American Jurists and Attorneys Opposing Injustice at Nuremberg
By John Wear
The Nuremberg and later trials were organized primarily for political purposes rather than to dispense impartial justice. This article will discuss the efforts of three American attorneys to expose and correct the injustice of these trials.
Some quotes from the article:
Iowa Supreme Court Justice Charles F. Wennerstrum wrote:The prosecution has failed to maintain objectivity aloof from vindictiveness, aloof from personal ambitions for convictions...The trials were to have convinced the Germans of the guilt of their leaders. They convinced the Germans merely that their leaders lost the war to tough conquerors.
Iowa Supreme Court Justice Charles F. Wennerstrum wrote:The entire atmosphere is unwholesome…Lawyers, clerks, interpreters, and researchers were employed who became Americans only in recent years, whose backgrounds were embedded in Europe’s hatreds and prejudices…If I had known seven months ago what I know today, I would never have come here…The high ideals announced as the motives for creating these tribunals have not been evident.” The lack of appeal in the Nuremberg cases left Wennerstrum “with a feeling that justice has been denied.
Pennsylvania judge Edward L. Van Roden wrote:Sometimes a prisoner who refused to sign was led into a dimly lit room, where a group of civilian investigators, wearing U.S. Army uniforms, were seated around a black table with a crucifix in the center and two candles burning, one on each side. “You will now have your American trial,” the defendant was told.
The sham court passed a sentence of death. Then the accused was told, “You will hang in a few days, as soon as the general approves this sentence: but in the meantime sign this confession and we can get you acquitted.” Some still wouldn’t sign.
We were shocked by the crucifix being used so mockingly.
Pennsylvania judge Edward L. Van Roden wrote:This solitary confinement proved sufficient in itself in some cases to persuade the Germans to sign prepared statements. These statements not only involved the signer, but often would involve other defendants.
Our investigators would put a black hood over the accused’s head and then punch him in the face with rubber hose. Many of the German defendants had teeth knocked out. Some had their jaws broken.
All but two of the Germans, in the 139 cases we investigated, had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was Standard Operating Procedure with American investigators.
Pennsylvania judge Edward L. Van Roden wrote:Unless these crimes committed by Americans are exposed by us at home, the prestige of America and American justice will suffer permanent and irreparable damage.
American attorney Willis N. Everett, Jr. wrote:Several defendants today said they thought they had had a trial…a Col. sat on the Court and his defense counsel rushed the proceedings through and he was to be hanged the next day so he might as well write up a confession and clear some of his fellows seeing he would be hanged…another kind of court had black curtains…The Lt. Col. sat as judge at a black-draped table which had a white cross on it and the only light was two candles on either end. He was tried and witnesses brought in and he was sentenced to death, but he would have to write down in his own handwriting a complete confession. Then the beatings and hang-man’s rope, black hood, eye gougers which they claimed would be used on them unless they confessed. Not a one yet wrote out his statement but each stated that the prosecution dictated their statements and they said it made no difference anyway as they would die the next day. So on and on it goes with each one of the defendants. The story of each must have some truth because they have each been in solitary confinement.
Waffen-SS Officer Jochen Peiper, the lead defendant in the Malmédy trial wrote:On the last day of my stay in Schwäbisch Hall I was called for interrogation and received, as usual, a black hood over my head. And I had to wait down there in the hall of the prison for about five minutes, since the American sergeant who came for me went to get some other comrades of mine from their cell. During this occasion when I was standing there quietly waiting, I was struck in the face by a person unknown to me, and several times in my sexual parts with a stick.
All the citations are in the article above