The United States Role in Transitional Justice for Germany

I. Background

What is commonly referred to as “Nuremberg” is actually a series of thirteen trials that occurred in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1949. These proceedings can be divided into two sets. The first was the Trial of the Major War Crimes Before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) between 1945 and 1946 (what is popularly known as the “Nuremberg Tribunal”). The second set was the twelve subsequent Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). As will be discussed, the IMT and the NMT were two of only several transitional justice options the USG supported for addressing Nazis suspected of committing atrocities during WWII.


It was not preordained that at least some prominent Nazis would be prosecuted after WWII. In fact, at various points during the conflict, the Allies, including the USG, considered alternative transitional justice options for addressing Nazi crimes. Six major diplomatic steps led to holding accountable almost two dozen of the principal Nazis suspected of committing atrocities during WWII.

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