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Nuremberg Trials: Judges

Das Verfahren gegen die deutschen Hauptkriegsverbrecher nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Nürnberg 1945-1946

The Bench

Each of the four Allied countries that had formed the International Military Tribunal -- the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union -- provided one judge and one alternate for the court that convened in the fall of 1945.


Judges of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg



Geoffrey Lawrence (president)

Norman Birkett (alternate)



Francis Biddle (judge)

John Parker (alternate)



Henri de Vabres (judge)

Robert Falco (alternate)



Iona Nikitchenko (judge)

Alexander Volchkov (alternate)




Great Britain's Judges
Ruddy-faced British judge Geoffrey Lawrence, the sixty-year-old former Lord Chief Justice of England, served as president of the court, presiding over the trial and breaking any ties. British alternate judge Norman Birkett, one of the foremost criminal lawyers in England, was known for representing aAmerican woman, Wallis Simpson, in the 1936 divorce that enabled her to marry King Edward VIII.

The American Judges
When he took office in April 1945, President Harry Truman had fired President Franklin Roosevelt's attorney general, Francis Biddle. To dispel hard feelings, the new president appointed Biddle as the judge for the Nuremberg trial. Truman was also considering the appointment of John Parker to a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but was reluctant to upset labor unions, which Parker had ruled against. An appointment as an alternate to the bench at Nuremberg gave Parker a prestigious post and freed Truman to make a different appointment to the Supreme Court.

The French Team
French judge Henri Donnedieu de Vabres spoke fluent German and sported a snow-white walrus mustache that he twirled for emphasis during his dramatic orations. French alternate Robert Falco spoke English and had served on France's highest court.

Judges from the Soviet Union
Russian Ion Nikitchenko was a Nuremberg prosecutor before being recalled to Moscow and dispatched again as a judge. His alternate Alexander Volchkov was also versatile, having worked as a prosecutor, criminal judge, and a diplomat.


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