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Archives on the Air 264: Nuremberg Trials – Murray C. Bernays papers

During World War II, Nazis committed genocide and other horrific war crimes. But until the Nuremberg Trials of 1945, never had an international court of law been convened to try war criminals. Murray C. Bernays, a colonel in the U.S. War Department, was one of the lawyers that helped establish the framework for the trials.

The governments of the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and 14 other countries all came to an agreement. The crimes committed by the Nazi SS and Gestapo were so reprehensible they were categorized as crimes against humanity.

While some questioned the need for any trial at all, Bernays argued that democratic traditions required the kind of integrity and justice that a courtroom offers.

The defendants in the Nuremberg trials were accused of violations of the rules of war as regulated by the Hague Conventions.

See the Murray C. Bernays Papers at UW’s American Heritage Center to learn more about the planning of the Nuremberg Trials.