War Guilt Trials

March 15, 1943

Report Outline
Punishment of Axis Criminals as a War Aim
Problem of Trying Heads of States
Atrocities and the Laws of War
Plans for War Guilt Trials After World War II

Punishment of Axis Criminals as a War Aim

Three Principal Classes of War Criminals

Deliberate use of terror in occupied countries by the Nazi government and its allies has aroused a general demand in the United Nations for trial and punishment, not only of the individual perpetrators of war crimes, but also of the responsible leaders of government in the Axis states. Atrocities committed in occupied countries in eastern and central Europe have included wholesale deportations of male workers to be used as slave labor in Germany, deliberate employment of starvation to get rid of unwanted population groups, mass executions, and mass imprisonments. The Inter-Allied Information Committee of the United Nations has estimated that by the end of 1942 nearly 3,400,000 persons had been executed or had died in prison in nine Nazi occupied countries. The committee's figures do not cover the massacres in which populations of whole towns were wiped out in reprisal for sabotage or resistance, as in Lidice in Czechoslovakia and othsr towns in Yugoslavia and Greece. The demands for trial and punishment apply mainly to German war criminals: Italians and Japanese are mentioned less frequently, and nationals of the smaller Axis associates hardly at all.

The war criminals for whom trial and punishment is demanded fall into three principal categories:

  1. Leading figures in governments that have utilized terrorism to subdue the populations of occupied countries.

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