Defendants in the Major War Figures Trial
(click on image to see larger photo)
Doenitz, Karl
German admiral who would eventually command entire navy.  Chosen by Hitler to succeed him as fuhrer.  Negotiated surrender following Hitler's suicide.
138 "Politicians brought the Nazis to power and started the war.  They are the ones who brought about these disgusting crimes, and now we have to sit there in the dock with them and share the blame!" (5/27/46) On 9/17/42 Doenitz issued the "Laconia Order" to the German submarine fleet.  The order forbid rescuing enemy survivors of sunken ships: "Be hard.  Remember, the enemy has no regard for women and children when he bombs German cities." Called by Hitler "the Rommel of the Seas"....Said "I would rather eat dirt than have my grandson grow up in the Jewish spirit and faith"...Went on radio after assassination attempt on Hitler to call it "a cowardly attempt at murder." Served 10-year-sentence.  Died in 1981.
Frank, Hans
Governor-general of Nazi-occupied Poland, called the "Jew butcher of Cracow."
130 "Don't let anybody tell you that they had no idea.  Everybody sensed there was something horribly wrong with the system." (11/29/45) "Hitler has disgraced Germany for all time!  He betrayed and disgraced the people that loved him!...I will be the first to admit my guilt." (4/17/46)  "The Jews must be eliminated.  Whenever we catch one, it is his end"...."This territory [Poland] is in its entirety the booty of the German Reich"...."I have not been hesitant in declaring that when a German is shot, up to 100 Poles shall be shot too."--from the diary of Hans Frank. In April of 1930, Hitler asked Frank to secretly investigate a rumor that he had Jewish blood.  Frank reported back that there was a 50-50 chance that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish. Hanged--wearing a beatificsmile--in Nuremberg on Oct. 16, 1946
Frick, Wilhelm
Minister of the Interior
124 "Hitler didn't want to do things my way.  I wanted things done legally.  After all, I am a lawyer." (4/24/46).... "The mass murders were certainly not thought of as a consequence of the Nuremberg Laws, [though] it may have turned out that way." Frick drafted, signed, and administered laws that abolished opposition parties, and suppressed trade unions and Jews (including the infamous Nuremberg Laws). Frick knew that the insane, aged, and disabled ("useless eaters") were being systematically killed, but did nothing to stop it.  Frick claimed not to be an anit-Semite.  He said he drafted the Nuremberg Laws for "scientific reasons": to protect the purity of German blood. Frick was one of eleven defendants sentenced to death. He said, "Hanging--I didn't expect anything different....Well, I hope they get it over with fast." (10/1/46) Frick was hanged on Oct. 16, 1946.
Fritzsche, Hans
Head of the Radio Division, one of twelve departments in Goebbel's Propoganda Ministry
130 "I have been tricked and trapped by the Himmler murder machine, even when I tried to put a check on it...Let us explain our position to the world, so that at least we won't die under this awful burden of shame." (11/21/45)  "I have the feeling I am drowning in filth....I am choking in it."--(2/21/46, after watching film of atrocities). Fritzsche's radio broadcasts (he was a popular  commentator) included strong Nazi propoganda. Fritzsche was one of two defendants turned over to the IMT by Russians....  Fritzsche often appeared on the verge of a breakdown during the trial.  Fritzsche was acquitted by the IMT.  He said, "I am entirely overwhelmed--to be set free right here, not even to be sent back to Russia.  That was more than I hoped for." He was later tried and convicted by a German court, then freed in 1950. He died in 1953.
Funk, Walther
Minister of Economics
124 "I signed the laws for the aryanization of Jewish property.  Whether that makes me legally guilty or not, is another matter. But it makes me morally guilty, there is no doubt about that.  I should have listened to my wife at the end.  She said we'd be better off dropping the whole minister business and moving into a three-bedroom flat." (7/8/46) Funk agreed with Himmler to receive gold from the SS (including gold teeth and rings taken from those killed in concentration camps) and deposit in the Reichsbank.  Funk told subordinates not to ask questions about the shipments.  He either knew or should have known the source of the gold received. Funk said, "The only accusation I can make to myself is...that I should have resigned in 1938 when I saw how they robbed and smashed Jewish property." (12/15/45)....Funk was often seen crying during the presentation of prosecution evidence and needed sleeping pills at night. Funk was sentenced to life imprisonment by the IMT.  He was released in 1957 because of poor health.  He died in 1959.
Goering, Hermann
Reichsmarschall and Luftwaffe (Air Force) Chief; President of Reichstag; Director of "Four Year Plan"
138 "I joined the Party precisely because it was revolutionary, not because of the ideological stuff." (12/11/45)...."The whole conspiracy idea is cockeyed.  We had orders to obey the head of state.  We weren't a band of criminals meeting in the woods in the dead of night to plan mass murders...The four real conspirators are missing: The Fuhrer, Himmler, Bormann, and Goebbels."  (1/5/46)..."This is a political trial by the victors and it will be a good thing when Germany realizes that..." (6/13/46) As Director of the Four Year Plan, Goering bore responsibility for the elimination of Jews from political life and for the destruction and takeover of Jewish businesses and property....He was quoted as saying, "I wish you had killed 200 Jews and not destroyed such valuable property"...He looted art treasures from occupied territories and arranged for use of slave labor.... Goering surrendered to American officers. The officers offered Goering drinks and sang songs with him, but the next day were reprimanded by an outraged Dwight Eisenhower...Goering was the most popular prisoner with the American guards because he seemed to take an interest in their lives....He seemed to wield a great deal of influence with the other defendants, and prison administrators sought to isolate him as much as possible....Goering said, "We don't have much to say about our fate.  The forces of history and politics and economics are just to big to steer." (3/9/46) Goering committed suicide on the day before his scheduled hanging by taking a cyanide pill that was smuggled into his cell.  Goering wrote in his suicide note, "I would have no objection to getting shot," but he thought hanging was inappropriate for a man of his position.
Hess, Rudolf
Deputy to the Fuhrer and Nazi Party Leader
120 "It is just incomprehensible how those things [atrocities] came about...Every genius has the demon in him.  You can't blame him [Hitler]--it is just in him...It is all very tragic.  But at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried to do something to end the war." (12/16/45) Jackson called Hess "the engineer tending to the Party machinery."  He maintained the organization as a ready and loyal instrument of power.  He signed decrees persecuting Jews and was a willing participant in aggression against Austria, Czechoslavakia, and Poland. During his detention following his failed putsch, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to Hess...Hess mysteriously flew to England in 1941 in an attempt to end the war on his own terms.  He stayed there until the war ended....Hess suffered from paranoid delusions, apathy, amnesia, and was diagnosed as having a "hysterical personality." Hess was sentenced to life in prison.  He remained--lost in his own mental fog-- in Spandau prison (for many years as its only prisoner) until he committed suicide in 1987 at age 93.
Jodl, Alfred
Chief of Operations for the German High Command
127 "The indictment knocked me on the head.  First of all, I hand no idea at all about 90 per cent of the accusations in it.  The crimes are horrible beyond belief, if they are true.  Secondly, I don't see how they can fail to recognize a soldier's obligation to obey orders.  That's the code I've live by all my life."  (11/1/45) Jodl gave orders for the German army's campaign against Holland, Belgium, Norway, and Poland. He also planned attacks against Greece and Yugoslavia....Jodl was quoted as saying, "Terror attacks against English centers of population ...will paralyze the will of the people to resist." Jodl signed Germany's unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe....He strongly disagreed with many of Hitler's harsh orders: "The order to kill the escaped British fliers--there was absolutely no justification for that.  From then on, I knew what kind of a man Hitler was." (4/6/46) Jodl was hanged in Nuremberg on Oct. 16, 1946.  Critics have called Jodl's death sentence harsh in relation to the sentences received by other German officers of similar rank.
Kaltenbrunner, Ernst
Chief of RSHA (an organization which includes offices of the Gestapo, the SD, and the Criminal Police) and Chief of Security Police
113 "When I saw the newspaper headline 'GAS CHAMBER EXPERT CAPTURED' and an American lieutenant explained it to me, I was pale in amazement.  How can they say such things about me?" (4/11/46)..."I have only done my duty as an intelligence organ, and I refuse to serve as an ersatz for Himmler." Kaltenbrunner and RSHA bear responsibity for "The Final Solution" to the Jewish question--and the 6 million jews killed by Einsatzgruppen (2 million) and in concentration camps (4 million).  Kaltenbrunner ordered prisoners in Dachau and other camps liquidated just before the camps would have been liberated by Allies.  Kaltenbrunner was described as "a Nazi out of central casting:" six-foot-six, a huge neck, cruel mouth, and a scar across his left cheek...He was shunned by most of the other defendants...His lawyer tried to portray him as a stooge for Himmler, rather than his right-hand man....Kaltenbrunner believed fertile German women had a duty to produce babies, and if their husbands couldn't get them pregnant, other men ought to be given the job. Kaltenbrunner was hanged on Oct. 16, 1946 in Nuremberg.
Keitel, Wilhelm
Chief of Staff of the German High Command
129 "We all believed so much in him [Hitler]--and we stand to take all the blame--and the shame! He gave us the orders.  He kept saying that it was all his responsibility." 912/25/45)..."I will suffer more agony of conscience and self-reproach in this cell than anybody will ever know." (1/6/46)..."the only thing that is impossible is for me to there [in court] like a louse and lie." (4/6/46) Keitel signed orders authorizing the killing of captured commandos and reprisals against the families of Allied volunteers...He drafted the "Night and Fog" decree that authorized the nighttime arrests and secret killings of suspected members of the resistance..He
planned attacks on Czechoslavakia, Poland, Belgium, Holland, and other countries.
Keitel's sons were killed in the German attack on the Soviet Union that Keitel helped execute...Keitel, on Hitler's orders, sent two generals to Rommel (who had supported attempts to assassinate Hitler) offering him the the choice of a court-martial or suicide....In prison, Keitel worked on his autobiography....Prison pyschiatrist G. M. Gilbert said Keitel "had no more backbone than a jellyfish." Keitel was one of ten defendants hanged in the Palace of Justice in the early morning hours of October 16, 1946.
Neurath, Konstantin von
Minister of Foreign Affairs (until 1938), then Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia
125 "Hitler was a liar, of course--that became more and more clear.  He simply had no respect for the truth.  But nobody recognized it at first...He must have done his conspiring with his little gang of henchmen late at night.  Sometimes he would call at 1, 2, or 3 in the morning."(12/15/45) While Neurath was Foreign Minister, Germany "was only breaking one treaty at a time."...While serving at Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Neurath abolished political parties and trade unions....He knew war crimes were being committed under his authority. At 73, Neurath was the oldest defendant in the Major War Figures Trial.  He seemed to be showing signs of incipient senility...When Chamberlain offered to come to Germany to discuss ways of averting war, Neurath urged Hitler to receive him..."I was always against punishment without the possibility of a defense."  Neurath was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.  He was released because of poor health in 1954, and died two years later.
Papen, Franz von
Reich Chancellor prior to Hitler, Vice Chancellor under Hitler, Ambassador to Turkey
134 "I think [Hitler] wanted the best for Germany at the beginning, but he became an unreasoning evil force with the flattery of his followers--Himmler, Goering, Ribbentrop, etc...I tried to persuade him he was wrong in his anti-Jewish policies many a time.  He seemed to listen at first, but later on, I had no influence on him." (10/30/45) Von Papen helped consolidate Nazi control in 1933.  He strengthened the position of Nazis in Austria to help pave the way for the takeover. He appealed to the Pope to support Hitler. Von Papen remained in office even after learning of political killings and other crimes. While the trial was in progress, Von Papen had many heated exchanges with Goering....Von Papen was a moderating force in the early years of the Nazi regime.  In 1934, he gave a speech highly critical of restrictions on individual liberties...Von Papen said, "I've been portrayed as an intriguing devil.  But I can prove I have always worked for peace....I am confident in American justice, and am glad to have the truth brought to light through this trial."  Von Papen was acquitted.
Raeder, Erich
Commander in Chief of the German Navy
134 "I have no illusion about this trial.  Naturally, I will be hanged or shot.  I flatter myself to think that I will be shot; at least I will request it.  I have no desire to serve a prison sentence at my age." (5/20/46) Raeder advocated attacks by submarines on neutral ships in violation of international law. Raeder was one of two defendants handed over by the Russians, and was put on the list of major war trial defendants at the insistence of the Soviet Union...Raeder retired in 1943...He opposed invading Russia, but then attacked Russian submarines six days before the invasion began. Raeder was sentenced to life in prison.  He served nine years before his release in 1955.  He died in 1960 at age 84.
Ribbentrop, Joachim von
Foreign Minister
129 "We are only living shadows--the remains of a dead era--an era that died with Hitler.  Whether a few of us live another 10 or 20 years, it makes no difference." (3/27/46) Rippentrop participated in  aggressive plans against Czechoslavakia...He helped plan attacks on Poland and Russia...Ribbentrop played a role in the "Final Solution" when he acted to hasten the deportation of Jews to concentration camps in the East. In prison, Ribbentrop kept asking everyone from doctors to cell guards to barbers for legal advice....Prison pyschiatrist G. M. Gilbert saw Rippentrop as "a confused and demoralized opportunist.".... Ribbentrop's erratic behavior caused his lawyer to complain, "This man is impossible to defend." Rippentrop was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Rosenberg, Alfred
Chief Nazi Philosopher and Reichminister for the Eastern Occupied Territories
127 "I didn't say that the Jews are inferior.  I didn't even maintain they are a race.  I merely saw that the mixture of different cultures didn't work." (1/12/46)..."We let 50,000 Jewish intellectuals get across the border.  Just as I wanted Lebensraum for Germany, I thought Jews should have a Lebensraum for themselves--outside of Germany." (12/15/45) Rosenberg helped plan attack on Norway....Developed policies of Germanization, exploitation, and extermination of opponents of Nazi rule...His directives provided for the segregation of Jews in Ghettos, facilitating their mass killing.  He set quotas of laborers to be sent to the Reich. Rosenberg was born in Estonia and did not move to Germany until he was 25.....Rosenberg's book promoting the Nazi philosophy was called The Myth of the Twentieth Century....He arranged the theft of fine art and furniture from Jewish apartments in Paris. Rosenberg was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Sauckel, Fritz
Chief of Slave Labor Recruitment
118 "I was given this assignment which I could not refuse--and besides, I did everything possible to treat [the foreign slave laborers] well." (2/23/46) Soon after taking office, Sauckel had the governing authorities in the occupied territories establish compulsory labor service in Germany...His program resulted in the deportation for slave labor of 5 million people, many of whom had to endure cruel working conditions. Sauckel seemed confused during most of the trial....Historian Joseph Persico described Sauckel as "the least imposing figure among the defendants, a little man with a shining dome, sad brown eyes, and a silly mustache patterned after the Fuhrer's." Sauckel was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Schacht, Hjalmar
Reichsbank President and Minister of Economics before the War
143 "I have full confidence in the judges, and I am not afraid of the outcome.  A few of the defendants are not guilty; most of them are sheer criminals." (10/23/45)..."All I wanted was to build up Germany industrially....The only thing they can accuse me of is breaking the Versailles Treaty." (11/1/45) Schacht was an early supporter of the Nazi Pary and supported the appointment of Hitler to the post of Chancellor. Schacht used the facilities of the Reichsbank to facilitate the German rearmament effort and organize the economy for war. Schacht spent 10 months in 1944 in a concentration camp because of suspicion he was plotting against Hitler....Said Schacht of the experience, "I could hear the people being forced to undress and march out to their death--and the shooting in the woods.  It was beastly.".....Schacht had the highest IQ of any of the defendants. Schacht was found not guilty by the IMT. Schacht was later convicted by a German court and sentenced to eight years.  He was freed in 1950.  He died in 1970 at age 93.
Schirach, Baldur von
Hitler Youth Leader
130 "I had no reason to be anti-Semitic...until someone made me read the American book, The International Jew, at the impressionable age of 17.  You have no idea what a great influece this book had on the thinking of German youth...At the age of 18, I met Adolf Hitler.  I must admit I was inspired by him...and became one of his staunchest supporters." (10/27/45) Von Schirach subjected German youth to an extensive program of Nazi propaganda....He participated in the deportation of the Jews from Vienna. Schirach began to become disillusioned with Hitler around 1942: "About 1942, I think I first began to notice that Hitler was becoming slightly insane...In 1943 we had a serious quarrel [over the treatment of Jews].  He flew at me in a rage...I fell from grace after that."  Schirach was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the IMT.  He was released from Spandau Prison in 1966.  He died in 1974 at age 67.
Seyss-Inquart, Arthur
Austrian Chancellor, then Reich 
Commissioner for the Netherlands
141 "The southern German has the imagination and emotionality to subscribe to a fanatic ideology, but he is ordinarily inhibited from excesses by his natural humaneness.  The Prussian does not have the imagination to conceive in terms of abstract racial and political theories, but when he is told to do something, he does it." (4/46) Seyss-Inquart ruthlessly suppressed opposition to the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands.  He, in collaboration with the SS, was involved in the shooting or sending to concentration camp of opponents of occupation. In Seyss-Inquart's fiefdom of the Netherlands, over 40,000 Dutch were shot as hostages, and another 50,000 died of starvation.  In all, 56% of Dutch Jews died during the Nazi occupation....He limped from an injury received in an old mountain-climbing accident. Seyss-Inquart was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Speer, Albert
Reichminister of Armaments and Munitions
128 "I would like to sit down and write one final blast about the whole damn Nazi mess and mention names and details and let the German people see once and for all what rotten corruption, hypocrisy, and madness the whole system was based on!-I would spare no one, including myself." (2/46) Speer transmitted to Sauckel estimates of numbers of slave workers needed, then allocated those workers to various armaments and munitions plants. Speer, an architect, was for years the closest anyone came to being a friend of Hitler.  Hitler at one time gave Speer a watercolor of a Gothic church....Speer was the leader of the anti-Goering faction of defendants: those willing to condemn Nazi policies and accept some degree of blame. Speer served his 20-year sentence.  He wrote two books about his life.  He died in 1981 at age 76.
Streicher, Julius
Anti-Semitic Editor of Der Sturmer
106 "The Jews are making a mistake if they make a martyr out of me; you will see.  I didn't create the problem; it existed for thousands of years." (12/16/45)...."I am the only one in the world who clearly saw the Jewish menace as an historical problem." (11/14/45) Streicher was known as "the number one Jew-baiter."  He organized a boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933 and advocated the Nuremberg Decrees of 1935.  In 1938 he arranged for demolition of a synagogue in Nuremberg and began to call for annihilation of the Jewish race. Streicher, a vulgar man, was despised by most of his fellow defendants...Streicher collected pornography.  He said that he bought it from Jews to show what filth they read.... Streicher was hanged on October 16, 1946.

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