Nazi War Criminals: Sentencing and Execution
The Holocaust. We all heard about it. Not many people gave a thought to how the doctors died. Or how the trials had went. Many doctors were tried at the Nuremberg trials.
Focusing on seven doctors, I learned that four doctors were convicted with all four counts and three defendants were convicted with two counts. Ribbentrop, the foreign minister, was among those who were charged with all four counts (“Joachim von Ribbentrop”). “Ribbentrop wandered in, aghast, and started to walk around the cell in a daze, whispering, ‘Death! -Death! Now I won’t be able to write my beautiful memoirs. Tsk! Tsk!’ Then he sat down, a completely broken man, and stared into space…” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Ribbentrop wasn’t afraid of death.
In fact, the only thing that set him back was that he planned to have a life. As his last words rang through the ears of the witnesses, he was hanged October 1946. Walking up the stairs without hesitating, he wished Germany his best, moments before he died (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Keitel, as a part of the Nazi High Command, was the next defendant with four charges against him (“Wilhelm Keitel”). ” ‘ Death by hanging!’ he announced his voice hoarse with intense shame.
‘That, at least, I thought I would be spared. I don’t blame you for standing at a distance from a man sentenced to death by hanging. I understand that perfectly. But I am still the same as before -if you please only- visit me sometimes in the last few days.’ I said I would.” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”).
Keitel wanted company in his last few days. He wasn’t as tense as Ribbentrop. He held his head high, even while his hands were being tied, and walked with a strong gait towards the bearing. Keitel didn’t appear to need the help of the soldiers by his side. His last words on Earth was, “I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people. More than two million German soldiers went to their deaths for the fatherland before me.
I follow now my sons- all for Germany.” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Jodl was one of the defendants who didn’t seem to take his death quite so well. Found on all four charges, Jodl was Chief of Armed Forces (“Alfred Jodl”). ” ‘ Death by hanging! -that at least I did not deserve.
The death part -all right- somebody has to stand for responsibility. But that-‘ his mouth quivered and he choked for the first time, ‘that I did not deserve.'” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Jodl seemed to believe he deserved a better death than being hanged. The day of his death, Jodl came out nervous. He wet his lips constantly and his features were drawn and haggard.
His last words were, “My greetings to you, my Germany.” Jodl was the last one to die that day by the hangman’s noose (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Goering was one the highest ranking officials and yet, acting like a coward, he suicided moments before his arranged death (“Herman Goering”). He learned that death wasn’t funny when you’re the one dying. He was glad he was given a death sentence for those given a life sentence wouldn’t be a martyr (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”).
As I mentioned, Goering had suicided. His face was contorted with pain. Many people wonder why Goering had suicided moments before his death and why not earlier. This seemed to be his last defiance act. He didn’t want to give people the satisfaction of killing him, so he took his own life (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”).
As I noted in the beginning, three doctors were only convicted with two crimes. However, they all faced different consequences and while others seemed to take it pretty well, some didn’t. Hess, Hitler’s very own personal aide, was sentenced to life in prison due to two counts (“Rudolph Hess”). “Hess strutted in nervously, laughing nervously, and said he had not even been listening , so he did not know what the sentence was and what was more he didn’t care,” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). He also committed suicide at age 93 (“Rudolph Hess”). Frank, one of Hitler’s personal aide, was sentenced to death by hanging, although he had the same charges (“Hans Frank”).
“Smiling politely, Frank said, ‘Death by hanging.’ He said softly nodding his head in acquiescence.. ‘I deserved it and I expected it as I’ve always told you. I am glad I had a chance to defend myself and think things over in the last few months.
‘ ” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). When it was time for his execution, he has a smile on his face. He gave the appearance of relief for atoning his evil deeds. His last words were but a whisper, “I am thankful for the kind treatment I received during captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.” (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”).
Speer, Hitler’s very own personal architect, was the only one to have a life after the sentences. He was only sentenced to twenty years of prison, the lightest sentence, and was released in 1966 (“Albert Speer”). Many people ask how he won over the judges. People had believed his willingness plead guilty and his general contrite behaviour won over five judges (“The Sentencing and Execution of the Nazi War Criminals, 1946”). Speer was the only defendant to make it out alive.
Frank was grateful to be paying his debt and Hess suicided at an old age. Goering suicided moments before his arranged death. Jodl was scared of death and Keitel just wanted company in his last few days. Ribbentrop had planned for a life, but he didn’t get his wish. Seven defendants, but only one made it out alive in the end. The question if they had paid their dues still remain as a question, however, because this is your own opinion laced with many variables.