December 14, 1945 – And the word from Nuremberg was pessimistic. The War Crimes Tribunal was forging ahead, and with each new day came more fresh horror to listen to and digest. During this week it was evidence the Jews, Poles and Ethnic groups were singled out for persecution by those sitting in the courtroom.
Among the defendants, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and Arthur Seyss-Inquart, showed the affects of the testimony as did others who were seen breaking down as evidence appeared. Only Hermann Goering remained stoic throughout, saying only “We Are Having An Extremely Difficult Week”. Rumors were rife that, once the testimony got too incriminating, the defendants would be attempting to commit suicide, rather than face execution.
German witnesses were subpoenaed to appear, rather than send affidavits – bringing testimony face to face with the defendants. Those who testified, and the list seemed endless, told of mass exterminations, firing squads, work camps where prisoners were either worked to death or starved.
This was what was going on during one week of a trial which would last from November 15, 1945 until October 1, 1946 where verdicts were finally delivered. Almost a year of horrific testimony which became one of the worst crimes against humanity during the 20th century.
Reports from Nuremberg became regular features on the nightly news, at least for the first month or two. And then only occasional report being filed throughout 1946, usually when dramatic testimony was heard. Toward the end and when verdicts were imminent, the reports picked up again. But in addition to the Nuremberg trials were also War Crimes trials against the Japanese and what went on in the Pacific. Two major trials of crimes against humanity and a world weary of war. Much of the testimony from both trials brought evidence previously unheard by most people and the depictions of brutality were devastating to many who heard them.
But as a reminder of how the Nuremberg trial was unfolding, here is one of the regular reports by Arthur Gaith from Mutual News on December 14, 1945, a month after the trials began. The sound is bit distant in places, as it was a shortwave report, which was par for the course at the time.