Today In History: Nuremberg Trials Commence

Today In History |

November 20, 1945

Today in 1945, the Nuremberg Trials got underway. Twenty-four high ranking Nazis were on trial for war crimes committed during the Second World War.


They were the first trials of their kind, held by a tribunal composed of the United States, France, the USSR and Britain. The Nazi officials were charged with war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity.

The trials ran for ten months, presided over by Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence. In total, the trials consisted of 216 separate sessions.

Twelve of the defendants received death sentences on October 1 of 1946. Seven defendants received prison sentences. Three were acquitted. One of the sentenced killed himself in prison. One, Gustav Krupp von Boblen und Halbach, was recused on the grounds of being mentally and physically incompetent to stand trial.

The Daily Beast

The ten sentenced to death were hanged on October 16. The night before he was to be executed, Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe and the Gestapo, drank poison to commit suicide. A missing Martin Bormann received a death sentence in absentia.

After the close of the Nuremberg Trials, less high-profile officials from the Axis powers were tried in Germany, well into the fifties. 5,025 were convicted and 806 executed.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.