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In Memory of 75th Anniversary of an International Military Tribunal, and a Warning to Would-be Dictators

Seventy-five years ago, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial brought Nazi leaders to justice. It was a long, historic trial that punished monstrous crimes and still influences international criminal law today. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division the US Department of Justice issued a press statement, evoking the spirit of the trial in his work.

The marking of this day in global politics is not just about the establishment of the offence of war crimes but also to the introduction of the charges for crimes that threaten peace, which are still the foundation of International Criminal Court. 

“The main war crimes trial against 24 close followers of the dictator Adolf Hitler began on November 20. Powerful Nazi leaders who once dreamed of world domination were sitting on the wooden benches in courtroom 600 of the city’s Palace of Justice, largely chosen because it was one of the few unscathed buildings large enough, and with its own prison facility, to host such a trial. The defendants included Reich Marshal and Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring, Hitler’s temporary deputy Rudolf Hess and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop,” DW.com wrote.

According to FOX:

“Seventy-five years ago, the dock of Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice was packed with some of the most nefarious figures of the 20th Century: Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop and 18 other high-ranking Nazis.

They weren’t yet known as war criminals — it was a charge that didn’t exist until the Nuremberg trials began on Nov. 20, 1945, in what is now seen as the birthplace of a new era of international law.”

According to a press statement from the US DOJ:

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Issues Statement Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division issued the following statement on his participation in the Robert H. Jackson Center’s virtual reading of Justice Jackson’s opening statement at Nuremberg for the 75th anniversary of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg:

“I was honored and humbled to be a part of this project marking 75 years since the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Justice Robert Jackson, who was the Chief U.S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg and once held the position of Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division, has long been a hero of mine for his boundless faith in justice and fairness. His work at Nuremberg showed the world that unspeakable acts of hatred will not go unpunished so long as there are good people willing to stand up for the powerless. In my role overseeing the Antitrust Division, I draw on this faith and commitment to justice to guide our work defending American consumers.”

The virtual reading of Justice Jackson’s opening statement will be available at https://www.youtube.com/RobertHJacksonCenter on Saturday, November 21, 2020.

Justice Jackson’s Opening Statement: 

From their website:

November 21, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Robert H. Jackson’s opening statement as the U.S. Chief of Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials. For more than three hours, Jackson outlined the atrocities and evidence of the Nazi’s war crimes in what was deemed “a forensic masterpiece” by The New Yorker.

In commemoration of this important anniversary, the Jackson Center has created a video of Jackson’s opening statement, using his words from the podium in Nuremberg. More than 100 people are reading this riveting message to the world. Benjamin Ferencz, who turned 100 this year and is the oldest living Nuremberg podium prosecutor, reads the first paragraph Jackson’s Opening Statement. Ferencz is joined by David Crane, Richard Goldstone, Luis Moreno Ocampo, and Robert Petit — the founding prosecutors of the modern-era humanitarian law tribunals, Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, who served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014, Hans Corell, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Kurt Graham, director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Leila Sadat, director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, and Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice, a position Jackson held early in his federal career. Participants also include Jackson family members, current and former Jackson Center Board members, staff, interns, and teacher fellows, local students and other friends of the Center.

Click on the video below to watch this unique and moving version of the Opening Statement, which will premiere on our YouTube channel at 10am EST. The statement reminds us of the importance of the rule of law and the necessity of examining how we treat each other as fellow humans living in this world. We hope it inspires you. We hope it gives you courage. We hope it helps you envision a world where the universal principles of equality, fairness, and justice prevail.

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