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An Introduction to War Crimes Trials

The first international military tribunal (IMT) prosecuted 21 members of the Third Reich (a 22nd, Martin Bormann was tried in absentia). British, French, Russian and American judges presided over the trial from October 18, 1945, to October 1, 1946. This trial is the one referred to as the “Nuremberg Trial” after the location where it was held.

American judges conducted 12 additional trials for members of the SS, industrialists and others accused of war crimes. A total of 177 defendants were prosecuted in these trials conducted from October 1946 until October 1948.

The other victorious countries conducted their own trials, as did the countries liberated from the Nazis. The British, for example prosecuted 989 people and the Poles 5,450. The Dutch prosecuted and convicted 14,562 people. Hungary convicted 19,000 out of 40,000 suspected war criminals. Germany prosecuted 90,921 and 6,479 were given significant sentences.

Israel prosecuted two men, Adolf Eichmann, who was convicted in 1961 and hung the following year, and John Demjanjuk, who was acquitted in the 1980s.

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