The Nuremberg Defense – I Was Just Following Orders
During the World War II many German soldiers, officers and health care personel made horrible crimes against the humanity. When prosecuted after the war many of them claimed that they was just following orders and tried to move the blame for their crimes to the leaders who issued the orders.
The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals held after World War II. In which the political, military, judicial, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany was convicted for their crimes against humanity during the war. Lawful superior orders often known as The Nuremberg defense is a plea in a court of law that a person, whether a member of the army or a civilian, not to be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior officer or a public official. The Nuremberg defense was not accepted by the judges at the Nuremberg trials who judged that every individual are responsible for their own actions against other human beings despite the laws of the nation or which orders that are given. The trials marked a turning point between classical and contemporary international law. And in their judgement the judges in Nuremberg affirmed the principle of the freedom of conscience.
Women and children are forcibly taken out of a shelter in the Warsaw ghetto by Waffen-SS soldiers. The SS man on the right with a submachine gun is Josef Blösche who personally killed hundreds of Jews and sent many more to their death in concentration camps during the war. For his crimes against humanity Blösche was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed in Leipzig in DDR on 29 July 1969. Photo: Propaganda Kompanie nr 689/CC
Captured Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are taken away by Waffen-SS men. At the forefront are Yehudit Neyer, her mother-in-law, her daughter and her father Avraham Neyer. When accused the surviving soldiers and officers stated that they should not be held responsible for their actions against humanity because they was just following direct orders from their superior officers. Photo: Unkown/CC
Jewish people are forced on a train in the Warsaw ghetto by german soldiers and Jewish ghetto police. The destination of the train was Treblinka holocaust camp. When accused many of the surviving soldiers and officers stated that they should not be held responsible for their actions against humanity because they was just following direct orders from their superior officers. Photo: Unkown/CC
According to the European Convention of Human Rights shall every citizen in the Europe have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Every soldier, policeman and health care personal in Europe has the right to disobey direct orders that are considered to them to be crimes against the humanity. The freedom of conscience is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of the viewpoint of the majority. One thing that differs democracies from dictatorships is that democracies allows its citizens to have freedom of conscience in such circumstances as mentioned above.
The Warsaw Ghetto was created by the Nazis in October 1940 for the detention of Jews in Warsaw and its surroundings. At most, about half a million Jews lived within the walls of the ghetto. During the three years that the ghetto existed, tens of thousands of people died of starvation and disease and about 350,000 were deported to concentration camps where they were executed by the Nazis and their collaborators.
In 1943, the Jewish resistance movement in the Ghetto had enough and started to attack the Germans. They fought bravely against the superior Germans and the uprising lasted for a month. In order to smoke out the resistance the German soldiers set fire to a large number of buildings and finally the synagogue. The ghetto was turned into ashes and ruin. The surviving Jews were either killed on the spot or sent to concentration camps. Only a handful of them managed to escape the Ghetto. The Warsaw ghetto was disbanded in may 1943. The photos in this article has been taken in the Warsaw Ghetto or at the location where it once stood.
Text: Mikael Good. Photo: Mikael Good (where nothing else is stated).