30 Historical Nuremberg Trial Quotes

Learn more about world history with our Nuremberg Trials quotes. 

The Nuremberg Trails were arguably one of the most significant international trials of the twentieth century. 

Check out our Nuremberg Trials quotes below.

What were the Nuremberg Trials?

After World War II, the Allied powers, consisting of the United States, France, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, formed the IMT, or International Military Tribunal. 

During 1945 and 1956, the surviving leaders from Nazi Germany stood trial for crimes against humanity and peace. 

They were also charged with war crimes and conspiracy to commit crimes. 

Check out these interesting facts about the Nuremberg Trials below:

  • The Nurenberg Trials were the first of their kind, with four international judges.
  • IBM produced technology for instantaneous language translation during the trials. 
  • Nurenberg was chosen as the city to host the trials because it was also the origin of the Nazi Party’s rise. 

What happened during the Nuremberg Trials?

The Nuremberg Trials were a series of thirteen military tribunals.

During the trial, approximately two hundred German government, military, medical and business leaders were tried for war crimes. 

It was the first trial of its kind. 

One of the most well-known cases was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal. 

Twenty-four of the highest-ranking Nazi Party officials were tried during the trial.

It is said that Adolf Hitler and his top associates committed suicide to avoid the trials. 

Many of Nazi Germany’s top figures were brought to justice despite these circumstances. 

How did the Nuremberg Trials influence international law?

Aside from bringing notorious Nazi leaders to justice, the Nuremberg Trials broke new ground in international law. 

The Nuremberg Trials opened the door for the development of the United Nations Genocide Convention, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War. 

To learn more, check out our Nuremberg Trial quotes below. 

Short quotes about the Nuremberg Trials 

These quotes address the magnitude of the Nuremberg Trials in a few words. 

1. “When you look at the startling ruins of Nuremberg, you are looking at a result of the war.” — Janet Flanner

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2. “I don’t mind if, after the job is done, you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life.” Ariel Sharon

3. “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” Noam Chomsky

4. “The good news from the U.S. military survey of focus groups is that Iraqis do accept the Nuremberg principles.” Noam Chomsky

5. “We were committing war crimes in World War II, before the Nuremberg trials were held, and the principle of war crimes was stated.” George Wald

The top Nuremberg Trials quotes from some of the world’s greatest minds

Below are quotes about the Nuremberg Trials from some of the most influential thinkers. 

6. “During the Nuremberg trials, Oswald Pohl, an SS Lieutenant General,…is shown here explaining how Farben operated such concentration camps as Auschwitz and Buchenwald.” G. Edward Griffin

7. “The Nuremberg Trial of the German war criminals was tacitly based on the recognition of the principle: criminal actions cannot be excused if committed on government orders; conscience supersedes the authority of the law of the state.” Albert Einstein

8. “It is generally not known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren’t any Nuremberg trials.” Jimmy Carter

9. “The situation in Europe is much more advanced, in terms of pro-genocide trends, than in the United States, yet. But we’re going very rapidly in that direct, and Obama is the specific driver of that crime. I mean, this is a guy waiting for his Nuremberg trial: That’s what this President is!” Lyndon LaRouche

10. “We were very excited, and we brought speakers in. Then it so happened that there was a marine recruiter in the center of campus, and one of our brothers, one SDS person, put up a sign with a quote from the Nuremberg trial and an arrow point at the marine recruiter, saying,’ This man is a war criminal’” Bill Ayers

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The best Nuremberg Trials quotes by Robert Jackson about civilization

Justice Robert Jackson was responsible for giving the opening statement during the Nuremberg Trials. 

11. “It [civilization] does not expect that you can make war impossible.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

12. “Civilization asks whether law is so laggard as to be utterly helpless to deal with crimes of this magnitude by criminals of this order of importance.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

13. “Civilization can afford no compromise with the social forces which would gain renewed strength if we deal ambiguously or indecisively with the men in whom those forces now precariously survive.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

14. “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

15. “It [civilizaiton] does expect that your juridical action will put the forces of international law, its precepts, its prohibitions and, most of all, its sanctions, on the side of peace, so that men and women of goodwill, in all countries, may have “leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the law.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trails quotes and sayings from Justice Robert H. Jackson

Here are some more of Justice Robert H. Jackson’s memorable quotes from the Nuremberg Trials. 

21. “We will show them to be living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

22. “The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

23. “What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

24. “They are symbols of fierce nationalisms and of militarism, of intrigue and war-making which have embroiled Europe generation after generation, crushing its manhood, destroying its homes, and impoverishing its life.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

25. “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.” — Justice Robert H. Jackson, The Nuremberg Trials

Famous Nuremberg Trials quotes from accused Nazi war criminals

Below are quotes from SS Soldiers and Nazi administrators tried and convicted of war crimes. 

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26. “So much toilet paper.” — Goering

27. “Stand up, Funk! Be a man, Funk.” — Colonel Addrus during the interrogation of Nazi economist, Walther Funk

28. “I die innocent. The verdict is wrong.” — Sauckel

29. “Death by hanging. That, I thought, I would be spared.” — Keitel

30. “Death, death. Now I won’t be able to write my beautiful memoirs.” — Ribbentrop

Which American judge participated in the Nuremberg Trials?

The United States was one of several allied nations to uphold justice during the trial.

President Harry Truman appointed Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief American prosecutor. 

Jackson took the job seriously and did not want the trials to be just a show. 

He wanted justice enacted. 

Jackson once famously said, “If we want to shoot Germans as a matter of policy, let it be done as such, but don’t hide the deed behind a court.”

The word ‘genocide’ was coined during the Nuremberg Trials. 

Raphael Lemkin was a Polish lawyer who lost fifty relatives during Germany’s planned extermination of the Jewish population. 

He also served as an advisor to Jackson. 

He is credited with coming up with the term genocide. 

The word combines the Greek word ‘genos’, meaning tribe, with ‘cide,’ the Latin word for killing. 

What is your opinion of the Nuremberg Trials?

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