In re Goering and Others

I.L.R. 203 (1946)

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In re Goering and Others

International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
I.L.R. 203 (1946)

EP

Facts

On August 8, 1945, United Nations members Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the United States, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics entered an agreement to create a military tribunal to prosecute war crimes conducted in European Axis countries. The agreement was accompanied by a legislative charter granting the tribunal jurisdiction over alleged acts “in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.” Crimes included conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The charter provided that government officials were not insulated from criminal liability and that an accused could not assert a defense of following superior orders to escape liability. However, defense of superior orders could be considered to mitigate sentencing. On October 18, 1945, Hermann Goering (defendant) and 22 others were charged in an indictment before the tribunal in Berlin. The indictment included four counts: conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The allegations concerned participation in wars of aggression and the commission of crimes violating international treaties, pacts, and agreements, both before and after the war was officially initiated in 1939. Crimes included the prosecution and murder of those opposing the agenda of the National Socialist Party. The first alleged war of aggression by Nazi Germany was against Poland in September 1939. Germany subsequently invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and Russia and seized Austria and Czechoslovakia. In 1940, Germany instituted a policy ordering that all elderly, insane, ill citizens, and foreign laborers be killed, resulting in the deaths of 270,000 people. Based on their involvement in the war of aggression, invasions, and killings, Goering and 18 of the 22 codefendants were found guilty and appealed, arguing that there was no preexisting law in place when the alleged crimes were committed to justify prosecution or conviction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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