NUREMBERG, Sept. 30, 1946 (UP) -- The Nuremberg verdict marks the end of the greatest trial in history and, it is hoped by the victors in World War II, the beginning of a new era of international law under which "crimes against humanity" will be punished by humanity itself, sitting in solemn judgment.
Twenty-four Nazis were indicted as the chief criminals, and along with them, seven Nazi organizations. Only 21 of the individuals were brought to the bar of justice. The missing Martin Bormann, Hitler's confidant, was tried in absentia. Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the aged munitions-czar, was exempted from trial because of senile insanity. Robert Ley, Nazi labor front leader, committed suicide during the proceedings.
The trial, which lasted more than nine months, involved the introduction of a mass of testimony which disclosed in its full horror the inhumanities of the Nazi conspiracy against civilization. The defendants alternately blustered, cringed or whined. In the main, instead of denying the fact of the crimes, they tried to alibi their part in them, chiefly by throwing the real guilt on Adolf Hitler.
But the prosecution drove them down relentlessly with facts and with acid verbal presentations by the chief prosecutors of Britain, Russia, France and the United States.
The evidence was factual and sickening.
Speaking of the Nazi mass extermination of Jews, Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief United States prosecutor, said in his opening speech: "History does not record a crime ever perpetrated against so many victims or carried out with such calculated cruelty."
When Sir Hartley Shawcross, chief British prosecutor, began his five-hour closing speech, the defendants at first paid little attention. But when Sir Hartley began to recount their crimes against humanity, the atmosphere changed.
The prosecutor was not indulging in mere damning oratory. He was reading in a calm British voice from a collection of the Nazis' own reports and orders.
Among these was an eyewitness report of Jews in White Ruthenia. "Persons shot," the writer said, "have wormed themselves out of graves some time after they had been covered."
The defendants wilted when the British prosecutor recited testimony of Rudolph Hess, director of the extermination camp at Auschwitz. Hess described improvements made there "in that we built our gas chambers to accommodate 2,000 people at a time, whereas at Treblinka their 10 gas chambers only accommodated 200 people each."