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Opening Statement before the International Military Tribunal

Robert H. Jackson

 

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On November 21, 1945, in the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg, Germany, Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States, made his opening statement to the International Military Tribunal in Case No. 1, The United States of America, the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics v. Hermann Wilhelm Göring, et al.

May it please Your Honors:

The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, is not the product of abstract speculations nor is it created to vindicate legalistic theories. This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times-aggressive war. The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which. leave no home in the world untouched. It is a cause of that magnitude that the United Nations will lay before Your Honors.

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Discours initial du Procureur Robert H. Jackson devant le Tribunal de Nuremberg

Robert H. Jackson

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Cette déclaration d'ouverture du procureur général américain Robert H. Jackson a été prononcée le 21 novembre 1945, au moment où commençaient les travaux du procès de Nuremberg. Instauré après la fin de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, celui-ci avait pour but de juger les dirigeants nazis. Il aura des conséquences sur l'émergence progressive d'un droit international.

Messieurs de la Haute Cour,

Le privilège d'ouvrir la première audience du procès des crimes contre la paix mondiale entraîne une lourde responsabilité. Les méfaits que nous avons à condamner et à punir ici ont été à ce point délibérés, iniques et dévastateurs que la civilisation ne saurait tolérer qu'on les ignore, parce qu'elle ne pourrait survivre si jamais ils venaient à se répéter. Que quatre grandes nations victorieuses mais lésées n'exercent point de vengeance envers leurs ennemis prisonniers, c'est là un des tributs les plus importants que la puissance ait jamais rendu à la raison.

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Extraits

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