following orders.

Those who were found guilty were hung at Nuremberg, Germany---which was an ironic choice as this was a place that only a decade earlier had held large scale dynamic Nazi Rallies. 

These were not the only trials, however.  There were other trials of doctors who had performed horrible medical experiments and lower level concentration camp officials.

Now, in 2016, most of those who had direct control over the atrocities of World War II are dead, or they are very elderly and soon to die.  Still, there are thousands of elderly victims of the Nazi regime still alive.  The Nuremberg trials were an important turning point in how the world must "deal" with murderous regimes.