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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 November 2005, 16:23 GMT
Germany marks Nuremberg tribunals
The Nuremberg trials in 1946
Nuremberg sought justice for the millions murdered or persecuted
Germany is holding a series of events marking the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, where Nazi leaders were convicted of war crimes.

US Nuremberg prosecutor Whitney Harris and other eyewitnesses are returning to the courtroom where 22 high-ranking Nazis were put on trial.

A conference on the historical legacy of the trials is also taking place.

Twelve defendants were sentenced to death, seven received long prison terms and three were acquitted.

Nazi air force chief Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Joachim von Ribbentrop were among those placed on trial.

Martin Bormann, Hitler's deputy, was tried in absentia.

The Nuremberg trials are seen as setting an important legal precedent, preparing the ground for subsequent international war crimes prosecutions and the International Criminal Court.

New offences

The court was set up by the victorious allies after World War II and the defendants were tried by a panel of judges from the US, Britain and the Soviet Union.

The chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson, described the trial as a continuation of the Allied war effort.

The defendants were charged with the then-new offences that have since become fixed in international law, including waging a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Nuremberg cases were also the first time government leaders were held personally responsible for their actions during war.

They mostly claimed that they had not known, or were not responsible for what happened.

The trial was an international sensation, but Germans also took a keen interest in the proceedings.

Local newspapers were full of the horrific details of the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities.

However, secret opinion polls carried out by the American state department and made public three years ago showed that it was not until the 1970s that most Germans thought the trial was fair.

Hear from an eye-witness who attended the trials

Hitler's henchmen in the dock
19 Nov 05 |  Europe
Nuremberg revisits Nazi era
04 Nov 01 |  Europe

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