Trials After the Wars

After every war the victorious countries and parties are the ones that can dictate the terms. They can say whether the vanquished parties committed criminal acts or not. Such is the case that we have seen after World War II and the same thing has happened in Iraq after it was overrun.

Trials After the Second World War

Long before World War II was finished, the Allied leaders were somehow sure that they would win. That’s why President Roosevelt started to formulate a plan that would allow them to handle the Nazi leadership after the fighting ended. His successor was the one who implemented the plan. It called for trying the Nazi hierarchy or at least what was left of it.

The leaders of the Allied countries decided that the best place to hold the trials was within Germany itself. They picked the city of Nuremberg for that purpose. There were two major reasons for choosing that city. First of all, it still has an intact courtroom. Most of the cities within Germany by then had its public buildings destroyed by bombs. Then there was the fact that the city is important to the Nazis. It is closely associated with the rise of Hitler’s party and it was there that many party rallies were held.

The most important Nazi leader was of course missing from the trials since Hitler has killed himself rather than risk being captured by Russians. Himmler was also dead as well as Goebbels. But the other Nazi bigwigs were captured including Goering, Speer, Jodl and Ribbentrop.

The trial of the major Nazi leaders was called the Trial of the Major War Criminals and it was just the first of the Nuremberg trials. Some of the Nazi leaders were sentenced to death including Goering and Ribbentrop. The rest were sentenced to imprisonment.

Similar Trials After Victory

The Nuremberg trials were unique in history, but there have been cases were the defeated parties in war were forced to stand trial by their conquerors. The most recent perhaps was the case of Saddam Hussein after his country engaged in war with the United States for the second time. He was accused of holding weapons of mass destruction and after his regime fell he went into hiding. He was soon captured and interrogated by American forces.

But instead of trying him, the Americans handed him to the new Iraqi government which was the one who tried him. They found him guilty of the charges that were brought against him and he was executed by hanging. There is little doubt that the new Iraqi government was heavily influenced in its decision by the American government.

To the Victor the Spoils

There are those who say that the Nuremberg trials and the trial of Saddam are nothing more but the demonstration of the ancient idea that the victor can do anything with the vanquished. They say that since the victors are the ones that dictate the terms, the other party would have no choice in the matter.

Categories: Thoughts on Politics