Remembering Nuremberg 75 years on
Today marks 75 years since the Nuremberg Trials began. Sir Hartley Shawcross – Labour MP for St.Helens was the lead British prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal.
In his closing speech at Nuremburg Shawcross remarked “In all our countries, when perhaps in the heat of passion or for other which impair restraint, some individual is killed, the murder becomes a sensation. Our compassion is roused, nor do we rest until the criminal is punished and the rule of law vindicated. Shall we do less when not one but 12 million men and women and children are done to death, not in battle, not in passion, but in a cold calculated deliberate attempt to destroy nations and races.”
Shawcross reminded his generation that such tyranny and brutality could only be resisted in the future not simply be “military alliances but firmly on the rules of law.”
This passionate belief in the upholding of law and in the administration of justice is central to the upholding of civilised values; to the maintenance of human rights and hard won liberties.
The rule of law determines the way in which we govern ourselves in Britain. It is the very bed rock of our parliamentary system and the corner stone of our democratic institutions. Without it we do all indeed descend into chaos.
Recalling Nuremberg challenges today’s Parliamentarians to hold to account those who promote hatred of minorities – such as Anti Semitism – and which led to the Holocaust – and to put new legal mechanisms in place which honour our duty to hold to prosecute those responsible for contemporary acts of Genocide.
The BBC’s Fergal Keane looks at the legacy of the trials and speaks to a Holocaust survivor, a prosecutor and the son of a defendant;