The Nuremberg Trials were one of the most important innovations in the history of international law, and set a precedent which led to future international tribunals.

 

After the war, judges from the Allied powers convened to bring the most senior Nazis to trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  These took place in Nuremberg, Germany between 1945 and 1946.  22 top Nazis were bought before the court, with 12 being sentenced to death. The main focus of the trials was on the role played by senior Nazis in starting the Second World War, and not specifically their involvement in the Holocaust.

The Nuremberg Trials were one of the most important innovations in the history of international law, and set a precedent which led to future international tribunals. Over 50 years later, in 2002, the International Criminal Court was established as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, although it cannot currently exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.  As of February 2013 122 States are members of the ICC.

Some further trials of lesser war criminals were held, but the cooperation between the Allied powers seen at the main Nuremberg Trials had quickly broken down. In each of the four zones of occupation a process of ‘Denazification’ continued, but was often rushed or botched as the Americans, British and French sought to build a democratic state in West Germany, and the USSR sought to build a communist state in East Germany. Many thousands of people who were involved in or benefitted from the Holocaust never had to atone for their actions.