Law on trial: The Nuremberg War Crime Trial

Five of the leading Nazis at Nuremberg during the final session of the war trial in history, including from left to right Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Wilhelm Keitel (@




With Europe in ruins in 1945 at the end of the Second World War and tens of millions of people dead, wounded and homeless, the four Allies who had defeated Hitler’s Third Reich in Germany made the unprecedented decision to place the Nazi leaders responsible for the war on trial, specifically for “the crime of waging aggressive war”. By putting war itself on trial, the prosecutors were virtually placing the law on trial.  Would it be possible for the victors in a military conflict to demonstrate the detachment and integrity required of due process of law?

The programme is divided in two parts: Part 1: The run-up to the trial, The 2: The actual trial.

Producer: Michele Ernsting

Broadcast on November 20, 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the trials

Speakers include:

  • Nuremberg prosecutors Whitney Harris (1912-2010) and Benjamin Ferencz
  • former German upper state court vice-president Ewald Behrschmidt
  • Professors of Law John Q. Barrett and Lawrence R. Douglas
  • ICC President Philippe Kirsch