The Holocaust Historiography Project

Review

Dönitz at Nuremberg: A Re-appraisal

  • Dönitz at Nuremberg: A Re-appraisal, edited by H. K. Thompson, Jr. and Henry Strutz, preface by Justice William L. Hart, Amber Publishing (available from the IHR), Hb, 230pp heavily illustrated $11.00, ISBN 0-916788-01-6.
reviewed by T. D. Hendry

This exceptionally comprehensive book was dedicated to Admiral Karl Dönitz, “a naval officer of unexcelled ability and unequalled courage who, in his nation's darkest hour, offered his person and sacrificed his future to save the lives of many thousands of people."

The editors, in their introduction, talk about the purpose of the book being “a sampling of up-dated qualified opinion on the Nuremberg and related 'war crimes trials' of Axis personnel conducted by the Allies after WW II, with emphasis on the trial of Dönitz."

Dan V. Gallery, Rear Admiral, U.S.N (Ret.), in his prologue, refers to the International Military Tribunal (IMT) as “a kangaroo court … with men whose hands were bloody sitting on the judges seats."

In this book are excerpts from pp 215-219 of Profiles of Courage by Pres. John F. Kennedy who lauds the October, 1946 position taken by Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who was disturbed by the war crimes trials of Axis leaders. Kennedy asserts “the Nuremberg trials were at no time before the Congress for consideration … not an issue in the campaign … but Bob Taft spoke out. Quotes Taft: 'About this whole judgment there is the spirit of vengeance, and vengeance is seldom justice. In these trials we have accepted the Russian idea of the purpose of trials — government policy and not justice — with little relation to Anglo-Saxon heritage. By clothing policy in the forms of legal procedure, we may discredit the whole idea of justice in Europe for years to come … ' Kennedy reasserts what the Ohio Senator insisted: Nuremberg 'was a blot on American Constitutional history and a serious departure from our Anglo-Saxon heritage of fair and equal treatment …'"

The book itself comprises 194 pages, with signed statements from approximately 380 world leaders, spokesmen, and people of prominence-many of them military- condemning the trials as a “travesty of justice", “violation of international law,” “hypocritical,” “unjust", “unfair", “contemptible", “a step backward in international law” according to judge Learned Hand.

Distinguished contributors include: Vice Adm. W. L. Ainsworth, Rear Admirals C. Alexandris and J. E. Arnold; Hon. J. H. Ball; Prof. H. E. Barnes; Hon. S. Draden and U. L. Burdick; Taylor Caldwell, W.H. Chamberlin; Lady E.M. Chetwynd; Prof. Kenneth Colgrove; P. A. del Valle, Lt. Gen; Justice William 0. Douglas; T.S. Eliot, Brig. Gen. B. Fellers; J.H. Gipson of Caxton Printers; Prof. W.E. Hocking; Adm. H. E. Kimmel; Hon. W. Langer and J. B. Lee; Adolph Menjou; Vice Adm. A.E. Montgomery; Flt. Adm. C. W. Nimitz; Adm. Sir H. A. Packer; Adm. J. W. Reeves; Brig. Gen. A. Skeen; Lt. Gen. G. E. Stratemeyer; Prof. C. C. Tansill; Hon. F. J. P. Veale; Rear Adm. J. Wainwright; Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer; Hon. Burton K. Wheeler-among many other distinguished contributors.

This is a truly intriguing and revealing work which sets the record straight on some of the most bizarre judicial proceedings of the Twentieth Century. What is most painfully evident from this distinguished volume is not only that Dönitz and many, many others committed no crimes, but those who passed verdicts on them at Nuremberg did. This is a book not only for students of military and naval history, but for all who are interested in seeking justice and an understanding of how it can be dangerously perverted to serve the interests of the savagely vengeful.


Bibliographic information
Author: T. D. Hendry
Title: Dönitz at Nuremberg: a re-appraisal (review)
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: Spring 1982
Issue: Volume 3 number 1
Location: Page 93
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: “Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.”
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.