In the words of one of the prosecution lawyers quoted in this book, the Nazi war trials at Nuremberg were 'an account on behalf of all mankind, an account backed by the will and conscience of all freedom-loving nations'.
In many ways it is surprising that the Nuremberg trials managed to take place at all. This account mentions the different viewpoints held by the Allies - obviously America, Britain, France and Russia each wanted to achieve different things from the trials. But what united them was their view that the actions of these men were criminal. The Allies wished to set a precedent to deter any similar offences from taking place in future. Obviously this has relevance to questions of more recent war crimes.
The Nuremberg trials were the first of their kind. When they took place, they must have been an administrative nightmare. However, Andrew Walker lays out the events in a format which is easy to follow.
The book is split into sections: the preliminaries, the prosecution case, the defence cases for individuals, and the conclusion. It describes the process of how the judges had to demonstrate that the trials were not 'an arbitrary exercise of power on the part of the victorious nations, but the expression of international law existing at the time of its creation...'.
It lays out the plan of the trial, and the Charter constructed to provide a base for the proceedings in court. It explains the aims of the prosecution lawyers from each country. It has a chapter on individual responsibilities, which is chilling reading once you have read the previous chapter on the prosecution case against the organisations (e.g. SS, Gestapo, etc.)
In all, this is a great and philosophical book to read in today's political climate. It shows that our current hot political issues of blame, responsibility, and a 'fair fight' during wars around the world are not new. This book is a carefully constructed summary of what actually happened at the Nuremberg trials between 20th Nov 1945 and 16 Oct 1946. It contains background information from journalists and even quotes taken from inside the prison cells themselves. I found the photograph of the 21 defendants on the inside cover of the book very useful. It shows a group of 21 ordinary looking men, showing their names and what sentence they received. Hard to believe that they could be capable of the atrocities which occurred, but then who commits the act - the organisation or the individual? I like the way the author of this book has brought the human side of the trial to the reader's attention. Not only of the defendants/criminals, but also the feelings of the individual lawyers and other people involved in the proceedings. This book is no textbook - it's too good for that. It's not a list of facts - it's gripping, and makes you feel as if you were actually there. Highly recommended.
An insightful and interesting examination of how justice is conceived and applied to the heroes of the side that lost.
Through quotations, anecdotes, intentions, and a record of events, Andrew Walker's book clearly illuminates the need to balance the cathartic benefits of condemnation against the moral and legal responsibilities of conducting a fair trial.
With no legal precedent, and many of the concepts (such as the right to trial by jury, or the crime of conspiracy) not being recognised by key members of the international tribunal, the formation of the trial becomes an interesting examination of how countries can arbitrate and collaborate to define a collective 'right'.
The lessons and agreements remain relevant today, with an unhealthy showing of almost all sides in the docks of the ongoing 'war on terror'.
I don't know much about the Nuremberg trials. I guess I only remember what we studied at school about the war. I wanted to find out more about what happened to war criminals once the 2nd World War was over so I bought this book. The author has made the book easy to read for anyone like myself who was not sure of the background of individual Nazi war criminals. I found I didn't want to put the book down and was fascinated by the amount of facts the author managed to fit into one book. Because of this book I now want to go and do some further reading on the subject of war crimes and justice. This book's a great read!
brilliantly written,easily understandable,and a real insight to the charges,evidence and finally sentances that were passed down to thease men.personally i do not belive the trials of thease men should ever of took place certainly not by the russians,who have never been held accountable for there own war crimes commited before and after ww2. but i was very pround of the english prosectors and the way they pushed for a trial with the defendants at least being allowed a fair trial and not just rounded up and shot.a must buy for all who are interested in this subject
I was recommended this book by a friend and am glad I read it. It makes it easier to understand all the problems that governments have these days when deciding what to do with War Criminals. This guide shows the first war trials of their kind. It explains how hard it is to stop your own feelings getting in the way of real justice. It is easy for people to want revenge like an eye for an eye. These Nazis had to stand trial in a fair way at Nuremberg to show the world that their behaviour was definitely unacceptable. The book tells the story of each individual Nazi on trial and gives their reasons/excuses for doing what they did. I give it 5 stars because I think it's excellent. I think it should be made into a film!