In 1945, on this first day of the Nuremberg Trial Hitler's top administrators pleaded not guilty presenting Chief Justice Robert Jackson with massive documentary evidence to support their tu quoque ("everybody else did it too") defence.
Everybody Else Did It TooThe civilians were dressed in cheap fitting suits and the military wearing their former uniforms with the insignia patches torn off. Ushered into an oblong box filled with two rows of straight-back chairs, the prisoners were only issued with neckties and shoelaces outside their cells due to the expectation that they would suicide. But these monsters refused to be demonized by victor's justice and they had a massive surprise in store for the Soviet, British and American judges:
- A memo dated 5 March 1940 in which the head of the NKVD Lavrentiy Beria authorised the execution of all members of the Polish Officer Corps leading to the Soviet massacre of 21,768 soldiers in the Katyn Forest massacre
- Witnessed dispositions of a British officer from 28 May 1945 assuring Cossacks that "I assure you on my word of honour as a British officer that you are just going to a conference" before releasing 2,700 soldiers to their certain death in Soviet hands at Lienz, a decision expressly authorised by the British Minister Resident Harold Macmillan
- Evidence of US Soldiers drugging POWs before handing them over to Stalin in contravention of "Leaflet Operation", the dropping of six billion leaflets over German lines, urging the Soviet Russians in German uniforms to surrender to the West, solemnly promising them good treatment, and denouncing "as lies the Nazi propaganda that Soviet nationals fighting or not fighting with the Germans would ultimately be forcibly repatriated to the Soviets if they ever surrendered or deserted to the Americans"
But perhaps most unexpected of all was the opening line of defence from Hermann Göring (pictured) who boldly declared that "I am determined to go down in German history as a great man".