File photo by U.S. Army
NUREMBERG, Nov. 20, 1945 (UP) - Twenty leaders of the Nazi regime went on trial before a United Nations tribunal today and listened to an indictment holding them responsible for World War II.
The trial that for the first time in history sought to prove aggressive warfare a crime against all mankind opened in an atmosphere of grim legality in Nuremberg's Palace of Justice.
Twenty-two men were on trial, all top figures in the Nazi hierarchy that overawed Europe, but two were being judged in absentia-the ailing Ernst Kaltenbrunner and the missing Martin Bormann.
Sidney S. Alderman, of the American prosecuting staff, began reading the 25,000-word indictment shortly after the hearings opened at 10:03 a. m. (4:03 a. m. EST.)
He spoke deliberately as he read off the first of the four principal accounts in the indictment-that charging the accused men of plunging the world into war.
He was followed to the dais by members of the British, French and Russian prosecution staffs, who intoned the succeeding passages of the indictment for the benefit of the four presiding justices and the defendants.
After the reading of the lengthy indictment and three appendices detailing the charges, the court adjourned at 5:04 p.m.
The defendants followed the reading of the indictment with phones attached to their bench.
Hermann Goering, the No. 1 defendant, twisted uneasily in his front row seat. From time to time he whispered to his benchmate, Rudolph Hess. He nodded several times as Mr. Alderman traced the illegal development of the German Air Force under his direction in the pre-Munich days.
The Russian prosecutors sat near Goering, but they ignored him studiously.
Hess, beside him, clung stubbornly to his claim that he remembered nothing of the Hitler regime in which he played so large a part. He spoke occasionally to Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop.
Hess stared grimly at the wall when the indictment enumerated the mass murders carried out by the Nazis. Goering's eyes dropped to the floor, and Franz von Papen cupped his chin in his hand.
Hjalmar Schacht, branded as the financial brains behind the Hitler fa