Sunday, November 20, 2011
November 20, 1945, the trial of 24 Nazi leaders begins in Nuremburg, Germany. The Nazis face charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against peace, and conspiracy to commit these crimes during the Holocaust. The proceedings which last over10 months and consist of 216 court sessions, are conducted by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) with representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. The IMT establishes an important precedent for bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice through international law. On Oct.1, 1946, 12 of the Nazis are sentenced to death, seven are sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life, and three are acquitted.
In October, Germany opened up the hundreds cases against Nazi death camp guards after a new precedent was set in May with the conviction of John Demjanjuk, 91. Demjanjuk was convicted of crimes against humanity for aiding in the death of 28,000 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland. He was able to be convicted without direct evidence linking him to a specific killing, giving authorities leverage with which to try other cases.