Friday, August 8, 2008

Hiroshima Nuremberg Nagasaki

On August 8, 1945, the “London Charter” set out the principles for the prosecution of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Article 6 defined:

“(b) WAR CRIMES: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;”

The “wanton destruction of cities” was a war crime.

Two days previously, an atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 . One day later, a second atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki, August 9, 1945.

The irony cannot have been lost on the American signatory to the London Charter, Robert H. Jackson, who subsequently became the Chief Prosecutor in Nuremberg. In his address to the Canadian Bar Association in Banff, Alberta, September 1, 1949 he said:

“It is possible that strife and suspicion will lead to new aggressions and that the nations are not yet ready to receive and abide by the Nuremberg law. But those who gave some of the best effort of their lives to this trial are sustained by a confidence that in place of what might have been mere acts of vengeance we wrote a civilized legal precedent and one that will lie close to the foundations of that body of international law that will prevail when the world becomes sufficiently civilized.”

The Third Geneva Convention regarding Prisoners of War was signed on August 12, 1949.

Harry Truman's mock trial is here.