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Volume 19, Fall 2006           
Nuremberg Trials 60th Anniversary
Chronology of the Nuremberg Trials: Origins and Proceedings

Section 1
Background and Preparation
Trial Chronology
Formulation of International Law
Preparation of the Palace of Justice
Translations at the International Military Tribunal
Section 2
Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal
Section 3
Twelve Subsequent Trials

August 14, 1941: The Atlantic Charter. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill  give expression to their common goals and hopes for a better future.

January 1, 1942: United Nations Declaration. Twenty six nations sign the declaration affirming the principles of the Atlantic Charter and pledging to use military and economic resources to bring about the defeat of the Axis powers.

October 30, 1943: The Moscow Declaration. The United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China sign the declaration vowing that army generals known as or suspected as war criminals will be arrested and handed over to justice.

August 1944: Morgenthau's Plan. Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., submits a plan for postwar treatment of Nazi leaders. He proposes the summary execution of Nazi leaders upon capture, the use of German POWs to rebuild Europe, the destruction of German industry, and the remaking of Germany into an agricultural society.

Henry Morgenthau

September 15, 1944: Framework for Nuremberg Trials Prepared. Colonel Murray Bernays of the War Department's Special Project Branch proposes part of the framework to be used at Nuremberg. The Nazi regime is to be treated as a criminal plot and leading Nazis to be charged as part of the conspiracy. William Chanler, close to Secretary of War Henry Stimson, adds to Bernays's plan but suggesting that the waging of a war of aggression is a crime in international law.

February 4-11, 1945: The Yalta Conference. President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Premier Stalin agree to prosecute Axis leaders after the Allies achieve victory in Europe.

April 10, 1945: American troops liberate Buchenwald concentration camp.

April 12, 1945. President Roosevelt dies. Vice President Harry S. Truman is sworn in as president and one of his first acts is to ask Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson to serve as chief U.S. prosecutor in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials.

April 25, 1945. Formation of the United Nations. The San Francisco Conference starts the work of creating the United Nations in conformity with the Yalta protocol.

April 30, 1945. Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

May 2, 1945. President Truman appoints Robert Jackson as U.S. Chief of Counsel for the prosecution of the Nazi war criminals.

May 8, 1945. Allied Victory in Europe. German surrenders unconditionally and the war in Europe is ended.

June 26, 1945. London Negotiations in Preparation for the Nuremberg trials.

July 7, 1945: Jackson Visits Nuremberg. Jackson recommends Nuremberg as the location of the trials.

August 1, 1945: The Potsdam Protocol. In Section VII of the protocol the British, American and Soviet governments affirm their intention to bring war criminals whose offenses did not occur in a particular location to swift and sure justice.

August 6, 1945. The United States Drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.

August 8, 1945. The London Agreement and Charter signed by Allies. This document mandates the prosecution of war criminals by the International Military Tribunal. It is signed by representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

London Agreement

October 6, 1945. The prosecutors appointed by the four powers publish their joint statement of indictment.

October 18-19, 1945: Indictments issued by the International Military Tribunal. Twenty four men and seven organizations indicted and charged with the systematic murder of millions of people.

November 20, 1945: The International Military Tribunal begins at Nuremberg.

November 21, 1945: Jackson delivers opening statement for the prosecution.

December 20, 1945: Control Council Law Number 10. This law provides a legal basis for Germany to prosecute the lesser war criminals and other offenders dealt with by the International Military Tribunal.

January 4, 1946: Colonel Telford Taylor presents prosecution case against the German High Command. Taylor's eloquence contributes to his appointment as lead prosecutor for the later Nuremberg Trials known as the subsequent Nuremberg Trials.

Telford Taylor

March 18-22, 1946: The cross-examination of Hermann Goering.

August 30, 1946: Testimony is completed at the International Military Tribunal.

August 31, 1946: Defendants make their final statements.

September 2, 1946: The justices meet to discuss verdicts for the defendants.

October 1, 1946: The verdicts are handed down for the major war criminals. Eleven are sentenced to death. Three are acquitted. Three receive life sentences. The remainder receive sentences that range from ten to twenty years in prison.

October 15, 1946: Hermann Goering commits suicide.

October 16: 1946: Ten war criminals are hanged at Nuremberg.

October 25, 1946 - April 19, 1949: Twelve subsequent Nuremberg Trials. These trials are held at Nuremberg before American military tribunals. The military tribunals differ from the International Military Tribunal since it is only the United States that officiates. Prosecutors from Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union are not included.

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Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust-- Part I

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