Although the Allies finally managed to crush
Hitler’s attempt for world-rule, the aftermath of WWII was
devastating. For the victims, the Allied victory marked the
end of a nightmare and the beginning of a new life; for
Hitler’s armies and right-hand men, it was time for pay for
their actions; for the rest of the world, it was time to
return to normalcy and heal emotional and psychological
wounds. The Nuremberg Trials was an explosive and emotional
case for all involved.
The trials were produced in order to try and punish
persons who had committed crimes against peace, war crimes,
and crimes against humanity which were previously defined
in a charter. The charter also provided that at the trial of
any individual member of any group or organization the
tribunal may declare (in connection with any act of which
the individual may be convicted) that the group or
organization of which the individual was a member was a
The various indictments that were made charged the
defendants with crimes against peace by the planning,
preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression,
which were also wars in violation of international treaties,
agreements, and assurances; with war crimes; and with crimes
against humanity. The defendants are also charged with
The machine gun mechanized war. Artillery and gas mechanized war. They were the hardware of the war, the tools. But they were only proximately the mechanism of the slaughter. The ultimate mechanism was a method of organization-anachronistically speaking, a software package. 'The basic lever,' the writer Gil Elliot comments, 'was the conscription law, which made vast numbers of men available for ...
participating in the formulation or execution of a common
plan or conspiracy to commit all these crimes.
These crimes, that were so heinously committed, were
not committed by Germany as a whole. This, however, does not
mean that they are not responsible. Throughout the war there
was a theme of, “Obey or be killed.” Even if an average
citizen did not agree with what his country officials were
doing it was out of his/her power anyway. The people had no
say. Fascism prevailed.
To punish every German citizen is mistake. The true
officials who initiated a government in which the gruesome
ideas of the holocaust were generated are the ones to blame.
The men who give the orders are the ones to blame. It is
impossible to blame the army, or even the citizens. The men
who gave the orders created the problem and without them no
problem would have arisen and, therefore, the men who
followed them would have had nothing to follow.
Although the German soldiers were the ones who did
the actual killing, it would be unjust to punish them as a
whole. To put all of Germany on trial was wrong. To put the
men who instigated the fight was the correct and just thing
to do. However, this is not the case when discussing World
War II issues outside the Holocaust.