After civilization War II, international, domestic, and military courts performed trials of tens of countless accused battle criminals. Initiatives to carry to justice to the perpetrators that Nazi-era crimes proceed well right into the 21st century. Unfortunately, many perpetrators have never to be tried or punished. Nevertheless, the postwar trials did collection important legitimate precedents. Today, international and also domestic tribunals look for to uphold the principle that those who commit wartime atrocities must be brought to justice.

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Key Facts


Between 1945 and 1949, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and also especially the United states tried Nazi diplomatic, economic, political, and military leaders before the international Military Tribunal (IMT) created in Nuremberg, Germany. The Nuremberg trials are the best known the the postwar trials.


In the postwar period, tens of thousands of German perpetrators and also their non-German collaborators were do the efforts by courts in Germany or in the countries that Germany populated during civilization War II or that collaborated v the Germans in the persecution of civilian populations. Efforts to bring the perpetrators of Nazi crimes to justice have persisted well right into the 21st century.


The trials the perpetrators the Nazi crimes set lasting legit precedents and also helped to create the now widely embraced principle the crimes like genocide and also crimes versus humanity should not walk unpunished.

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Before civilization War II, trials had never played a major role in efforts to restore tranquility after global conflict. After world War I, for example, the victorious Allies compelled Germany to provide up territory and pay big sums in reparations as punishment for waging an wild war. During people War II, however, as Nazi Germany and its Axis allies committed atrocities on a huge scale, make the efforts those responsible because that such crime in a court that law came to be one the the war intends of the ally powers.

In October 1943, united state President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British element Minister Winston Churchill, and also Soviet Premier Josef Stalin signed the Moscow explanation of German Atrocities. The declaration stated that at the moment of one armistice, Germans considered responsible because that atrocities would be sent earlier to those countries in i beg your pardon the crimes had been committed.There, they would certainly be judged and also punished follow to the laws of the country concerned. “Major” battle criminals, whose crimes could be assigned no certain geographic location, would certainly be punished by share decision the the ally governments. 

The international Military Tribunal in Nuremberg

In august 1945, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United states signed the London Agreement and also Charter (also called the Nuremberg Charter). The Charter developed an global Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany, come try major German war criminals. That assigned the IMT jurisdiction over crimes against peace, war crimes, and also crimes versus humanity, which encompass such crimes as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation...or persecutions ~ above political, racial, or religious grounds."

The most renowned of the battle crimes trials organized after the battle is the trial of 22 top German officials prior to the IMT in Nuremberg. This trial started on November 20, 1945. The IMT reached its decision on October 1, 1946, convicting 19 the the defendants and also acquitting 3. Of those convicted, 12 to be sentenced come death, among them Reich Marshall Hermann Göring, Hans Frank, Alfred Rosenberg, and also Julius Streicher. The IMT sentenced 3 defendants to life imprisonment and also 4 to jail terms varying from 10 come 20 years. 

In enhancement to the Nuremberg IMT, the allied powers created the global Military Tribunal because that the Far east in Tokyo in 1946, i m sorry tried leading Japanese officials.

Subsequent Nuremberg Trials

Under the aegis the the Nuremberg IMT, US military tribunals performed 12 further trials. This trials are frequently referred to collectively as the succeeding Nuremberg Proceedings. 

Between December 1946 and April 1949, us prosecutors make the efforts 177 persons and also won convictions that 97 defendants. Amongst the teams who stood trial were: leading physicians; Einsatzgruppen members; members that the German justice management and German international Office; members of the German High Command; and also leading German industrialists. 

Other Trials in the allied Occupation Zones

In the immediate postwar years, every of the four Allied strength occupying Germany and Austria—France, great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the joined States— make the efforts a selection of perpetrators for wartime offenses cursed within their zone that occupation. The overwhelming bulk of this post-1945 war crimes trials connected lower-level Nazi officials and functionaries. Lot of our early knowledge that the German concentration camp system comes from the evidence and eyewitness testimonies at some of these trials.

Allied occupation officials observed the repair of the German court mechanism as critical step in the denazification the Germany. Allied manage Council legislation No. 10 that December 1945 authorized German courts to try crimes against humanity committed throughout the war years by German citizens against other German nationals or against stateless people in Germany. Together a result, such crimes as the Nazi killing of persons with disabilities (referred to by the Nazis together “euthanasia”)—where both victims and perpetrators had actually been mainly German nationals—were do the efforts under recently reconstructed German tribunals. 

Postwar Trials in Germany

In 1949, Germany was formally split into two different countries. The federal Republic that Germany (West Germany) was established in the zones populated by Britain, France, and the joined States and also was allied to those countries. The German democratic Republic (East Germany) was created in the Soviet occupation zone and also was allied v the Soviet Union. Both countries ongoing to host trials against Nazi-era defendants in the following decades. 

Since 1949, end 900 proceedings make the efforts defendants of national Socialist era crimes have been carried out by the commonwealth Republic the Germany (meaning, West Germany before the loss of the Berlin wall in 1990 and united Germany afterwards). This proceedings have actually been criticized because most defendants to be acquitted or obtained light sentences. In addition, countless Nazi officials and also perpetrators never faced trial, and also many returned to the professions they had practiced under the 3rd Reich. Because that example, previous Nazi officials consisted of the majority of judges in West Germany because that several years after the war.

Other Postwar Trials

Many countries that Germany occupied during world War II or the collaborated with the Germans in the persecution that civilian populations, including Jews, also tried both German perpetrators and also their own citizens who had perpetrated crimes throughout the war. Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union, among others, tried countless defendants. Because that example, the Soviet Union organized its very first trial, the Krasnodar Trial, against local collaborators in 1943, long before World battle II had actually ended.

In Poland, the polishing Supreme national Tribunal tried 49 Nazi officials who had perpetrated crimes during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Amongst them was Rudolf Höss, the longest serving Auschwitz commandant. He to be sentenced come death and also hanged in the execution block in ~ Auschwitz in April 1947. The Supreme nationwide Tribunal also tried and also sentenced to fatality other Auschwitz personnel, including previous commandant Arthur Liebehenschel, and also Amon Göth, that commanded the Plaszow concentration camp.

By 1950, worldwide concerns about the Cold War eclipsed interest in achieving justice for the crime of civilization War II. Trials exterior of Germany greatly ceased, and also most of the convicted perpetrators who were not executed to be set free during the 1950s. 

The Eichmann Trial

Outside the Poland, crimes versus Jews were no the emphasis of many postwar trials, and there was small international awareness or knowledge of the Holocaust in the prompt postwar period. This changed in 1961 with the attempt of Adolf Eichmann, chief administrator the the deportation of european Jews, prior to an Israeli court. The Eichmann trial additionally brought attention to the presence of accused Nazi perpetrators in a variety of countries exterior Europe, because Eichmann had cleared up in Argentina after the war. 

In 1979, the United claims Department the Justice developed the Office of unique Investigations to pursue the perpetrators of Nazi crimes who were life in the unified States. A te later, Australia, Britain, and also Canada also sought come prosecute Nazi perpetrators life within their borders. The hunt for German and Axis war criminals has continued into the 21st century.

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The postwar prosecutions the Nazi crimes collection important legitimate precedents. 

In 1946, the United countries unanimously known the crime that aggression, battle crimes, and also crimes against humanity together offenses under international law. The UN subsequently recognized additions to international criminal regulation designed to protect civilians native atrocities. For example, in 1948, the UN embraced the Convention for the Prevention and also Punishment the the Crime the Genocide. 

Since the finish of the Cold War, a number of special tribunals have actually tried global crimes committed in particular countries, such as the genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994. In 2002, a new, permanent global Criminal Court began to operate. Residential courts in part countries additionally prosecute the perpetrators of worldwide crimes. Although such prosecutions remain rare, now there is widespread covenant that states have a duty to protect civilians indigenous atrocities and also to punishment those that commit them.