November 20, 1945 – Nuremberg Trials begin

November 20, 1945 – Nuremberg Trials begin

This day marks the start of the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, during which 24 high-ranking Nazis are held accountable for atrocities perpetrated during World War II.

The trial was the first of its kind in history, conducted by British, Soviet, American, and French judges.

On October 1, 1946, 12 architects of Nazi policy were sentenced to death. Seven others were sentenced to varying prison terms and three were acquitted. Among those condemned to die were Hermann Goering, leader of the Gestapo and the Luftwaffe, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs.

On October 16, the condemned were hanged, excluding Goering, who committed suicide on the eve of his scheduled execution, and Martin Bormann, a Nazi party leader who was convicted in absentia (but is now thought to have died in May 1945).

Trials of lesser Nazi war criminals continued in Germany into the 1950s.