Nuremberg Trials

Updated Feb. 7, 2009.
Prepared by Mary Whisner.

Following World War II, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France tried top Nazi military, political, and business leaders, holding the trials in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The Nuremberg Trials were -- and are -- important in international law.

The International Military Tribunal (IMT) tried twenty-four high-ranking Nazi officials. The U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT) tried people who were considered to be lesser war criminals, in twelve trials.

Nuremberg defendants in dock (about 1945 or 1946). Front row: Goering, Hess, von Ribbentrop, and Keitel.  Photo courtesy National Archives.


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Washington Connections

Walter B. Beals, a member of the University of Washington School of Law's first graduating class (1901) was Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court at the end of the war. In October 1946 he took a leave of absence to serve as a judge in the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals. 

Judge Beals served as the Presiding Judge over the American military tribunal's criminal proceedings against twenty-three leading German physicians and administrators. The defendants were accused of organizing and participating in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the form of harmful or fatal medical experiments and other medical procedures inflicted on both civilians and prisoners of war (the "Doctors' Trial"). The Doctors' Trial lasted for nine months and, on August 20, 1947, sixteen of the defendants were found guilty.

 

Because of Judge Beals, the Gallagher Law Library was one of the recipients of the original mimeographed copies of the Nuremberg trial proceedings distributed by the Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel for War Crimes, Document Division. (Other recipients include Harvard University, Columbia University Law Library, and the Library of Congress.) The Beals family also donated the chair Judge Beals used during the trial. See Judge Walter B. Beals, Class of 1901.

Photos: Walter B. Beals, Presiding Judge. Doctors' Trial panel of judges: Harold ("Tom") L. Sebring, Walter B. Beals,  Johnston T. Crawford, Victor Swearingen (alternate judge).

William J. Wilkins (a graduate of George Washington University law school) took a leave from his position as judge in the King County Superior Court to serve as a judge at Nuremberg. He was one of the judges for the Krupp trial. See his 1981 memoir, The Sword and the Gavel: An Autobiography (KF363.W465 A37 at Classified Stacks).

William T. Beeks (University of Washington School of Law class of 1932) served as a prosecutor in the first war crimes trial after World War II -- before the Nuremberg trials. After defending 43 African American soldiers at Fort Lawton accused of rioting (3 also accused of murder), the prosecutor in the case, Leon Jaworski, added him to the team prosecuting private citizens of R�sselsheim charged with murdering American prisoners of war. See Jack Hamann, On American Soil 299 (2005) (D805.5.F66 H36 2005 at Good Reads).

William T. Beeks. Photo from U.S. Signal Corps (from On American Soil).

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Further Reading

For more on the Nuremberg Trials and their historical importance, see

While the Nuremberg trials are more famous, there were also trials of some Japanese leaders for war crimes following World War II. See Arthur Brackman, The Other Nuremberg: The Untold Story of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials (KZ1181.B73 1987 at Classified Stacks). For more items, search the catalog for Tokyo Trial, Tokyo, Japan, 1946-1948.

For information on researching international criminal law and war crimes, see Gail A. Partin, International Criminal Law (ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law).

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Proceedings

International Military Tribunal (IMT)

[Nuremberg trial records and documents, ca1945-1946] (149 mimeographed volumes). KZ1176.I58 1945-46 at Special Collections Nuremberg (Since these volumes are fragile, they are kept in a locked room. Ask at Circulation if you want to use any.)

Trial of Hermann G�ring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Robert Ley, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Walter Funk, Hjalmer Schacht, Karl D�nitz, Erich Raeder, Baldur von Schirach, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Martin Bormann, Franz von Papen, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Albert Speer, Constantin von Neurath, Hans Fritzsche, and Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, individually and as members of any groups or organizations to which they belonged.

The Trial of German Major War Criminals: Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany (23 parts published in 9 volumes by the British government, "taken from the official transcript"). KZ1176.I58 1946 at Classified Stacks

  • HeinOnline (UW restricted) has a similar title from the British government containing the Opening Speeches of the Chief Prosecutors .

Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1945-1 October 1946. 42 vols. published in 10. Known as "the Blue Series". KZ1176.G67 1947 at Classified Stacks

v. 1. Official documents; v. 2-22. Proceedings; v. 23. Chronological and subject index; v. 24. Document and name index; v. 25-42. Documents and other materials in evidence. Available online:

Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals (with the Dissenting Opinion of the Soviet Member) Nuremberg 30th September and 1st October, 1946. KZ1176.I584 1946 at Classified Stacks

Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, by the U.S. Office of Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality. 10 vols. Known as "the Red Set" or "Red Series." KZ1176.5.U55 1946 at Classified Stacks

Available online:

Report of Robert H. Jackson, United States Representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, London, 1945. KZ1176.I57 1945 at Classified Stacks
Available online at The Avalon Project at Yale Law School.

Cornell University Law Library holds papers from General William J. Donovan, who was the assistant to the U.S. Chief of Counsel, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, in its Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection. Selected documents have been scanned as PDF files and are available here.

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U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal

Nuremberg Trials "Subsequent Proceedings Documents". 1,236 mimeographed vols. KZ1178.G47 1946-49 at Special Collections Nuremberg. (Since these volumes are fragile, they are kept in a locked room. As at Circulation if you want to use any.) Includes:

  • no. 1. Medical (Karl Brandt et al.) (60 v.)
  • no. 2. Milch (Erhard Milch) (17 v.)
  • no. 3. Justice (Josef Altstetter et al.) (37 v.)
  • no. 4 Pohl (Oswald Pohl et al.) (24 v.)
  • no. 5. Flick (Friedrich Flick et al.) (32 v.)
  • no. 6 Farben (Carl Krauch et al.) (45 v.)
  • no. 7. Hostage (Wilhelm List et al.) (35 v.)
  • no. 8. Rusha (Ulrich Greifelt et al.) (16 v.)
  • no. 9. Einsatzgruppen (Otto Ohlendorf et al.) (20 v.)
  • no. 10. Krupp (Alfried Krupp et al.) (155 v.)
  • no. 11. Ministries (Ernst von Weizsaecker et al.) (112 v.)
  • no. 12. High Command (Wilhelm von Leeb et al.) (41 v.)
  • NG, Nurnberg government (148 v.)
  • NI, Nurnberg industrialist (299 v.)
  • NO, Nurnberg organizations (105 v.)
  • NOKW, Nurnberg Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (90 v.)

The Harvard Law School Library Nuremberg Trials Project has digitized "all pages of all Case 1 prosecution and defense trial documents and related evidence file documents" and has analytical data for Cases 1, 2, and 4. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School has selected material from the Pohl case (Case 4).

Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals  Under Control Council Law No. 10. 11 vols. (Library lacks vol. 9.) Known as "the Green Series." KZ1178.G47 1949 at Classified Stacks
Available online:

Final Report to the Secretary of the Army on Nuernberg War Crimes Trials under Control Council Law No. 10. KZ1176.5.G47 1950 at Classified Stacks

Report by Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor, chief counsel for war crimes (Office, Chief of Counsel for War Crimes), covers OCCWC from its creation in 1945 to its deactivation in 1945.

Available online:

The First German War Crimes Trial. D804.G425B72 1985 at Classified Stacks
Judge Beals's desk notebook of the Doctors' Trial. In addition to rules of procedure and the agreements establishing the tribunals, the book includes indictments for each defendant and trial charts and photographs.

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