After World War II
Could the Holocaust happen again? After World War II, the Allied forces set up trials to punish the criminals of the Axis powers who committed war crimes. By looking at the Nuremberg Trials, one can see the outcome of the Holocaust for the Nazi Party, which is important because we, as humans need to make sure that the Holocaust will not occur again.
What were the Nuremberg Trials, and why are they important? The International Military Tribunals, or Nuremberg Trials, were a series of military trials held by the Allied forces to discuss international law. They also talked about the punishment of Axis forces members who committed war crimes during World War II. The most well-known trial punished the important, high ranking members of the Nazi Party. Although it was not the first set of trials related to World War II, they were the most effective. These trials were the official end of the Nazi Party.
Although they punished many Nazi members, the most high ranking ones were not punished. In the spring of 1945, prominent leaders Adolf Hitler, Hans Krebs, William Burgdorf, and Joseph Goebbels committed suicide in 1945 so that they could avoid capture after they lost the war. Heinrich Himmler, who was one of the orchestrators of the Holocaust, committed suicide after being captured by the British. Another high ranking member was assassinated, and another blew himself up with dynamite. There were many more Nazi followers who decided it would be better to die than witness the fall of Nazi Germany. Some of them, including Adolf Hitler, commmited suicide with their wife and children. In just Berlin, there were over 7,000 reported suicides, and it is sure that there were more unreported ones, all throughout 1945.
Those who did not commit suicide were captured. Their trial was the most iconic part of the Nuremberg Trials. The Soviet leader Joseph Stalin jokingly proposed executing the 50,000 to 100,000 German officers. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister strongly disagreed of the execution of soldiers that had just fought for their country but said those who committed war crimes must be punished. He made it very clear he disagreed with execution for political reasons, and this could have been the reason so many German soldiers weren't executed after the war. The trial was held in Nuremberg, Germany, where the Nazi Party was born from, and the city had also held many propaganda rallies. This made it more of a symbolic end to the Party. 11 out of the 24 accused were sentenced to death by hanging and killed after the trial.
Martin Bormann was sentenced to death but was not captured at the time. His remains were later found, where he was assumed to be killed trying to flee Berlin. Three were found not guilty and acquited, and no decision was made on two others. The rest were sentenced to time in prison, with three of them having life imprisonment. War criminals with less serious crimes were tried in a later trial.
The Nuremberg trials established basic principles of human life relating to the laws of war and crimes against humanity. There were multiple principles set up defining what a war crime is and what will be done about them. They also set a code against human experimentation, which German doctors were doing wit Holocaust victims. Among these, you have Principle IV which states "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him." This shows you are still guilty of war crimes even if you were "just following orders." Principle V shows the accused still have the right to a fair trial. Principle VI shows what a crime punishable under international law is. These are crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The Nuremberg trials show us what the allied powers did to prevent a second Holocaust from happening after World War II, and how the Nazi party as punished for their war crimes. The Nuremberg trials also set up a system of international principles about human life and what a war crime is. Without the Nuremberg trials happening, another Holocaust could take more innocent lives.