The Nuremberg War Crime Trials began in November 1945 and ran four 4 years. Surviving Nazi military leaders and officials were put on trial for 'Crimes against the Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity'. During the trials, Nazi leaders were given the opportunity to defend themselves. The following quotes from the Nuremberg Trials help shine light on the proceedings. What do these quotes tell us about the Nuremberg Trials? And what do they teach us about the personalities, values and beliefs of the key Nazi leaders?
"So much toilet paper."
Hermann Goering on the subject of pre-war diplomatic treaties.
"A victor's justice".
Hermann Goering's view of the proceedings. He committed suicide on 15 October 1946 before he could be executed.
"So grotesque and preposterous are the principal characters in this galaxy of clowns and crooks that none but a thrice double ass could have taken them for rulers."
Officer in the Allied Control Commission.
"Why don't you just shoot us?"
Unknown Nazi war criminal
"Stand up Funk! Be a man, Funk."
Colonel Andrus’ interrogation of Walther Funk, a Nazi economist.
"It was the virtue of the Nuremberg trial that it was conceived in hatred of war, and nurtured by those starved of peace. Of course, the trial was botched and imperfect...it had to deal with new crimes for which there was no provision in national law or international law."
Rebecca West, a writer who covered the trials for the New Yorker magazine.
"Death, death. Now I won't be able to write my beautiful memoirs."
Joachim von Ribbentrop. He was hanged on 16 October 1946.
"Death by hanging. That, I thought, I would be spared."
Wilhelm Keitel, who was also executed on 16 October 1946.
"I die innocent. The verdict is wrong."
Fritz Sauckel’s recorded last words before his execution on 16 October 1946.
"The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated."
Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg Trials
"I am innocent of all the charges made against me. I did not plan, I did not authorize, and I did not commit any of the alleged crimes."
Hermann Goering, former Nazi leader and one of the top defendants at the Nuremberg Trials.
"I would like to be able to say that I was sorry, that I deeply regret my actions, and that I recognize the harm that I have caused. But I cannot do that. I cannot ask for forgiveness, because I do not believe that what I did was wrong."
Adolf Eichmann, former Nazi officer and one of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials.
"It is not only the living who are killed in war. To the man who is actually fighting, and who is in the thick of the noise and the confusion, the horror of what he is doing is often obscured by its very immediacy."
Telford Taylor, U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
"The defendants, who are responsible for these crimes, are not German patriots, but traitors to the German people."
Sir Hartley Shawcross, British prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
"Quotes from the Nuremberg Trials". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.