The following were all found guilty and hung at Nuremburg:
● - Hans Frank, German war criminal (b. 1900)
● - Wilhelm Frick, German war criminal (b. 1877)
● - Alfred Jodl, German military officer (b. 1890)
● - Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Austrian SS officer (b. 1903)
● - Wilhelm Keitel, German military officer (b. 1882)
● - Joachim von Ribbentrop, German politician (b. 1893)
● - Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologist (b. 1893)
● - Fritz Sauckel, German war criminal (b. 1894)
● - Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Austrian Nazi leader (b. 1892)
● - Julius Streicher, German propagandist (b. 1887)
Journalist Howard K. Smith wrote of his execution:
Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance.
Although nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds. He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a low voice that was almost a whisper, "I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy."
Wilhelm Frick’s role in formulating the Enabling Act as Minister of the Interior, the later Nuremberg Laws and as controller of German concentration camps led to his conviction for planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to death on October 1, 1946, and was hanged two weeks later. Of his execution, journalist Howard K. Smith wrote:
The sixth man to leave his prison cell and walk with handcuffed wrists to the death house was 69-year-old Wilhelm Frick. He entered the execution chamber at 2.05 a.m., six minutes after Rosenberg had been pronounced dead. He seemed the least steady of any so far and stumbled on the thirteenth step of the gallows. His only words were, "Long live eternal Germany," before he was hooded and dropped through the trap.
The primary French judge at the Nuremberg Trials, Henri Donnedieu de Vabres protested strongly against Alfred Jodl's conviction, stating that it was a miscarriage of justice for a professional soldier to be convicted if he held no allegiance to Nazism.
Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged, although he had asked the court to be executed by firing squad. His last words were "My greetings to you, my Germany." His remains were cremated at Munich, and the ashes were raked out and scattered into the Conwentzbach, a small river flowing into the Isar. He has a cenotaph in the family plot in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, Chiemsee, Germany.
On 28th February 1953, Jodl was posthumously exonerated by a German de-Nazification court, which cited Nuremberg Trial judge Donnedieu's statements and found Jodl not guilty of crimes under international law. Thereby his hanging was posthumously declared to have been unjust.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was found guilty of war-crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. He was executed at around 1.40 a.m. on October 16, 1946; his last words were:
I have loved my German people and my fatherland with a warm heart. I have done my duty by the laws of my people and I am sorry this time my people were led by men who were not soldiers and that crimes were committed of which I had no knowledge. Germany, good luck.
On May 8, 1945, Wilhelm Keitel signed Nazi Germany's surrender to the Red Army. Four days later he was arrested, and soon faced the International Military Tribunal, which charged him with a number of offences: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and, finally, crimes against humanity. The IMT rejected Keitel's defence that he was following orders in conformity to the Führerprinzip or leadership principle. Instead he was found guilty on all charges. To underscore the criminal, rather than military, nature of Keitel's acts the Allies denied his request to be shot by firing squad and hanged him instead. His last words were "I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than 2 million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I follow now my sons - all for Germany."
Joachim von Ribbentrop was a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials, and the Allies' International Military Tribunal found him guilty of all charges brought against him. Even in prison, Ribbentrop remained subservient to Hitler, stating "Even with all I know, if in this cell Hitler should come to me and say 'Do this!', I would still do it."
During the trial, Ribbentrop rather unsuccessfully attempted to deny his role in the war. For example, during his cross-examination, the prosecution brought up claims that he (along with Hitler and Göring) threatened the leader of Czechoslovakia, Emil Hacha, with a "threat of aggressive action." The questioning resulted in the following exchange:
PROSECUTION: What further pressure could you put on the head of a country beyond threatening him that your Army would march in, in overwhelming strength, and your air force would bomb his capital?
RIBBENTROP: War, for instance.
While not recorded in the trial transcript, Göring was said to have remarked, after hearing these words, that Ribbentrop deserved to hang, if only for his stupidity.
Since Göring had committed suicide a few hours prior to the time of execution, Ribbentrop was the first politician to be hanged on the morning of October 16, 1946. After being escorted up the 13 steps to the waiting noose, Ribbentrop was asked if he had any final words. He calmly said: "God protect Germany. God have mercy on my soul. My final wish is that Germany should recover her unity and that, for the sake of peace, there should be understanding between East and West." As the hood was placed over his head, Ribbentrop added: "I wish peace to the world." After a slight pause the executioner pulled the lever, releasing the trap door Ribbentrop stood upon. Most accounts, including an official British report, agree Ribbentrop's hanging was botched. Rather than breaking his neck and killing him instantly, as it should have, the rope slowly strangled Ribbentrop. He was pronounced dead approximately 20 minutes after being dropped.
Alfred Rosenberg was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi party, who later held several important posts in the Nazi government. He is considered the main author of key Nazi ideological creeds, including its racial theory, persecution of the Jews, Lebensraum, abolition of the Treaty of Versailles, and opposition to "degenerate" modern art. At Nuremberg he was tried, sentenced to death and executed by hanging as a war criminal.
"I didn't say that the Jews are inferior. I didn't even maintain they are a race. I merely saw that the mixture of different cultures didn't work." (12 January 1946)
"We let 50,000 Jewish intellectuals get across the border. Just as I wanted Lebensraum for Germany, I thought Jews should have a Lebensraum for themselves - outside of Germany." (15 December 1945)
"No." (When asked if he had any last words. 16 October 1946)
Fritz Sauckel was a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes and crimes against humanity. He defended the Arbeitseinsatz as "nothing to do with exploitation. It is an economic process for supplying labour". He denied that it was slave labour or that it was common to deliberately work people to death (extermination by labour) or to mistreat them.
He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and together with a number of colleagues, he was hanged on October 16, 1946. His last words were recorded as "Ich sterbe unschuldig, mein Urteil ist ungerecht. Gott beschütze Deutschland!" (I'm dying innocently, my sentence is not just. God protect Germany!).
Arthur Seyss-Inquart was an open anti-Semite: on his arrival in the Netherlands he immediately took measures to remove Jews from the government, the media and leading positions in the economy. Anti-Jewish measures intensified from 1941, the 140,000 or so Jews were registered, ghettos were created in Amsterdam and camps were set up at Westerbork and Vught, and, in February of 1941, 1,000 Jews were sent to Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps. Later, the Dutch Jews were sent to Auschwitz. As Allied forces approached in September 1944 the remaining Jews at Westerbork were removed to Theresienstadt. Of the 140,000 registered only 13,500 survived the war.
At the Nuremberg Trials Seyss-Inquart faced charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. Defended by Gustav Steinbauer, he was found guilty of all charges except conspiracy. Sentenced to death, he was hanged on October 16, 1946, at the age of 54, together with nine other Nuremberg defendants, his last words were "I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany".
Julius Streicher was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death on October 1, 1946. His last words, before execution on October 16, 1946, were "Heil Hitler," and, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!" making him the only sentenced Nazi to declare this at the end. Streicher was not a member of the military and was not part of planning the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, or the Soviet invasion. Yet his role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors' judgment, to include him in the indictment. This decision is still debated because of its implications for speech and the press.
According to Dennis Bark and David Gress, A History of West Germany, vol.2, these were Streicher's last words before being hanged:
"Heil Hitler! Dies ist mein Purimfest 1946. Ich gehe zu Gott. Die Bolschewisten werden eines Tages Euch auch hängen."
("Heil Hitler! This is my Purim celebration 1946. I go to God. The Bolshevists will one day hang you, too.")
This last may be a reference to the defeat of Haman and the hanging of his ten sons, enemies and persecutors of the Jews, in the Book of Esther. The Jewish holiday Purim commemorates that event. It is believed that Streicher was making the observation that, likewise, ten contemporary enemies and persecutors of the Jews, himself included, were being hanged (the eleventh Nazi found guilty, Hermann Göring, had committed suicide the night before). By ironic coincidence, Streicher was indeed executed on a Jewish holiday, but a very different one - Hoshanah Rabbah - the day that Jews believe God seals His judgement on the fate of humanity for the year ahead (Purim that year fell on March 17). It took 12 minutes of hanging till he died.
I admit when I decided to write about the subject it was with some reservations. The reasons for these reservations are two-fold. The first is the current trial of Saddam Hussein occurring in Iraq. The Nuremburg Trials for all their faults, the most glaring of which is the victor’s revenge aspect, were an honest attempt by the participants (except defendants) to bring some justice to the horrors of World War Two. It is rarely mentioned that Churchill wanted summary execution of all top Nazi officials. Stalin suggested the execution of all German officers and above in rank. This was done with Saddam’s sons and I am sure if others had found Saddam, his fate would have been the same. The government of Iraq replaced the head Judge because they felt the original Judge had been ruling too favorably in Saddam’s favor. The message is clear to the replacement Judge, do nothing that might allow Saddam not to get the death penalty. When the Nuremburg Trials were completed, the world and the United States had a sense that while not perfect the trials were as fair as possible. There was an overall feeling that justice had been served. Many felt that the final sentences were too light for the crimes that were committed. There is no hope for a similar outcome in Saddam’s trial.
Another is the prosecution of the war in Iraq. If we judge ourselves by the same standards that we judged the German Nazis, then we are most certainly guilty of war crimes. The Nuremburg Tribunal set the standard that any war that was not self-defense or a war of last resort was a war of aggression and therefore a crime against humanity. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was neither. The latest numbers from the “Lancet” say there have been 1 in 20 Iraqi civilians, over 650,000 killed because of the invasion. Even if one were to accept Bush’s number of 30,000 it is far too many. An Iraqi life is not worth less than an American. We here in the U.S. talk about the invasion of illegals when we should be concentrating on illegal invasions. Where are the sanctions against us? Not coming because even though weakened we still have many countries by the short hairs economically. This is another case of American hypocrisy at its worst.
This type of action will taint our country for a long time. When I was growing up, I truly felt that America had the moral high ground. We no longer have the high ground and will have to work hard just to get out the hole we have dug for ourselves.
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