Reflections on a 3rd Reading of Crowe

I was most intrigued by Crowe’s coverage of the Nuremburg trials.  He came to a few ultimate conclusions.  The trials were flawed, but acceptably so.  Despite being carried out by the conflict’s victors, their was a clear attempt to be fair in the proceedings.  After all, is it truly possible to carry out an entirely unbiased trial?  All one can do is minimize the chances of such bias becoming a deciding factor, and the Nuremburg trials attempted this to the best of the Allies’ ability given the circumstances of the time.

What is particularly interesting to consider is the aspect of guilt.  An important balance had to be met, as the implications of the trials could include the unequivocal condemnation of the state of Germany as a whole.  Some would argue that this is acceptable, as most Germans were complicit, even if not in full support of the actions that the Nazis took.  Lack of action allowed the atrocities to proceed unhindered.  But in this case, who must then be punished?  After all, who bears more responsibility, the leader who gives orders or the subordinates who carry out the actions?  One provides the ultimate idea in the abstract (in this case genocide), but never personally commits murder.  Is it these “masterminds” who must be punished by the law?  All must ideally be held accountable for their interactions, but this was logistically impossible at the time.  The amount of those who participated in these killings is innumerable.  As such, only a finite number can truly have legal proceedings placed against them.  Who should be chosen?  Many of those prosecuted never personally killed anyone.  As such, the idea of blame and justice becomes particularly gray and amorphous, especially in the wake of attempting to rebuild German society.  It’s unfortunate that justice be limited by logistical problems, but it is a simple fact clearly present in these proceedings.

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