British Military & Criminal History

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Home - War Crimes Trials

Introduction

One historical area which I have done research in relates to war crimes trials held after World War 2. Most people have heard of the International Military Tribunal, which sat at Nuremberg during 1945-6. This was established by the four main European Allied powers: USA, UK, France and the Soviet Union. It was agreed in the London Agreement that each country would set up trials for offences which took place in their sphere of control or against their own people. The IMT was concerned with trying people whose offences were so global that they crossed national boundaries.

Not so many people have heard of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE). This was a far larger trial than the IMT.  Not just in duration, but in the number of judges, defendants and material produced. The trial opened on 3 May 1946. Those prisoners sentenced to death by the IMTFE were executed on 23 December 1948.

Compare IMT & IMTFE

The following table illustrates the difference in operation between the IMT and the IMTFE.

Court Duration Defendants Judges Judgement
IMT 10 mths 22 4   270 Pages  
IMTFE 30 mths 28 11 1218 Pages

NOTES:

1. Of the 28 IMTFE defendants at the trials start, Matsuoka died of Tuberculosis in 1946, Nagano died of natural causes in 1947 and Okawa broke down in court on the first day. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital, and was freed in 1948 a free man.

2. Of the 22 IMT defendants, Martin Bormann was tried in his absence.

3. The IMT had four judges, and four alternate judges, one each from UK, USA, France and Soviet Union.

4. The IMTFE had one judge each from India, Netherlands, Canada, UK, US, Australia, China, USSR, France, New Zealand and the Philippines.

British War Crimes Trials

My research has been mainly concerned with war crimes trials mounted by the U.K. Well known British War Crimes trials were established for the Belsen Concentration Camp, the aftermath of the Great Escape and Operation Freshman.

I have also included the details of other lesser known British War Crimes trials, such as the trial of the German officer which formed the story behind the book "Private Pooley's Revenge": Lieutenant-Colonel Fritz Knoechlein.

To view the details of war crimes trial mounted by the UK, please click on the "UK Trial" option shown in the left-hand side of this page.

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