View of the defendants in the dock at the International Military Tribunal trial of war criminals at Nuremberg. November 1945.
National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.
The International Military Tribunal (IMT) was not focused on the Holocaust alone, as reflected in the range of its criminal charges. After much debate, 24 defendants were selected to represent a cross-section of German diplomatic, economic, political, and military leadership. Most of the defendants were highly sophisticated professionals, yet they were also men who committed almost unspeakable crimes.
Not all of the 24 indicted defendants were in Allied custody or able to stand trial. German industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, included in the original indictment, was excluded due to his advanced age and failing health. Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann was tried and convicted in absentia. Another defendant, Robert Ley, committed suicide in prison on the eve of the trial. When the trial opened on November 20, 1945, 21 defendants appeared in court.
Three of the top Nazi leaders—Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels—committed suicide near the end of the war. The IMT decided not to try them posthumously in order not to raise questions about the circumstances of their deaths.
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Konstantin von Neurath
Franz von Papen
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Baldur von Schirach