Putting together the trial of the century

The idea of bringing the top brass of Hitler’s Germany to justice began in early March 1945, after intense bombing finally crumbled the Third Reich. At the beginning of May of that year, the United States asked France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union to assemble an international tribunal for top war criminals. The countries agreed, and on July 26 representatives of these four countries gathered in London. On August 8, they signed an agreement in the British capital «in view of the prosecution and punishment of the greatest war criminals of the Axis powers in Europe.» Those war criminals included Hermann Goring, whose titles included Reich marshal, Luftwaffe field marshal, prime minister of Prussia, and president of the Reichstag parliament. Goring was the highest-ranking Nazi official brought to trial at Nuremberg. Others included Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi Party philosopher and Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Area Alfred Rosenberg, Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Keitel, Deputy to the Fuhrer Rudolf Hess, Chief of Security Police and Gestapo leader Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Governor-General of Occupied Poland Hans Frank, Foreign Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick, Founder of the anti-Semitic newspaper «Der Sturmer» Julius Streicher, Minister of Economics and a former president of Reichsbank Hjalmar Schacht, another Reichsbank president Walther Funk, Supreme Commander of the Navy (1943) and German Chancellor Karl Donitz, Supreme Commander of the Navy (1928-1943) Erich Raeder, Fuhrer of the Hitler Youth Baldur von Schirach, Plenipotentiary for Labor Allocation Fritz Sauckel, Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces Alfred Jodl, former chancellor (1932) Franz von Papen, Minister of Armaments and War Production Albert Speer, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Konstantin von Neurath, and Head of the Radio Division of the Propaganda Ministry Hans Fritzsche. They were accused of the following crimes: conspiracy to wage aggressive war; crimes against peace; war crimes and crimes against humanity. The initial location for the international tribunal was to be Berlin but the participating countries eventually settled on Nuremberg, a city where the Nazis had held their colossal parades and military processions.

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