International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg: Defendants (1945-46)

Figure 1.--.

Three of the most imprtant NAZI leaders committed suicide and thus could not be tried at Nuremberg. Adolf Hitler commited suiside in his bunker in Berlin. After Hitler killed himself, Propaganda Minister odef Goebels and his wife commited suicide. Tragically they also killed their children. Incomprehensively, SS Commander Heinrich Himmler appears to have thought he could survive the War. After the British captured him, he seems to have second thoughts and bit down on a cynanide pill. The Allies did try 21 other NAZI leaders. The most important was Reichsmarschall Herman Göring. Others included both high ranking NAZIs and four military commanders. Most of the individuals, except for the miitary commanders, tried were virtually unknown outside of Germany. The public faces of NAZI-dom had been Hitler, Göring, Goebels, and Himmler.

NAZI War Crininals Not Tried

Several NAZI leaders were not tried at Nuremberg. Some of the most imprtant NAZI leaders committed suicide and thus could not be tried at Nuremberg. The nost obvious was of course Reich Führer Adolf Hitler himself commited suiside in his bunker in Berlin (April 1945). After Hitler killed himself, Propaganda Minister Josef Goebels and his wife commited suicide. Tragically they also killed their children. Incomprehensively, SS Commander Heinrich Himmler appears to have thought he could survive the War and tried negotiating with the Allies. ZJotler was furious when he learned of it. . After the British captured him, he seems to have second thoughts and bit down on a cynanide pill. Dr Robert Ley, head of the German Labor Front, also comitted suiside at Nuremberg just before the trials began. The most imprtant NAZI not tried was Martin Boreman. No one knows what happened to him, but he was apparently killed in Berlin after leaving Hitler's bunker. The manager of the Holocaust, SS Col. Eichmann, escapd to Argentina, but was eventually found and tried by the Isrealis. The infamous SS Doctor Josef Mengele also escaped to South America and died there, escaping jstice.

Individual Defendants

The Allies tried 21 NAZI leaders at the Nuremberg IMT. The most important was Reichsmarschall Herman Göring. Others included both high ranking NAZIs and three military commanders. Most of the individuals tried, except for the military commanders and Von Ribbontrop, were virtually unknown outside of Germany. The public faces of NAZI-dom had been Hitler, Göring, Goebels, and Himmler.

Karl Doenitz

Admiral Karl Doenitz initially commanded the German U-boat fleet. The success of Germany's U-boat camapign was in large measure due to tactics developed by Donenitz who conceived of the wolf pack. Donenitz was a master technician, but he was often dismissive of technology. He thought SONAR was overated. Here he was proved correct, at least early in the War, as he planned a strategy involving surface attacks in which SONAR was of little use. In the early years of the War, these tactics proved highly successful against the lightly defended British convoys. The Royal Navy had been down-sized after World War I and was dreadfully short of escort craft. The World War I destroyers provided by America helped, but many more vessels were needed. Donenitz badly miscalulated the importance of both RADAR and SONAR. The Allied in 1942 slowly improved their equipment and perfected tactics. In addition, long-range aircraft and escorted carriers churned out by American carriers gradually increased aerial cover for the convoys. Another serious miscalculation was the excessive use of radio communication. In addition, Doneintz believed in maintaining very cloise control over his U-boats. The level of radio traffic involved help the Allies locate the U-boats. Donenitz also did not believe the Allied could crack the Kriregsmarine Enigma machines. As the surface fleet was gradually destroyed, Hitler appointed Doenitz to command the entire Navy. He was among the most loyal NAZIs in the Navy whose high command was largely apolitical. This and the success of the U-Boat campaign convinced Hitler to give him command of the Navy. In the last week of the War, he appointed Doenitz to be the NAZI Führer to suceed him. His primary action was to negotiate surrender.

Hans Frank (1900-46)

Hans Frank was born in Karlsrule, Germany (1900). During World War I he joined the German Army when he reached conscription age (1917). After the War like other young men with right-wing politics, he joined the Freikorps. He thus participated in the suppression of the Communist uprising in Munich. Soon afterwads he joined te NAZI Party. He was with Hitler in the Beer Hall Putsch (1924) Like Hitler he was not severely punished and studied law. He then became a legal adviser to Adolf Hitler and the NAZI Party. NAZI Party fortunes changed with the Depression (1929). Frank was one of the many NAZI deputies elected (1930). After Hitler was appointed Chancellor, he appointed Frank Minister of Justice in Bavaria (1933). Frank oversaw the brutal NAZI occupation of Poland. It is unclear why Hitler chose him for the job, but his virulent anti-Semitism is certainly one of the reasons.

Wilhelm Frick (1877-1946)

Wilhelm Frick was born in Germany (1877). He pursued a career with the police in Munich. He was an early member of the NAZI PArty. He joined Hitler in the abortive Beer Hall Putsch (1923). He was arrested and found guilty of treason. After serving a short term he was released and elected to the Reichstag. He was associated with the NAZI radicals led by vicious anti-Semite Gregor Strasser. He was the first NAZI to achieve a high office when he was appointed as Minister of the Interior in the state of Thuringia. When Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor (January 1933), he appointed Frick Minister of the Interior. In most of Europe, the Interior Ministry was responsible for the police and law enforcemrent. Because of Germany's federal system, this was not the case when Hitler was initially appointed Chancellor. Hermann Göring in Prussia and Himmler in Bavaria had more control over the police. This changed with the Enabling Act (March 1933) which Frick helped draft. He also helped draft the Nuremberg Acts (September 1935) which stripped Jews of their citzenship and began the organized persecution of German Jews. Frick was involved in a struggle Heinrich Himmler and the Schutzstaffel (SS). Frick was gradually sidelined by Göring and Himmler who took effective contol of the German police and began cenbtralizing them within the SS structure. Frick was finally removed as Minister of the Interior (1943). Hitler appointed him the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia to replace Heyfdricj who was assasinated. He remained there until the end of the War when he fled back to the Reich ahead of the advancing Red Army.

Hans Fritzsche

Hans Fritzsche was Head of the Radio Division which was one of twelve departments in Goebbel's Propoganda Ministry.

Walther Funk

Walther Funk was Minister of Economics.

Hermann Göring (1893-1946)

Reichsmarschall Hermamnn Göring was the most important NAZI captured by the Allies and brought to trial. He was commander of the Luftwaffe and has various police posts which he eventually gave up as Himmler expnded his power. He served as President of Reichstag and had important economic responsibilities, especially Director of "Four Year Plan". Herman Göring Goering was the son of a senior army officer. He himself joined the army (1913). When war broke out the next year, Göring was serving in the infantry. After a few months active duty, he was hospitalized, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis of the knees. When released from the hospital he joined the German Army Air Service. His first dury was as an air observer, but he became a fighter pilot, shooting down his first Allied airplane November 16, 1915). When Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary Red Baron, was shot down Göring was appointed to lead the JG 1 squadron--the famed Flying Circus. Göring By the end of the war chalked up 22 victories and was awarded both the Iron Cross and the Pour le Merite (the highly coveted Blue Max) for bravery. Service as fighter pilots was the most dangerous assignment of the war. Most pilots were killed within a few weeks. To fly for 3 years meant that Göring was both very good and very lucky. He received considerable publicity and thus was well known in Germany after the War. He worked for a while in Holand as a pilot for the Fokker company. While in Holand he became acquainted with and married his wife--Baroness Karen von Fock-Kantzow. Göring returned to Germany (1923) and after attending a NAZI Party rally, became very impressed with Adolf Hitler. He soon became one og Hilter;s cloesest supporters. He was instrumental in Hitler's seizure of power (1933) and in the Night of the Long Knives (1934) which eliminated any threat to Hitler's ;eadership within the NAZI Party. Because of their close assciation and Göring's background as a World War I pilot, Hitler gave him the task of building the new German air force (1935). He was spectacularly successful and the new Lufwaffe played a prominent role in early NAZI successes, most prominetly at Munich (1938). Göring basked in the glory. Hitler made him his deputy and legal heir. Göring became richthrough various activities, including investments in aircraft companies. The Luftwaffe when war broke out (1939) played key roles in the initial NAZI victories: Poland (1939), Norway (1940), and France (1940). His pledge to destroy the British at Dunkirk was his first major failure. This was followed by the Luftwaffee's defeat in the Nattle of Britain (1940). This seriously affected his relationship with Hitler. The Luftwaffe performed brilisntly in the opening phase of Barbarossa (1941), but the Eastern Front was too large to exert the decisive impact that it played in the West. Attempting to regain his lost influence, Göring pledged to supply the Stalingrad pocket without any consulation with his staff (1942). Hitler used this to refuse pleas from Wehrmacht geneals to order a breakout. The Luftwaffe airlift proved a disaster and ednded any creditibility and influence Göring had with Hitler. The expanding Allied stategic bombing campaign even widenened the breach.

Rudolf Hess (1883-1987)

Rudolf Hess was the Deputy Führer and NAZI Party Leader. He was born in Egypt where his father had established an import-export business. Growing up in a villa surrounded by a luxurious garden, Rudolf received a disciplined, Teutonic upbringing that clashed with his romantic temperament and the exotic Near East setting. It was Hess that had served as secretary while Hitler dictated Mein Kampf in prison. It is not entirely clear why Hitler chose Hess as Deputy Führer, presumably his long association and loyalty. Hitler did not give him any major assifnment in givernment. He did oplay a role in developing the Nuremberg Laws (1935). His major role was his theatrical introduction of Hitler at his major public addresses. He played little role in the War. Hess stunned the world when he flew to Scotland just before Barbarossa (May 1941)in an effort to convince the British to make peace. Hitler was furious. Apparently the flight was in part due to his deteriorating psychological state. While in British prisons, Hess began to behave bizarly. In particular he developed a paranoid obsession that his food was being poisoned. After the War, the British returned him to Germny to stand trial with the other top NAZIs before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg. He was clearly disoriented in the courtroom. He seemed to stare off vacantly into space. He also claimed amnesia. There were periods of lucidity when he was one of the few defendents who remained loyal to Hitler. In his final statement he proclaimed, "It was granted me for many years to live and work under the greatest son whom my nation has brought forth in the thousand years of its history. Even if I could I would not expunge this period from my existence. I regret nothing. If I were standing once more at the beginning I should act once again as I did then, even if I knew that at the end I should be burnt at the stake." The court ignored his s mental condition, he was sentenced to life in prison. Although a high-ranking NAZI official, the IMT recognized that he was not amajor decession maker. He also flew to Vritain before he mass killings began.

Alfred Jodl

Colonel-General Alfred Jodl was Chief of Operations for the German High Command (OKW). He was an early supporter in the military for National Socialism. Thus he was not a military man who had no role in brining the NAZIs to pwer, but a mikitary man that stringly supported Hitler and the NAZIs. Even after Stalingrad he believed in Hitler. He expplained to NAZI Gauleiters gathered in Munich that Germany would in the War (November 1943). "My most profound confidence is based on the factthat at the head of Germanythere stands a mand by his entire development, his desires, and striving can only have been destined by Fateto lead our people into a better future." [Davidson] Unlike Keitl, he was no toddy and had a sound military mind. He also had the courage to speak up to Hitler which is why he never got a Field Marshal baton. His advise to Hitler on Norway proved correct. The two quareled over the Soviet campaign. Hitler rejected his advise on Stlingrad and was determined to dismiss him after the success of the Stalingrad campaign. Of course the campaign failed and failed disasterously. It is arguable if Operation Blue could have suceeded given the Wehrmacht's limited resourrces, but failure did not necessarily mean the loss of the entire 6th Army and associated formations. This came about because Hitler rejected Jodl's advice. The relationship between the two was never the same after Stalingrad. Hitler retained him to the end, despite the tension between the two men. Jodl was surprised when he was told that he would be tried as aarm criminal.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Ernst Kaltenbrunner was Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA). This was the Reich Security Main Office), a security force within the SS. The RSHA included the Gestapo, the SD, and the Criminal Police) as well as the Chief of Security Police. Often the German policedurngthe NAZI era is referred to as the Gestapo. This is not correct. The Gestapo was only one part of the overall organization--the RSHA.

Wilhelm Keitel

Wilhelm Keitel was Chief of Staff of the German High Command. Keitel in contrast to Jodl was a complete toddy. He ws cleve to an extent. He was the kind of individul office workers will recognoze, able to advance his career, but without real talent--in his case military talent. He was useful to Hitler wgo did not really want military experise, but aoon-entity to simply transmit his orders. He was thus hated throughout the Wehrmacht for this very reason. He was tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. Göring thought he should not have been tried because he was just transmitting orders. Keitel's signature, however, was on the the extinction orders.

Konstantin von Neurath

Konstantin von Neurath was a career diplomat. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs, until 1938 when he was replaced by the more compliant Ribentropp. After Hitler seized Czechoslovakia (March 1939), he appointed Neurath Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia. Here he was replsced by SD Chief Reinhard Heydrich because he was not foreful enough with the Czechs.

Franz von Papen

Franz von Papen was Reich Chancellor prior to Hitler seizing power (January 1933). He was Vice Chancellor under Hitler. He was one of the people that narrowly missed being put on the jill list diring the Night of the Long Knives (1934). Hitler appoited him Ambassador to Turkey to ger him out of the way.

Erich Raeder

Erich Raeder was Commander in Chief of the German Navy. He argued against invading the Soviet Union and proposed a Mediterranean strategy which included seizing Gibraltar, Malta ad Suez which would have gicen the Germans access to Iraqi oil. After the failure of the German surface fleet, Hitler replaced Raeder with Doenitz.

Joachim von Ribbentrop (18??-1946)

Hitler appointed Joachim von Ribbentrop Ambassador to Britain. He was a disaster, totaly failing to understand British society. He gave the NAZI salute to King George V at a royal receotion. He was lampooned by the Bitish press. For his part he developed an intense dislike for the Btitish. Hitler in 1938 replaced the seasoned foreign minister Konstantin von Neurath with Ribbentrop. This seems to have been because of Ribbentrop's loyalalty and willingness to take orders rather than argue with Hitler. Ribbentrop was a key player in Munich negotiations (1938) and the NAZI-Soviet Non Agression Pacr (1939) that made World war II possible, After that diplomacy no longer played an important role as Hitler launhed the War.

Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946)

Alfred Rosenberg styled himself as the chief Nazi philosopher. . Hitler felt some loyalty to him because he was an early NAZI member, but had little respect for him. Which is why he chose him to lead the Pasrty while he was jailed. He did not have to worry about being replaced. Rosenberg's best known book was The Myth of the Twentieth Century which postulasted the existence of two opposing races: the Aryan race which created all values and culture, and the Jewish race which was ace of cultural corruption. Hitler dismissed his books as writings no one could understand, but appreciate the justification for acting against the Jews. Hitler during the War appointed him Reichminister for the Eastern Occupied Territories. It proved to be a powerless appointment. Himmler had control of the police ad Göring controlled the economy. Rosenberg was seen as a weakling and sloppy administrator, disliked by alkmost all the other top NAZIs. Ironically, Rosenberg was right about the best NAZI policy for the EWast. He wanted to asppeal to anti-Bolshevik, nationalists elemebnts who were prepasred to receive the Germans as liberators and fight with them again Staln. Hitler had no time for such notions, especially the idea of armoing Slavs. He, Himmler, and Göring wanted to expolit the East as rapidly and ruthlessly as possible. Great crimes were commited in the East. But Rosenberg without control over the police or para-military formations was not responsible for the attricu\ities. His writings, however, helped lay the ideological foundation of the Holocaust.

Fritz Sauckel

Fritz Sauckel was Chief of Slave Labor Recruitment.

Hjalmar Schacht

Hjalmar Schachtwas Reichsbank President and Minister of Economics before the War.

Baldur von Schirach (1907-74)

Baldur von Schirach was born in Berlin on March 9, 1907, the son of an aristocratic German father and an American mother, whose ancestors included two signatories of the Declaration of Independence. On his father's side descended from an officers' family with artistic tendencies and a cosmopolitan background (Carl von Schirach had resigned from the army in 1908 to become a theatre director in Weimar), Baldur grew up in a pampered, well - to - do environment. One of the earliest members of the NSDAP (he entered the Party in 1924 while attending the University of Munich where he briefly studied Germanic folklore and art history), von Schirach was soon a member of its innermost circle, in spite of his youth. A convinced anti - semite, after reading Henry Ford's The International Jew and writings by Houston S. Chamberlain and Adolf Bartels, the aristocratic von Schirach was also a militant opponent of Christianity and of his own caste. Throwing himself body and soul into organizing high school and university students for the NSDAP, von Schirach proved himself an outstanding organizer and propagandist of National Socialism. With his infectious enthusiasm and power to inspire youth with the ideals of comradeship, sacrifice, courage and honor, von Schirach was highly regarded by Hitler who also appreciated his blind devotion as expressed in hero - worshipping verses and such sycophantic sayings as 'loyalty in everything and everything is the love of Adolf Hitler'. In 1929, von Schirach was put in charge of the National Socialist German Students' League and two years later, he was appointed Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP, a post which he held until 1940.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart

Arthur Seyss-Inquart was born Stannern, Austria during 1892. His father was a teacher. As a youth the family moved to Vienna. Seyss-Inquart entered univesity and studied law. His studies wer interupted by World War I and he servd in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He fought in actions against both the Eussins and Italians. He was severly wounded in 1917. He became a lawyer after the War and became asociated with right-wing groups like the German Brotherhood. He was strongly anti-semitic and an advocate of Anschluss with Germany. He had various posts in the Austrian Government as a result of German pressure, including Minister of Interior (meaning the police). He was appointed Austrian Chancellor with the sole purose of turnng the country over to the NAZIs. The NAZI surrogate, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, took over the chancellorship and formed a new government dominated by the Austrian NAZIs. Seyss-Inquart formally invited the German Army to occupy Austria and proclaimed union with Germany (1938). He was given various assignments by the NAZIs, including governor of Ostmark (Austria) and minister without portfolio in Hitler's cabinet. After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Seyss-Inquart served as deputy governor under the brutal Hans Frank. After the Germans seized the Netherlands in May 1940, Hitler appointed Seyss-Inquart Reich Commissioner. He was seen as successfully eased the NAZI occupation and annexation of Austria and Hitler hoped that he could be as useful in the Netherlands. Hitler also hoped to eventually annex the Netherlands. [Warmbrunn, p. 27ff.] In his first addressed to the Dutch people, Seyss-Inquart assured the Dutch people that Germany would not impose NAZI ideology and that they would respect existing Dutch laws. Of course he had not attention of such an approach and waged a relentless campaign against Dutch Jews.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer came from a prominant Mannheim family with progressive ideas. His father was a respected architect and Speer folowed in his father's footsteps. Speer was not one of the unemployed and dispossed who flocked to the NAZI banner. He was, however, mesmerized with Hitler and the NAZI message of national revival. He first heard Hitler in person at a gatering of university students (1931). Hitler took an interest in Speer because of a shared interest in architecture. Amd Speer did not disappoint as he helped to expertly craft of NAZI rallies, first with a cathedral of light. He would become with his appointment as Armaments Minister, the single most important figure in the NAZI war effot (1942). He proceeded to rationalize German war production. Germany had a smaller resorceand industrial base than all the contries the Führer decided to make war on and whay they had was being poorly used. He kept production going in the face of escalating Allied strategic bombing. Many World War II experts credit him for keeping Germany in the War for 1-2 years longer than would have otherwise have been possible. This meant as a result, the death of hundreds of thousands, probably more than a million people and widespread destruction of Germany and occupied countries. Ironically, Speer probably had a more significant impact on the War than the more ideolicallybcommitted top NAZIs. As far as I know, he was not involved in the Holocaust. It is unclear how much he knew, but in his memoirs he made it clear that he chose not to know. [Speer]

Julius Streicher

Julius Streicher was the virulently anti-Semitic Editor of Der Sturmer. One example of the work of his publishing house is Der Giftpilz (Toadstool), a collection of stories about Jews. His work was pepered with statements like, "He who fights the Jews batles the Devil." and "Without solving the Jewish question no salvation for mankind".

NAZI Organizations

The IMT indicted several NAZI oganizations. This decession was made to address the culpability of hundreds of thousands of people who had been members of organizations such as the SS and the Gestapo which had played major roles in NAZI criminality. The idea was to find the NAZI organizations to have been criminal enterprises. The IMT inicted 1) the SS, 2) the Gestapo, 3) the Corps of the Political Leaders of the Nazi Party, 4) the SA (Stormtroopers), 5) the Reichsregierung (Reich Cabinet) and 6) General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces (OKW). After the deliberations on individuals, subsequent hearings could be held to determine the extent to which members werre quilty of participating in the organization's criminal activities. At the conclusion of the trial against the 21 individualvtop NAZIs, the IMT fora month heard testimony about the NAZI organizations. The indictment of the organizations, however, raised a fundamental question in legal juriprudence. Was it legitimate of creating a system of guilt by association. Lower level members of the criminal organizations were subsequently tried in German denazification courts established by the U.S. occupation authorities. In the end, no one was ever punished solely on the basis of the tribunal convictions of the NAZI organizations.



Navigate the CIH World War II Section:
[Return to Main war crime trials page]
[Return to Main German World War II aftermath page]
[Return to Main mass killing page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]

Created: 6:00 PM 4/21/2008
Last updated: 2:24 AM 8/11/2013