When we recall that Josef Stalin's judges sat beside American and British judges at Nuremberg, and one of the prosecutors there was Andrei Vishinsky, chief prosecutor in Stalin's show trails, the answer has to be yes.
While Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were surely guilty of waging aggressive war in September 1939, Stalin and his comrades had joined the Nazis in the rape of Poland, and had raped Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, as well. Scores of thousands of civilians in the three Baltic countries were murdered.
Yet, at Nuremberg, Soviets sat in judgment of their Nazi accomplices, and had the temerity to accuse the Nazis of the Katyn Forest massacre of the Polish officer corps that the Soviets themselves had committed.
Americans fought alongside British soldiers in a just and moral war from 1941 to 1945. But we had as allies a Bolshevik monster whose hands dripped with the blood of millions of innocents murdered in peacetime. And to have Stalin's judges sit beside Americans at Nuremberg gave those trials an aspect of hypocrisy that can never be erased.
At Nuremberg, Adm. Erich Raeder was sentenced to prison for life for the invasion of neutral Norway. Yet Raeder's ships arrived 24 hours before British ships and marines of an operation championed by Winston Churchill.
The British had planned to violate Norwegian neutrality first and seize Norwegian ports to deny Germany access to the Swedish iron ore being transshipped through them. For succeeding where Churchill failed, Raeder was condemned as a war criminal and sent to prison.
The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal decided that at Nuremberg only the crimes of Axis powers would be prosecuted and that among those crimes would be a newly invented "crimes against humanity." This decree was issued Aug. 8, 1945, 48 hours after we dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima and 24 hours before we dropped the second on Nagasaki.
We and the British judiciously decided not to prosecute the Nazis for the bombing of London and Coventry.
It was an understandable decision, and one that surely Gen. Curtis LeMay concurred in, as LeMay had boasted at war's end, "We scorched and boiled and baked to death more people in Tokyo that night of March 9-10 than went up in vapor in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined."
After the war, a lone Senate voice arose to decry what was taking place at Nuremberg as "victor's justice." Ten years later, a young colleague would declare the late Robert A. Taft "A Profile in Courage" for having spoken up against ex post facto justice. The young senator was John F. Kennedy.
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