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Nuremberg Principles?
Good-government reminder from caring citizen
by Gerhard Fuerst

Nuremberg TrialEditor's Note: I was cc'd by Gerhard on this note to his federale reps and senators. As an immigrant from Germany[1] after the war, Gerhard has a special sensitivity to war and war crimes. Whether or not the United States government follows the humanitarian Nuremberg Principles (set forth under United Nations auspices in 1950 after the post WW2 Nuremberg Trials) or via the Geneva Conventions (whose ancestry heralds back to the founding of the Red Cross). Note: in both cases the United States government is a signatory, in fact a leading advocate, of the legal documentation.

It is interesting to read up on both sets of documentation. It is also useful to consider that historically countrymen of the state(s) who win a war are rarely subjected to war crime trials. [But this is America, by golly, and we should be leaders! Let's at least waterboard Cheney and Rumsfeld. — ed ]

Letter Sent to Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Senator Carl Levin, D-MI

For your most urgent consideration!


Have the Nuremberg Principles of 1950 been adopted by the USA and ratified by the US Senate?

  1. Are these Nuremberg Principles still applicable?
  2. If they are still applicable and binding, how under these circumstances do you see the past and current actions (ours and those of others) in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Libya, Syria, etc...or in other areas of national or international conflict.
  3. If they are no longer applicable and binding, when and why, and under what circumstances were they set aside, and by whom, or on whose orders?
  4. I would like to have an official response in writing in the near future. I thank you most profoundly for taking time to attend to this matter!

Gerhard A. Fuerst
Adjunct Professor of Social Science, ret.
Western Michigan University
701 Academy Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4681
Tel: 269-3451422

The Nuremberg Principles

die normativen Grundsätze des Internationalen Rechts, wie sie nach der Satzung des Nürnberger Gerichtshofes und dessen Urteil anerkannt sind, formuliert von der "International Law Commission" der Vereinten Nationen (29. Juli 1950):

  • Principle I. Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

  • Principle II. The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

  • Principle III. The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

  • Principle IV. The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

  • Principle V. Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

  • Principle VI. The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

    • (a) Crimes against peace:
      • Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
      • Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
    • (b) War crimes:
      • Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour of for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
    • (c) Crimes against humanity:
      • Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

  • Principle VII. Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

Let me know as soon as possible what the situation is.

[1] Gerhard was a boy during the war living in Germany. He became an exchange student in California from 1952-1953, sponsored by HICOG (the Allied High Commission of Germany) and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
   He returned to Germany, graduated from high school with an Abitur degree (state certification) and then went to the Technical University. While there, he had been offered the opportunity to study in the USA, and in order to be able to work here as well, he opted to immigrate. His legal guardian and sponsor for immigration was a very gracious and most generous business man from Kalamazoo, the late Mr. Knox W. Wicks. He immigrated legally by means of the old quota system, but also assisted by a highly esteemed Congressman, the late US Rep. August E. Johansen. The year of his immigration was 1958.

2011 August 22
© Gerhard A. Fuerst, excerpted by The Coffee Coaster™
Gerhard Fuerst | Nuremberg Principles | Geneva Conventions | War Crimes

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