Seventy-six years ago, on November 20, 1945, the trial of the major WWII criminals began in Nuremberg.
The Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the European Axis was signed by the USSR, the United States, the United Kingdom and France in London on August 8, 1945. The four countries also approved the Charter of the International Military Tribunal.
Twenty-four major Nazi war criminals were brought to trial. The Tribunal reviewed thousands of documents, questioned 116 witnesses and accepted hundreds of thousands of pieces of written evidence. The Nazis’ heinous crimes during World War II were exposed during 403 open Tribunal sessions. On October 1, 1946, the Tribunal trials concluded with the announcement of a severe but just verdict.
The democratic Russia of today has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the principles declared at the Nuremberg trials. We expect all other members of the UN to honour these principles. The Nuremberg trials have shown that international justice must be based on the UN member states’ collective efforts. This is the only way to ensure that the rulings of the international judicial bodies enjoy due authority with the world community. It is completely unacceptable for any state or any military and political bloc to seize, under whatever pretext, the role of an “international judge”, without taking into account the opinions of other countries and international organisations.
It would seem the inviolability of the verdicts issued in Nuremberg is obvious and indisputable. Today, however, we are increasingly hearing statements that amount to revising the Tribunal’s verdicts, distorting their essence and, one way or another, justifying the Nazis, their accomplices, and the atrocities they committed. The notions of a war victim and a war crime are being distorted. In response to these attempts, we believe it is as relevant today as ever to contribute, in every way possible, to preserving the principles of the Nuremberg trials and keeping the spirit of its just verdicts alive in order to strengthen the authority of international law as an inalienable and indispensable foundation of modern civilised society.