75 years ago, the Hall of Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice was filled with some of the most violent people of the 20th century. The names include Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and 18 other top Nazi officials.
Back then, they were not recognised as war criminals as it was an accusation that did not exist before the start of the Nuremberg Trials on 20th November 1945.
The Tribunal opened a new path for the heads of state by holding them personally responsible for the aggression and murder of millions of innocent people. In addition to exposing war crimes, the court condemned crimes against peace, military aggression, and crimes against humanity, the legacy of which still continues in the International Criminal Court.
It was the city of Nuremberg where Hitler promoted the Race Law of 1935 and held Torchlight Nazi Party rallies that set the stage for the terrible Holocaust.
The 1934 Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress was brought to life in Lenny Riefenstahl’s acclaimed propaganda film “The Triumph of the Will“. The extensive cinematography used in the film showed Nazi officials speaking to massive crowd of Bavarian supporters at Luitpold Arena and Great Airfield.
At the 218 day-long trials, the testimony of hundreds of witnesses was heard. One of them was the Auschwitz slaughter camp commandant, Rudolph Hoss. Speaking about his testimony, US attorney Whitney R. Harris wrote, he “reacted to the order to slaughter human beings as he would have to an order to fell trees.”
Following the testimony, on 1st October 1946, the head of the Air Force and Hitler’s right-hand, Goering was sentenced to death along with 11 others, including Hitler’s deputy, Martin Bohmann.
After 15 days, the prisoners were hanged in a nearby prison. Goering committed suicide the night before by swallowing poison in his cell. Emilio DiPalma, one of the last surviving witnesses to the trial, died earlier this year after contracting the coronavirus in a Massachusetts nursing home.
The city of Nuremberg will celebrate its anniversary on Friday at the 600 courts with an event where German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier Mayer will be attending as a guest of honour.