This Day in International Law | October 16
By: Hassan Ahmad
Photo Credit: Marion Doss
On October 16, 1946, ten Nazi leaders convicted of war crimes pursuant to the Nuremberg Trials were executed by hanging. The executed individuals included Hitler’s personal lawyer (Hans Frank), the Minister of the Interior (Wilhelm Frick) and various military commanders. Hermann Göring, the founder of Nazi Germany’s official secret police, was also scheduled to be hung that day but committed suicide the night before. Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary, was convicted in absentia (it was later revealed he was killed while trying to escape Berlin in May 1945).
The Nuremberg Trials were, arguably, the first attempt of sovereign nations to establish an international court chartered with the ability to prosecute military and political leaders for crimes committed during an international conflict. It is the precedent for current courts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court. The trials established the definition of war crimes outlined in the Nuremberg principles.
Hassan Ahmad is an LLM candidate at Berkeley Law. He is a student contributor for Travaux.