The Holocaust Historiography Project

Nuremberg: A Nation On Trial

  • NUREMBERG: A NATION ON TRIAL. Werner Maser, Scribners, 368 pp, hardback, available from IHR at $18.00. ISBN: 0684-16252-0.

reviewed by Lewis Brandon (David McCalden)

This new book is easily the best so far on the hideous aberration of justice known as the “Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.” The author is a well-known German historian; his biography of Hitler having been an international bestseller.

Many of the more repulsive aspects of Nuremberg which were brought to light in Richard Harwood’s Nuremberg a Other War Crimes Trials are underlined in this new book. This time, they are backed up with hard facts and figures, references and interviews. This book is the product of many years of painstaking research. To take just a few samples of Herr Maser’s revelations:

When the ashes of the hanged were taken to a small river to be dumped, each urn bore a fictitious Jewish name (p l2).

Hans Frank was beaten up by two colored GIs as soon as he was arrested (p47). So was Julius Streicher (p 51). who was whipped and forced to drink negro saliva.

The simultaneous interpretation system at the trial was supplied free of charge by IBM, and was often inaccurate (p 83).

Although the Trial Charter allowed defendants the right to represent themselves, Hess was not allowed to (p 73).

The defense were not allowed to have copies of many prosecution documents of evidence (p 97). Defense documents had to be sifted by the prosecution, before they could be submitted in court (p98). Many of their documents were confiscated or stolen.

Prosecution witnesses, such as Pohl, were beaten until they would give “correct” evidence (p l00). Many defense witnesses were not allowed to appear at all.

Affidavits were allowed on the prosecution side, with no opportunity for the defense to cross-examine the authors. The Tribunal announced that it would “take judicial note” of anything which had “probative value” (p l02).

Agreements to advise the defense of topics to be examined next day in court were dishonored and repudiated (p l06). Agreements to supply adequate copies and translations of documentary evidence were too (p l04).

President Roosevelt himself intervened to prevent the truth coming out about Katyn (pll3).

The hangings of the ten condemned Germans was bungled. Ribbentrop took ten minutes to die (p253). Jodl took 18 minutes, and Keitel 24 (p255). Streicher groaned for a long time after dropping, Frick had severe wounds on his face and neck, through striking the edge of the trap (p255). A journalist who managed to persuade a newspaper to publish photographs of the bloodsmeared faces was arrested. Only touched-up pictures were allowed to be distributed (p 255). But in a note, the author tells how the American hangmen at Landsberg did an even worse job. GIs standing underneath the gallows had to finish off the victims by stuffing cotton wool down their throats (p 255f).

The hangman, John C. Woods burned the ropes and hoods immediately after the executions, even though he had been offered $2500 for them as souvenirs (p 327). He himself narrowly escaped death a few years later while testing an electric chair (p 254).

Contrary to Harwood, Maser states that the bodies were not cremated in the “gas ovens” at Dachau, but at a city mortuary in Munich, and their ashes dumped into a brook running at the bottom of the yard (p l3 and p 256). The remaining prisoners at Nuremberg were made to clean up the blood-spattered gallows (p256). The uncanny thing about this new book is that it originated in Germany. Anglo-American Revisionists have become so used to modern German historians running a mile from any criticism of the “Liberation” that many had almost given up hope altogether. But with the Diwald book last year, and now this magnificent work this year, the standard of historiography in the Bundesrepublik certainly seems to be improving.

Bibliographic information
Author: Brandon, Lewis
Title: Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial (review)
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: Summer 1980
Issue: Volume 1 number 2
Location: Page 173
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: “Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.”
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.