Nuremberg Trials: the triumph of justice or the trial of the victors? (Reflections on the book by A.N. Savenkov “Nuremberg: A Verdict for name of Peace”

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: President of the Association of Lawyers of the Black Sea - Caspian Region
Affiliation: Association of Lawyers of the Black Sea-Caspian Region
Address: Azerbaijan, Baku
Occupation: People’s Writer of Azerbaijan, Secretary of the Union of Writers of Azerbaijan, Professor at the University of Krakow
The Union of Writers of Azerbaijan
Krakow University
Address: Azerbaijan
Occupation: Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Affiliation: Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Address: Azerbaijan
Occupation: Head of the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology of Baku State University
Affiliation: Baku State University
Address: Azerbaijan
Occupation: Director of the Center for Legal Studies
Affiliation: Legal Research Center
Address: Azerbaijan, Baku
Journal nameGosudarstvo i pravo
EditionIssue 12

The article analyzes historical, geopolitical, legal and other aspects of the organization and conduct of the International Military Tribunal on the basis of the monograph by Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences A.N. Savenkov “Nuremberg: A Verdict for name of Peace”. over the main Nazi criminals, the political, legal and moral significance of its results for the further strengthening of peace on Earth and the prevention of global wars, the prevention of crimes against the peace and security of mankind, the development of International Law, etc. are investigated.

Based on the results of A.N. Savenkov’s research, the study of archival materials of the Nuremberg Trials and other sources on this issue, the authors believe that:

• in the entire history of legal proceedings, there has probably never been a court like the Nuremberg Trials. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the first case in the history of justice (sui generis) when more than 20 high-ranking officials, who were part of the highest political and military leadership of a single aggressor state, found themselves in the dock, guilty of both planning, preparing and unleashing a world war, and committing during it mass crimes against peace and humanity;

• the historical value of the International Military Tribunal is also seen in the fact that its results had a huge impact on the course of world history, outlined the basic contours of the new architecture of the post-war world order and world order on Earth, laid the foundations of international criminal justice, etc., and the Tribunal itself became a symbol of the victory of good over evil;

• the Nuremberg Trials showed that for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during an aggressive war, the victorious States have the right to establish a special court (ad hoc) with universal jurisdiction against the political and military leaders of the defeated State, to determine a list of specific crimes (including those with criminal retroactivity), those under his jurisdiction, to provide for a special procedure for the administration of justice, to establish the types of punishment for the perpetrators and their terms, the order and form of execution of a court sentence, etc.;

• the refusal of the founders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to bring to trial the highest state and military officials of Nazi Germany on the basis of the national laws of the countries on whose territory they committed numerous terrible crimes incompatible with human nature was due to the fact that the norms of criminal legislation of none of these states (as, indeed, International Law of that time) did not they fully covered all the specifics of the objective and subjective properties of many barbaric crimes committed by Nazi criminals against humanity, therefore, it was not possible to talk about this category of monstrous acts that claimed the lives of tens of millions of innocent people as classic forms or types of crimes that infringe on the rights and freedoms of individual citizens or states, even at the level of the institution of analogy in law;

• taking into account the irremediable contradictions between the norms of national and International Law, on the one hand, and the essentially unprecedented atrocities committed by Nazi criminals on a massive scale, on the other, the victorious countries in World War II as bearers of supreme power in Germany (due to the loss of its legal personality) on August 8, 1945 we made the only possible decision in the current situation:

1) to establish an open International Military Tribunal with universal jurisdiction for the prosecution and punishment of the main war criminals of the European Axis countries;

2) on the basis of international treaties and agreements, the basic values of natural law, generally recognized principles of Criminal and Criminal Procedure Law, taking into account certain provisions of the Anglo-Saxon and Romano-Germanic legal systems, adopt the Statute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the norms of which should: a) determine the powers and procedures of this judicial body; b) contain a criminal definition of the concepts of “criminal organization”, “crime against peace”, “war crime” and “crime against humanity”; c) provide procedural guarantees for the defendants and their defenders; d) to fix the provision according to which the official position of the defendant (be it the head of state or another responsible state official) is not a basis for exemption from liability or mitigation of punishment, etc.;

• in the process of working on the Statute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the doctrine of due (supervisory) law was widely applied in it, which, unlike what exists, is based on such immanent properties of a person’s spiritual being as justice and freedom of spirit, morality and common sense, etc. The originality of supervisory right is also manifested in the fact that it is free from any whatever the external definitions and directives, it is not burdened with political and ideological dogmas;

• by its nature, the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal is not a normative legal act in the traditional sense of the term, but a special international prescriptive act with the force of law, adopted on August 8, 1945 by representatives of the heads of government of the USSR, the USA, Great Britain and France in the form of an annex to the London Agreement “On the Prosecution and Punishment of the main War Criminals of European Countries axes”;

• in the verdict of the International Military Tribunal, for the first time at the global level, legal entities were recognized as the subject of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity – the Elite Guard (SS), the Security Service (SD), the Secret State Police (Gestapo) and the National Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany (NSRPG). At the same time, not all crimes committed by high-ranking officials and institutions of Nazi Germany during the Second World War were reflected or properly assessed in it;

• the expectations of the world community from the Nuremberg Trials were only partially justified, since in those years many in the world believed that all Nazi criminals should be put to death without trial. Only the firm position of the USSR and its insistent demands to the allied powers about the need to bring them to trial prevented further extrajudicial reprisals against them;

• the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg cannot be regarded as a “court of victors” over the defeated. It should be perceived as a unique judicial and legal phenomenon in the history of mankind - Transitional Justice at a critical stage in the modern history of mankind.

KeywordsNuremberg Tribunal, Nazi criminals, the Statute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, crimes against peace and humanity, supervisory right, justice, prosecutor, defendant, defender, sentence, punishment, execution of sentence
Publication date22.12.2022
Number of characters98909
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