International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Appearance and Treatment of Defendants at Nuremburg

For those in class today, perhaps you observed something curious about the dress of the Nazi defendants in the dock: the lack of uniforms.  Image

Normally, the accused will wear his or her uniform to a courts-martial, rank displayed.  Yet, in the footage of the trial, only two defendants are actually wearing their uniforms: Goerring and Jodl–the commander of the Luftwaffe, and the Wehrmacht, respectively.  Both are stripped of any rank or medals, though both were decorated.  What might be the significance of this?  Did the others choose to not wear their uniforms (not all were military leaders)? Did the Court disallow military dress? Did Goerring and Jodl feel that display of their insignia would hurt their defense?

On another note, though Goerring escaped punishment, Jodl was hanged–this despite the tradition of firing-squad executions for convicted officers.  Hanging is the punishment for a common criminal.  

Both dress and punishment pose a question: Should we at all care about, or seekunderstand, the possible effects (social ostracization, denial of military benefits, etc.) that breaks in such an entrenched tradition (stripping of rank, hanging in place of firing squad) have on the family of the convicted?  (Remember that Germany at this time was still a somewhat stratified and aristocratic state, in which officers were highly respected and honored, as were their families). 

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3 responses to “Appearance and Treatment of Defendants at Nuremburg

  1. Richard M Nixon (Deceased) January 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.

  2. pstichnoth January 19, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I worry about the potential for bias that this could cause. I know that Nuremberg was not a trial by jury, but the stripping of rank before trial would seem to prevent the defendants from being seen as innocent until proven guilty.

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